7 Family-friendly meals for metabolic health - Levels (2023)

These quick and easy dinner ideas deliver balanced nutrition for your whole family while saving valuable time and energy.

For busy families, it’s easy to pick up takeout or boil a pot of pasta for dinner, but neither of these options is ideal for health.

Ultra-processed convenience foods are mostly devoid of important nutrients, and meals high in refined carbohydrates, such as pasta made with wheat flour, can cause spikes in blood sugar. Over time, regularly eating these types of foods can lead to problems with how our bodies convert food into energy (a.k.a. metabolic dysfunction), which can contribute to even bigger issues. A regular diet of ultra-processed foods may increase the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic conditions—and may even hamper healthy development in children.

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Luckily, healthy cooking can be simple. Your strategy: Keep whole-food ingredients on hand, and have a go-to menu of family-friendly meals that are easy to assemble and unlikely to spike blood sugar. Here, find expert tips and recipes that can help.

Secrets to a Quick and Easy Family Dinner

Planning is key, says Wendy Bazilian, DrPH, MA, RDN, an expert on family nutrition and author of Eat Clean, Stay Lean. “Nutrient-dense meals don’t have to be complicated, so plan ahead and keep it simple,” she adds. Here are some of her top tips to make mealtime easier.

Stock your freezer and pantry with healthy, quick-cooking essentials. If you keep versatile ingredients in your pantry and freezer, you’ll always be prepared to make a nutritious meal. Bazilian loves canned foods like fish (tuna, salmon, or sardines) and beans because they’re shelf-stable and excellent sources of nutrients like protein. Frozen vegetables are just as nutritious as fresh.

Here are some great examples:

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  • Frozen vegetables without any sauce, such as broccoli, spinach, or cauliflower rice
  • Frozen fruits without any added sugar, such as blueberries or strawberries
  • Nuts and seeds, such as almonds or chia seeds
  • Canned legumes with little to no added salt, such as chickpeas or black beans
  • Frozen or canned wild-caught fish, such as salmon
  • Fresh organic, grass-fed meat or poultry, which you can freeze for several months until needed
  • Healthy oils, fats, and sauces, such as olive oil or tahini
  • Healthy alternatives to refined grains, such as konjac pasta

Buy fresh foods to round out meals. Focus weekly grocery shopping on fresh foods or special ingredients you may need. Bazilian recommends turning to ready-made ingredients, like bagged greens for salad and pre-chopped vegetables, to minimize prep and get dinner on the table quickly. You can use vegetable stir-fry kits in different ways: saute them for frittatas, or fold the raw vegetables into wraps.

For more fresh ingredient inspiration, check out this list of foods unlikely to spike your blood sugar.

Swap starchy ingredients for easy-to-prep alternatives. Starchy vegetables like corn and potatoes can cause blood sugar to spike—ditto mass-produced noodles, bread, and rice, which are often heavily processed. Instead, try substitutes like cauliflower rice, Bazilian suggests. Bonus: Cauliflower rice takes less time to cook than traditional rice.

Chop veggies ahead of time. Prep produce on Sunday or in the morning before everyone wakes up. You’ll be grateful that your onions are already sliced and ready to go when you need them. Bazilian also recommends doing a bit of extra work when you have the energy so you can relax when you don’t. Chop extra vegetables for tomorrow’s meal when you’re making dinner.

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Bake chicken to eat the whole week. Instead of cooking a new protein from scratch each night, make a large amount of one for meals all week. A roast chicken or several chicken breasts, for example, can work in an assortment of dishes.

Make a list of go-to, healthy meals. Build a roster of recipes that your family enjoys, suggests Bazilian. When a healthy meal is a hit, make a note of it, and keep it in mind for later. As you get comfortable with the recipes, you’ll save time planning, prepping, and cooking. Love a recipe? Next time, double it so you have enough for two meals.

7 Family-Friendly Dinner Recipes for Better Blood Sugar

Meals made with nutritious whole foods with a balance of protein, fiber, and healthy fats are best for metabolic health. Ready to get cooking? Try these recipes, which you can scale up to fit the size of your family.

1. Cauliflower Rice with Pistachio Chicken

Chicken tenders are usually a winner with kids, so try this bread-free spin on the classic. The secret: A coating of crushed pistachios creates a crunch but with more protein, fiber, and healthy fats. Cauliflower rice is a low-carb alternative to refined rice and fries, which can both spike blood sugar.

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2. Moroccan Chicken with Green Beans

This simple skillet meal features chicken cooked in a sauce of tomatoes, onions, and spices. You’ll get protein from chicken, fiber from green beans, and flavor along with immune-boosting benefits from turmeric. Choose organic chicken whenever possible, and to speed up the cooking process, feel free to use frozen or canned green beans with little to no added salt. Tip: This recipe is for a single serving, but you can multiply it to get the amount you need.

3. Zucchini Noodle Fettuccine with Cauliflower Alfredo

This healthy take on pasta alfredo is creamy but dairy-free, thanks to steamed cauliflower blended with almond milk and nutritional yeast for a cheese-like flavor. You’ll swap carb-heavy pasta that’s sure to spike blood sugar for zucchini noodles (a.k.a. zoodles). If you don’t have time to spiral zucchini, look for prepared zoodles near the bagged salads in the supermarket or sub in a pre-made pasta alternative like konjac noodles.

4. Red Lentils and Spinach in Masala Sauce

Lentils are the nutrition star in this flavorful dinner. Just a half-cup of red lentils provides 23 grams of protein, 10 grams of fiber, and a host of essential micronutrients like folate and iron.

Though red lentils take less time to cook than their brown and green counterparts, you can speed up this recipe even more by preparing the masala sauce in advance. (Note that lentils can cause a glucose spike in some people; starting the meal with protein and fiber or consuming 1 ounce of apple cider vinegar in water with the meal can help blunt the rise.)

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5. Farmers Market Frittata

Have eggs in your fridge? They’re a convenient source of lean protein. Try them in this veggie-packed frittata that’s infinitely adaptable. In the spring, use spinach and broccoli rabe, according to the instructions. But you can easily make seasonal substitutions, like zucchini in the summer and cabbage in the fall.

6. Leafy Green Turkey Tacos

The type of leafy green that you use for these satisfying tacos is entirely up to you. Mark Hyman, M.D., recommends butter or Boston lettuce for options that are slightly sweet and tender but don’t overwhelm the other flavors at play. But curly and Tuscan kale or collard greens provide deeper flavor and more support for the taco filling, so it’s less likely to spill out. For more ideas, check out the best tortilla alternatives.

7. Turkey Meatballs

Unlike most meatball recipes, this one uses almond flour rather than breadcrumbs to bind all the ingredients together. Serve the meatballs on a bed of spaghetti squash, zucchini noodles, or lentil or chickpea pasta for a satisfying meal. If you prefer, you can also plate them alongside whatever vegetables you have.

FAQs

Is NHS Easy meals app free? ›

Residents also access free support from a local health advisor and access over 150 healthy recipes available on their app 'Easy Meals' The app is free to use and available on iOS or Android.

What are the five metabolic super foods? ›

Best 10 foods to boost metabolism
  • Eggs.
  • Flaxseeds.
  • Lentils.
  • Chili peppers.
  • Ginger.
  • Green tea.
  • Coffee.
  • Brazil nuts.

Can I get meal replacement shakes from NHS? ›

Those eligible to take part in the NHS programme are provided with 'total diet replacement' products for 3 months. These soups and shakes provide around 900 calories a day and participants are also given support to increase their exercise levels.

Is there a free meal planner? ›

Paprika Recipe Manager is a mobile app and meal planning tool that helps you to organize your recipe collection and plan your meals based on those recipes you can build shopping lists. It's available for free on the web, on iOS, Android, Windows Phone/Windows RT, Nook, and Kindle devices.

What weight loss apps are completely free? ›

The Best Weight Loss Apps
  • Lose It (FREE) If you prefer visuals over numerical data, Lost It is perfect for you. ...
  • MyFitnessPal (FREE) The MyFitnessPal mobile app serves as your on-the-go food journal. ...
  • Fitter Fitness (FREE) ...
  • HealthyOut (FREE) ...
  • Nike + Training Club (FREE) ...
  • Human (FREE) ...
  • Hot5 Fitness (FREE) ...
  • Cody (FREE)
14 Dec 2020

What is the number 1 healthiest food in the world? ›

Lemons. Lemons have been widely regarded in the health industry as the world's healthiest food. The sour fruit is an alkalising powerfood; they have strong anti-inflammatory qualities and can even help to inhibit the growth of cancer cells.

What is the number 1 best food for you? ›

Top 10 Foods for Health
  1. Water. Drink 8 to 12 cups of water daily.
  2. Dark Green Vegetables. Eat dark green vegetables at least three to four times a week. ...
  3. Whole Grains. Eat whole grains sat least two or three times daily. ...
  4. Beans and Lentils. Try to eat a bean-based meal at least once a week. ...
  5. Fish. ...
  6. Berries. ...
  7. Winter Squash. ...
  8. Soy.

How do you plan a healthy family menu? ›

Plan meals that include a variety of foods so that your family is more likely to obtain all the nutrients needed each day. Serve a balance of family favorites and new recipes. Vary your cooking methods (e.g., grill, bake, broil, and stir fry). Try not to serve the same food twice in the same day.

What should a family of 5 eat for dinner? ›

  • Lazy Lasagna. This is my all time favorite dinner for busy weeknights! ...
  • Chicken & Zucchini Casserole. I've made this recipe countless times, and it's always a hit with my kids. ...
  • The Best Meatloaf. ...
  • Creamy Chicken Tacos. ...
  • Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas. ...
  • Easy Slow Cooker Pot Roast. ...
  • Cheeseburger Casserole. ...
  • Crockpot BBQ Chicken Sandwiches.
13 Aug 2021

What is a healthy meal with all food groups? ›

A salad allows you to fit all food groups in one meal. For example, make your salad with spinach, orange sections, cooked brown rice, roasted chicken and cottage cheese.

What are the 7 power foods? ›

Top 10 Power Foods to keep you healthy
  • Blueberries.
  • Kale.
  • Salmon.
  • Black beans.
  • Sweet potatoes.
  • Walnuts.
  • Avocados.
  • Broccoli.
17 Jul 2018

What are the 7 Superfood? ›

7 Superfoods You Need for a Longer, Healthier Life
  • Fish. A protein-rich, abundant source of omega-3 fats, fish will help prevent cholesterol buildup in arteries. ...
  • Yogurt. Yogurt is full of calcium, just what the doctor ordered to keep our bones strong as we age. ...
  • Chocolate. ...
  • Nuts. ...
  • Olive Oil. ...
  • Eggs. ...
  • Blueberries.
4 Mar 2017

What are the six body building foods? ›

Muscle-building foods
  • Eggs. A boiled or poached egg contains 6.28 g of protein. ...
  • Chicken. A medium chicken breast without skin weighing 120 g contains 35.5 g of protein. ...
  • Turkey. ...
  • Greek yogurt. ...
  • Cottage cheese. ...
  • Salmon.
  • Tuna. ...
  • Milk.
30 Mar 2021

What is a metabolic meal plan? ›

The diet focuses on the way your body metabolizes its food, as those with a faster metabolism are likely to burn more fat. The goal is to speed up the metabolization process for more efficient and effective fat burn. It's also a way of teaching your body to process healthier foods at a quicker rate.

What is the best drink to boost metabolism? ›

Beverages like green tea, coffee and high-protein drinks have been shown to boost metabolism, promote fullness and decrease hunger, all of which may encourage weight loss.

What is the best meal replacement shake to buy? ›

Expert
  1. Huel Powder v3. The best meal replacement shake overall. ...
  2. PhenQ. The best budget meal replacement shake. ...
  3. Exante. The best meal replacement shake for weight loss. ...
  4. Transparent Labs Meal Replacement Powder. ...
  5. Lyfefuel All-In-One Essentials Shake. ...
  6. Garden of Life Raw Organic Meal. ...
  7. Ka'chava. ...
  8. GNC Lean Shake 25.
3 Nov 2022

What happens if you only drink meal replacement shakes? ›

If used as a meal replacement, shakes do not typically carry enough calories to equal your caloric needs from a traditional meal. Insufficient caloric intake can lead to muscle loss, decreased metabolism and fatigue, so you'll need to make up those missing calories if you're replacing a whole meal.

What are the cons of meal replacement shakes? ›

Cons of Meal Replacement Shakes
  • Artificial ingredients. Often, meal replacement shakes have a lot of artificial ingredients because the powder mixes are processed. ...
  • Checking for quality. Some products boast meal replacement but don't live up to expectations. ...
  • Low calories.
22 Jun 2021

What is the best free meal planner? ›

Best Meal Planning Apps of 2022
  • Best Overall: Paprika.
  • Best for Vegetarians: Forks Over Knives.
  • Best Free Option: Yummly.
  • Best for Families: Cozi.
  • Best for Fitness Goals: PlateJoy.
  • Best for Shopping Lists: Mealime.
  • Best for Easy Recipes: MealPrepPro.

Is there an app that tells you what to make for dinner? ›

SuperCook will find you any recipe you need, whether it's for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or even a midnight snack. Save time and money with an intelligent pantry. SuperCook's voice dictation mode allows you to quickly add ingredients to your in-app pantry by simply saying them out loud.

Is it cheaper to do your own meal prep? ›

Cost: Meal prep services and meal kit services are more expensive than cooking yourself. Prices vary, though on average you'll probably pay about $10-12 dollars per serving. Yes, that's probably cheaper than eating at a restaurant or some takeout spots.

How much water should I drink to lose weight? ›

Drinking at least 64 ounces (eight cups) of water every day may help with weight loss. Downing liquid is not the only way to meet this goal. About 20 percent of your hydration needs can be met through your diet, says Caroline Susie, RDN, a national spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

What is the #1 weight loss app? ›

MyFitnessPal. This top-rated weight loss app pairs your workouts with a nutrition plan. With a database of more than 14 million foods, a barcode scanner, food log, and 50 workouts, you get a 360-degree picture of your overall health. Plus, you can connect with the online community for motivation, support, and tips.

What is the most successful weight loss app? ›

Healthline's picks of the best weight loss apps
  • Fitbit app.
  • MyFitnessPal.
  • Lose It! App.
  • FatSecret.
  • Cronometer.
  • Fooducate.
  • Diabetes Tracker by MyNetDiary.
  • Strides.

What 3 foods Can you survive on? ›

  • Perfect Foods. (Image credit: XuRa (opens in new tab) | shutterstock (opens in new tab)) ...
  • Beans. (Image credit: USDA) ...
  • Kale. (Image credit: Justin Jernigan) ...
  • Cantaloupe. (Image credit: stock.xchng) ...
  • Berries. (Image credit: Ohio State University.) ...
  • Barley. (Image credit: USDA) ...
  • Seaweed. (Image credit: NOAA) ...
  • Fish.
8 Dec 2021

What foods should I eat every day? ›

Top 15 healthy foods you should be eating
  • Fish. ...
  • Broccoli or any of the cruciferous vegetables. ...
  • Beets. ...
  • Spinach and other leafy green vegetables. ...
  • Kale. ...
  • Peanut butter. ...
  • Almonds. ...
  • Mangos.
5 Apr 2019

What is the one food you should eat everyday? ›

Experts suggest that there are certain foods that people should eat every day. These include lean protein and a variety of vegetables. Additionally, including foods such as olive oil, nuts, and berries can help people lower their risk of certain chronic conditions.

What is the simplest diet you can live on? ›

Under the diet, each meal should consist of four handfuls of food — one handful of protein, one of carbohydrates, and two of vegetables — plus a spoonful of fat. This means no calorie counting or weighing food portions, which can be difficult if you're on the go or don't own kitchen scales.

What are 7 healthy eating tips? ›

7 Healthy Eating Habits That Will Change the Way You Eat
  • Eat in moderation. Moderation really is the key to success. ...
  • Portion control. Portion size helps you eat in moderation and keeps you from overeating. ...
  • Listen to your body. ...
  • Don't skip meals. ...
  • Know your facts. ...
  • Drink water. ...
  • Don't beat yourself up!
2 Mar 2017

What food gives you the most life? ›

The 10 Best Foods for Longevity
  • Cruciferous Vegetables. These are vegetable powerhouses with the unique ability to modify human hormones, activate the body's natural detoxification system and inhibit the growth of cancerous cells. ...
  • Salad Greens. ...
  • Nuts. ...
  • Seeds. ...
  • Berries. ...
  • Pomegranate. ...
  • Beans. ...
  • Mushrooms.

How do you feed a family of 4 for $100 a week? ›

Shopping List: What You'll Need For The Entire Week
  1. 1 lb frozen ground beef.
  2. 1 lb frozen pork breakfast sausage.
  3. 2 ham steaks.
  4. 3 lb package chicken thighs.
  5. 3 dozen eggs.
  6. 16 oz package shredded cheddar cheese.
  7. 16 oz package shredded mozzarella cheese.
  8. 1 lb deli meat, your choice.
12 Dec 2021

What is a typical 5 course meal? ›

5 course meal: A 5 course dinner menu includes an hors d'oeuvre, appetizer, salad, main course, and dessert.

Which is better 3 or 5 meals a day? ›

There is literally no difference. Multiple studies have compared eating many smaller versus fewer larger meals and concluded that there is no significant effect on either metabolic rate or the total amount of fat lost ( 1 , 2 ).

What is a full balanced meal? ›

What makes a balanced meal? A balanced meal consists of four main parts: Carbohydrates, Fats, Protein & Fiber. Protein, fat and carbohydrates are the three macronutrients, each breaking down into components that provide calories and energy. In contrast, vitamins and minerals are what we call micronutrients.

Is there a food that has everything you need? ›

However, there is no known food that supplies all the needs of human adults on a long-term basis. Since Taylor is determined to follow a one-food diet, then potatoes are probably as good as anything, as they contain a wider range of amino acids, vitamins and minerals than other starchy foods, such as pasta or rice.

What foods help metabolic reset? ›

Here are 12 foods that may rev up your metabolism.
  1. Protein-rich foods. Protein-rich foods — such as meat, fish, eggs, dairy, legumes, nuts, and seeds — could help increase your metabolism for a few hours. ...
  2. Mineral-rich foods. ...
  3. Chili peppers. ...
  4. Coffee. ...
  5. Tea. ...
  6. Beans and legumes. ...
  7. Ginger. ...
  8. Cacao.

What should people do to avoid metabolic syndrome? ›

Prevention and Treatment of Metabolic Syndrome
  1. Eat better. Adopt a diet rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, skinless poultry, fish, nuts, low-fat or fat-free dairy products, lean meats and vegetable protein. ...
  2. Get active. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a week. ...
  3. Lose weight.
26 Mar 2021

How can I reverse metabolic syndrome fast? ›

There are no quick fixes for metabolic syndrome. Because it's a complex condition, you'll need to change the way you approach eating, exercise and your overall well-being for the rest of your life. Aim for weight loss that's slow but steady —the result of a better diet and more exercise.

What increases metabolic syndrome? ›

Underlying causes of metabolic syndrome include overweight and obesity, insulin resistance, physical inactivity, genetic factors and increasing age.

What fruit speeds up your metabolism? ›

Watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew—these are naturally good for metabolism. Watermelon may even help with weight loss because it contains the amino acid arginine, which was found in a study of obese mice to reduce body fat gains by 64 percent.

Do eggs reset your metabolism? ›

Eggs may boost your metabolism

This means your body can easily use the protein in eggs for maintenance and metabolism. Eating a high-protein diet has been shown to boost metabolism by up to 80–100 calories a day through a process called the thermic effect of food ( 11 , 12 ).

What are the 5 indicators of metabolic syndrome? ›

Metabolic syndrome is a condition that includes a cluster of risk factors specific for cardiovascular disease. The cluster of metabolic factors include abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, impaired fasting glucose, high triglyceride levels, and low HDL cholesterol levels.

What is an example of a metabolic workout? ›

Exercises for metabolic training sets:

Burpees. Dumbell Step-Ups. Mountain Climbers. Jump Squat.

What is a metabolic diet plan? ›

A metabolic diet is a style or pattern of eating where the goal is to increase your metabolism or metabolic rate. Your basal metabolic rate (BMR) is the baseline amount of energy or calories needed to keep the body functioning if it were at rest. This can differ from person to person based on body composition.

Does walking help metabolic syndrome? ›

Basic Exercise Recommendations for Metabolic Syndrome

Exercise can be broken up into sessions of 10 minutes or more throughout the day. Brisk walking (3 miles per hour or faster) is an example of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, but any activity that raises your heart rate is included.

How long does it take to repair metabolic damage? ›

Basically, anything that lowers stress hormones and restores balance to your neuroendocrine system will aid your recovery. Expect to be back on track within 1-3 months.

What vitamins are good for metabolic syndrome? ›

Supplements for metabolic syndrome

You may benefit from the following supplements: For blood sugar: chromium supplements. For cholesterol: psyllium fiber, niacin or vitamin B-3 complex supplements, omega-3 fatty acid supplements. For blood pressure: potassium supplements.

What are the 2 most common metabolic diseases? ›

Common metabolic disorders
  • Type 1 diabetes: This is an autoimmune disorder where the immune system mistakenly attacks cells in the pancreas and limits insulin production. ...
  • Type 2 diabetes: This is where the body is unable to use insulin properly.

What are the big metabolic 3 diseases? ›

Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions that occur together, increasing your risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.

What are 3 metabolic diseases? ›

Examples include:
  • Familial hypercholesterolemia.
  • Gaucher disease.
  • Hunter syndrome.
  • Krabbe disease.
  • Maple syrup urine disease.
  • Metachromatic leukodystrophy.
  • Mitochondrial encephalopathy, lactic acidosis, stroke-like episodes (MELAS)
  • Niemann-Pick.
12 Jul 2017

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