The Family Table

Educating Families About the Benefits of Family Meals

Archive for the tag “food”

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

family at table

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.”

Four Tips for Working Parents to Get Dinner on the Table

food_clock

This Week’s Recipe

A new study found home cooking is a major ingredient in a healthy diet.  People who cook at home more often eat fewer calories and their meals have fewer carbohydrates and fat than those who eat out more frequently.  This makes sense – it’s nearly impossible to make a meal at home that is as unhealthy as most restaurant meals!  However, the study found one of the main barriers to home cooking was working more than 35 hours a week outside of the home.

I fall into that category of working full-time and I agree – it makes getting dinner on the table every night more difficult.  Over the years I have found a few tips to make it easier to feed my family healthy home cooked meals after a long day at work:

  1. Keep it simple – a healthy dinner doesn’t need to be a major production. Sauté some chicken breasts in olive oil and serve with a side of veggies.  Dinner is on the table in 20 minutes and it is healthy and delicious.  I may melt some cheese on the chicken breasts or season them differently to mix things up.
  2. Dust off your crock pot – there are a million easy crock pot recipes and nothing is better than walking in the door to a dinner that is ready to go. I have the really big crock pot so I double the recipe and I will serve the crockpot meal at least twice during the week.  I assemble the meal the night before, put it in the fridge and then it’s in the crockpot and cooking before I leave for work.
  3. Take advantage of the weekends to do your prep work so you can get right to cooking and don’t waste time cutting veggies or mixing sauces after work. I don’t plan for more than 30 minutes from the time I walk in the door until dinner is on the table and having the prep work done in advance not only saves time, but it keeps my kitchen cleaner during the week.
  4. Make double or triple portions and freeze the leftovers for future dinners. I tend to make huge dinners on the weekends and the leftovers become healthy freezer meals.  I will pull a meal out to thaw before I leave for work and then pop it into the oven for 20 or 30 minutes to warm for dinner.

Holli-Seabury-2012

Holli Seabury
CEO and Mother of Seven

The Holiday Table is the Family Table

thanksgiving

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

Souper Easy

souper

This Week’s Recipe

A couple weeks ago, a few girlfriends and I got away for the weekend. Our spouses and kids stayed at home. We took off for a lake cottage. 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 easy!

  1. We turned off our cell phones and left the other electronic devices that guide (demand) our time. I admit, I did check it each night before turning in, and 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 crock-pot.
  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 friends who made the time to reconnect.

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.

Frances_Brooks-2012

Frances Brooks

Director of Operations & Business Development and Mother of Two

Sweet Potatoes… No Sugar Needed!

sweet_potato

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

Casseroles are quick and easy!

casserole

Recipe of the Week

Casseroles are easy to make and can use up whatever foods you have may have available in your pantry. Use this quick list as you look at your pantry, it may even be a big help as you think of something fast to feed the kids before heading out to trick or treat or other nightly activities.

  1. Look for a grain – preferably whole grain like rice or pasta and cook it. One cup uncooked rice or pasta will give you about 2 cups cooked.
  2. Add 1 to 2 cups of leftover vegetables (or frozen or canned) like carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage.
  3. Add 1-2 cups of leftover or cooked or canned meat (browned hamburger, cooked chicken/turkey, tuna) or canned /cooked beans (kidney, chili beans, pinto, black), or even tofu.
  4. Mix in 1 -2 cups of cheese (shredded or sliced), maybe even stir in a can of your favorite creamed soup for the salt and added creaminess.

Heat this all together in a pan and you have supper. You can add a salad and some fruit on the side with a glass of milk and you have an incredibly easy, fast way to get supper on the table with all the food groups included. This recipe would be enough food for four nice size servings. If you have more mouths to feed, then increase the quantities. The great thing about casseroles is that if it turns out delicious, then write down the ingredients you used and you have now made your own recipe! If it is not your favorite, eat it and don’t use that combination again. If you have your kids help with cutting up vegetables or adding the other ingredients, you are encouraging them to be confident enough to try their own ideas. You or your kids may be the next great chef!

Linda Hathaway
Director of Curriculum & Education and Mother of Six

Taste of Fall

pumpkin_spice_lattee

Recipe of the Week

I recently read an article about how unhealthy the popular fall beverage, pumpkin spice lattes, really are when you buy them at your favorite chain provider. I was so disappointed because I love them! I love this time of year and all the foods, flavors and vegetables you typically can only find in the fall. What would a cool fall day be without my pumpkin spice latte!

It isn’t just the flavor. It is sipping on and enjoying a warm beverage on a cool day. Or it is enjoying one of my favorite beverages with having a great conversation with friends. Many times when you think of purchasing this type of beverage it may run through your mind about the nutritional value. Whether you are worried about artificial dyes, sugar content or fat I wanted to share an easy recipe to try at home. This recipe substitutes the artificial ingredients for things we have in our cabinets. Enjoy!

BethanyClapper_2012

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

Trying New Foods this Fall

Quite little graphic of an apple tree in fall

Recipe of the Week

As fall approaches, my husband and I have discovered that this is a great time of year to visit our local farmers markets or stop by a roadside stand selling produce. At this time of year you will find many root vegetables such as potatoes, yams, turnips and parsnips. You may also find bags of onions, cabbage, pumpkins or beautiful mums.

I find the meals I am cooking start to change this time of year, too. I start looking for recipes that use more of the vegetables listed above, things that are hearty but still easy to cook, and I try using our crockpot more often. This week’s Apple Kielbasa recipe is one of our favorites and is easy and versatile. Enjoy trying this mix of fall flavors!

Twila Smith
Administrative Assistant and Mother of Two

Dining for Two: Six Easy Steps

dinner_for_two

Recipe of the Week

Do you love to cook? Are there two of you at home that enjoy trying new recipes and new flavors together? When you have a busy schedule and you don’t feel like cooking a large meal for just the two of you, don’t just settle for leftovers, frozen dinners, or cereal. It is the perfect opportunity to take a little bit of planning time and enjoy experimenting with new recipes, like this delicious apple pork chop recipe.

Try these six easy steps to make cooking for two easy, fun and healthy.

  1. Make a Plan: Each week write down a weekly menu.
  2. Stock the Pantry: Always have the essentials on hand, like canned goods and dried foods.
  3. Fill Your Freezer: Buy in bulk during sales and freeze in single portions.
  4. Cook and Freeze: Cook a larger meal and freeze leftovers in single portions for those busy nights.
  5. Prepare One-dish Meals: Cook a dish that has several food groups, like a chicken stir fry with veggies served over rice.
  6. Extras: Use food from previous night’s meals, such as cooking a whole chicken on Sunday and using the meat during the week to make burritos or a chicken salad.

Need additional ideas on cooking for two? Visit us on Pinterest for more recipes.

BethanyClapper_2012

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

Five Quick Ways to Play with Your Food!

play_with_your_food

Recipe of the Week

I know, I know, I can hear my mom and yours in the background saying, “DON’T play with your food!” But, if you have picky eaters in your family it might take a bit of creative thinking to get them to eat healthy.

Seeing as the summer is quickly coming to an end, apples will soon be in season. You and I know apples make a great tasting healthy snack, but if your kids are not too keen, a little playtime might help. Below are five examples of quick ways to make a boring old apple into something fun and exciting. My kids and I also used grapes and peanut butter to make these, but you and your family can experiment with your own ingredients!

  1. Smile – two apple section lips, white grape teeth, and a little peanut butter to hold it together
    play_with_your_food_01_smile
  2. Race Car – an apple section for the car, grape wheels, a grape headed driver, and again the “magic peanut butter glue” as my kids call it
    play_with_your_food_02_Race_Car
  3. Turtle – a green apple half (with the stem as a tail), grape feet, a grape head, and peanut butter if needed
    play_with_your_food_03_Turtle
  4. Butterfly – thinly cut apple section wings on either side of a grape body
    play_with_your_food_04_Butterfly
  5. UFO (my favorite) – a cross section of an apple with a grape alien in the middle
    play_with_your_food_05_UFO

 

Scott Nitza

Scott Nitza
Graphic Designer & Marketing Associate and Father of Three

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