There have been many studies looking at the benefits of family meals including Project Eat, a 10 year cohort study. This particular study found that families who eat together have better dietary intake, better physiological well-being and also have greater family cohesion and problem -focused coping (Neumark-Sztainer.D. et al, Family meals and adolescents: what have we learned from Project EAT).
The most common reason given for not having family meals is ‘time’. This week we are bringing you a great, quick, easy family meal – fajitas. What we love about fajitas is that the food can be put in the middle of the table and everyone tucks in and helps themselves which adds to the cohesiveness. Fussy eaters can have the bits they like while the more adventurous can have everything. Make sure you get the kids to help with the preparation, children and teens that learn to cook have healthier diets in adulthood!
2 peppers, different coloured peppers
1 medium red onion
2 skinless chicken breasts
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 small pinch of ground cumin
(or fajita seasoning powder)
Small wholemeal flour tortillas
150 ml fat-free natural yoghurt (optional)
50 g Cheddar cheese (optional)
½-1 fresh red chilli , to your taste
15 ripe cherry tomatoes
1 bunch fresh coriander
extra virgin olive oil
1 small handful of mixed-colour rip cherry tomatoes
½-1 fresh red chilli
a few sprigs of fresh coriander
1 ripe avocado
Put a griddle pan on a high heat (or a frying pan)
Halve, deseed and slice the pepper into thin strips, then peel, halve, chop the courgette and finely slice the onion. Slice the chicken lengthways into long strips, roughly the same size as the pepper strips.
Put the peppers, courgette, onion, and chicken into a bowl with the paprika and cumin (or fajita seasoning). Squeeze over the juice of half a lime, drizzle over 1 tablespoon of oil, season with a good pinch of black pepper and mix well. Put aside to marinate for 5 minutes or so while you make your salsa.
For the salsa, finely chop the chilli, roughly chop the tomatoes and the coriander (stalks and all), then place in a clean bowl with a pinch of sea salt and black pepper. Squeeze over the juice of 1 lime, and stir in the coriander.
Using tongs, place the pepper, onion, and chicken onto the griddle and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, or until the chicken is golden and cooked through.
As the pan will be really hot, keep turning the pieces of chicken and vegetables over so they don’t burn – you just want them to lightly chargrill to give you a lovely flavour.
To make the guacamole, squeeze the cherry tomatoes onto a board, then finely chop with ½ -1 red chilli and a handful of coriander leaves, including the top part of the stalks.
Halve and destone the avocado, then squeeze it over a board so the flesh comes out of the skin. Discard the skin. Squeeze over the lime juice and chop everything together until fine. Taste and adjust the flavours, if needed.
Warm the tortillas in a microwave or warm, dry frying pan, then divide between serving plates. Squeeze the remaining lime juice over the sizzling pan.
At the table, carefully help yourselves to the chicken and vegetables.
Serve with bowls of natural yoghurt and guacamole, alongside the Cheddar, a grater, and the lovely fresh salsa.
Find out more about Helen Money's nutritional advice