The Family Table

Educating Families About the Benefits of Family Meals

Archive for the tag “snacks”

Five Quick Ways to 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
  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
  3. Turtle – a green apple half (with the stem as a tail), grape feet, a grape head, and peanut butter if needed
  4. Butterfly – thinly cut apple section wings on either side of a grape body
  5. UFO (my favorite) – a cross section of an apple with a grape alien in the middle


Scott Nitza

Scott Nitza
Graphic Designer & Marketing Associate and Father of Three

Tip of the Week: Picky Eaters


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 Crawford, MS, RDN

Tip of the Week: Top 10 Grocery Shopping Tips


This Week’s Featured Recipe

Grocery Shopping

Planning is the key to quick, easy and economical grocery shopping.  Check out our ten tips to help make your shopping painless.

1.  Plan meals and snacks a week in advance and write them down.  Create or download a form that makes sense to you. There are phone apps for this as well.

2.  Set aside one-half hour to write it all down; gather your family calendar (and the school’s lunch calendar) to determine who will be eating which meals.  This half-hour will shrink to about 7 minutes in no time as you re-cycle your best days.

3.  Be realistic; if no one likes Brussels Sprouts, don’t plan them into your menus.

4. Check your refrigerator, freezer and cupboards for inventory.  Any foods that need to be used up?  Any foods that no one has any intention of eating?  Plan to use up the odds and ends or donate or discard the “bad” purchases.

5. Don’t hesitate to make planned-overs (they taste so much better than leftovers). That roast chicken on Sunday not only becomes a sandwich on Monday but chicken noodle soup on Tuesday.

6.  There’s great convenience in single serving items for lunches but you are paying more for the package than the food.  Buy a large bag and have one of the kids count out portions into reusable containers.

7. For fresh produce, consider their shelf-life.  Use highly perishable fruits and veggies early in the week and keep those that have a longer shelf life for days 6 and 7.

8. Frozen fruits and vegetables can easily round out that end-of-the-week meal.

9. Make sure you have storage containers and supplies.  Those two pounds of hamburger in the freezer will be harder to use quickly than the 1/2 pound packages you created (and labeled and dated!).

10. Encourage the whole family to participate.  You can educate everyone about budgeting, time management, cooking and, of course, good nutrition. Dole out questions, tasks and responsibilities appropriate for your age child.

We promise, careful planning will make feeding your family a real joy!


Marcia Crawford, MS, RDN

Tip of the Week: Chaos in the Car

Distracted Driving postcard final

This Week’s Featured Recipe

One of the many things I have had to learn to do as a mom is to deal with chaos in the car with my kids. Car time is also one of my favorite times with my kids because I get to hear so much from my 4 year old about what is going on in his life. Whether it is real or imaginary, I love to hear stories from him. He currently has an ongoing story about an imaginary class he attends. I am amazed at the detail he goes into with his stories and things he encounters in everyday life. This is also a time where my 6 month old will finally doze off for a short nap. Car time with the kids can be a great addition to the day.

However, there are days when car rides don’t go so well. If my 4 year old senses that my full attention is not on him he will go into repeat mode until I answer him. Then my 6 month old will start crying and I have to scramble to find his pacifier. And I need to do all of this while keeping one hand on the steering wheel and eyes on the road. In these moments, I know I am not giving proper attention to the task at hand, driving! I know this is probably something that every mother deals with on a day to day basis. Whether it is calming your screaming kids, handing them snacks, or answering their every question, driving with kids in the car can be very distracting.

Finding yourself distracted while driving? Attend our McMillen Center Health Lecture Series on April 18th!

Hannah Keith 2012

Hannah Keith, Marketing Assistant, wife and mom of 2

Tip of the Week: Family Game Night

Carcassonne game

This Week’s Featured Recipe

Dinner is over, the table has been cleared and it is Thursday night… let the competition begin! As we discuss making our families stronger, an important aspect of this in our house is good sportsmanship. Different families learn these skills in different ways – through sports leagues, club games, or art, dance and music lessons. For our family – it is a game board night. Our current favorite for adults and kids alike is Carcassonne, a puzzle game. Whether just my husband and I are playing, or if it is a group of family and friends, the opportunity to sit down at the table together and laugh leads to learning we can all benefit from! And the conversations that spark from the friendly rivalry are an opportunity for us to catch up on each other’s lives.

We’ve been making the effort to provide healthier snacks because it seems that with game table chatter, a food bowl empties faster than ever! These are the times where we exceed our daily calories (and not even notice!) faster than any other. I love game night because we are providing an example of how to play fairly, disagree, be competitive and be together. And, when we change up the game we’re playing, it gives different people an advantage. My oldest daughter is best at logic and puzzle games, my husband at music trivia and strategy and my youngest and I, well, talking is our advantage!

Planning your own game night soon? Be sure to share about that experience on our Facebook page – once we reach 500 fans, we’re giving away a date night from Waiter on the Way.

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

Frances Brooks Casual 2012

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

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