Enjoying traditional foods with family and friends make the winter holidays special. Now more than ever, balanced family meals can – and should – be part of your healthy holiday strategy. Instead of calling out seasonal treats to avoid, we suggest you focus on what to eat before you head out to holiday events or parties.

Make time to eat balanced meals together as a family, even during the busy holiday season. As long as you've had a balanced meal with foods from all the food groups, don't worry too much about an extra cookie or sweet here or there. By keeping the focus on balanced meals, you'll be less likely to fill up on holiday sweets.

Before you head out to holiday festivities, whip up a balanced family meal of Chicken Parmesan Subs, Orange Glazed Carrots and Best-ever Applesauce. Keep fast family meals on the menu all week long with Cheesy Tuna Melts, Lickety-Split Lasagna Soup, Cheese and Fruit Kabobs and Oven Roasted Broccoli.

Follow the Twitter hashtag #EatBetter2Gether for family meal updates and register at to add these and other recipes to your personalized family meal plan and shopping list.

"Family Meals Matter" features registered dietitian-approved recipes from the thousands of user-contributed recipes available at the free family-nutrition and meal-planning website, Meals Matter, maintained by registered dietitian moms with Dairy Council of California.

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