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Healthy Reasons to Make Eating Together a Priority – And a Recipe Too!

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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

Ingredients

  • 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)

Preparation Steps

  • 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.

7 Comments

  1. MarinaMarina10-03-2011

    I totally agree with you Ruth. In Italy, where I live, sharing meals is the most important rule in the family, and eating together is the way people generally socialize. Everytime I travel in North America I feel uneasy to see how people don’t care about eating together. For me meals have been in my young years the moments where my father talked with me, when my mother had time to ask me and my sister about our lives, school, and friends. I learned then to cook and I love cooking now But, most of all, I thank those shared moments because they allowed us to build the relationship among us.

    • adminadmin10-03-2011

      Thank you for your comments Marina. Some of my house specialties are recipes I learned from you and your family!

  2. janicejanice10-03-2011

    Hi Ruth,

    I love receiving your blog and am a big advocate of family meals. The kids move out so quickly or go away to school so soon and the table seems empty without their company. Good advice for families and for friends!

  3. GlendaGlenda10-03-2011

    Hi Ruth,

    With your inspiration, I took the crock pot out last night, and we’re sitting down as a family of five to braised short ribs tonight. I’m hoping that I will get more than a monosyllabic grunt out of my 14 year old son!

  4. Rick PetersonRick Peterson10-04-2011

    Hi Ruth,
    Nice post – and as a cooking-challenged father with a 16-year-old daughter who shares time between me and her mother, our kitchen time together is really appreciated by us both. We connect and chat while she rolls her eyes at her helpless Dad and makes dinners and meals for us that are truly healthy from a nutrional and emotional viewpoint. She has a million other things on the go during the day that are difficult to pierce through at times, but in the kitchen, the focus is on us, and food, and our time together. Doesn’t get much better than that. 🙂

  5. Colin MacKayColin MacKay10-07-2011

    Your article touches on a traditional and important family custom that seems to be losing ground these days. Everyone seems to be too busy, and there are too many distractions to take the time to prepare meals and enjoy them together. I like that you included a recipe that is easy to prepare but interesting and unique. Well done!

  6. JudithJudith10-27-2011

    Do like your articles–read the one on downtown Van Stanley Cup Riots. Excellent opportunity to talk to kids about values–being and doing.

    We always sat down as a family for dinner–not the most pleasant time. I wished now we would have talked about what was positive in our day, shared our dreams, discussed issues, etc. and learned about each other. Hope other families do better than we did!

    Great looking recipe.

    Judith

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