Welcome to Family Meals in Heels!

LeeAnn in the Kitchen with a Cup of Coffee

Since this is my first EVER blog post at Family Meals in Heels, I want to thank YOU for supporting the blog during its launch. I’ve been dreaming about this moment for a long time. When I was celebrating my ten-year milestone as a private practice registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) in late 2018 I started to plant seeds in my mind for what has now grown into Family Meals in Heels. I had been watching my practice grow from a part-time gig to a very busy and fulfilling career and at the same time felt pulled in many different directions. My vision sprung from my belief that creating a blog to share my own recipes and insights on nutrition and food would both complement my current client work and nourish my creative, sometimes introspective side. I feel so positively about this new journey.

While building my practice this past decade, my personal life has changed tremendously too. When I first took the leap to work for myself and launch halfacup, I was single and working as a RDN for a large healthcare company, I had just returned from an amazing trip to Egypt, was undergoing a religious awakening, and was antsy for something new professionally. Becoming self-employed was empowering and one of the best life decisions. Since then I have become an entrepreneur, wife, mom, and have met so many interesting people along the way.

As the nutrition columnist for the Los Angeles Daily News I have the ideal platform to share my voice on nutrition and food. In my bimonthly column I translate the latest nutrition and public health study results into take away tips for a healthier lifestyle. I strive for my column to be unbiased, evidence-based and professional. Although I hope for this blog to maintain similar values, my vision is for Family Meals in Heels is to be more intimate, more personal, tapping into my own experience as a dietitian and a mom. This is a real life approach to eating from a busy dietitian mom who understands the juggle of getting meals on the table.

First, you can find dietitian-approved recipes that have been developed with busy families in mind. You can expect time-saving “make ahead tips” and straight-forward, shareable recipes – nothing that you have to tediously scroll through to find the ingredient list. In fact, many of these recipes I have been teaching to my clients in the office for years and now they have a place to call home. I prepare meals with my kids and strongly encourage them to try everything we make so my recipes are developed with the creative input of my two little sous chefs. Also, I must give credit to my husband who, from chopping to tasting, has his fingerprint on most recipes that show up here. His past experience working in restaurant kitchens and his enormous love of food is a major asset.

Second, you can also come here for nutrition and wellness articles that tackle all sorts of topics related to nutrition and food for families. Families come in all shapes and sizes and I promise to be inclusive, non-judgmental and engaging in how I share my thoughts and advice. While nearly everyone has an opinion about food and many people dish out nutrition advice on social media, my RDN colleagues and I are the experts. While I like to write about food trends and social experiences that affect the health of families, I am unwavering in my ethics and mission to stand with the science. I plan to provide my candid take on work life balance, travel and eating out with kids, LA lifestyle, and general advice on feeding families.  

About the food photos. I am not a trained photographer, however the food photos shared with my recipes will always be shot by myself unless I note otherwise. I would be flattered if you’d like to share my photos and ask that you simply give me credit for my photography.

While #FMIHrecipes are created with input from my own children and also informed by an understanding of the wide variety of nutrition concerns and food preferences I see with children in my practice, I wouldn’t call it kiddie food. As a philosophy I don’t believe in cooking down to children and I steer away from being a short-order cook. As a working parent with two young kids I know the hectic, crazy mess that is mealtime. There’s usually yells of “I’m starving!” as everyone convenes in the kitchen. This is when the drive-through can become very tempting.

I have been asked if Family Meals in Heels is just for moms and the answer is no, definitely not! The recipes here are for anyone who is interested in home cooking. Family Meals in Heels is all about the transition from our daily obligations, which for many of us includes work outside the home, to our very important role of nourishing our families. Whether you are wearing stilettos, flats or boots, these recipes are for folks who want unique recipes for family meals without the fuss. For many of my clients, coming up with recipe ideas and preparing balanced meals at home is one of the greatest challenges they face with their nutrition. Thus, the explosion in meal kit delivery services and other meal planning tools. My hope is that these recipes can help answer “what’s for dinner?” in a way that feels good.

So let’s talk about family meals. When it comes to parenting kids of all ages, there’s probably nothing more magical and more impactful than family meals. The scientific literature strongly points to the academic, social, psychological, and physical health benefits for children from eating meals together. Even if you don’t have kids in the house, family meals provide a consistent space for connecting and bonding in a time where everyone is seemingly glued to their devices. Family meals are a time to unplug and catch up with the ones we love.

Thank you for joining me on this journey. I look forward to getting your feedback and comments on the recipes and blog posts, seeing photos on Instagram of your family meals and even some shots of the shoes you are cooking in.

Verhage, C, Gillebaart, S, Van der Veek, S, Vereijken, C 2018, “The Relationship Between Family Meals and Health of Infants and Toddlers: A Review”, Appetite, vol. 127, no. 1, pp. 97-109.

Jones, B 2018, “Making Time for Family Meals: Parental Influences, Home Eating Environments, Barriers and Protective Factors”, Physiology & Behavior, vol. 193 Part B, no. 1, pp. 248-251.

Winter, V, Jones, A, O’Neil, E 2019, “Eating Breakfast and Family Meals in Adolescence: The Role of Body Image”, Social Work in Public Health, vol. 34, no. 3, pp. 230-238.

Harbec, M, Pagani, L 2018, “Associations Between Early Family Meal Environment Quality and Later Well-Being in School Age Children”, Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, vol. 39, no. 2, pp. 136-143.


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