Sushi, Pizza and Macaroni Cheese

Sushi

My almost-7-year-old son was sitting with me when I was planning what to write for today's article. I asked him what I should write about and he very enthusiastically told me "Sushi, Pizza and Macaroni Cheese"!

There are times as a dietician that I would rather not admit to what my family is eating. This was certainly one of them. But then I thought, "Why shouldn't we be eating these delicious meals?" We are human after all and our taste buds still enjoy food that may not be the most ideal food to eat. My son is a normal, healthy, active little boy who enjoys his food - both good and not-so-good. He is not eating sushi, pizza and macaroni cheese everyday. I believe that we should all be allowed to indulge in the food we really enjoy from time to time.

I also believe that there is always a way to ensure that you don't go completely off the rails when you eat these meals. Macaroni cheese is a staple food for many kids. I am yet to meet a child who doesn't really, really, really like macaroni cheese! While a bowl of cheesy pasta may not be the most balanced meal, by making a few simple changes or additions, it can become a more than acceptable meal - even for a dietician.

Macaroni Cheese…


Macaroni Cheese
So, I asked my son what sort of secret ingredients we could add to macaroni cheese. His first (and only) suggestion was chilli! Now, I am not sure that his friends would accept chilli in their meals. I am not sure that my son would accept chilli in his macaroni cheese! But I have added certain ingredients to the recipe that my husband and son have been completely unaware of.

I don't believe in tricking kids into eating their veggies, but if your macaroni cheese recipe normally contains veggies, and your family is used to eating it this way, then you are not tricking them… much! Veggies that work well in macaroni cheese include:
  • Gem squash
  • Finely grated carrots - especially if you use yellow cheese
  • Finely grated baby marrows
  • Patty pans
  • Finely chopped onions
  • Sliced tomatoes
Add some salad veggies on the side and you have a pretty good meal.

Pizza…


The biggest problem with pizza is that it is most often eaten on its own, without any vegetables, making for a calorie-dense, unbalanced meal. My guidelines for a pizza meal:
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  • Choose the best quality pizza you can
  • Opt for a thin-base pizza
  • Add extra vegetable toppings
  • Avoid piling on the fatty toppings such as bacon or pepperoni or extra cheese
  • Eat no more than half the pizza
  • Fill up on salad

Sushi…


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If you love sushi, you LOVE sushi and me telling you to eat less will probably fall on deaf ears! I have a wonderful book that lives on my desk. I pull it out every time someone asks me about sushi. Fast Food for Sustained Energy, written by Gabi Steenkamp and Celynn Erasmus, is a great reference that puts restaurant and fast food meals into perspective. According to them, the typical sushi meal is the equivalent of 2 unbalanced meals, the carbohydrate content being especially high. 6 pieces of sushi combined with a large salad would make a much better meal. Some food for thought.

Yes, my family and I do indulge in Sushi, Pizza and Macaroni Cheese. And we really enjoy these meals. And, no, I have to confess that I don't always make it as healthy as I can. But, we all need to let loose every once in a while.

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