The Family Table

Educating Families About the Benefits of Family Meals

Archive for the tag “kids”

The Hunt is Over!

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This Week’s Recipe

The eggs have been boiled, colored on, dyed and the egg hunt is over.  Now there is one thing left, lots of hard-boiled eggs!  If your eggs were not left sitting out for a long time it is time to eat them. You can make hash, potato salad, egg salad sandwiches or add them on top of a salad.

Eggs are not only delicious and fun, but they are healthy for you too! Eggs contain one of the highest quality proteins of any food, which helps you to say fuller longer and stay energized. Eggs have over 13 different nutrients in them that aide in brain function and eye health.

In my family, with two little ones at home, we dyed one dozen eggs. After the official family hunt, and a few unofficial hunts with the kids hiding them for each other, my son asked when I would make egg salad. His favorite! With a dozen eggs to eat I looked at other recipes to enjoy as well. I have included a tasty one for you to enjoy with your leftover hard-boiled eggs.

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

A Complaint Free Dinner Hour

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This Week’s Recipe

How many of us parents have prepared meals only to be confronted by a child (or spouse) who doesn’t like, doesn’t want or isn’t in the mood for what we just fixed. What happens next is one of two unpleasant scenarios–1) fixing an alternate meal for the unhappy person, 2) standing your ground and facing a fit.

Having faced this situation time after time, I was determined to find a mutually agreeable solution for our family of four that didn’t include me working as a short order cook! It occurred to me that I usually planned dinner four nights a week. On Sundays, we had a tradition of making homemade pizza, which everyone enjoyed. One night every week or two, we ate out or ordered in. The meals I fixed on the other nights usually generated a night or two of leftovers, which, fortunately no one objected to on principle. Of course, if someone didn’t want it or like it on night one, they sure didn’t want it on night two!

Since there are four people in our family, I told my husband and children that I was going to ask them on Thursday when I make the grocery list, what meal they want the next week. The caveat was each one of us would have a choice, and each one of us would eat without complaints everyone else’s choice. There were two other conditions. I could round out the meal with side dishes if the meal was not well balanced. And although I would not make an alternate meal, I would keep yogurt on hand if someone truly didn’t like the protein we were having.

This had some immediate benefits that I had not anticipated. It made grocery shopping much easier and ultimately cheaper. It eliminated those nights when I was at a loss as to what to fix. If the kids had picked something like chicken nuggets or burgers, I was sure to add a healthy side dish. Then I would pick a meal like roast or tilapia. If someone picked a meal that was labor intensive, I’d be sure to pick a meal that week that I could make in 30 minutes or less. On leftover night, there was usually something available from each of our meals.

This resulted in a very manageable routine with very little whining. Everyone had a say in what we ate, and we saved time and money. If you’ve become a short order cook, or face a barrage of whining at mealtime, why not think about how you could give everyone a choice in exchange for a complaint free dinner hour?

Sally Edington
Friend of McMillen Center and Mother of Two

Four Tips for Working Parents to Get Dinner on the Table

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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.

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Holli Seabury
CEO and Mother of Seven

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
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  4. Butterfly – thinly cut apple section wings on either side of a grape body
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  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

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: 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: Activities for the “Kids Table”

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Featured Recipe

Thanksgiving is probably the most memorable (and biggest) family meal most of us have!  Thanksgiving lunch and dinner at grandmothers’ houses every year has to be one of my favorite holiday family memories. Each year, my grandma Betty would host lunch at her house. All five of her children and their families would attend. We always laughed at seeing “the pink stuff”, a pink dessert my grandma prepared every holiday that no one would eat.

After lunch, we would go to my grandma Sally’s house to gather with my dad’s side of the family, his three brothers and sister and their families, to eat dinner. Grandma Sally’s house was a bit formal and all the grandkids had to sit at “the kids table” in the small hot kitchen. If you are like my grandma Sally and like to host formal parties where children are present, the following tips might make everyone’s visit more enjoyable.

I suggest using parchment paper as the table covering at the kids table (if you have a special setting for them). This will allow the children to have an activity to do during the feast. They can use white chalk so you won’t have to worry about little ones drawing on the walls. You can have a goody bag filled with rubber stamps and ink pads for the older children to enjoy. You can also use free printouts for place settings if you do not want to use parchment paper as a tablecloth.

My family always likes to share what we are thankful for during dinner. Other friends have shared these traditions:
– A co-worker of mine said that each person in his family writes down what they are thankful for and they place it in a jar. At the end of the meal they each pull out a piece of paper and try to guess who wrote it.
– Our menu never changes – I cook exactly what was served at my childhood Thanksgivings. My children love knowing that the menu will always be the same – down to the candied sweet potatoes that no one eats!
– My mom always makes pumpkin pie. One very memorable year, she left the sugar out of the pie. To this day, it is mentioned every Thanksgiving (and probably Christmas, too!)

Jodie Godfrey

Marketing & Development Associate

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 – Halloween Treats

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This week’s recipe

This Halloween nearly 60 million kids will go trick or treating (I think half of them come to my front door). The average child hauls in 91 pieces of candy, one-third of which will be pilfered by their parents. Over the years I have tried different ways to deal with all the candy in the house – now I let my children eat quite a bit on Halloween night (I admit, I help a lot) and then I dole out one piece a night until it’s gone. Well, really until it gets down to the gross candy no one wants, which is then thrown away. One memorable year my second oldest begged me to let him eat all his candy on Halloween night. The next day he called from school, where he was in the nurses office, and said, “Guess what, Mom? You were right – I did get sick from eating all the candy at once!”

In our house, pumpkin carving the week before Halloween is an exciting time. I usually make a crockpot chili or beef stew for dinner and we carve our pumpkins. I save the pumpkin seeds and toast them in the oven (you can also use a skillet). I wash the seeds with water, and then toss them in a little olive oil, spread on a cookie sheet, put some salt on them and bake them in a 450°F oven until they are brown and toasted. They are delicious when they are eaten warm from the oven. As we eat dinner and carve our pumpkins, we relive memories of past costumes and ideas for future costumes. My husband and I talk about our childhood Halloween memories and we tell our children about the costumes they wore as babies. It’s a night for family memories and for our children to learn about those family stories that happened before they were born.

How do you deal with all of the candy at Halloween? Visit our Facebook page and give us your ideas!

Holli-Seabury-2012

Holli Seabury

CEO

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.

marcia

Marcia Crawford, MS, RDN

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