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Hey, I am a med student who likes to write. Each week I provide a handful of tips that will help you in your quest to become healthier.

How to Prepare a Healthy Family Meal

Written: 09/25/2007

I received a few mails and requests regarding the article, 5 Golden Tips to Why You Must Enjoy A Daily Family Meal. The requests were on the following general line, "Eating a family meal is a very good thing to do but how do you actually prepare such a meal to cater to everybody's specific nutrient needs?"

I came up with different responses but finally I decided to turn to an "expert"s point of view on the following subject. The following guide to preparing a healthy family meal is taken from tips by Chef de Cuisine (Kitchen's Chef) Olivier Roellinger.

Making varied dishes by following proper diet etiquettes is a good way to rectify the mistake of others and compensate the good habits of some. The portions of each plate will vary in relation to age, physical activity and appetite of everyone. A meal is sufficient when everybody is full and can not eat any more.


L'entrée
  • Privilege vegetables cooked or uncooked... or fruits. There is no scientific reason as to fruits must be consumed at the end of a meal. Fruits can also be eaten at the beginning of a meal.

  • A salad can combine the opening dish and the main course: uncooked vegetables or fruits, cooked vegetables, eggs, fish, cubes of cheese, cooked potatoes, peas or lentils.

  • A thick vegetable soup can replace a plate of cooked vegetables.

A few examples of entrées are:

Crude
: Green salads, tomatoes, carrots, melon
Cooked: green peas, zucchinis, sweet peppers, leeks, beets


Main Dish

Make the main dish from vegetables, starchy foods (potatoes, spaghettis, rice, wheat, maizes, lentils) accompanied by meat, fish, ham or eggs.

  • Use only lean meats whatever the sources of the meat: chicken, beef, turkey, etc.

  • Eat fresh, frozen or canned fish regularly. If you are bored with fish, you can vary your dish with other sea foods like prawns, octopus,etc.

  • If you are a eating a "main dish" rich in fats, use fresh fruits or vegetables as entrées or desserts.

  • Starchy foods will make you full which will prevent 'snacking' in between meals.

Bread

Bread is an important part of dinner. It helps to avoid hunger pangs and can be a complete meal if you are eating breads made of wheat.

There is no limit to how many breads you can eat in one day. Eating one bread per day is fine but make it more if you have active people in your family. Actually the quantity of bread must be balanced with other starchy foods in the meal.


Dairy Products

Every family member must eat 3 dairy products per day. There is a great variety of dairy products which can satisfy all the members of your family: milk, yogurt, white cheese. Beware though because some cheese are loaded with fats. Just remember that the more hard a cheese texture is, the more calcium it has. Alternating milk, yogurts, cheese and other dairy products allow for the recommended milk intake without consuming a lot of fat.


Dessert

Like the "entrée", focus on fruits. They contribute essential nutrients to your body while allowing you to end the dinner on a satisfying dish. Choose fruits according to their seasons.

Note:

  • A fruit yogurt cannot be an alternative for a fruit because it contains very little fruits in it.

  • Even if it's not the same as a fruit, a fruit juice, with the mention "100% pure juice" can be a good alternative to a fruit. Other fruit juices are very sweet; they are made from very little and sometimes no fruit at all. They contain food additives.

  • In case of weight problems, do not take fruit juices. It does not provide the same amounts of nutrients as a fruit and it is full of calories.

Preparing a family meal is a great responsibility but if you follow the guidelines above and take into account the nutritive needs of each member of your family, you will find having a family meal at home is far more easier and better than eating outside.


Note: I personally do not find some tips on par with my idea of a healthy meal but you must keep in mind, that in the health/diet sector clashes occur frequently. The idea is to learn to keep an open mind and to focus on the tips that work for you but that is another article in itself. So I hope you enjoyed this article and tell me how you find it.


Acknowledgments: The following tips are from Chef de Cuisine (Kitchen's Chef) Olivier Roellinger but they were passed on to me by one of my teachers who wishes to remain anonymous.

Update: I found an article by Anne Z which lists her top 5 resources for preparing a family meal.


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