The Family Table

Educating Families About the Benefits of Family Meals

Archive for the tag “eating together”

Tip of the Week: Activities for the “Kids Table”

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Thanksgiving is probably the most memorable (and biggest) family meal most of us have!  Thanksgiving lunch and dinner at grandmothers’ houses every year has to be one of my favorite holiday family memories. Each year, my grandma Betty would host lunch at her house. All five of her children and their families would attend. We always laughed at seeing “the pink stuff”, a pink dessert my grandma prepared every holiday that no one would eat.

After lunch, we would go to my grandma Sally’s house to gather with my dad’s side of the family, his three brothers and sister and their families, to eat dinner. Grandma Sally’s house was a bit formal and all the grandkids had to sit at “the kids table” in the small hot kitchen. If you are like my grandma Sally and like to host formal parties where children are present, the following tips might make everyone’s visit more enjoyable.

I suggest using parchment paper as the table covering at the kids table (if you have a special setting for them). This will allow the children to have an activity to do during the feast. They can use white chalk so you won’t have to worry about little ones drawing on the walls. You can have a goody bag filled with rubber stamps and ink pads for the older children to enjoy. You can also use free printouts for place settings if you do not want to use parchment paper as a tablecloth.

My family always likes to share what we are thankful for during dinner. Other friends have shared these traditions:
– A co-worker of mine said that each person in his family writes down what they are thankful for and they place it in a jar. At the end of the meal they each pull out a piece of paper and try to guess who wrote it.
– Our menu never changes – I cook exactly what was served at my childhood Thanksgivings. My children love knowing that the menu will always be the same – down to the candied sweet potatoes that no one eats!
– My mom always makes pumpkin pie. One very memorable year, she left the sugar out of the pie. To this day, it is mentioned every Thanksgiving (and probably Christmas, too!)

Jodie Godfrey

Marketing & Development Associate

Tip of the Week: Talking About School

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What topic is most discussed at your family table?

At my house, dinner almost always opens with school-related conversation. Complaints about homework are the most common! These comments are usually quickly rebuffed with, “this is your responsibility.” Depending on the day, this may or may not end the conversation, or it may prolong it! As a family, we have discussed the social studies assignment that is due right after Thanksgiving break, the daily math homework, and we frequently discuss how important it is to get these items turned in on time. Valuable partners in this conversation are our daughters’ teachers.

Since this week is American Education Week we encourage you to honor your children’s teachers. If you do not have kids at home, we suggest talking about education to nieces, nephews, neighbors, grandchildren or the kids down the street, as this message is very important. A coworker shared that her son, who attends Forrest Park Elementary in Fort Wayne, is especially pleased with how the educators have worked with her son this year. “I look forward to the rest of this school year and the exciting things ahead for my son’s education,” said Jodie Godfrey, Marketing & Development Assistant.  “I am grateful for the educators who have played an important role in his education this school year.”

As my daughters are now half way done with their school careers, the topic of college comes up more and more often. A friend recently shared that there are some great resources that your family might benefit from – paying for college can certainly be a difficult conversation for many families. There are even apps that will encourage elementary students to take these important steps! Sitting down as a family and talking through your child’s plans never happens at too young of an age.  It’s important for our children to know what our expectations are for them attending college and how it will be paid for. Trip to College and Big Future have planning tips and suggestions.  If your family is feeling like college is not possible, view other’s stories about how they made it work.

Tonight at your family table ask your children to tell you about their favorite teacher and why they are their favorite.  You may be surprised at the answer!

Frances_Brooks-2012

Frances Brooks

Director of Operations
& Business Development

Tip of the Week: Anti-Alcohol

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With the snow this week, and the holiday displays hitting retail stores like crazy, conversations are quickly turning to the holidays. This time of year brings to mind many things: baking, family, friends and holiday parties. Depending on your opinions about alcohol, these parties may include drinking. Even in households where drinking is socially acceptable, it is important to set up guidelines with the children in your life about what is legal, appropriate and what you expect.

I can remember the girl in my class whose mom was home when my friends and I came over, and the alcohol came out. Not only does it send the wrong message when a parent hosts a party with teens where alcohol is being served, it is illegal. Declare your home a party safe house. Monitor the alcohol that is in your home and connect with other parents where your child spends time to ensure that they know what you expect.

Do you remember this old 80s ad: Do you know where your kids are? Who their friends are? Who their friend’s parents are and what is important to them? As my oldest entered middle school this year, this seems more ominous than ever. Activities after school, dances, youth group, this club, that group… these all crowd our calendar more than ever. And, at each one of these activities are people who influence our daughter’s choices.

This is part of her growing independence, however it is important that she knows what we expect of her. And the same is true in your child’s life. In a recent study, 64% of eighth graders said alcohol was “fairly easy” or “very easy” to get and one in three 8th graders reported drinking within the last year. One of the most important things you can do to influence your child’s response to drinking is to talk about it, and your family table is the perfect place to bring up the conversation. Need some ideas for how to start the conversation? There are a number of resources at Talk: They Hear You.

Frances_Brooks-2012

Frances Brooks
Director of Operations and Business Development

Tip of the Week: Dealing with “Terrible Two’s and Terrifying Three’s”

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Among my circle of friends we have children that range from babies to teenagers. Two weeks ago we had quite the conversation, via Facebook, about dealing with the, “Terrible Two’s – and even worse, the Terrifying Three’s.” The conversation was started when my friend, who is a first time mom, said she was stressed out with her almost three year-old daughter’s behavior. She said, “I thought the Terrible Two’s were bad, but these Terrifying Threes are giving me a run for my money.” Many of us who have already experienced this age told her, “You will be fine, just try to be patient.” We discussed the constant meltdowns, children testing their limits, sassy/back talk, and the drama that comes with the age. We also discussed the good things that come with this age. At this age your child starts to assert their independence, which is a perfect opportunity to teach them new things.

For instance, with my four year-old son, dinner time has always been a bit of a struggle. So instead of dreading dinner, I decided to take a new approach, and use his independence as a learning tool. First, we purchased one of the My Plate, plates to teach him about nutritious foods, how much of each food group he should be eating at each meal, and how each type of food helps his body grow big and strong, like a big boy! This has helped tremendously. On our way home, at the end of each work day, we love to talk about what we will eat for dinner and how to incorporate foods he likes at meal time. He loves to fill his plate with vegetables, fruits, and dairy. Grains and protein he is learning to like more each day. One of his favorite ways to eat chicken, other than in nugget form, is with a little bit of cheese on top of his chicken breast. Here is an easy, kid-friendly recipe www.kraftrecipes.com.

At the end of the conversation on Facebook, we moms all decided that we have smart young children, who are eager to learn. During each phase that our children go through, we can support each other to find the positives and do the best for our families.

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Bethany Clapper

Director of Development

Tip of the Week – Halloween Treats

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This week’s recipe

This Halloween nearly 60 million kids will go trick or treating (I think half of them come to my front door). The average child hauls in 91 pieces of candy, one-third of which will be pilfered by their parents. Over the years I have tried different ways to deal with all the candy in the house – now I let my children eat quite a bit on Halloween night (I admit, I help a lot) and then I dole out one piece a night until it’s gone. Well, really until it gets down to the gross candy no one wants, which is then thrown away. One memorable year my second oldest begged me to let him eat all his candy on Halloween night. The next day he called from school, where he was in the nurses office, and said, “Guess what, Mom? You were right – I did get sick from eating all the candy at once!”

In our house, pumpkin carving the week before Halloween is an exciting time. I usually make a crockpot chili or beef stew for dinner and we carve our pumpkins. I save the pumpkin seeds and toast them in the oven (you can also use a skillet). I wash the seeds with water, and then toss them in a little olive oil, spread on a cookie sheet, put some salt on them and bake them in a 450°F oven until they are brown and toasted. They are delicious when they are eaten warm from the oven. As we eat dinner and carve our pumpkins, we relive memories of past costumes and ideas for future costumes. My husband and I talk about our childhood Halloween memories and we tell our children about the costumes they wore as babies. It’s a night for family memories and for our children to learn about those family stories that happened before they were born.

How do you deal with all of the candy at Halloween? Visit our Facebook page and give us your ideas!

Holli-Seabury-2012

Holli Seabury

CEO

Tip of the Week: Souper, Super Easy!

Souper, Super Easy

A couple weekends ago, a few of girlfriends and I got away for the weekend. Our spouses and kids stayed at home to run the rat race which seems to be our weekends these days. We took off for a lake cottage. In October, there are quite a few less people frolicking about in the water and sunshine. It was quiet and we had the opportunity to reconnect with each other. In order to accomplish this, we took several steps to prepare. None of them were hard, and at least one was souper, super easy!

1) We turned off our cell phones and left the other electronic devices that guide (demand) our time at home. I admit, I did check it each night before turning in, and promptly when I got up. But, I did not check it each time it dinged because with it off, it doesn’t ding!
2) We potlucked, leaving little food preparation that had to be done while we were away. Do you remember that soup can be an entire meal (or two!)? We dined on two different soups, and with crackers we had plenty. I had forgotten how easy soup can be, especially when using a crockpot.
3) We listened to each other. In this fast-paced, get-it-done-yesterday world, we stopped talking over one another and actually had the time and energy to hear what the others were saying.
4) We looked out the window and were reminded why Indiana is the place to be in the fall with the beautifully changing leaves (or winter with the snow, or spring with the new leaves). Then, either alone, or with a couple of friends we went for a walk and the bright sunshine and fresh air were rejuvenating.
5) We laughed, and laughed, and laughed. It was like we were in college again. No cares, no clocks, just ‘sisters’ who made the time to remember silliness.

Once it came time to pack and head home, I really was ready to get back to the kids and hubby. The slower pace we had just practiced reminded me to see them, to look at their eyes and watch their smiles. By reconnecting with my friends, I was able to breathe a bit. That is too often missing from my normal M-F routine.

Recipe – http://www.girlmakesfood.com/black-bean-soup-vegetarian-and-vegan/

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Frances Brooks

Director of Marketing

You’re Invited to the Family Table Celebration Dinner – Sept. 27th

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Family Table Celebration Dinner – Sept. 27th

Celebrate the success of Family Table’s 2nd year by joining the McMillen Center at Fort4Fitness.

On Friday, September 27, the McMillen Center will announce the year 3 theme for the Family Table project, as well as celebrate “Together, We Eat Better.” In partnership with Fort4Fitness, a family meal is planned from 5 – 8:30 p.m. Bring a meal to Parkview Field, or join us at the Huntington University Picnic Pavilion for a pasta dinner. Contribute $10 to the Family Table project and receive a FREE pasta dinner.

Contribute $10 to the Family Table project and receive a FREE pasta dinner

To make a one time contribution, use your debit card, a Paypal account is not required.

SIGN UP to Receive Prizes:

  • $200 Waiter on the Way Gift Certificate
  • $300 Package from Bussick Orthodonics
  • Admission and Lessons to Ice Skate at Lutheran Health Sports Center
  • 2 Olive Oil Bottles and Gift Basket from The Olive Twist
  • Tanglewood Berry Farm Cookbook
  • Canlin Ice Family Pass Certificate
  • Sky Zone 4 Family Fun Package
  • Crazy Pinz Group Party Package
  • Crazy Pinz Kingpin Membership

For more infromation on Family Meals, visit http://www.FamilyTableOnline.org

McMillen Center for Health Education | 260-456-4511 | schedule@mcmillencenter.org | http://www.mcmillencenter.org | 600 Jim Kelley Blvd. | Fort Wayne, IN 46816

Thanks to our Family Table sponsors:

Tip of the Week: Picky Eaters

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This Week’s Featured Recipe

Got a picky eater on your hands? Does your child eat a limited number of healthy foods? Join the club. What’s a parent to do?

First, for a fresh perspective, let’s change the word “picky” to “selective”. Sounds better already doesn’t it? Babies come in to the world enjoying slightly sweet, totally bland food (called milk). Children’s senses of smell and taste are keen. Different textures are scary. There’s even a DNA factor at play about how intensely a flavor is perceived. Children discern the taste of food differently than their parents.

What can you do? Sit back, relax and don’t take it personally. All children are selective. Child feeding specialist Ellyn Satter suggests we parents, “Be considerate without catering.” That translates into offering healthy foods for the whole family.

When Junior tells you that new dish doesn’t taste good, accept that it might not taste good to him – that’s considerate. But, continue to serve it in your regular mealtime rotation- that’s not catering. Someday (hopefully before he leaves for college), Junior might take a bite! Coaxing, bribing, rewarding and punishing with food will likely cause a bigger problem down the road.

Be consistent with meal and snack times so that your child will know his next meal is just a few hours away. All day grazing is ill-advised and does not help you establish good mealtime habits. At mealtime, offer a food from at least three of the five food groups (milk, protein, grains, vegetables and fruits) and let your child, her appetite and her tastebuds be her guide.

marcia

Marcia Crawford, MS, RDN

Tip of the Week: Top 10 Grocery Shopping Tips

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This Week’s Featured Recipe

Grocery Shopping

Planning is the key to quick, easy and economical grocery shopping.  Check out our ten tips to help make your shopping painless.

1.  Plan meals and snacks a week in advance and write them down.  Create or download a form that makes sense to you. There are phone apps for this as well.

2.  Set aside one-half hour to write it all down; gather your family calendar (and the school’s lunch calendar) to determine who will be eating which meals.  This half-hour will shrink to about 7 minutes in no time as you re-cycle your best days.

3.  Be realistic; if no one likes Brussels Sprouts, don’t plan them into your menus.

4. Check your refrigerator, freezer and cupboards for inventory.  Any foods that need to be used up?  Any foods that no one has any intention of eating?  Plan to use up the odds and ends or donate or discard the “bad” purchases.

5. Don’t hesitate to make planned-overs (they taste so much better than leftovers). That roast chicken on Sunday not only becomes a sandwich on Monday but chicken noodle soup on Tuesday.

6.  There’s great convenience in single serving items for lunches but you are paying more for the package than the food.  Buy a large bag and have one of the kids count out portions into reusable containers.

7. For fresh produce, consider their shelf-life.  Use highly perishable fruits and veggies early in the week and keep those that have a longer shelf life for days 6 and 7.

8. Frozen fruits and vegetables can easily round out that end-of-the-week meal.

9. Make sure you have storage containers and supplies.  Those two pounds of hamburger in the freezer will be harder to use quickly than the 1/2 pound packages you created (and labeled and dated!).

10. Encourage the whole family to participate.  You can educate everyone about budgeting, time management, cooking and, of course, good nutrition. Dole out questions, tasks and responsibilities appropriate for your age child.

We promise, careful planning will make feeding your family a real joy!

marcia

Marcia Crawford, MS, RDN

Tip of the Week: The Research

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This Week’s Featured Recipe

Today is the start of our Family Table 6 Week Challenge! If you haven’t signed up for the Challenge, do it now to get our free mailing with lots of items designed to make family meals easier.

We are all busy, and sometimes it can just seem like too much work to get everyone together at the table. As an overcommitted mom, I have come to look at family meals as preventing problems which, if they happened, could take up a whole lot of my time than cooking does, and be devastating to my family. The research is overwhelming when it comes to the benefits of family meals to our kids. Children who eat at least 3 meals a week with their families have better communication skills; get better grades; are less likely to bully other youth; are less likely to use drugs, alcohol or tobacco; and less likely to have a teen pregnancy. These are all benefits we want our children to have, and it almost seems too good to be true that by just eating together we could have these benefits. I think this school year I am going to tell my 9th grader that doing poorly in math is just not an option for him because he eats dinner with his family!

These benefits to our children come about from the family connectedness meals create. Last week, a large study about teens and dating violence was released. Before conducting his study, the researcher anticipated that family bonds and support would help prevent both delinquency and dating violence. However, the researcher found family connectedness turned out to be far more important than anticipated, “I was a little surprised… We thought it would be helpful, but it turned out to be very helpful in decreasing all forms of violence we measured, and all forms of delinquency.”

If you would like to read more about the research on the benefits of family meals, click here.

Holli-Seabury-2012

Holli Seabury, CEO, wife and mom of 7

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