By Casey Seidenberg Special to The Washington Post
Make a plan for healthy 2013 for your family:
January: Sit down for dinner twice a week as a family. Mark the nights on the calendar now so there are no excuses. Plan the meal ahead so that the evening moves smoothly.
February: Learn to make homemade stock and freeze the extra for future culinary exploits. You’ll find it isn’t tricky if you are prepared.
March: It’s the perfect season for nutrient-rich soups. A little homemade goodness might help keep you healthy as the season begins to change.
Use the homemade broth you made in February and experiment with both blended and chunky varieties of soup.
April: Learn to cook dark leafy greens. Invest in a cookbook such as “Greens Glorious Greens” or hit the Internet for recipes.
Don’t be afraid to try selections such as Swiss chard, mustard greens and bok choy. Greens have been shown to help prevent spring allergies.
May: Incorporate protein into breakfast. Eggs are a good bet, as is a warm quinoa cereal.
Make your own granola with raw nuts and seeds, use almond meal to make pancakes or waffles, or add nut butter to toast or a smoothie.
June: Make this the month of the bean. Experiment with all kinds of beans to discover which you and your family like best.
Bean salads are easy to make, as are bean dips. Hummus and white bean dip in particular make great snacks. Also, don’t forget to add beans to any soup.
July: Every cell in your body needs water, so get the kids off juice and onto water. Start the transition slowly by watering down the juice until the kids are off the sweet flavor. Their blood sugar levels will thank you.
August: Stockpile summer’s bounty of vegetables by learning the art of fermentation. Fermented foods add nutritional value to any meal. Invite friends over with their own set of Mason jars and do it together, or get the kids involved.
September: Eat less sugar. After a summer of ice cream cones, popsicles and relaxed routines, it is time to get back to more healthful patterns.
Limit sugar in the household. Start by buying fewer sweet items and curbing dessert. If a sweet treat is needed, try dark chocolate or a naturally sweet whole food such as fruit.
October: Integrate more whole grains into your diet. Start some days off with whole oats, experiment with quinoa, barley and millet salads for lunch or dinner, and don’t forget to add a whole grain to soup.
When you find a few whole-grain recipes that you like, keep making them.
November: Slow down, sit when you eat, chew thoroughly (this is the first part of digestion) and really taste your meal. Make this a habit before the hectic holidays begin.
You might even eat less if you take the time to taste the meal and trigger your body’s natural indications of satiation. This could be an easy way to evade holiday weight gain.
December: Give thanks. Studies show that people who show gratitude are healthier and happier. Take a minute to give thanks before every meal.
This small moment might have a big effect on your well-being. Happy New Year!