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posted: 7/31/2012 6:00 AM

Cook of the Week: Dietitian strives for healthy family meals

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  • Lynn Dugan strives to feed her family healthy meals, and her baked zucchini is in the rotation.

       Lynn Dugan strives to feed her family healthy meals, and her baked zucchini is in the rotation.
    Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

  • Bev Horne/bhorne@dailyherald.comLynn Dugan stuffs zucchini halves with sausage and vegetables before putting them in the oven.

      Bev Horne/bhorne@dailyherald.comLynn Dugan stuffs zucchini halves with sausage and vegetables before putting them in the oven.

  • Video: Lynn Dugan's stuffed zucchini

 
By Abby Scalf
ascalf@dailyherald.com

Lynn Dugan prides herself as a registered dietitian, guiding people toward nutritious meals and leading them to healthier, active lifestyles.

Yet this Glen Ellyn mom has her own challenge: finding the time to feed her own busy family.

"I'm a mother of four children and a registered dietitian, and I know how hard it is to feed active kids a healthy diet," she said. "If I have trouble with my own family, I can't imagine how other people would struggle in their own kitchens."

Watching her father struggle with high cholesterol influenced her career path.

"I was able to see how the changes of his eating pattern at home helped his health, and that got me interested in nutrition. I knew that was what I wanted to pursue in college," she said.

Lynn balanced working with raising Becca, now 17; Courtney, 15; John, 13 and Matthew, 9. Cooking at home changed when she discovered young John had food allergies and she could no longer rely on packaged or processed foods.

"I had to start from scratch. I then realized how much healthier my family ate," she said.

When planning meals, Lynn said her goals are to incorporate lean proteins, whole grains, fruits and vegetables. She incorporates white rice with whole grains to gradually add to the family's diet and encourages the family to try meals filled with vegetables, such as tortellini soup featuring spinach, carrots, yellow squash and green beans.

"There is that constant reinforcement of what good eating is. I don't beat it over their heads. I am guiding them just like everything you do as a parent," she said. "You are guiding them to make good decisions."

To share her love of cooking and background in nutrition, Lynn created myplate2yours. The aim, she says, is to make it easier for families to prepare meals quickly that also are good for them.

"I feel a lot of things we can do and have control over is to eat right and have a healthy lifestyle. That starts at home," she said. "I can raise the bar higher at home, but every little thing we do toward a healthy diet is so important."

Through myplate2yours, Lynn does in-home cooking demonstrations as well as public presentations, and last year she added a website and blog where she shares tips and original recipes, like how to roast beets for an arugula salad with goat cheese and using cottage cheese in pancake batter.

She also teaches cooking classes at Marcel's Culinary Experience in downtown Glen Ellyn.

Hoping one day to expand her blog and write a book, Lynn stays motivated to help families put nutritious food on the dinner table.

"We all have a similar goal and want to feed our family healthy meals, but sometimes time is limited," she said. "I get motivated to help others to do that."

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