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Eating Well at Home: Plan Meals Together

April 22, 2020
Published in: COVID-19, Nutrition

Mother chopping peppers with younger daughter. Dad sauteing with older daughter.

So many of us are dealing with a lot of change, stress and uncertainty during this time. However, in speaking with my fellow Augusta Health Dietitians, we have all agreed upon one "silver lining"—the connections we are creating with our family members during meal time. Instead of nights full of sports practices and homework, we are sitting around the table enjoying a healthy meal and each other's company.

close-up of chicken quesadilla on a plateAccording to Augusta Health dietitian Cheryl Miller MS, RD, "One of the first things you can do as a family is to plan the meals together. Let each family member pick a night and they get to decide what's on the menu. Theme nights are a big hit with my kids. One night it might be Asian cuisine, followed by Tex-Mex, American classics, Italian, Finger foods, Vegetarian, Land and Sea, and so on."

Mary Beth Landes, MS, RD, CSO, dietitian in the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders, says, "My tip would be to try new recipes that the entire family can help prepare. An example that I tried with my family is chicken quesadillas. The kids assisted with shredding the cheese, dicing the peppers and onions, mixing the taco seasoning and sautéing the chicken." One of the benefits of having kids participate in meal preparation is that they are more likely to eat the meal. It is a "win-win" for parents! The chicken quesadilla recipe is listed below.

Chicken Quesadillas

Yield: 4 quesadillas
Note: you can use the leftover chicken and vegetables to make healthier "taco salads" or "nachos".

Ingredients

  • 8 large whole wheat flour tortillas
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups of block cheese, grated (we used low-fat Monterey Jack)
  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into petite pieces
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons store bought or homemade Taco seasoning mix (recipes online)
  • 1 large onion, cut in quarter and diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 orange pepper, seeded and diced
  • Butter or Olive oil and Nonstick Cooking Spray for frying

Directions

  1. Sprinkle the chicken pieces with a small amount of salt, pepper, and the taco seasoning. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over high heat. Add the chicken to the skillet and sauté over medium-high heat until done, about 4-5 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pain and set aside.
  2. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet over high heat. Once hot again, add the onion and peppers and sauté 3-4 minutes. Remove and set aside.
  3. Coat the skillet with a small amount of nonstick cooking spray followed by a small amount of butter. Add one whole wheat flour tortilla to the skillet and add cheese followed by chicken and peppers. Top with a small amount of grated cheese and place a second four tortilla on top of the chicken/pepper/cheese mixture. When the tortilla is brown on the bottom side, carefully flip the tortilla to the other side, adding a small amount of cooking spray and butter to prevent sticking or burning. Continue to cook until the second side is a golden brown. Remove from skillet.
  4. Repeat with the remaining tortillas.