Healthy meals can be quick meals

Plan ahead to avoid bad meal choices

Somewhere between school, work and play, a family’s got to eat.

When pressed for time, it can be tempting for parents to place convenience over health when feeding their families, but nutritionists at Dayton Children’s Medical Center say even the busiest parents can prepare nourishing meals that don’t require much time in the kitchen.

“Planning is essential,” said Rachel Riddiford, clinical nutrition manager at Dayton Children’s Medical Center and a mother of five. “Once you have children, it’s difficult to think about spontaneously putting together a meal.”

Riddiford says parents shouldn’t be afraid of serving items like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or offering breakfast foods for dinner when time is limited. Frozen or canned vegetables can also come in handy in a time crunch.

Preparing large quantities of food in a slow cooker also saves time and often provides enough food for leftovers that can be used for lunches and dinners the next day.

Her motto: “When you have time, cook. When you don’t, use what you’ve already prepared.”

Here are two of Riddiford’s favorite family recipes and preparation tips, followed by recipes from two other Dayton Children’s nutrition experts.


1 boneless pork shoulder (24 ounces), trimmed of all fat

8-10 ounces BBQ sauce

8 whole grain buns

Place meat in slow cooker and cover with BBQ sauce. Cook on low heat for 8 hours. Remove meat from slow cooker and place into a pan with low sides (a cutting board works, but the meat juices spread). Shred pork with a fork or cut into pieces. Return meat to slow cooker to remix with the sauce.

Serves 8 (meat freezes well for later use if you don’t feed this many people!)


• A platter of sliced tomatoes and cucumbers drizzled with balsamic vinegar and added black pepper to taste.

• Corn (“Super yummy when still on cobs and in husks, soaked in water for 20 minutes and then grilled until the corn is softened.”)

• Coleslaw

• Slice onions added to the pork sandwich

• Watermelon

• Sliced apples

• Tossed salad with dark greens, Craisins, and chopped walnuts.


1 cup oats

1 ¾ cup skim milk

Optional additions: 2-3 tsp brown sugar or 1 tsp cinnamon sugar, ¼ cup dried fruit (chopped apricot or dates, raisins, Craisins, or blueberries), 1 Tbsp peanut butter, 1 Tbsp chopped nuts, one egg (mix in near the end of cooking quickly so that the egg does not cook separately but does cook thoroughly)

Cook oatmeal according to package directions. Microwave cooking goes quickly and clean up is a breeze if you put the cooking bowl into the dishwasher.

SUMMER QUINOA SALAD (recipe from Marisa VanSchuyver, clinical dietitian at Dayton Children’s.)

2 cups cooked quinoa

1 chopped cucumber

1 red bell pepper

1 ear fresh grilled corn, sliced off stalk (or ½ cup frozen corn)

½ cup lemon juice, fresh squeezed tastes best

¼ cup olive oil (or vegetable oil of your preference)

Salt and pepper to taste

Sprig of fresh cilantro or basil

Cook quinoa according to instructions and let cool. Chop veggies and add to cooled quinoa. Add lemon juice, oil and salt and pepper. Mix well. Top with fresh cilantro or basil.

This easy summer recipe with the whole grain quinoa provides fiber and protein, VanSchuyver says. “The healthy fats from olive oil and the antioxidants from the red, yellow, and green vegetables all boost the immune system and taste great. This recipe can be adapted to any vegetables available and is a great side to our summer BBQ!”

REFRESHING MANGO SALSA (recipe from Glenda M. Christian, Pediatric Dietitian, Dayton Children’s Medical Center)


• 1 mango, diced and peeled

• 1/2 cup peeled, diced cucumber

• 1 tablespoon finely chopped jalapeno

• 1/3 cup diced red onion

• 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

• 1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves

• 1/2 teaspoon Paprika

• Kosher salt and Ground pepper to taste


Combine the mango, cucumber, jalapeno, red onion, lime juice, cilantro leaves and paprika and mix well. Season with kosher salt and ground pepper to taste.

Can also be used on grilled chicken or fish. Great salsa to make the day before serving as the seasonings become even more flavorful in the Mango Salsa the next day!

Prep Tip: Mangos have a large oval shaped seed in the middle so when cutting up an unpeeled mango, slice about 1/3 from the outer edges. Lay each outer 1/3 sections on a cutting board and slice from top to bottom about 1/4 “ rows. Turn 45 degrees and repeat slicing ¼ inch rows. This will form your diced sections of Mango once separated from the peeling. Another suggestion is to push the peeling up from the middle which creates a crowned cubed mango that can be used as the center piece of a fruit tray. Cut, dice and peel the remaining mango from the seed. Have FUN creating great foods in your kitchen!

Thank you for reading the Dayton Daily News and for supporting local journalism. Subscribers: log in for access to your daily ePaper and premium newsletters.

Thank you for supporting in-depth local journalism with your subscription to the Dayton Daily News. Get more news when you want it with email newsletters just for subscribers. Sign up here.