By: Jacqueline Gomes, RDN, MBA
Mealtime is a wonderful opportunity to strengthen family ties and pass on cultural traditions! A Harvard study found that eating family dinners together most or all days of the week was associated with eating more healthfully! Families generally consumed higher amounts of important nutrients such as calcium, fiber, iron, vitamins B6, B12, C and E, and consumed less overall fat, compared to families who “never” or “only sometimes” eat meals together. Encourage your kids to help prep meals, set the table and help with the dishes.
Small children can do the following:
- Snap the green beans, snap peas, or break the florets from broccoli and cauliflower.
- Sprinkle herbs or other seasoning onto vegetables
- Wash fruits and veggies
- Tear lettuce leaves for salads and sandwiches
- Mash the potatoes!
- Toss ingredients into the crockpot
Weekday Crockpot Meals
Focus on making time for family meals with the help of crockpot recipes, which can speed up meal prep so you have more time to talk about the events of the day!
Family meals don’t have to be complicated, slow cookers usually allow for one-step preparation. By placing all of your ingredients into one pot, you’ll save time on cooking different foods in multiple steps!
No matter how simple or complex the meal, the important thing is to enjoy each other’s company and listen to each member of your family over a delicious meal.
I love warm, hearty dishes in the fall and winter months. This dish is simple enough for a weeknight dinner and kid friendly too!
Crockpot Chicken, fennel & white beans soup
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (~1 3/4 pounds)
- 8 Cups low-sodium chicken borth
- 4 carrots, chopped
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 1 large fennel bulb, chopped plus 2 tablespoons chopped fennel fronds
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 cup dried white beans such as cannellini
- 2 dried bay leaves
- Kosher salt & black pepper
- 1/2 cup ditalini, orzo, or other small pasta
Serve with Crunchy whole grain bread for dipping
- In a 4 to 6-quart slow cooker, combine the chicken, broth, carrots, celery, fennel, onion, beans, bay leaves, 1½ teaspoons salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper. Cover and cook until the beans and vegetables are tender and the chicken is cooked through, on low for 7 to 8 hours or on high for 4 to 5 hours.
- Twenty minutes before serving; transfer the chicken to a medium bowl; discard the bay leaves. If the slow cooker is on the low setting, turn it to high. Add the pasta, cover, and cook until tender, 15 to 18 minutes.
- Meanwhile, using 2 forks, shred the chicken. When the pasta is cooked, stir the chicken into the soup. Sprinkle with the fennel fronds and serve with the bread.