Creating Healthy Food and Happy Healthy Families

Creating Healthy Food and Happy Healthy Families

During the month of March, National Nutrition Month®, The American College of Healthcare Sciences (ACHS) is focused on nutrition education. We  believe in the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits beginning with young children.

We understand that most parents and grandparents are concerned about what kids do and don’t eat. The solution, in part, can mean making time to gather around the table to eat meals as a family. Easier said than done with the modern families busy lifestyles, we know. The benefit of making an effort to establish a family meal practice allows parents to be role models promoting healthy eating.

Here are some ways you may want to try creating successful family meal times.

  • Keep it simple:  Create a collection of go-to healthy meal recipes that kids like. These can help you get in and out of the kitchen quickly.
  • Choose ingredients that multitask: For instance, instead of making just three chicken breasts, consider making six. This way, you can use the extras in other dishes such as chicken salad or fajitas.
  • Say “no” to takeout:Fast food choices often lack  nutrition your family needs. A simple meal made at home from lean protein, whole grains and fresh or frozen vegetables is more likely to contain the nutrients your family needs without extra sodium and dietary fat.
  • Make it a habit.Make sure each family member knows that everyone is to be home for dinner at a particular time they will begin to look forward to family time.
  • Kids can both learn and help: Involve kids in setting the table, pouring drinks or helping make a salad. When my youngest daughter was in 7th grade, she began planning the family meals for the week and creating the grocery list. We had fun shopping and cooking together. She’s a great cook today.
  • Make it fun: Add some excitement by letting the children take turns planning table decorations that match food themes such as a picnic, barbecue, holidays and various ethnic foods.
  • Avoid random low-nutrient food snacks especially two hours before meals: Chips and cookies can ruin appetites at meal time. Think of snacks as healthy mini-meals that help kids keep their energy up throughout the day. They especially need these during a growth spurt or when engaged in sports.
  • Keep nutrient dense snacks in plain view. A bowl of fruit on the table and vegetable sticks and hummus dip in the refrigerator help kids make good choices. Other snack options are raisons, raw nuts, dried fruit, yogurt and roasted chickpeas.

Here are some fun recipe ideas that kids a sure to like.

Rolled Oats and Apple Bake is a handy make ahead dish to

heat up for a quick healthy breakfast or snack.


1½ cups fat-free milk or soy milk
½ cup packed brown sugar
½ cup egg substitute or egg whites
1 tablespoon melted margarine
½ teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups rolled oats (not instant)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1½ cups chopped apples


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. In a small bowl mix the milk, brown sugar, egg substitute/whites, margarine and cinnamon.
  3. In a larger bowl combine the oats and the baking powder.
  4. Pour the wet mixture into the bowl with the oats; add the apples and stir to combine.
  5. Spoon the mixture into a 8-by-8-inch pan coated with cooking spray and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until top is firm and a toothpick comes out clean in the center.


Jicama Salad is prized for its sweet taste and delicate

crunch that makes an out-of-the ordinary salad


1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup lime juice
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
¼ to ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon salt
1 medium-size jicama, peeled
1 medium-size red bell pepper, minced
½ cup minced fresh parsley


  1. Combine the oil, lime juice, sugar, cayenne, and salt in a large bowl; stir. Set aside.
  2. Chop the jicama and add to the juice mixture (this will prevent browning). Add the pepper and parsley; stir well.
  3. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving. Alternatively, make a day ahead and store, covered tightly, in the refrigerator.

Variation: Peel the jicama and cut into 2-inch-long thin strips. Marinate in a combination of the remaining ingredients (except the red bell pepper). Serve as an appetizer.


Rainbow Yogurt will bring kids to the table for a fun, healthy dessert


Graham Cracker Crust
9 whole graham cracker sheets (yields about 1½ cups graham cracker crumbs)
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted
1 tablespoon honey

Orange Yogurt
¾ cup orange pieces, segmented and membranes roughly peeled
¾ cup plain reduced-fat Greek yogurt

Blackberry Yogurt
¾ cup blackberries
¾ cup plain reduced-fat Greek yogurt
½ teaspoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon honey

Strawberry Yogurt
½ cup strawberries, halved
¾ cup plain reduced-fat Greek yogurt

Chopped Fruit
1 whole kiwi, peeled and diced
1¼ cup small strawberries, diced
1 cup oranges, peeled and cut into ¼-inch pieces
¾ cup blackberries


Graham Cracker Crust

  1. Loosely break graham crackers apart and place into food processor bowl. Pulse crackers until they become a uniform powder.
  2. Add vanilla extract, coconut oil and honey; pulse until all ingredients are evenly incorporated. The texture will be slightly moist, and ingredients will stick together slightly when pressed.
  3. Pour the graham cracker crust mixture into a separate bowl and set aside.

Orange Yogurt

  1. Rinse and dry the food processor bowl.
  2. Peel one large orange; roughly peel the membrane from about six segments (or the equivalent of ¾ cup).
  3. Cut segments into thirds, and place them into the food processor.
  4. Pulse until the mixture is relatively smooth (like a slurry), but not pureed; it’s OK if there are small chunks of orange.
  5. Add yogurt and pulse just until combined. Do not over-mix.
  6. Pour the mixture into a separate bowl and place in the freezer for 20-30 minutes to create a thicker consistency.

Blackberry Yogurt

  1. Rinse and dry the food processor bowl.
  2. Measure out ¾ cup of blackberries and gently wash them.
  3. Place blackberries into the food processor and pulse until the mixture is relatively smooth (like a slurry), but not pureed.
  4. Add lemon juice, honey and yogurt to the slurry; pulse until combined.
  5. Pour mixture into a separate bowl, cover and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes.

Strawberry Yogurt

  1. Rinse and dry the food processor bowl.
  2. Rinse ½ cup strawberries, de-stem and cut them in halves.
  3. Place into the food processor and pulse until the pieces resemble small chunks (like a salsa).
  4. Add yogurt and pulse until combined.
  5. Pour mixture into a separate bowl, cover and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes.

Chopped Fruit

  1. Wash all fruit under cool water.
  2. Peel kiwi and cut off hard ends; dice and place in a bowl and set aside.
  3. De-stem and dice strawberries; measure out 1 ¼ cup, place in a bowl and set aside.
  4. Peel 6-8 orange segments and cut each segment into ¼-inch pieces; measure out 1 cup, place in a bowl and set aside.
  5. Cut blackberries in half; measure out ¾ cup, place in a bowl and set aside.


  • For one 8-ounce cup, begin by putting 2 tablespoons of graham cracker crust into the cup. Level the crust with the back of a spoon and pat down to create a more solid base.
  • Spoon a little less than ¼ cup of the orange yogurt over the graham cracker crust. Smooth layer evenly.
  • Place ¼ cup diced strawberries over the orange yogurt.
  • Add 2 tablespoons of the graham cracker crust and pat down gently.
  • Add a little less than ¼ cup of the blackberry yogurt and smooth layer evenly.
  • Place 3 tablespoons of orange segments on top of the yogurt. Be sure they are visible on the outside of the cup!
  • Add 2 tablespoons of graham cracker crust and pat down gently.
  • Add a little less than ¼ cup of strawberry yogurt and smooth evenly.
  • Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of kiwi and 1 tablespoon blackberries on top.
  • Eat immediately or chill and enjoy later!

Preparation Tips

  • The longer cheesecake cups are able to chill in the refrigerator, the thicker the yogurt will be and the better the layers will stay separated.
  • You may mix and match fruit and yogurt layers or try different fruits altogether. Some good combinations may be blueberry, raspberry and strawberry, or pomegranate, peach and pear!
  • Make a gluten-free version of the crust by substituting pitted dates and almonds for graham crackers.
  • Be gentle when patting down the layers, as the crust is prone to sticking to the yogurt layer.


Pears with the Rich Taste of Caramel is a great way to

enjoy pears throughout the year



4 firm-ripe medium-sized pears, such as Bosc or Bartlett
¼ cup lemon juice
¼ cup prepared caramel sauce or caramel topping


  1. Peel the pears, leaving the stems attached. Cut a thin slice from the bottom of each pear so that the pear will stand.
  2. Place the pears in a saucepan large enough to fit 4 pears without the fruit toppling. Add the lemon juice and 4 cups water.
  3. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, and cook for 10 to 15 minutes or until pears are tender but not falling apart.
  4. Drain the liquid. Place the pears on a plate, cover and chill 3 hours or overnight.
  5. Arrange the pears on individual dessert dishes. Drizzle caramel sauce over the pears, making a small puddle of sauce on the plate.

Cooking Note

  • Instead of using lemon juice and 4 cups water, substitute 4 cups apple juice to cook the pears. If the pears are short on flavor, this will give them a boost.


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