How to Make Dinner a Winner

“She could, transform a dinner into a kind of love affair; an affair that made no distinction between
bodily appetite and spiritual appetite.” -Babette’s Feast

I got to meet the Food Nanny, aka Liz Edmunds! If I had a bucket list, this would have been on it! Thanks to Diann Jeppson, who invited her to come to this year’s Family Forum that was a few weeks ago in Salt Lake City. She was just as sweet and vivacious in person as she is on the show. We had a lengthy conversation and I even got her business card! Then I went to her presentation and heard more of her story.

Liz has a cookbook all about dinner menus and a show on BYUTV where she inspires parents to commit to fixing dinner and having dinner every night. She told me that after she had written her cookbook, BYUTV came knocking on her door, asking if she would be the star of a reality TV show to teach people how to have family dinner. Watch it here! I learned that Dian Thomas was the “wind beneath her wings” who inspired her as a writing mentor to do her book. Liz said that writing her book was the hardest thing she has ever done, even harder that rearing a family of seven children.

The basic premise of the book is that dinnertime is part of the True Life, La Vita Vera! Liz has three components for La Vita Vera:  the whole family is together for dinner, you plan your menu with theme nights, and you have yummy food! The way to make it easier on mom to have dinner every night is to have a rotating menu. This is the menu for the theme nights that Liz teaches:

Monday: comfort food

Tuesday: Italian

Wednesday: Fish or meatless or breakfast

Thursday: Mexican

Friday: pizza

Saturday: grill night, with Dad at the barbecue hopefully!

Sunday: traditional food (like roast and potatoes)

You can go here to get some blank menus and shopping lists for your planning.

If you would like some recipes that are more “whole foodsy” then I recommend these three sites:

As soon as I saw her book in the Chinaberry catalog about 6 years ago, I knew I had to get it! It absolutely attracted me. I couldn’t afford to buy it, and my public library didn’t have it, so I had to borrow it through interlibrary loan. I was pleasantly surprised to find out she was LDS, as indicated by the Family Home Evening chart on the wall in her family photos in the book. OK, I was admittedly a little disappointed that it doesn’t have totally “whole foods” or “real foods” ingredients. It does use white flour and white sugar and vegetable oils. So, if you are into total American comfort (processed)  food, you will love her book.  If you are vegan or into non-processed foods, you probably will want to adjust some of the recipes. Just use melted butter for the oil in the baking recipes, sucanat for the dessert recipes, and olive oil for the salad dressing. You will still love her book!

She made her famous baguette recipe right before our eyes.

When I read her book, I totally got inspired to write about how we can use dinner time to nurture our family spiritually as well as physically. So here’s that article, which includes some remarks from LDS Church leaders about family dinner and the sacred act of preparing food, how to talk about the Book of Mormon at the dinner table, and the list of questions Liz has in her book to stimulate conversation. Bon appetit!

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