MM Exclusive: Laurie David Shares Her Secret to Ideal Family Meals

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ModernMom was honored to interview Laurie David, the author of “The Family Dinner” (see link below), producer of the Academy Award–winning film An Inconvenient Truth, and a regular blogger on the Huffington Post.
Laurie’s been featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Martha Stewart Show, Good Morning America, The Today Show, CNN, and MSNBC and was named a 2006 Glamour Woman of the Year. Among her many accomplishments, she’s a pro when it comes to nutritious and delicious family eating. We picked her brain and here’s some of her wise advice. Enjoy!

What is your favorite meal to cook?

I love any meal where the entire thing is cooked in one pot! Give me a stew, a casserole, soup, with a little side salad and I’m happy! Also, I’m crazy for leftovers, so the big pot concept works well for that too.

How can I get my kids to eat healthier?

My philosophy is that you don’t cook for your kids, you cook for your family. And if you cook healthy, fresh, in season food your family will learn to love that. Enjoy the food yourself and your kids will follow. Try some of the recipes in this book – like “Oven Grains, Greens and Cheese, Please” (page 108) – you’ll be surprised how quickly your children will gobble down “healthy” food! One more tip: more home cooked meals, less takeout or restaurant food. Restaurant food is almost always higher in salt, fat and sugar. And when you are in a restaurant, resist ordering off of a children’s menu. Those meals are often anything but healthy.

Why are family mealtime rituals important?

Mealtime rituals provide a safe, secure place for the whole family to stop what they are doing, come in from their individual activities and purposely be a family. It’s everyone’s opportunity to check in with other, laugh, talk and connect. Dinner should be nutritious for the mind as well as the body.

What is the best mealtime conversation starter?

Well, my favorite is the pet peeve game which we play often. Maybe because we have so many pet peeves! Go around the table and have everyone name and explain their pet peeve. This is a great ice breaker for when guests are over too.

What dessert keeps your kids at the table?

Here’s a great benefit of 10 years worth of family dinners. Dessert can be just a cup of tea and cut fruit. That’s what we have most nights and my kids love it. When we do have a sugary dessert, our chocolate chip cookie recipe (page 217) is hard to beat. Tip: when you make the cookie dough, make extra, freeze it in a roll with wax or parchment paper and store in your freezer. That way, homemade cookies are always just 10 minutes away and your house smells delicious!

How do I get my kids to help get dinner on the table and clean up after the meal?

When I was growing up, it wasn’t a choice. You had your job and it was part of the gratitude for dinner that you contributed in some way. Try rotating assignments and also involve them in the fun jobs like cooking.

Check out “The Family Dinner”

You’ll love Laurie’s new book (see link below).

Get The Family Dinner Book

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