The Family Table

Educating Families About the Benefits of Family Meals

Archive for the tag “Thanksgiving”

The Holiday Table is the Family Table


This Week’s Recipe

The holiday season is kicking off this week with Thanksgiving, and many families have traditions that were started long ago and have been passed down through the generations. This week, as we sit around the table and remember all the things we have to be thankful for, we can continue to create beautiful memories with our loved ones. Whether it is each individual saying what they are thankful for before dinner, saying a special grace at the table, or spending time together watching football after the big dinner – we can all find something in our life for which to give thanks.

The quality time you are spending together as a family, has so many benefits and will build a tradition for future generations. Family meals bring benefits such as increased happiness in the home for all ages, higher grades in school, a reduced risk of eating disorders for youth, better nutrition, fewer cases of depression, lower risk of tobacco/alcohol/drug use and better communication among family members. These are only a few of the benefits of eating together!

As you sit down with your family tomorrow for Thanksgiving, enjoy every moment with them and remember to give thanks for even the small things in your life. The McMillen Center wishes you a very happy Thanksgiving and we are thankful you follow our Family Table Tip of the Week!


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

Sweet Potatoes… No Sugar Needed!


Recipe of the Week

I have always thought of sweet potatoes as not being very healthy and that the texture was too mushy and gooey. Probably because I think of them as having marshmallows on top and that does not excite me. As Thanksgiving quickly approaches, for as long as I can remember, each year I give sweet potatoes a try and each year I am not a big fan. Everyone else around the dinner tables likes the sweet potato casserole, so I continue to make it and let the rest of the family enjoy.

A few weeks ago a friend was telling me how she is being more conscious of what she feeds her family. She shared a recipe for a sweet potato casserole that did not include putting marshmallows on top. As we sat down to dinner with our families she put some sweet potatoes on my plate. Once again I gave them a try, and to my surprise they were delicious! I know our tastes in foods change, but I was so surprised that I liked these and that I was looking forward to trying them again soon. An added bonus was that my husband and both my children liked them too!

After that evening I decided to learn a little bit more about this vegetable. A four ounce serving of sweet potatoes provides:

  • 390% of our daily value of vitamin A
  • 40% of vitamin C
  • 18% of fiber
  • 13% of potassium

plus vitamin E, iron, magnesium and much more.

I went onto Pinterest and looked for some recipes to try at home and I shared them on the McMillen Center Pinterest page, too. Enjoy trying something new with your family!


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

Tip of the Week: Activities for the “Kids Table”


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: Our Traditions

This Week’s Featured Recipe

Between now and this weekend, most of us will find ourselves sitting around, rubbing our overly-full tummies and snoozing in front of the t.v. (Well, I’d like to be. More than likely, I’ll draw dishes-duty and the kids will be chasing my mother-in-law’s cat around the room. We’re just living the dream!)

Have you noticed your Facebook friends following this year’s trend – Gratitude Posts? IE: today is the 21st, so they have posted 21 things they are grateful for. While I have not been as faithful to doing this, it seems like a great way to extend that Thanksgiving tradition of going around the table and sharing what you are thankful for. From our Family Table to yours – Happy Thanksgiving!

– Frances

A couple of our staff shared their favorite family traditions:

Debbie, Health Educator: I was introduced to a new tradition from a friend of mine from Texas “Turkey Bowling.”  Taking a frozen turkey, throwing it down a trash bag lined alley greased with Crisco.  What a great time getting a strike!  It gets everyone up and moving!

Hollissa, Brush Coordinator: All of my family goes to my parent’s house and we eat lunch together. We play board games and draw names for who we are buying Christmas gifts for the extended family members. Then, we go through the Black Friday ads and map out our route for the next morning.

Dave, Lead Educator: My family heads to Marshall, Illinois every year on Thanksgiving. The house is located in the country, off the beaten path, providing attendees with a great backdrop. My favorite part of the day is taking a walk down the road after we stuff our faces, making room for the pumpkin pie that will be consumed at a later time.

Holli, CEO: In our house we have the Pumpkin Pie Law – the first piece of pumpkin pie for the season has to be eaten on Thanksgiving.  It’s fine to eat other pumpkin goodies, like pumpkin cookies, but no pie until Thanksgiving!  Pumpkin pie is the only dessert I make on Thanksgiving and this way it’s especially delicious because we’ve waited for it.

Bethany, Director of Development: My favorite part of Thanksgiving is not only all the delicious different food options, but time to sit down and relax and enjoy each others company. I love that everyone brings their favorite dish to share with each other.

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