The Family Table

Educating Families About the Benefits of Family Meals

Archive for the tag “family table”

Tip of the Week: Fourth of July Celebration

Kids watching Fireworks

Recipe of the Week

For many the 4th of July means not just celebrating our country’s independence, but time at the lake with family and friends, backyard barbeques, and of course, fireworks. This holiday really has no age limit because there are so many different things to go outside and do. This past Saturday night the home behind ours was putting on quite the fireworks show and my son asked to leave his window blinds open to watch the show before he fell asleep. I decided to curl up next to him to watch the show too. Fireworks sure are beautiful to watch and since you only get to see them for a short time each year I didn’t mind letting him stay up a little bit later.

As you start to plan your holiday weekend fun, think of healthier safe ways to have fun, too. On the Family Table Pinterest page we found some healthy recipes, like a delicious red, white, and blue fruit skewer.  My son helped me look for a fun recipe, and we love fruit in our house, so it is perfect. Fruit skewers are simple and delicious and would be great to take to a backyard barbeque.

From all of us at the McMillen Center, enjoy this holiday weekend with your family and friends!

Bethany Clapper, Director of Development & Marketing and mother of two



Tip of the Week: Summer Meals

Shrimp and Arugula Salad

Recipe of the Week

Our house was a bit quieter last week– summer camp is in full force and our kids had gone to a residential camp.  This was most noticeable at two points during the day: in the morning when my husband and I are usually hustling them to finish getting ready for the day and to eat breakfast, and in the evening, when we generally sit down together to eat dinner.  We found ourselves with some additional time on our hands.

I have to confess, I get off lightly in the food preparation responsibility – my husband does almost all of the grocery shopping and cooking for our house! (I’m so spoiled, I know.)  And, our kids are not particularly picky eaters, thank goodness.  But cooking for just two of us is a bit different.  Fortunately, many online recipes allow you to alter how many servings you are cooking.  It is awfully hard to crack just 1.5 eggs!  Even our grocery bill changed.

We ate more salads, partially due to the heat, but also because without those two growing girls gobbling everything in sight, we cooked less.  I noticed that there was less dressing bottles on the table at dinner (not to mention less dressing used!)  We also ate some meals that we wouldn’t usually prepare with the girls at home, like Shrimp and Arugula salad.

There were also fewer dishes to wash because for some reason, each of our daughters pulls a new cup out for every drink of water they consume.  If this is a glimpse of what empty nesters experience when their kids first move out, I was excited early in the week, but I have to confess, I was a little lost by the end of it.  Friday night they returned (with all of their camp laundry, too!)  Yep, we’re back to those extra dirty glasses, but the giggles and silly songs were a welcome sound to the silence of last week’s meal times.  Being away from each other for a week has definitely given us lots to talk about at the dinner table, as the girls share their adventures with us!


Frances Brooks

Director of Operations & Business Development and mother of two

Tip of the Week: Summer Bucket List


Recipe of the Week

This was certainly a long, hard winter and while we were stuck inside, my family talked a lot about all the fun summer things we wanted to do. I spent some time looking up parks, sports activities, and new outdoor games we could play together. Many of my friends and social media feeds were talking about making a “Summer Bucket List.” First on our list was outside summer sports. We have registered my son for a summer sports program, of his choice, and all the outdoor toys that were stored in the garage quickly came out.

Once we started thinking about items to add to our list, I started seeing several social media sites on the same topic. Instead of creating something new, I decided I would use the great Summer Bucket List created by LeAnn Nome, who blogs as Real Fit Real Food Mom. I added a few new activities that I know my family will really enjoy doing together, and we are ready for summer fun! Come over to our Facebook page where we would love to hear about the exciting activities you have added to your Summer Bucket List!

Bethany RG Clapper
Director of 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: Growing Up is Hard to Do


Recipe of the Week

I was asked to write this week’s Tip on puberty, probably because I am currently surviving my fifth trip through this stage of life with my children.  Being a five time survivor, all I have learned is that puberty is when girls get mean and boys get stinky!  I know puberty has hit in my house when the child who I used to have to shoe-horn into the shower now takes a 45 minute shower, three times a day.  I definitely believe the hormones coursing through young people’s bodies do addle their thinking.  For me, the hallmark of puberty is saying to my child, “What were you thinking?  Seriously, WHAT were you THINKING?”

Puberty, and the teen years, can be scary.  It’s a time when we realize our children are starting to make more and more of their decisions without us, and the consequences of those decisions could be serious, even fatal.  As a parent, my job is to protect my children – puberty is a sign that my job is changing.  No longer will I be able to physically be there and protect my children; they are getting ready to go out into the world in a few short years.  The protection I will be giving them is hoping that I have taught them well, how to make good decisions, and to stand up to people who want them to do something stupid or dangerous.

The teen years are a time when our children seem to do their best to convince us that they don’t listen to anything we say or any advice we are giving them.  That simply isn’t true.  Study after study shows that parents are still the primary influence on youth, even more so than their friends.  If you want your teen to keep talking openly to you, this is the time to avoid criticizing how your teen dresses or how their friends look.  Instead, be open to conversation and don’t always come across as having the answers.  Comments like, “wow, that’s a tough situation – I’m not sure what I would do in that situation” can help your teen open up to you.

The family meal becomes even more important and is a time when we can talk to our teens – on the days that they are open to talking!  Rather than ask teens how their day at school was (to be followed by a grunt from your teen), instead present them with a problem from your day and ask them for advice.  Presenting a situation, “I am really stressed at work.  I have all these projects to get finished and my boss doesn’t seem to understand I can’t get it all done. I want to do a good job, but I just don’t see how I can” gives your teen a chance to see that you are seeing them as growing up.  It gives them an opportunity to relate your situation with some of the problems they may be facing. Plus, you may be surprised at the good advice your teen may give you!


Holli, CEO and Mom of 7

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: Talking About School


Featured Recipe

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

Director of Operations
& Business Development

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 –


Frances Brooks

Director of Marketing

Tip of the Week: Bullying


This Week’s Featured Recipe

Research shows children who have regular family meals are less likely to bully other children and more likely to talk to their parents if they are being bullied themselves. This hit home with us at dinner one day last winter, when I noticed my 8th grade son wasn’t his usual happy self. I asked him how school had gone that day and got the typical teen answer of “fine.” As the conversation progressed, and I asked him specifically about one of his classes and he said, “I really don’t like that class anymore.”

I was surprised, but he revealed that a boy in that class was bullying him; making fun of him in front of the class and calling him names. His opening up gave us a chance to talk about different ways he could respond to this bully, and if the situation was at the point where I needed to talk to the teacher. My son felt, with some of the tips we had given him, that he could handle it. Over the next few weeks we checked in with him regularly to make sure the situation was resolved. We also had conversations about how my son should respond when the bully moved on to bullying another child in front of the class.

One of the best benefits about the family table is that it gives children a safe place to open up. Starting a conversation at the table about bullying can start with questions like, “What’s it like to ride your bus?” or “What do you think parents can do to stop bullying?” or “What’s your lunch time like? Who do you sit with?” To help start the conversation about bullying download conversation cards or for a quick list of tips visit


Holli Seabury, CEO

McMillen Center for Health Education

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


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

McMillen Center for Health Education | 260-456-4511 | | | 600 Jim Kelley Blvd. | Fort Wayne, IN 46816

Thanks to our Family Table sponsors:

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