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.

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, She’s coaching the Lehman family through the six-month Healthy Family Challenge.

7 Time-Saving Tips for Making Healthy, Home-Cooked Meals

Crispy Bean & Cheese Burritos

Cooking every night can be a daunting endeavor especially when you’ve been at work all day. It’s definitely one of the reasons many people resort to fast food, take-out or frozen meals. But don’t be discouraged by the clock. You can pull together a home-cooked meal in a snap. Here’s what I recommended to the Avaglianos because I know how pressed they are for time.

#1: Create a daily menu for the week.  It’s best to do this on the computer because eventually you’ll create enough menus and shopping lists that you can cut, paste, rotate and repeat the weeks instead of coming up with new ideas.

#2:  Decide who is in charge of what meal. It’s important to delegate cooking responsibilities especially if you have older children in the house.

#3: Seek out great recipes. Check out these 20-minute meals and shortcut suppers. And don’t try to make anything too complicated especially when you know you only have a short amount of time.

#4: Use your shopping list. Going to the store with a firm plan makes it so much quicker to shop. Don’t forget to double the ingredients if you want to make enough for the next night’s meal or the following day’s lunch. This will ultimately save you time and money.

#5: Stick to ingredients you need. Don’t get lured into buying what’s on sale that week or sweet treats you don’t need when you are shopping. But do leave room for healthy snacks and lots of fruit and vegetables to snack on.

#6: Prep ahead of time. If you know you need chopped onions in 3 recipes then get a bunch of them chopped on Sunday when you get back from the grocery store and keep them in a plastic container until you are ready to use them.

#7: Make it known. Print out and post the schedule and menu on the refrigerator so all family members know when it is their turn to cook dinner!

 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 #21: Can We Have It All?


I say YES! In this game of weight loss and living a healthy life, getting to the gym and making low-cal meals takes time. Time away from your significant other, children, housework and extended family. How do I manage all that is on my plate and still have time to work out and be healthy? In a word…Partnership.

Andy and I have partnered with one another and have unwavering support for the other in this journey. Not just with in the Family Circle challenge but in life. We realize what we have to lead and its good for Anna and Jack to see us make time to do all that we have to and maintain good health and loss the excess energy.

Weight loss success also takes commitment. You have to be so committed to your goals and really stop and think how is this going to help me in reaching the end result.

How are you willing to work on your partnerships and commitment to win at weight loss? Post a comment and tell me!

Peggy, Week #21: 10 Truths To Help You Lose Weight

peggy avagliano

So, what have we learned? If I had to make a short list of what I’m taking away from the challenge, here’s what the past (nearly) six months have taught me and my family.

Focus on three basics:

  • Exercise. Nothing else will help you fit into the jeans you want to wear. Find an activity you love. Make it easy for you to do it.
  • Drink water! Eight glasses a day. It works! You will want to eat less, and you will feel better.
  • Plan ahead. Fast food is the easy option for those who are not prepared. Be prepared, and you will eat healthier and save money!

Make smart choices:

  • Avoid buying junk food. If I buy foods that are bad for me, I will eat them. I have no willpower when it comes to chocolate. The best solution: Get rid of the junk, do not buy more and don’t make any at home.
  • Don’t have just any old dessert. I used to eat ice cream sundaes with peanut butter and hot fudge sauce. Now I have a cup of sorbet or vanilla frozen yogurt with raspberries and bananas. Make Jello and sugar free pudding with fat free milk.
  • Give in if it makes sense. If you really want something, eat it, but be conscious of the amount of food you consume. For example, if you really want an ice cram, have it. But not while you are sitting in front of the television or talking on the phone and distracted. Enjoy it. Make the calories count.

Be accountable:

  • Track your results. Use or any of the free websites on line to track your results. Buy a Fitbit or other tracking device. I loved mine, and wish I had not lost it. These devices help to make you accountable to yourself! Other websites, like tie into the Fitbit site and reward you with gift certificates for achieving your goals!
  • Get a buddy. Having someone to share your weight loss journey with makes it easier to stick with it.

Never, ever, ever give up:

  • If you totally blow your new diet, just start again the next day. Do not feel like you should wait to start over on Monday, since you blew it on Friday night. You’ll have a reason to not start on Monday too!

Begin right now:

  • You’ll never lose weight simply by reading about it. Start today.

What one truth of weight loss do you believe everyone needs to know? Post a comment and let me know!