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With the start of the school, hectic schedules typically bring about a decline in the nutritional value of meals served in the home. This month we’ll focus on a few foundational concepts and techniques that will enable you to whip up a tasty meal in a hurry and not succumb to the “sins” of poor nutrition. 

First, the basic components of a healthy meal include:

  1. Main entrée
  2. Whole grain food
  3. Fruit and vegetable
  4. Beverage (low/no fat milk, water, low/no calorie options)

Second, convenient and healthy side dishes are a key component of the nutritional content of the meal.  Adding creative yet easy-to-prepare sides can significantly reduce the overall fat content and boost nutrient levels of the total meal.  Remember, 75% of your meal should be veggies, fruits, and/or grains. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Take advantage of ingredients in the produce section that are chopped/shredded for you like vegetables, fruits and salad items. 
  2. Using fresh salad greens in a bag, add nuts, sliced apples, berries, oranges, dried fruits, pre-shredded/chopped veggies, feta, parmesan, reduced fat (2%) shredded cheddar cheese or garbanzo beans. Top with no/low fat dressings.
  3. Serve pre-packaged and pre-washed veggies plain or with a lite dressing for dipping.
  4. Slice some of God’s “prepackaged” foods such as a melons, apples, oranges, bananas, berries, etc.
  5. Choose canned fruit in its own juice or light syrup but drain the fruit from the juice before serving.
  6. Check out the frozen foods aisle for side dishes such as vegetables, potatoes and rice.  Many of these you simply heat in the microwave. 
  7. Potato side dishes include Simply Potatoes, baked potatoes cooked in the microwave and served with I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter Spray.  Trader Joe’s mashed potatoes or frozen potato wedges.
  8. Many brown rice side dishes are available that are already prepared and ready to warm up in the microwave. Check out Trader Joe’s frozen fried rice options.
  9. 100% whole wheat bread/rolls make an easy whole grain addition.
  10. Add a glass of skim milk, which adds some much needed calcium to a meal.

Options for main entrées are many.  Here are some suggestions:

  1. Trader Joe’s Mandarin Orange Chicken- toss with some frozen Chinese vegetables.
  2. Frozen cheese/veggie pizza – add a fruit and veggie.
  3. Trader Joe’s Frozen Turkey Meatballs – add your favorite BBQ sauce, fruit, veggie and whole grain.
  4. Tyson Chicken Nuggets – serve with a veggie, fruit and a glass of skim milk.
  5. Sloppy Joe’s – add pureed mixed veggies to the sauce before adding to the lean ground beef.
  6. Trader Joe’s Spanikopita – simply bake this traditional Greek delight and serve with a salad and fruit.
  7. Breakfast for dinner – scramble eggs with pre-chopped veggies and or lean meat of choice.  Serve with whole wheat toast and fruit of choice.
  8. Healthy Choice or Lean Cuisine frozen dinners – add a fruit, veggie and skim milk.

For more ideas, go to FoodTV.com and check out “30 Minute Meals” and “Semi-Homemade Cooking.”


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Benefits of Families Eating Together
Breakfast – An Investment in Good Health
Easy Ways to Boost Your Nutrition...and Health!
Eating Healthy when Dining Out...Is it Possible?
Fast, Convenient and Health Meals
"Grab 'n Go" Healthy Snacks
Healthy Holiday Eating...You're Kidding Right?
How in the World do you Pick a Nutrition Bar?
It's Never Too Late to Start Moving!
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Lifestyle and Dementia
Organic Foods
Potassium - An Important Mineral for our Health
Reinventing Salad
Simplifying Grocery Shopping
The Obesity Crisis and High Fructose Corn Syrup
The Powerful Pomegranate
"Yes" Foods
Return to Nutrition & Health Tidbits Page


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