Freekeh Salad with Caramelized Cauliflower and Tuna + Cooking with Ancient Grains {Podcast #266}

This Freekeh Salad with Caramelized Cauliflower and Tuna is surprisingly simple, and its bright and flavorful flavors make it an ideal addition to any family’s weeknight dinner rotation.

Freekeh Salad with Caramelized Cauliflower and Tuna #WholeGrains via

If cooking freekeh, millet, farro, bulgur, quinoa, or other ancient grains sounds difficult or too time consuming, then you’ll definitely want to tune in to this week’s Cooking with the Moms podcast as Maria Speck, author of Simply Ancient Grains, provides a primer on preparing these nourishing whole grains and turning them into mouth-watering (and we mean it!) breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and desserts for your family. {Enter to win a copy of Simply Ancient grains. Read details below on the details.}

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Lemon Poppy Seed Muffin Makeover + Highlights from Daffodil Weekend on Nantucket

These Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins are lighter and have more fiber than the usual donut shop options, and every bite is bursting with springtime flavors. Made with white whole wheat flour, only a third cup sugar, olive oil, and poppy seeds, this muffin makeover is perfect for breakfast or a lunch box or afternoon snack.

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffin Makeover via

The idea for this recipe came to me last weekend during the annual Daffodil Festival on Nantucket where the color yellow popped up everywhere — from the daffodil-decorated vintage cars in the Nantucket Town to Sconset parade to the tailgate picnic. Read this post and you’ll see what I mean!

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Cleaning Out My Pantry with a Recipe for Gnocchi Primavera

Sometimes the best last-minute dinners are made by combining staples that have been gathering dust in your pantry, fridge, and freezer. In my case it was lots of vegetables and gnocchi and a few condiments that I tossed together for a fun dinner with friends.

Gnocchi Primavera

Every month we participate in The Recipe Redux cooking challenge, and this month we were told to go through our pantries, cupboards, freezer, and fridge and pick an ingredient or condiment that has been hanging around for awhile. We were asked to give this ingredient the attention it deserves and create a healthy recipe.

Organized Pantry

Liz and I decided that I should tackle this month’s challenge because, well, I have a well-stocked pantry. This is a nice way of saying that I’m a bit of a hoarder. I’m also an overachieving dietitian so I decided to use a dozen pantry items to create a new recipe. Our latest intern, Katy, had done a nice job of organizing our food photography props, but the other side of the pantry had lots of food items to choose from.

Ingredients from Pantry

My sister, Diane, was visiting from Oregon so I convinced her and my friends, Catherine and Maryellen, to join me in this cooking challenge. I showed them these pantry ingredients when they arrived and the consensus was that we would use the gnocchi, anchovy paste, and tomato paste.

Shrimp Crostini

The canned shrimp was a bit past the expiration date and I told my friends we had to use it, so Catherine whipped up these shrimp crostinis with shrimp mixed with cream cheese and hot sauce over crackers. These kept us fueled while we cooked the main meal. :)

Pantry Dinner

We then dug deeper into the freezer and found a partial bag of peas, a bag of snap peas, and some garlic cubes. In the fridge we found half & half cream left over from Easter, a few scallions, some grape tomatoes, an orange bell pepper, and fresh parsley. We decided to use all of them to make a Gnocchi Primavera.

Gnocchi Primavera

We totally made up this recipe as we went along, sipping on wine, and it turned out pretty well, especially for a Friday night throw-together dinner!

Gnocchi Primavera
This recipe is so versatile -- you can use any veggies you have in your fridge or freezer. You could add some shrimp or chicken, use pasta instead of gnocchi... the options are endless! If you don't have anchovy paste you can leave it out.
Serves: 4 to 6
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 frozen garlic cubes
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 orange bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon anchovy paste
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 17.6-ounce package Italian gnocchi
  • 1 12-ounce bag sugar snap peas
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • ½ cup chicken or vegetable broth
  • ½ cup half & half cream
  • Parmesan cheese, optional
  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat.
  2. Add the onions, garlic, tomatoes, bell pepper, anchovy paste, and tomato paste and cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
  3. While the vegetables are cooking, boil the gnocchi; add the sugar snap peas and peas for the last 2 minutes of cooking.
  4. Drain and add to the cooked vegetable mixture, along with the broth and half & half. Stir and heat through for about 3 minutes.
  5. Top with Parmesan cheese as desired.
Nutrition Information
Calories: 370 Fat: 11g Saturated fat: 3.5g Carbohydrates: 58g Sodium: 750mg Fiber: 7g Protein: 12g Cholesterol: 15mg


Pantry Dinner Guests

The best part of cooking with friends is sitting down and enjoying the meal afterward with good conversation. We were all pretty tired after a long week. Can you tell? :)  Do you have a favorite throw-together meal using items from your pantry?!

Favorite Foods of Spain

Spain is known for many things including flamenco dancers, paella, tapas, seafood, and wine. I was lucky enough to attend a conference in Madrid recently and even luckier to have my daughter, Carolyn, fly over at the end of the conference to travel with me for several days. Here are some of the highlights from the trip.

Slicing jamon in Madrid

I arrived in Madrid the day before the conference to explore the city with Kate Geagan and Chris Mohr, two fellow registered dietitian nutritionists. Our first stop was to a tapas bar called El Miajón de los Castúos where we enjoyed the first of many nibbles of fresh-sliced jamón and Manchego cheese. Amazing!

Spanish lunch

Next, we feasted on a six-course lunch, courtesy of Chris’ colleague, Luis, who lives in Madrid. I won’t even attempt to describe all these dishes, but the clams were the best I’d ever eaten. The octopus was, um, interesting!

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Getting Kids to Try New Foods with a “Polite Bite” + a Giveaway for Lainy’s Polite Bite

Getting young children to try new foods—even something as unfamiliar as fresh parsley—just got a whole lot easier thanks to Lainy’s Polite Bite, a new book written by registered dietitian, Emma Fogt.

Lainy's Polite Bite via #PickyEaters #vegetables

 I work with a program called, Kids Cooking Green in Lexington, MA, and this week, I stopped by one of their preschool programs to read Lainy’s Polite Bite. The book chronicles the adventures of Lainy, a sluggish ladybug who drinks Bug Juice morning, noon, and night until her friend, Benny Bumblebee encourages her to take a “polite bite” of some new and nutritious foods: apples, oranges, and edamame.

Lainy's Polite Bite via #PickyEaters #vegetables

The result of all those bites: Lainy gains energy, colorful spots, and can finally fly … and she realizes that she possesses the courage to go out of her Bug Juice comfort zone by trying new things.

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Recipe Inspiration from Yotam Ottolenghi and an Ottolenghi-Themed Dinner Party {Podcast #259}

Are you the kind of home cook who makes meals on the fly, or do you look for inspiration from cookbooks, food bloggers, and celebrity chefs. On this week’s Cooking with the Moms radio podcast, Liz reveals her favorite chef and cookbook author, Yotam Ottolenghi. With four cookbooks under his apron strings—Plenty, Plenty More, Ottolenghi, and Jerusalem—and restaurants in London, she can’t get enough of his flavor-filled recipes.

Cookbooks by Yotam Ottolenghi via

Liz is obsessed with Ottolenghi whose cookbooks and recipes feature Middle Eastern flavors with a western twist.

 LISTEN TO COOKING WITH THE MOMS HERE! And don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE to our show on iTunes.

Cauliflower Cake by #Ottolenghi via

His Cauliflower Cake from Plenty More: Vibrant Vegetable Cooking from London’s Ottolenghi is to die for …

Honey-roasted rainbow carrots via #ottolenghi

And the honey roasted rainbow carrots Liz adapted from the same book are equally scrumptious. Ottolenghi takes vegetables from so-so to sensational.

Cookbooks by Yotam Ottolenghi via

Liz’s friend Suzanne is even more infatuated with Ottolenghi (is that possible?), and she joins us on the show this week to dish about her favorite recipes as well as the Gourmet Group dinner party she and Liz hosted featuring Ottolenghi recipes like Salmon Steaks in Chraimeh Sauce and Couscous with Dried Apricots and Butternut Squash.

Yotam Ottolenghi Dinner Party - how to host via

For the dinner party, Liz and Suzanne looked through Ottolenghi’s four cookbooks and chose seasonal recipes to assign to themselves and their friends.

Ottolenghi-Inspired Dinner Party Menu:

Butternut Squash & Tahini Spread
Figs with Basil, Goat Cheese and Pomegranate Vinaigrette from Plenty
Couscous with Dried Apricots and Butternut Squash from Ottolenghi
Salmon Steaks in Chraimeh Sauce from Jerusalem
Beef and Lamb Meatballs Baked in Tahini from Ottolenghi
Toffee Brownies from Ottolenghi (that’s Nairi and Suzanne at Liz’s house baking the brownies)

Liz hosted the dinner and there were a total of five couples, Everyone showed up with a dish and then shared their experience with the recipe. Favorite recipes from the night were the salmon, couscous, fig salad, and brownies.

Be sure to listen to this week’s Cooking with the Moms podcast for more delicious details on Ottolenghi’s recipes.

How to Make Homemade Tamales

Tamales. I had enjoyed them in Mexican restaurants but never considered making homemade tamales for myself… until my friend, Catherine, invited me over for a tamale-making gathering at her house.

Homemade Tamales with Guacamole

Tamales are packets of corn dough with a savory or sweet filling. They are usually wrapped in corn husks or banana leaves and steamed.  Tamale making is often a community event, and we enjoyed our creations with a bowl of vegetarian posole soup and a side of guacamole. Comfort food at its best!

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Honey-Roasted Rainbow Carrots + Why I’m Obsessed with Yotam Ottolenghi

These colorful, flavorful, gluten-free Honey-Roasted Rainbow Carrots turn plain ol’ baby carrots from so-so to sensational. Your kids will eat them happily! 

Honey-Roasted Rainbow Carrots via

If your family is bored with raw carrots and dip or steamed carrots with a drizzle of melted butter, shake things up by tossing baby carrots—use the new rainbow variety if you can find them—with honey, extra virgin olive oil, coriander, cumin, and kosher salt and then pop ’em in the oven to roast.

I dished all about this recipe on our Cooking with the Moms radio podcast.

 LISTEN TO COOKING WITH THE MOMS HERE! And don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE to our show on iTunes.

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Food & Nutrition Adventures in Atlanta at FNCE 2014

Liz and I both attended the annual Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo (FNCE) of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in Atlanta earlier this month, and we dish about our experiences on this week’s Cooking with the Moms podcast.

Liz shared the highlights of her trip in an earlier blog post, and now it’s my turn. For me it’s all about the people. Don’t get me wrong, I love to go to educational sessions and learn new things, but it’s connecting with my RDN friends – both new and old – that really inspires me.

Janice in Atlanta at FNCE with Flat Matthew

My good friend and colleague, Joan Salge Blake, was on my plane from Boston so we shared a cab to downtown Atlanta. She brought along her nephew’s Flat Matthew and we had fun taking pictures of him with different people -including the Delta pilot and flight attendants, and me!

Southern Dining at Pittypat's Porch

My first night in town I followed my cab driver’s advice and ate shrimp and grits at the iconic Pittypat’s Porch with my friend Susan. Collard greens, beans, and cornbread rounded out our meal. Sometimes a girl just needs some southern cooking!

Janice and Susan selfie

The Academy is getting hip to the social media scene and had several areas for members to take selfies. Here I am with my best attempt at taking a selfie with Susan.

Constance Brown-Riggs, RD singing National Anthem

Before every FNCE opening session our amazing  colleague, Constance Brown Riggs, sings the National Anthem in front of the thousands of attendees. It always send chills up my spine to hear her beautiful voice.

Food products from FNCE 2014

Here are some of the foods that I saw and sampled on the Expo floor: breads made with ancient grains and nuts, pumpkin yogurt (YUM!), pre-washed kale and collard greens, and dried fruits. I’m sure this is the type of food you get at all conferences, right?

KIND bar samples

My daughter, Leah, had just one request for me on this trip: “Bring me back some KIND bars!” KIND was featuring their new Strong & Kind savory bars with flavors like Honey Mustard, Roasted Jalapeno, and Thai Sweet Chili. Leah tried them and decided she prefers the sweeter, original flavors.

Kate Geagan with Eat Well Embrace Life hummus

I ran into my good friend, Kate Geagan at the Eat Well Embrace Life hummus booth. The beet hummus was my favorite!

Biltmore Hotel Atlanta- Food & Culinary Professionals reception at FNCE 2014

I am past chair of the Food & Culinary Professionals subgroup of the Academy, and attending our networking reception at the Biltmore Hotel was a highlight of the conference. Just look at the beautiful room and the amazing food we ate. The champagne was fun to drink too!

Food & Culinary Reception with Kim Beavers, Deanna Segrave-Daly and Amy Myrdal-Miller at FNCE 2014

I couldn’t resist one more photo of the FCP reception. Here I am with RD pal Kim Beavers, and fellow past chairs, Deanna Segrave-Daly and Amy Myrdal-Miller.

It’s hard to keep up with all the great receptions during FNCE. Here I am sipping on a pomegranate champagne cocktail at the Wonderful reception with friends Maye Musk and Susan Latham.

Skyview Atlanta with Jackie Newgent, Katie Cavuto, and Susan Latham

I went up in the very cool Skyview Atlanta ferris wheel in downtown Atlanta with my friends Jackie Newgent, Katie Cavuto, and Susan. Thanks, Wonderful brands!

NCBA Beef Lunch and Cranberry Dinner at FNCE

I was lucky enough to be invited to some awesome sponsored events. At a beef-sponsored luncheon, learned how to cut ribeye steaks and then ate them for lunch. The first course was elegant Pickled Summerland Farm Beets.

The dessert in the photo is of an upside down cranberry semolina cake with raspberry sauce and cranberry-black pepper ice cream that I devoured at an Ocean Spray dinner. Wow, wish I could eat like this every night!

Swag from FNCE

It’s always fun to unpack your bag when you get home from FNCE and look at all the swag and share it with your family. I love my job!

In case you think that all I did was hang out with friends and eat good food I will tell you that I did attend a number of sessions and some of the buzz words I took back from the conference are fermentation (we need to eat more fermented foods) and microbiome. Did you know you have 10 times more bacteria than cells in your body? We need to make sure the good bacteria outnumber the bad. Fascinating stuff. If you want to learn more you’ll need to listen to our podcast!

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