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COMMIT TO “DINING IN” DURING THE HOLIDAYS

By Staff, 11/30/17 2:44 PM

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Do you want to save money this holiday season? Most of us would answer yes! One easy way to do that is to commit to eating more meals at home. Not only can you save money by preparing meals for your family at home, but you may be helping to improve their overall health.
​According to research from Cornell University conducted by Musick and Meier, children who eat at home, on a regular basis, may be 35% less likely to have unhealthy eating behaviors, 24% more likely to eat healthier foods and 12% less likely to be overweight. Not only does eating meals at home influence nutrition, but it may play a role in other areas of health. In this study, results showed that family dinners tend to have lower levels of depression. Sharing time with the family has significant effects on child mental health, substance use, and delinquency and better students. This may be due to families spending quality time together and not necessarily the food being served.
​While research on family meals is ongoing and more research needs to be done, evidence to date suggests that family meals do provide many benefits for children and youth. Here are some ways to improve family meal time at your home.
• Set a goal to have regular family meals at least three times per week, if possible. This may not be possible for all families. However, try to find some time during the week to sit down together and enjoy a meal. It may be breakfast or an evening snack. The goal is to spend some quality time together as a family.
• Remember the benefits of consistent family mealtimes. One of the findings about this particular study, the routine of family meals can generate feelings of closeness and comfort. Even during the holidays, when things are so hectic and disorganized, take comfort in the fact that the simple act of regular mealtimes may be providing your child with stability.
• The quality of family meals is just as important as quantity. Mealtimes give family members, including children, the opportunity to communicate, so if possible, turn off the TV and ban cell phones. Ask questions during mealtime. How was your day? What did you learn? What made the day great or not so great?
​The holidays are hectic! Eating out with the family can be “special treat”. However, there are some very valid reasons for eating at home.
​Why not make a pledge to eat in during National “Dining In” day on Sunday, December 3, 2017? Millions of families across the nation have made the pledge. You can make the pledge by signing up at http://www.aafcs.org/fcsday/home
​If you want to improve cooking skills or would like information related to healthy eating following the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, contact the Hempstead County Extension Office at 870-777-5771. We offer hands-on cooking classes to teach you basic meal planning, saving money and food preparation. Classes are forming soon, so call if you are interested. You can also visit our office located on the first floor of the Hempstead County Courthouse.

Recipe of the Week
​Do you have any turkey leftover at your house? Hopefully, you put it in the freezer to use for future meals. Cooked turkey can be used in place of cooked chicken in most recipes. Just find your favorite casserole, soup or main dish recipe that calls for chicken and substitute cooked turkey instead. This recipe is great, easy to prepare is nutritious!

Southwestern Turkey Soup
2/3 cup low-sodium beef broth
1 can (12 ounces) no-salt tomato paste
1 can (15 ounces) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (11 ounces) Mexican-style corn, drained
1 ½ cups diced cooked turkey
3 green onions, sliced
2 to 3 Tablespoons chili powder
1 can (4 ounces) chopped green chilies
1 2/3 cups water
​In a large saucepan, combine beef broth and tomato paste. Add remaining ingredients. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Yield: 6 servings
Nutrition information per serving: 225 calories, 32 g Carbohydrates, 631 mg Sodium, 20 g Protein, 3 g Fat

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need materials in another format, please contact your (insert appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.
La Universidad de la División de Sistemas de Arkansas de Agricultura es un / igualdad de acceso institución acción de igualdad de oportunidades / afirmativa. Si necesita un ajuste razonable para participar o necesita materiales en otro formato, por favor, póngase en contacto con su (insertar la oficina apropiada) tan pronto como sea posible. Marque 711 para Arkansas relé.

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