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Oregon Family Magazine

Make the Most of Mealtimes

10/07/2010 07:58 ● By Anonymous
Studies show that when kids eat dinner with their families, they're more likely to have nutritious diets, healthier weights and do better in school. And moms know that sharing a meal together is an important part of building strong families.

In fact, according to an online survey of 1000 moms by the National Milk Mustache "got milk?(r)" campaign, the majority of moms: * recognize that dinner is an important time to connect as a family (88 percent). * value it as an opportunity to teach kids about good nutrition (77 percent).

But there's something missing. While 69 percent of moms say they get their whole family together around the table five or more times a week, not all of them are making the most of this nutritional opportunity - less than 36 percent of them are serving milk with dinner. In recent years, soft drinks and sugary fruit drinks have been edging out milk at mealtime.

That's why celebrity chef and father of three Tyler Florence is teaming up with the national Milk Mustache "got milk?" campaign to help families make the most of the time they do spend together at dinner. "Families are getting back together for dinner, but we must make the dinners we have together meaningful - both emotionally and nutritionally," said Florence.

"I'm a big believer in having milk at dinnertime," he said. "Milk is naturally nutrient-rich. It's got nine essential nutrients important for the whole family, like calcium and vitamin D for strong bones and protein for lean muscle. I'm always confident I'm doing the best by my kids when I set the table with milk."

He also believes that having a simple and delicious meal is important. To help inspire mealtime, Florence has shared some delicious family dinner recipes at whymilk.com, and offers these additional tips for building strong families:

* Teach - Cooking nutritious meals together is a great way to connect as a family and teach important lessons about nutrition.

* Role Model -Setting a healthy example is key - and with milk, it's easy. Parents can lead by example at the dinner table with a tall glass of milk to show their kids how to get the nine essential nutrients they need each day.

* Connect - Dinner time is a great opportunity to get beyond quick conversations and take the time for a meaningful conversation with your loved ones. Want some ideas for how to spark dinner dialogue? Visit WhyMilk.com for conversation starters.

Florence also is encouraging families to tell how they "Milk the Moment" at dinner for a chance to win a dinner experience for four with the celebrity chef. Visit whymilk.com to enter and for official rules, as well as exclusive recipes and more information on the importance of serving milk at the dinner table.

You can help families in need by passing a virtual gallon of milk to friends on Facebook.com/MilkMustache. For every virtual gallon passed, $1 will go to Feeding America, up to $100,000. Feeding America is the country's largest network of food banks that serves more than 37 million people facing hunger in this country.