The Family Table

Educating Families About the Benefits of Family Meals

Archive for the tag “family table”

Tip of the Week:


This Week’s Featured Recipe

You’re eating breakfast at the table, and the family is ‘shoveling it in.’ After taking the time to prepare a full meal, it would be great to have them look up and acknowledge that there are other people at the table. But let’s be honest, morning is about the worst time to expect good conversation. When working to fit in three meals with all of us together at the table, summer is has proven to be a bit difficult. A meal in the evenings has proven to be quite challenging recently, so especially on the weekends, we try to have at least one morning meal together.

Here are three ideas to consider for making morning meal times more interactive:

#1: Having a conversation at the breakfast table about how their day went seems odd. Some other ideas include: a word of the day, or having everyone wearing the same color for the day, or “one thing I’d like to accomplish today…” Try to think of accomplishments beyond the typical chores list, considering creative ideas or new skills you’d like to learn.

#2: Set a goal for the next week’s meals. Ask your family for suggestions on what might be added to the grocery list. While cleaning up their plate, have them try to have them give you ideas for foods that are ‘the colors of the rainbow,’ that are both bright-colored and crunchy. (Yes, we know that Skittles are both brightly colored and crunchy, but this is not necessarily the health-conscious choice we were endorsing!) Sneak some power foods into breakfast with this week’s Recipe of the Week that features Veggies for Breakfast.

#3: Consider talking about the Health Tips from Fort4Fitness. Their Tip of the Day can give your family different suggestions on how to make little changes that can make a big impact!

Frances Brooks Casual 2012

Frances Brooks, Director of Business Development & Operations, wife and mom of 2

Tip of the Week: Outdoor Activities


This Week’s Featured Recipe

You may remember that for Father’s Day the Family Table had a drawing for a grill and $100 gift card, provided by Meijer.  We caught up with winner Keith Koteskey to ask about his views on family meals – and we found out he’s making great use of his new grill!  Fire up your own grill and make this week’s Featured Recipe. This week’s recipe makes use of those zucchini that are exploding all over your garden, or that your neighbors are forcing on you!   

Q and A with Keith:

Family Table: How has the grill helped your family time?

Keith: Grilling is a family event in our house, it is a way that we bond as a family and spend time together. For us, grilling represents healthy cooking and healthy eating. We prefer grilling food over things like frying the food. The grill also gives the food flavor and you can cook a variety of foods. As a family, we enjoy eating dinner together; the grill is a huge part of that. One of our favorite things to do in the summer is grill and eat dinner out on our deck, one of our favorite spots.

Family Table: What types of outdoor activities go along with grilling?

Keith: Our family loves to hike, that is one of the things we enjoy doing a lot. A lot of times we will go to a state park and hike the trails and then cook food on grills to eat lunch. One of the other activities we love to do as a family is camping. We are actually going on a 6-day camping trip this summer as our summer vacation. Grilling goes along with camping, so we do grill a lot when we go on camping vacations.

Family Table: Now that summer is finally here, what are some outdoor activities you like to do with your family?

Keith: As a family, we enjoy biking. Quite often we take long bike rides along the River Greenway and the Aboite Trails. We also enjoy playing outdoor games such as Frisbee and bocce.


Keith Koteskey

Tip of the Week: Social Media Vs. Family


This Week’s Featured Recipe

Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, which is your go to site? In our ever changing world of technology it seems as though there is always a new social media site to join. (As if we don’t belong to enough already.) When I was first introduced to social media it immediately became addicting. What a great idea to be able to see the details of our friend’s everyday lives on the web! You can read their posts, look at pictures, and even videos!

But what is so intriguing about other people’s lives? I have come to find that social media can be a devil in disguise; a way for us to constantly compare our lives with the lives of others.  In the midst of becoming a social media junkie it can become so easy to lose sight of what is right in front of us, our own family. Have you ever been searching these sites while your loved one is also demanding your attention? I know I am guilty of this very thing.

My focus going forward is not to reach for the screen but to reach for the person right in front of me. I’m going to start the dinner conversation tonight by asking my family, “Do you think Mom has been spending too much time on her phone and computer?”  This could be a tough conversation, but isn’t that what family meals are about?

Hannah Keith 2012

Hannah Keith, Marketing Assistant, wife and mom of 2

Tip of the Week: No Candy Baskets


Easter Candy Facts

This Week’s Featured Recipe

All of the ads for clucking bunnies (they are memorable!), should have let you know that one of the biggest treat weekends is quickly approaching.  Easter is the second largest candy-eating occasion of the year for Americans, who consumed 7 billion pounds of candy in 2011, according to the National Confectioner’s Association. In 2012, Americans spent nearly $2.1 billion on Easter candy and among the most popular – the chocolate bunny and those crazy (and I say creepy) marshmallow Peeps. Follow the link above for more interesting Easter Candy Facts.

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, snacking is where we often consume unintended calories, and the pounds of jelly beans and peanut butter eggs certainly count into those. If you are planning on making an Easter basket for this weekend’s celebration, you might consider one or two of these 50 novel ideas that are not confectionary:

1)      Coupons for getting out of chores

2)      Sidewalk chalk

3)      Jump rope and other outside play toys

4)      Grow-dinos (capsules that you put in water and watch grow)

5)      Sun glasses

6)      Food and cooking utensils for their play kitchen

7)      Mini flashlights

8)      Bead necklaces

9)      Fancy duck tape (bright colors and zebra prints, etc.)

10)    Sports balls – basketball, baseball, football

And hopefully, the weather will start to cooperate so we aren’t searching for Easter eggs in our snow boots!

– Frances, wife and mom of 2Director of Operations & Marketing


Get more information about the Family Table  – Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest!

Tip of the Week: Easter Egg Hunt


For as long as I can remember, we have gone to my aunt’s house for Easter. We almost always have ham and roast beef. There are a whole bunch of people in our families with birthdays around Easter, so we always have birthday cake to celebrate. There are usually about 30 of us, so it’s a full house. After dinner, we’ve always done a very competitive Easter Egg hunt. The adults and kids that have graduated from high school stuff plastic eggs with candy, dollar bills, and change. We usually stuff around 300 eggs. The kids in high school and younger look for the eggs hidden around the house.

One year, my older cousins decided to stuff the plastic eggs with left-over food. We were all in high school and my brother and cousin stuffed some of the eggs with leftover roast beef, mashed potatoes and gravy. Luckily, only a couple of kids actually found them. They had hidden them up high, where only the tall, high school kids could reach them. Boy, were our parents were mad! But, every year, we joke about that prank!

Camy Rodenbeck 2012

Camy Rodenbeck, Health Educator

Tip of the Week: Easter Memories


This Week’s Featured Recipe

With every holiday in my home growing up, I have very fond memories. My parents are very traditional (my friends go even further and say old-school) but they have created lasting memories that my brother and I will forever cherish. At Easter, there were festivities all day long, but the day always ended with a beautiful meal that my parents prepared together. We all gathered in the formal dining room with all my mother’s best china, silver, and linens. Dinner included roasted lamb, baked potatoes, green beans or broccoli, cottage cheese and dinner rolls.

Another tradition that I loved when I was growing up was decorating eggs. We would spend hours making different colored eggs, personalizing them for each person, adding the wraps, and then of course finding them. Most egg hunts in Fort Wayne were too cold and muddy to be outside, but my parents would hide eggs throughout the entire house. My parents would give us one clue that would start us on a scavenger hunt. The clues would send us all over the house, garage and even inside my dad’s car! Growing up, I always had the same multi-color wicker basket, with green grass, that would be filled with candy, fruit and small toys, wrapped in cellophane and tied with a big bow at the top. My husband and I hope we too will be able in instill a sense of tradition and lasting holiday memories with our children.


Bethany Clapper, Director of Development, wife and mom

Tip of the Week: Easter Family Trip


Easter weekend conjures up for me a traditional pastel colored dress and big hat. That is what my childhood was like – going to church and singing praise songs, and of course, the big Easter Egg Hunt; followed by a ham dinner with all of my cousins and grandparents… My kids experience is somewhat different.

This year they will participate  in our church’s Easter Extravaganza – a short, interactive event, followed by an egg hunt where the donated grocery store bags flap in the breeze as the kids drop the candy-filled eggs, and a fair bit of grass, into them. Often held the weekend before Easter, the kids run like crazy to find the brightly colored plastic eggs, that ironically, because we are trying to teach them about volunteering, they had helped to fill the weekend before.

The last few years, our spring break has started on Good Friday and with my husband’s work schedule, we have started going out of town that weekend. So, no big family dinner on Easter for my children.  In both my husband’s and my family, our daughters are the only local grandchildren. Instead of one big family meal, we’ll have one big family trip. And together, we’ve all learned about Mammoth Cave, and the vehicles of WWII in Dayton, and the beaches and traditions of Mississippi and Louisiana where my husband went to college. This year’s agenda includes the Gateway Arch and a tour of the Cathedral Basilica St. Louis. Something tells me they are celebrating Easter there, too!

Frances Brooks Casual 2012

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

Tip of the Week : Krazy for Kale!


This Week’s Featured Recipe

I don’t know about you, but lately I have been seeing a lot of information about kale. It seems kale is the hot new veggie, and with good reason. Kale is called a “super food” because of its high level of vitamins. Kale has more calcium than milk and more iron than lean red meat! Frankly, I didn’t think kale looked so appetizing, but I gave it a try and loved it. I first tried kale chips, which are just kale tossed in a little olive oil and sea salt and baked. The kids loved these super healthy “chips”. I then started putting kale into salads, soups and pasta sauces. Kale can substitute for spinach, holds up to cooking much better than spinach, and has a milder flavor.

On our McMillen Center Pinterest page we’ve pinned several recipes which feature kale.  On Sunday evenings I have started making a big batch of stir fried veggies which we eat throughout the week. I sauté chopped kale, onions, a bag of broccoli slaw, green peppers, and zucchini or yellow squash. While the veggies are cooking I put a sweet potato in the microwave and when the veggies are done I stir in the chopped baked sweet potato. I season with sea salt and cumin, my husband seasons with low-sodium soy sauce.  It’s a time saver to have this big batch of veggies done as a side dish so I can put together a very quick weekday dinner by sautéing chicken breasts or broiling fish – in about 15 minutes dinner is done!

Visit for more information about the benefits of eating together as a family.

vitality_awards_logoDSTickets are available for the McMillen Center Vitality Awards. Landmark Centre on Thursday, March 21st


Holli Seabury, CEO

Tip of the Week: Family Game Night

Carcassonne game

This Week’s Featured Recipe

Dinner is over, the table has been cleared and it is Thursday night… let the competition begin! As we discuss making our families stronger, an important aspect of this in our house is good sportsmanship. Different families learn these skills in different ways – through sports leagues, club games, or art, dance and music lessons. For our family – it is a game board night. Our current favorite for adults and kids alike is Carcassonne, a puzzle game. Whether just my husband and I are playing, or if it is a group of family and friends, the opportunity to sit down at the table together and laugh leads to learning we can all benefit from! And the conversations that spark from the friendly rivalry are an opportunity for us to catch up on each other’s lives.

We’ve been making the effort to provide healthier snacks because it seems that with game table chatter, a food bowl empties faster than ever! These are the times where we exceed our daily calories (and not even notice!) faster than any other. I love game night because we are providing an example of how to play fairly, disagree, be competitive and be together. And, when we change up the game we’re playing, it gives different people an advantage. My oldest daughter is best at logic and puzzle games, my husband at music trivia and strategy and my youngest and I, well, talking is our advantage!

Planning your own game night soon? Be sure to share about that experience on our Facebook page – once we reach 500 fans, we’re giving away a date night from Waiter on the Way.

Visit for more information about the benefits of eating together as a family.

Frances Brooks Casual 2012

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

Tip of the Week: Fondue with the Family


This Week’s Featured Recipe

One of my favorite family table activities has been our fondue night. Recently, we introduced the concept of fondue to our four year old son, Gentry. Fondue is the delicious art of dipping different types of food into a sauce. The great thing about fondue is that you can get very creative with the sauce and types of food you dip.

As I explained this to Gentry, you could just see him light up with excitement. So after dinner, I set up our little fondue pot at the table and got all the fruit out to prepare. I let Gentry help wash the fruit and pick out his favorite color skewer. That night we melted chocolate and peanut butter. Peanut butter seemed to be a big hit and something besides the traditional chocolate. There are many other options for fondue out there. See this week’s recipe for some ideas for your fondue night.

As I try to create more family activities, I am starting to see amazing results. As we were talking and having fun with our fondue that night Gentry said, “We are a family. I love our family! I love family time fondue!” Family activities show us a side of Gentry that we love so much.

Another one of my favorite things to hear my son say when we sit down to eat together is, “So, Mommy, how was your day?” In these moments I know we are teaching him the importance of family time and he gets it! I know this will benefit him in his social skills, peer pressure, eating habits, and education. Recently CNN provided some great tips on improving your family time at the table.

Our family is very busy, but that short amount of time at the dinner table together benefits our family in so many ways. There is nothing I love more than seeing our family have fun and enjoy conversation together!

Visit for more information about the benefits of eating together as a family.


Hannah Keith 2012

Hannah Keith, Marketing Assistant, wife and mom of 2

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: