Soon your teen will be preparing meals for himself. Before he graduates from high school, teach him how to prepare these healthy meals. Bissex says that showing your teens a healthy eating style will likely help them maintain the habit. "If you've established it early in life, teens will first veer off a little, but they'll come back to those healthy eating habits," she says.
Studies have shown that one weekly portion of fish can help prevent heart attacks in later years. Salmon is a good fish to get your teen hooked on because it contains heart-healthy omega-3 polyunsaturated fat. Along with its disease-fighting capabilities, omega-3 helps reduce the risk of depression and minimizes arthritis symptoms.
Instead of tossing chicken into a salad, try it with salmon. When making salads, the general rule is the darker the green, whether it's lettuce or spinach, the better. One cup of romaine lettuce provides 20 percent of the RDA of beta-carotene. You would have to eat a whole head of iceberg lettuce to get the same amount.
Recommended Serving Size: 3 1/2 oz. salmon, 180 calories 2 cups spinach, 25 calories
Even though carbohydrates are a big no-no these days, teens still need them. And face it, they love carbs, especially pasta-addicted college kids. Get in the habit of buying whole-wheat pasta instead of white pasta. It has twice as much iron, more fiber, vitamins, and minerals than regular pasta.
Pasta is best topped with fresh tomato sauce. Tomatoes are a good source of beta-carotene, vitamins C, and E, and they're rich in lycopene, an antioxidant that helps prevent heart disease and cancer. Lycopene is actually more rich in a tomato sauce than it is in raw tomatoes. For added flavor, mix some garlic into the sauce or add some to toasted bread. Garlic lowers blood cholesterol and prevents clotting.
Recommended Serving Size: 3/4 cup whole wheat pasta, 162 calories 1/3 cup fresh tomato sauce, 16 calories
Broccoli -- more than anything -- is a disease fighter. It contains compounds like beta-carotene that fight cancer and reduce tumor growth, especially in the breast. One spear of broccoli will give you plenty of calcium, fiber, and potassium, and twice the RDA of vitamin C.
Serve steamed broccoli with quinoa, a low-fat, high-fiber substitute for rice. Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) looks and tastes like grain, but it's a seed that can be found in the grain section of your local supermarket. Quinoa is an excellent source of iron, potassium, vitamin B, and especially protein. In fact, the World Health Organization has stated that the quality of protein in quinoa matches that of milk.
Recommended Serving Size: 2/3 cup broccoli, 33 calories 1/2 cup quinoa, 318 calories
Tanveer Badal is a writer living in New York City.