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Taco Night!

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Growing up, food was the cornerstone of Emily Richard's Italian family. She was constantly helping her grandmother in the kitchen cooking family meals for all to share. That time around the dinner table was important then and it is now as Emily raises a family of her own. As a food economist and cookbook author, Emily shares a fun meal idea with us - taco night!

1. How can you make taco night a healthy choice?

A lot of people like to have tacos because of that fun element. Canadians in particular have been looking for that healthy wholesome meal. So Old El Paso created "Smart Fiesta." Made with whole grains, the shells contain more fibre and reduced sodium. Tacos can be really wholesome - now you have that whole grain and you can top it with great wholeseome ingredients like lean meat and vegetables. Tacos cover the Canada food guide nicely.

2. What are some ways to make dinner time fun for kids?

I know in my house I get them involved in what I am doing. This can be a little messy but it does make it fun! With something like tacos there is a lot of colour involved - reds and yellows and greens and oranges - and that makes the food appealing to look at as well as to eat. The preparation gets everyone involved, no matter their age, you can give them a job to do like spoon out the salsa and sour cream. Kids like to help prepare dinner.

3. Why is it important to share mealtime as a family?

I think what is important is you have that downtime; you are taking the time to enjoy each other. It is a time when you can be all together and enjoy great food and conversation. To me it is an important part of family. We grew up that way. I want my kids to grow up that way.

4. Tips for a picky toddler.

I had three of them and two of them are still very picky! My grandmother used to make a meal for everyone. This isn't an easy solution but I find that I can make different components within the same meal or cook extra one night so a picky eater can eat that on a night he doesn't like what's offered. I always have pasta in the fridge for this reason. Tacos are good because kids can choose what they want to have inside them. This is what I mean by different components. Also something to keep in mind - sometimes it isn't the flavour but the texture that kids don't like. My daughter doesn't like mashed potatoes so when I am making those I will take out a potato before I mash and cube it for her.  You don't want to go overboard and put out the whole buffet but having little bits of something in the fridge for when you make something different can mean your picky eater eats something. Another thing I have learned is to look at what my kids eat in one week rather than one day. Somedays they eat a lot, others they don't but it does even out.

For more information about Old El Paso's Smart Fiesta, including recipe ideas, click here.


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