Any meal can be modified to feed all in the family


August 10, 1993|By Colleen Pierre, R.D. | Colleen Pierre, R.D.,Contributing Writer

Your rebellious teen-agers may hold the key to better health for your whole family.

Increasingly, I hear from parents worrying because their kids have gone vegetarian.

When I meet with the kids and review their food diaries, I find that many of them have simply stopped eating meat, chicken and fish. They're eating lots of fruits and vegetables (and sometimes junk food), but haven't learned to fill in the missing protein with beans and lentils.

And the kids are worried about their parents who are eating all that meat and fat, and haven't yet learned to eat more fruits, vegetablesand grains.

So, turn your nutritional tug-of-war into a springboard for better eating for the whole family.

It takes some patience and understanding, and a sound knowledge base.

Get yourself a copy of "The Food Guide Pyramid" booklet. (Send a check for $1 to Superintendent of Documents, Consumer Information Center, Dept. 159Y, Pueblo, Colo. 81009.) No matter what your preferences, each family member can use it to evaluate daily food choices.

Have each person keep a food diary for a few days. Then sit down together and compare what you've eaten to the recommendations in the booklet.

Here are some tips for dinners that everyone can enjoy.

* Salad meal: Begin with a base of mixed greens. Add a variety of raw seasonal vegetables. Top with 1/2 cup 1 percent or nonfat cottage cheese. Vegetarians add 1/2 cup red kidney beans. Others add a grilled tuna fillet. Add dinner rolls and fresh melon for dessert.

* Pasta meal: Begin with a big pile of angel-hair pasta, linguine or fettuccine. Vegetarians add 1/2 to 1 cup garbanzo beans. Meat eaters add 3-4 ounces microwaved frozen meat balls. Top with low-fat tomato sauce and grated Parmesan cheese. Add a small salad, crusty garlic bread and Italian ice for dessert.

* Potato meal: Begin with a large baked potato or yam. Add 1 to 2 cups steamed broccoli. Vegetarians top with 1/2 cup low-fat ricotta cheese. Meat eaters top potato with 1/4 cup low-fat ricotta, then serve with 4 ounces lean beef round or fillet.

* Pizza meal: Begin with individual boboli shells. Spread with pizza sauce. Add a variety of chopped veggies including garlic, onions, green peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes and black olives. Vegetarians add 1/2 cup cannellini (white kidney beans). Meat eaters add 2 ounces Canadian bacon. Season to taste with dried oregano, basil, anise seed and crushed red pepper. Top with reduced fat mozzarella.

* Grain meal: Cook a batch of brown rice, barley, Quinoa, bulgur, or kasha (buckwheat). Vegetarians top with 1/2 cup pinto beans or black-eyed peas (either canned or cooked from scratch). Meat eaters add a grilled chicken breast. Microwave a large bag of frozen mixed vegetables of your choice. Add pumpernickel rolls and fresh peaches or plums for dessert.

* Soup meal: Start with homemade or canned soup. Use meatless split green pea, black bean or lentil. Meat eaters add chunks of precooked low-fat sausage. Serve with spinach salad and seven-grain bread. Enjoy fresh strawberries and nonfat frozen yogurt for dessert.

Colleen Pierre, a registered dietitian, is the nutrition consultant to the Union Memorial Sports Medicine Center in Baltimore.

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