The Family Table

Educating Families About the Benefits of Family Meals

Archive for the tag “Events”

Finding a Quick and Easy Dinner for Two

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This Week’s Recipe

I was talking to my parents last night on the phone, both of whom are retired and live in Florida, and they were talking about what to have for dinner. Ever since I was a child my mom has not enjoyed cooking and did not look forward to making dinner each night. But every night when my dad would get home from work there was a hot home cooked meal prepared by her on the table to enjoy. Last night was pretty typical as they were trying to decide what they were going to have for dinner and they didn’t want chicken breasts again. Since they are living in a 55 and older community often they are busy with church, volunteer work, social events and activities, but last night they were staying in.

We may know a home cooked meal is a healthier option than eating out, but that doesn’t mean we all enjoy cooking. Sometimes it seems like it is hard to think of a meal that I haven’t cooked over and over (like my mom and chicken breasts!). The internet can be a life saver for finding quick and easy recipes. Put a shout out to Facebook friends for their favorite recipes or hop on Pinterest. I told my mom about some new recipes I had pinned on Pinterest and that she should check them out and try them with my dad. One of them was a shrimp stir fry that was really tasty and easy to make for just two people. I look forward to hearing if they enjoyed it and I hope you give it a try too. Let us know if you enjoyed the recipe!

BethanyClapper_2012

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

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What Grade Does Fast Food Get You?

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This Week’s Recipe

When I was growing up in south central Pennsylvania, the closest fast food restaurants were about 15 miles away. Fast food was something I ate infrequently, maybe a few times a year. Today, nearly every tiny town has some form of fast food and most families eat fast food on a fairly frequent basis. Nearly half of Americans eat fast food anywhere from once a week to several times a week.

However, a new study shows we may want to rethink how often we feed fast food to our children. In looking at the school performance of over 11,000 children, it was found that the amount of fast food children eat may be linked to how well they do in school. The more fast food children ate in fifth grade, the lower their growth in reading, math, and science test scores by the time they reached eighth grade.

It wasn’t just a small difference either – students who ate the most fast food had test score gains that were up to about 20 percent lower than those who didn’t eat any fast food. The lead author of the study said, “There’s a lot of evidence that fast-food consumption is linked to childhood obesity, but the problems don’t end there. Relying too much on fast food could hurt how well children do in the classroom.”

Children who ate fast food four to six times per week or every day had significantly lower gains in reading, math and science compared to children who did not eat any fast food the week before the survey. Although the study didn’t determine why children who ate more fast food didn’t do as well in school, the researchers point out that fast food lacks certain nutrients, like iron, that help children’s brains develop. Diets high in fat and sugar, like fast food, have been shown to hurt memory and learning.

As a mom who does rely on fast food sometimes to get a meal on the table, what do I do with this information? Well, it will certainly cause me to rethink how often I go through the drive-through. If you do need to go through a drive through to get dinner on the table, here are some hints to make the meals not quite as unhealthy:

  • Skip the soda pop. Choose the milk or water option.
  • Drop the fries and either choose a fruit option with a kid’s meal, or if you are serving the fast food at home put some fresh fruit on the table or quickly heat up frozen veggies.
  • Try to choose grilled meat, rather than deep fried.

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Holli Seabury
CEO and Mother of Seven

National Drug Fact Week

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This Week’s Recipe

January 26-30 is National Drug Fact Week in the US. So why should you care?  Studies show that youth listen when you speak. They may not show great listening skills, or sit down quietly beside you while you talk, but they do listen and they do watch your behavior.

Across the nation, and here in Indiana, abuse of prescription medications by middle school, high school and college age students is increasing.   Prescription medications are the drug-of-choice for 12 and 13 year-olds, abused more commonly than any other drug.  Youth often perceive pain medications such as hydrocodone, fentanyl, or oxycodone to be less dangerous than other narcotic drugs like heroin or opium. Unfortunately, the effect on the brain is the same regardless of whether the narcotic is a prescription with specific instructions to follow, or purchased off the street.

Four in ten teens report that the prescription medication they used came from their parents’ medicine cabinet. Parents can reduce access to prescription medication by monitoring and securing their prescription medications and disposing of any expired or unused medications.

SAMSHA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration) reports that talking to children about the dangers of prescription drug abuse and misuse goes a long way. Teens that had learned “a lot” or “a little” from their parents or grandparents about prescription medications were up to 42%   less likely to abuse prescription drugs than teens that reported learning “nothing.”  Family meals can be a perfect time to start that conversation about drug abuse.  Hints for starting the conversation (and making it a conversation and not a lecture!) can be found here.

Linda Hathaway
Director of Curriculum & Education and Mother of Six

Who Put the “Cran” in Cranberry?

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This Week’s Recipe

When I was growing up no holiday dinner was complete until the cranberries were on the table. In fact dinner was sometimes announced with the sound of the jiggling mass of jellied cranberry sauce whooshing out of the can and flopping onto a plate. But, as I have learned, it turns out cranberries do not grow as a gelatinous goo with ridges on the side which look strikingly like the inside of a can. I have also learned over the years, you don’t have to have a holiday meal to enjoy cranberries.

First, a quick history of one of the few fruits native to North America. When Europeans arrived on this continent the Native Americans of the north east had been using this berry for many things from dying clothes to treating illnesses. It was noticed by early European settlers the flower of this bog growing shrub looked like a crane, and thus the term “crane berry” was born, which was eventually shortened to cranberry. The cranberry first went to sea when sailors discovered it was great for helping to fight scurvy, because of its high vitamin C. On land cranberries were often made in to a sauce, paired with turkey, another native to North America, and served on special occasions (sound familiar?), by early Americans, Canadians and Europeans.

For many families the holiday table is where cranberries were relegated to, and that is where they stayed. But slowly as times change, and look for new and exciting flavors to bring to our families, the cranberry is leaving the formal table and joining us in more casual settings. Cakes, cookies, relish, and salads are all places this tart little wonder-berry is popping up. Maybe it is because more and more people are discovering how the great taste of cranberries is matched with how good it is for you, being full of vitamin C.

So remember, enjoying cranberries at the family table does not mean the once or twice a year sound of the jiggling mass of jellied cranberry sauce whooshing out of the can and flopping onto a plate. Cranberries are a great fruit for everyday, not just the holidays.

Scott Nitza

Scott Nitza
Graphic Designer & Marketing Associate and Father of Three

What if I told you that dinner could save a life?

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This Week’s Recipe

What if I told you that something as simple as a family dinner has the potential to save a life? It sounds incredible, doesn’t it? Or perhaps it sounds like an exaggeration. However, I’m not so much talking about what’s on the table as I am referring to who’s at the table.

According to a September 2012 report by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASAColumbia), teens who took part in regular family dinners were significantly less likely to take part in destructive behaviors such as drug and alcohol use. Additionally, the report revealed that teens who have frequent family dinners (five to seven a week) are more likely to say they have an excellent relationship with their parents when compared to teens who ate dinner with their parents fewer than three times a week.

This wasn’t the first time that CASAColumbia found such results. In fact, the 2012 report was the eighth in a series of annual “Importance of Family Dinners” studies that all came to very similar conclusions. Year after year, the results have shown that regular family dinners can reduce everything from teen substance abuse to teen stress levels.

So it’s true: something as basic as eating a meal together five to seven days a week can have a very powerful effect. However, in this digital era, family meals are becoming increasingly uncommon. How many of us eat dinner as families anymore? And if we do, are we truly eating together, conversing, and interacting with each other? Are we genuinely listening to one another? Or is the TV on? Are we on our phones, checking social media, email, or even work-related updates?

It’s often been said that “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” and nowhere is that proverb more applicable than in this situation. In this instance, the ounce of prevention is taking the time to get together to eat, putting down the phone, turning off the TV, openly speaking, and actively listening. In the short term, the ounce of prevention may seem inconvenient or even mildly uncomfortable for some people. However, the proverbial “pound of cure” that can be required when a teen gets caught up in the world of substance abuse can be far worse than a mere inconvenience or mild discomfort. Yet too many families wait for a crisis to arise to change their family dynamic, communication, and habits.

However, for some families, a family dinner is impossible. Sometimes schedules don’t permit everyone getting together around dinner time. That’s when it becomes necessary to set aside a different time to get together, whether it’s for a meal or other activity that allows for good communication. What’s most important is that the setting allows everyone involved to focus on one another in a distraction-free environment.

At most, regular family dinners have been shown to have the ability to help prevent very destructive youth behaviors. At the very least, they provide families with the time and setting to communicate and get to know one another better. Considering how much hangs in the balance, why not set aside some time today to get together as a family?

For more tips on healthy communication, read our “Talking to Kids” electronic pamphlet:
http://50.62.253.121/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Talking-to-Kids-ver3.pdf

CASA Columbia 2012 press release (“The Importance of Family Dinners VIII”):http://www.casacolumbia.org/templates/PressReleases.aspx?articleid=697&zoneid=95

Shane Watson
Communications Coordinator
notMYkid.org

“notMYkid is an Arizona-based nonprofit that seeks to inspire positive life choices by educating students, parents, and school faculty on six topics: substance abuse, bullying, Internet safety, depression, unhealthy relationships, and body image.”

The Holiday Table is the Family Table

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This Week’s Recipe

The holiday season is kicking off this week with Thanksgiving, and many families have traditions that were started long ago and have been passed down through the generations. This week, as we sit around the table and remember all the things we have to be thankful for, we can continue to create beautiful memories with our loved ones. Whether it is each individual saying what they are thankful for before dinner, saying a special grace at the table, or spending time together watching football after the big dinner – we can all find something in our life for which to give thanks.

The quality time you are spending together as a family, has so many benefits and will build a tradition for future generations. Family meals bring benefits such as increased happiness in the home for all ages, higher grades in school, a reduced risk of eating disorders for youth, better nutrition, fewer cases of depression, lower risk of tobacco/alcohol/drug use and better communication among family members. These are only a few of the benefits of eating together!

As you sit down with your family tomorrow for Thanksgiving, enjoy every moment with them and remember to give thanks for even the small things in your life. The McMillen Center wishes you a very happy Thanksgiving and we are thankful you follow our Family Table Tip of the Week!

BethanyClapper_2012

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

Sweet Potatoes… No Sugar Needed!

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Recipe of the Week

I have always thought of sweet potatoes as not being very healthy and that the texture was too mushy and gooey. Probably because I think of them as having marshmallows on top and that does not excite me. As Thanksgiving quickly approaches, for as long as I can remember, each year I give sweet potatoes a try and each year I am not a big fan. Everyone else around the dinner tables likes the sweet potato casserole, so I continue to make it and let the rest of the family enjoy.

A few weeks ago a friend was telling me how she is being more conscious of what she feeds her family. She shared a recipe for a sweet potato casserole that did not include putting marshmallows on top. As we sat down to dinner with our families she put some sweet potatoes on my plate. Once again I gave them a try, and to my surprise they were delicious! I know our tastes in foods change, but I was so surprised that I liked these and that I was looking forward to trying them again soon. An added bonus was that my husband and both my children liked them too!

After that evening I decided to learn a little bit more about this vegetable. A four ounce serving of sweet potatoes provides:

  • 390% of our daily value of vitamin A
  • 40% of vitamin C
  • 18% of fiber
  • 13% of potassium

plus vitamin E, iron, magnesium and much more.

I went onto Pinterest and looked for some recipes to try at home and I shared them on the McMillen Center Pinterest page, too. Enjoy trying something new with your family!

BethanyClapper_2012

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

Tip of the Week: Anti-Alcohol

Featured Recipe

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.

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Frances Brooks
Director of Operations and Business Development

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: 4th of July Safety

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This Week’s Featured Recipe

Each and every summer, since I was a little bitty kid, our family and friends have gathered together to celebrate the Fourth of July. When I lived at home, my grandparents had a huge summer BBQ with grilled chicken and the best Texas Sheet Cake I can remember. As we’ve grown older, our annual tradition still involves swimming all day and eating! With all this food and fun about, the last thing you want to add to your holiday memories is a trip to the emergency room!

  • The National Fire Protection Association reported that the risk of fireworks injury was highest for children ages 5-19.
  • Males are injured more than females.
  • 36% of the 2011 injuries were to individuals younger than 20 years of age!

To help your friends and family remember these tips, send a fun reminder about fireworks safety with Sparky Cards!

In addition to fireworks, hot grills and sun burns also can have a negative effect on your joyful plans.

  • Avoid running or playing around hot grills and camp fires.
  • All members of your family should apply sunscreen with an SPF 15 or higher to prevent exposure to the sun’s rays.
  • Be sure to remember to reapply sunscreen when swimming or sweating.

Looking for some great kid’s activities for tomorrow? Try Patriotic Bean Bag Toss or Healthy Flag Centerpieces. My kids love to add fruit to skewers!

From our family to yours, we hope you have a relaxing holiday, and a great celebration honoring all that our country has achieved!

Happy 4th of July!

Frances Brooks Casual 2012

Frances Brooks, Director of Marketing and Operations, wife and mom of 2

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