Dinner: Whip Up a Last Minute, Healthy Dinner (cont.)
Ward says her family has breakfast for dinner once a week: Pancakes or waffles with a side of fruit plus milk. It's a hit with her family, and what the kids don't know is that she sometimes adds wheat germ and an extra egg to the pancake mix. "That's stealth nutrition." She keeps waffles in the freezer for nights when she's really short on time. (Of course, dieters should skip the extra butter and be sparing with the syrup. Try fruit, applesauce and/or low-fat yogurt for a healthy and delicious topping.)
Dinner for the Desperate
But what about those nights when the larder is empty and even a few minutes in the kitchen is too much? Guess what? You can have that take-out after all, as long as you exercise a little restraint. Zelman says she orders a cheese or veggie pizza: "I have one or two pieces and a side salad, and it's not a bad meal."
Ward says her family orders pizza once a week. "I make a really big salad to go with it and always have fruit and milk, which works in the nutrition we need and cuts down on the amount of pizza we eat."
Speaking of pizza, Ward often buys pre-made crusts and lets her kids make their own. "They just like cheese," she says. "For my husband and myself, I saute leftover chicken with garlic and add artichokes from a jar or olives." While acknowledging that most of us need to cut back on fat intake, she's not a big fan of low-fat cheese. She points out that if you use a very flavorful cheese like sharp cheddar, a small amount -- four to five ounces -- will satisfy.
Ward's favorite last-minute dinner is a spinach pie she buys at Trader Joe's specialty grocery store. "It has a ton of spinach with cheese in phyllo dough. I make rice to go with it. When my husband sees it, he knows I've had absolutely no time."
Food for Thought
There are many cookbooks and web sites that can provide inspiration for planning and preparing healthy, quick dinners. The Meals in Minutes Cookbook by the American Heart Association is a good place to start.
SOURCES: Meals in Minutes Cookbook, American Heart Association. Elizabeth Ward, MS, RD, author of Healthy Foods, Healthy Kids. Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD, LD, American Dietetic Association spokesperson; WebMD Weight Loss Clinic consultant.
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