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Nutrition 101 - Family Meals

July 31, 2018

August is Family Meals Month, very fitting since many kids are going back to school this month.

As you consider getting your family back on a regular schedule, put some extra thought into family meal night. Eating meals together increases the amount of important nutrients consumed such as:

  • Calcium

  • Fiber

  • Iron

  • Vitamins, A, C, E and B6 and B12

Much of this increase in nutrients is attributed to the fact that kids are more likely to eat fruits and vegetables and less snack foods when families dine together. Children that eat family meals are less likely to be overweight.

While the nutritional benefits alone are reason enough to start eating family meals, the benefits extend far beyond just nutrition. Plenty of research has shown that eating regular family meals is associated with children being less likely to try drugs and alcohol, get better grades in school and are more motivated.

While simply eating together is a good place to start, to reap all the benefits listed above it is important that the television is turned off and the focus is on family. Think your teen is not interested in family dinners? Think again! In a 2010 report, 72% of teens considered having frequent family dinners as being important.

Back to school also means back to after school activities for many families. Getting a meal on the table can be no easy task when time is short. Try these tips to have meals on the table in no time.

  • Plan ahead- Being prepared can help avoid fast food stops. Then make sure you follow your plan. Take a few minutes the night before to put the meat in the fridge to defrost.

  • Keep things simple! If you are in a hurry it may not be the best time to try that recipe with 50 ingredients.

  • Keep your pantry stocked. Make sure you have all the essentials for a healthy meal. Canned or frozen fruits and vegetables with no added sugars or sodium can be just as healthy as fresh, with less prep.

  • Get the family involved! Even young children can help if given the right task. Check out this article for age-appropriate tasks.

To find out more information on how small changes to your diet can help with your family’s weight management goals, contact your UnityPoint Health – Marshalltown dietitians at (641) 854-7530 or MT_Dietitians@unitypoint.org.

Click here to find out more information about UnityPoint Health – Marshalltown’s Medical Weight Loss Clinic.

Try this recipe!

Quinoa Pizza Bowls


1 cup dry quinoa

2 cups chicken broth

Pizza sauce

Reduced fat mozzarella cheese

1 tsp of Italian seasoning

Favorite pizza toppings (turkey pepperoni, diced green peppers, mushrooms, sliced red onion, parmesan)


Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cook quinoa in broth according to package directions. When the quinoa is finished cooking, stir ¼ cup of pizza sauce into quinoa. Spray 6 oven-safe ramekins with cooking spray and place on baking tray. Spread 2 tbs of pizza sauce into the bottom of each ramekin. Layer quinoa, pizza toppings and extra sauce in ramekin as desired. Top with mozzarella cheese and bake for about 20 minutes, until cheese is melted and ingredients are heated through.

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