Usually, sometimes and rarely: Forget food pyramids or complicated dieting formulas. "We don't come to the table with a calculator," Krieger says.
So, she divides foods into the aforementioned three categories.
· "Usually" foods—lean protein, low-fat dairy, whole grains, healthy oils fruits and vegetables -- are the "backbone" of her recipes.
· "Sometimes" foods -- white bread, meats higher in saturated fat (chicken thighs, for example) -- have a more limited place at the table, but a place all the same. ("I'm not going to go through the rest of my life without a piece of crusty French bread," she says.)
· "Rarely" foods–butter, bacon, whole-fat cheese -- are best thought of as a component rather than a crutch. "I use them strategically," she says, noting that in her version of a warm bacon dressing, she relies on Canadian bacon (essentially, a lean ham) with the addition of a half-strip (per person) of traditional bacon "to get that deliciousness and bacon flavor."
Infuse food with flavor and texture: The former is all about spices and fresh herbs, says Krieger, explaining that they can deliver plenty of taste without adding much in the way of calories. The latter involves making use of the right sort of thickeners -- Greek-style yogurt, silken tofu -- to impart the creaminess and unctuousness we all crave.
Variety is pleasure: "Our taste buds want to have different experiences," says Krieger. That means looking past the familiar bagged lettuce in favor of something just as healthy but unexpected -- say, snow peas. That's especially important when it comes to instilling good eating habits in kids.
"The biggest favor you can do for your child is to expose them to a lot of foods," she says.
Oh, and forget about turkey-on-whole wheat as a lunchtime staple. Krieger's just-as-healthy alternative: lean roast beef on pumpernickel.
Celebrate food as a family: It's not just that Krieger, mother to young Isabella, turns off the TV during dinner. It's that she involves her child in meal preparation -- there are great science and math lessons to be learned in the kitchen, she notes -- and avoids too many quick solutions.
"If you're going to make cookies, take the time to make them from scratch, not from a box," she says.
The process begins way before mealtime, in fact. "Go to the market with your child and say, 'You pick out the vegetables tonight,'" she adds.
It all ends with the meal itself, which Krieger says should be a family occasion at least one or two days a week. If it can't be dinner, breakfast is OK, too. "Just share that time together," she says.