The Family Table

Educating Families About the Benefits of Family Meals

Archive for the tag “family togetherness”

Tip of the Week: Pantry List

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This Week’s Featured Recipe

Often, there is a point during our week when we hit the, “oops, we forgot to plan something for dinner, but man, we really don’t want to get back in the car and eat out.” For our family, this usually means we are having a family favorite – or a ‘go-to meal,’ as some people call it. For our household, that means: brinner! Breakfast, for dinner. Crazy as it sounds, having an omelet, or pancakes and sausage, with a side of fresh fruit and OJ for dinner brings my kids running to the table like little else. (Why can’t they respond that way in the morning?)

Not only is it quick, but it is also an inexpensive way to get a meal on the table using a number of items you probably already have on hand! If you find your pantry to be empty on a regular basis, may we suggest using a standardized grocery list, like the one from Family Table to check each time before you leave for the store? Holli Seabury, McMillen Center CEO, says “The meals you can make with these items are pretty much endless – everything from a veggie/cheese omelet served with pan fried potatoes and toast, to pasta with a meat sauce, or chicken and stir fry veggies, served over rice.”

Other quick suggestions for dinner when the cupboard seems bare: local fruits and veggies that are in season are very plentiful at garden markets and roadside stands this time of year. Green beans, tomatoes and peaches are especially plentiful right now!

Frances Brooks Casual 2012

Frances Brooks, Director of Operations & Business Development, and mother of two

Tip of the Week: Keep Drinking (Water)

 

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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!

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Frances, Director of Operations & Business Development and Mom of 2

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: 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.

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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.

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Holli Seabury, CEO, wife and mom of 7

Tip of the Week: A New School Year

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This Week’s Featured Recipe

Judging by the amount of parents I saw this past weekend, a lot of us were out buying back-to-school supplies. Every year at this time, as I pack bookbags with new pencils and yet another ruler (what happens to the previous year’s ruler?) I pledge to begin the school year as Mom of the Year. I vow to send my kids to school with healthy lunches, make sure homework is done properly and put neatly in the bookbags, and to put a delicious home cooked dinner on the table every night so my family can eat together and share the exciting news of the day. By October, this has usually disintegrated into trying to find something quasi-edible they can take for lunch and realizing I never checked the homework as they run out the door late for the bus (again).

This school year, I am still holding out hope of getting dinner on the table, at least most nights. I recently received an email from a friend on this subject. He sent me a link to Michael Pollan’s latest book about cooking. Pollan makes the interesting observation in his latest book, Cooked, that home-cooked food is generally healthier because it’s just too difficult and messy to cook unhealthy food, like french fries, at home. And, if we are cooking what we eat, we won’t eat as many desserts because it will be too much work to make them. I don’t know about you, but I will skip the ice cream before I churn my own!

Often though, we tend to fall into the habit of using too many processed foods in our home cooking. The problem with these convenience foods like boxed macaroni and cheese, veggies with pre-made sauces, and pre-made mashed potatoes, is that they just aren’t healthy because of all the chemicals and sodium. Do you want ideas for how to get an easy, healthy meal on the table? Watch our video How to Get a Meal on the Table Faster than You Can Go Through the Drive-Thru. If you happened to be in England recently, you might have seen this video on the telly there; it’s being played throughout England by a London television station.

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Holli Seabury, CEO, wife and mom 7

Tip of the Week: Outdoor Activities

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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.

KK

Keith Koteskey

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