Healthier Family Favorites

No doubt that work, school and outside activities can make it hard to schedule regular family dinners. But research has shown that eating together on a regular basis helps to bond families and build good communication.

Every family has a few favorite go-tos – whether pizza, tacos, pasta or otherwise. With the New Year, try to create some healthier versions of your family favorites. This means try to incorporate more vegetables, and also offer a way for the family to get involved in helping make the recipes.

Turkey Taco Lettuce Wraps

This simple recipe takes taco night to a healthier level. By swapping regular tortillas for lettuce wraps, you’re making these lighter and incorporating more vegetables. If you prefer tortillas, you could also swap regular tortillas for whole wheat tortillas. Get the family involved by making a taco bar with their favorite toppings: onions, tomatoes, peppers, cheese, salsa, etc.!

Ingredients

· 1.3 lbs 99% lean ground turkey
· 1 tsp garlic powder
· 1 tsp cumin
· 1 tsp salt
· 1 tsp chili powder
· 1 tsp paprika
· 1/2 tsp oregano
· 1/2 small onion, minced
· 2 tbsp bell pepper, minced
· 3/4 cup water
· 4 oz can tomato sauce
· 8 large lettuce leaves from Iceberg lettuce

Directions

1. Brown turkey in a large skillet breaking it into smaller pieces as it cooks.
2. When no longer pink, add dry seasoning and mix well.
3. Add the onion, pepper, water and tomato sauce and cover. Simmer on low for about 20 minutes.
4. Wash and dry the lettuce.
5. Divide the meat equally between the 8 leaves and place in the center of each leaf and top with your favorite taco fixings!

Turkey Spaghetti Zoodles

This is a fun recipe with the spiralized zucchini “noodles.” It’s a simple way to incorporate more veggies, and the zoodles take on the texture and flavor of regular spaghetti. If you prefer to still use pasta, swap your regular pasta for whole wheat pasta as an alternative.

Ingredients

· 4 medium zucchini spiralized
· 1 1/4 pounds ground turkey breast
· 1 cup green bell pepper diced
· 1 tbsp. minced garlic
· 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
· 2 cups baby spinach
· 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
· 3 cups marinara sauce
· 2 tsp Italian seasoning
· 1/4 tsp salt
· 1/2 tsp pepper

Directions

1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat with olive oil.
2. Add turkey breast, garlic, bell pepper and seasonings. Using a spatula break up the meat and cook until just browned 4-5 minutes.
3. Next add baby spinach and marinara sauce and cook another 3 minutes then add zoodles to the skillet.
4. Using a tongs, stir zoodles into the sauce. Cook another 2-3 minutes to make the zucchini a little tender.
5. Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator up to 3 days.

Make-Your-Own Veggie Pita Pizzas

This is a perfect family meal to get the kids involved by adding their own favorite pizza toppings! You could add any of your family’s favorite vegetables on top of these pita pizzas.

Ingredients

· Base: 4 large whole grain pita rounds
· Sauce: Marinara or pesto
· Vegetables:
· Baby spinach, sautéed
· Mushrooms, coarsely chopped and sautéed
· Onion, sliced into thin half-moons and sautéed
· Red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch dice and sautéed
· Cheese: Shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese or Crumbled Feta cheese
· Extra virgin olive oil for sautéing

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Arrange the pita rounds on one large baking sheet.
2. Spread pasta sauce or basil pesto (or both) on each pita and then top with your choice of vegetables and cheese.
3. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the cheese melts and is lightly browned.

Eating healthier is easier when the whole family takes part. By incorporating simple swaps in your favorite recipes, you can make recipes lighter, healthier and just as flavorful.

While many focus on healthier eating for their New Year’s resolution, healthy eating is a lifestyle change. So incorporate your family in on the process – have them help by choosing healthy recipes, being involved in the cooking process and enjoying the meals together.