Oct 31, 2010

The Family Dinner by Laurie David, Kirstin Uhrenholdt

The producer of An Inconvenient Truth, Laurie David's new mission is to help America's overwhelmed families sit down to a Family Dinner, and she provides all the reasons, recipes and fun tools to do so.

Laurie David speaks from her own experience confronting the challenges of raising two teenage girls. Today's parents have lots to deal with and technology is making their job harder than ever. Research has proven that everything we worry about as parents--from drugs to alcohol, promiscuity, to obesity, academic achievement and just good old nutrition--can all be improved by the simple act of eating and talking together around the table.

Laurie has written a practical, inspirational, fun (and, of course, green) guide to the most important hour in any parent's day. Chock-full chapters include: Over seventy-five kid approved fantastic recipes; tips on teaching green values; conversation starters; games to play to help even the shyest family member become engaged; ways to express gratitude; the family dinner after divorce (hint: keep eating together) and much more. Filled with moving memories and advice from the country's experts and teachers, this book will get everyone away from electronic screens and back to the dinner table.


Laurie David, ex-wife of Larry David, is a media savvy powerhouse. She founded the Stop Global Warming Virtual March, produced the Academy Award winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth, and launched the Stop Global Warming College Tour with Sheryl Crow. She's been featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show, Today, and Good Morning America; is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post, and is author of The Down-to-Earth Guide to Global Warming (Scholastic, 9/07).


I love cookbooks, and was excited to review The Family Dinner. I wish this book would have been available when my kids were younger.  It is not a typical cookbook, but rather a guide book for making the family dining experience a way to create special memories.  It incorporates learning, gratitude, healthy choices, fun and so much more into sixteen chapters especially geared for young families:

  1. Why Family Dinners Matter (Raise Healthier, Smarter and More Confident Kids)
  2. Ten Simple Steps (to Successful Family Dinners)
  3. Setting the Scene
  4. Fast Recipes (That Can Save Weekday Dinners)
  5. "Cook" Together at the Table
  6. Souper Dinners (Sometimes All You Need is a Good Bowl of Soup)
  7. Take it Slow (Cook Today, Eat Tomorrow - or Freeze for Another Day)
  8. Meatless Mondays (Why Eating More Vegetarian Dinners Will Save Your Health, Money, and the Earth)
  9. Kids in the Kitchen (Recipes Kids Can Make That Their Friends and Family Will Love)
  10. Your Green Table (Why Your Choices Matter)
  11. Table Talk (Creative Ideas to Expand Minds, Build Vocabularies, and Keep Family Conversation Flowing)
  12. Read Around the Table (From News to Poetry - Inspiration is Your Dinner Guest)
  13. Grandparents and the Extended Family (Words of Wisdom)
  14. Two Homes, One Table (Family Dinner After Divorce)
  15. Grace is Gratitude (Ways to Say Thank You and Appreciate Life's Gifts)
  16. Play With Your Dessert (Great Games for After Dinner)
The Family Dinner cookbook is so much more than a collection of recipes. For example, there is a one page spread on how to make your own cleaning products from items readily available in your kitchen.  There are details on how to start a patio "pantry" and grow your own baby greens.

The conversation starters and word games were ingenious and sound like a lot of fun.  A wide range of blessings is also included in the special gratitude chapter.

Overall, I was very impressed with this book and enjoyed the wide variety of extra topics that were included. This cookbook is an awesome addition to any family cookbook collection, and is suitable for children of all ages. As the subtitle of the book says, "Great ways to connect with your kids, one meal at a time."

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of The Family Dinner from Hachette Books, in exchange for my honest review.

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