School activities, work activities, sports activities, social activities…you name it, it’s there, demanding time and focus and making you wish you could divide atoms to be all places all at once. And whether you’re a parent or a kid, that feeling of having too many things to do within the space of a week is shared by pretty much everyone, and one of the things that’s been sacrificed at the almighty altar of the tight schedule has been sitting down at the table to share a meal and talk. Cell phones down, mobile devices dark. Talk. Chew. Pass the plates and look at one another in the eyes. Have face time face-to-face.
It’s a sad fact, but it’s definitely true. And the effect it has on so many things, from our family relationships to our kids’ performance in school even to our waistlines is indicative of the ways that the lack of family meals is having a negative impact.
Fortunately, you don’t have to cook elaborate meals to make dinnertime worthy of gathering around the table. They can be simple and fun—and if you’ve got young kids, use that simplicity to your advantage and turn cooking time into teachable moments that build your relationships and create memories. Think about it…even if you don’t have recipe cards or cookbooks passed down from your own mother, chances are, you’ve got a few memories of doing something in the kitchen with those little hands of your child-sized self. Whether you were helping mix muffin batter and licking spoons or just rolling out balls of cookie dough, those kitchen-centered moments are something that is indelibly inked on your sensory brain, easily accessed whenever you catch the whiff of a freshly baked treat. And now that become an adult with children of your own, you’ve got the chance to make memories of that your kids will take into their adulthood and treasure forever—even if there are a few recipe flub-ups along the way.
Make things even more kid-friendly with kid-sized kitchen tools and products made just for little chefs. Check out a few ideas in our Add to Cart section and get your little one at set up for some fun!
Chocolate Dipped Apple Pudding
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 cup 2% low-fat milk, divided
2 tbsp. cornstarch
½ cup semisweet chocolate chips
⅓ cup granulated sugar
Stir together ¼ cup milk and cornstarch until cornstarch dissolves.
In saucepan over high heat, combine applesauce, ¾ cup milk, chocolate chips, and sugar. Bring to a simmer and stir until chocolate melts and is smooth.
Stir in cornstarch mixture and continue cooking, stirring constantly for 1-2 minutes.
Remove from stove and allow to cool.
Pour into a container and chill until ready to serve.
Easy Peasy Pizza Pie
One 12-oz. pre-baked packaged pizza crust
16 oz. package shredded cheese
1/2 cup jarred marinara or pizza sauce
Favorite meat or seafood, precooked
Favorite veggies, chopped
Directions: Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place crust on an ungreased baking sheet. Spread sauce evenly over crust. Sprinkle cheese over the sauce. Add desired meats, veggies, and other toppings. Bake 8-10 minutes, until cheese has melted. Remove baked pizza from oven and allow to cool slightly, then slice and serve!
Loaded Apple Raisin Sweet Potato Boats
3 small sweet potatoes, scrubbed
1 large egg
¾ cup unsweetened applesauce
1½ tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
3 tbsp. light brown sugar
½ tsp. table salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ cup pecans, chopped
¼ cup raisins
1½ tsp. maple syrup
1½ tbsp. light brown sugar
¾ cup French bread, sliced and cubed into ¼-inch cubes
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Microwave sweet potatoes for 10 minutes. Allow to cool.
Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Set aside.
Halve microwaved potatoes lengthwise.
Scoop out inside of sweet potatoes and place into a bowl.
Place potato shells, cut side up, on baking sheet. Bake until shells become dry and crispy.
Mash inside of potatoes until smooth. Stir in applesauce, egg, sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.
In a small bowl, combine melted butter with pecans, raisins, maple syrup, brown sugar, and bread cubes.
Once potato shells have dried out, remove from oven, fill with mashed sweet potato mixture, and sprinkle breadcrumb mixture over filling.
Reduce oven to 375 degrees, and bake 20 minutes or until breadcrumbs are golden brown.
Remove from heat and serve.
Chew on This
Studies have shown that children who eat family meals at least five times a week:
Have a lower risk of developing poor eating habits
Have healthier eating habits and are less in danger of having weight problems such as obesity or developing eating disorders
Are at a reduced risk of becoming addicted to drugs or alcohol
Have better academic performance
Are generally less likely to skip school
Develop better conversational skills
Develop better moral values, personal motivation, personal identity, and self-esteem