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September is Family Meals Month


September is family meals month! Eating as a family has so many benefits. Here are a few:

- Promotes family connection and forms stronger bonds.

- A time to nourish your family.

- Neutralizes eating times and patterns.

- Promotes a sense of well being.

- Promotes good nutrition habits.

- More information and research can be found on the Family Meals Movement.

Tips for Improving Engagement:

- Refrain from talking about “good” vs “bad” foods.

- Allow the family to join in on the food preparation, to style their dish in a creative way, or add the toppings they prefer (ex: taco toppings, pizza toppings, salad toppings)

- For those who are still learning to like certain foods and flavors, allow them to choose at least one meal a week for the family.

- Ellyn Satter has great information about children and eating at mealtimes as well. 

My Favorite Family Meal!

I have family located all across the country. One thing I can count on to bring us all together is my family’s delicious cooking and love of food. Each family in each state we visit has their own staple meals. Food and its engagement are so diverse! When I visit my parents in Northwest Arkansas, our staple meal is to prepare homemade wood-fired pizzas. Each family member makes their own personalized pizza, sharing it with all family members. This meal is so fun because we are able to try a slice from each person’s pizza. The variety of flavors and combinations created are do diverse.

The preparation of our pizzas is also a part of this experience. We each stand around the island in the kitchen grabbing all of the toppings we want for our pizza. There are plenty of comments made about who is going to win the best pizza, who will have the spiciest pizza or maybe even the most traditional pizza! This is a meal that can be created into a fun competition or if you are wanting to refrain from competitive tension, you can view it as a “pizza tasting event”. Enjoying wood-fired pizzas at my parent’s house is such a heartwarming experience. Lots of laughter, love, great food, and the presence of my family are shared at our meals. Memories I will cherish forever!

Meredith's Homemade Pizza



    1. Preheat the wood-fired oven to 700˚F or preheat your kitchen oven to its highest temperature. If you are using a premade crust refer to the package instructions for the heat and duration the pizza will cook.

    2. If you choose to use the oven for your homemade pizza dough, preheat the pizza stone in the oven.

    3. Once you have your pizza crust ready, brush a thin layer of olive oil around the edge of the crust then lightly salt and dust oregano. Tip: If you do not have a pizza paddle/peel to help you transfer the made pizza to the stone or oven I recommend prepping the pizza on the stone or pizza pan.

    4. Add your desired amount of cheese and peppers, but keep the amount of toppings light or it could hinder the crust cooking.

    5. Make small dollops of tomato sauce and/or maple bacon jam. It’s important to do a little here and there so the crust is able to cook properly. This is more important when using the thin crust homemade dough and might not affect the premade crust as much.

    6. Toss the pizza in to cook! If you are using a wood-fired oven, this will take no time at all so make sure you watch it cook closely. If you are new to a wood-fired oven here is a video on how to cook a pizza in the oven. If you are preparing the pizza in the oven with the homemade dough, slide the pizza onto the pizza stone and place it into the oven. The timing will vary here depending on your selected temperature. A good indicator that the pizza is done will be a light brown crust. The internal temperature of the pizza should reach 165˚F. Tip: semolina between the pan and crust will help prevent sticking and allows the pizza to slide off the stone easily. If you are using a premade crust refer to its specific instructions.

    7. Once the pizza is complete in the oven, take the pizza out and add on the tomato slices, prosciutto, and arugula. The heat from the pizza will warm these toppings and allow the ingredients to meld.

    8. Cut the pizza and dig in! If you would like more spice to your pizza try a small amount of the spicy chili pizza oil on top or on the side. Warning: it is very spicy but so delicious!

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