Old-fashioned home cooking is very trendy, and for good reasons: Making your own food is nearly always healthier for you than dining out or ordering in, plus it's cheaper, and good for families to cook and eat together. But let's be frank—it can be a total chore.
I find that the hardest part is coming up with recipe ideas that aren't the same old chicken/pasta/broccoli, and it's especially hard when you're cooking for family members with health issues that require special diets, such as diabetes, high cholesterol, gluten intolerance, and food allergies.
To the rescue: MyFoodMyHealth, an online meal planning service that takes your family's food issues into account and spits out creative week-long menus, complete with tasty recipes and a master shopping list. The site is incredibly easy to use and personalize. You enter your family members' health issues and food preferences into a simple but comprehensive form (for example, even though I'm a vegetarian I hate eggplant so I nixed it from the potential ingredients), then, presto, with a click of your mouse a menu for the week pops up, with 21 meal ideas and recipes.
Founder Caroline Nation is a clinical nutritionist who returned to the US after years living abroad and found that her American patients didn't understand the importance of the diet/health connection. "The people in my practice had a lot of ideas about supplements and pharmaceuticals, but had barely any idea that some foods have a deleterious effect and others are helpful," she says. And American doctors aren't much better. "Most doctors have about 5 hours of nutrition training and look at it almost as voodoo."
She realized that her clients would only stick with healthy eating habits if she made it easy and delicious. "It needs to be about everything you can have and not everything you can't," she says. So she hired a big crew of professionally trained chefs to create recipes for the site, drawing on flavor-packed ingredients from around the world. "Even if you're limited in which foods you can eat you can use 100 different flavor profiles to switch things up and keep it interesting."
The site's plan for my family was filled with scrumptious and just-inventive-enough, but not complicated, dinner recipes like Vietnamese Omelette, Quick Corn and Bean Chili, Linguine with Herbs and Curried Coconut Sweet Potato Soup (keep in mind that I'm a veg—there are tons of meaty options for the carnivores among you). You can move the recipes around on the calendar, and if any sound unappetizing you can replace them with a simple click—I wasn't excited by the idea of Portobello Mushrooms and Tomatoes on Toast, so I swapped it out for Chickpea Broccoli Burgers.
"People who have one health condition often have others, and live with people who might have different food issues and preferences, but you're sitting at the same table, and you can't possibly sustain making three different meals every night," says Nation. "MyFoodMyHealth makes meal times easy and safe and delicious for everybody."
Subscriptions to MyFoodMyHealth cost as little as $7.50 per month (far less than the cost of a cookbook) and you can sign up here.