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With January First just a few short breaths behind us and 2012 still a wee babe in swaddling clothes, many of us are re-evaluating our own health and fitness as well as the health and fitness of our families. To prepare a healthy dinner is to ensure that at least one meal a day is full of wholesome nutritious goodness and that you and your loved ones are going off to sleep with visions of vitamins dancing in your heads.
During the winter months in colder climes, stews, sauces and slow-cooked, tender dishes filled with meat, potatoes and vegetables can be filling, comforting and packed with the nutrition your body craves. Even in warmer areas, these hearty dishes can be lightened up by adding certain seasonings like cilantro or making a colder version like gazpacho.
Being an enormous fan of the "sneak-it-in" school of healthy dinners, I encourage lots of cooking with stewed things and sauces. I live with three men (okay, one is a teenager and one is a ten-year-old, but the male factor prevails!) who would rather eat a gallon of ice cream than a veggie burrito.
It's not a judgement, it's just the truth. So in order for me to make sure that healthy dinner includes the things they love to eat as well as the things they really need to be eating, I sneak things in all the time.
For example: Not one of them has noticed a switch-out from plain, processed white pasta to whole grain or even veggie pasta. When the sauce is good enough, they barely even grunt as they are eating it.
Another example is spinach. This is one of the very best "sneak" vegetables because it reduces to such a small size when steamed, sauteed or baked that you literally cannot even see it, especially if it's mixed in with loads of other ingredients.
Switching out beef for a leaner meat like ground turkey or even ground chicken is not only healthier but also less expensive. Turkey meatloaf, meatballs and even turkey burgers are delicious when seasoned with garlic, onions, salt and pepper or even kick it up a notch and use a marinade for the meat of your choosing prior to cooking.