Caroline and Julian Clauss-Ehlers’ New Cookbook

A meal – or even a simple dish – can trigger all kinds of memories. A special holiday, a new relationship, an important discussion, love and loss, traditions.

The pandemic forced families together, with some sharing meals together for the first time ever. And it seems to have been good: An American Heart Association survey in September 2022 said 91 percent of parents surveyed had lower stress levels when they regularly connected over a meal. The majority of those surveyed said sharing a meal reminds them of the importance of connecting with other people and of slowing down and taking a break. 

But continuing those newly formed good habits are difficult, especially as life returns to “normal.”

“You should write a book.”

The chaotic schedules of psychologist Caroline (CC) Clauss-Ehlers and her husband Julian, a chef, meant that they often missed or delayed dinners with their three children, ranging in age from preschooler to teenagers. The pandemic brought them together for every meal. According to CC, it “left us with a greater awareness of the value and benefits of family mealtime.” They began planning, preparing and sharing every meal together as a family, all focused on healthy and creative eating.

“Someone suggested that we should write a book, I think because they liked Julian’s food,” CC laughed. “We said, ‘No, we can’t do that!’ But we did begin putting together some ideas. And then COVID hit, and we suddenly had the time.”


The result is Eating Together Being Together, Recipes, Activities and Advice from a Chef Dad and Psychologist Mom, released in September 2022. The book includes 80 recipes and is a manual on how to grow closer as a family through mealtime bonding and cooking together. “It’s about taking food beyond the kitchen and table,” CC said, with each of its 12 chapters providing information about foods and relationships. Each chapter also includes tips and fast facts about food, life, and processes, and activities are based on the age of your “helpers” – young, preteen and teen, or grown-up.

The recipes, created by Chef Julian, range from simple to sophisticated, but are explained in easy-to-follow directions. “We decided to make these recipes accessible to people so they can try different things,” CC said.

Building family, community relationships

“Food is a tool to foster communications and relationships,” CC said. “It’s never too late to start.” The book demonstrates how these relationships can grow and deepen, many times over food. Their youngest son Olliver was 4 years old when he started helping with food preparation and has a very positive experience with it. In fact, CC said that he graduated from his speech therapy during this time. “Cooking for him is a really important part of his life, especially cooking with his sisters.”

Recently his oldest sister Izzy was making a large batch of chocolate banana bread to deliver to her grandfather while she was away at college this fall. As Olliver helped out, he learned that Izzy was going away, and they discussed how he would get along without her. He suggested that she save a bit of the banana bread for him to have while she was gone.

Likewise, the “Soup” chapter describes how it can soothe the soul or create a lasting bond. “It’s a way to show and share love,” CC said. “Food helps friends and family to know they are loved and not forgotten,” whether it’s for family or for weathering the isolation of a pandemic.

Pick up Eating Together Being Together, Recipes, Activities and Advice from a Chef Dad and Psychologist Mom in most online and bricks-and-mortar bookstores.