The Family Table

Educating Families About the Benefits of Family Meals

Archive for the tag “family time”

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

Grilling as Easy as 1, 2, 3!


Recipe of the Week

Labor Day is right around the corner and is the second largest grilling day in America. I will be joining that group and will be getting the grill out for what might be one of the last big grilling days before the start of fall.

In my home I like to use a charcoal grill. I find charcoal to be very easy to use and the flavor it adds to meats and vegetables is one of the advantages over propane gas grilling. To set up your grill using my method: add charcoal to the grill (stacked in the shape of a pyramid), add lighter fluid, wait approximately five minutes, add some additional lighter fluid, then light the charcoal. After most of the charcoal has turned white, spread the coals evenly across the bottom of the grill, and place your grill rack on. You are now ready to grill!

My family loves to grill vegetable like yellow potatoes, asparagus, scallions, onions, mushrooms, and zucchini. One of the easiest ways I have found to cook those vegetables is to take a sheet of aluminum foil, add your vegetables and butter, garlic, salt, and pepper to taste, then seal the foil closed and place on the grill. In 10 to 15 minutes your veggies will be soft and tender and ready to eat.

Our favorite meat to grill is Korean BBQ chicken – which is easy to make too! Take five pounds of chicken strips and place into a bowl. Add half a jar of Korean BBQ Sauce (my family’s favorite is CJ Korean BBQ Bulgogi marinade), place a lid on the bowl and shake the chicken around until it is evenly coated with the marinade. Refrigerate overnight. Grilling time the next day is 8-15 minutes.

Another benefit to grilling is the extra time spent with my family. My family likes to come out and help me grill or just hang out outside. On nice days we will enjoy our meal together in the backyard.

Have a great Labor Day and enjoy the long weekend with your family!

Damian Roach Technology & Facility Manager and father of one

Damian Roach
Technology & Facility Manager and Father of One

Tip of the Week: Stuck Inside

Recipe of the Week

Our crock pot has been on-call every day this week with all this cold weather! Also on-call, my patience – If you are like my girls and I, the last few days have made us all a little stir-crazy! The holiday buzz is over, tv time has been done, and even the cats are ready for us to get back into the swing of things (chiefly by letting them sleep without the constant kid-interruptions!) As we spend yet another day in our house with the below-zero temps, the following ideas helped us to find ways to be together without getting on one another’s last nerve!

Indoor sumo wrestling – My kids had not tried this before! Recommended for kids ages 5 and up, this activity will have even your tween laughing, and falling all over herself as she tries to refigure her center of gravity! Giggles galore!

Make up your own games using pieces from other board games. Consider using a checkerboard, the tokens from Monopoly and a dice. Once the kids agree on rules for their version of the game, have them share the idea with their siblings. Find suggestions on Pinterest – here’s a board someone else already made, which will save you time!

Plan a fashion show! – Ok, I confess that having daughters makes this idea a lot more fun! But it also helped to get my girls more organized (and they didn’t even know it!) By having them plan to put on two or three interesting outfits, this helped us to plan the rest of the week’s wardrobe without the drama that accompanies getting ready for school. Choosing music, and then showing off for each other created a lot of laughs! To top it off, take pictures  and share them with friends and family. Need some ideas? There are several videos on YouTube.

How have you kept your kids busy as the winter break has been extended? Share your ideas on our Facebook page and help us all stay sane in the heart of an arctic winter!

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


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

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.


Bethany Clapper

Director of Development

Tip of the Week: Year 3!


Tough Discussions
at the Family Table

Raising kids is hard work. Research shows significant benefits for families that eat together at least three times a week. Talking around the family table, even talking about those topics that can be tough to discuss, is essential for our families’ success. Game nights, meals, snacks and smiles, maybe even a few tears can all be found at the family table.

Over the next year, we will be bringing you the family table hints you love, but we will also be discussing how to talk about the following “tough” topics at the family table:

  • Nutrition and healthy eating
  • Snacking or how often to eat
  • Tobacco or alcohol use or abuse
  • Drug use, including prescription drug abuse
  • Teen parties
  • Dating guidelines
  • Bullying
  • Suicide or suicide prevention

We would love to have your feedback! If you have specific questions about these topics, or would like to see us discuss something in particular, please contact us at

As we closed out the second year of the Family Table project, we celebrated last Friday at  Fort4Fitness celebration dinner Friday, September 27, 2013.
Did you get your photo taken at Parkview Field on Friday night?
Check out our album to tag and share!

Congratulations to:

Lutheran Health Sports Center
Renee H., Fort Wayne
Sherri S., Fort Wayne

Olive Twist & Tanglewood Berry Farm
Chantell D., Fort Wayne

Bussick Orthodontics
Nancy Y., Fort Wayne

Sky Zone Trampoline Park
Margaret E., Fort Wayne

Waiter on the Way
Chris F., Fort Wayne

Crazy Pinz
Kyle F., Three Rivers, MI
Lisa B., Fort Wayne


Tip of the Week: Top 10 Grocery Shopping Tips


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 Crawford, MS, RDN

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: Family Picnic


This Week’s Featured Recipe

The warm summer weather means we can make family memories by moving the family table outside for a picnic lunch or dinner! This summer’s weather has been unpredictable, so we need to be ready to take advantage of a sunny day. To make picnicking on the spur of the moment easier, have a picnic basket packed and ready to go with:

·Plastic or disposable plates and cups;

·Plastic silverware and napkins;

·A blanket to spread on the ground;

·A Frisbee or soccer ball for some family fun;

·Sunscreen and bug spray.

In the freezer, keep some reusable ice packs so you can quickly put food and drinks in your cooler, and not have to deal with the mess of ice. You can make your own ice packs by freezing water in plastic water bottles, but make sure to leave room at the top of the bottle because the water will expand as it freezes.

There are many other great ideas for picnics and lots of recipes. Instead of a high calorie, sugary dessert, try one of our staff favorites: frozen grapes. Keep your picnic basket ready to go and don’t forget to take some pictures while you are making family memories!


Holli Seabury, CEO, wife and mom of 7

Tip of the Week: Father’s Day


This Week’s Featured Recipe

Faithful, fun, leader, protector, these are just a few words our Family Table followers use to describe a father. As we have built up our Father’s Day contest, it was interesting to see how people describe a father. So, I decided to ask my husband what being a father has meant to him.

Now, we are still somewhat new parents. Our oldest is four years old, so we are well aware that we have a long road ahead of us. But, in the four years of being a father my husband says that being a father is one of the greatest privileges man can receive. To him, being a father means leading and guiding your children to make good decisions and building character.

Even though my husband likes to be the tough guy, he shows our children love and affection in the tough times. He said to me the other day that even though it can be stressful being a parent, the best payment for all of the stress comes in four words, “Daddy, I love you!” I look forward to honoring my husband this Father’s Day for the amazing father he is to our boys. I have a feeling I’ll be spending this weekend grilling and making his favorite dessert.

Need some gift ideas for dad? Try making him a gift from the heart. Also, it’s not too late to enter our Father’s Day contest and win the grill with accessories PLUS a $100 Meijer gift card! All you have to do is go to our Family Table Facebook page and post one word you would use to describe a father. Hurry! The winner will be announced Thursday, June 13th.

Hannah Keith 2012

Hannah Keith, Marketing Assistant, wife and mom of 2

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