This post was written by Erin Palinski-Wade
If you are a parent, most likely you want what’s best for your child. You probably do everything from ensure your child’s car seat is secured correctly to making sure they brush their teeth twice a day. So what if there was one family activity that you could do that would make your child 35% less likely to engage in disordered eating, 24% more likely to eat healthier foods, and 12% less likely to be overweight? The good news is that such an activity does exist. By simply eating dinner together as a family you can offer all of these amazing benefits to your child!
That sounds so simple, right? Just sit down to a dinner together and your family will be healthier for it. But family dinners aren’t always as easy as they sound. I’m a working parent myself so believe me, I understand the struggle. Between juggling work commitments, evening activities, childcare schedules, and grocery shopping, it can be hard to find even ten minutes to prepare a family meal. As a dietitian, I am always on the lookout for healthy foods and products that can help me save time in the kitchen while providing a nutritious meal to my family. That’s why I was beyond excited to find the delicious line of wraps from Flatout. They are essentially a blank canvas in which you can create a large variety of healthful meals quickly and easily. And the meals you can create are so simple you can even let your children get in on the action!
When I plan out a family dinner, there are four essential components it must have to ensure it is a well-balanced, nutrient rich meal:
The Four Components of a Healthy Dinner
Adequate dietary protein is an essential part of a healthy diet. Proteins serve many critical roles in the body. For instance, they act as the building blocks to muscle tissue and also help to regulate appetite and stabilize blood sugar levels. But high fat animal proteins, such as sausage and bologna, are rich in saturated fats, which may have a negative impact on overall health. Although a good source of protein should always be provided at dinner, you should try to have it come from either a plant based source or a lean animal source. Options such as fish, chicken breast, eggs, beans, and lentils are all great sources.
Grains provide a significant source of energy to our body, but you need to take care when selecting grains that you are choosing 100% whole grain options. Refined grains contain little fiber and often have nutrients removed (although they are sometimes added back later on). Whole grains, such as brown rice and whole-wheat wraps, are rich in filling fiber along with B vitamins such as folic acid, helping to promote overall health and steady levels of energy.
It’s no secret that eating enough produce is an important component to overall health, but the majority of us just don’t get enough. The most recent research from National Fruit & Vegetable Alliance shows the majority of adults and children in the US fail to reach the daily recommendations for fruits and vegetables. One of the easiest ways to boost your overall intake is to make sure you have a fruit or a vegetable at every meal and snack. And dinner is no exception! Whether you mix in diced tomatoes with your pasta, add stir-fried vegetables to your rice, or enjoy a side salad with your meal, just make sure you add them in at each and every meal!
Fat often gets a bad rap, but plant-based fats offer many health benefits such as increasing your ability to absorb certain nutrients to decreasing inflammation and boosting heart health. Adding a good source of healthy fat into your dinner meal is a great way to ensure you get enough each day. Healthy fats are found in plant-based oils such as olive oil as well as in nuts, seeds, avocado, and olives. You can top a salad with chopped walnuts, cook up your vegetables in olive oil, or toss a handful of sesame seeds into a stir-fry. There’s so many ways you can add in healthy fats to your family’s meal when you get creative!
If you follow the above list, in just four easy steps, you can provide your family with a well-balanced, nutritious meal. But if you are looking at these steps and thinking that you do not have the time to whip up a meal with all of these components, think again. You can pull together a delicious and healthy meal in minutes. To show you how simple it can be, I created this easy Slow Cooker Balsamic Honey Chicken Vegetable Wrap recipe. It’s literarily a set it and forget it sort of a meal that almost cooks itself. All you have to do is toss the ingredients in a slow cooker in the morning. When you come home at the end of the day, just quickly shred the chicken (which takes almost no time at all thanks to the slow cooker), wrap it up in a Flatout, and serve. It’s that easy!
Slow Cooker Balsamic Honey Chicken Vegetable Wrap
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast
¾ cup balsamic vinegar
1 Tbs honey
1 tsp cornstarch
1 Tbs minced garlic
1 cup red onion, sliced
1 cup red pepper, sliced
½ cup feta cheese, crumbled
6 Tbs walnuts, chopped
3 cups fresh spinach leaves
1 ½ cup strawberries, sliced
6- Flatout ProteinUp wraps
non-stick cooking spray
- Spray the bottom of your slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray and evenly space chicken breasts out on the bottom.
- Pour vinegar, honey, garlic, and cornstarch over top of chicken.
- Add in the red onion and pepper, cover, and set to high for 4 hours (or place on a low setting to cook for 6-8 hours).
- After chicken has been thoroughly cooked, use a fork to shred evenly.
- On a large plate, spread ½ cup of spinach leaves evenly over the Flatout ProteinUp wrap. Top with 1 ½ tablespoons of feta cheese and 1 tablespoon of walnuts.
- Sprinkle ¼ cup sliced strawberries over top of spinach. Then top with the shredded chicken and vegetable mixture.
- Roll into a wrap and repeat with the remaining wraps.
- Serve warm.
- Makes 6 servings.
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
Carbohydrates 27 grams
Fiber 20 grams
Protein 33 grams
Fat 10 grams
 Fiese, B. & Hammons, A. (2011). Is frequency of shared family meals related to the
nutritional health of children and adolescents? Journal of the American Academy of
Pediatrics, 127, 1565-1574.
Disclosure: This post has been sponsored by Flatout Flatbread. All opinions are my own.