The Family Table

Educating Families About the Benefits of Family Meals

Archive for the tag “eating together”

10 Reasons to Eat Together


Recipe of the Week

I enjoy spending time with my family around the dinner table even though cooking has never been a hobby of mine. We try to have as many meals as possible sitting together around the table each week. It is one of my favorite parts of the day! It is a wonderful opportunity to share the happenings from the day with each other. There are so many other benefits for mind, body and soul to eating with your family to keep in mind!

  1. When families eat together meals tend to be healthier.
  2. Children in families that eat dinner together are less likely to be overweight.
  3. Children tend to eat more fruits and vegetables.
  4. Children in families who eat together get better grades.
  5. When families eat together frequently, children have better language skills.
  6. Children of families who eat together report being happier.
  7. Working mothers report feeling less stress if they have family meal times compared to those that do not.
  8. Teenagers are less likely to use drugs, smoke and drink alcoholic drinks.
  9. Teenagers are less likely to become depressed, suicidal or pregnant.
  10. Eating together helps families build stronger communication and relationships.

What benefits do you see in your family from spending meal time together?


Bethany Clapper, Director of Development & Marketing and Mother of Two

Tip of the Week: Pantry List


This Week’s Featured Recipe

Often, there is a point during our week when we hit the, “oops, we forgot to plan something for dinner, but man, we really don’t want to get back in the car and eat out.” For our family, this usually means we are having a family favorite – or a ‘go-to meal,’ as some people call it. For our household, that means: brinner! Breakfast, for dinner. Crazy as it sounds, having an omelet, or pancakes and sausage, with a side of fresh fruit and OJ for dinner brings my kids running to the table like little else. (Why can’t they respond that way in the morning?)

Not only is it quick, but it is also an inexpensive way to get a meal on the table using a number of items you probably already have on hand! If you find your pantry to be empty on a regular basis, may we suggest using a standardized grocery list, like the one from Family Table to check each time before you leave for the store? Holli Seabury, McMillen Center CEO, says “The meals you can make with these items are pretty much endless – everything from a veggie/cheese omelet served with pan fried potatoes and toast, to pasta with a meat sauce, or chicken and stir fry veggies, served over rice.”

Other quick suggestions for dinner when the cupboard seems bare: local fruits and veggies that are in season are very plentiful at garden markets and roadside stands this time of year. Green beans, tomatoes and peaches are especially plentiful right now!

Frances Brooks Casual 2012

Frances Brooks, Director of Operations & Business Development, and mother of two

Tip of the Week: Keep Drinking (Water)



Recipe of the Week

The sun is out – finally! As our family traveled this past weekend, sunshine was out in force.  Sunscreen was both needed and applied multiple times.  We also planned ahead to stay hydrated! Water is the best source for keeping your family moving at top speeds.  On hot summer days, the most refreshing drink is simple water.

Tap water is a free choice, which often includes fluoride for strengthening teeth.  Tap water with fruit ice cubes makes a quick, homemade bottled water.  Or, if you are going to be traveling, freeze about half a bottle of water with your favorite veggies or herbs – mint or cucumber make a wonderfully refreshing drink.  Then, when packing your picnic, just add fresh tap water to top it off – this way it remains cool for those hot summer days of playing in the sun!

With all of the advertising for activity drinks, or easy beverage mixes, it can be easy to get too many extra calories from beverages.  The soda or flavored coffee you drink with your meal can add upwards of 500 calories – a large shake is even more! An affordable and easy substitute replacement might be a fruit or vegetable flavored water.  There are hundreds of ideas on Pinterest, like Rosemary Orange flavored water.  We have pinned a couple on our Family Friendly Recipes board!


Frances, Director of Operations & Business Development and Mom of 2

Tip of the Week: Picnic Family Fun!


Recipe of the Week

Wow, Memorial Day weekend is fast approaching! Finally, after the long winter months and a budding spring, the “official start of summer” is just around the corner.

This time of year always makes me think of my years growing up in southwestern Pennsylvania. Mom was always eager for summer weather and the start of summer break from school. Memorial Day weekends, as well as several other days over the summer, were lazy days full of family, friends and picnics. My mom loved a good picnic! At times she went all out with planning food for the picnic. From different salads and vegetable dishes to pulling out the charcoal grill, the food was good and plentiful.  At those times, the backyard was full of adults and children talking and having a good time.

My other memory is of other smaller picnics. Sometimes just Mom and we kids, or on weekends, Dad would join us. They would wake us up in the morning and say, “Girls, get out of bed. We are going on a picnic today!” Those were the best picnics! Usually the food on these days was a little simpler. Mom packed what we had in the refrigerator. Egg salad or peanut butter sandwiches, carrots and celery sticks and some kind of summer fruit like fresh peaches or a melon she had cut that morning. The food was always different, but always tasted great when enjoyed on a blanket outside! As kids, we had the job of packing our toys or things to do for the day. At times we would need our swim suits, but we usually always took a Frisbee, whiffle bat and ball, and even a deck of cards.

Now as an adult, I look back and remember these days as some of the best times with my family. Just being together, talking and laughing while enjoying our meal and getting to spend time with Mom and Dad, playing games and running around! Those simple, sometimes spontaneous times were the best!

I have kept up the picnic tradition with my own family. I take a simple picnic lunch to sporting events my children are in or, on a long vacation drive we pack a sack lunch to eat at a rest stop. My teenagers already laugh and share stories of some of their favorite family picnic memories! It doesn’t take much to make or plan the picnic but the fun memories are plentiful!

Twila Smith
Administrative Assistant, Mom of 2

Tip of the Week: National Nutrition Week


Featured Recipe

March is National Nutrition Month with this year’s theme: Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right.  Let’s write ENJOY in capital letters!

Are you enjoying what you’re eating?  How about the rest of your family? If you’re not passionate about your food and diet (and consequently your health), ask yourself why.

If it’s grocery shopping you dislike, make the chore easier with a weekly list – download one or use a smartphone app.  If one family member likes shopping, send him or her – it’s a good math, budgeting and organization lesson.  If you’re trying to better connect with your teen, invite him/her to shop with you; important conversations bloom from spending time together.

If you’re serving the same foods week in and out, gather the family and give them an assignment to come up with a new dish they’d like to see on the family table.  On-line resources are plentiful; can help with categories like “low cal and loving it” to “three courses in thirty minutes”.  You can gather a “month of ideas” from

Or is cooking holding you back? Invite the rest of the family into the kitchen to cook together; it can be a great stress buster transition from work/school to home while teaching a vital life skill.

But, if it’s the taste of healthy foods you’re not enjoying, consider that practice gets us to our goal in every endeavor so why not apply that to improving our diets?

How about this for a quick weeknight meal:  Egg salad sandwiches.  Use your favorite egg salad recipe; healthy  add-ins might include finely chopped celery, red pepper, carrots or all three.  Use your favorite bread; we like our egg salad on toasted sour dough with lettuce.  We add a fruit so we have four of the food groups in one meal. Ready in 15 minutes, faster than you can go through the drive-thru!!


Marcia Crawford, MS, RDN

Tip of the Week: Organizing Quality Time


Featured Recipe

Finding ways to spend time together as a family each week can be difficult. Try not to over think this goal and keep activities simple, such as cooking supper together. Everyone can lend a hand with meal preparations.

Meal planning with the kids can be fun and interesting. My family enjoys coming up with new recipes and I’m in the process of creating a recipe scrapbook  of our creations. Some friends of mine and their two teenage children take turns cooking supper each week night. They save one night a week to order take out. This allows them to have more time together and the stress of meal planning doesn’t fall on one person.

My husband and I both dislike grocery shopping very much. We used to argue about which one of us would make the grocery run for the week, so we decided to make it a family event. One simple change in the schedule has allowed us to spend a little more quality time together. What are some creative ways you and your family make time to spend together? Share your ideas on our Facebook page!


Jodie Godfrey
Marketing & Development Associate

Tip of the Week: Dental Health Month

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Featured Recipe

Did you know children who eat meals with their family are more likely to brush their teeth?  When I heard this it seemed a little odd, since I know at my family table tooth brushing isn’t often brought up in conversation.  Turns out that it’s because parents who eat with their children are better bonded with them and take care of them better, both medically and dentally.

February is Dental Health Month; a great conversation starter at the family table is to talk about your experiences with the Tooth Fairy as a child, and how your children’s experiences are different.  If grandparents are around, get them involved in the conversation too.  My husband grew up in England and instead of putting teeth under the pillow, he put his baby teeth in a Tooth Fairy Box, a small sterling silver box with a fairy on top of it.  When we received one of these at our first child’s christening, I had no idea what it was, much to the amusement of his family!

Teeth love calcium, and while there is calcium in dairy products, some vegetables like spinach are also a good source of calcium.  Try serving a spinach salad with your meal this week – let your kids put it together and choose the toppings.

Holli Seabury, CEO

Tip of the Week: Dark Chocolate Valentine

Collection of chocolates

Featured recipe

Have you ever sat down with a bag of Dove’s chocolates nearby and after a few minutes realized that the table was littered with more than one crumpled wrapper?  Nope, me either 🙂  What I have noticed is that inside those foils are really cute (and sometimes challenging) comments. One I have taped up in my work space reads, “Keep the promises you make yourself.”

With these words in mind and Valentine’s Day just a week or so away, thoughts definitely turn to chocolate. And then the sneaking glances begin because just a short five weeks ago, I made a better health commitment. I intended to exercise more.

I was excited to read this article in Women’s Health which revealed that there are several health benefits to eating dark chocolate (note, NOT milk chocolate, or chocolate chips, but DARK chocolate.)

– About a square of dark chocolate a day may lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke by 39 percent

– Dark chocolate lessens cravings for sweet, salty, and fatty foods and may make you feel more full

– Dark chocolate contains antioxidants and flavonoids, both tied to super foods

– Women who ate chocolate daily during their pregnancy handled stress than mothers-to-be who abstained (these women’s babies were also happier and smiled more than those who avoided dark chocolate)

– When dealing with stress, dark chocolate may help people deal with emotional eating better than a pint of ice cream

– Dark chocolate also contains theobromine, a chemical responsible for chocolate’s feel-good effect

Imagine my excitement to read that dark chocolate (my favorite) could be doing me more good than harm. Of course, eating the whole bag is probably not good! As always, moderation is most appropriate. Be an example for those who sit around your table and eat just one chocolate (and then throw the wrapper* away, of course!)  Children learn most of their attitudes about food from their parents.  It’s human nature to love sweets, but we can teach our children to enjoy sweets in moderation.


Frances Brooks
Director of Operations & Business Development

Do you have a favorite dark chocolate recipe to share? Please Pin it or Share it on our social media pages so all of our readers can benefit from your recipe box!

Tip of the Week: Teen Drug Abuse

shutterstock_72761899 low resFeatured Recipe

My middle school daughter rides the bus to and from each morning and afternoon. I remember riding the school bus most of the way through school. There are a lot of conversations going on in that 15-40 minutes our children are on the bus. Sadly, not all of them are ones that we hear about as soon as they happen. One conversation that has been on our family’s radar is how many teens are abusing prescription drugs. Last year more than 1 in 5 Indiana students surveyed reported using prescription drugs without a prescription. This is the second highest rate in the nation.*

Bitter Pill is working to inform youth and parents about the dangers of using prescription drugs illegally. It is easy to think that “my child” wouldn’t do something illegal, but as the fictional account below shows, it may be more likely than you think. Consider bringing this topic up to your son, daughter, niece, nephew or grandchildren at your next family meal. Be prepared for the eye rolling. But remember, if you talk, they will hear you, even if you think they don’t.

From Teen/Youth at
“Casey” was really stressing out about the big chemistry exam. She had a ton of other homework to work on and it didn’t feel like there were enough hours in the day ― between softball practice, student government meetings, and babysitting ― to study. So when her friend, Laura, handed her the Adderall in the hallway one day, she thought she’d give it a try. Tons of other kids in school used it to focus more and stay awake… “What could it hurt?” a friend told her.

Later that friend said, “If you need more, my brother can get them. Mom thinks he is taking his ADHD meds. He sells them. Just call me and ask for ‘Addy’.” Her test scores were solid those first few weeks. Prom was coming up. She was so excited, she started having trouble sleeping. Confessing to another friend, she was given some pills to calm her back down. Neither of these friends was a doctor. Her parents were divorced and barely spoke. They both missed the signs and her mood changes. Both Casey and her friends missed the prom that year and no one calls to ask for Addy now.

Prescription drugs are proving to be just as dangerous as street drugs and alcohol use amongst teenagers in our state. Bitter Pill’s Parent Page offers information on prevention and awareness.

*According to the Indiana Youth Survey 2012, Indiana Prevention Resource Center

Frances Brooks
Director of Operations & Business Development

Tip of the Week: Enjoy Holiday Food Without Sacrificing Your Waistline


Featured Recipe

Tis the season of cookies, egg nog and expanding waistlines!  Every year I pledge to avoid the dessert table at holiday parties and every year I fail.  Maybe I will have some success after reading with this week’s Tip brought to us from guest writer Jennifer Harrison, a Registered Dietitian at Lutheran Health Network:

Holidays are a time of celebration, family, and ultimately, food. Many gatherings are based around food, and it can be a struggle for most to make healthy decisions.

Here are some tips to help you enjoy the holidays while not sacrificing your waistline!

  • Don’t deprive yourself and remember that portion control is key. Have what you enjoy in moderate amounts. Scan the food table and decide ahead of time what you want. This helps to avoid over-loading your plate as you move down the line. Don’t forget to add nutritious and filling fruits and vegetables!
  • When it comes to dessert, pick one that is sure to be a palate-pleaser.  Is this the one time of year you have pecan pie? Enjoy a small slice, and forgo the others!
  • Whether you are hosting or a guest, make an effort to bring a healthy option to share. When you are eating and visiting, keep your back to the food. When it is out of sight, out of mind can be a great ally!
  • Make sure to keep your water glass filled. Not only will it help you stay hydrated, it will also help keep you full.
  • After the meal, bundle up and go outside for a walk. Not only will it burn some calories, but it can be a great time to visit with family and friends while getting some fresh air.

Whatever your goals are this holiday season, be sure to make a game plan and stick with it so that you can have a healthy and enjoyable holiday season!

Jennifer Harrison, MS, RD, CD – Lutheran Health Network

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