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Deseret Book
Baked Sweet and Sour Chicken is from "Six Sisters' Stuff: Family Recipes, Fun Crafts and So Much More!"
Statistics of studies also show that kids that eat dinner with their family and sit down and enjoy meals together are usually healthier, happier and just overall they stay out of trouble. —Camille Beckstrand

Many today say that family mealtime makes stronger families and individuals, but six sisters share benefits of mealtime that they have lived, and they don’t stop there; they are challenging families to experience the benefits for themselves.

Camille, Kristen, Elyse, Stephanie, Lauren and Kendra are the faces of the popular food and craft blog, “Six Sisters’ Stuff.” These sisters just launched their first cookbook and along with it, their 4x4 Dinner Challenge to help families eat together.

Their challenge encourages families to eat dinner together four times a week for four weeks (4x4—get it?). The goal is to help people establish family mealtime as a habit and priority.

“I think the statistics say that one in five families has family dinner and that’s it,” said Camille Beckstrand, the oldest of the sisters.

“But statistics of studies also show that kids that eat dinner with their family and sit down and enjoy meals together are usually healthier, happier and just overall they stay out of trouble,” she said.

In the first week in April, Six Sisters is also going to have a “dinner around the world” to try to get a family dinner in basically every part of the world on the same day.

Beckstrand also said another benefit of eating together as a family is that it opens up communication and gets families talking, which these sisters experienced firsthand growing up.

“My dad was always busy with church callings and work, and we were all involved in so many different things that it was one of the only times that we were all together in one place at the same time,” said Elyse Ellis, the third oldest in the family. “It was kind of how we knew what was going on in each other’s lives and were able to talk about the things we were involved in, and it definitely brought us closer.”

For these sisters, the kitchen still brings them together when they visit their parents.

“We’ll go straight to the kitchen and just talk and eat, and it’s kind of the most popular place in the house,” Ellis said. “It’s kind of where we always would hang out together, and it’s where we go back to now.”

Another benefit of family dinners are the memories and traditions they create. Kristen Shills, second oldest in the family, said her family often had the same things on certain days of the week.

“Fridays was always pizza,” she said. “My mom made a Jell-O every single Sunday — without a doubt there was Jell-O at the table, and we always had a dessert every Monday night.”

A large portion of the recipes in “Six Sisters’ Stuff” are recipes these sisters grew up on. Naturally, many of the recipes in the cookbook spark memories of family mealtime. One memory in specific is tied to the dinner rolls, which were a staple for their Sunday dinners.

One might expect a family of six girls and no boys to be full of dancers, but not in these sisters’ house; Beckstrand said she and her sisters were really into sports growing up. It’s possible this may have influenced mealtime a little.

“Instead of passing the rolls around the table on Sundays, we would throw them,” she said. “You had to catch your roll if you wanted to eat it. Even if it fell on the ground, we would still eat it.”

Shills has memories of making her mom’s strawberry freezer jam, which is also included in the cookbook.

“We would take all day long and cut all the strawberries, wash all the strawberries, and then smoosh them all,” Shills said. “It was kind of a family process that it would take to make tons and tons of jam one day a year. It was fun. Imagine six little girls trying to help in the kitchen — it was definitely an adventure.”

Shills and Beckstrand both said they remember their mom often making the marshmallow brownies in the cookbook to deliver to other families.

“We would always try and sneak them before she delivered them out to people,” Beckstrand said. “They’re still my favorite to this day.”

In addition to recipes, the “Six Sisters’ Stuff” cookbook offer pages of craft ideas, family activities, healthy snack ideas and more.

“Six Sisters’ Stuff: Family Recipes, Fun Crafts, and So Much More!” is available at Deseret Book, Costco and Amazon.com.

Those interested in the 4x4 Dinner Challenge can register at www.SixSistersStuff.com to receive recipe ideas, tips and more to help with the challenge.

Kaylene Morrill Wheeler is a freelance writer. Email: kmorril07@gmail.com