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Posts Tagged ‘Dinner’

How to Get Everyone to the Table for a Family Meal

 

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Real-world ideas for making dinner together happen—even when everyone has a different schedule.

Find Another Time

Don’t focus on the meal; focus on the time to come together. It can be breakfast, after-school snacks, dinner—find what works for your family. I did 10 p.m. snacks when my girls were in high school because that was when they’d be getting home from sports or work or hanging out with friends. We had 15 to 30 minutes to just catch up on the day and the dramas that make up teenage life.
—Rhonda Mccreary-Utledge, Fort Worth, Texas

Serve a Big Batch

Make the healthiest casserole you know. Arrange whole fresh fruit on the table and call it a day. (My secret chili contains a big bunch of pureed kale, and no one has yet to discover it!)
—Pat Satterfield, Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania

Aim for Healthy

I have two kids in two different schools and on multiple sports teams, so there are days when we’re not all home to eat together. I’ve learned to make soup and/or salad with leftover chicken on those nights. That way we get veggies and protein, and we aren’t spending too much money or compromising nutrition by eating fast food.
Heather Sustman Golden, Houston

Make It a Must

Family dinner is a priority in our house. Even if it’s for cereal or sandwiches, we sit together. We eat when everyone is home—6 p.m. some nights, 9 p.m. other nights.
Jenn Mcavoy Fahy, Lagrange, New York

Tacos Always Win

I make a batch of taco meat and all the fixings and have tortillas ready to be warmed up when people are ready to eat.
Kristin Lupo, Stratford, Connecticut

Don’t Overthink It

Order. Pizza. Done.
Rachel Ross Faris, Erlanger, Kentucky

 

This article was written by Real Simple Staff from Real Simple and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

4 Science-Backed Benefits of Eating Dinner as a Family

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Whether you’re munching on organic grain bowls or ketchup-drenched, defrosted, dinosaur-shaped nuggets, sharing a screen-free family dinner nourishes kids in life-changing ways. And wash away your guilt, working parents: If you can’t get home for mac and cheese at 5:30 p.m., don’t sweat it. Aiming to eat together at least three times a week—including breakfast and weekend brunch—is a worthy goal. When it comes to raising healthy kids, body and soul, prioritizing frequent family meals counts most.

It lowers the risk of substance abuse 
Family dinners not only lower the risk of depression in kids, they also guard against the impulse to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol. That’s because key communication takes place at these end-of-day parent-child debriefs. According to Columbia University’s National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, “Compared to teens who have frequent family dinners (5 to 7 per week), those who have infrequent family dinners (fewer than 3 per week) are more than twice as likely to say that they expect to try drugs in the future.” Teens who seldom eat with their parents are almost twice as likely to have used alcohol, and 1.5 times likelier to have used marijuana. “The magic that happens over family dinners isn’t the food on the table, but the communication and conversations around it,” explains the center’s marketing director Kathleen Ferrigno. “Of course there is no iron-clad guarantee that your kids will grow up drug-free, but knowledge is power, and the more you know, the better the odds are that you will raise a healthy kid.”

It leads to better academic performance
Writes Harvard Medical School psychology professor and author of Home for Dinner Anne Fishel: “Researchers found that for young children, dinnertime conversation boosts vocabulary even more than being read aloud to…Young kids learned 1,000 rare words at the dinner table, compared to only 143 from parents reading storybooks aloud. Kids who have a large vocabulary read earlier and more easily.” And as kids grow up, the intellectual benefits explode. “For school-age youngsters, regular mealtime is an even more powerful predictor of high achievement scores than time spent in school, doing homework, playing sports or doing art.”

It decreases obesity and eating disorders
Family dinners provide opportunities for parents to model—and regulate for their kids—healthy eating habits. According to a study led by eating disorder expert Dr. Jess Haines, “Compared to those who ate family dinner ‘never or some days,’ female adolescents who ate family dinner at least most days were less likely to initiate purging, binge eating, and frequent dieting.” An unrelated study conducted by University of Minnesota Family Social Science professor Dr. William J. Doherty found Americans (parents and kids) are significantly less overweight if they share family meals more frequently, and have fewer distractions at the table (like tech). Kids who eat dinner with their families often also eat healthier (more fruits and vegetables; less soda and fried foods), according to a study by Harvard Medical School’s Obesity Prevention Program. Family meals allow for both “discussions of nutrition [and] provision of healthful foods,” that study’s director, Dr. Matthew W. Gillman, told CNN.

It increases self-esteem and resilience
According to psychology researchers at Emory University, children who have frequent family dinners “know more about their family history and tend to have higher self-esteem, interact better with their peers and show higher resilience in the face of adversity.” When families who are close don’t sugarcoat life’s hardships (like the death of a relative or pet) their children exhibit “higher self-esteem and sense of control.” The communal table is where the stories of who we are, and who we come from, get passed down. According to Marshall Duke, a co-director of the study, which analyzed 120 hours of recorded family dinner conversations, “As the family talks about things, I think they are teaching the kids about assessment, about appraisal. How bad is this? How good is this? Resilience is nurtured when the child understands that negative events don’t define the family history.” 

 

This article was from PureWow and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Picky Eaters

When children start learning to feed themselves, they can become picky about the foods they will try out. Here are a few ways to encourage picky eaters to try new foods.

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  1. Have your children assist with cooking easy dishes; they will be more likely to eat it if they helped create it.
  2. Keep meal and snack times consistent. If your children eat a snack at the same time every day, they will get used to being hungry for dinner around the same time every day.
  3. Cook a variety of foods regularly. This way your children become accustomed to seeing new foods and trying them out will become a routine.
  4. Finally, be a role model. Your children will be more enticed to try new foods if they see you doing it.

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What are some ways you encourage your little ones to try new foods?

Holiday Helpers

With the holidays fast approaching, consider asking your children to help decorate the table. They will put their imaginations to use and enjoy a boost to their self-esteem. Below are a few crafty ways your children can help decorate your family’s holiday dinner table.

  • Origami Napkins: Find a clever (but easy) way to fold napkins, demonstrate how to fold them first, and then let your little ones try. When they are done, NR-Blog Photothey can put their napkin creations at each place setting.
  • Homemade Napkin Rings: Cut cardboard tubes (paper towel or toilet paper rolls work best) into 1 ½-inch wide sections. Younger children can decorate the rings with paint or crayons, while older children may enjoy gluing on beans or beads to make fun designs.
  • Personalized Place Cards: Help your little ones make place cards for each of your guests. Cut some cardstock down to size and let your tiny Picasso’s decorate each card with a personalized masterpiece. Provide a list of names so they don’t miss anyone and can easily see how to spell each person’s name.
  • Fun Fall Centerpiece: Gather a brown paper lunch bag, paint, leaves your children have collected, a sandwich bag filled with rice, twigs, tape and some twine. Ask your children to decorate the bag with paint and, while the bag is drying, tape the leaves to one end of the twigs (creating long “stems”). When the paint is dry, place the rice-filled sandwich bag in the bottom of the paper bag to help the bag stand on the table, arrange the stems in the bag with the leafy ends on top, gather the top of the bag around the twig “stems” and tie the bag with twine. Voilà!

Black Bean Hummus

Black Bean Hummus RecipeSpice up snack time with this quick, easy and, most importantly, yummy black bean hummus.

Ingredients:

  • 15-oz can of black beans
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons of tahini
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin

Drain black beans. In a blender, puree all ingredients, adding water if necessary. Season with salt to taste. Serve with crackers or raw veggies.

*An adult should oversee all recipes and activities. Recipes and activities may not be appropriate for all ages.

Holiday Helpers

With the holidays fast approaching, consider asking your children to help decorate the table. They will put their imaginations to use and enjoy a boost to their self-esteem. Below are a few crafty ways your children can help decorate your family’s holiday dinner table.

  • Origami Napkins: Find a clever (but easy) way to fold napkins, demonstrate how to fold them first, and then let your little ones try. When they are done, they can put their napkin creations at each place setting.
  • Homemade Napkin Rings: Cut cardboard tubes (paper towel or toilet paper rolls work best) into 1 ½-inch wide sections. Younger children can decorate the rings with paint or crayons, while older children may enjoy gluing on beans or beads to make fun designs.
  • Personalized Place Cards: Help your little ones make place cards for each of your guests. Cut some cardstock down to size and let your tiny Picasso’s decorate each card with a personalized masterpiece. Provide a list of names so they don’t miss anyone and can easily see how to spell each person’s name.
  • Fun Fall Centerpiece: Gather a brown paper lunch bag, paint, leaves your children have collected, a sandwich bag filled with rice, twigs, tape and some twine. Ask your children to decorate the bag with paint and, while the bag is drying, tape the leaves to one end of the twigs (creating long “stems”). When the paint is dry, place the rice-filled sandwich bag in the bottom of the paper bag to help the bag stand on the table, arrange the stems in the bag with the leafy ends on top, gather the top of the bag around the twig “stems” and tie the bag with twine. Voilà!