Bring the family together for meal, conversation



A robust body of research shows that regular family meals (three or more times per week) have multiple health, social and academic benefits for both children and adults.

The American Academy of Pediatrics found that children and adolescents who eat with their families regularly eat better and are less likely to be overweight than peers who enjoy fewer family meals.

According to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University, frequent family meals help children do better in school, have a closer relationship with parents and siblings, resist negative peer pressure, be less likely to try drugs or alcohol at an earlier age and less likely to develop disordered eating behaviors.

Still on the fence about enjoying family meals together at home? Consider this; eating together at home can help save families money! A meal for a family of four at a fast food restaurant can cost about $25.

What more could you ask for? Raise your oven mitts and feast on all the benefits of family meals with Mexican Lasagna with Nopales (cactus) Salad and Raspberry Mango Sundaes.

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MEXICAN LASAGNA

http://www.healthyeating.org/Healthy-Eating/Meals-Recipes/Browse-Search-Recipes/rid/93856/mexican-lasagna.aspx

Number of servings: 8

Total preparation time: less than 15 minutes

Actual cooking time: 45 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

10 6-inch corn tortillas

2 cups canned low-sodium black beans, rinsed

4 cups tomato sauce (canned/jarred or see separate super quick chunky tomato sauce recipe)

1 1-2 cups Monterey jack cheese, grated

1 bag (10 ounces) baby spinach leaves, rinsed

2 cups grilled chicken, diced

2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, rinsed, dried and chopped (or substitute 1 teaspoon dried coriander)

Nonstick cooking spray

PREPARATION:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Lightly spray a 9-by 13-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Place two to three corn tortillas on the bottom, trimming as necessary for a good fit.

3. Add beans, 1 cup tomato sauce and 1/2 cup grated cheese. Top with two to three more corn tortillas.

4. Add 1 cup tomato sauce, spinach, and 1/2 cup cheese. Top with two more corn tortillas.

5. Add chicken and 1 cup tomato sauce. Top with two more corn tortillas.

6. Add 1 cup tomato sauce, one-half cup cheese and cilantro.

7. Bake for 30 minutes or until the cheese is melted and browned and the chicken is reheated.

8. Let stand for 5 minutes. Cut into eight even squares and serve.

COOK’S NOTES:

Cooking with kids note: Children can help layer the “lasagna” ingredients.

Leftover friendly note: If you don’t have leftover chicken, use rotisserie chicken.

Note: If you can’t find beans labeled “low sodium,” compare the Nutrition Facts panels to find the beans with the lowest amount of sodium. Rinsing can help reduce sodium levels further.

Source: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health

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NOPALES (CACTUS SALAD)

http://www.healthyeating.org/Healthy-Eating/Meals-Recipes/Browse-Search-Recipes/rid/82495/nopales-cactus-salad.aspx

Number of servings: 6

Total preparation time: less than 15 minutes

Actual cooking time: 15 to 30 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

4 cups diced nopales, cooked until tender and rinsed under cold water

2 medium chopped red tomatoes

1 chopped white onion

3 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves

1 serrano chili pepper chopped

Dressing

3 tablespoons canola oil

4 teaspoons white vinegar

1 lime juiced

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

PREPARATION:

1. Place nopales in a salad bowl.

2. Add tomatoes, onions, serrano chili pepper and cilantro.

3. In second bowl, whisk together olive oil, white wine vinegar, oregano, lime juice, salt and pepper

4. Pour dressing over nopales mixture and toss to blend well.

5. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours.

Source: Monica Montes for Dairy Council of California

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RASPBERRY MANGO SUNDAES

http://www.healthyeating.org/Healthy-Eating/Meals-Recipes/Browse-Search-Recipes/rid/94524/raspberry-mango-sundae.aspx

Number of servings: 4

Total preparation time: less than 15 minutes

Actual cooking time: No cooking required

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup thawed frozen raspberries

2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

4 scoops of fat-free vanilla frozen yogurt

1 mango, diced

4 tablespoons chopped toasted nuts

PREPARATION:

Puree raspberries, sugar and lemon juice in a blender. Serve over scoops of nonfat vanilla frozen yogurt with mango and nuts.

Source: EatingWell

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“Family Meals Matter” features registered dietitian-approved recipes with foods from all the food groups to reflect Dairy Council of California’s nutrition philosophy. For more information, nutrition tools and additional family meal recipes, visit healthyeating.org


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