It has been proven that family dinners greatly affect children in positive ways, leading to healthier habits in life, stronger family connections, and better grades in school. However, making dinner from scratch can take up your whole day and many working parents simply don’t have the time. So what is a busy parent-on-the-go to do?
“The most important thing is that it’s a chance for a family to spend quality time together. In today’s day and age, that is so hard to come by,” Tai Doong, Marketing Director of Uncle Ben’s, told genConnect in a recent interview. “Everybody is busy and everybody has their own schedule. The parents have a schedule, the kids have a schedule, so it can be difficult to carve out time for the whole family to be together. That’s why eating dinner together, or even preparing dinner together, is a great way for families to spend quality time together.”
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Uncle Ben’s ‘Let’s Get Kids Cooking!’ Beginners Cooking Contest has parents and children send in videos of themselves enjoying cooking together. Applicants have a chance to win $20,000 in cash, an appearance on the “Rachael Ray Show”, and best of all, a complete cafeteria makeover for their school. The contest not only gets families cooking together, but gives children an opportunity to do something benefiting their entire school and community.
“We want to try and get people involved in posting videos and voting for videos,” Tai said. “We are really trying to make a difference in schools, and change kids eating habits. Parents can vote for videos and get friends and family to vote. If any single kid wins, the whole school wins. Everybody, all the kids, all the parents, everybody wins.”
Here’s more from genConnect’s Q&A with Tai:
Q. I’m sure you have a lot of fun in the kitchen with your two sons. Do you have a favorite meal to prepare with your children?
A: Well, obviously we eat a lot of rice. We like stir-frys or anything like that. My younger son has a very sweet tooth and doesn’t like to eat vegetables as much, but because we cook together he starts to pick out vegetables himself. He says, ‘let’s stir-fry this’ or ‘let’s stir fry that.’ So he starts to eat a lot more vegetables.
Q. Do you have any other helpful tips for getting kids to eat their vegetables?
A: I honestly believe involving them in the meal preparation is a huge step. We hear about childhood obesity all the time. There are so many articles about childhood obesity. I think one great way to take a crack at that is to help educate your kids. Help empower them to make the right decisions instead of forcing it down their throat. And by spending quality time with your kids, you can educate them on the various nutritional values of different fruits and vegetables. And also, make it fun. Make it fun for them. All these colorful vegetables, when you put them together, look how colorful it looks! They have a great time cooking it and they become much more engaged, and when they eat, it tastes better. [Having kids grow their own vegetables helps them feel ownership over meals, as well.] That goes along was versus just serving them a plate.
Q. Ownership, involvement, I love that. But, for the times when a working parent has to whip up a quick and easy meal, do you have any suggestions for good things to have in your pantry? In addition to your rice, of course.
A: Yes, and when you think of rice, we really have a large variety we offer. There is the 90-second rice which is in a microwavable pouch, and you save a lot of time. And also ‘Boil in the Bag’ which you just throw the bag of rice in boiling water for a minute, and that’s it. That’s all you do. That obviously is going to help you save a lot of time. And you can compliment that with some vegetables – fresh vegetables or frozen vegetables.
Q. Any other favorite items to pair with your rice?
A: Chicken goes very well with our rice. And it is a great protein, chicken. It works very well for both adults and kids.
Reporting by genConnect’s Andi Potamkin
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