The Family Table

Educating Families About the Benefits of Family Meals

Archive for the tag “kids”

Tip of the Week: A New School Year


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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.


Holli Seabury, CEO, wife and mom 7

Tip of the Week: Family Picnic


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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: 4th of July Safety


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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: Summer Injuries


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Summer is finally here! And with summer comes one of my least favorite things of all—bugs! As we were sitting at the dinner table the other night, I look over to see a giant bug bite on my 4-year-old’s leg. We soon found out that he had five mosquito bites, all the size of a nickel! As the days went on, his bites started to swell and irritate his skin even more. It got to the point where his sandals were very snug because of the swelling from the bite on his foot.

We love to grill and often eat dinner together out on the patio. My son loves to be outdoors swimming, running through the sprinkler, and going to the park. There are so many summer injuries to be aware of for our families. To prevent further issues, I stocked up on insect repellent, sunscreen, aloe, and Band-Aids. I want to make sure my family can relax and enjoy our time outdoors together without worrying about these issues. Plus, it will be an opportunity to teach him about bugs that are irritating, ones that help us, and ones that are fun, like lightning bugs!

Hannah Keith 2012

Hannah Keith, Marketing Assistant, wife and mom of 2

Tip of the Week: Kids Choice Dinner


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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: Father’s Day


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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

Tip of the Week: Time Saving Tips


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We’ve hit that part of our work week where the fridge is not doing its job. By that I mean that it’s cold, but it is not storing much food. This is usually where takeout meals get inserted as our food plan. I know it is not a good plan, but as I dash home from work today it will be a choice – meet the bus, or stop by the grocery store on the way home and pick up the items that we’ve run out of –  again.

Several months ago, Holli wrote in the intro to the Family Table Cookbook that she relies on a basic list of must-haves that she shops for week after week. That list makes sense to me. As does the list from TLC called “Keep the Basics on Hand.” It is part of the 10 Time Saving Tips list that they put together. I really liked that they said “creative cooking can get to be a real pain if you have to run out and buy bags and bags of groceries every time you want to try a new recipe.” We often want to try new things, and I’ve learned how to substitute fresh and dried herbs, but have no idea what to substitute for honey when the ‘bear’ in the cupboard is empty.

The solution for tonight – I just remembered that there is some frozen spinach and chicken in the freezer. So, if the kids make a salad (they tend to eat it better that way) and I use the recipe I just found for a kid-friendly Chicken Florentine, then we should be able to sit down in a fairly short amount of time. Plus, the kids will love making the filling for this recipe!

Frances Brooks Casual 2012

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

Tip of the Week: Social Media Vs. Family


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Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, which is your go to site? In our ever changing world of technology it seems as though there is always a new social media site to join. (As if we don’t belong to enough already.) When I was first introduced to social media it immediately became addicting. What a great idea to be able to see the details of our friend’s everyday lives on the web! You can read their posts, look at pictures, and even videos!

But what is so intriguing about other people’s lives? I have come to find that social media can be a devil in disguise; a way for us to constantly compare our lives with the lives of others.  In the midst of becoming a social media junkie it can become so easy to lose sight of what is right in front of us, our own family. Have you ever been searching these sites while your loved one is also demanding your attention? I know I am guilty of this very thing.

My focus going forward is not to reach for the screen but to reach for the person right in front of me. I’m going to start the dinner conversation tonight by asking my family, “Do you think Mom has been spending too much time on her phone and computer?”  This could be a tough conversation, but isn’t that what family meals are about?

Hannah Keith 2012

Hannah Keith, Marketing Assistant, wife and mom of 2

Tip of the Week: Memorial Day

mem day

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Growing up, I viewed Memorial Day weekend as the beginning of summer – the pools opened and we were freed from school for what seemed like an endless amount of long, hot summer days.  As a working adult I viewed the Memorial Day weekend as a three day break for a family barbeque, fishing, and a trip to the lake or a local pool.

Last fall my oldest son deployed for Afghanistan and I now see Memorial Day in an entirely new light.  While I may panic when the doorbell rings at an unexpected time, all over America there are families who answered their door to find soldiers on their doorstep who informed them that their loved one would not return from war.  I realized that I have done my children a disservice by not teaching them about the true meaning of Memorial Day; that we live in a free country because, since the 1770s, thousands of men and women have given their lives to protect our country.  Our freedom is owed to those soldiers, and their families.

So this Memorial Day, there will be a barbeque, and a much-awaited visit from my oldest daughter and her husband.  There will also be a time while we eat the first grilled burgers of the season, when I teach my younger children about why we celebrate this weekend and the debt we owe to those who gave their lives for our country.  It’s really about character education and this video from the Travis Manion Foundation does an excellent job of teaching, “If not me, then who?” We will also be putting together a box to send my son, but if you don’t know an active duty service person, consider visiting Honor Our Troops and having your children brighten a soldier’s day by writing a letter or sending a box of goodies to a service member stationed in a combat area.


Holli Seabury, CEO, wife and mom of 7

Tip of the Week: Healthier Kids Meals


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So, do you find yourself eating out a lot? Fries and burgers in the drive-thru? I have to admit that, yes, we’ve recently been guilty. It’s a habit we really need to break, but when you get on the go, it seems,well, easier.  This week, we should be honest and say, “Together, We Eat in the Car.”

It seems that it is a spring trend, as the kids get busier and we try to fit more in the daylight, we snuggle a meal in between our other errands. My goal for this week is to eat in as opposed to drive thru. And, the National Restaurant Association is trying to help us be healthier. They have started two programs that can make our meals out a whole lot better. The first ranks “whole grain items in kid’s meals” and this year, they started ranking restaurants for “healthful kids meals.”

The Kids LiveWell program has over 30,000 participating restaurant locations.  In order to qualify, a children’s meal must meet nutrition standards based on the US Dietary Guidelines.  The meal (entrée, side and beverage) must include two servings of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein or a low-fat dairy; meet limits for sodium, fats and sugar; and weigh in at 600 calories or less. Visit the Healthy Dining Finder site and Eating Away From Home page to find more restaurants with healthier kids’ options and whole grains on the menu.

Remember that the most important part of the meal is the time you spend together, around the table (not in the car, or in front of the tv!) And, if you see my family out and about, please be sure to say hi!

Frances Brooks Casual 2012

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

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