At South Shore Hospital’s February Youth Health Connection Community Coffee “What’s the Big Deal with the Family Meal?”presenter Pamela Fredricks, RN, BSN, CDE emphasized the importance of regularly eating meals together as a family. Fredricks sees the alarming increase in type ll diabetes (no longer called “adult onset”) among young people though her work at South Shore Hospital, and views regular family meals as a key preventative measure. Around the kitchen table, kids can learn portion control and how to make good food choices. Studies show that teens who eat with their family regularly are less likely to smoke, use drugs, engage in risky sexual behaviors and are less likely to attempt suicide. When families improve their communication by spending more time together over dinner (or breakfast or lunch) incidence of eating disorders goes down and grades go up.
Finding a meal everyone wants to eat can be challenging. Foods that encourage each person to customize their dish with their favorite toppings (such as tacos and homemade pizza) are a great way to make everyone happy. Here’s a quick, light and fresh meal that even picky eaters may enjoy:
Asian Lettuce Wraps (serves 4)
1 Pound ground chicken or turkey
2 Tablespoons Canola or other neutral flavor oil
3 scallions, thinly sliced
About 1 Tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/4 Cup rice vinegar
1/4 Cup brown sugar
1/4 Cup soy sauce
1 head of Boston (also called “Bibb” lettuce) leaves carefully removed washed and dried.
Topping Suggestions: Julienne of carrots, cucumber, bell pepper and snow peas; fresh cilantro and mint, sliced fresh chilies, Sriracha or other hot sauce, chopped peanuts, squeeze of fresh lime juice.
Sauté ginger, garlic and scallion in oil about 1 minute, add ground chicken or turkey. Cook, stirring frequently, until meat is no longer pink, approximately 5 minutes. Meanwhile, combine brown sugar, rice vinegar and soy sauce and add to meat. Simmer the meat mixture, reducing liquid, 10 minutes or more. To serve, have each person place some meat mixture into a lettuce leaf with the toppings of their choice. Serve with rice, additional stir-fried or steamed vegetables, and fresh or canned pineapple for dessert.
Tip: Fresh ginger can be stored in a re-sealable bag the freezer and grated on a micro plane zester while still frozen.
Comments, questions and suggestions may be sent to Jennifer Cantwell at firstname.lastname@example.org