Food for real-life families


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This article was published 04/05/2022 (401 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Family members are seated around the table with plates filled with the correct portions of vegetables, meat or another protein, and a carbohydrate. Everyone is chatting and relaxing after a day at work and school.

This traditional scenario isn’t the norm for the majority of today’s families. Both or one parent might be working outside the home and rushing to put something — anything — on the table for hungry children. Coupled with this is the time crunch caused by children’s activities such as soccer, piano lessons or dance classes.

Janine LaForte, mother of three teens, registered dietitian and owner of Real Life Nutrition has been there and done that.

Janine LaForte runs Real Life Nutrition, which provides nutritional advice and tips to parents juggling busy lives with trying to serve nutritious meals.
Janine LaForte runs Real Life Nutrition, which provides nutritional advice and tips to parents juggling busy lives with trying to serve nutritious meals.

“Just having the experience in my own life helps me understand my audience better and know what they’re going through,” she said.

LaForte, an Island Lakes resident who has worked as a dietitian for over 20 years, opened her business in May 2021.

“I’d been dreaming of this since I’d become a dietitian.”

Her goal is to share her experience, wisdom and some tips for clients looking to improve their family’s nutrition and wanting to enjoy mealtimes without stress and guilt.

LaForte said the clock and our busy lives are the biggest challenges facing most families.

“People just struggle with time,” she said.

She added that many parents are also looking for new ideas and inspiration in planning and preparing meals that are healthy and tasty. Taking a realistic view, she suggested that parents try to plan out a few meals every week and add in quick meals such as soup and grilled cheese sandwiches when time gets tight. She believes that all foods in moderation can fit in a healthy diet.

“We’ve got to let go of that guilt and look at the big picture,” she said. “Kids need to eat. If you’ve fed your kids, you’ve done a good job.”

LaForte sends out a weekly email to subscribers containing food shopping, meal preparation and nutrition tips along with a recipe. With the recent jump in food prices, one of her tips is swapping black beans for half of the ground beef in a tacos recipe.

“Beans, in general, are a good way to cut back on food costs,” she advised.

Children who are picky eaters can cause stress for their parents, but LaForte said she helps parents learn about moderation and to release the guilt they might be carrying.

“I don’t believe in food rules,” she said. “My focus is always on balance.”

One way to get children more excited about meals is by involving them in preparation and cooking. LaForte offers a virtual family cooking program and a virtual youth after-school supper club for children age 12 and over. She has found that young cooks are very proud to serve the meals they’ve made to their families.

She also offers a 30-minute consultation at no cost for prospective clients, as well as a three-month family nutrition one-on-one coaching program and four-month program that includes virtual cooking sessions. She hopes to run an in-person group program by the end of the year.

Her website at offers free downloads with tips on school lunches, dealing with a picky eater, generating new meal ideas, and quick and simple meal plans.

Andrea Geary

Andrea Geary
St. Vital community correspondent

Andrea Geary is a community correspondent for St. Vital and was once the community journalist for The Headliner.

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