5 Reasons to Make the Effort for Family Dinners

The busy schedules of both parents and kids make it difficult to have “family dinners” regularly. The benefits that come with regularly eating together at the table are a good reminder why the effort is so important. These are our top 5 reasons why you should make family dinners a priority!

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1. Children who routinely have family dinners are less likely to start smoking and drinking, or have an eating disorder.

2. It takes 8-10 times of trying something new before kids develop a taste for it.

3. Studies show that setting time aside to have a family dinner can reduce stress.

4. Use dinner-time to get to know what’s going on with your family members and stay close to them. Ask about the best part of their day and anything they might need help with.

5. Gratitude is strongly associated with happiness, and family meals are a great time to practice it. Have everyone at the table name one reason they’re thankful today.

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Dinner Table Entertainment

We’re a big believer in the power of family mealtimes. These games are sure to get the conversation going and your creative juices flowing to make dinner-time fun!

1. Categories

Have one of the categories be “fruits” or “vegetables.” Go around the table naming all the fruits or vegetables you can think of.

Another category you can use is “sports.” Go around the table naming all the sports you can think of.

Have the youngest person at the table pick a color. Go around the table naming all the foods you can think of that are that color.

2. Finish the Story

This game is loosely based off the classic “telephone” game. One person will begin a story by saying the first sentence (i.e. Once upon a time there was a family of monkeys.) The next person will say one more sentence. Continue this around the table until your family runs out of ideas and you start the game over. We’re sure your family will come up with some truly bizarre and funny stories.

3. ABC’s of Gratitude

There are some days where nothing seems to go our way. This time at the dinner table, take turns expressing one thing you’re grateful for in alphabetical order. For example, maybe you’re thankful for your Adidas so you can go running, and then your son is thankful for his basketball. Continue around the table until you complete the alphabet.

4. What I Like About You…

Take turns going around the dinner table saying one thing you like about the person to your left. After a couple of reasons, switch directions and say something that person likes about the person to their right. This game is sure to put you in a good mood after a long day.

5. Guess Who

Create a stack of index cards with a list of some of your family’s favorite famous people or characters (i.e. Superman, Big Bird, Harry Potter) on them. Each person will pick a random index card (without looking at the name) and will tape it to their forehead. That person must try to figure out what character or person they have by asking questions to the other people at the table.

Why Antibiotic-Free Meats

meatball convo 3Using antibiotics in livestock has been practiced by ranchers and farmers for decades. According to the Antibiotic Resistance Project, 29.9 million pounds of antibiotics were used in food animals in the United States during 2011. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), 80% of all the antibiotics sold in the United States are used in farm animals—not humans. Surprisingly, these antibiotics are the same antibiotics that are used in humans to treat illnesses such as food poisoning.

But these antibiotics aren’t being used to cure sick animals. Ranchers and farmers use antibiotics to accelerate the animal’s growth.

So if these are the same antibiotics that we ingest when we’re sick, what’s the big deal about consuming them in our foods? Researchers believe that, over time, bacteria living in antibiotic-fed animals will become resistant to the drugs, creating superbugs. According to the Environmental Working Group, these superbugs can trigger food borne illness and infections that are hard to treat.

Countries in the European Union and Canada have made feeding livestock antibiotics illegal. However, the United States has not banned such practices. American consumers nevertheless have been dissatisfied with these methods. A study conducted by the Natural Resources Defense Council reported that 86% of consumers polled said that meat and poultry raised without antibiotics should be available in their local supermarket. Unfortunately though, antibiotic-free meat is likely still less than 5% of the market.

Mom Made cares about feeding our families the highest quality food and we know you do too. We’re proud that all of our Mom Made Meatball Bites are made with antibiotic-free meat.

Pack Up and Snack Up!

Whether you’re heading to the Grand Canyon or the beach this summer, road trips never seem to be as fun as the destination. There’s the hassle of packing everything up and making sure the kids are entertained. We’ve put together our top five tips to make your family road trip more enjoyable.

Tip 1: Backpacks Aren’t Just For School

Have each child help you fill their backpack with some of their favorite activities like coloring books, colored pencils, electronics, a journal and their favorite toys. Getting the kids involved with the packing will get everyone excited for the upcoming trip.

Tip 2: Snack On

Munchie on a plate

According to a survey from “Choice Hotels” and “FamilyFun” magazine, 73% of families consider snacks to be the #1 way to keep kids happy on road trips. Be sure to pack an abundance of healthy snacks so you’re not stopping every 30 minutes for junk food.  With Mom Made’s Cheese Pizza, Bean Burrito and Apple Pie Munchies, road trip snacks are easy and fun. Before hitting the road, wrap up the Munchies in a paper towel and heat for 60 seconds in the microwave. Then wrap it in tin foil for easy travel. Pack a cooler or bag of snacks like washed fruit and fill up the water bottles with H2O!

Tip 3: Power Up

The last thing you want is to hit the highway and realize that the electronics are low on battery. Also stock up at the library with books on tape and books for the car. Nothing like a “new” book for a child. Make sure to have all the electronics at full power and loaded with fun games, audio books, and movies for the drive. There are tons of apps out there that are great to keep the kids entertained while on the road. Check out “RoadTripBingo” and “A Family Matters” applications. “RoadTripBingo” allows kids to look for hundreds of things while you drive. See who can fill up their card first! “A Family Matters” is a great way to communicate with your children not just in the car, but around the dinner table and while waiting in line.

Tip 4: Play the “Old Fashioned” Games

Play the license plate game. Have a sing-a-long. Create a scavenger hunt – give each child a list of items to watch for while driving and have a prize for the child who completes it first. Count. Count red cars, black cars, police cars, animals, etc. Play the alphabet game with famous people, ie A = Amelia Earhart, B = Big Bird, etc, and talk about who these folks are as you name them. Play with aluminum foil – give each child a sheet of aluminum foil and have them make an animal, a mask, etc. Practice a foreign language. For more fun game ideas, click here http://www.momsminivan.com/bigkids.html

Tip 5: Give Them a Job

Keep the kiddos engaged by giving them a job to do every time you stop. Kids will love the responsibility of being the “Squeegee Master” or the “Cleaning Captain.” At every rest stop and gas station, have one person be in charge of cleaning the windows and the other clear out the car of any trash. Have kids switch roles every two or three stops to keep things fun.

How do you keep your kids entertained? What are your go-to snacks when you travel? Happy trails!

Five Fun Facts about Turkey

Like many of you I’m sure, we at Mom Made Foods were surprised to find out that November is in fact NOT the national month for turkeys. Say what? June has been proclaimed as National Turkey Lovers Month. In honor of such a nutritious and delicious food holiday, we’ve hunted down the Top 5 Most Interesting Facts about turkeys.

Fact 1: Not All Turkeys Gobble

Male turkeys “gobble” while females purr, yelp and make “kee-kee” noises.

Fact 2: Turkey is a Powerhouse Food mom made turkey

Turkey is a great source of protein, iron, zinc, potassium, phosphorus, B vitamins, and niacin. Compared to chicken breast, turkey breast is lower in calories and saturated fat. By choosing antibiotic free turkey, you and your family are less likely to become antibiotic resistant.

Fact 3: Turkeys Are Excellent Flyers

Wild turkeys can run up to speeds of 25 mph and fly as fast as 40 mph. They can even glide for roughly an hour.

Fact 4: The Turkey Was Never Going to be the National Bird

Contrary to popular belief, Benjamin Franklin did not propose that the turkey be the United States’ national bird. He did however tell his daughter in a letter that the turkey was a more “respectable bird” than the bald eagle.

Fact 5: Don’t Mess with a Red Headed Turkey

The area of bare skin on a turkey’s head and neck vary depending on the turkey’s mood at the time. A blue head means the turkey is excited, while a red head means it’s ready to fight.

Stay Healthy During Cold & Flu Season

It sure is that time of year when it seems like everyone around you has come down with a cold or the flu!  Rather than sniffling away, here are some tips to stay healthy and to recover quickly if you’re sick so you can get back to having a great 2015.

How to stay healthy during cold & flu season

  1. Wash your hands!  This is the best way to prevent infections so try to wash your hands regularly throughout the day.  This is especially important after touching public surfaces like doorknobs.  A lot of hands equals a lot of germs—gross!

    via clker.com

    via clker.com

  2. Go for a walk.  Studies show that people who are active are less likely to get sick.  Try to exercise a little bit every day to stay healthy, even if it’s cold out!  Do you get bored while exercising?  Switch it up by playing sports with your family or by doing something different every day.

    via picgifs.com

    via picgifs.com

  3. Get some rest.  Stress can lead to a weaker immune system and sickness so it’s important to relax and get enough sleep every night—7 hours is the recommended amount.  If you’re having trouble sleeping, try to cut out caffeine later in the day and don’t look at digital screens like your phone, computer, or TV within an hour of going to bed.

    via clipartbest.com

    via clipartbest.com

  4. Eat well.  Our bodies need nutrients to stay healthy and fight infection.  Veggies are the most natural way of getting these nutrients so try to work them into your diet if you aren’t getting enough—aim for fruits and veggies to take up half your plate. Don’t forget to stay hydrated too!

    via cheshire-med.com

    via cheshire-med.com

How to recover quickly if you’re already sick

  1. Eat chicken noodle soup.  This one doesn’t take convincing but chicken noodle soup has been proven to have anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties, so eat away!

    via gopixpic.com

    via gopixpic.com

  2. Take a hot shower.  The steam will help with congestion and it can also help you relax.

    via pixshark.com

    via pixshark.com

  3. Drink hot tea.  This will help you stay hydrated and will soothe a sore throat.  Add a little honey—it’s a natural immune booster.

    via clipsahoy.com

    via clipsahoy.com

  4. Increase your vitamin C intake.  In addition to helping prevent colds, it can also help shorten them.  Oranges and green leafy vegetables are great sources of vitamin C.  Ginseng and zinc are other natural supplements that can help shorten a cold.

    via inhabitat.com

    via inhabitat.com

While some of these may seem obvious, they are so important!  By doing simple things every day like washing your hands, you can keep yourself and your family healthy this year.  Do you do these already?  Have other remedies ideas?  We love hearing from you so if you have any additional suggestions, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to share what works for you and your family!

Nothing better than being healthy 🙂

Tips for a Lean, Clean 2015!

It’s the New Year, and what better time to make 2015 a healthier time for you and your family! The key to success is to make small changes and for your resolutions to be attainable and meaningful. Before long, this year’s goals will become lifelong, healthy habits!

Below are my top five food and health resolutions for a lean, clean 2015!

  1. Choose organic more often. There’s no doubt that organic farming is good for the environment, which helps secure a better future for our children and our planet. The USDA Organic label on a food is also your guarantee that the food is free of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), was made without the use of synthetic pesticides and that animals were raised without antibiotics. All Mom Made Foods adhere to organic standards and carry the USDA Organic seal.

    via ams.usda.gov

    via ams.usda.gov

  2. Eat your veggies! Let’s face it, fruits are easy to like – they’re so portable and sweet. Vegetables can be a little harder to love, especially at first and in particular the more bitter ones like Brussels sprouts and broccoli. While fruits and vegetables should make up half of every meal and snack, most people aren’t eating enough – especially vegetables, which are loaded with fiber and vitamins and low in calories. Make veggies the prominent part of your dinner, and don’t be afraid to experiment. To a child, a cooked, coin-shaped carrot is a completely different food than a raw baby carrot. Don’t be afraid to pair veggies with a favorite food or condiment to help kids eat them. I’d rather a child eat cauliflower with cheese or ranch dressing versus no cauliflower at all!

    via valeotraining.com

    via valeotraining.com

  3. Pack a healthier lunch. School food may get a bad reputation, but recent studies show what’s served in school can often be healthier than what’s brought from home. When you think about it, pre-packaged “lunch” foods for kids with ready-to-assemble “pizza”, cookies and gummy “fruit” is hardly what I’d consider health food! When packing your children’s lunches, use MyPlate as your guide: make sure half of what’s packed is fruits and vegetables, one-quarter of the meal should be protein, and one-quarter grains (preferably whole-grains). Add a carton of lowfat or fat-free milk, and your kid is fueled up for the afternoon ahead.

    via choosemyplate.gov

    via choosemyplate.gov

  4. Eat a meal together. It may seem impossible with competing activities and work schedules, but setting aside even just one night a week to eat dinner together as a family has immeasurable benefits. Some studies suggest that children of families who eat together do better in school and are less likely to abuse drugs. If dinnertime is too hectic, then set aside a day for breakfast or weekend brunch.

    via becuo.com

    via becuo.com

  5. Give yourself a break. The goal should be eating dinner together, preferably something prepared at home. But that doesn’t mean everything needs to be made from scratch! Frozen and canned foods can be the perfect shortcut while supplying essential nutrients. Just look at the ingredients list to make sure the label is clean, without added preservatives, salt or sugars. I love the Mom Made meatballs for this very reason (and they’re better than anything I could make myself!)

The best way to make resolutions stick is to make your resolution public and not to do it alone. Support from family and friends can go a long way to keeping you on track – and to getting you back on track if you’ve had a slip-up. To help keep your resolutions, sign up for the Mom Made Foods Healthy Pledge 2015 and tweet or post your intentions to your social media community. By making a commitment to make 2015 more nutritious and delicious for your family, Mom Made Foods will send you some coupons to get you on your way. And be sure to join the Mom Made Community on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Post your nutrition questions in the comments below and we’ll look to address them in future blogs. In the meantime, here’s to a healthy, happy new year!