One of my biggest challenges as a mom and a physician has been to stay healthy. With our hectic lives, at home and work, and everyone coming and going, finding time to eat “healthy” and exercise is an everyday challenge. To think of it any other way just gets me in trouble. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons, like so many women, I’ve suffered from the infamous yo-yo issue throughout my life. Its so easy to just setting into that routine of complacency.
I’ve learned a great deal over my years talking to other doctors about this issue and helping countless families in clinical settings stay healthy. One of my favorite conversations with families is how they juggle their time. I always learn something from each family that I can add to the mix and use to help them tweak for their benefit and use to help others.
The one thing that I can say is true after nearly 20 years in pediatrics and in raising 2 now teenaged daughters is that eating and striving for fitness are two topics that are best shared. So, I was honored to be asked by the Editors of Prevention Magazine to be part of the new book, What Doctors Eat, and share on pages 324-326 how I tackle these issues with my family, and a recipe that we’ve come to enjoy in endless ways over the years.
To give you a sample of how I approach eating and fitness in our home, we keep it simple and the grownups lead by example. My husband is goes to the gym regularly is constantly finding ways to get both girls active in ways that work for each of their preferences. We have one daughter, for example, who loves the gym and that sort of intensity. Our other daughter isn’t into that but loves to walk and dance. So, we hunt out ways outside of the gym that keep her moving.
For meals, we all get involved and we focus on fun, simplicity and creativity. We try to find meals that we can all have some of, so the core meal is the same, but that can be tailored to individual tastes. During the week fresh made paninis, home made pizza that everyone can top as they’d like and salads that can be spiced up with everyone’s unique loves of veggies and proteins have become staples. We do strive for the fancy family meal, too, but tend to reserve those for weekends when we are all home and can prepare it together. Let’s face it – a roast during the week just doesn’t work with busy kids. And, since as adults our tastes vary when we get busy and tired, it makes sense our kids’ tastes will, too. I’ve found it important to find a way to include that in meal planning.
So, for What Doctors Eat, my family and I picked one of our most favorite meals: The Chicken Taco Salad. This is truly a 5 minute meal and can be easily modified to even the most picky of meals.
Here’s what you need and how you put it together:
1 chicken breast – fully cooked
4 cups chopped romaine lettuce
3 tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1 cup shredded Mexican Blend or Monterey Jack Cheese
1/2 cup Ranch Dressing (you can use low fat or regular)
16 tortilla chips, crushed
1. cut the chicken into cups or shred – your goal is about 2 cups
2. Combine lettuce, tomatoes, celery, carrots, cheese, and cut chicken in a large bowl. Toss to combine.
3. Add the dressing to the salad and toss again to coat.
4. Divide into 4 bowls and add the chips to the top before serving.
Ways to modify:
Add in other favorite vegetables
Substitute other protein for the chicken: beef, turkey, pork, tuna
Precook the chicken on the weekend or use rotisserie chicken from the market or ready to serve chicken to decrease prep time
Use different times of tortilla chips to enhance flavor or try out different brands
As Julia Child used to say…Bon Appetite!