Pantry items

Photo: Shimon & Tammar

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Shortcuts to Healthy Meals
  • At the beginning of each week, plan a substantial meal or prepare ample quantities of vegetables and cooked meats. For example, make stir-fried or steamed spinach, broccoli, or leafy greens; roast assorted vegetables; and grill or stew meat, chicken, or tofu. All will keep in the refrigerator and can be used throughout the week in stir-fries, composed salads, or soups and on top of noodles or healthy grains.

  • Stock the fridge with chopped garlic, onions, and ginger, as well as pesto (homemade or store-bought) to season marinades, vegetable side dishes, and cooked meats.

  • Don't be a food snob. You can combine takeout with canned, frozen, and fresh ingredients to make fast and tasty dishes. A decent canned or prepared minestrone soup enriched with leftovers from the fridge—stir-fried or roasted vegetables, cooked meats, a little tomato sauce, a hint of oregano, and a topping of grated Parmesan—makes a satisfying meal. Leftover roasted chicken from the supermarket can be dressed up with a sprinkling of oregano and soy sauce or a spice rub of coriander and cumin and warmed in the microwave.

  • Food should always look luscious. Sprinkle grated carrots on salads, noodle dishes and store-bought dumplings (to make them look homemade). Use sweet potatoes or red onions instead of the usual white varieties. Incorporate colorful and unusual varieties of vegetables and fruits, like multicolored baby tomatoes. Serve meals on interesting platters.

  • If your children won't eat all their vegetables, serve cut-up fruit instead.

  • Take your children to the store and get them involved in shopping and cooking if they are resistant to the food you prepare. Show older kids how to read labels so they're aware of what's in the food they are eating.
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