Eating Together!

How many of you aim to have at least few meals of the week together as a family?

These days schedules of both parents and children leave almost no time for regular dinners together at the table.  Between soccer practices, dance rehearsals, playdates, and other scheduling conflicts, family mealtime can seem like a thing of the past.

Did you know that research shows that having a meal together as a family at least four times a week has positive effects on child development? Family dinners have been linked to a lower risk of obesity, substance abuse, eating disorders, and an increased chance of graduating from high school. Source: http://solutionsforyourlife.ufl.edu/

If you are still looking for some inspiration, here are some more benefits of eating a meal together as a family.

  • Dinner table provides an opportunity for conversation and to reconnect as a family. By engaging your children in conversation, you teach them how to listen and give them with a chance to express their opinions.
  • Family mealtime is the perfect opportunity to display appropriate table manners, meal etiquette, and social skills. Be a good role model and lead by example.
  • Meals prepared and eaten at home are usually more nutritious and healthy. They contain more fruits, vegetables, and dairy products along with additional nutrients such as fiber, calcium, vitamins A and C, and folate.
  • The sense of security and togetherness provided by family meals helps nurture children into healthy, well-rounded adults. Children who eat dinner with their family are more likely to understand, acknowledge, and follow the boundaries and expectations set by their parents.
  • The home cooked meal cost 2-4 times less than the meals purchased outside. You save your time and money by not make going out to eat at a restaurant and making short trips to the grocery store.
  • Family mealtime is a great place to introduce new food to the kids. It greatly helps the picky eater. Try to make the mealtime a cool, calm and positive experience for the children. Avoid- criticism and over correction.

ENJOY!!
Neha

 

Homemade gifts this season for lower costs

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Gift giving for any occasion can often be expensive, especially when you purchase several gifts at one time. I actually began to make homemade food gifts that were not only made from the heart but were healthy for the heart too! I was able to remember those special special neighbors, church friends, and teachers with gifts that were lower in cost and higher in nutrition.

Some of my favorite homemade gifts that don’t require refrigeration include: vegetarian bean soup; peppermint hot cocoa; flavored teas, and mint body scrub. All of these items are placed in jars decorated with fabric and/or ribbon that coordinated with the occasion.

My children began getting involved with making gifts for their grandparents and teachers. Among their favorites were: homemade cookbooks, no-salt seasonings; spiced teas, and healthy snacks in a jar. They loved to decorate the container or package too and were so very proud of giving a gift from the heart.

So don’t let the holidays, birthdays, or other gift giving occasions stress you. Start gathering ideas for homemade gifts and get your children Involved too. All of you will enjoy giving a gift that you made and it will mean so much to those on the receiving end. For more ideas, check here: http://www.clemson.edu/extension/hgic/food/nutrition/nutrition/dietary_guide/hgic4091.html 

Judy

Cook Your Turkey Safely

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Improperly prepared turkey gives harmful bacteria the opportunity to grow and cause foodborne illnesses.

Although there are several ways to prepare the turkey its internal temperature should reach 165˚ Fahrenheit. This should be determined with a food thermometer. Check the temperature in the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast. Different cooking methods as well as the weight of the turkey will impact how long it will take to prepare.

If you are planning on roasting your turkey this holiday check out this link for turkey safety basics: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/poultry-preparation/turkey-basics-safe-cooking/CT_Index and http://www.cdc.gov/features/turkeytime/

 

Family Meals: More than just eating together

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Family meals help provide regular, consistent opportunities to create shared experiences that are meaningful and offer a sense of belonging to all. Research has shown that regular and meaningful family meals offer a large variety of benefits to children and parents.

  • Family meals provide a sense of family unity and identity. Family meals become a vehicle for carrying on valued family traditions, such as having a particularly favorite dish on someone’s birthday or going to a favorite place to eat together on special occasions.
  • Family meals make a positive impact on young children’s language acquisition and literacy development. Family meals furnish a daily opportunity for a parent or sibling to speak to an infant or toddler, and help them learn words, understand language and build conversation.
  • Family meals are associated with improved dietary intake among family members. For example, several large studies have shown that regular family meals are strongly associated with increased consumption of fruits, vegetables, grains and other healthy food choices while also linked with lesser consumption of fried or fatty foods, soft drinks or other less healthy food choices

Learn more about strengthening family bonds and improving your family’s wellness here: https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/eatsmart/eat-smart.-play-hard.-magazines-1/2009-eat-smart-play-hard-magazine/test-item

Susan

Handwashing: More than just clean hands

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Those of us interested in simple ways to keep our families healthy already know the role proper hand washing plays in preventing the spread of germs. But hand washing plays another role that’s not often considered when fighting the battle to keep families healthy. In that role, hand washing is instrumental in fighting the rise of antibiotic resistance. What’s antibiotic resistance? Well, antibiotic resistance is a bacteria’s ability to survive the effects of the medicine (antibiotic) the doctor prescribes to cure an infection. The bacteria continue to grow, multiply, and eventually spread either in the body or to others.

According to the CDC, hand washing can prevent food borne and other respiratory illnesses like the common cold. Reducing the number of such illnesses reduces the need for and subsequently the overuse of antibiotics. Reducing the overuse, reduces the likelihood resistance will develop. People who suffer from infections that are caused by “resistant” bacteria may require second and third prescriptions from their doctor before the infection is cured. Often the subsequent prescriptions are less effective (the most effective prescription are typically given first) and add to the cost of getting well. Many times, the need for additional prescriptions translates into the need for additional recovery time as well. Such absences can also get pretty ‘costly’ when you consider the time lost when away from work or school.

So, as you can see, as we perform the simple task of washing our hands we’re doing more than just washing away germs. We’re keeping our families and communities healthy by preventing illness, which in turn, preserves antibiotic effectiveness. Read more about how hand washing helps to fight the battle against antibiotic resistance at: http://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/why-handwashing.html. And if you really want to dig deeper, you can read the information found at: http://www.cdc.gov/drugresistance/about.html

Virginia

Celebrate the Earth and Stretch Your Food Dollar!

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Today is Earth Day and what better way to celebrate than by saving some green by going green with your grocery shopping. These tips adapted from Alice Henneman, Extension Educator at the University of Nebraska will take you beyond recycling the various packages that your food comes in and will help you save money, adding a little extra green in your pocket!

  1. Size matters. – Buy the biggest container that you can afford. Do you really need to purchase individual containers if you eat them all at home?
  2. It’s in the bag. – Carry reusable shopping bags when possible. If you don’t, reuse plastic grocery bags to line small wastebaskets and make trash disposal easier.
  3. Gotta have a plan! Reduce fuel consumption by planning ahead and shopping less often.
  4. Practice the 3 Rs. Reduce, Reuse and Recycle
    • Reduce the amount of food thrown away by serving smaller portions of food. You can always go back for more if needed.
    • Reuse leftovers by planning to serve them again within two days or freezing for future use. Be sure to label and date your container.
    • Recycle leftovers into a different meal; for example – leftover roasted chicken can be turned into chicken salad, soup, casseroles or tacos.
  5. Don’t be a “spoil”-sport. Throwing away spoiled food is just like throwing away leftovers. Follow these practices to reduce the amount of spoiled food you toss:
    • Read labels for “use by,” “expiration,” or “best if used by” dates.
    • Refrigerate and freeze your food at the proper temperatures—0 degrees F or lower for freezers and 40 degrees F or lower for the refrigerator. Use an appliance thermometer for accuracy.
    • Follow recommended storage times for foods to maintain quality and safety of food products.
    • Avoid buying too much food in bulk especially if it can spoil before you use it.
  6. Drink to this. Buy a reusable water bottle and fill it with tap water. Think of the savings to your wallet and the reduction of water bottles in the landfill.
  7. Bulk it up. Many household products such as hand soap can be purchased in larger bottles and used to refill a smaller bottle. This will reduce cost and also save landfill space.

 If all these ideas seem overwhelming, choose one or two to work on for this month. Then add another one or two next month. Keep adding new practices until you are doing all of them.   Soon you will see those extra dollars adding up. Take that extra money and start a fund for something special for yourself or the kids. You’ll be surprised at how fast it adds up!

Suzanne