Now that the Fall season is here its back to school and routines for most people. Everyone is busy getting involved in activities that begin at this time of year, but very few of us think about the simple importance of just having a meal together.
I’m often surprised to hear how infrequently families eat meals together. With long commutes, a lengthening work day and involvement in sports and other activities, somehow eating on the run has become the norm. What a missed opportunity to build skills and transmit healthy values to your kids! These days even weekends are spent on the go contributing to our fatigue and stress filled lives.
I’m writing this blog post to convince you to change your family eating habits. Here are some great reasons to make food preparation, eating and cleaning up together a priority. Hope they whet your appetite for having dinner at home with the family more often this year.
1. Eat Healthier – You will likely be eating healthier meals if you make them yourself. Whenever possible focus on eating simple, fresh and local. Colourful foods pack the biggest nutrition and look good too.
2. Togetherness – You and your children get to participate in doing something together that benefits all of you. This builds teamwork, companionship, sharing and family cohesiveness.
3. Teaching Values & Skills – Your kids learn basic life skills such as food preparation, using appliances, multi-tasking and good table manners. Too many kids these days aren’t developing these basic skills.
Research tells us that just sharing dinner together is really healthy for our kids. There have been many studies conducted on the impact of the family meal on physical, social and emotional development in children and teens. All report findings that are hard to argue with. Better academic performance, less obesity, less cigarette smoking and drug use as well as healthier nutritional habits later in life. There is much written on this topic on the Internet if you feel like Googling around and finding resources in your local area. I found a wonderful website that you might enjoy sponsored by the BC Ministry of Health and the BC Dairy Foundation. Here’s the link …. http://bettertogetherbc.ca/pages/about-better-together
Tips for Togetherness
- Don’t be alone in the kitchen
- Ask young children to tear up lettuce, put cut up vegetables in bowls, and take small things to the table.
- Ask bigger kids to mix up sauces, get things out of the fridge, read out the recipe, check what’s going on in the oven and on the stove and help fill the dishwasher.
- Get your teenager to participate by asking them to research recipes that interest them, tell jokes and stories to younger kids, turn the TV off and select music to cook by. And most important – invite them to be Chef for a Night.
- Clean up is faster when everyone participates. Make this a habit when your kids are as young as 5 or 6 and you won’t get grief when they are teens.
Did I convince you?
Have dinner together tonight
Enjoy your family!
Here’s one of my favourite recipes for chicken. It’s super easy to prepare and kids love it.
Sticky Hoisin Chicken
- 1/4 cup (50 ml) each hoisin sauce and barbecue sauce
- 2 tbsp (30 ml) soy sauce
- 1 tsp (5 ml) each garlic and ginger (fresh is best but powdered works too)
- 4 bone-in chicken legs (with thighs attached) or skinless, bone-in breasts
- 1 green onion, chopped (optional)
- Preheat oven to 425F (220C).
- Line a baking sheet or pan with foil and oil it.
- Mix the 3 sauces together with the garlic and ginger.
- Remove skin from the chicken. Coat chicken with sauce and place meaty side down on foil lined pan.
- Bake uncovered for 20 min.
- Turn chicken over and spoon pan juices overtop. Continue baking, occasionally basting with sauce until chicken feels springy when pressed, 20 to 25 min.
- Sprinkle with green onion, if you like.
I like to serve this yummy chicken with roasted potatoes, rice or couscous and two different coloured vegetables…something green like beans, zucchini or bok choy and something orange like carrots, squash or peppers. If you are really busy why not just make a big salad while the chicken is baking.
This is an interactive blog….please share what works in your family.