Recently, I attended a lecture at my son’s school by Dr. Anne K. Fishel the author of “Home For Dinner.” Her message is simple: coming together for dinner and mixing food, fun and conversation leads to happier families and healthier kids. While this book is far from vegan in terms of food, the overarching message is right in line with my parenting philosophy. And one really important thing that Dr. Fishel says? It doesn’t have to be dinner. It could be breakfast or lunch. It is really about spending time together, cooking together, and having real conversation which encourages talking and listening.
But then there is the pushback. And Dr. Fishel has the comebacks.
Is the family dinner is an outdated concept?
Well, if we are going to raise connected, grateful, grounded kids, we need a forum within which to discuss the news and issues of the day, issues at school, friends, family values, random trivia, and general life and fun stuff. We need to laugh together, to tell stories and to make sure that everyone has a voice and feel that they are heard.
But I can’t make dinner on a weeknight.
Dr. Fishel has lots of suggestions including prepping ahead and making food decisions as a family. Here is what I always tell people. “I didn’t know how to cook when I first started. I have strategies to help make it easy like prepping ahead, freezing stuff, making plans and shopping lists, and keeping my pantry stocked. I have recruited my son as my sous chef and I make my husband and son go food shopping with me. Food is a daily endeavor and it is important that we are all on board with what is going on in the kitchen.”
Dr. Fishel also believes in extending the family dinner concept into the community and is the founder of The Family Dinner Project. Check it out. There are dinner games like the “ABC’s of Gratitude”, “20 Things I Love About”, and more. They are all designed to make the table a fun place to be which is the best strategy for getting kids to dinner and keeping them there. Games sharpen the mind, tangle the tongue and strengthen the bonds of the whole family.
At the talk I attended, Dr. Fishel gave out a little postcard with some info about the book and a recipe for Sesame Noodles which inspired me to make a completely different version that is simple and vegan. It comes together in the time it takes to boil the noodles. I made my family guess the ingredients which is another fun conversation to have at the table.
Recipe Notes: I use King Soba brand of organic noodles because (a) they cook super fast and (2) they come three in a package, each wrapped with a cute little paper tie to denote each serving. Brilliant for individual serving sizes and they come three in a pack which is perfect for my family of three! I particularly like the organic millet and brown rice noodles. Broccoli can be subbed for any other quick cooking green vegetable like snap peas, snow peas or frozen green peas.
3 tablespoons crunchy peanut butter (room temp is easier to work with, but not tragic if it is cold)
3 tablespoons tamari
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Water, as much as necessary
Soba style noodles, 1 package = 3 servings
1 bunch broccoli
3 heaping tablespoons sesame seeds
Bring a pot of water to a boil.
Pour the sesame seeds onto a skillet in a single layer over a medium flame. Watch these as you prep and cook everything else and turn off the flame when they start to turn brown.
Break up the broccoli and place it in a steamer over a high flame. Turn off the flame when they turn bright green.
When the water is boiling, add the noodles. Watch them, they will be done very shortly.
Whisk the peanut sauce ingredients together.
Drain the noodles and place back in the pot. Add the peanut sauce and toss. The heat of the noodles will melt any remaining chunks of pb. Add the broccoli and sesame seeds, saving a few for a sprinkle over the top. Toss to coat.
Drop into a bowl and sprinkle the rest of the sesame seeds on top. Enjoy!