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White Bean and Tiny Pasta Soup


You have a choice: You can pay a lot of money for one bowl of pasta e fagioli in a fancy restaurant, or for the same amount of money you can stay at home, hang out with your kids, and make a big pot of your own fancy soup. Hey, why not double up on the recipe and give some to your neighbors? Even better, invite them and their kids over for dinner…

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Make the expression of gratitude part of your family dinner ritual. However you say it — with a prayer or blessing, a question for the table, quotes, stories, a few simple words of thanks — gratitude is a basic ingredient to a healthy life.

Here’s an idea: print out some pre-written “gratitude quotes” and place one under each person’s dinner plate. At an appropriate moment, explain that everyone has a special quote under their plate and go around the table reading them. It’s a great way to get everyone involved in expressing gratitude.

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Menu Book and Shopping Lists


I like menu writing and grocery shopping. For me it is like picking paints for a painting, but better because it also becomes sculpture, nurturing and tasty. I don’t like wasting my time though, so I have a certain way of writing my shopping list so I only hit each grocery store aisle once…

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The Category Word Game


Games to play at the table are a great way to get the conversation going during family dinner. Here’s one we like, the Category Word Game:

Pick a category and everyone lists one thing from that category. Go around as many times as is entertaining. For example, the category is summer. I say watermelon, the next person says flip-flops, the next person says beach blanket, and so on. The classic version of this is to play it as a memory game. The person repeats the answers before theirs and then adds their own. We use this game a lot in restaurants waiting for food.

“Picnic” is another fun variation on this game. The first person starts by saying, “I’m going on a picnic and I am bringing salami.” The next person says, “I’m going on a picnic and I’m bringing salami and crusty bread,” and around the table you go. Trust us—it soon gets hard and makes your mouth water! Next thing you know, you’ll be planning a picnic!

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