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Family Matters: Dinner on the Table. Done!

“What’s for dinner?” is such a hard question to answer day after day. It’s hard enough to come up with new and interesting recipes that each family member will eat and enjoy, but today’s fast-paced lifestyle leaves little time for creativity and leisurely cooking in the kitchen.

Before we go any further, I need to dispel any false ideas you have about mealtimes in my home. I’m a full-time working mom and have two teenage sons who play sports and live very full lives. Our time is jam-packed, every day, but I would like to pretend that mealtime at our house happens every night, and is peaceful.

In my dreams, I imagine we all sit down happily at the kitchen table while I serve my family a hot meal. We hold hands, take turns thanking God for his blessings, chew with our mouths closed and embrace each other before leaving for school or work.

Of course it’s absolutely fine to order a pizza for dinner every now and then! But preparing food at home has never been more important to the family’s sense of well-being. Research from places such as Columbia University shows that eating as a family at least three times a week significantly reduces a child’s likelihood to end up on drugs. Eating together as a family also reduces the rate of teen suicide, depression, pregnancy and poor academics, just to name a few.

In our home, we try to make the evening meal our time to unwind and discuss the remains of the day. It takes work to get everyone’s schedule to somehow align and get food on the table. And of course, like I said earlier, many nights it doesn’t work out as planned.

But we try, even if it means having a simple soup night, I don’t think it matters what the meal is as long as you are eating together, sitting down, with as few interruptions as possible.

I have seen that the more often we make time to eat together, the better our family relationships become. We have learned to work together to get the food on the table; the boys open up about their day and their thoughts more easily, and even their manners have improved. And I love the laughter that comes from full stomachs and the sense of security a family dinner can give. The sharing, laughing, relating to one another that naturally will come…it’s priceless.

It’s not easy to get dinner on the table; I struggle with it just like you do. But I’m convinced more than ever that it’s one of the best things we can do to guard the hearts and minds of our children.

Easy Weeknight Three-Cheese Broccoli Soup
Serves 4

6 Tbs unsalted butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground white pepper
Dash ground thyme
1 (13 3/4 oz) can chicken broth
1 cup low-fat milk
3 cups bite-size broccoli florets
1 cup whipping cream
1/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/8 tsp hot pepper sauce
1 cup shredded white cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded Havarti or Gruyère cheese
1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese

Melt butter in 3-quart saucepan over low heat. Blend in flour and seasonings. Gradually add broth and milk; cook, stirring constantly, until thickened. Stir in broccoli; simmer 10 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in cream, Worcestershire sauce and hot pepper sauce. Add cheeses; stir until melted.

Nutritional Information: Calories: 560, Total Fat: 45 g, Sodium: 723 mg, Carbohydrates: 19 g, Protein: 22 g

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