The secret ingredient your family dinner needs

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The  secret ingredient your family dinner needs

Mostly considered breakfast food, eggs make delicious, fuss-free meals. Some tips to transform suppertime at home - with a super ingredient to boot

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Published: Fri 30 Sep 2016, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Fri 30 Sep 2016, 2:00 AM

With summer in the rearview mirror, many families will now be pressed for time: Both 'Fall' (when temperatures go down and kids go back to school) and Winter (dominated by the holidays) are jam-packed seasons. It may be difficult to find time for everything you need to do, including eating regular meals together as a family - perhaps, especially that last bit.
Research shows that sitting down for family meals yields many benefits, from serving as a time to bond, to instilling healthy dining habits in your children. "Regularly sitting down to dine with their parents is incredibly healthful for kids, both mentally and physically," says registered dietitian Lyssie Lakatos.
"It is well worth the effort to ensure that your family can share regular, well-balanced meals together. And you can do it too! You just need some creativity, planning and powerfully nutritious ingredients."
Lakatos offers some tips to help parents honour the healthful tradition of family mealtime:

* Invest 15 minutes every weekend to plan the week's dinner menus in advance. Knowing what you'll be making ensures you won't have the stress of coming up with ideas at the last minute when everyone is hungry; you'll also be able to shop efficiently for ingredients you know you'll need. Plus, kids will enjoy looking forward to the evening when you'll serve their favourite foods. You can also make the process easy by using one of several free menu planners available online.
* Get everyone involved. Family mealtime is an opportunity to teach kids good nutrition, culinary skills and life lessons - all while bonding in a relaxed atmosphere. You can involve your children in meal preparation by assigning them age-appropriate tasks such as setting the table, pouring drinks, gathering ingredients and even cooking. They're less likely to kick up a fuss if everyone is involved too.
* Disconnect from tech 30 minutes to an hour before the meal. Many families have a no-device policy at the dinner table. The idea, of course, is to encourage conversation with people in front of you. But by making everyone put away technology in advance, you free them up to help out too. You'll also ensure no one is late to the table because they have to send one last text - this means you too, parents!
* Simplicity is a time-saver. Dinner might not be the best time to take risks and prepare something no one has tried before. A simple meal takes less time to prepare, and may also be more enticing to kids. Choose simple, nutritious meals - that's where eggs come in. Eggs offer lean, versatile and delicious proteins (much like fish or lentils) and are nutrient-rich. But also do your research and choose which eggs you want to buy carefully, as not all eggs are created equal!
"The importance of family meals just cannot be understated today," Lakatos says. "It's a great time to get back to having regular mealtimes together with the family again."

Egg-straordinary Recipes
Here are two easy, delicious and nutritious dinner egg recipes that take less than 30 minutes to prepare, courtesy of Eggland's Best:

Chicken Parmesan Cupcakes
All kids love cupcakes and they love cheese, so this marries the two, plus the nutrition of some farm-fresh eggs - what could be better?

For the chicken mixture:
. 1 egg (large)
. 450 gm ground chicken
. 3 tbsp Italian-flavoured breadcrumbs
. 2 tsp finely chopped, fresh garlic
. 1/2 tsp onion salt
. 1/4 tsp pepper

For the coating:
. 1 egg (large), lightly beaten
. 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
. 1/2 cup Italian-flavoured breadcrumbs

For the topping:
. 4 (20 gm) slices cheese, cut into quarters
. 1/2 cup marinara pasta sauce

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly spray eight muffin pan cups with no-stick cooking spray; set aside.
Combine all chicken mixture ingredients in bowl; mix well. Shape into eight meatballs.
Place flour, breadcrumbs and egg into separate shallow dishes. Lightly roll each meatball in flour, then beaten egg, then breadcrumbs.
Pat each meatball into bottom of each prepared muffin cup, flattening top. Bake 15 minutes.
Top each meatball with 1 tablespoon marinara sauce and two quarters cheese. Bake 3-5 mins or until internal temperature of chicken reaches 165°F and the centre is no longer pink.
Cool 1-2 minutes in pan. Serve warm and enjoy!

Pizza Frittata
. 3 large potatoes, peeled
. 1 tbsp olive oil
. 4 eggs, large
. 4 sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil, thinly sliced
. 1/2 cup sliced black olives
. 2 tbsp pesto
. 115 gm turkey pepperoni
. 115 gm shredded Provolone cheese

Preheat oven to 400°F. Peel potatoes and slice thin using a knife or mandolin slicer.
Arrange potatoes on a 12-inch pizza pan (or in a baking dish) and drizzle with olive oil. Bake potatoes for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, whisk eggs, tomatoes, olives and pesto in a large bowl.
Remove potatoes from oven and pour egg mixture over pan. Top with pepperoni and cheese and bake for an additional 15 minutes till done. Serve.

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