(Family Features) - Taking the time to sit down to dinner as a family pays big dividends. According to a Columbia University study, kids who eat dinner with their families several times a week do better in school, are less likely to abuse substances, and are more likely to share their concerns with parents. But with all the family activities, how do you balance a healthy, active lifestyle with taking time for those you love?
You don't have to cook a five-star meal to make mealtime a success. With products like Perdue's frozen fully cooked whole grain breaded chicken simple, home cooked meals can have a powerfully positive impact.
Creating a Plan
Start with putting a meal plan in place using easy-to-prepare items. Consider using prepared chicken nuggets or tenders, quick-cooking grains or frozen vegetables.
Despite what you might think, you don't have to sacrifice nutritional value for great taste and convenience. Look for breaded items with a whole grain coating to increase fiber intake. Perdue's frozen chicken products are made with all white meat and the whole grain breaded chicken line features the Whole Grains Council's stamp indicating that each serving provides at least one half-serving (8 grams) of whole grains.
Also, consider focusing less on what you're cooking and more on what you're doing at the dinner table.
- Turn off the television, cell phones and video games so you can focus on conversation during mealtime.
- Serve meals family style; allowing each family member to pass serving dishes makes them feel included and valued as part of family.
- Insert conversation starter cards under each plate. Ask one person to name a favorite family vacation and why; ask another to name a favorite dessert from mom and dad's childhood; encourage the family to laugh by remembering escapades with your family pet.
- Provide coloring sheets or activity books for fast eaters (or those with short attention spans) to keep everyone seated and engaged at the table.
Remember that reconnecting is really the key to family mealtime. Finding ways to make meal prep easier takes the pressure off the adults and allows them to focus more on what each member of the family is saying.
Meals in Minutes
Test out these tasty combinations from Executive Chef Chris Moyer at Perdue Farms, Inc. They use quick-cooking, whole grain breaded chicken as the centerpiece for family mealtime. For more recipes, visit www.perdue.com.
Pressed California Chicken Club - Whole grain chicken tenders, avocados, applewood-smoked bacon, tomatoes, romaine lettuce and mayo on a ciabatta roll.
Chicken Parmesan Wrap - Whole grain chicken strips topped with a savory marinara sauce, grated parmesan and melted mozzarella in a spinach tortilla.
Fried Chicken Waldorf Salad - Crispy whole grain chicken nuggets tossed with grapes, walnuts, and green apples in a fresh creamy dressing.
Roasted Corn Salad with Whole Grain Chicken Tenders - Sliced chicken tenders over a bed of roasted corn and cherry tomatoes with an herb vinaigrette dressing.
Full Flavored Feasts
Honey Chipotle Glazed Nuggets - Golden fried chicken nuggets with a sweet and smoky chipotle sauce served over a bed of dirty rice.
Jamaican Jerk Tenders - Whole grain tenders infused with a spicy jerk sauce and served with grilled pineapple rings and a jicama slaw.
Mediterranean Chicken Skewers - Crispy chicken strips, roasted artichokes, eggplant and feta served with a tangy tzatziki dipping sauce.