The Family Table

Educating Families About the Benefits of Family Meals

Archive for the tag “Fruits”

Five Quick Ways to Play with Your Food!

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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
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  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
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  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
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Scott Nitza

Scott Nitza
Graphic Designer & Marketing Associate and Father of Three

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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!

Frances_Brooks-2012

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

Tip of the Week: Healthy Weight Week

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Featured Recipe

At our house while we celebrate Christmas and New Year’s, we tend to eat foods that are more fatty, more sweet and less fiber filled than normal.  Because of the cold weather – especially this year – we also tend to sit much more than normal.   That combination of eating more and moving less gives our bodies more calories to store and that means weight gain.

Obviously stores are aware of this pattern and the exercise equipment and advice abound and are often sale priced to entice people to buy them.

Each of us is responsible for our response to these situations. It is easy to say, “well I guess I can’t really change this” but as parents or grandparents we need to be aware that children follow our examples.  Today’s children are in the first generation of Americans that due to poor eating and exercise habits have a shorter life expectancy.

As a parent or grandparent, sharing time being active with the children in our lives is good for them and us.   Exercise includes walking, dancing, roller skating, playing on monkey bars, riding bikes, playing tag, duck-duck goose, and playground tricks – how long can you stand on one leg, how close can you come to touching your toes with your knees straight, hop scotch, how fast can you run this relay. It does not require a gym or special equipment other than perhaps shoes. Exercise guidelines are that children should aim for 60 minutes total of exercise each day.  Guidelines for adults are for 150 minutes total per week.*  I know that getting started is always the worst part, but once I started exercising regularly (for me using the Wii fit and walking) it is something that I miss when I don’t get a chance.  Look for ways to get ten minutes here and there and it will add up.  Spending time with children easily will add to the amount of exercise you get.  Less screen time – TV and computer – will help – so shut it off- pretend the electricity to these items is not working for a couple hours a day.

Working toward an increase in fiber (women 25 grams and men 38 grams) will improve the ability to managing a proper weight.  Increasing the number of fruits and vegetables and whole grains will easily increase the amount of fiber.  Check the labels of your foods for the number of servings of fiber per serving.

Thankfully one of the cool ways our tax dollars are spent is on good solid advice and information.  Check out www.choosemyplate.gov and also www.cdc.gov for guidelines.  Specific guidelines I referred to before are at these links: http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/everyone/guidelines/index.html and http://www.choosemyplate.gov/downloads/PlanPurchasePrepare.pdf

Eating Well, Exercising Well and Being Well is a result of daily – even hourly – choices. Choose well.

Happy New Year

Linda_Hathaway - 2012

Linda Hathaway
Director of Education and Curriculum

Tip of the Week: Enjoy Holiday Food Without Sacrificing Your Waistline

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Featured Recipe

Tis the season of cookies, egg nog and expanding waistlines!  Every year I pledge to avoid the dessert table at holiday parties and every year I fail.  Maybe I will have some success after reading with this week’s Tip brought to us from guest writer Jennifer Harrison, a Registered Dietitian at Lutheran Health Network:

Holidays are a time of celebration, family, and ultimately, food. Many gatherings are based around food, and it can be a struggle for most to make healthy decisions.

Here are some tips to help you enjoy the holidays while not sacrificing your waistline!

  • Don’t deprive yourself and remember that portion control is key. Have what you enjoy in moderate amounts. Scan the food table and decide ahead of time what you want. This helps to avoid over-loading your plate as you move down the line. Don’t forget to add nutritious and filling fruits and vegetables!
  • When it comes to dessert, pick one that is sure to be a palate-pleaser.  Is this the one time of year you have pecan pie? Enjoy a small slice, and forgo the others!
  • Whether you are hosting or a guest, make an effort to bring a healthy option to share. When you are eating and visiting, keep your back to the food. When it is out of sight, out of mind can be a great ally!
  • Make sure to keep your water glass filled. Not only will it help you stay hydrated, it will also help keep you full.
  • After the meal, bundle up and go outside for a walk. Not only will it burn some calories, but it can be a great time to visit with family and friends while getting some fresh air.

Whatever your goals are this holiday season, be sure to make a game plan and stick with it so that you can have a healthy and enjoyable holiday season!

Jennifer Harrison, MS, RD, CD – Lutheran Health Network

Tip of the week: Saving Time, Freezing Meals

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My freezer is key to getting meals on the table – I routinely try to cook twice as much as my family needs so I can freeze the rest. It doesn’t usually take any time to double a recipe, and then all I have to do is go to my freezer, pull out a meal to thaw, and then dinner is ready. Well, in theory. In practice, my freezer became the place where meals went to die. It was such a mess that I couldn’t find anything, and it got to be too much work to dig around in there to try to find something edible.

Pinterest came to my rescue! I saw a beautifully organized freezer on Pinterest and decided that was what I needed to make my freezer work for me, instead of against me. I started by removing all the food, throwing away anything too old or scary looking. Then, re-organized my frozen food into neat baskets with laminated labels. Laminating the lables might have been a little over the top, but I was on a roll!

I also added a dry erase board on the front of the freezer, so now I know what’s in there without even opening the door. Before I go grocery shopping, I take a picture of the dry erase board so if I see frozen veggies or meat on sale, I know how much I already have in stock. When I cleaned out my freezer I had about two dozen bags of peas – hopefully, I’ve solved that problem for the future!

I also keep a Sharpie marker on top of the freezer so I can remember to label and date all meals I put in the freezer. I have a terrible habit of putting unlabeled meals in the freezer and thinking that I will remember what they are. Since I don’t have to search for a marker anymore, hopefully there will be no more “freezer surprise” meals for my family!

Holli-Seabury-2012

Holli Seabury, CEO

McMillen Center for Health Education

Tip of the Week:

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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: 4th of July Safety

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This Week’s Featured Recipe

Each and every summer, since I was a little bitty kid, our family and friends have gathered together to celebrate the Fourth of July. When I lived at home, my grandparents had a huge summer BBQ with grilled chicken and the best Texas Sheet Cake I can remember. As we’ve grown older, our annual tradition still involves swimming all day and eating! With all this food and fun about, the last thing you want to add to your holiday memories is a trip to the emergency room!

  • The National Fire Protection Association reported that the risk of fireworks injury was highest for children ages 5-19.
  • Males are injured more than females.
  • 36% of the 2011 injuries were to individuals younger than 20 years of age!

To help your friends and family remember these tips, send a fun reminder about fireworks safety with Sparky Cards!

In addition to fireworks, hot grills and sun burns also can have a negative effect on your joyful plans.

  • Avoid running or playing around hot grills and camp fires.
  • All members of your family should apply sunscreen with an SPF 15 or higher to prevent exposure to the sun’s rays.
  • Be sure to remember to reapply sunscreen when swimming or sweating.

Looking for some great kid’s activities for tomorrow? Try Patriotic Bean Bag Toss or Healthy Flag Centerpieces. My kids love to add fruit to skewers!

From our family to yours, we hope you have a relaxing holiday, and a great celebration honoring all that our country has achieved!

Happy 4th of July!

Frances Brooks Casual 2012

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

Tip of the Week: Kids Choice Dinner

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This Week’s Featured Recipe

We’ve all heard it a 1,000 times (at least 1,000!)… “I don’t want that!” from the seat across from you at the table. It often refers to the green veggie-like items that you’ve set down as the perfect complement to your hearty entrée. Often in our office, we discuss what we eat, or are eating. This inevitably leads to what our children won’t eat! My friends go through this quite often, in fact, so much so that when they are coming over for a meal, I try to remember what their kids don’t eat. In one family, it is almost everything but spaghetti, and in another it’s anything with cheese on it. So, in an effort to figure out how to manage this minefield – because really, who likes a fight at the dinner table? – we have been trying to get our kids to cook more often and choose what we all will dine on. Some people call this “Kids Choice Dinner”

Breakfast is very easy. My oldest has started cooking eggs. Since she only likes them one way, that is how we all eat them. Or, my youngest made salad the other night. True, I encouraged her to cut the romaine lettuce leaves smaller, but she decided we would have Caesar Salad with chicken. Then, when we all sat down to eat, we built our own, as opposed to mixing the dressing on, in the bowl; we each added our own. Surprisingly, there were no leftovers! With younger kids, it might be easiest to try new items next to ones that everyone loves – like a new side dish with chicken fingers, or a new veggie pasta in your favorite pasta salad.

Kids are resilient – and if you are really bold, and try to include them in the meal planning, you might find that “ball beans” as my sister called peas, are a new, re-appearing guest at your table!

Happy summer!

Frances Brooks Casual 2012

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

Tip of the Week: Fondue with the Family

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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 www.familytableonline.org for more information about the benefits of eating together as a family.

 

Hannah Keith 2012

Hannah Keith, Marketing Assistant, wife and mom of 2

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