It’s Week 1 of the Real Simple Take Back Dinnertime Challenge. I’m partnering with Real Simple on their challenge because family dinners are an important ritual that help families connect, communicate and stay healthy — both physically and emotionally.

The focus of week one of the challenge is Get Healthy! Each day this week, they’re focusing on smart ways to make dinnertime better for you and your family, from skipping takeout pizza to introducing quinoa into your diet. There are new tips each day. Today’s tip: make something from scratch instead of buying it from the store. Real Simple suggests you make your own salad dressing. That’s a great suggestion. I’d also suggest trying to make your own hummus or using summer tomatoes and peppers for a fresh salsa.

Another way to help your family eat healthier is to cut back on the amount of meat served at meals. I’ll admit that many of the meatless meals in my house consist of some sort of pasta dish, but those dishes are often lacking in protein. In this week’s Take Back Dinnertime video, Real Simple’s Managing Editor Kristin van Ogtrop and Food Director Allie Lewis Clapp offer ideas on how to cut back on meat while not cutting back on protein.

If the dishes in this video appeal to you, here are the recipes.

Have you added any new dishes to your family dinners lately, particularly recipes that your kids loved, that are healthy? I’d love to hear about them in the comments, and if you can link to the recipe, that would be great. 

The opinions expressed by MNN Bloggers and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of MNN.com. While we have reviewed their content to make sure it complies with our Terms and Conditions, MNN is not responsible for the accuracy of any of their information.