Here at Rainier Fruit the celebration of family is always a priority. We understand that the well-being of our employees is rooted in their connection with family and friends and strong relationships both at work and at home.
September is Family Meals Month and we are proud to celebrate the importance of family meal time. According to the Food Marketing Institute, shared family meals positively impact the emotional and physical well-being of parents and children alike. Family meals cultivate closer bonds between family members by taking time out of busy schedules to connect over a meal together. Research also indicates that family meals are directly correlated to lower rates of obesity and better grades in schools for today’s youth.
Whether your family includes children, consists of you and your spouse, or is a family of friendship shared by roommates, neighbors or buddies join us in celebrating at least one meal each week together as a family, at home.
And P.S. Shut the cellphones off and actually talk!
Our running ambassador Laura of This Runner’s Recipes shared with us some her tips for family mealtime.
Active family? Meal time can help you recover better.
Whether you are training for a race with your spouse or taking your children on hikes, you need to recover after a workout to get the most benefits and to stay healthy. Some studies have suggested that social interaction after exercise actually improves recovery by lowering cortisol (stress hormone) levels. Sharing a meal with your spouse and/or children will lower stress levels and improve recovery – which means better sleep, better workouts, and a stronger immune system.
Eating together at home improves health and fitness.
On the days that members of a family eat separately, chances are these meals are eaten out. A quick stop for fast food while driving or a frozen pizza heated up do not provide the most nutritious and satisfying meals. Eating together, at home, means prioritizing your health and fitness for the good of both mental and physical well-being.
The togetherness of a family meal also creates social time which boosts mood and mental well-being thanks to both the camaraderie as well as better food choices. At a family meal, you can easily serve a wholesome dinner of lean protein, whole grains, and vegetables and these foods offer fuel for not only your body, but also your brain. Eating together at the table forces you to slow down and savor your food which makes a meal more satisfying and decreases the chances of overeating
Think beyond Dinner
Family meal time is not only confined to weeknight dinners. Depending on your schedule, plan family meal time around other meals and plan family activities around those meals. For example, a Saturday morning bike ride could be followed by a family breakfast at home that engages the entire family in both exercise and eating together, fostering both healthy relationships and physical well-being.
Family Meal Ideas
Try expanding your family meal time to include the whole family in the cooking process. This is a great time for kids to get involved and learn the basics of cooking and contribute to the meal. This gives you not only more time together, but helps kids learn about healthy foods and how to prepare them. Kids are also more likely to try new foods if they have a responsibility for their preparation.
Here’s a few meal ideas that will feed your family and can be easily prepared together.
Whole Roast Chicken and Roasted Seasonal Vegetables (serves 4)
Whole roast chicken is an instant crowd pleaser – and it’s simple to make. When served with roasted vegetables it’s a complete meal that is nutritious, delicious, and family-friendly. By changing up the seasonal vegetables this dish can be change year-round and be just as delicious.
- 1 whole chicken (5-8 pounds)
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 yellow onion
- 1 lemon
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 butternut squash
For the chicken:
- Preheat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Mince the garlic, chop the onion, and slice the lemon.
- Place the chicken in an oven-safe cooking dish (Dutch oven or roasting pan) and stuff with the garlic, onion, and lemon slices. Rub one tablespoon of olive oil on the skin and season with salt and pepper.
- Roast the chicken for 60-90 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.
For the vegetables:
- While the chicken is roasting, wash and chop the vegetables. Toss them with one tablespoon olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the vegetables in a single layer evenly on the parchment paper.
- Roast at 450 degrees for 30-40 minutes while the chicken is cooking, until it is fork tender.
If you are short on time in the evenings, you can plan ahead and cook the chicken and squash in the crockpot instead of in the oven by prepping all the ingredients in the AM and adding to the slow cooker on low – just be sure to check the internal temperature of the chicken before serving.
Whole Wheat Blueberry Pancakes (serves 4-6)
For a healthy family breakfast, skip the sugary cereal and enjoy a homemade stack of whole grain blueberry pancakes.
- 2 eggs
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil or butter, melted (plus more for greasing the pan)
- 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 1.5 cups (12 ounces) milk of choice (may need more if batter is dry)
- 2 cups (8.5 oz.) whole wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons of water
- ~1.5 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
- Whisk together the egg, coconut oil, and maple syrup in a mixing bowl. Add the milk and stir to combine.
- Carefully measure the flours (do not pack – measure by weight or spoon into the measuring cups). Add the flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon and gently stir to combine. You do not want to over mix, as this will result in flat pancakes.
- If needed, add a tablespoon or two of water to reach the desired consistency. The pancake batter should be smooth and easy to scoop.
- Heat a flat skillet or pan over medium low heat. Lightly grease with coconut oil or butter. Once the pan is hot (drops of water should sizzle on it), pour approximately 1/3 cup batter onto the skillet. Most pans will cook two pancakes at a time – don’t crowd the pan. Sprinkle a handful of blueberries on top of each pancake as soon as you pour the batter.
- When the pancake edges are firm and bubble form on the top, flip and cook for another 1-2 minutes, or until the pancake is golden brown on both sides. Remove from heat.
And of course the best dessert is always apples or pears. Either baked in a dessert or baked whole, sliced and ready for dipping…the options are endless.
Wholesome to the Core is really about living your best life and finding ways to be your best self. We hope that you will find more time for family meals not only this month, but every month.