SOURCE: Wiley Publishing

April 05, 2010 08:00 ET

Four Steps to Healthy Family Meals

MISSION, KS--(Marketwire - April 5, 2010) -  (Family Features) With busy family schedules and limited time, it seems harder than ever to maintain a healthy lifestyle. But according to a new book, there are ways to help your family develop the healthy habits they need -- even when you don't have much time.

"Weight Watchers Eat! Move! Play! A Parent's Guide for Raising Healthy, Happy Kids," (Wiley Publishing, March 2010), is designed to help the whole family develop a positive relationship with their own bodies, a taste for wholesome, nutritious foods, and a love of physical movement. In addition to over 75 kid-friendly recipes, the book offers plenty of practical advice based on research and expert opinions.

According to the authors, these four meal planning steps can help you and your family develop healthier eating habits that can last a lifetime.

Step 1: Establish a regular schedule for eating. Plan on having three meals each day, and one or two snacks, depending on the age of your children. If you can set approximate times for regular meals, that's great, but be flexible so you can adjust to other activities that come up.

Step 2: Stick with the nutrition basics: whole grains, colorful fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy products and lean meats. Think about how to conceptualize a healthy plate. Divide a lunch or dinner plate into thirds: one-third should contain lean protein, one-third might have a nonstarchy vegetable, and the last third can contain either a whole-grain food, a starchy veggie or fruit.

Step 3: Become a savvy shopper. Don't shop when you or your kids are hungry. Make a list of items you need and stick to it. Spend the most time along the perimeter of the store where you'll find the major food groups.

Step 4: Stock the fridge, pantry and cabinets with mostly healthy staples and snacks, and limit the junk foods you keep on hand.

Kick-start your family's day -- and their healthy eating habits -- with this delicious pumpkin muffin recipe.

For more about the book, visit

Pumpkin Pie Muffins
Makes 12
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Bake Time: 20 minutes

1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup raisins
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons raw pumpkin seeds

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray cups of a 12-cup muffin pan with nonstick spray.
Sift flours, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg and cloves into a large bowl.

Stir in raisins. Beat eggs, pumpkin puree, oil and water together in another bowl. Add pumpkin mixture to flour mixture and stir until just blended.

Spoon batter into muffin cups, filling each about two-thirds full. Sprinkle with pumpkin seeds. Bake until a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack for 10 minutes; remove muffins from pan and serve warm, or cool completely on rack.

Per Serving (1 muffin): 235 calories, 8 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 35 mg cholesterol, 241 mg sodium, 40 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 4 g protein, 20 mg calcium