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Roni Proter

“There are ‘chicken nugget’ kind of nights and that's OK,” says 34-year-old Roni Proter. “Sometimes it’s more important to be together and enjoy your family’s company than to cook an elaborate meal from scratch!” 
 
That’s sound advice coming from a culinary maven. But just because she’s known for her talent in the kitchen doesn’t mean she’s exempt from the hustle, bustle and time constraints that come with being a working mom. With two tots to look after — sons Baer, 3, and Kessler, 1 — preparing a hearty meal for her growing boys is certainly a top priority. Thanks to night culinary classes at El Centro Community College several years ago while Roni was filming lifestyle segments for the health and wellness show Simply Beautiful, she re-discovered her love for cooking.  
 
Roni started experimenting in her own kitchen to come up with delicious dinners that can be easily prepared. Earlier this year, she began sharing her ideas and flair for creating simple, yet tasty, meals and snacks through her lifestyle website, dinnerreinvented.com.
 
The Dallas resident attributes her passion for cooking to her summers spent in Israel as a young girl. “From the wine country that rivals Italy’s Tuscany, to the beach in Tel Aviv and the markets (called shuks) that are brimming with fresh produce and fish, it was my first inspiration in the kitchen,” she reveals. “My grandfather taught me a simple salad that I was in charge of helping prepare from the time I was a very young child. My last trip was a couple years ago, when I was pregnant with my son. Imagine all those pregnancy cravings when I had my ultimate comfort food at my fingertips!” 
 
While Roni’s pregnancy cravings are a thing of the past (at least for the time being), she’s been giving her avid website followers and television viewers (she also contributes food and lifestyle segments for AOL, ABC and FOX) a few recipes to hanker for. From sweet potato pasta with chicken tikka masala to how to make a spaghetti bolognese using leftover meatballs, recipes are non-intimidating, wholesome and often something the entire family will enjoy. Her boys are her guinea pigs and aren’t afraid to let mom know if a dish is a hit or miss. Sometimes a bit of psychology is involved.  
 
“When I want my eldest to try new things like roasted brussels sprouts or homemade tomato-basil soup, I usually tell him it's his cousin’s favorite food. He idolizes him, so he tries it. I’m not afraid to sink low to trick my kids into eating veggies or healthy things for them,” she jokes.  
 
Moreover, don’t assume that dinnertime at home is as perfectly streamlined as her website. Roni candidly admits that in many instances, the opposite is true.  
 
“I don’t even pretend to have it all under control, and that’s cool with me,” she asserts. “When the kids are a little too wild, I ask them to help. They make more of a mess than anything, but you should see how proud they are after squeezing juice out of a lemon or simply crushing the garlic in a press.” 
 
Roni’s discovered that early dinners make for happier children. Supper usually begins around 5:30pm, before her husband, Shawn Kelly, who works in private equity, comes home. And when he does arrive, everyone is in good spirits and ready to play for a bit before bedtime. Another benefit of feeding Baer and Kessler early is the adults-only dinner Roni and Shawn share together afterward, complete with a glass of wine.    
 
Beyond the confines of their home, Roni and the family like to frequent nearby Preston Center for toy shopping, grabbing a quick bite and getting the occasional haircut for the boys. The Arboretum is also a favorite place to visit. There, they can have a picnic and enjoy the day relaxing and strolling through the gardens. 
 
When it comes to the day-to-day, an atypical job also means an uncommon schedule, or rather a lack thereof. Between shooting segments for shows, experimenting with new recipes, and bringing the children to and from school and other activities, Roni is always on the move. However, she’s quick to point out that her multitasking prowess isn’t necessarily the trait she wants to tout. It’s a breath of fresh air in a cultural climate where being perennially busy tends to get glorified.  
 
“Every one of my segments focuses on quick and simple recipes that are stress free. It’s important for me that the audience knows I’m not Supermom and don’t try to be one. Being a mom is hard enough. I don’t want to put any more pressure on myself or my fellow moms.”