Eating Healthy: Learn to Savor the Experience

Eating Healthy: Slow Down and Savor Family Dinners for a Healthier Year at CHEFScatalog.com
January 10, 2014

Busy family in the kitchen at CHEFScatalog.com Are you busy, super busy, or crazy busy?

Too often, that’s the measuring stick we use when someone asks, “How are you?” We all try to squeeze more in—become more efficient—so we strive to get places faster and complete tasks quicker so we can do more.

We’ve turned being busy into a virtue.

Sadly, that often means proper meals are sacrificed, rushed, eaten standing up or on-the-go. But, did you know that if you actually sit down to savor your meal you’ll improve your diet?

It’s true! Simply by sitting down and enjoying the dish that you or a loved one just made—and keeping an eye on portion size—you will eat healthier.

How does that work?

Stakmore Mission Style Expandaway Table at CHEFScatalog.com Slowing down to enjoy your meal helps your natural metabolism work properly. When you’re in a rush to eat, your brain doesn’t have the time to tell your stomach it's full, so you’re more prone to make unhealthy food choices—like eating more than you should. It takes at least 20 minutes after a meal for your brain to realize your stomach is full.

So, sit down at the dinner table with your family and focus on your meal. Eat slower—savor all of the flavors and seasonings in your meal. Engage in conversation with your loved ones. And give your brain time to engage.

The benefits of family dinners

If you’re lucky enough to be around family, consider making dinner together a regular occurrence. With busy and conflicting schedules, it can be tough to find the time, but the benefits that come from it are invaluable.

The dinner table is a perfect place for everyone to share the events of the day—their victories and their challenges. (For more on this, visit The Family Dinner Project, “a grassroots movement of food, fun, and conversation about things that matter.” According to the site, recent studies link regular family meals with higher grade-point averages and increased resilience and self-esteem in children as well as lower rates of substance abuse, teen pregnancy, eating disorders, and depression.

Encourage healthy eating

Parents can also demonstrate healthy eating habits to their children at the dinner table. They can show appropriate portion sizes and the importance of eating foods that are both delicious and healthy. With strong examples, children are more likely to make healthier diet choices later in life.

In fact, according to Health magazine, kids who enjoyed a sit-down dinner with their family tended to eat more produce and fewer calorie-packed foods like soda and fried items. Plus, you can better control your children’s portions and teach them what a normal serving size typically looks like. (For those who like visual comparisons, see WebMDs Portion Size images.)

Other benefits

  • Family eating dinner around the table at home CHEFScatalog.com Teens who frequently eat dinner with their families are less likely to smoke, drink, and use drugs, according to Health magazine because conversation at the dinner table can help steer them in a positive direction.
  • No matter how old you are, stress is common. Sitting down to dinner with your loved ones helps relieve stress. When everything slows down and you can just enjoy a simple meal with the people that you care about, that’s a good thing.
  • When you eat dinner at home, you’re not spending money at restaurants. That tasty and healthy meal you make at home costs much less than restaurant food. If you have a big family, buy in bulk and save even more.

Tips for family meals

  1. Schedule them: To help ensure that family meals happen, schedule them on everyone’s calendar. Make Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays family dinner days--or another schedule, if that works better for your family.
  2. Think creatively: Our “crazy busy” schedules can make it difficult to find a time that works for everyone. Consider planning family dinners for earlier—or later—than you normally eat. If all else fails and dinner just won’t work, try gathering everyone for dessert instead.
  3. Le Creuset Dinnerware Set at CHEFScatalog.com Quality is as important as quantity: While getting together with family and enjoying a meal is beneficial, eating foods that are high in fat and calories is not. What’s on your plate is just as important as who you’re enjoying the meal with. Look for healthy recipes everyone will love, and make cooking a family affair. Little ones can help wash off fruits and vegetables, and everyone can work together to create a meal that is both delicious and healthy. To avoid negative feelings about dinner, don’t foist off cleanup on any one person. Make this a group effort, too.
  4. Turn off the TV/computer/phone: When dinner is ready, turn off the TV, computer, and any other electronic devices. Eating in front of a screen not only discourages conversation, it promotes mindless eating. You’ll ingest more calories than you realize because you’re focused on the device.
  5. Smaller plates: Even if you have a healthy meal, it can be made unhealthy with the wrong portions. It’s easy to take much more rice, potatoes, pasta, or meat than you actually need. We all like to fill our plates, it’s psychological, but part of the problem is today’s plates are much larger than they used to be. So, to eat less, use smaller plates. Your plate will be “full” and you’ll be eating proper portion sizes.


Here are some recipes you can try for Family Dinner Night.

Print Sunday Pot Roast Dinner recipe at CHEFScatalog.comSunday Pot Roast Dinner

Print Sunday Pot Roast Dinner recipe at CHEFScatalog.com Ingredients

One 4 pound boneless beef bottom round roast

2 to 3 cloves garlic, cut into slivers

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

3 slices bacon, chopped

2 medium onions, cut into thin wedges

1 rib celery, cut into 1/2-inch slices

2 pounds red potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces

1/2 pound carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces

1/2 pound parsnips*, peeled, halved lengthwise, and cut into 1-inch pieces

1 teaspoon dried marjoram

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

One 10 1/4 ounce can condensed tomato soup

1/2 cup + 1/3 cup condensed beef consommé, divided

1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Cooking Instructions

KitchenAid 6-Quart Slow Cooker at CHEFScatalog.com Pat roast dry with paper towels. Cut deep slits in surface of roast; insert garlic. Lightly salt and pepper meat. Set aside.

In large skillet, cook bacon until crisp; remove with slotted spoon and set aside. Add roast to drippings; cook 5 to 8 minutes, turning occasionally, until brown. Remove from heat.

Place onions and celery in slow cooker ceramic pot. Place roast on vegetables; pour drippings over roast. Add bacon, potatoes, carrots and parsnips. Sprinkle with marjoram and thyme.

In medium bowl, combine tomato soup, 1/2 cup consommé, mustard and vinegar. Pour over mixture in Slow Cooker. Cover and cook at LOW 8 to 10 hours, or until roast and vegetables are tender.

Remove roast to cutting board. With slotted spoon, remove vegetables to serving bowl. Cover both to keep warm. In small bowl, mix flour and remaining 1/3 cup consommé. Stir into liquid in Slow Cooker. Cover and cook at HIGH about 10 minutes, or until thickened. Slice roast. Serve roast and vegetables with gravy. 10 to 12 servings

Courtesy of KitchenAid

*If desired, substitute an additional 1/2 pound carrots for the parsnips.

Print The World's Greatest Meatloaf recipe at CHEFScatalog.comThe World's Greatest Meatloaf

Traditional meatloaf with beef, pork, and veal spiced up with Worcestershire!

Print The World's Greatest Meatloaf recipe at CHEFScatalog.com Ingredients

1/2 cup breadcrumbs

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup chopped mixed herbs, such as parsley, basil, oregano and thyme

2 eggs

3 tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

2 teaspoons Kosher salt

1 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste

1 pound ground beef

8 ounces ground pork

8 ounces ground veal

1/4 cup ketchup

Cooking Instructions

Preheat oven to 375 F.

CHEFS Nonstick Loaf Pan at CHEFScatalog.com In a medium bowl, stir together the breadcrumbs and milk. Set aside.

In a large bowl, stir together the herbs, eggs, mustard, Worcestershire, salt, paprika, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and the breadcrumb/milk mixture. Add the ground beef, pork and veal and gently combine all the ingredients, taking care to not overwork the meat.

Transfer the mixture to a meatloaf or loaf pan. Spread the ketchup over the top of the meatloaf. Bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the meat loaf registers 160 F, about 60 to 70 minutes.

Makes 4 to 6 servings


Print Smoked Tomato Lasagna recipe at CHEFScatalog.comSmoked Tomato Lasagna

Hearty sausage lasagna infused with a rustic, smoky tomato flavor.

Print Smoked Tomato Lasagna recipe at CHEFScatalog.com Ingredients

2 pounds plum tomatoes, cored and cut in half lengthwise

One 14-ounce can tomato purée or sauce

1 cup béchamel sauce

salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 pounds cremini mushrooms, stems removed, sliced 1/4-inch thick

2 pounds ricotta cheese

1/2 cup chopped fresh basil

2 eggs, lightly beaten

2 pounds Italian sausage, cut into 1/4-inch thick slices

10 to 12 ounces no-boil lasagna noodles

8 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded

Cooking Instructions

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Lightly butter an 11-inch by 15-inch lasagna pan.

Stove Top Smoker at CHEFScatalog.com Using a stove-top smoker and following the manufacturer's instructions, smoke the tomatoes, cut side up and lightly salted, for 20 minutes. Let cool, and peel the skins from the tomatoes. Place the skinned tomatoes in a large bowl and, using an immersion blender, purée the tomatoes. Stir in the canned tomato purée and béchamel and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Warm the butter and oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the mushrooms, salt generously, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the moisture has evaporated and the mushrooms have lightly browned, about 20 minutes. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, basil and eggs. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Spread 1 1/2 cups of the smoked tomato sauce mixture in the bottom of the pan. Layer 1/3 of the noodles, 1 1/2 cups sauce, 1/2 the mushrooms, 1/2 the sausage, 1/2 the ricotta mixture. Repeat the layering, ending with the remaining sauce. Sprinkle the top with the shredded mozzarella.

Cover tightly with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking until the cheese is golden brown and bubbling, about 30 minutes more. It may be necessary to increase the oven temperature to 450 F to brown the cheese.

Let stand for 10 to 15 minutes before serving. Serves 12 to 16.

Print Deviled Chicken with Roasted Vegetables recipe at CHEFScatalog.comDeviled Chicken with Roasted Vegetables

Print Deviled Chicken with Roasted Vegetables recipe at CHEFScatalog.com Ingredients

1 whole chicken

1 head fennel

2 zucchinis

3 carrots

2 stalks celery

1/2 teaspoon oregano

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

Your Turn: Family Dinners at CHEFScatalog.com Cooking Instructions

Start by cutting up a whole chicken. Cut the breast pieces in half with a heavy, sharp chef’s knife.

Brush mustard on the skin side of each piece. Place the pieces in a plastic bag and refrigerate for at least one hour but up to 24 hours.

Clean and slice a head of fennel and remove the core and continue slicing the bulb. Slice zucchinis, carrots and celery. Place all the cut vegetables into a baking pan and toss with oregano, salt and pepper.

Remove the chicken from the plastic bag and place over the vegetables and season the meat with salt and pepper.

Bake in a preheated oven at 375 F for about 1 hour or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 170 degrees.

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Tags: Eating Healthy, Dinner

Categories: Tips & Advice