National Nutrition Month-by Devon Brownlee MS, RD, LDN
March is National Nutrition Month! This is a month full of education and increased awareness started by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to encourage healthy eating and physical activity. Rather than promoting a select theme this year, the Academy is encouraging greater flexibility in communicating healthful messages. For this month, National Nutrition Month will be honored as its own theme focusing on its original purpose to ‘increase the public’s awareness of the importance of good nutrition’.
In focusing on optimal nutrition, mealtime remains an important part of an overall healthy lifestyle. Sharing meals together as a family not only helps to strengthen relationships among parents and children, but also promotes favorable health outcomes during childhood. For adolescents, family meals can encourage feelings of security and belonging within the household. Families who dine together have more time to talk, catch-up, and check in with one another. In building stronger connections, families who eat more meals together show lesser rates of overall stress and heightened moods.
A previous report by CASA suggests children who regularly eat meals with their parents at least five nights each week perform better in school and are twice as likely to receive As and Bs in class than children who share three meals or less weekly. Beyond the many mental health and communication benefits of sharing meals together, children who eat with their parents are less likely to be overweight or obese as they are enjoying healthier, more balanced choices. Children who consume more meals prepared at home show an increased intake of key nutrients such as calcium, iron, and fiber. When involved with meal preparation, children are more likely to try new food choices which encourages overall health through a wider variety of foods.
Preparing more meals at home is also shown to be more cost-effective in the long-term. In the year 2007, according to the National Consumer Expenditure Survey from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, families spent around $8.00 per meal outside the home and only $4.50 per meal made in the kitchen. To help spark your creativity, here is an easy, balanced meal idea everyone can prepare at home.
Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas!
You will need:
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
¾ teaspoon salt
1 large red bell pepper, sliced,
1 large yellow bell pepper, sliced
2 cups sliced red or yellow onion (about 1 large onion)
1 tablespoon lime juice
8 corn or whole-wheat tortillas, warmed
*Lime wedges, cilantro, low-fat sour cream, avocado, and/or salsa for serving
Let’s get cooking!
- Preheat oven to 400F. Coat a large rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.
- Cut chicken breasts in half horizontally, then slice crosswise into strips. Combine oil, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, and salt in a large bowl. Add the chicken and stir to coat with the spice mix. Add bell peppers and onion, stirring to combine. Transfer the chicken and vegetables to the prepared baking sheet and spread in an even layer.
- Roast on the middle rack for 15 minutes. Leave the pan there and turn the broiler to high heat, broiling the chicken until it is cooked through and the vegetables have browned slightly, about 5 minutes more. Remove from the oven and stir in lime juice.
- Serve the chicken and vegetables in warmed tortillas along with lime wedges and topped with cilantro, sour cream, avocado, and salsa if desired!
Per Serving: 357 calories; 12g fat (2g sat fat); 6g fiber; 33g carbohydrates; 30g protein; 83mg cholesterol; 5g sugars; 0g added sugars; 573mg sodium; 142mg vitamin C; 76mg calcium; 761mg potassium; 2013 IU vitamin A.
*Serving size 2 fajitas per person
Make sure to check out our other blog post on some fun ways to get moving as a family in the winter!