The Family Table

Educating Families About the Benefits of Family Meals

Budget Meal Planning

Recipe of the Week: Baked Eggs with Spinach, Tomatoes and Garlic

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How many of us have gone to the grocery store with the intention of just coming home with the essentials for the week, and instead, ended up with everything but the essentials? I know I am guilty of going a little overboard when I’m out on a grocery trip. With all of the advertisements and new products, I become a moth to a flame. Shopping when you are distracted results in overspending and often additional trips to the grocery store. With some easy steps and planning, you can save money and a little bit of sanity.

Step 1: Look through your cabinets to assess what you already have working for you. What ingredients would work well in meals for the following week?

Step 2: Think about what sounds good! What recipes work well for you and your family? Are there recipes that you would like to try out? There are great resources online for budget meal planning, so do your research!

Step 3: Make a reliable grocery list that follows the order you walk through the store. Preparing a list ahead of time will keep you focused on the items you need and more likely to skip the things you don’t. If you use a dry erase board or chalkboard to make your list throughout the week, simply take a photo with your cell phone and use it as a reference.

Step 4: Spend your time at home using these ingredients to make your own meals! It’s easy to pick up or have food delivered from a restaurant, but you miss out on valuable family time, spend more money, and sometimes overeat with the enormous portions that you are served.

With a little bit of planning, you can make shopping and meal preparation something to look forward to!

Jenn Storey Web Photo

Jenn Storey

Multimedia Graphic Artist

What’s Your Routine?

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20 Weeknight-Friendly Dinner Recipes 

Most of us follow a daily routine. Routines can be helpful, when it comes to time management which allows you to take full advantage of the extra moments you have doing the things you enjoy. The schedule of a new mom is something that I am beginning to appreciate. While I do not have any children, I am at that age where most of my friends are starting their families and I am learning how that delicate balance is important.

This past weekend, I attended a baby shower for a close friend who is expecting her first child. This friend is someone who enjoys structure and planning. She is probably one of the most organized people I have ever met. While I saw her opening all of the new gadgets and gizmos that you need as a new parent, I thought about how much her life would change.  Rather than giving her cards with well wishes, the person who put the shower together suggested gifting a book with a personal note in the cover. This is one of my favorite things that will be a part of her new routine. She loves to read and can now share something that she loves with her daughter.

Having a routine is helpful for developing children. In a quote from the American Association of Pediatrics, they point out, “One of a family’s greatest challenges is to establish comfortable, effective routines, which should achieve a happy compromise between the disorder and confusion that can occur without them and the rigidity and boredom that can come with too much structure and regimentation, where children are given no choice and little flexibility.”  For some great tips on family routines, visit: www. HealthyChildren.org  Whether the routine is, cooking together, going for a walk after dinner or reading a book before bedtime, remember to have fun!

Jenn Storey Web Photo

Jenn Storey

Multimedia Graphic Artist

Togetherness

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Recipe of the Week: Sushi Rice and California Rolls

One of the best times to connect as a family is preparing for mealtime. It is a moment in the day where we need both hands to chop vegetables, mix the ingredients or stir a great homemade sauce. Get your family members involved in the experience! This will give you time to chat about your day and to enjoy the accomplishment of preparing food together.

If you have small children who are learning to be independent, cooking is a great teaching moment to work with them on nutrition as well as the skills they need to prepare their own food. In the following link, you will find a Free 52 Week Family Home-Education Curriculum, which teaches children valuable food preparation skills.  Some of the topics covered in the curriculum are mixing, stirring, chopping and much more.

For couples who are just cooking meals for two, you can get creative together and make a date night of meal preparation. One of my favorite things to do with my husband is to work on a new recipe together and I encourage you to do the same thing with your significant other! Food brings people together, provides comfort and brings awareness back to your very basic needs, which is so important to do when we get busy with our lives. In this week’s recipe, I am featuring a fun food to prepare together: Sushi Rice and California Rolls.

Jenn Storey Web Photo

Jenn Storey, Multimedia Graphic Designer

The Essentials of Camping

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Recipe of the Week: 5 Healthy Camping Meal Ideas with 6 Ingredients or Less

As a kid, family vacations were not typically spent at Myrtle Beach or Disneyland. My family was a camping family. Our idea of tropical paradise was fishing in Canada and hiking through the Michigan trails. Until I was an adult, I did not really appreciate the planning that my Dad took to make sure that we had everything we needed for a safe and worry-free weekend.  The first time that I took a camping trip with my group of friends, the crazy list of “essentials” was truly out of control. We had everything from air mattresses to electric fans for the tent.

When you get down to brass tacks, camping is not always about maximizing your comfort each moment of the experience. Camping is a time where we can enjoy a break from the distractions of our daily routines and focus on the importance of communication and observation.  As part of the adventure, you can come up with creative ways to prepare your meals around a campfire. In this week’s link, you can find a great resource for minimal ingredient meals that you can easily prepare at your site.

If you’re new to camping, or forgot to listen to your Dad’s advice on keeping it simple, there are lots of resources out there to help you get on the right track. For a great checklist of what to pack on your trip, RealSimple.com has this Camping Packing Checklist. 

Jenn Storey Web Photo

Jenn Storey

Multimedia Graphic Artist

From One Grandparent to Another

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Recipe of the Week: Three Ingredient Orange Honey Greek Yogurt Pops

Stumped on what to feed your young grandchild that will be healthy?  I don’t think I am the only person with this burning question.  I am the grandmother of a 16 month old who loves her fruits and veggies but when it comes to meat, the interest drops. Her parents do a great job of planning meals for her but when I have to take over, I just stand at the open refrigerator door and wonder what I am going to feed this child who has informed me she is hungry.

As I ponder what to fix, I try to remember what I did when my daughter was this age.  The food recommendations have changed a bit over the years but the basics seem to be the same. I think of the food plate the nutritionists teach and I wonder how I am going to get protein into a little body that doesn’t like meat, beans or cheese unless it is an artificial cheese sauce coating noodles. Healthy? I think not.

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A child 1 to 3 years of age needs approximately 13 grams of protein per day. When I checked a list of possible protein alternatives I saw that whole milk, Greek yogurt, eggs, peas, carrots and peanut butter are great. While I knew these were all good for her, I didn’t realize they were full of protein. Eureka!  I can do this!

Now the creative juices need to flow! Well ok, maybe I will defer to Pinterest for ideas. I find things like making frozen Greek yogurt pops, hard boiled eggs with a face, carrots cut into fun shapes, peanut butter on a few slices of a frozen banana on a stick or veggie pancakes. Now while none of these ideas are unique, they were ideas that hadn’t occurred to me. This information was pure gold.

Simple ideas for the grandparent struggling to create a fun and healthy eating experience are always welcome.  While they are nothing fancy, or even new to a lot of parents, I hope these ideas put a smile on a grandparent’s face the next time you are standing at the open refrigerator door trying to please your hungry little one.

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Paula Crouch

Let’s Go On A Picnic

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Recipe of the Week: Spinach and Artichoke Wrap 

Spring and summer months are the best time to enjoy a meal outside! So, take advantage of the longer daylight hours and warm weather to enjoy a picnic. Check a local listing of your area parks and give them a try. For a list of Fort Wayne’s local parks, visit: McMillen Center For Health Education’s Out & About Guide. If you don’t have the time to make the trip to a park, your own backyard can be just as lovely.

Do you have friends or family that you don’t have the opportunity to connect with very often? Ask them to join you on your picnic adventure. This is a low commitment and family friendly activity that everyone can participate in. Make a list of the essentials and assign foods to others to make it more of a potluck style outing. By doing this, you lighten your load and allow for some creativity from your attendees.

Tips:

Travel Well: Mason jar salads, Fresh fruit, Crackers

Consider Your Surroundings: Will you need bug spray? Does the park have tables?

Love the Earth: Use plastic, reusable dishware and utensils instead of paper plates, etc.

Extras: Portable Speaker, Playing Cards, Frisbee

Let’s get out there, be creative and have fun. Enjoy this week’s recipe: a spinach and artichoke wrap.

Jenn Storey Web Photo

Jenn Storey, Multimedia Graphic Artist

Active Versus Busy

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Recipe of the Week : Easy Chicken Gyros & Tzatziki Sauce

The call to be an active family is all around us. You see it on billboards, Facebook messages and blogs. Even car company ads are talking about how important it is to be out and about and plugged in. But in a recent conversation with a friend, our active family sounded like this:
She: “How are you?”
Me: “Busy, the girls are doing these 10 things, and my hubby, more busy; and… busy”
She: “Us too, the kids have these activities, and I’m busy; and tomorrow we are busy. This weekend, we’re busy!”
Me: “Yeah, I’m tired.” And so on.

Busy was the first and possibly even last word out of my mouth as I described what my kids, husband and I had planned. Don’t get me wrong, what we had planned was not bad, but it definitely has my family going, going and always gone. Sitting down together for a family meal has been a rare occasion these past few weeks. I can attest that active is not the same as busy.

Research shows meals to be short opportunities for your family to sit down sans television or mobile device, and talk to each other. They are invaluable in helping children avoid addictions, self-harm and pregnancy, and can lead to better responses to bullying and improved nutrition. With all that aside, regular meals help keep what can become a crazy schedule on an accountable and connected routine. This allows family members to know what and when to expect from each other.

As you review your weekly schedule for the upcoming summer, take a moment to consider how family meals are part of the routine of an active family and not an oversight of a busy one.
Happy planning!

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Frances Brooks

Director of Operations & Business Development and Mother of Two

Fear Not the Berry

Fear Not The Berry - Tip of the Week

Recipe of the Week

As a Registered Dietitian and mother of 3 boys, I am always searching for ways to get my children to appreciate and enjoy the fresh tastes of the season and expand their palates.  My first real try at this was signing up for a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program where I purchased a share of the farmer’s crop for 10 weeks and received seasonal, fresh picked fruits and vegetables.  My CSA program taught my children about different fruits and vegetables, however, they were hesitant to try the “mystery” foods in the box.  This was despite my attempt at playing “Name the Produce Game Show” I would set up in my kitchen with them every week.

Several months later, I was attending an educational wellness workshop when a light bulb went off while listening to a presentation where a father struggled with the same issues. This is when I first heard of the idea and began using “fruit and veggie bins” in my refrigerator.  I purchased two Rubbermaid-type plastic bins of similar size and each week I fill one with various fruits and the other with various vegetables.  The fruit and vegetable combinations are hardly ever the same, and I always add something different for them to try.  These fruit and vegetable bins are placed on the dining room table each night during meal prep and stay there throughout mealtime.  These bins serve as “snacks” while they wait for the meal to be prepared.  Ultimately, this is a win for Mom as they easily consume 1 – 2 servings of fruits or vegetables before sitting down to dinner.  Each child has their own favorites, but they are asked try each and every variety in the bins at least once.  As you can imagine with 3 boys, these produce bins result in some “Fear Factor” daring!  However, most of the time, they end up liking the once-dreaded produce at hand.  The fruit that was by far the biggest dare to try was the blackberry.  Due to its dark color and bumpy texture, it was sure to frighten; however it has become a favorite.

Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, boysenberries and cranberries are nutrition powerhouses, known for their high antioxidant content that has been shown to prevent disease, decrease inflammation, and protect skin and hair.  As a rule of thumb, the darker the berry, the more nutrition per bite.  So fear not the beloved blackberry, as it has become a Mohrman family favorite.  I dare YOU to try them next time you hit the grocery!

Try this recipe for Triple Berry Summer Salad – a nutrition packed meal, rich in antioxidants and monounsaturated fats.  (I like to substitute feta cheese for the goat cheese)  Enjoy!

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Sarah Mohrman

Dietitian at Parkview Health

Vegetarian Summer Grilling

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Recipe of the Week

As a new member of the McMillen Center for Health Education, I am excited for the opportunity to share my experiences and continue to learn and practice healthy eating habits. In this post, I will be looking at vegetarian grill options for you and your family to enjoy. During warm weather months, my husband and I love to spend as much time outdoors as possible. Since we love to cook together after a long day at work, grilling out is fairly common for us throughout the week. While he is a meat eater, I have been vegetarian for more than 15 years. We welcome our food differences because it gives us room to be creative with our meal planning.

Imagine that you were organizing a cookout, with the knowledge that you had people attending that did not eat meat. Gasp! What are they going to eat? The first things that usually come to mind are store bought veggie burgers or other meat substitution options as an easy solution for vegetarians.  While those are great options, on occasion, they can at times be overly processed and full of preservatives. Here is a great link to support this thought: Link to study People with gluten intolerance or soy allergies may also not be able to safely digest meat-substitute products.

Instead of looking to your grocer’s freezer section, I would suggest looking in the fresh fruit and vegetable aisle instead. Better yet, how about your own garden? The reward of learning to grow and prepare your own food is so valuable and something that we should pass on to our children.  My favorite warm weather foods for the grill are zucchini, squash and tomatoes. Shish-kabobs, grilled vegetable sandwiches and summer salads are a great way to enjoy these delicious and natural foods.  See this week’s recipe for a suggestion on how to simply prepare one of my favorite warm weather foods.

Jenn Storey Web Photo

Jenn Storey, Multimedia Graphic Artist

Three Secrets to Healthy Eating

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Recipe of the Week: 

What’s the secret to making healthy nutritional choices? A new report analyzing 112 studies found that most healthy eaters did so because 1. A restaurant, grocery store, spouse or parent made foods like fruits and vegetables visible and easy to reach; 2 Healthy choices were enticingly displayed,and looked good; 3. Healthy choices were the easy, obvious choice.  This makes sense – we probably aren’t going to go looking in the fridge for an apple when there is a plate of delicious looking cookies sitting on the counter.

To help ourselves, and our family, make healthy choices, we can remember these concepts and put the healthy foods front and center in our line of vision, and put the less healthy foods out of sight.  We also need to make the healthy foods look good and be easy to prepare – we may have peppers and hummus in the fridge to snack on, but if the peppers aren’t sliced, we will most likely just grab a bag of tortilla chips to dip in the hummus rather than taking the time to slice the peppers.  Having fruits and veggies pre-sliced will make them the easy choice.

I had to laugh a little when I read this study because we practice these concepts in our house, but it’s mainly to hide food from the teenager.  If I buy ice cream, I can guarantee it will be gone in a day unless I hide it in the back of the freezer behind the bags of veggies!

Here is a link to the study.

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Holli Seabury

CEO and Mother of Seven

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