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It is amazing what happens when we all sit down at the table……….

family mealsThe President of the United States of America, Barack Obama has proclaimed obesity a national, serious public health issue. As such, he is encouraging all Americans to learn about and engage in activities that promote healthy eating.

How can you get involved? Let’s start with the family meal.   There are many benefits to family meals. Families are more likely to eat a nutritious meal when most or all of the family eats together. Plus, families who eat at home have control of portion sizes and ingredient choices. Additionally, children who eat with their families are likely to consume more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and less fat sugar and empty calories.

Research shows that adolescents are also less likely to smoke, drink, and use illegal drugs during their teen years. Enjoying family meals together enhances family communication and provides opportunities for families to share traditions, recipes and family heritage that can be handed down through each generation. And, family meals improve manners, too!

We are not talking about a Thanksgiving type spread here. A family meal can be breakfast, lunch or dinner. Nutrition experts state the meal does not even have to be enjoyed around the table. The important fact is that it is enjoyed together creating a lifetime of positive memories.

Cooking at home can be an intimidating task, but a rewarding one for you, your family, and your budget. Did I mention health?

Homemade meals are easy once you learn a few cooking basics. Once the basics are understood’ a cook can develop the confidence to be creative and experimental. Using family mealtimes as instructional times can also be a wonderful opportunity for you to teach your children how to cook good, healthy meals too.

Are you wondering how to get started?

The University of Florida, IFAS EDIS publications contain a wealth of information about purchasing, and preparing foods (put cooking in the search bar). Another good resource is the Cook it Quick series by Alice Henneman, MS, RD, University of Nebraska Extension in Lancaster County Not only will you find quick tips and tricks but you can hone in on cooking techniques as well as find quick, healthy recipes.

Vow to prepare and eat more meals at home. You and your loved ones will be glad you did!

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