Eating a well-balanced diet is easier said than done. Get some inspiration from what a registered dietitian cooks for herself and her family.
Alicia Ford, RD, CDE
Philosophy: I love food and want my young family to have a healthy relationship with it. In our household, my husband and I focus on offering a variety of tastes and textures. Exposing kids to a range of flavors helps them develop an appreciation for wholesome options. Because both of us work, we also value convenient recipes and foods that we can pre-prep.
Breakfast: Between getting ready for work and daycare drop-off our mornings are busy. We prep a lot of breakfasts ahead of time to make sure we have a source of protein and fiber to start the day off right. We tend to make a batch of “veggie egg muffins” on Sundays. We sauté any leftover vegetables from the week (spinach, onions, carrots, tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, etc.), crack a dozen eggs (sometimes leaving out half the yolks), add a sprinkle of cheese, and season with salt and pepper. We bake them up to provide a tasty, portable, reheatable (and even freezable) breakfast. They’re great plain, but can be dressed up with some salsa or hot sauce and served alongside a whole-wheat tortilla or whole-grain toast.
Alternately, we’ll eat a small bowl of plain oatmeal (or overnight oats) with a dollop of sunflower butter, additional sunflower and chia seeds, and 1/2 cup of fruit. On the weekends we make savory oatmeal with caramelized onions, sautéed carrots and spinach, a dollop of plain Greek yogurt, and some hot sauce. Incorporating veggies into breakfast can be tricky, but it’s worth it.
Lunch: Lunch tends to be a “bowl” of some sort because they’re easy to prep and pack. We batch cook whole grains (brown or black rice, quinoa, farro, or teff) and proteins (beans, lentils, or lean meats) over the weekend. Then we portion them out for lunches. Each day we pick a theme (Mexican, Thai, BBQ, etc.) and combine a salad green (arugula, spinach, or mixed greens), 1/2 to 1 cup of whole grains, 2 to 3 ounces of protein, extra veggies, a healthy fat (olives, avocado, nuts, or seeds), and a sauce (salsa, Thrive sauce, BBQ, or Yum Sauce). This balanced meal doesn’t get old because we have countless ways to adjust the ingredients, flavors, and textures. It’s also easy to throw together at the last minute.
Dinner: Dinner varies based on what our busy family has going on after work and daycare. Whenever possible we sit down together at the table for a family meal to reconnect. We always aim to have a source of protein (meatless at least twice a week, and fish once or twice week), vegetables, and fiber. We eat whole-wheat pasta dishes (my kiddos’ favorite) with red sauce or pesto, extra veggies, 3 to 4 meatballs, and a side salad. We also do build-your-own tacos or bowls. Sometimes it’s a hearty vegetable soup with a slice of good bread. A few days a week we will also have a treat as part of the meal and we can chose to eat it first, or at the end like a traditional dessert. That way we are not “surviving our broccoli to get to our brownie,” but instead enjoying our food and its flavor.
Beverages: Water is a favorite and I notice I will drink more if I keep it iced in a cup with a reusable straw. Sometimes I add lemon, lime, or cucumber. I grab seltzer water with flavor if I need some bubbles. I also love cold brew coffee or a small latte as an occasional treat.
Alicia Ford is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes care and education specialist at Vancouver Clinic. She enjoys helping patients find delicious and approachable ways to eat healthier and live better. Learn more about the clinic’s program or discover what our other nutritionists are eating: Part 1: Cindy, Part 2: Natalie.