The Family Table

Educating Families About the Benefits of Family Meals

Archive for the tag “salad”

Salad Bar at Home


Recipe of the Week

Typically, if we’re having salad with dinner, I make up my kids’ plates with some lettuce and a few toppings and then set it in front of them. They will usually eat it, but they don’t get excited about it…and they definitely don’t ask for seconds! Recently, I asked my daughter if she would like me to set up a ‘salad bar’ at home and let each person choose their own toppings. This idea absolutely appealed to her and she could not wait until dinner that night! I set out all the toppings in separate bowls on the kitchen table and let each kid walk down the line making their own salad (even if that meant little fingers went into each and every ingredient…). They were fairly predictable with what they chose, but they did choose a few toppings that I wouldn’t have given them if I had been the one to make their salad. And I was shocked by the amounts of each veggie they added. I never would have put quite as many diced green peppers into one of my boys’ bowl…but he added quite a few…and then gobbled down each and every bite!

They LOVED doing this and each kid ate two full bowls of the salad they made for themselves. I offered once to help them with their refill, but…not a chance! They were all just as excited to get out of their chairs and make up their own bowl for round two. This is definitely something we’ll keep doing!

And, of course, the ideas for salad toppings are limitless! Here are just a few suggestions:

  • Base: green leaf lettuce, iceberg lettuce, baby spinach
  • Protein: thinly sliced deli meat, cubed pieces of ham or turkey, bacon, walnuts, pecans, almonds, sliced hardboiled eggs, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds
  • Dried fruit: raisins, cranberries, diced apples
  • Veggies: bell peppers, carrots, cucumbers, mushrooms, tomatoes
  • Freshly shredded cheese or grated Parmesan

And for the salad dressing? I usually keep it pretty simple with this basic homemade combination:

  • 2 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 T apple cider vinegar (or balsamic vinegar)
  • 1 T honey
  • Dash of salt

I hope this make-your-own-salad bar concept is an idea your family will enjoy just as much as ours has! For more family friendly recipes and tips, check out my blog:

LeAnn Nome

LeAnn Nome, blogger & mom of three little ones

Lettuce and Other Green Leafy Vegetables

Spinach Salad

Recipe of the Week

Everyone knows that green leafy vegetables give your family huge amounts of vitamins, minerals and fiber. Not everyone knows that they are also easy to grow, pick, clean and eat. The great thing is once you pick them they grow back. Romaine lettuce, bibb lettuce, beet greens, turnip greens, spinach, Swiss chard, endive, kale and collard greens are some options. You can grow them in a patch of dirt or a bag of potting soil that has been cut open or in a pot of dirt.

Buy some seeds at most any store, making sure the package says the seeds are packed for 2015. Plant the seeds at the right depth into the dirt, water regularly and when they are 4 to 6 inches tall, cut them off with a knife at about an inch from the ground. The plant will grow new leaves that you can then cut again.

Wash your leaves with water. Shake them well let them dry on a paper towel or use a salad spinner. Spinach, leaf lettuce, chard endive can all be mixed to make a great raw salad. Kale, greens, endive can all be cooked with a little water or in your favorite recipe.

Kids can help plant, weed, cut and wash these vegetables. What a fun way to help your kids understand how their food is grown and learn a bit of responsibility!

Expert advice on specifically growing, harvesting and any other questions you might have about gardening or growing other foods can be found for free through the Purdue Cooperative Extension office at 260-481-6826. Or visit them online   Printable information for leafy greens can be found here

You can also find many common vegetables that grow well in Indiana at

As the days get hot, the plants will change taste and become bitter. Just pull out the plant and re-plant new seeds, you will have more greens in a few weeks. Enjoy!

Linda_Hathaway - 2012

Linda Hathaway

Director of Curriculum & Education and Mother of Six

The Hunt is Over!


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.


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

Tip of the Week: Summer Meals

Shrimp and Arugula Salad

Recipe of the Week

Our house was a bit quieter last week– summer camp is in full force and our kids had gone to a residential camp.  This was most noticeable at two points during the day: in the morning when my husband and I are usually hustling them to finish getting ready for the day and to eat breakfast, and in the evening, when we generally sit down together to eat dinner.  We found ourselves with some additional time on our hands.

I have to confess, I get off lightly in the food preparation responsibility – my husband does almost all of the grocery shopping and cooking for our house! (I’m so spoiled, I know.)  And, our kids are not particularly picky eaters, thank goodness.  But cooking for just two of us is a bit different.  Fortunately, many online recipes allow you to alter how many servings you are cooking.  It is awfully hard to crack just 1.5 eggs!  Even our grocery bill changed.

We ate more salads, partially due to the heat, but also because without those two growing girls gobbling everything in sight, we cooked less.  I noticed that there was less dressing bottles on the table at dinner (not to mention less dressing used!)  We also ate some meals that we wouldn’t usually prepare with the girls at home, like Shrimp and Arugula salad.

There were also fewer dishes to wash because for some reason, each of our daughters pulls a new cup out for every drink of water they consume.  If this is a glimpse of what empty nesters experience when their kids first move out, I was excited early in the week, but I have to confess, I was a little lost by the end of it.  Friday night they returned (with all of their camp laundry, too!)  Yep, we’re back to those extra dirty glasses, but the giggles and silly songs were a welcome sound to the silence of last week’s meal times.  Being away from each other for a week has definitely given us lots to talk about at the dinner table, as the girls share their adventures with us!


Frances Brooks

Director of Operations & Business Development and mother of two

Tip of the Week: Healthy Weight Week


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 and also for guidelines.  Specific guidelines I referred to before are at these links: and

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: Kids Choice Dinner


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: Mother’s Day


This Week’s Featured Recipe

Thank you for your sacrifice. Those are words I have heard several times since last fall when my son deployed on a combat mission to Afghanistan.  And I appreciate hearing those words – having a child in danger has been more of a sacrifice than I anticipated.

When I wake up and hear the morning news broadcasting soldier deaths in Afghanistan, it feels like my heart stops until I hear from my son again. I don’t think I have talked to my son once since he deployed that I haven’t sat down and cried after the phone call ends. Hearing his voice makes it all hit home; that he is in a combat zone, and there is nothing I can do to protect him.  My sacrifice pales next to my son’s though: he puts himself in danger every day, lives in terrible conditions, and has given up a year of his career, and a year with his fiancée, family, and friends.

While I may be making a different type of sacrifice this year, what I have come to learn in 25 years of parenting seven children, is that motherhood is all about sacrifice. We sacrifice our bodies, our time, our money, our energy, and sometimes it feels like we have sacrificed our sanity. Mothers give up basic privacy, clean cars, and sitting through meals without jumping up to help a child or clean up a mess. We spend our time cooking dinner, checking homework, grocery shopping and cleaning; instead of whatever exciting things we could be doing (I have been a mom for so long I can’t actually remember what those exciting things are, but I would settle for being able to read a book – alone).

There are rewards for all this sacrifice – great rewards. From the daily smiles and hugs, to the big rewards when we see our children graduate or get married. There is nothing else I have accomplished in my life that will ever come close to being a mother to my children.  The sacrifices we mothers make are why our children feel loved and cared for. Once a year we have a day to honor mothers, and our children will give us cards, and flowers they grew at school in styrofoam cups, and maybe we will be taken out to brunch. And it’s nice, it really is.

But mothering isn’t just one day a year, and we shouldn’t acknowledge mothers just one day a year.  So, to all you moms out there, today and every day, thank you for your work, your worrying, the family meals you cook, and the sleepless nights. Thank you for your sacrifice.


Holli Seabury, CEO, wife and mom of 7

Tip of the Week: Earth Day


This Week’s Featured Recipe

It seems like, in a flash this past weekend, the world became green! After so many weeks of dull gray skies and brown, dead grass everything is suddenly a bright, shiny green. And, our family went crazy – especially the kids. To be honest, my husband isn’t much of an outdoor guy – we’ve always joked he’s more likely to garden online than to mow the grass or garden. I think this is just fine, as I don’t like to grocery shop, or cook, really.  Years ago, we traded these tasks. Somehow though, our kids LOVE to be outside, which I think is great – for their health, and for building independence, and to appreciate the space we’ve been blessed with. So, this past weekend, the kids started their own garden – complete with flowers borrowed from the neighbor and worms they dug themselves. (Their grandpa is so proud!)

As they began their project, I worked a bit at the leaves left from last year and to unearth the daffodils poking through their winter coverings of last year’s mulch and died-down plants. I’m not a big gardener, in fact, I call myself a black thumb, but I do try. We don’t have anything in our gardens that wouldn’t be considered hardy! As we messed around with a list of what needs done as April rolls through, the calendar reminded me that next week, on Monday, April 22, is Earth Day. When I brought this up at dinner, the kids wanted to find some way to celebrate this year.

After digging around for local events, we found that our family and yours can help show your support for the environment at the Eagle Marsh, just off the trailhead in Fort Wayne. To celebrate, they are holding an event that includes free workshops and demonstrations. This is a great event to teach your family about the different ways to protect our environment or “going green,” including recycling, cleaning up trash in the neighborhood, or working to promote clean and clear water. My kids cannot wait!

Frances Brooks Casual 2012

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

Tip of the Week : Krazy for Kale!


This Week’s Featured Recipe

I don’t know about you, but lately I have been seeing a lot of information about kale. It seems kale is the hot new veggie, and with good reason. Kale is called a “super food” because of its high level of vitamins. Kale has more calcium than milk and more iron than lean red meat! Frankly, I didn’t think kale looked so appetizing, but I gave it a try and loved it. I first tried kale chips, which are just kale tossed in a little olive oil and sea salt and baked. The kids loved these super healthy “chips”. I then started putting kale into salads, soups and pasta sauces. Kale can substitute for spinach, holds up to cooking much better than spinach, and has a milder flavor.

On our McMillen Center Pinterest page we’ve pinned several recipes which feature kale.  On Sunday evenings I have started making a big batch of stir fried veggies which we eat throughout the week. I sauté chopped kale, onions, a bag of broccoli slaw, green peppers, and zucchini or yellow squash. While the veggies are cooking I put a sweet potato in the microwave and when the veggies are done I stir in the chopped baked sweet potato. I season with sea salt and cumin, my husband seasons with low-sodium soy sauce.  It’s a time saver to have this big batch of veggies done as a side dish so I can put together a very quick weekday dinner by sautéing chicken breasts or broiling fish – in about 15 minutes dinner is done!

Visit for more information about the benefits of eating together as a family.

vitality_awards_logoDSTickets are available for the McMillen Center Vitality Awards. Landmark Centre on Thursday, March 21st


Holli Seabury, CEO

Tip of the Week: Together, We Eat

This Week’s Featured Recipe

Following last week’s festivities, it can be said, “Together, we eat.”

Yet, the family table project, in its second year strives to make it, “together, we eat better.” But how do we transfer from one to the other? It is no secret that we snack together over football and the holidays, or we sit down together for a meal several times a week – that’s great. But, it is just the beginning.

Several years ago, another couple, my husband and I went out for dinner to a popular Italian restaurant. As we were sharing our salad, and later splitting our dessert, we turned to one another and made a joke that, years later, still stands. I honestly do not eat at that restaurant, to this day, without thinking about that meal.

Yes, the food was good. But it was the sharing and the conversation that made that night. And this same sticking power is reinforced at your dinner table with the meals you have with family and friends. Conversation starts with shared interests, and time investments. Need some ideas? Try our list of conversation starters.

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