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Private Practice Dietitian ✧ Nutrition Columnist ✧ Cookbook Author ✧Recipes & nutrition for busy families #familymeals #dietitianmom ✧RD@halfacup.com

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Restaurants in LA may be opening again for outdoor dining, but we've gotten into the groove of cooking some restaurant-worthy meals right at home. The kids have gained some serious sous #chefskills during distance learning. This team approach to meal time has made making dinner surprisingly...quite fun. All parents know that dinnertime can be anything, but fun. This weekend we made NEW Sheet Pan Chicken Shawarma and Sweet Potato Bowls (go to the link at @leeannsweintraub for the complete recipe). The kids made the whole wheat pita chips and and the salad. The rest of the meal cooked in the oven on sheet pans. I recommend this recipe if you're looking for a #familymeal with lots of flavor, but not lots of clean up. Tell me, what have you been cooking lately and which restaurants do you miss the most?

What are your plans for the holidays? Staying home and staying safe means missing out on spending time with friends and family. It’s not easy, but there are creative ways to connect from afar during these times. Stay safe and healthy so we can be together in person in the new year.

With our kitchen remodel completed I figured it’s time to share some #afterphotos. There are still a few loose ends, like waiting on back ordered counter stools, but this project is pretty much a wrap! After living and cooking in this kitchen for 10 years we knew what we wanted for our new kitchen. Here are some of my favorite features: 1. The skylight! During planning we were trying to figure out how to get more light in this space. Our contractor suggested a skylight, which in the end made all the difference. 2. The ceiling to counter cabinets that hide my small appliances. Our friend and designer @arichesler understood I wanted a clean and minimalistic look and suggested this idea. It’s the best and our cabinet guys got it right. Swipe over to see these beauties 3. Bigger fridge! At first I was nervous to go from 36 to 42 inches, but this upgrade makes total sense for our family of 4. (We also went bigger on the stove.) 4. Peninsula with double sided cabinets. Our new peninsula sits where the old wall between the dining room and kitchen stood. We added 12 inch deep cabinets on the dining side of the peninsula to hold serveware, Judaica and bar items. It made for a more generous peninsula with tons of storage. 5. Customization on the island. The island is where we eat most meals and it’s also where the stove lives. This was true for our old kitchen too, but we made key changes. One, we added extra room so 5 people can comfortably eat together. Two, we swapped out the old bulky stove hood for a flush with ceiling vent. Plus added a spice rack and pull out for baking pans on either side of the oven. Overall, we are beyond pleased (ecstatic!) with our new kitchen. It’s really a dream come true! We kept our old dishwasher and floors the same. We also used the same material for the backsplash as the counter for a seamless and hopefully less dated-over-time look. We now have a proper food pantry (this is probably the biggest thing of all!). Finally, I have space for #heirlooms that used to be in storage. Seeing my grandma’s mid-century tea set and my other grandma’s blue iced tea glasses in this modern kitchen makes the space complete.

Are you looking for a romance-inspired cocktail recipe for Valentine’s Day weekend? Well, I have the ONE for you. This Pink Lemon Elderflower Cocktail is delicious and smells divine! Made with St. Germain and @limoneiraco pink lemons, this bubbly drink is perfect for a quiet night in or a #Galentinesday happy hour. Swipe over to get the recipe!

The kids and I made a simply delicious Creamy Pomegranate Cherry Smoothie for a #contest and a good cause this weekend. Today’s the last day to enter in support of @diversifydietetics. For each entry, POM Wonderful is giving $100 (up to $10K!) to this important non-profit helping students of color enter the nutrition profession. Go to @POMWonderful for all the details...there’s still time to participate! Here’s how to make the Creamy Pomegranate Cherry Smoothie: Ingredients (serves 2) 1 c. cherry yogurt🍒 1 c. POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate juice 1 c. frozen pineapple🍍 1/2 c. blueberries 1 c. kale🥬 Ice Blend and enjoy! #POMBlendathon

What is your favorite winter fruit? I can't pick just one. These Cardamom-Pomegranate Poached Pears with Yogurt are now up on the blog! (go to @leeannsweintraub for the link) and highlight a few of my favorites. In this breakfast recipe the sweet juicy pears, tart pomegranate juice and arils and bright @limoneiraco lemon zest play off each other so nicely. Although I created this to be a breakfast recipe, it can totally pass as dessert. In fact, the poached pears can be served still warm with vanilla ice cream. Then enjoy the leftover pears for breakfast with yogurt. Just be sure to double the recipe so you don't run out! Would your family eat this for breakfast during winter break?

Celebrating the Big Game 🏈 is looking different this year. For many of us, our last “care-free” and large gatherings were this time last year. We’ll be watching the game (and the commercials🙋🏻‍♀️!), it’ll just be more intimate and, of course, COVID-safe. I’m a big fan of serving up typical game day appetizers and snacks along with some #veggieforward options for good measure. Score a new tradition with Big Game Baby Beet Hummus! This trophy-worthy 🏆 dip, created by my amazing dietetic intern @nostressallbless, is surrounded by a stadium 🏟 of colorful crisp vegetables and is a touchdown in our home. Big Game Baby Beet Hummus Recipe: Yields 2 1/2 Cups (20oz) 10 minutes to prepare hummus Ingredients: 1 can garbanzo beans 4 steamed & skinned baby beats (usually found in refrigerated vegetable grocery aisle) 2 whole raw garlic cloves 1/2 cup tahini 3 tablespoons olive oil 1/4 cup lemon juice 1 teaspoon salt Paprika Equipment: Food Processor / Blender Spatula Directions: Drain garbanzo beans and add to the food processor. Add remaining ingredients into the food processor. Blend for 2 minutes until smooth. Use spatula to scrape into a serving container. Garnish with paprika. Serve with fresh cut vegetables, crackers, breads of choice.

It's cold out and we're stuck at home so one-pot meals like my Veggie Chili are on the menu in my house. The complete recipe is now on the blog, just click on the link at @leeannsweintraub to get it. This chili is hearty and satisfying thanks to lots of beans, ground meatless crumbles and mushrooms along with tons of other vegetables. Recipes like this one that can be easily made ahead of time for a no-fuss #familymeal are a lifesaver. Kids and adults alike love a fun and interactive DIY #chilibar complete with toppings such as diced avocado, pickled jalapenos, sliced green onion and tater tots to name a few. I might have to leave this one on rotation for the Big Game next month! Have you made chili at home yet this season?

What’s on the menu this week❓ We’ve had a lot happening lately with the kids returning to in-person 😷 and hybrid 👩🏻‍💻school. Simple and #easydinners like my Kale and Mushroom Pasta are keeping us fueled 💪🏼without the fuss. Go to the link in profile 👉🏼 @leeannsweintraub for the recipe. I’m finding that with all the unknowns right now, I can make dinner time somewhat of a constant and that’s been helpful. It’s a chance to check in on stress levels 🤪 and talk about the happenings of the day. Tell me about what you’ve been making for easy, no-fuss dinners.

I’ve been trying to articulate, mostly to myself, how I feel about this last year and I’ve found it unusually challenging. As we sat down for dinner tonight I told the kids how proud I am of them for their resilience and positivity this past year. I’m proud of them for how they’ve adapted and worked so hard in distance learning. And my biggest hope for 2021 is a (speedy) end to the pandemic. I finally found the words by saying them out loud. The harder times in life continue to teach me that we can feel both the bad and the good at the same time. It didn’t take COVID for me to learn this, but it was reinforced at every turn. At many times, 2020 felt impossible, isolating, scary, and full of loss. It also taught me to count my blessings, look for silver linings and slow down a bit. There is so much that we’ve been through both individually and collectively. Returning to “normal” no longer seems like an option left on the table. On this first day of 2021, I am feeling hopeful knowing that we are closer to the end of this trying time and we will all be a little bit better and stronger when we get there. Wishing you a safe, happy and healthy New Year!

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