2-in-1 Dishes: Recipes to Feed the Whole Family


You want to make your kids happy and fix the foods they ask for — you know you do. In a recent study done with 12 groups of mothers of children aged 2-5, 100% of the groups said they prepared foods their children liked and accommodated requests. And you know all too well which foods hold the “most requested” positions: macaroni and cheese (from the box), hot dogs, hamburgers, pizza, chicken nuggets, etc.

You may well be wondering how you and your spouse can possibly sit down to another plate of these foods. But if you serve a sizzling shrimp stir-fry or a tantalizing Thai chicken dish, your kids will revolt. Or worse, they simply won’t eat it. According to Adam Drewnowski, PhD, professor of epidemiology and medicine at the University of Washington, food preferences are determined by many factors — but mostly, by age.

“Studies have looked at the relationship between food preferences of parents and their children — forgetting one thing: parents and kids are never the same age. Kids are always younger!” notes Drewnowski.

“Although a newborn is born with a preference for sweet, no cholesterol, 5 g fiber, 1260 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 31%.

Pan fried lean cheeseburgers (for kids)
Cajun Meatloaf (for grown-ups)

Journal as: 1 serving lean meat with sauce + 1 slice bread

Kids never tire of cheeseburgers, and you’ll never get tired of this moist and flavorful meatloaf. You can make a double batch and freeze the meatloaf in individual servings. Then on those crazy weeknights, just pop it in the microwave.

1 teaspoon canola oil
2 tablespoon nonalcoholic beer (or use regular beer or beef broth instead)
1/3 cup finely chopped onions
1/4 cup finely chopped celery
1/4 cup finely chopped green or red bell peppers
1/8 cup finely chopped green onions
1 teaspoon minced or chopped garlic (about 2 cloves)
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1 teaspoon Creole or Cajun seasoning (add more if desired)
1/4 cup low-fat milk
1/4 cup catsup
1 pound ground sirloin or very lean ground beef, divided use
1/4 cup egg substitute
1/2-cup very fine dry breadcrumbs
2 ounces reduced-fat, sharp cheddar, grated (about 1/2 cup), divided use
2 hamburger buns (whole-wheat if available)
2 leaves lettuce, 2 slices tomato, ketchup, BBQ sauce, and mustard for garnish (all optional)

  • Add canola oil to a medium nonstick saucepan or frying pan. Add beer, onions, celery, pepper, green onions, garlic, Tabasco, and Creole or Cajun seasoning blend to heated pan and sauté until the mixture starts sticking to the bottom of the pan (about 3 minutes), stirring frequently.
  • Stir in milk and ketchup and continue cooking for about a minute, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and let cool.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat 6 muffin cups with canola cooking spray.
  • Blend half the ground beef, the egg substitute, breadcrumbs, ketchup & onion mixture, and 1/4 cup grated cheese together using a spoon, your hands, or an electric mixer (on lowest speed).
  • Fill muffin cups with beef mixture and bake for 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned and cooked throughout.
  • Meanwhile, pat the remaining 1/2 pound of ground beef into patties using two pieces of wax paper or a patty press. Fry in a medium nonstick frying pan coated with canola cooking spray. Sprinkle black pepper, salt, and garlic powder over the top of the patties in pan. When underside is nicely browned, flip patties over to brown other side. When burgers are cooked throughout, turn off the heat and sprinkle remaining grated cheese over the burgers. Cover the pan for 2-3 minutes — cheese will be melted by then.

HOW KIDS CAN HELP: Kids can help chop some of the vegetables using a plastic knife, and can measure the milk and catsup. They can also make patties using the patty press or pieces of wax paper. And kids can help grate the cheese too using a stand-up grater.

Yield: 2 kids’ servings and 2 adult servings

Per kids’ serving: 320 calories, 25.5 g protein, 25 g carbohydrate, 12.5 g fat, 5 g saturated fat, 38 mg cholesterol, 1.5 g fiber, 392 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 36%.

Per large adult serving: 382 calories, 29.5 g protein, 34 g carbohydrate, 14 g fat, 5 g saturated fat, 40 mg cholesterol, 3 g fiber, 800 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 33%.

Soft Beef Tacos (for kids)
Quick & Spicy Taco Salad (for grown-ups)

Journal as: 2 cups entrée salad with meat and light salad dressing + 1 serving fruit (from the tomatoes)

This taco salad is quick to make and a treat to eat. You decide how spicy to make the dressing by using mild, medium or hot salsa. I’ve added beans for a big fiber and boost.

1 pound super-lean ground beef (or ground sirloin)
1 ounce packet taco spices and seasonings (such as Lawry’s)
2/3 cup water
15-ounce can low-sodium
kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1/3 cup fat-free sour cream (or use light sour cream)
1/3 cup bottled salsa (choose mild, medium, or hot depending on preference)
6 cups shredded iceberg lettuce (or other type of lettuce), divided use
2 cups chopped tomatoes (drained), divided use
1 cup grated, reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese, divided use
2 ounces (about 2 cups) bite-size tortilla chips (reduced-fat, if possible)
1 avocado, pitted, peeled and cut into thin strips for garnish (optional)
6 flour tortillas (for tacos or fajitas)
Fresh or bottled salsa as desired for garnish

  • In large skillet, brown grown beef until crumbly. Add taco seasoning packet, 2/3-cup water, and beans; mix thoroughly. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and cook, uncovered, about 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Set aside and let cool slightly.
  • Add sour cream and salsa to small or medium mixing bowl and beat until blended well; set aside.
  • Add 4 cups lettuce, 1-cup tomatoes, 1/2-cup cheese, tortilla chips, and half of the cooled beef to large serving bowl. Drizzle desired amount of dressing over the top and toss to blend well. Garnish with avocado strips if desired.
  • For beef tacos, warm up meat filling in microwave for about 2 minutes or in skillet on the stove. Spoon some of the filling into each flour tortilla that has been warmed in the microwave for 30 seconds or quickly over the stove in a frying pan. Top with remaining shredded lettuce, grated cheese, chopped tomato and fresh or bottled salsa as desired.

HOW KIDS CAN HELP: Kids can measure the water, drain and rinse the beans in a colander, measure the sour cream and salsa and blend it together. They can also help break tortilla chips into bite-size pieces and chop the tomatoes using a plastic knife.

NOTE: To further reduce the fat grams and sodium, use Guiltless Gourmet Baked Tortilla Chips or make your own baked tortilla chips at home. The original recipe for this taco salad (using regular ground beef, cheese, and real sour cream — but no beans — contains 650 calories and 45 grams fat (20 grams saturated fat).

Yield: 3 kids’ servings (2 tacos each) and 2 large taco salads for the grown-ups

Per kid’s serving: 465 calories, 27.5 g protein, 57.5 g carbohydrate, 14 g fat, 5 g saturated fat, 30 mg cholesterol, 7 g fiber, 789 g sodium. Calories from fat: 27%.

Per large adult serving: 500 calories, 31 g protein, 54 g carbohydrate, 17 g fat, 6 g saturated fat, 33 mg cholesterol, 10 g fiber, 1088 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 32%