Would you eat better if your family’s food preferences didn’t get in the way? You’re not alone. One of the top challenges my clients face is creating delicious, satisfying meals for their families without ruining their diets. The solution? Serve up one dinner that is easily adapted for both your family and you. For your family’s entrées, I keep things healthy; the recipes are just higher in calories than the entrées that you’ll prepare for yourself. You’ll be amazed at how small modifications can really scale down the calories in your dinner meals.
Below you will find a fish dish, as we should all try to eat at least two seafood meals per week, a vegetarian dish, as we should all be aiming to eat a diet rich in plant-based foods, and then a plain ol’ barbeque chicken recipe. Bon appétit!
Lemon-Rosemary Orange Roughy
Orange roughy is a fish I absolutely love. I buy it frozen and in bulk at my local Costco. I find that it thaws easily and tastes just as good as fresh! If you can’t find orange roughy, look for a mild white fish such as flounder, cod or haddock. For this meal, your family’s fish will be breaded with breadcrumbs and sautéed in olive oil, while yours will be lightly dusted with breadcrumbs and broiled in the oven.
Makes 4 servings.
- 4 (4- to 6-ounce) pieces of orange roughy, or other white flaky fish
- ⅔ cup seasoned whole-wheat breadcrumbs, plus 2 tsp breadcrumbs, divided
- 4 tbsp olive oil plus 1 tsp olive oil, divided
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 1 egg, whisked
- 1 lemon, cut into segments
- 2 tsp dried rosemary
- 1 tsp capers, optional
- Pinch of sea salt and pepper
Your family’s fish fillets:
Lightly coat 3 of the fish fillets with the whisked egg, and then lightly coat them with breadcrumbs. Place the breaded fish fillets onto a piece of wax paper or onto a dinner plate. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, spray it with cooking spray and add 4 tbsp of olive oil. Allow the oil to become quite hot; this will take about 3-4 minutes. Then place the fish fillets into the skillet and cook for about 4 minutes on each side, or until cooked through. Try not to overcook. Remove the fish fillets from the pan, and place them onto paper towels to remove any excess oil. Dust with a pinch of sea salt, rosemary and pepper. Serve with lemon segments.
Your fish fillet:
Turn on your broiler (if you don’t have a broiler, you can bake the fish at 400 degrees). Spray a small oven-proof baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Lightly season your fish fillet with salt and pepper. Place the fish fillet into the cooking dish and drizzle with 1 tsp olive oil, 2 tsp breadcrumbs, 1 tsp rosemary and the juice of 1-2 lemon segments. You may add a few capers, if desired. Broil for about 8-10 minutes, or until cooked through, being careful not to overcook.
Nutrition information per serving for your family’s fish:
18 grams fat
19 grams carbohydrate
2 grams sugar
2 grams fiber
34 grams protein
Nutrition information for your fish:
6 grams fat
6 grams carbohydrate
1 gram sugar
1 gram fiber
29 grams protein
Vegetarian Burrito Bar
My family loves Mexican food — and so do I — and the good news is that Mexican food done right can be very healthy. Tomatoes, beans, brown rice ... it’s a nutritional home run, but sadly it can also be super high in calories. With just a few tweaks, you can serve up a burrito bar for your family, while staying calorie conscious yourself. It just takes some forethought when it comes to choosing the right ingredients in the right portion sizes. (As a side note, this happens to be my “go-to” meal when I haven’t prepared anything ahead of time. In just a few minutes I can have a healthy dinner on the table!)
- 7 (6-inch) whole-wheat tortillas (should have about 100-125 calories each)
- Shredded reduced-fat jack or cheddar cheese
- 1 (15-ounce) can of fat-free refried beans OR black beans
- Chopped tomatoes
- Shredded lettuce
- Reduced-fat sour cream
- Jarred salsa, optional
- Cooked white rice, optional
- 1 large romaine lettuce leaf
Your family’s burritos:
I usually allow for two 6-inch tortillas per person. Let them fill ’em up, then either bake in a 350-degree oven for 5-8 minutes or microwave for 1 minute. Serve with sour cream, salsa and guacamole on the side. Note the nutrition information below is based on 2 tortillas filled with a total of ½ cup cheese, ½ cup beans, ½ cup rice, ¼ cup chopped tomatoes, shredded lettuce, 1 tbsp of sour cream and 1 tbsp of guacamole.
For your burritos, fill 1 tortilla with 2 tbsp of shredded cheese, ¼ cup beans, chopped tomatoes and lettuce. Heat and serve with 1 tbsp of guacamole. Then fill 1 large romaine lettuce leaf with ¼ cup beans, 2 tbsp of shredded cheese, chopped tomatoes, 1 tbsp of guacamole, and wrap it up. (Instead of the lettuce-wrapped burrito, you could opt for a salad of romaine topped with the beans, cheese tomatoes and guacamole.)
Nutrition information per serving (2 tortillas) for your family’s burritos:
11 grams fat
68 grams carbohydrate
14 grams fiber
4 grams sugar
32 grams protein
Nutrition information per serving (1 tortilla, 1 lettuce) for your burritos:
8 grams fat
48 grams carbohydrate
12 grams fiber
3 grams sugar
20 grams protein
Barbeque Chicken vs. Herb-Rubbed Chicken
I happen to LOVE barbequed chicken, and would be happy to douse every bite I take with a little extra sauce. The truth is barbeque sauce is high in sugar and high in calories. To make matters worse, most side dishes that traditionally go with this meal aren't too healthy — think mashed potatoes and buttered corn on the cob. I’ve adapted a traditional barbeque plate to be healthier for your family, and lower in calories for you. 4 servings.
- 4 (4- to 6-ounce) pieces boneless skinless chicken breasts
- ½ cup bottled barbeque sauce, plus 2 tbsp barbeque sauce, divided
- 2 tsp Cajun or jerk seasoning
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 3 ears of corn, steamed
- ¼ cup corn niblets (fresh or frozen)
- 1 cup broccoli florets
- 4 baked new (red) potatoes
Your family’s chicken:
Marinate 3 of the chicken breasts in the ½ cup of barbeque sauce for at least 20 minutes, and up to 4 hours (always marinate in the refrigerator to keep your food safe from bacterial growth). Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the chicken and the barbeque sauce in an ovenproof dish and cook for about 20-25 minutes, or until cooked through. Serve chicken with an ear of corn and a baked new potato.
Spray a nonstick skillet or a grill pan with nonstick cooking spray. Season your chicken with 2 tsp of Cajun or jerk seasoning and cook in the pan for about 4 minutes on each side, or until cooked through. Meanwhile, mix together the broccoli and corn niblets and steam in the microwave or on your stovetop. Serve the chicken with 2 tbsp of barbeque sauce on the side for “dipping” with the steamed vegetables and a baked new potato.
Nutrition information per serving for your family’s chicken:
5 grams fat
69 grams carbohydrate
19 grams sugar
7 grams fiber
38 grams protein
Nutrition information for your chicken:
4 grams fat
50 grams carbohydrate
10 grams sugar
9 grams fiber
37 grams protein
I hope you and your family enjoy these recipes! Please share a few of your own below!
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