Dinner together has many benefits

By: Joanna Rogers - Contributing columnist

Many American families have strayed away from eating family dinners together.

Family dinners can be defined as coming together to eat and enjoy each other’s company. We have grown accustomed to eating on the go, having the TV on to entertain and having other electronic devices to distract us from one another.

Did you know that having family dinners can improve your family dynamic? Children gain significant benefits from family dinners. A study done at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital found that those teens who ate with adult family members an average of at least five times a week were less likely to use drugs or fall victim to depression, compared with teens who ate with their parents only three times a week. Children feel a sense of love and belonging when they are surrounded by people they love and are able to communicate more freely. Academics have also been shown to improve by having this short amount of time with their family.

Use family meal time to talk about important life skills and the importance of good nutrition. Some ideas that you can incorporate in your dinner night include writing questions on little pieces of paper and pull from a cup or ask simple conversation starter questions. Examples might be: Name one high point in your day and one low point, name three healthy foods you have eaten this week, or suggest some new dinner ideas we should try next week.

Another benefit of family meals may include planning dinner ahead to save money. Yes, some families have saved a significant amount of money dining in instead of dining out. Planning ahead also helps relieve the stress of deciding what’s for dinner every night and gives you more control over what your family eats.

Here is a quick, healthy recipe you can try with your family:

Easy Chicken Pot Pie

Makes 6 servings Serving size: One half cup

Ingredients

— 1 2/3 cups of frozen mix vegetables, thawed

— 1 cup of canned chicken

— 1 (10 ¾-ounce) can condensed of reduced-fat cream of chicken soup

— 1 cup of reduced-fat premixed baking mix (for making biscuits)

— ½ cup skim milk

— 1 egg

Directions

— Heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

— Mix vegetables, chicken, and soup together and place in ungreased, 9-inch pie plate.

— In a medium bowl, stir baking mix, skim milk, and egg together until blended to make batter.

— Pour batter on top of chicken mixture.

— Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown.

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Joanna Rogers

Contributing columnist

Joanna Rogers is the 4-H Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program assistant at North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Robeson County Center. She can be reached at 910-671-3276, [email protected] or by visiting the website http://robeson.ces.ncsu.edu.

Joanna Rogers is the 4-H Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program assistant at North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Robeson County Center. She can be reached at 910-671-3276, [email protected] or by visiting the website http://robeson.ces.ncsu.edu.