4 Ways To Get Healthy Dinners On The Table Faster

Tuna with Fresh Cherry Tomato Sauce

For the busy Avagliano Family, I keep trying to emphasize the importance of knowing what’s in the food they are eating. Because cooking every night is not an option, they need to “assemble” some of their meals instead. One way to do that is to prep the basics on the weekends and then use them to make many different meals. Here are some of my favorites:

Prep homemade tomato sauce and serve it…

  • with cooked pasta and a big green salad.
  • on top of a mild white fish, along with small handful of olives and capers and roast in the oven just until fish flakes.
  • on your chicken breast with a spoonful of sauce and a thin slice of fresh mozzarella and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese and bake in the oven.

Prep a roast chicken and…

  • serve with roasted broccoli and a sweet potato for a nice Sunday dinner.
  • make quesadillas with the chicken; add some shredded cheese, fresh chopped tomatoes and cilantro and warm it in the oven or in a pan on the stove top.
  • chop the chicken up and make it into a salad with a little mayo, some raisins, celery a pinch of salt and some fresh pepper. Serve it on a green salad or in a whole wheat pita pocket.

Prep a seared and roasted pork tenderloin and…

  • enjoy it hot out of the oven with brown rice and a vegetable stir-fry.
  • slice and have it on a whole grain bread with lettuce, tomatoes and mustard.
  • shred the pork and add it to baked taco shells; top with lettuce, a little cheese, chopped avocado and your favorite salsa.

Prep roasted vegetables and…

  • have them room temperature in a sandwich with a dollop of goat cheese.
  • cook some whole wheat pasta to stir in; sprinkle with some freshly grated parmesan cheese.
  • add them to an omelet along with some rye toast with a drizzle of olive oil.

Registered dietician Elizabeth Fassberg runs Eat Food, a New York City-based company that designs and delivers custom food and nutrition programs for businesses, organizations and individuals. She’s coaching the Avagliano family through the six-month Healthy Family Challenge.

Tiffany, Week #23: The Real Reason I Wanted To Slim Down


When we first began this challenge I had a pretty good idea of why I was doing it. I want the luxury of being able to go to White House Black Market, buy a dress and look amazing and then take Andy out on a date. Really, I wanted to go into any store that doesn’t sell anything larger than an XL, shop and have the clothes look good on me. I was tired of having clothes be a means to cover the excess energy–that is Lass’, my personal trainer at Gold’s Gym, term for fat.

But when I thought about it, I realized the true driving force behind our participation in the challenge was the legacy we leave. (What were we teaching Anna and Jack about how to live when they become adults?) Not to mention overall health. (There are so many illnesses that can be avoided just by being in a healthy weight range.) As I’ve shared before, my mom had a heart attack and had to have triple bypass at 60 and she’s in good physical health. Andy’s mom passed due to high blood pressure causing a stroke.  Both of these women are in a normal weight range but were not very healthy.  I’m happy to report today that my mom is very healthy, watches what she eats, works out and is living a full life.

Even if you can’t be a part of a challenge like this, think about your family health history and the legacy you want to leave your kids. Then sit down and write down some health goals.  Don’t leave anything out.  Be as vain as you want to (ie. I want to look hot for my upcoming high school reunion). But also set some practical ones that will uplift your family. Create a timeline and then get going.

What are your family’s get-healthy goals? Post a comment and tell me!

Challenge Yourself: The #1 Way to Get Your Kids In Shape

As told to Maria Masters by TJ Loos, Tilton Fitness

Competitiveness isn’t always a bad thing—in fact, this instinct often pushes us to perform at our highest levels. The more effort we put into something, the more benefits we reap from it. Take sports, for example. The harder we train at them, the more physically fit we become. And when we’re really motivated, we often maximize those workouts.

Parents play a major role in a encouraging a healthy lifestyle. First and foremost, they must lead by example. If Mom or Dad prefers to watch TV in their spare time, the children will invariably follow suit.

When your kids are young, it’s best to set some time aside for them to run around. Encourage them to go outside and play a game of tag, set up an obstacle course for them in the backyard or take the lead in a game of Simon Says—and command them to do a quick sprint or two. But as children grow older, they’ll primarily get their exercise through sports. And since these activities are designed to bring out their competitive nature, kids will start playing them with a level of competitiveness that’s sure to rev up their fitness levels.

Here are a few sports to encourage:

* Basketball: You don’t have to fill up the court with players—a one-on-one game can be a great cardio workout. Players need to be quick, versatile, and coordinated. Plus, you’d be surprised at how a sudden jump for a rebound or a block attempt can recruit the same muscles that you’d use in a plyometric workout.

* Swimming: Nothing gets your heart pounding like a race in the pool. Swimming requires us to use just about every one of our muscles. Bonus: The water acts as resistance, which we don’t normally get on land, so we have to work extra hard to move around.

* Tennis: Because this sport mimics interval training—i.e., repeated short bursts of movements followed by a period of rest—it can also be a great endurance workout. And it demands a lot of our muscles; your arms have to constantly return the ball and your legs need to move with speed and agility.

Helping your kids lead an active, healthy lifestyle does require some effort—but it might be easier than you think. Remember:

  • Be an example.
  • Set some time aside each day for your children to run around.
  • Take part in the activities with them.

Lastly, choose sports that are fun, and activities that will spark the imagination. That way, your kids will be even more enthusiastic about getting in shape.

 Maria Masters is the associate health editor at Family CircleTJ Loos is a certified personal trainer at Tilton Fitness in Galloway, New Jersey; he’s coaching the Avagliano kids’ coach for the Healthy Family Challenge.

Tiffany, Week #22: Why I’m Excited To Turn 40


In January I will be celebrating a big birthday. I’ll be 40! Most women I know do not look forward to turning 40. Me, I can’t wait.

You’re probably wondering why. Well, I spent my first 40 years making a lot of mistakes and I want the next 40 of my life to be the best! I want to experience life without regret, be in peak physical health, keep on living my life to the fullest with Andy by my side and raise our kids and watch them grow into young adults, go to college, get married, etc.

What this journey has taught me is to be content. When I am content is when I’m the most happy. When I’m wanting something so bad and I have selfish motives I am not content and success is usually not on my side. However, when I think less about me and more about others, my life is far more blessed and full.

So here I am about to turn 40 and I can’t wait.  I am so excited to see what my future holds and I’m so honored to have shared my life with all of you.  Thank you for giving back to me and being so supportive. I couldn’t have done it if it were not for you knowing we have you cheering us on!

I want you to know that even though this journey is over we have only just begun.  We have so much more in front of us. Not just in health but in life and I know that there will be trials in both but I can’t wait for them because I believe in struggle is when growth and success is right around the corner.

How do you/did you feel about turning 40? Post a comment and tell me!

Do You Still Need a Food Journal?

FLogg Journal

Even after you lose weight, it’s a good idea to keep a food journal. Why? Because it prevents you from slipping back into your old habits–the ones that caused you to gain all that weight you worked so hard to take off!

You don’t have to keep a journal every day or every week but it’s a good idea to write down what you eat for a few days each month. Keep a reminder on your calendar. Or, if you’re sitting waiting somewhere, take out a piece of paper or your smart phone and just jot down what you had to eat that day or the previous day.

Writing down what you eat has several benefits. One, you see patterns starting to form. Are you starting to eat more fried foods? Drinking more high calorie beverages? Two, you have to think about portion sizes. Did you have one cup of cereal at breakfast or did you just fill the bowl and not think about it? And three, it makes you count those little bites that you would rather not think about, like that chicken nugget you stole from your son’s plate or those fries your daughter didn’t finish.

So if you’ve lost the weight and tossed your food journal aside, consider getting it out again. It’s not just for dieters. It’s a useful tool for anyone trying to eat a healthy diet or maintain their weight.

Through her Des Moines-based nutrition company, SK Health Communications, registered dietitian Stephanie Karpinske writes and develops recipes for magazines, books, supermarkets and food companies. She is the author of Read Before Dieting: Your 4-Step Plan for Diet Success and writes a blog about healthy eating, foodnuti.com. She’s coaching the Lehman family through the six-month Healthy Family Challenge.