Meals primarily composed of meat and potatoes are long-standing favorites -- just look at hamburgers and French fries. You and your kids love them, but you’d love them even more if you could easily and quickly make them healthier. By changing cooking and preparation methods slightly, knock a tasty -- and healthy -- meat and potatoes-based meal out of the park.
Choose lean cuts of meat for yourself and your family. Even if you’re buying ground beef to make burgers or meatloaf, stick to 90 percent or leaner beef. Add herbs and vegetables for flavor, such as parsley and onions. If they’re mixed into the meat, they’re more difficult to find offensive for all but the pickiest eaters. Your picky eaters can simply have a lean burger without those things mixed in. Lean cuts of meat can dry out more quickly than fattier ones, so you need to cook them quickly or in liquid to keep them moist. Meat-based stews and soups are ideal uses for lean cuts of meat that need long cooking times. Ignore them and do other things while they bubble away on your stove over low heat, or in your slow cooker.
Whether your family prefers potatoes mashed, boiled, roasted or pan-fried, leave the skins on when possible. Besides adding a different texture to your cooked dish, they contain many vitamins and minerals that make potato dishes healthier. They also contain flavor, especially when pan-fried or roasted. Try different kinds of potatoes, including sweet potatoes, which are even more nutritious than white potatoes. You can prepare sweet potatoes the same way you prepare waxy and russets, in most cases. Cube a mix of all three types of potatoes, then toss with a little olive oil, salt, pepper and a dry ranch seasoning mix, then toss them in a hot pan until golden brown on all sides. Mash them up, or use them to thicken your favorite meat-based soup or stew recipe -- the variations are only limited by your imagination.
Integrating Other Vegetables
The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that all families eat a diet made up of 50 percent or more vegetables and fruits. Dress up your potatoes by incorporating other vegetables, such as diced bell peppers, tomatoes and carrots. Buy diced vegetables in many produce sections of supermarkets, or use canned or frozen ones -- drained and thawed, if necessary. If you’re making meat-based soups or stews, it’s easy to add a bunch of vegetables -- and additional nutrition -- to the mix.
Adding Whole Grains
A diet rich in whole grains such as rice, barley, quinoa and whole wheat is essential to a healthy family lifestyle. Make it quick, easy and delicious by throwing some into your meat and potato-centric meals. Add barley to a beef stew with potatoes and vegetables for a complete, balanced one-dish meal. Serve a side of wild rice, or even add a low-sugar rice pudding as a dessert.
- "The Professional Chef"; The Culinary Institute of America; 2006
- USDA: MyPlate
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