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Video: Healthy meals to please the whole family

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    >> family. first, this is "today" on nbc .

    >>> back now at 8:40 this morning on "take it off today," the struggle to find meals that satisfy the entire family. knowing all too well how hard that can be, we sent nutritionist and "today" contributor joy bauer to help her out.

    >> dinner is an awful time of day . each night i probably make four to five meals. my older son, who is a very picky eater, likes pizza. he would have a steak every single night if he could eat it, or french fries . feel sorry for my wife, because ultimately she takes responsibility of what we're all going to have.

    >> guys, dinner.

    >> my ideal is making one meal and sitting down.

    >> i'm going to show her she can prepare one meal to suit the entire family. we're going to make a beef venlg vegetable stir fry . i tried to come up with what we could make together that everybody would like. i felt like if i come up with a really yummy mayrinade for the beef, it will be the perfect vehicle or compromise to get you to eat some of the vegetables that come along with it. who is excited to cook?

    >> i'm excited!

    >> by doing the stir fry with nonstarchy vegetables, vegetables that we're choosing, bell peppers and broccoli, are loaded with vitamin c. i'm going to add in some scallions. i think the kids are going to like it. * yummy, yummy yummy i got love in my tummy *

    >> 330 calories compared to over 1,000 calories for the same kind of thing from chinese takeout.

    >> everyone at the table and everyone having the same thing.

    >> and joy is now with us. her latest book is called slim and scrumptious. good morning to you.

    >> good morning.

    >> that family seemed to like what you did.

    >> they were so lovely and it was a lot of fun. the truth, ann , is that you could pretty much take any decadent, delicious, over the top recipe and by tweaking the ingredients, you can present the meal that is lower in calories but still --

    >> beef and bell pepper stir fry , that's what you did in the take.

    >> right.

    >> there are kids who are going to say i'm not going to eat those peppers. i don't want broccoli. so, why is that family going to eat this meal?

    >> the reason i picked this -- and it was a great selection for this particular meal because noah, the pickiest of the gang, loves beef. so, i started with something that i knew was a sure thing for him. pare parents can do this at home with their own kids. then i added boat loads of vegetables and mixed it with a yummy asian sauce that mimicked chinese takeout. instead of 1,000 calories, this was a voluminous amount. kids like to eat with their fingers and get to stuff the lettuce leaves, roll it up and pop it in their mouth. i put it on our website. people can download the recipe and make it tonight.

    >> cashews. and basic mac and cheese .

    >> traditional mac and cheese have three full fat artery clogging ingredients, butter, cheese and milk.

    >> what is this made with?

    >> first, whole grain elbow macaronis, which have a filling factor , much more fiber and it also has skim milk, reduced fat cheese and the most delicious creamy mac and cheese , i promise you'll get two thumbs up.

    >> all of these are in the book?

    >> in the book and 150-calorie guilt-free milkshakes.

    >> the book is called "slim

By
TODAY contributor
updated 4/5/2010 9:49:14 AM ET 2010-04-05T13:49:14

When I was planning the recipe lineup for my new cookbook “Slim & Scrumptious,” I knew I had to include my own, slimmed-down version of Asian chicken lettuce wraps. They’re one of my kids’ absolute favorite items to order off of restaurant menus — but the nutrition facts leave a lot to be desired. An appetizer portion of chicken lettuce wraps at one popular chain restaurant has more than 600 calories, 28 grams of fat, and 2,600 mg sodium (that’s over a day’s worth of sodium in one small dish!). So, I came up with a quick, simple and delicious version I can make at home — and because my lettuce wraps are far more nutritious, they can now be a frequent dinner option, rather than an occasional treat. 

I start with lean ground chicken, add in tons of chopped veggies (they’re finely minced and coated with delicious sauce, so most kids won’t hesitate to dive in), and flavor them up with ginger, garlic, soy sauce and bottled plum sauce.  My younger daughter Ayden doesn’t care for cilantro, so I always scoop out her lettuce wraps before I add the cilantro to the filling.

Quick tip: Use a manual food chopper or a food processor to save yourself time chopping up all the veggies. I love my manual food chopper — it was a Mother’s Day gift from my son Cole, and I use it all the time. You can pick one up for around $15 at any home store, and it’s so worth it! Plus, they’re safe for kids to operate, so this is a great way to let your kids help in the kitchen.

Though I love every recipe in the book (yes, I realize I’m highly biased), this is definitely one of the standout recipes. My kids regularly request these lettuce wraps for dinner, and their friends love them too. I hope you’ll give this one a try!

Recipe: Chicken lettuce wraps (on this page)

Find out if Joy's Life Diet is right for you at JoyBauer.com

Recipe: Chicken lettuce wraps

Nutrition Information

Calories – 298
Protein – 27 g
Total Fat – 9 g
Saturated Fat – 2 g
Cholesterol – 80 mg
Sodium – 610 mg
Carbohydrate – 34 g
Fiber – 5 g

Ingredients
  • 4 medium carrots, peeled and finely diced
  • 2 stalks celery, finely diced
  • 1 large red bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
  • 1 (8-ounce) can water chestnuts, drained and finely diced
  • 3 scallions (white and green parts), thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons grated or finely minced fresh ginger
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound ground chicken (at least 90% lean)
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/3 cup bottle Chinese plum sauce
  • 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon hot chili paste, such as sriracha (or to taste)
  • 1/4 cup unsalted roasted cashews, chopped
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro, plus extra for garnish (optional)
  • 1 head Boston or Bibb lettuce
Preparation

Liberally coat a large skillet with oil spray, and preheat it over medium-high heat.

Add the carrots, celery, bell pepper, water chestnuts, scallions, ginger, and garlic. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables soften slightly, about 5 minutes, adding a tablespoon of water at a time as necessary to prevent scorching.

Reapply oil spray if necessary, and add the ground chicken to the skillet. Cook until the chicken is no longer pink, breaking the meat into a fine crumble with a wooden spoon as it cooks. Season with the salt and pepper. 

Add the plum sauce, soy sauce, vinegar, and chili paste and stir to coat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until heated through.

Remove the skillet from the heat, and stir in the cashews and cilantro. Allow the mixture to cool slightly, about 5 minutes.

Clean the lettuce and break off 12 individual leaves (trim away the stem end of the leaves if they are tough). Fill each lettuce cup with roughly ½ cup of the chicken mixture. Garnish with additional cilantro if desired.

Serving Size

Serves 4

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