Seven-Day Menu Planner

The Strong4Life team at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta ( helps children and their families learn how to eat better, move more and live healthier. Here are some ideas for planning a week’s worth of healthy, kid-friendly meals. All recipes adapted from “Seasonal Eats: A Recipe Collection of Georgia Products” by the Georgia Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics ($12 plus $5 shipping and handling,


Breakfast for Dinner Sunday

Pancakes for supper? Yes! Try Julia and John’s Chunky Pancakes (see recipe). Serve with fruit salad tossed in orange juice. Use the fruit and orange juice in place of syrup. How about a bike ride after dinner?

Julia and John’s Chunky Pancakes

Hands on: 30 minutes

Total time: 30 minutes

Makes: 12 pancakes

1 cup regular or quick oatmeal

1 cup whole-wheat flour

1/4 cup wheat germ

2 tablespoons sunflower seeds or finely chopped walnuts

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

4 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon ground flaxseed

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup 2 percent milk

1/2 cup nonfat buttermilk or plain nonfat yogurt

2 eggs

1 tablespoon oil

1/2 ripe banana, mashed

1 medium apple, finely chopped

Preheat griddle. In a medium bowl, whisk together oatmeal, flour, wheat germ, sunflower seeds, sugar, baking powder, ground flaxseed and cinnamon.

In a large measuring cup, whisk together milk, buttermilk, eggs and oil. Whisk in banana. Stir in apple. Pour liquid mixture into dry mixture and stir just until all ingredients are moistened. Do not overmix.

Lightly grease griddle and use 1/3 cup measure to ladle out pancake batter. Cook pancakes until golden brown on bottom and bubbles burst on the surface, about 2 minutes. Turn and cook 1 minute or until second side is browned. Keep warm and continue with remaining batter.

Per pancake: 136 calories (percent of calories from fat, 26), 6 grams protein, 20 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams fiber, 4 grams fat (1 gram saturated), 37 milligrams cholesterol, 223 milligrams sodium.


Slow Cooker Monday

Is there anyone who doesn’t love chili? The slow cooker makes it easy. To make Slow Cooker Chili, brown 1 pound lean ground beef or turkey and drain all fat. Put beef in bowl of slow cooker and add 1 (15-ounce) can each kidney beans and garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed. Stir in 1 (15.5-ounce can) tomato sauce. Add 3 cups chopped vegetables like zucchini, tomatoes and onion. Stir in chili powder starting with 1 teaspoon for mild chili and adding more to taste along with 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce. Stir together, cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. Serve with shredded low-fat cheddar and low-fat sour cream. Slice fresh cucumbers and sweet onion for a side salad.

Plan ahead: Save half the chili for Wednesday night.


Soup for Dinner Tuesday

Carrot Soup takes a favorite vegetable and makes it dinner. The kids can help peel the carrots. In a large saucepan, bring 1 (32-ounce) carton of low-sodium vegetable broth to a boil. Reduce heat and add 3 pounds of carrots, peeled and roughly chopped, and 1/4 teaspoon cumin. Simmer mixture until carrots are tender, about 20 minutes. In the jar of a blender, or with an immersion blender, puree liquid until smooth. Add 1 (6-ounce) container plain nonfat Greek yogurt, stir together, taste for seasoning and serve in mugs. Add grilled cheese sandwiches made with 2 slices whole-wheat toast, a 1-ounce slice of low-fat cheese and a big slice of tomato along with fresh fruit for dessert.


Planned-over Wednesday

Leftover chili makes a great filling for tacos. Warm four nonfat whole-wheat tortillas in the microwave and fill with warmed chili. Serve with romaine lettuce and reduced-fat cheddar. Apple and orange wedges continue the finger food theme.


Microwave Thursday

Butter Me Up Squash Salad makes a great dinner with leftovers for lunch. In a microwave-proof bowl, arrange 4 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash. Cover and microwave on high for 6 minutes. Remove from microwave, let sit 15 minutes. In a large bowl, combine 1 cup red seedless grapes, 1 chopped red apple, 1 cup sliced celery, 1/2 cup each slivered green onions and chopped walnuts, 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar and 1 tablespoon olive oil. When squash has cooled, add to fruit and season to taste. Stir and serve with carrot sticks and cucumber slices.


Seafood Friday

Miso-Glazed Salmon With Sauteed Spinach sounds impressive but is one of the quickest seafood dinners you can make. Preheat broiler. In a small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons white miso with 4 teaspoons each mirin or sherry, unseasoned rice wine vinegar and low-sodium soy sauce. Spread the mixture evenly over four 5-ounce salmon fillets. Arrange fillets on a foil-lined baking sheet. Broil 7 minutes or until fish just flakes with a fork. Meanwhile, saute 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil in a large skillet and saute 20 ounces fresh spinach. When spinach wilts, stir in 2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce. Don’t forget to keep an eye on the salmon. Divide the spinach between dinner plates, top with salmon and serve immediately.


Company Saturday

For a company dinner that’s both easy and child-friendly, serve Lemon Garlic Chicken With Kale (see recipe) alongside brown rice tossed with slivered green onions. The kids can help tear the kale and make individual dessert trifles by layering sliced purchased poundcake with fresh fruit. Just before serving, drizzle with fruit juice for the kids and liqueur for adults.

Lemon Garlic Chicken With Kale

Hands on: 15 minutes

Total time: 45 minutes

Serves: 6

3 (6-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed, cut into 1/4-inch strips

Juice of 2 lemons

4 garlic cloves, chopped

2 teaspoons lemon pepper seasoning

1 bunch kale (about 3/4 pound)

1 tablespoon olive oil plus 1 teaspoon olive oil, divided

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 cup water

Salt and pepper

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1/4 cup grated Parmesan

In a small bowl, toss chicken with lemon juice, garlic and lemon pepper seasoning. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. While chicken is marinating, wash kale, discard tough stems and tear leaves into small pieces.

In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat and add garlic. Saute 1 minute. Add kale and water, toss, and cover the pan. Cook 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until kale is tender. Season to taste. Keep warm.

When chicken has marinated, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add remaining teaspoon olive oil; saute chicken until golden brown on all sides, about 5 minutes total. Divide kale between serving plates and top with walnuts and Parmesan. Top with chicken and serve immediately.

Per serving: 235 calories (percent of calories from fat, 42), 26 grams protein, 9 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 11 grams fat (2 grams saturated), 52 milligrams cholesterol, 256 milligrams sodium.

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.

Download the new AJC app. More local news, more breaking news and in-depth journalism. Atlanta. News. Now.

Download the new AJC app. More local news, more breaking news and in-depth journalism. Atlanta. News. Now.