The Family Table

Educating Families About the Benefits of Family Meals

Archive for the tag “Vegetables”

Tip of the week: Saving Time, Freezing Meals

freezer before&AFTER

My freezer is key to getting meals on the table – I routinely try to cook twice as much as my family needs so I can freeze the rest. It doesn’t usually take any time to double a recipe, and then all I have to do is go to my freezer, pull out a meal to thaw, and then dinner is ready. Well, in theory. In practice, my freezer became the place where meals went to die. It was such a mess that I couldn’t find anything, and it got to be too much work to dig around in there to try to find something edible.

Pinterest came to my rescue! I saw a beautifully organized freezer on Pinterest and decided that was what I needed to make my freezer work for me, instead of against me. I started by removing all the food, throwing away anything too old or scary looking. Then, re-organized my frozen food into neat baskets with laminated labels. Laminating the lables might have been a little over the top, but I was on a roll!

I also added a dry erase board on the front of the freezer, so now I know what’s in there without even opening the door. Before I go grocery shopping, I take a picture of the dry erase board so if I see frozen veggies or meat on sale, I know how much I already have in stock. When I cleaned out my freezer I had about two dozen bags of peas – hopefully, I’ve solved that problem for the future!

I also keep a Sharpie marker on top of the freezer so I can remember to label and date all meals I put in the freezer. I have a terrible habit of putting unlabeled meals in the freezer and thinking that I will remember what they are. Since I don’t have to search for a marker anymore, hopefully there will be no more “freezer surprise” meals for my family!

Holli-Seabury-2012

Holli Seabury, CEO

McMillen Center for Health Education

Tip of the Week: Top 10 Grocery Shopping Tips

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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

Marcia Crawford, MS, RDN

Tip of the Week:

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This Week’s Featured Recipe

You’re eating breakfast at the table, and the family is ‘shoveling it in.’ After taking the time to prepare a full meal, it would be great to have them look up and acknowledge that there are other people at the table. But let’s be honest, morning is about the worst time to expect good conversation. When working to fit in three meals with all of us together at the table, summer is has proven to be a bit difficult. A meal in the evenings has proven to be quite challenging recently, so especially on the weekends, we try to have at least one morning meal together.

Here are three ideas to consider for making morning meal times more interactive:

#1: Having a conversation at the breakfast table about how their day went seems odd. Some other ideas include: a word of the day, or having everyone wearing the same color for the day, or “one thing I’d like to accomplish today…” Try to think of accomplishments beyond the typical chores list, considering creative ideas or new skills you’d like to learn.

#2: Set a goal for the next week’s meals. Ask your family for suggestions on what might be added to the grocery list. While cleaning up their plate, have them try to have them give you ideas for foods that are ‘the colors of the rainbow,’ that are both bright-colored and crunchy. (Yes, we know that Skittles are both brightly colored and crunchy, but this is not necessarily the health-conscious choice we were endorsing!) Sneak some power foods into breakfast with this week’s Recipe of the Week that features Veggies for Breakfast.

#3: Consider talking about the Health Tips from Fort4Fitness. Their Tip of the Day can give your family different suggestions on how to make little changes that can make a big impact!

Frances Brooks Casual 2012

Frances Brooks, Director of Business Development & Operations, 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 : Krazy for Kale!

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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 www.familytableonline.org 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-2012

Holli Seabury, CEO

Tip of the Week: Heart Healthy Conversation

AHA Pinot Party promo image

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As you look around your family table at each person’s face, hopefully you can appreciate the differences that each person brings to your family. The things we have in common are often obvious. The ways we differ are often the most challenging. They also can make for great conversation! When our family sits down together, we often ask about each others’ day and what’s going on in the upcoming days. A couple of weeks ago, we ended up having a chat about ‘what is art’ and I can tell you, my kids had a strong opinion about what was not art! In a few weeks, the McMillen Center and the local American Heart Association are inviting you to a conversation about maintaining a healthy heart and a healthy lifestyle.

We all know that making healthy choices in diet and exercise can benefit in a longer healthier life. Putting it in practice can be a bit of a struggle for some (me included!) The American Heart Association Nutrition Center has several tips on how to make healthy choices at the grocery store, while cooking and when dining out. These simple lifestyle changes can help get you on the right track to a healthy life and a healthy heart. To make the learning a bit more fun, the McMillen Center for Health Education will be hosting the American Heart Association’s 2013 Pinot and Prevention party.

Please make plans to join us in learning about how to stay heart healthy with this women’s only, 21 and older, event on Wednesday, February 13, 2013 at 5:30 p.m. Tickets are just $20.

Frances Brooks Casual 2012

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

Tip of the Week: Goal Charts

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This Week’s Featured Recipe

This year, our family has taken a different approach with New Year’s resolutions. It seems like resolutions are often difficult to stick to for an entire year.  So, instead of locking ourselves in for a year of something we really want to achieve but lose sight of somewhere in the midst of life, we have started family goal charts.

Goal charts are beneficial in keeping you on track to achieving your goals and letting you see your progress. It is nice to have the support of family and friends to help you stay on track. If they can see your progress, they can help keep you motivated, focused, and achieve their own goals along the way.

For our 4 year old son, we have included behavior goals, like eating all his dinner, brushing his teeth, cleaning up his toys and so on. Each day he completes a task or shows improvement he gets a sticker on his chart. At the end of the month, we review the chart and based on how many stickers he received, he will get a reward. When we discussed the chart with him over dinner one night he seemed open to the idea. His favorite part, of course, is the reward at the end. He was able to give me so many ideas for rewards for him – imagine that!

For my goal chart, I have included a healthy living goal. This includes eating better, losing weight, and getting in better shape. Progress in this category can be charted by amount of weight lost, time spent at the gym and keeping track of healthy meals I cook for my family. One of my new favorite things to do is take family meal suggestions and find ways to make it a healthier meal for us. Healthy living can be easy if you just take it one day at a time!

For more information about the Family Table online project visit our website!

Hannah Keith 2012

Hannah Keith, Marketing Assistant, wife and mom of two

Tip of the Week: Holiday’s Bright Colors

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Phytochemicals help give plants their distinctive colors, smells and tastes.

This Week’s Featured Recipe

The holiday rush has more than started – it’s almost a sprint to the finish line. The one thing that seems to make a big impact on my kids is all the colors! You see bright lights and decorations. Reds and greens and golds. It is quite remarkable.

It’s also one thing that will help our families eat more healthy – bright-colored foods are key to adding additional nutrients to our diets. And, no, I am not referring to the fruity flavors in candies – but the gorgeous reds, oranges and greens that are found naturally in fruits and vegetables.

Their benefits are featured in a recent Whole Living article. Eating seasonal foods (IE: apples in the fall) that are bright in color is important to our bodies. To help explain this to kids, download the What Color is Your Food activity sheet, from the North Dakota State University. And, while you’re at it, match your next holiday gift wrap with your meal. We’re giving away a Meijer gift card this month on our Facebook page – upload your photo of your colorful plate to enter.

Tip of the Week: Start a New Tradition

Find something new to do in the Fort Wayne, Indiana area with our free Out & About Guide

Wednesdays have come to be known as “Volleyball Night” at our house. Normally we have a varying group of friends, but lately we have been adding some new faces into the mix. Once the word gets out, new people always want to join in on the excitement!

There are two things that are guaranteed on Volleyball Night – fun and food! After a few games, most people have worked up a good appetite so I cook something tasty on the grill. I love this fresh recipe for Grilled Zucchini with Lemon and Olive Oil. Don’t have zucchini? Try it with yellow squash or eggplant

My favorite part of this tradition is the combination of a little friendly competition, good food, and catching up with friends around the dinner table.

Start a new tradition with your friends or family this summer – make your own Olympics or start your own game night with Cornhole or Hillbilly Golf.

Already have a summer tradition? We would love to hear about it!

Tip of the Week: Local Food Conference

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Win tickets to the Finding Food in Farm Country conference by sharing our event on your Facebook page and you’ll be entered to win two FREE tickets! Winner drawn Monday, July 16th.

Finding Food in Farm Country panelist Pete Eshelman of Joseph Decuis Restaurant and Farm is quoted as saying “…every Sunday [my great, great grandmother] served a great meal on a white tablecloth, to an extended family who enjoyed dining together. The food was so good, as a little kid I couldn’t stop eating. Dining together was a bonding experience for our family.” That is exactly the experience we desire the Family Table project to encourage.

He shared this as part of the Hoosier Farmer? Emerging Food Systems in Indiana research, which will be presented at the July 17th event…
This event is designed to spark ideas and continue our regions path toward improved economic recovery and better health for all of our residents. Please make plans for your family and friends to attend the conference. More information available at www.mcmillencenter.org.

Breakout Sessions include:
Get Your Game on – Powerhouse Eating to LiVe! Kathy Wehrle, RD, Parkview LiVe
Learn the amazing health benefits of eating whole foods and learn which vegetables and fruits are “powerhouses” and hold the highest disease fighting capability. Tips on feeding your family and learn about Parkview’s newest health initiative – the “LiVe” program. Locations of local farmers markets and recipes, will be available.

Farm to Fork Margy Hooker, Tanglewood Berry Farm
Learn how to create delicious and healthy dishes using fresh Indiana ingredients from your garden or local farmer’s market. The term “farm to fork” is related to organic farming initiatives, sustainable agriculture, and community supported agriculture. Included in her discussion will be the Ins and Outs of the Farmer’s Market and a cooking demo.

Modern Technology Makes Farmers More Productive, Gonzalee Martin, Purdue Ext. Svcs.
Biotechnology, global positioning systems, and communication are the keys that offer benefit to farmers, consumers and the environment. Change is accelerating and irreversible. Some oppose the use of newer technologies, based more on emotion than on a needed balance between science and emotion.

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