With all the commitments of our busy working lives, people are spending less and less time with their families, and it seems family meals are becoming more of a luxury. This is why we should cherish every moment when family members get to sit down and enjoy a meal together.
If you are looking for some great dishes for your next family get-together, check out the following suggestions:
A barbecue is always a good choice for family get-togethers due to the wide range of food options and because everyone can help to prepare it together. Moms and daughters can help marinate the meat while dads and sons can do the actual cooking. Barbecues are the perfect way to prepare meat because it becomes ultra-tender and sweet from the marinades and spices, making it simply irresistible. BBQs are great for both summer and winter, and it is the perfect opportunity for family members or friends to sit down, talk, and have a good time together.
To plan for a BBQ, you should prepare some of the following dishes:
- Vegetables: usually 3 or 4 vegetables of choice. You can pick anything!
- Grilled ribs: A bit of spice and herbs and good control of fire will go a long way in making the ribs filled with delicious juices.
- Grilled chicken: You can never go wrong with chicken on a barbecue because it can go with literally anything.
- Bacon skewers with vegetables: the combination of red meat and green vegetables, along with some garlic, is always a winner.
- Seafood: apart from chicken, pork or beef, seafood like oysters, shrimps, crabs are always a great addition to spice up any BBQ.
- Desserts: some fresh fruits and ice cream are the perfect way to finish a family BBQ.
Hamburgers are great not only because they are delicious, but also because they are so easy to cook. They are a perfect family meal as they don't take much time to prepare and kids love them. All the ingredients you need are ground beef, pepper, salt, hamburger buns, cabbage, tomato, and cheese. Making a hamburger is so straightforward; just mix the meat with pepper and salt and shape them into patties. You can cook the patties in a non-stick pan or place them in the oven. Add cheese on top of the meat right before the meat is cooked so that it melts perfectly. Remember to grill the buns to stop them from getting soggy.
It is really important to always choose quality meat and these grass fed beef patties make great burgers. Place the patties on the bottom bun, then spread the tomato sauce and mayonnaise, and add the vegetables and tomatoes. Pop the top bun on top of all that and voila! you are ready to go! Remember home-cooked burgers are not only more delicious than those from fast-food restaurants, but they are also healthier due to lower amounts of salt and saturated fats. Hamburgers often get a bad reputation for being unhealthy but as long as you prepare them with fresh, healthy ingredients, this isn't the case.
Preparing a buffet may sound like a complicated task but in fact, organizing a buffet at home for a holiday or a family event is easy. Here are some tips for a simple buffet for your family reunion.
- For the appetizer, always include salad. You can prepare a vinaigrette salad, purple cabbage salad, Caesar salad, or just a simple green salad. It's always a good idea to prepare soup if you are hosting a buffet during the winter. Seafood soup, mushroom soup, or chicken soup are all family favorites.
- For the main dishes, you can make curry chicken, stewed beef in wine sauce, steamed squid with ginger, grilled shrimp, grilled duck or fried chicken wings, seafood noodles, spaghetti, or any other dish which is easy to prepare in bulk ahead of time.
- Last but not least, when it comes to dessert, you can go with ready-made options to save time like fresh fruit, yogurt, ice cream, or profiteroles.
If you want to make your buffet even healthier, prepare simple drinks such as orange juice, or flavored water, but don't forget to include some wine for the adults.
Organizing a family get-together at home is not only cost-effective but is also more special than just taking your family out to a restaurant. Family meals create a comfortable atmosphere and strengthen the bonds between family members. They are an opportunity to share everything that is going on in your life with the people you love, show them that you care, and there is no better way to do it than making some great food so everyone can enjoy it together.
5 min read
When we envision a person who is suffering from substance use disorder (SUD)—defined by having a history of past misuse, experiencing increasing mental health symptoms, or having a family history of addiction—we often picture someone waking up and instantly grabbing their first drink. However, in my experience working with those battling SUD for nearly a decade, I've learned that everyone's relationship with alcohol looks different and having a few too many drinks at night can be just as dangerous.
The time of day, amount, or type of alcohol one drinks doesn't define if they suffer from SUD or not—it's the compulsion to drink. By focusing on healthy stress relievers and implementing them into your daily routine, you aren't just avoiding another glass at night, you are curbing any inclination for SUD that you may have.
While you may feel the desire to reach for another drink after dinner and putting the kids to bed to relieve some of the stress you incurred that day, there are other things that you can do that are much more beneficial to your mental health and wellbeing.
Risks of Reaching for Another Drink
Reaching for another cocktail or glass of wine can feel like a great way to relieve the stress of the day at the time, but over time it can actually lead to the opposite. Excessive drinking is known to lead to increased anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders such as increased risk of family problems, altered judgment, and worsened sleep quality. These can all lead to increased stress and create a continuous cycle I have seen in many of my patients, which often prove difficult to break.
Increased alcohol consumption can directly impact an individual's mood and temperament, too. In my patients, I've seen a connection between increased alcohol consumption and irritability, fatigue, and loss of interest in activities that previously brought that person joy—activities that people should always put time into, especially right now during the pandemic.
While drinking in moderation doesn't have serious implications for some, others are already at increased risk for SUD. One drink per day is considered moderate for women, while eight drinks or more in a single week is categorized as heavy drinking. It's important to monitor your intake—whether you are at increased risk for SUD or not. It is all too easy for one glass to become another, and then another. And if you keep reaching for just one more drink, you can start to build a tolerance, as it requires more and more alcohol to achieve the desired effect. This can result in dangerous, addictive habits that will alter your life, and the lives of those who care for you.
Three Healthy Ways to Relieve Evening Stress
Stress relief from alcohol is short-lived, but choosing healthier, alternative stress relievers can provide long-lasting benefits for both your mental and physical wellbeing. At Wellbridge, our team not only focuses on treating addiction but also on teaching healthy habits to support ongoing sobriety. And many of these learnings can be implemented to avoid addiction by handling stress better as well!
Below are three healthy stress relief ideas you can implement into your routine:
- Mindfulness exercises can be a powerful and mentally stimulating stress reliever. Throughout our therapeutic program at Wellbridge, we provide different opportunities to cultivate mindfulness. For example, breathing exercises, such as box breathing or diaphragmatic breathing, mindful walking, and progressive muscle relaxation. If you're looking for entry, guided meditation, check out this YouTube channel where experts post mindfulness exercises each week.
- Human connection is invaluable. Whether it is your spouse, your children, a friend, or even a therapist, connecting with someone else can be a great way to relieve stress. The additional perspective that another person provides can also help us feel that the anxieties and stressors we are experiencing are more manageable. If you are feeling increased stress from loneliness or isolation, reach out and schedule a Zoom coffee hour with a friend, or call a loved one to check-in and chat.
- Physical activity is an excellent stress reliever as well, for so many reasons. Not only can it help us get our mind off of stress, it enables our bodies to release endorphins and provides long-lasting physical health benefits. Physical activity doesn't need to be a full-blown workout if you don't feel up to it, or simply don't have extended periods of time to dedicate to a longer exercise regimen. Even a short walk or some stretching can go a long way towards improving your mood. I enjoy following guided, online yoga practices for both mindfulness practice and physical activity.
Despite my years working in this space, I am no stranger to giving in to stress. However, I've learned that by allotting myself a little time each morning and evening for activities that set a positive tone in my life—like meditation, journaling, and exercise—I've been able to better manage my stress and feel more prepared for heightened periods of stress. Do I manage to set aside personal time every morning and evening? Definitely not—life happens! But by doing our best to take regular time out for ourselves, we're all certain to be in a better place emotionally and mentally.
Putting Your Mental Health & Wellbeing First
It's important to also recognize that it isn't just stress that causes us to reach for another drink at night. With the added pressures and responsibilities of women in today's world, having another glass of our favorite drink at the end of the day can often seem like a quicker and easier option than other healthier ways to relieve stress.
However, it's essential to put your mental health and wellbeing front and center in your priority list—something that many women struggle with. But just like the oxygen masks on an airplane, you can't take care of others if you don't take care of yourself first. By focusing on implementing small, healthy habits and making them a seamless part of your daily routine, you ensure that you can show up in all aspects of your life and for all the people in your life.
If you are struggling with increased stress, be specific and honest with your support system about your need to preserve your mental wellbeing. Prioritizing your needs will help you be there for other people you care about in your life.
I always refer back to a quote from a Dar Williams song—a song about therapy no less! "Oh, how I loved everybody else when I finally got to talk so much about myself." Talk about your needs with others and find time to develop healthy coping habits. And if you feel as though you've already created an unhealthy relationship with alcohol, discuss that relationship with a medical advisor to learn if advanced treatment is the right option for you.