August is Family Meals Month, a time to take a break from busy schedules and come together as a family to share a meal. Eating together four or more times in a week has proven benefits, including nutritional health.
Family meals are an opportunity for conversation which teaches children how to listen and provides them a chance to express their own opinions, giving them a voice in the family. Positive dinner conversations and active listening expands children’s vocabulary and reading ability and increases their sense of security. Family meals have a positive impact on children’s values, motivation and self-esteem. Eating frequent meals together also encourages positive nutritional health. Planning, preparing and cooking healthy meals together teaches children the skills they need to carry on these healthy eating habits throughout adulthood. Studies have shown that families who eat dinner together tend to eat more fruits and vegetables and healthy protein sources and fewer fried foods and soda.
August is also a very popular month for kids to go to summer camp. Campers are often exposed to new foods that are also wholesome and nourishing. This month, MANNA’s Registered Dietitian, Alura Costa, will be teaching an interactive nutrition workshop at Camp Dreamcatcher. Alura will talk with campers about healthy eating and demonstrate ways for the kids to prepare the foods at home. Look for more information and photos from this day on the MANNA blog and website. Learn more about this camp for children whose lives have been touched by HIV/AIDS at www.campdreamcatcher.org.
Light up the grill – summer is officially here! During these months of grilling fun, MANNA wants to help keep your family and friends safe from foodborne illnesses with these simple food safety practices. Remember! Food safety is a TOP priority at MANNA because many of our clients have compromised immune systems.
- Practice good hygiene and wash your hands before eating, preparing food, or between foods that would cross contaminate such as red meat and fresh vegetables. Always wash hands with warm soapy water for at least 20 seconds.
- Marinate your food in the refrigerator to prevent bacteria from growing. Always reserve a portion of unused marinade to brush on food while it is cooking. Never re-use marinade that was used to flavor raw meat, poultry or fish.
- Preheat your grill approximately 20-30 minutes before grilling. For charcoal grills, the coals should be just coated with ash.
- Use a food thermometer to ensure that food is cooked to the proper temperatures.
- Food should never sit at room temperature for more than two hours. Use chafing dishes, slow cookers, and warming trays to keep hot food hot. Keep cold foods cold by nesting them in bowls of ice or rotating items into the refrigerator/freezer.
Grilled Vegetable Kebabs
- 10 (12-inch) wooden skewers
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 chopped fresh basil
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 red onion cut into 1-1/2 inch pieces
- 1 yellow bell pepper cut into 1 ½-inch pieces
- 1 pound Chinese or baby eggplant cut into ¾-inch slices
- 3 small zucchini, cut into ¾-inch slices
- 20 grape or cherry tomatoes
-Soak the skewers in water for 30 minutes.
-Whisk together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, basil, garlic, kosher salt, and black pepper.
-Thread vegetables onto skewers.
-Brush vegetables generously with marinade.
-Grill, covered with lid over medium-high heat. Turn occasionally. Cook 10-12 minutes or until tender.
When Valarie Maddox was diagnosed with breast cancer last year, her two young daughters needed MANNA’s support as well. Valarie avowed, “The meals are great because I am a single mother and I live with my two daughters. To see the strain on my daughters and their worry because I was always the cook in my house, the MANNA meals helped to take the pressure off of them knowing I was taken care of.”
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide and the incidence continues to rise steadily with over 1 million new cases and almost half a million deaths annually. Currently the direct cause of breast cancer is not known; education, awareness and early detection remain as the key components to combating this disease. October marks National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, when people across the world increase awareness of the disease and fundraise to support research in search of a cure.
In 2007 MANNA partnered with the Susan G. Komen Philadelphia organization to provide medically-appropriate meals to hundreds of women and families battling breast cancer. This partnership ensured access to nutritious meals early in their treatment, increasing their chances of survival. Since 2007, MANNA has nourished back to health over 500 individuals diagnosed with breast cancer.
“MANNA has helped me so much with their meal program. When I was too tired to cook I was able to heat up a meal which helped me a lot. I felt like if I didn’t have MANNA, my nutrition would not have been as good,” MANNA client Chanel Royster noted.
Charlene Callicut, a current MANNA client agreed, “MANNA has provided me a lot of support since day one. It really helped me with my eating and providing me with nutritious food. The type of food that they are sending me is good food, and it tastes good too.”
For more information on ways that you can become involved with National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, go to www.komenphiladelphia.org.