Eating dinner together every night is an important routine for families to maintain, but gathering the family at the same place and same time every night is easier said than done. It can also be a challenge to find fresh, new and healthy recipes that everyone enjoys. Julie Hartigan, professional chef at Cooking w/ Julie and working mom of two teenage daughters, is an expert – and we wanted to find out her secret. Luckily, Julie had the perfect recipe for gathering busy families at dinner: a colorful Chopped Greek Salad Platter.

“Come to the kitchen, it’s time for dinner!”

It’s a moment we look forward to every day – when we have time, that is. A moment where we can tell each other about our day: the work we did, the lessons we learned and all the other funny moments in between.

Everyone’s schedules have become busier and it’s easier than ever to enjoy super healthy and extra tasty Snacking Veggies throughout the day, but sharing precious time together at dinner is vital for healthy families.

Dinnertime conversation has been linked to improved vocabulary for young kids and high academic achievement scores for older kids. The mental health benefits are also significant: kids who eat dinner with their parents are less stressed and have a more positive mood overall.

Family sitting at dinner together

For parents, dedicating 30 minutes to an hour a day to listen to their kids’ personal struggles, answer their questions and recognize their day’s accomplishments can reap untold rewards. Plus, everyone benefits from eating more essential vitamins and nutrients that come with homemade recipes filled with fresh vegetables.

But it’s hard. Really hard. There’s only so much time in the day and picky eaters drive a hard bargain.

One way to help make family dinners more of a routine in your home is to start by transforming your idea of what a “traditional” family meal looks like. Instead of plating each dish separately for every member of the family, try filling one large platter with a ton of ingredients and dig in. It’s all about Growing Healthy Families®!

Pure Flavor Aurora Bites Bag
Pure Flavor Mini Cucumbers Bag

Julie Hartigan, from Cooking w/ Julie, does exactly this when she makes her Chopped Greek Salad Platter recipe for her family. It’s filled with super sweet Pure Flavor® Aurora Bites Mini Sweet Peppers and crunchy Mini Cucumbers – not to mention savory grilled chicken and crumbled Feta cheese! Keep reading for Julie’s full recipe.

The principle behind the platter is simple: kids like being able to make their own choices, so give them lots of healthy options to choose from! With a large, shareable spread, everyone can fill their own plate with the amount they want and they ingredients they love.

Not only will you find this easier to prepare, but you’ll notice the mood of the entire dinner experience shifts with a fresh emphasis on sharing. Try it yourself and you might find that your kids – yes, even teenagers – open up and are ready to share more about their day while they devour your delicious meal.

The challenge now is: what do I include in my ‘platter’ that will make dinner healthy and irresistible?

Kids don’t really “see” meals in terms of nutrients, vitamins and other health benefits the way that we do. They “see” in shapes, colors and flavors.

Kid playing in colorful tent with tomato

The dinner plate is a blank canvas kids can paint using a palette of fresh veggies. It’s no coincidence that some of the healthiest foods are naturally vibrant: antioxidant color pigments like beta-carotene and lycopene that make Pure Flavor® Aurora Bites and Sangria Medley Tomatoes so colorful are part of why they’re so good for you!

So, design your platter with all the colors of the rainbow kids enjoy! They’re more likely to eat and enjoy healthy homemade meals when they “Eat the Rainbow.”

When it comes time to prepare your big platter, fill it with the most colorful, fresh vegetables you can find. Pure Flavor® ­Snacking Tomatoes, Peppers and Cucumbers come in a variety of bright and vibrant colors kids love.

There is no better example of this kind of easy, colorful, healthy and supremely shareable meal than our friend Cooking w/ Julie’s Chopped Greek Salad Platter.

This recipe has it all: fresh veggies, grilled chicken, and a simple homemade vinaigrette – all served on a shareable platter.

Full Chopped Greek Salad Platter

But don’t just take our word for it, let’s make it together so you can see (and taste!) for yourself.

Fire up the grill and season your chicken tenderloins with a mix of garlic powder, salt and pepper.

While the chicken is cooking – it only takes about 5 minutes – whisk together the vinaigrette: minced shallots, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, dill, salt and pepper, and olive oil. Then, toss together some cooked quinoa and chickpeas.

Now, all you have to do is chop up all the colors of the rainbow: Pure Flavor®­­ Aurora Bites Mini Sweet Peppers, Mini Cucumbers and Sangria Medley Tomatoes, plus some red onion with Feta cheese.

Arrange it all onto a humongous platter, call everyone to the table and get ready for a feeding frenzy!

In only twenty minutes, you have a full family feast that brings everyone together for fun, engaging conversation. It’s all about Fueling Healthy Lives®!

To view, download or print the full recipe for dinner tonight, click here.

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