Health » Healthier Family Meals for 2018 -Alva Carpenter

Healthier Family Meals for 2018 -Alva Carpenter

Alva2 gifThere are so many benefits to eating together as a family and it is in our interests to care for are family’s health by giving them really healthy meals that they enjoy. Modern life is busy, so it is important to have recipes that are healthy but also quick to prepare.


Research suggests that having dinner together as a family at least four times a week has positive effects on child development. Family dinners have been linked to a lower risk of obesity, improved behaviour and good table manners, and better results in school.


Busy schedules of both parents and children make it harder to have family meals but parents may not be aware of the benefits that come with regularly eating together at the table.


Language skills improve

Language is such a powerful tool to have in life and children learn the power of language though talking and listening. Speaking and listening standards have fallen due to busy modern lives and children spending less time talking to their parents.


Eating dinner together as a family provides the opportunity for conversation. This allows parents to teach healthy communication. The dinner table should not be interrupted by smart phones, television, computers, and mobile devices.  Family time is more important. 


By engaging your children in conversation, you teach them how to listen and provide them with a chance to express their own opinions. This allows your children to have an active voice within the family and builds their confidence which is very important as they may be quiet at school and need to learn to express their opinions firstly in the safety of home.


Conversations at the dinner table expand the vocabulary and reading ability of children and allow every family member to discuss their day and share any exciting news. 

Use these tips: 

Express an interest in your child’s daily life.

Discuss current events appropriate for your child’s age. Do not underestimate your child’s ability to have view on most topics. 

Let all family members talk. 

Be an active listener and be sure your child learns to listen as well.

Encourage all your children to participate


So many Benefits 

The sense of security and togetherness provided by family meals helps nurture children into healthy, well-rounded adults. Frequent family meals have a positive impact on children's values, motivation, personal identity, and self-esteem.


Eating dinner together as a family also encourages healthy eating habits 


Studies show that family meals increase the intake of fruits and vegetables; families who eat dinner together tend to eat less junk food and fried food, and drink less soda. 

Here are some mealtime suggestions: 

Like many Mums I am keen to ensure my children eat healthy food most of the time and always serve colourful food, as colourful food tends to be healthy food.  This evening following the festive season where we eaten plenty of turkey and beef I am keen to get the family back to eating fish.


Tonight, I am serving Honey and Soy Glazed Salmon with rice and salad, followed by mango fool as my children love mango and also because they love a desert. This desert is sugar free but looks fun and is colourful. Preparing the whole meal including setting the table should not take more than an hour.  This is a fantastically healthy meal; but I do believe that any home cooked meal is healthy as long as it is reasonably low fat and includes some vegetables and fruit.


Honey and Soy Glazed Salmon 

Serves 4


4 tbsp. of soy sauce

4 tbsp. of clear honey

4 tsp. of lemon juice

4 salmon fillets 

A few springs of finely chopped coriander.


Preheat the oven to 180°C. Make a marinade by mixing the soy sauce lemon juice and honey together in a small shadow bowl. Add the salmon pieces and cover in the marinade using a spoon and leave for 5 to 10 minutes. Place the salmon in an oven-proof dish and cook for about 15 minutes or until the fish is cooked through.

Serve immediately with a sprinkle of coriander, rice and a colourfully mixed salad of your choice.


Mango Fruit Fool

Fruit and yoghurt is always a healthy, colourful desert


2 large ripe mangoes 

4 passion fruits, halved

2 x 150g/5oz tubs Greek yogurt 

juice 1 lime


Peel the mangoes. Cut the flesh from mango and stone, then purée flesh in a liquidiser. Squeeze out the seeds from 2 of the passion fruits and mix with the mango purée. Add lime juice to taste. Gently fold the yogurt and   mango fruity purée in a bowl and stop when you have a lovely sunny marbled effect.

Cover and chill for 30 minutes before eating.

Ask Alva

After delivery, my hair-fall is just out of control. Will this stop? Are there are products I can use to reduce the hair-fall? What is your opinion about hair extensions? Do they damage the hair? Najala 

Hair loss after delivery is natural. This is because when you are pregnant the hair cycle is longer and so there is less shedding, and your hair grows thicker. After delivery the hair returns to its normal cycle of growing, resting, shedding, and growing. I would suggest using Permea Plus Hair Repair Massage Oil as massage is the secret to healthy hair growth. I would not recommend hair extensions as these encourage stress to the follicle and increased hair loss. Your hair will soon return to normal. Make sure your diet includes plenty of protein as hair needs protein to grow. Alva

“HEALTHLINES is a monthly column devoted to healthy living, diet and exercise. Reader’s questions (send them to are appreciated and a selection will be replied to in the column by Alva Carpenter, a nutrition and fitness expert with long experience of health problems associated with Gulf countries. 


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