A Recipe for Cherry Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies and the Lowdown on Tart Cherries

I recently returned from Traverse City, MI for the tart cherry harvest, and in a few days, I’ll be sharing all about the trip. I’ve never spent time in Northern Michigan (my loss completely), and I certainly hope to return some day soon. While you wait on the edges of your seats for more details on the tart cherry harvest and all the great nutrients found inside this bright red fruit, I thought you’d enjoy my recipe for Cherry Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies. Bake up a batch or two and let me know what you think, and be sure to check back in a few days for my blog post and a Cooking with the Moms podcast devoted to cherries.

Cherry Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

I was invited by the Cherry Marketing Institute to join them for the Cherry Harvest in Northern Michigan. They paid for my travel, but all opinions on this blog are solely my own. Everyone in the group was sent home with a bunch of goodies including dried Montmorency cherries. So I decided to use them in this new better-for-you cookie.

dried tart cherries

Nearly 100% of the tart cherries grown in Michigan are pitted and then frozen or turned into dried cherries or juice. Dried cherries can be eaten out of hand as a snack, added to trail mix, used in cookies and other baked goods, sprinkled over salads, used in salsas, and lots more …

A half cup of dried tart cherries has 200 calories, 2 grams of fiber, and an impressive 45% vitamin A.

Cherry Chocolate Oat Cookies

Cherry Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

Makes 24 Cookies

Kids love cookies, but like any sweet treat, it’s best to not go overboard. I’m happy to report that you can feel good about giving your kids these cookies. Made with whole grains—oats, wheat germ, and whole wheat flour—and other nutritious ingredients like dried cherries, pecans, and eggs, they’re an AOK addition to the cookie jar!

  • 2 cups quick-cooking oats
  • 3/4 cup pecans, finely or roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup wheat germ
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup expeller pressed canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup dried tart cherries
  • 1/3 cup semi-sweet mini chocolate chips

1. Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Line two large baking sheets with aluminum foil and then lightly oil or coat with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.

2. Whisk together the oats, pecans, all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, wheat germ, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, brown sugar, oil, and vanilla until well combined. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients, and stir until just moistened. Mix in the cherries and the chocolate chips.

4. Working in batches, scoop the batter by rounded tablespoon and place on the prepared baking sheets. Wash your hands (it will be easier to work with the batter), and then flatten slightly with the heel of your hand, forming 2¼ to 2½-inch cookies. Leave about 1 inch between each cookie.

5. Bake 12 to 14 minutes, until golden brown. Cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to a wire rack. Repeat with remaining batter.

Nutrition Information per Serving (1 cookie):  170 calories, 9g fat (1g saturated), 80mg sodium, 20g carbohydrate, 3g fiber, 3g protein

Print Recipe

cherry pie at Cherry Republic

Indulging on cherry pie with my friend and fellow dietitian, Janet Helm at Cherry Republic in Glen Arbor, MI. I’m not much of a pie maker; cookies are definitely more my culinary speed :)

Tart cherry trees, Traverse City, MI

More on the tart cherry harvest coming soon …

A Recipe for Lower-Sugar Strawberry Jam, Summer Vacation Memories, and a Giveaway for a Ball FreshTECH Automatic Jam & Jelly Maker {Podcast #223} — GIVEAWAY CLOSED

Who wants some homemade strawberry jam? We made a few batches recently, and let’s just say they’ve been disappearing quickly from our refrigerators. On this week’s Cooking with the Moms podcast, we share our latest recipe for Mom’s Strawberry Jam, rave about our new Ball FreshTECH Automatic Jam & Jelly Maker (we’re giving one away, so read on), and tell you all about our vacation adventures in Nantucket and New Hampshire so far this summer. Plus, you loved him on our Composting for Dummies podcast, so Janice’s husband, Don, is back on the show this week to tell us about his childhood jelly-making memories.

Homemade, lower-sugar strawberry jam

In true Meal Makeover Mom fashion, our goal with this recipe was to lower the sugar a bit. We followed the directions in the Ball recipe booklet but then tweaked it a bit by adding a few more strawberries and a little less sugar.

And now … The Back Story on our Strawberry Jam:

Local New England strawberries

Our local strawberry season here in New England comes and goes in the blink of an eye. Lucky for us, back in late June, Janice’s friend Catherine surprised her with a flat of fresh-picked strawberries from western Massachusetts. Coincidentally, Ball had just sent us a complimentary Jam & Jelly Maker to try out, so the berries were immediately put to good use.

Ball freshTech Automatic Jam & Jelly Maker

Janice and her friends tried two different versions of jam. For starters, they opted for Ball’s “Reduced Sugar” recipe which called for 3¼ cups crushed strawberries and 2 cups sugar. They also tried a version with just 1 3/4 cups sugar plus 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar for added flavor.

Ingredients for homemade strawberry jam

What we finally settled on was a lower-sugar jam made with 3½ cups crushed strawberries, 1¾ cups sugar, and we used Ball’s Low or No-Sugar Needed Pectin.

Making strawberry jam in the Ball freshTech Automatic Jam & Jelly Maker

How cool is this? To make the jam, all you do is sprinkle pectin in the bottom of the pot along with the crushed fruit and a tiny bit of butter or margarine to help reduce foaming. Four minutes later, add the sugar, top with the glass lid, and less than 20 minutes later, you’ve got jam to put into jars.

Homemade strawberry jam

All of the jam and jelly recipes in the Ball booklet offer a Traditional version and a Reduced-Sugar version. Thanks Ball!

homemade jam

Too cute. Makes a great house-warming or hostess gift!

Mom’s Strawberry Jam

Makes 4 (8-ounce) Half Pint Jars (Recipe adapted from Ball, freshTECH Sweet and Simple recipe booklet)

We’ve taken a stab at canning before, but quite honestly, we’re not the most patient home cooks on the planet. That’s why we were thrilled when Ball sent us their in-a-flash jam and jelly maker. Besides strawberry jam, you can also use it for other jams like peach, sweet cherry, pear, plum, apple, and a bunch of jellies. (For more recipes, you can visit the Ball website.) While we would not categorize our jam as a health food—it still has plenty of sugar—it’s made with real, wholesome ingredients and the flavor is amazing.

  • 3½ cups crushed strawberries (from 7 cups whole, stemmed strawberries, @ 3 pounds) * We used a potato masher to crush the berries
  • 3 tablespoons Ball Low or No-Sugar Needed RealFruit Pectin
  • 1/2 teaspoon butter or margarine
  • 1¾ cups granulated sugar

1. Sprinkle pectin evenly over bottom of the pot fitted with the Stirrer. Add crushed strawberries evenly over pectin. Add butter or margarine to help reduce foaming.

3. Press Jam button (the cook time will automatically default to 21 minutes). Press Enter.

3. Wait 4 minutes for appliance to sound 4 short beeps indicating that it is time to add sugar. Add sugar gradually while Stirrer continues running. Place the glass lid on the pot.

4. The appliance will continue to automatically stir your ingredients while it cooks. Stay within earshot of the Jam & Jelly Maker. The appliance will beep again at the end of the process signaling jam cooking is complete. Press Cancel, unplug the appliance, and immediately remove glass lid.

5. Remove Stirrer using a pot holder. Skim foam, if necessary, from top of jam. (From there, the recipe booklet goes on to describe three preserving methods). We simply filled our jars with the fresh jam and placed in the refrigerator.

Nutrition Information per Serving (1 tablespoon): 30 calories, 0g fat, 5mg sodium, 7g carbohydrate, 0g fiber, 0g protein, 20% vitamin C

Print Recipe

Ball Automatic Jam & Jelly Maker

Giveaway News: Wouldn’t you love to win the Ball FreshTECH Automatic Jam & Jelly Maker? Well, one lucky winner will soon become the proud owner of one. (Open to U.S. residents only.) To enter the giveaway, tell us why you’d like to win it or share your favorite canning recipe or childhood canning memory.

We will enter you into the giveaway additional times if you …

> Tweet about the giveaway with a link back to this post.
> Share the giveaway news with your Facebook fans and friends with a link back to the post.
> Follow us on Pinterest.
> Follow The Meal Makeover Moms on Twitter (@MealMakeovrMoms) or on Facebook.

Please be sure to leave us a new comment every time you do something extra, and GOOD LUCK. The giveaway ends on August 2nd at noon, and as always we’ll use Random.org to pick our winner. Good luck!

Disclosure: We received a complimentary Jam & Jelly Maker from Ball, but the opinions and recipe in this post are our own. We were not compensated for this blog post.

An Afternoon with Celebrity Chef Alton Brown … and the Dedication of a Grape Vineyard at Welch’s

Most people know Alton Brown from the hit Food Network TV show, Iron Chef and Good Eats. But we got to know him recently at an event held at Welch’s worldwide headquarters in Concord, MA.

Alton Brown at Welch's grapevine dedication

It was a hot and steamy New England day, but Alton, who hails from Atlanta, had no problem handling the heat at the dedication of a new Concord grape vineyard made with cuttings from the original Concord grapevine, circa 1849. A man named Ephraim Wales Bull developed the grape variety that still thrives today … and the very grape that Welch’s uses in their juices and jellies.

Our interns meet Alton Brown

We attended the event with our interns June and Lauren, and we spent quite a bit of time chatting it up with Alton.

The Meal Makeover Moms with Alton Brown

Alton is as funny in person as he is on TV, and he’s passionate about Concord grapes. Besides their deep, rich flavor, the grape also brings big nutrition to the table.

 Welch's juices

It’s funny, when we think back to some of our favorite childhood foods and flavors, grape juice comes to mind. As kids, the last thing we thought of were polyphenols, but it turns out that grapes are rich in this powerful, health-promoting antioxidant. Polyphenols keep hearts healthy and minds sharp, and they may also help to boost the immune system. Grape juice is made from the entire grape including the seeds and the skin, which have the richest concentration of polyphenols.

grapevines from Welch's

Talk about cool swag: Before we left, everyone had an opportunity to take a Concord grapevine home. Since Liz does NOT have a green thumb, Janice will be planting the vines in her backyard. Stay tuned …

For all the grape science information you could ever ask for, visit the Welch’s wesite. Our colleague, Casey Lewis, MS, RD does a great job outlining the health benefits of grapes.

A Recipe for California Avocado Macaroni Summer Salad … Plus Other Cookout Favorites {Podcast #222} … And a Giveaway for Fresh CA Avocados {Giveaway Closed}

Summer pasta salads are often loaded with mayonnaise, adding gobs of fat but not a whole lot of nutrition. We give classic macaroni salad a makeover by swapping out the mayo for a homemade dressing made with California Avocados, low-fat Greek yogurt, fresh herbs, olive oil, lemon juice, and garlic, and we feature it on this week’s Cooking with the Moms podcast. Tune in for our oh-so-healthy mac salad makeover and a second summer recipe for Avocado Beef and Black Bean Burgers. Read on for the recipes and news on our latest giveaway for fresh California avocados and assorted avocado kitchen essentials.

Macaroni salad made with a dressing of California Avocados and low-fat Greek yogurt

From the July 4th holiday right through Labor Day, take advantage of gorgeous, seasonal produce from farmers’ markets or your own backyard gardens. And don’t forget about local avocados from California, they’re in season right now through September.

California Avocado Macaroni Summer Salad

Makes 8 Servings

When we think of summer holidays, classic macaroni salad comes to mind. We lighten it up with our own avocado-inspired dressing, and then we toss in diced avocado, tomato, and corn kernels. And, of course, we use whole grain pasta! The addition of the avocados adds heart-healthy monounsaturated fat as well as nearly 20 vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients.

  • 3 cups dried whole wheat blend macaroni
  • 3 ripe Fresh California Avocados, halved, peeled and seeded
  • 1/2 cup low-fat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, packed
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint, packed
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice, divided
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 small clove garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup fresh corn kernels (or frozen and thawed)
  • Basil and mint, chopped (garnish)

1. Cook the pasta according to package directions.

2. While the pasta is cooking, place an avocado half in the bowl of a food processor or blender. Add the yogurt, basil, mint, olive oil, two tablespoons of the lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic, salt and pepper and process until smooth and creamy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.

3. Drain the pasta and place in a large bowl. Cool completely. Stir the dressing into the pasta until well combined. Meanwhile, cut the remaining avocados into 3/4-inch dice. Gently stir into the pasta with the tomatoes, corn and the remaining lemon juice.

4. Season with salt and pepper to taste, garnish with additional chopped herbs, and serve.

Nutrition Information Per Serving: Calories 370; Total Fat 19 g (Sat 3 g, Trans 0 g, Poly 2 g, Mono 13 g); Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 140 mg; Potassium 670 mg; Total Carbohydrates 44 g; Dietary Fiber 10 g; Total Sugars 4 g; Protein 10 g; Vitamin A 2044 IU; Vitamin C 24 mg; Calcium 62 mg; Iron 2 mg; Vitamin D 0 IU; Folate 110 mcg; Omega 3 Fatty Acid 0.1 g

*Large avocados are recommended for this recipe. A large avocado averages about 8 ounces. If using smaller or larger size avocados adjust the quantity accordingly.

Print Recipe

Taping an avocado summer recipe segment for The Daily Buzz

We cooked up this recipe as well as our avocado beef burgers for The Daily Buzz syndicated morning show. Here’s a behind the scenes photo of The Meal Makeover Moms in action with the crew from Video Link.

CA Avocado giveaway

Giveaway News: If you love avocados as much as we do, you’ll definitely want to enter this month’s giveaway for an avocado gift basket. One lucky winner will receive six fresh California avocados, a bamboo cutting board, an avocado apron and tee shirt, a reusable shopping tote, and more. (Open to U.S. residents only.) To enter, tell us your favorite way to eat avocados? Guacamole? A sandwich topping? In an Avocado Key Lime Pie? Share away!

We will enter you into the giveaway additional times if you …

Tweet about the giveaway with a link back to this post.
> Share the giveaway news with your Facebook fans and friends with a link back to the post.
> Follow us on Pinterest.
> Follow The Meal Makeover Moms on Twitter (@MealMakeovrMoms)

Please be sure to leave us a new comment every time you do something extra, and GOOD LUCK. The giveaway ends on July 16th at noon, and as always we’ll use Random.org to pick our winner. Good luck!

Disclosure: We created this recipe for the California Avocado Commission and were compensated for the recipe and social media outreach. All opinions are solely our own. For more avocado recipes, you can visit CaliforniaAvocado.com. For more July 4th avocado recipes, click here

Get Ready for July 4th Celebrations with Our California Avocado Beef and Black Bean Burgers

If you read our blog regularly or listen to our Cooking with the Moms radio podcast, you must know by now that we go gaga every time we see an avocado. And when local avocados from California become available each spring (they’re at their peak from March to September), the gaga factor goes up even higher. With July 4th just days away—can someone please explain why time always flies by so quickly—we challenged ourselves to come up with a classic beef burger with an avocado-inspired twist.

Beef burger with black beans and avocado.

A recent pilot study on 11 healthy subjects found that eating half of a fresh Hass avocado with a lean hamburger—versus eating the burger on its own—might offer protection against inflammation in blood vessels, a known risk factor for heart disease. Our better burger contains more monounsaturated fat than a typical beef burger (from the avocado), and it’s that type of fat that appears to be good for the heart.

Adding avocado, black beans, and cilantro to beef burgers amps up the flavor and good nutrition

Chopped fresh cilantro adds a gorgeous flavor to our beef burgers. If you’re not a fan of cilantro, swap it out for basil.

NECN summer entertaining

Janice stopped by New England Cable News (NECN) today to tape a live cooking segment featuring our California Avocado and Black Bean Burgers. You can watch the segment on NECN.

Avocado Black Bean Beef Burger

Quiet on the set! Our avocado black bean burger is a star :)

A bag of four CA avocados from Trader Joe’s and we’re all set for the summer cookout season.

California Avocado Beef and Black Bean Burger

Makes 8 Servings

Thanks to the addition of black beans and California Avocado, our burgers boast a boatload of added nutrients: fiber, protein, and good-for-you monounsaturated fats to name just a few. Interestingly, avocados act as a “nutrient booster” by enhancing the body’s absorption of fat soluble nutrients including beta-carotene and lutein, an antioxidant that maintains healthy eyesight as we age.

  • 1 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 ripe, Fresh California Avocados, peeled, seeded *
  • 1¼ lb. lean ground beef (90% lean or higher)
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro, plus extra whole leaves for topping
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 8 thin slices reduced-fat Cheddar cheese
  • 8 whole wheat hamburger buns, lightly toasted
  • Thinly sliced tomatoes
  • Lettuce leaves

1. Preheat the outdoor grill to medium.

2. Place the beans on a cutting board and mash with the back of a fork or large spoon until smooth, but still a bit chunky. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.

3. Place an avocado half on a cutting board and mash with the back of a fork. Transfer to the mixing bowl and stir together with the beans.

4. Add the beef, cilantro, bread crumbs, cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper and mix until well combined. Divide the beef mixture and shape into patties, each a bit larger in diameter than the hamburger buns. Create a small dimple in the center of the burger patty by pressing down with your fingers.

5. Place the patties on the grill and cook until no longer pink inside and an instant-read thermometer registers at least 160°F, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Place cheese slices on top of patties about 2 minute before done.

6. While the burgers are cooking, slice the remaining avocado into thin slices. Place slices on a serving platter along with the tomatoes, lettuce leaves, and additional cilantro as desired.

7. When the burgers are done, serve on buns and offer toppers on the side.

* Large avocados are recommended for this recipe. A large avocado averages about 8 ounces. If using smaller or larger size avocados, adjust the quantity accordingly. Wash your avocados before cutting.

Nutrition Information per Serving (1 burger): Calories 320; Total Fat 13 g (Sat 5 g, Trans 0 g, Poly 0.5 g, Mono 4 g); Cholesterol 55 mg; Sodium 544 mg; Potassium 350 mg; Total Carbohydrates 24 g; Dietary Fiber 4 g; Total Sugars 4 g; Protein 28 g; Vitamin A 679 IU; Vitamin C 6 mg; Calcium 285 mg; Iron 3 mg; Vitamin D 5 IU; Folate 19 mcg; Omega 3 Fatty Acid 0.06 g

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Disclosure: We created this recipe for the California Avocado Commission and were compensated for the recipe and social media outreach. All opinions are solely our own. For more avocado recipes, you can visit CaliforniaAvocado.com

A Father’s Day Breakfast-in-Bed Recipe for Crunchy Oat-y Granola

When Mother’s Day rolls around, we love all the attention from our families, so we’re paying it forward this year for Father’s Day with a hearty, dad style, breakfast-in-bed recipe. Our Crunchy Oat-y Granola is easy enough for your kids to make on their own (or with supervision depending on their ages), and it’s extra special when layered with low-fat vanilla Greek yogurt and fresh berries. Our homemade, better-for-you granola is delicious, nutritious, and every bite says, “Dad, I love you!”

Crunchy Oat-y Granola via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

We prefer Greek yogurt to regular because it’s got double the protein; something dads are sure to appreciate.

DIY Granola via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

One of the things we love about most store-bought granolas is the clusters. To achieve crunchy clusters, we added an egg white to the recipe, which gave us the results we were looking for. (Check out our blog post on how to store and use leftover egg yolks.)

Crunchy Oat-y Granola

Makes 12 Half-Cup Servings
(You can easily cut this recipe in half if you’d prefer a yield of three cups granola versus six)

This recipe is flexible, so if your hubby (or dad) happens to be a bit picky—yes, some guys can be finicky at times—you can make plenty of adjustments. You can use raisins or currants versus cranberries, pecans or almonds versus walnuts, or leave out the shredded coconut if you please. And when it comes time to build the parfait, any flavor yogurt or fruit works just fine. We hope dads will appreciate our homemade granola for its flavor as well as its heart healthy attributes. Instead of butter in this recipe, we use canola oil which is high in omega-3 fats and low in saturated fat. The good news: Canola oil may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.

  • 3 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 1 cup roughly chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup roasted, salted sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup shredded, sweetened coconut, optional
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup wheat germ
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup expeller pressed canola oil
  • 1 egg white (save the yolk for a later use)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup dried cranberries

1. Preheat the oven to 300°F. Lightly oil or coat two medium-size baking sheets with nonstick cooking spray and set aside. (If you are making half a recipe, just use one large, rimmed baking sheet.)

2. Stir together the oats, walnuts, sunflower seeds, coconut as desired, brown sugar, wheat germ, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk the canola oil, egg white, and vanilla until well blended. Pour over the oat mixture and stir until well coated.

3. Spread the mixture evenly on the prepared baking sheets and place in the oven side by side. Bake about 25 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, or until golden brown. When done, cool about 10 minutes before stirring in the cranberries.

* To make parfaits, use about 1/2 cup granola and layer with your favorite low-fat Greek yogurt and fresh sliced fruit.

Nutrition Information per Serving (1/2 cup granola): 320 calories, 20g fat (1.5g saturated, 1.7g omega-3), 55mg sodium, 31g carbohydrate, 4g fiber, 7g protein, 10% vitamin C

Print Recipe

Crunchy Oat-y Granola

Visit CanolaInfo.org for more breakfast-in-bed and brunch recipes as well as complete nutrition information.

Disclosure: CanolaInfo is currently a Meal Makeover Moms’ Kitchen sponsor, and we created this recipe on their behalf. We were compensated for our work. Our ideas and opinions are our own.

Foods to Keep You Cool on Hot Summer Days … And a Recipe for Watermelon Pomegranate Pops

Late last week, I got a call from NECN, a local TV station here in the Boston area, asking me to come in and record a segment on what to eat and drink on hot days to keep you cool. After several days of 90-plus degree weather, the segment was timely to say the least. To watch the segment, visit the NECN website.

Watermelon Pomegranate Pops

During the “live” segment, I gave four tips including this one: Make Homemade Frozen Fruit Pops to stay hydrated and to cool down. Making your own pops avoids the excess sugar found in many store-bought brands … and the artificial colors. These Watermelon Pomegranate Pops are featured in our cookbook, No Whine with Dinner, and it’s the simplest recipe in the book.

Watermelon Pomegranate Pops via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

Photo taken with the Camera + app and edited in Instagram.

Watermelon Pomegranate Pops

Makes 4 Servings

Any 100% fruit juice and any fruit can easily be blended together and then frozen for refreshing pops. You can always add some Greek yogurt for protein and calcium!

  • 1½ cups cubed seedless watermelon
  • 1/2 cup 100% Pomegranate blueberry juice *

1. Combine the watermelon and juice in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into four 3-ounce ice pop molds and freeze until firm, about 3 hours. To remove the pops from the molds, run under warm water to loosen. If you don’t have ice pop molds, divide the liquid between four paper cups. Cover each cup with foil, insert one craft stick through the center of each foil, and freeze.

* We like Minute Maid Enhanced Pomegranate Blueberry juice. If you can’t find it, pomegranate juice would work just fine as would apple juice.

Nutrition Information per Serving (1 pop): 30 calories, 0g fat (0g saturated), 0mg sodium, 9g carbohydrate, 0g fiber, 0g protein, 15% vitamin C

Print Recipe

Other ways to keep cool when the mercury rises …

Hydration via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

Drink a Lot of Water! If water doesn’t float your boat, flavor it naturally with slices of cucumber, oranges or other citrus, strawberries, and mint to break from the boredom.

Go Heavy on Fruits and Veggies. Produce contains a lot of water, it’s easy to digest, and when you freeze it, you get the added cooling effect. I love frozen grapes (thaw them out for a few minutes so they’re just easy enough to bite into), blueberries, and even peas.

NECN hydration segment

And my final tip, Eat Spicy Foods like chili peppers. Capsaicin, the natural chemical in spicy foods that makes them hot,  helps to cool you down. Capsaicin revs up blood circulation, which brings more blood from the core of the body to the skin’s surface. And it dilates capillaries in the skin. The net result is that it makes you sweat, which helps to regulate body temperature. When you perspire, the moisture on your skin evaporates, and when it evaporates into the air, it brings some of your body heat with it. To feel the effects even more, stand in front of a fan.

Watermelon Pomegranate Pops

Feel free to share your favorite frozen pop recipes with us!

A Memorial Day Dessert Recipe to Add Color, Flavor, and Great Nutrition to Your Family’s Diet: Apple, Rhubarb & Berry Crisp

You’ve been asked to bring dessert to a Memorial Day cookout this weekend. You look through your go-to recipes but you want something new, something different, and perhaps something a little lighter and healthier than what’s been in your recipe box (which, of course, is now online) for years. If you own a copy of No Whine with Dinner, consider our recipe for Nutty Apple Crisp. It’s made with apples and blueberries and an oat-based crust. Or, if you happen to have rhubarb growing in your garden or recently discovered some at your local market, try my new crisp makeover made with apples, blueberries, strawberries, and rhubarb!

Apples, rhubarb, berries for crisp via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

A Pink Lady apple, fresh rhubarb, blueberries, and strawberries come together naturally for my simple fruit crisp. By the way, your kids are going to love this recipe (well, at least, mine do)!

Rhubarb from Wilson Farm in Lexington MA via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen #rhubarb

Several times a week I stop by Wilson Farm (in Lexington, MA) for their gorgeous produce or one of their wholesome take-out items, and just this week, I discovered their “own” rhubarb. I immediately grabbed some and got to work on a new recipe. The farm is walking distance from my house, and I’m so lucky to have it in my neighborhood. Wilson’s has been growing, as they say, since 1884, and I hope they’re around for a few more centuries.

Apple, Rhubarb, Berry crisp via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

Here’s what the crisp looks like before it gets topped …

Apple, Rhubarb & Berry Crisp via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

And here’s what it looks like when the topping is layered over the fruit.

Apple Rhubarb Crisp via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

Getting kids to eat more fruits and veggies (did you know rhubarb is technically a vegetable?) is easy with this recipe for Apple, Rhubarb & Berry Crisp. I limit the amount of sugar to just 1/3 cup in the filling and 2 tablespoons in the topping. You can increase the brown sugar a bit if you prefer a slightly sweeter crisp. Rhubarb has a mouth-puckering, tart flavor, so you’ll need some sweetness added for sure.

Apple, Rhubarb & Berry Crisp

Makes 6 Servings

Rhubarb is low in calories, contains antioxidants (all veggies do), and interestingly, the red stalks have more vitamin A than the green. The combo of three fruits—apples, strawberries, blueberries—and one veggie—rhubarb—comes together beautifully for this warm-weather dessert. The crisp topping is just as wholesome, made with oats, pecans, and wheat germ. I served the crisp with “creamy” low-fat vanilla Greek yogurt versus the usual high fat ice cream or whipped cream. To make this recipe gluten free, use GF oats and flaxseed.

  • 8 ounces rhubarb, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 8 ounces strawberries, quartered (you can cut smaller berries in half)
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 large Pink Lady apple (or any other sweet, firm apple), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons brown sugar, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided
  • 1½ tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3/4 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped pecans
  • 2 tablespoons wheat germ (I used Kretschmer Original Toasted) or ground flaxseed
  • A few pinches kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons expeller pressed canola oil
  • Low-fat vanilla Greek yogurt, optional

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Place the rhubarb, strawberries, blueberries, and apples in a large bowl and stir gently to combine. Add 1/3 cup of the brown sugar, cornstarch, and 1/4 teaspoon of the cinnamon and stir gently until the fruit is evenly coated.

2. Place the fruit mixture in an 8 x 8-inch baking pan or dish and set aside.

3. To make the topping, place the oats, pecans, the remaining brown sugar, wheat germ, the remaining cinnamon, and kosher salt in a medium bowl and stir to combine. Add the oil and stir until the oat mixture is well coated. Spread the topping evenly over the fruit mixture.

4. Bake 40 to 45 minutes, or until the fruit is tender and the topping is golden brown. (Cover with foil about halfway through to prevent the topping from browning too quickly.) Serve with vanilla Greek yogurt as desired.

Nutrition Information per Serving: 270 calories, 15g fat (1g saturated, 0.8 omega-3), 5mg sodium, 34g carbohydrate, 5g fiber, 4g protein, 50% vitamin C

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Apple Rhubarb & Berry Crisp via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

I’m a pushover for pretty dishes, and this Juliska bowl really makes my day! I’m not sure my kids appreciated eating out of it, but for me, it made the crisp that much sweeter :)

On a final note, Wilson Farm is now carrying our cookbook, No Whine with Dinner. Here it is, as of today, in the farm’s new cookbook section! Stop by the farm if you’re ever in the area, and have an awesome Memorial Day Weekend!

A Mother’s Day Recipe for Peanut Butter Crepes with Strawberry Sauce … and a Sneak Peek at my Recent Trip to Napa

I’ve never made crepes before—at least not that I can remember—but they’re super easy to make, even if you’re a kid with a dad hovering over your shoulder. These peanut-butter filled crepes are the perfect breakfast-in-bed treat for Mother’s Day … and they’re healthy too! All YOU have to do is copy the recipe and pass it along to your family. HINT HINT!

Peanut Butter Crepes with Strawberry Sauce via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen #MothersDay #Breakfast #Nutrition

Many of the crepe recipes I’ve seen are made with lots of butter (yes, I used some, but not much, and I used “light”), filled with all sorts of decadent cream cheese-laden ingredients, and topped with whipped cream. My crepes are a lot lighter, which is something I know you moms will appreciate. They provide a nice helping of protein thanks to the heart-healthy peanut butter and the Greek yogurt, and they’re filled with vitamin C from the strawberries. Plus … they are gorgeous to look at.

Peanut Butter Crepes with Strawberry Sauce via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen #MothersDay #Breakfast #Nutrition

The motivation for making crepes was twofold: First, it’s Mother’s Day, and when we asked our Facebook fans what they would love as a breakfast-in-bed surprise for Sunday, crepes topped the list (along with waffles). Second, last weekend, I traveled to Napa, CA for a food and nutrition conference sponsored by the Peanut Institute. We spent some time at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone where a peanut butter crepe recipe was demonstrated. My recipe is a version of that one.

This is the view from my window as we flew towards California. A feast for the eyes!

Culinary Institute of America

A chef at the CIA demonstrated an interesting technique for making crepes. She suggested blending the crepe batter ingredients—a quick way to get everything incorporated—and said the key to crepe success is a nonstick pan. You can certainly use a lot less butter that way.

Peanut Butter Crepes with Strawberry Sauce via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen #MothersDay #Breakfast #Nutrition

Peanut Butter Crepes with Strawberry Topping

Makes 6 Servings

Peanuts are one of nature’s most nutrient-rich foods. Hmmm … where to begin? They contain vitamin E, which research shows boosts the immune system and lowers heart disease risk. They also contain more arginine (an amino acid) than any other food; arginine improves circulation and may help to lower blood pressure. And studies indicate that when people include peanuts and peanut butter in their daily diets they have lower BMIs and body weight. The nutrient analysis for this recipe is per crepe, and I suggest you serve it with lots of fresh, sliced strawberries on the side. (Recipe adapted from the Culinary Institute of America.)

  • One 12-ounce bag frozen organic strawberries (about 2 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt plus a pinch, divided
  • 3/4 cup 1% low-fat milk
  • 1 large egg (preferably an omega-3 egg)
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour or whole wheat
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons light butter, melted, divided
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 3/4 cup 0%-fat vanilla Greek yogurt
  • Sliced fresh strawberries for topping, optional
  • Powdered sugar, optional

1. Place the strawberries, sugar, lemon juice, 1/8 teaspoon of the cinnamon, and a pinch of the salt, in a small or medium saucepan. Place over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and continue to cook at a low boil, stirring every few minutes, until the berries break down and the mixture is nice and syrupy, 15 to 20 minutes. To speed things up, use the back of a spoon to smoosh the berries against the side of the saucepan as you stir.

2. Remove the berries from the heat and transfer to a bowl (you’ll have about 1 cup of sauce). Let cool to room temperature, or cover and place in the refrigerator for later use.

3. To make the crepes, place the milk, egg, whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, 1 tablespoon of the melted butter, 1/8 teaspoon of the cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt in a blender and blend until smooth and all ingredients are incorporated.

4. Heat an 8-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Lightly brush the pan with a bit of the remaining 1 tablespoon melted butter. Place a scant 1/4 cup of the batter into the pan and swirl to form an even layer. Cook until the bottom is lightly browned, 60 to 90 seconds. Use a spatula to flip the crepe and cook an additional 30 seconds. Transfer to a plate and cover with parchment paper. Repeat with the remaining butter and batter. (You can make the crepes ahead of time, cover, and place in the fridge. Before assembly, simply heat each crepe for about 10 seconds in the microwave.)

5. To assemble, spread 2 teaspoons peanut butter on each warm crepe. Spread on about 1 tablespoon of the strawberry sauce. Fold the crepes in half and then in half again to create a triangle. Top or serve with Greek yogurt, the remaining strawberry sauce, and sliced berries and powdered sugar as desired.

Nutrition Information per Serving (1 crepe):  200 calories, 9g fat (3g saturated), 150mg sodium, 23g carbohydrate, 3g fiber, 9g protein, 40% vitamin C

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Post a comment and let me know what you had for Mother’s Day!

Disclosure: I do not work for the Peanut Institute, but my travel expenses associated with the conference were paid for.  All opinions and recipes are mine and the scientific research addressed in this post is based on peer-reviewed, published studies.

A Recipe for Do-It-Yourself Chocolate Syrup … Plus Other DIY Recipe Mixes (Podcast #217)

When you assemble things like taco seasoning mix, pancake mix, and your own mixes for chocolate syrup and creamed soups, you end up saving money, using less packaging, and getting unpronounceable ingredients out of your family’s diet. This week on our Cooking with the Moms radio show, we chat with fellow dietitian, Melanie Zook, MA, RD from Fresh Start Nutrition about the benefits and how-tos of DIY recipe mixes … and we share our recipe for Beef & Bean Taco Bundles, which relies on Melanie’s from-scratch seasoning mix.

DIYChocSyrup

You won’t find high fructose corn syrup in Melanie’s chocolate syrup mix; just simple ingredients right from the pantry. While her mix is not sugar free, you certainly know what you’re getting in each spoonful.

SyrupEdited

A little bit of chocolate syrup goes a long way when it comes to drizzling over fresh strawberries or swirling into a cool glass of low-fat milk.

Do-It-Yourself Chocolate Syurp

Makes About 28 Tablespoons

Melanie suggests using organic ingredients when possible. To be exact, she uses the fair trade, organic evaporated cane juice, available at BJs and Costco.

  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Place sugar, cocoa powder, and salt in a small saucepan, and whisk together gently.

2. Whisk in water. Bring mixture to a gentle boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer 1 minute. Remove from heat and whisk in vanilla extract.

3. Cool the mixture, place in a container, and store in the refrigerator.

Nutrition Information per Serving (2 tablespoons): 90 calories, 0g fat, 10mg sodium, 24g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 1g protein

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Many thanks to Melanie for coming onto our show and for serving up her DIY mix creations. (Photoed above: DIY Chocolate Syrup and our Beef & Bean Taco Bundles.)

A Patriot’s Day Pancake Breakfast … and a Recipe for Apple Walnut Pancakes

Time flies. I can’t believe it’s already mid April and that another Patriot’s Day celebration has come and gone. Yesterday was the Patriot’s Day parade in Lexington, MA where I live, and today, I stopped by one of the many pancake breakfasts that take place each year at area churches. After the breakfast, Simon and I cheered Tim on as he ran in the 99th annual Lions Club Patriot’s Day 5 mile road race. This morning, before we were all off and running, I cooked up a brand new pancake recipe … just for YOU. (This is becoming a habit; last Patriot’s Day, I created a recipe for Silver Dollar Banana Blueberry Pancakes.)

I love the whole grain oats and whole wheat flour in this recipe, the naturally sweet flavor, and the stick-to-your ribs factor!

Even though my pancakes are better than the ones we typically get at Pancake Breakfast (not that I’m bragging or anything), it’s still a wonderful tradition, and I wouldn’t miss it for the world. Our favorite spot for pancakes is the First Baptist Church; we love the pretty blue plates, and they raise a lot of money for charity.

I’m glad Tim ate my apple pancakes before the race. He finished in about 38 minutes!

Apple Walnut Pancakes
Makes 5 Servings (14 -15 pancakes)

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed or wheat germ
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1½ cups 1% low-fat milk
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt
  • 1 medium apple, peeled, cored and finely diced
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, lightly toasted and coarsely chopped

1. Whisk together the all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, oats, flaxseed, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl.

2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, egg, and yogurt until well blended. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Stir in the apple and walnuts until combined.

3. Lightly oil or coat a large nonstick skillet or griddle with nonstick cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat. Pour the batter onto the hot skillet using a 1/4-cup measuring cup, forming 4-inch pancakes.

4. Cook until bubbles begin to appear on the surface of the pancakes and the bottoms turn golden, about 3 minutes. Adjust heat if the bottoms brown too quickly. Flip, flatten gently with a spatula and cook until the other sides are golden, an additional 2 to 3 minutes. Repeat with the remaining cooking spray and batter.

Nutrition Information per Serving (about 3 pancakes): 330 calories, 11g fat (1.5g saturated, 1.1g omega-3), 350mg sodium, 47g carbohydrate, 6g fiber, 12g protein, 30% calcium, 15% iron

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Hmmm. What to cook up for next year’s Patriot’s Day? :)

A Recipe for Apple Crisp Snack Parfaits, A Recipe for Roasted Carrot Hummus, and Snacking Tips for Teens (Podcast #216)

As a mom of two teenage boys, I spend a lot of time getting meals and snacks on the table. Josh turns 18 next week, and he has a fuel tank (AKA stomach) that’s impossible to top off. Simon, 14, has never had as big an appetite, but lately, he seems to be catching up to his big brother. Soccer season has kicked off for both boys, and Simon definitely has the golf bug; after school, he’s gotten in the habit of hitting (fake) golf balls around the back yard! On this week’s Cooking with the Moms podcast, we share snacking tips for teens and two recipes: Apple Crisp Snack Parfaits and Roasted Carrot Hummus.

Once his homework is done ….

… Simon hits the back yard “links.” Then, it’s snack time! My goal when serving smart snacks is to pack as many good quality calories into each ravenous bite. Fruit, whole grains, and calcium-rich ingredients are always top of mind. Nine to 18-year olds need 1,300 milligrams of calcium each day — that’s more calcium than any other age group — because during the tween and teen years, bones are growing rapidly. (For more information, check out our Kids & Calcium fact sheet.)

Cooked apples, warmed red grapes, crunchy whole grain cereal, low-fat vanilla yogurt, and pure maple syrup come together quickly for this super-nutritious snack.  You can also serve these snack parfaits for breakfast.

Apple Crisp Snack Parfaits

Makes 2 Servings

Getting high-quality calories into teens’ tummies can be a challenge, especially when they’re left to their own devices. Teens tend to grab for sugary drinks and salty snacks, but with these apple crisp parfaits, you can easily tempt them back to good nutrition. Any whole grain cereal works well in this recipe, but if you’re gluten free, try the new lineup of gluten-free granola cereals from KIND. (They recently sent us some free samples and we were quite impressed!)

  • 1 tablespoon buttery spread or butter
  • 1 large apple, cut into 3/4-inch pieces (about 2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup red grapes, halved (I used Muscato grapes)
  • 1/2 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt
  • 2/3 cup whole grain granola cereal (I used KIND Healthy Grains Gluten-Free Granola)

1. Place buttery spread in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the apples and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, 10 minutes. Stir in the grapes, maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until warmed through, 2 minutes.

2. To create the parfaits, place a generous 1/4 cup of the apple mixture in the bottom of two parfait glasses (or any other pretty glass). Top each with 2 tablespoons yogurt and 3 tablespoons cereal. Repeat with the remaining apple mixture, yogurt, and cereal. You can build these parfaits while the apple mixture is warm, or you can cool it slightly first.

Nutrition Information per Serving (1 parfait): 320 calories, 9g fat (2.5g saturated) 100mg sodium, 57g carbohydrate, 6g fiber, 7g protein, 10% vitamin C, 15% calcium

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Even teens can be picky eaters. If that’s the case in your household, be sure to serve our parfaits in attractive glasses. The back story behind these glasses will make you laugh: I found them on the side of the road in my neighbors trash. As they say, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure!”

I found Muscato grapes at Whole Foods, but any variety of grape would work wonders in this recipe.

Carrot Hummus.2 001

We created this Roasted Carrot Hummus for our friends at HumanaVitality. It goes great with carrot and celery sticks, cucumber wheels, bell pepper strips, or baked tortilla chips.

Registered Dietitian Day … and a Recipe for Strawberry-Filled Toaster Pastries (AKA a Pop-Tart® Makeover) — Podcast #214

Today is Registered Dietitian Day … or RD Day for short. It’s a day when dietitians are acknowledged for the work they do to help friends, family, clients, and communities eat a healthy, wholesome, and delicious diet. We celebrate today with one of our most extreme recipe makeovers ever, created with our friends at Driscoll’s, for Strawberry-Filled Toaster Pastries, a wholesome, homemade makeover of Pop-Tarts®. We chat about both topics on this week’s Cooking with the Moms radio podcast. (For a thought-provoking essay on RD Day, check out this post on Juggling with Julia.)

Our toaster pastries get a healthy “fix” with a better-for-you pastry made with oats, ground flaxseed, and coconut oil, and naturally sweet filling made with luscious, fresh strawberries. (The type of saturated fat in coconut oil appears to have a neutral effect on serum cholesterol levels.)

For a lot of home cooks — including us — a major obstacle to making pastry is the “rolling out” part. We avoid the headache of dough that’s hard to handle or worse yet, sticks to the countertops, with the help of a gallon-size, zip-top bag. Simply split the dough in half, roll each half into a ball, and then place inside a zip-top bag. Roll out until the dough reaches all four corners. Freeze the dough and then cut into desired shapes.

Take the dough from the freezer and thaw for a minute or two. Measure out desired shape sizes and then cut with a kitchen scissor. A ruler comes in handy for this recipe; you’ll need 12 rectangles from each of the two zip-top bags.

We love the filling in this Pop-Tart® makeover. It’s made with half a pound of ruby red Driscoll’s strawberries. We add 2 tablespoons sugar, a tablespoon of lemon juice, and some cornstarch to thicken the mixture. Don’t you love the color?!

The tines of a fork helps to seal the pastries, keeping the luscious filling safely inside!

Strawberry-Filled Toaster Pastries are ready to be devoured! We created this recipe for our friends at Driscoll’s Berries. Visit their website for the recipe.

Disclosure: We worked with Driscoll’s to create this recipe and were compensated for our work. 

Cooking Classes at the Culinary Institute of America … And a Recipe for Lemon Olive Oil Cake with Blueberry Compote

Any time I can go to Napa Valley — for business or for pleasure — I jump at the opportunity. When the Food & Culinary Professionals (a sub group of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics) announced plans for a culinary workshop at the Culinary Institute of America, I think I was the first dietitian to sign up! On this week’s Cooking with the Moms podcast, I share the delicious details from my trip, and I serve up two new recipes: this one for Lemon Olive Oil Cake with Blueberry Compote and another one for gluten-free quinoa guacamole.

This olive oil cake may seem rich and decadent, but according to a new study on the benefits of a Mediterranean diet, eating EVOO every day can help to protect against cardiovascular disease and stroke.

The Culinary Institute of America has amazing facilities for classes with tiered seating and video screens. Hmmmm. And I thought the big island in my new kitchen was impressive!

What fun to start the day with an extra virgin olive oil (AKA fresh fruit juice) tasting. Heat and light are enemies of EVOO, so be sure to always store it in a cool, dark place.

The sweetness of the blueberry compote adds a luscious, family-pleasing flavor element to this awesome dessert.

Lemon Olive Oil Cake with Blueberry Compote

Makes 12 Servings

I ate lemon cake like this one at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone, and it was so delicious that knew I wanted to make it when I got home. When I looked at the recipe and saw 2 cups of sugar, 1½ cups of oil, and all white flour, I felt a mini makeover was in order, so I cut the oil and sugar in half and replaced half the white flour with whole wheat flour. I also created a blueberry compote for an added burst of great nutrition. To make this cake even prettier, sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.

Cake

  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt
  • 3/4 cup 1% low-fat milk
  • 3 tablespoons lemon zest (from about 2 lemons)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Blueberry Compote

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 cups frozen wild blueberries
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar 
  • Powdered sugar, optional

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly oil or coat a 9-inch springform cake pan with nonstick cooking spray or butter and set aside. (If you don’t have a springform pan, use a 10-inch cake pan and cook about 5 to 10 minutes less.)

2. Whisk together the eggs and granulated sugar in a large bowl. Add the olive oil, yogurt, milk, lemon zest, and lemon juice and whisk until well combined.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, baking powder, and salt until combined. Make a well in the dry ingredients, and slowly add the liquid ingredients, stirring until just combined and lumps are gone. (You may need to use a rubber scraper to smoosh the lumps against the sides of the bowl.) Do not overmix.

4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the cake is just pulling away from the sides of the pan. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and cool for 10 minutes. Remove the cake to a serving platter.

5. To make the blueberry compote, place the lemon juice and cornstarch in a small bowl and whisk until well combined. Set aside. Place the blueberries, water, and sugar in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat, add the cornstarch mixture, and simmer, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens, about 3 minutes.

6. Serve each cake slice with the compote, and sprinkle with powdered sugar as desired.

Nutrition Information per Serving (1 slice with 1½ tablespoons compote): 320 calories, 16g fat (2.5g saturated), 200mg sodium, 41g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 5g protein, 10% calcium

In the “before” recipe, each slice has 500 calories, 30 grams total fat, 5 grams saturated fat, and 55 grams carbohydrate.

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Every time I go to a culinary workshop at the Culinary Institute at Greystone in Napa Valley, I want to stay forever. It’s a food lover’s paradise :)

A Valentine Dessert Recipe for Super Strawberry Pudding and Digging Out From Nemo (Podcast #212)

After a weekend of shoveling and digging out from under 27 inches of snow (thank you Nemo), our kids were more than happy to dig into our latest recipe for Super Strawberry Pudding. Janice’s daughter, Leah, loved it so much and told us, “This is the best thing you’ve ever made!” Tune into this week’s Cooking with the Moms podcast for details on the epic snowstorm of 2013 and for two Valentine recipes: Super Strawberry Pudding and Chocolate Bean Valentine Brownies.

Our homemade pudding calls for frozen strawberries, Greek yogurt, and low-fat milk, and with a sliced strawberry on top, it’s the perfect treat for the valentines in your life.

Super Strawberry Pudding

Makes 6 Servings

Why turn to store-bought pudding when you can make it from scratch in a matter of minutes? This recipe is so simple that the kids can easily help.

  • 1 cup 1% low-fat milk
  • 8 ounces frozen strawberries, thawed (about 1½ cups)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup 0%-fat strawberry Greek yogurt
  • Chocolate shavings, optional
  • Sliced strawberries, optional

1. Place the milk and strawberries in a blender, and blend until completely pureed.  Set aside.

2. Place the sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a medium-size saucepan and whisk until combined. Gradually whisk in the milk/strawberry mixture. Add the vanilla extract.

3. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat and continue to simmer, stirring gently, until the mixture thickens slightly, about 2 minutes.

4. Remove from the heat and stir in the yogurt. Continue stirring gently to break up any bubbles that may have appeared on the top. Spoon the mixture into 6 individual bowls and chill in the refrigerator for about 2 hours. Garnish with shaved chocolate and berries as desired.

Nutrition Information per Serving (1/2 cup):  90 calories, 0g fat (0g saturated), 75mg sodium, 19g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 3g protein, 25% vitamin C, 8% calcium

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Liz’s Instagram obsession continues. She used it to give this photo an old-fashioned flare. If you’re on Instagram, click here to follow Liz.

Let is snow, let it snow, let it snow. After Nemo, it was a winter wonderland. The photo on the left shows what the roads looked like before the plows came through. Snowshoes anyone?

Gadget Gift Ideas from the Recipe Redux, An Italian Tomato Press, AND a Recipe for Bubbe’s Applesauce

My mom makes the best brisket in the world. She makes the best latkes. AND, she makes the best applesauce. My boys call my mom’s applesauce, Bubbe Sauce. (Bubbe is a term of endearment for a Jewish grandmother.) Her secret to applesauce success, other than the intuitive cooking that allows her to add a dash of this and a pinch of that with stunning success, is the smooth, lump-free texture. My dad, you see, won’t eat food if it’s lumpy. Yes, my mom is not just a great cook … she’s a saint.

To get the perfect consistency for her applesauce, my mom doesn’t mash nor does she puree. Instead, she runs the cooked apples — peel, seeds, and all — through an Italian Tomato Press that she bought at Williams-Sonoma ($39.95). I too am now the proud new owner of said device.

Yum!

For this month’s Recipe Redux, nutrition bloggers from across the web are sharing their favorite kitchen gadgets … and recipes to go with them. For the challenge, I chose the Italian Tomato Press, which I’m now calling my Handy-Dandy Applesauce Maker, and a recipe for Bubbie’s Applesauce. I hope the gadget roundup offers inspiration as you shop for last-minute holiday gifts or look to stock your kitchen with tools that bring better health and more nutrient-rich cooking to your family’s table in 2013.

The tomato press/applesauce maker is easy to operate (though I must confess that figuring out how to pull it apart in order to clean it was a bit confusing). Feed it cooked apples, turn the crank, and voila, applesauce. The skin comes out from one part of the machine and the smooth applesauce from another. When my 14-year-old son, Simon, got home from school and saw what I was doing, he stepped right in, refused to let me help, and cranked away. Whatever it takes …

Bubbe’s Applesauce

Makes 8 Servings

Applesauce is versatile. I used three pounds of organic gala apples, and I tossed in some dried cranberries and a cup of strawberries. The next time I make Bubbe’s Applesauce, I pan to use apples, a pear, and maybe even some dried apricots. As for sweetening the sauce, it may  not need anything, but you could certainly use brown sugar, honey, or agave. Homemade applesauce is nutritious — I’m loving the 5 grams of fiber — and since my boys adore it, it’s an easy way to get more fruit into their diets.

  • 3 pounds gala apples, quartered, stems removed (not peeled or even seeded)
  • 1 cup strawberries, stems removed
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Brown sugar, optional (add a tablespoon or two if you’re using tart ingredients like fresh cranberries or Granny Smith apples, or add at the end to taste)

1. Place the apples, strawberries, water, cranberries, lemon juice, and cinnamon in a medium Dutch oven or saucepan and stir to combine. Place over medium-high heat, cover, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the apples are very tender, about 45 minutes. (If you want to speed up the cooking time, cut the apples into smaller pieces.) Let cool about 10 minutes.

2. Working in batches, press the cooked fruit mixture through the tomato press. Add the juices too. Run the peel through the press two or three times to press out as much of the fruit as possible. Sweeten with brown sugar to taste.

Nutrition Information per Serving (1/2 cup): 110 calories, 0g fat (0g saturated), 0mg sodium, 29g carbohydrate, 5g fiber, 0g protein, 35% vitamin C

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Here’s a picture of my mom and dad. I took it last year as they celebrated the 50th birthday of their trusty GE refrigerator. Too cute ….

Check out all of the other Recipe Redux kitchen gadget ideas and recipes from our fellow registered dietitians.

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A Recipe for Autumn Apple Pumpkin Cake, an Unusual Pumpkin Patch Made of Glass, AND a New England Food Basket Giveaway {GIVEAWAY CLOSED}

Fall is my favorite time of the year. The weather cools down — but there’s no snow yet — the leaves turn to a beautiful rainbow of colors, and the markets are filled with crisp, local apples, gorgeous pumpkins (including some stunning glass-blown ones you’ll read about further down in the post), luscious squash, hot apple cider … you get the gist. I love it, and autumn inspires me to cook with the flavors of the season.

The ingredients in this cake that remind me of crisp October days are apples, pumpkin, toasted walnuts, and spices including cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg.

This cake makes 16 servings, but in my household of three boys (two teens and one husband), the cake doesn’t last long!

Autumn Apple Pumpkin Cake

Makes 16 Servings

There are so many nutrient-rich ingredients in this dessert recipe that I’m not sure where to begin. It’s a dessert so it’s not sugar free, but I hope I made up for it with the whole wheat flour, pumpkin, apples, walnuts, currants, and heart-healthy canola oil.

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup lightly toasted walnuts, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 1½ cups granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup canned 100% pure pumpkin
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups peeled, cored and diced Granny Smith apples (I cut the apples into small, 1/4-inch dice and used 2 medium apples, about 7 ounces each)
  • 1/2 cup dried currants
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar, optional

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Generously oil or coat a 10-cup bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

2. Whisk together the all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, walnuts, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and baking soda in a large bowl until well combined.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar, and oil until well combined. Add the pumpkin and vanilla extract and continue to whisk until well blended. Pour the liquid ingredients over the try ingredients and stir until just moistened. Add the apples and currants and stir until combined.

4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and smooth the top with a rubber spatula. Bake about 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack and cool for 15 minutes before removing from the pan.

5. Cool the cake completely, and dust the top with powdered sugar as desired.

Nutrition Information per Serving (1 slice): 330 calories, 15g fat (1.5g saturated, 1.5g omega-3), 240mg sodium, 45g carbohydrate, 3g fiber, 5g protein, 20% vitamin A, 10% iron

Print Recipe

A few weeks ago, I stopped by MIT in Cambridge, MA for the Great Glass Pumpkin Patch annual event. I was joined by my friend Deanna and my mother-in-law, Joy. A thousand of these beauties were sold to benefit the MIT Glass Lab. You may not know this, but in my next life, I WILL be a glass blower :)

Stunning! Some of the glass pumpkins cost $50.00 while others were as high as $2,000.00!!

 GIVEAWAY NEWS: We’re giving away a traditional Vermont-style, autumn breakfast gift basket to ONE lucky winner. Thanks to our friends at Cabot Creamery, our winner will receive 1 pound of Vintage Choice Cheddar from Cabot, 1 pound cob-smoked bacon, 1 pint pure Vermont maple syrup, and 1 buttermilk pancake mix. (U.S. only please.)

TO ENTER: Leave a comment here or on Facebook and tell us about your favorite foods of fall; a recipe, a throw-together meal, a seasonal ingredient. (U.S. only please.) We will enter you into the giveaway additional times if you …

> Subscribe to our RSS feed.
> Tweet about the giveaway with a link back to this post.
> Share the giveaway news with your Facebook fans and friends with a link back to the post.
> Follow us on Pinterest.
> Follow The Meal Makeover Moms on Twitter (@MealMakeovrMoms)

Please be sure to leave us a new comment every time you do something extra, and GOOD LUCK. The giveaway ends on November 12 at noon, and as always we’ll use Random.org to pick our winner.

Mohonk Mountain House Adventures and a Recipe for Better Blueberry Buckle

Visiting the Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, New York is like taking a step back in time. My family has been going there for the past six summers — though my first trip to Mohonk took place when I was just a wee lass of eight. On our most recent trip last month, we were warmly welcomed with a jar of homemade raspberry jam and a recipe for Mohonk Mountain House’s Heirloom Berry Buckle. Needless to say, I immediately noticed that their buckle called for A LOT of sugar and butter. Please don’t think I’m putting them down, but after the long weekend, I couldn’t help but try my hand at my own version of a buckle. Here’s what I came up with with the help of my oh-so- talented partner in MMM crime, Janice.

A buckle or crumble is defined as a type of cake made in a single layer with berries added to the batter. It is usually made with blueberries. The topping is similar to a streusel, which gives it a buckled or crumpled appearance. (Source: What’s Cooking America.)

Better Blueberry Buckle

Makes 8 Servings

For the batter we added some whole wheat pastry flour and ground flaxseed for more fiber and nutrients, and we gave butter the boot in favor of heart-healthy canola oil. We used an Eggland’s Best egg for extra omega-3, vitamin D, and vitamin E and kept the sugar to just half a cup. For flavor and texture, we used vanilla yogurt, lemon juice, and lemon zest. As for the topping, once again, we swapped the butter for canola, and we turned to oats for crunch.

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup expeller pressed canola oil
  • 1/2 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt
  • 1/4 cup 1% low-fat milk
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1¼ cups blueberries

For the Topping

  • 1/4 cup old fashioned or quick-cooking oats
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon expeller pressed canola oil

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly oil or coat a 9-inch round cake pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

2. Whisk together the all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, flaxseed, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl.

3.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, sugar, and the canola oil until well blended. Whisk in the yogurt, milk, lemon zest, and lemon juice.

4.  Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Gently stir in the blueberries. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan.

5. To make the topping, place the oats, brown sugar, flaxseed, and cinnamon in a small bowl and stir to combine. Add the oil and stir until the oat mixture is well coated. Spread the topping evenly over the batter.

6.  Bake about 35 minutes, or until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. (Cover lightly with foil about halfway through if the topping browns too quickly.) Transfer to a wire rack and cool, or serve while still warm.

Tip: If you don’t have blueberries, you can use raspberries instead (same amount).

Nutrition Information per Serving (1 slice): 280 calories, 11g fat (1g saturated, 1.3g omega-3), 200mg sodium, 40g carbohydrate, 3g fiber, 5g protein

Print Recipe

There are endless fitness opportunities at Mononk. During my hike to the look-out tower, I looked down and saw my boys swimming across the lake with a group of other guests.

Simon and Josh are OBSESSED with fishing and spend most of their time at Mohonk at the “secret spot.” This year, they caught a bunch of rainbow trout, and one unlucky fish ended up on our dinner table. The chef at Mohonk was kind enough to create this gorgeous dish of rainbow trout with roasted tomatoes, bell peppers, and Kalamata olives. My dad felt bad eating the fish since it had led a happy life, but knowing that the lake is stocked, the rest of us enjoyed the meal without too much guilt.

My mom and dad have been married for 57 years and they’re still going strong!

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Orange Sunglasses! In the photo: my sister Marian, my niece Andrea, my mom, me, and my sister Amy.

Mohonk is a magical place filled with activities to suite anyone’s fitness level, food preferences, or state of mind. From strolling through the gardens and feasting outside at the Granary to reading a book on the grand front porch to yoga, it’s a place where extended families can gather to enjoy quality time together. I’m already counting the days until next summer :)

Overnight Oats, Whipped Banana Oatmeal, and the Many Reasons to Add Oats to Your Diet (Podcast #199)

Back in the late 1980′s, a scientific study found that eating oat bran lowered blood cholesterol levels. What followed was a nationwide oat bran craze, and new food products hit the market including silly things like potato chips and even beer made with oat bran. Fast forward to 2012, and oats are still hot stuff! From conversations with our Facebook fans, it’s clear consumers are still in love with oats and oatmeal, so we decided to devote this week’s Cooking with the Moms radio podcast to them. For expert advice on all things oats  — their nutritional value, how to cook with them, what to top them with — we turned to fellow dietitian, oatmeal aficionado, and mom-to-be, Kath from the blog, Kath Eats Real Food.

When it comes to topping your oatmeal, anything goes. Here, we chose toasted pecans, berries, dried fruit, shredded coconut, and pure maple syrup. Another option: peanut butter or any other nut butter.

Now that most kids are back at school (“boo hoo” or “ya hoo?” … you decide!), try this stick-to-your ribs Overnight Oatmeal from our friend Kath at Kath Eats Real Food to keep them sustained throughout the morning.

Overnight Oats
Kath says
“overnight oats are just oats soaked overnight that absorb the liquid you put them in; any kind of liquid you like. The most common mixture is equal parts raw rolled oats, milk and yogurt (I like 1/3 or 1/2 cup of each).” She suggests topping your bowl of oats with whatever you love!

  • 1/3 cup rolled oats
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup milk (depending on how thick you like it)
  • 1/3 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1/2 tablespoon chia seeds
  • Pinch salt
  • Pinch cinnamon

1. Stir everything together in a bowl. Place in fridge overnight. In the morning top with something crunchy and something with healthy fats – like nut butter or nuts.

2. Heat in the microwave to take the chill out.

A quick Q&A on oats:

What is the difference between steel-cut and rolled oats? Steel-cut (Irish) oats are cut into tiny chunks with a steel blade, which gives them a chewier texture when cooked. Rolled oats are softened with steaming and then pressed through metal rollers to flatten. Quick cooking oats are pressed even thinner than regular rolled oats to speed up cook time and allow more water to penetrate.

Is there a difference in nutritional value between steel cut and rolled oats? There’s some confusion out there about which type of oatmeal is nutritionally superior, and surprisingly, it turns out that steel cut and rolled oats are very similar. Both are whole-grain oats with all three parts of the grain — the bran, germ, and endosperm — intact. The only differences are their textures and cooking times.

General oatmeal nutrition: The soluble fiber in oatmeal helps reduce the bad LDL cholesterol and has also been shown to decrease the risk of Type II diabetes. Oatmeal also contains beta-glucans, shown to reduce the risk of certain cancers. Oats are different than other grains because they contain more protein, good-for-you fats and fewer carbs. Oatmeal is also a good source of B vitamins including thiamin, niacin, and folate.

For the Whipped Banana Oatmeal that we talked about on the show, visit Kath’s site. (Photo courtesy: Kath Eats Real Food.)

PS: Kath is having a baby any day now, so we were eager to get this post and podcast up ASAP. GOOD LUCK KATH!!!!!

Our Favorite Summer Fruit Makes its Way Into a Surprising Makeover Recipe for California Avocado Yogurt Key Lime Pie (Podcast #197) PLUS a Gourmet Gift Basket Giveaway {giveaway is closed}

We’ve cooked up a lot of amazing makeovers over the years, but this one for Key Lime Pie really takes the cake (or shall we say, pie)! Key Lime Pie is often made with ingredients like sweetened condensed milk in the filling and lots of butter in the crust. We reinvented — and healthified — both, with our latest recipe for California Avocado Yogurt Key Lime Pie. On this week’s Cooking with the Moms podcast, we dish about summer entertaining, our  Key Lime Pie makeover, our recipe for Avocado and Chicken Summer Sandwich, and the many reasons we love avocados … and summer.

To replace the thickening power and sweetness of the sweetened condensed milk, we use luscious avocados, Greek yogurt, agave, light coconut milk, and gelatin. Don’t be intimidated by the gelatin … it’s easier to use than you may think!

California Avocado Yogurt Key Lime Pie

Makes 10 Servings

Avocados contain heart-healthy monounsaturated fat. They’re also loaded with nearly 20 vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Not bad for our favorite fruit! Avocados from CA are in season from spring to fall.

  • 2 ripe, fresh California avocados, quartered, peeled and seeded
  • 1/2 cup non-fat vanilla Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup light agave nectar
  • 1 lime, zested
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup light coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup lime juice
  • 1 envelope unflavored gelatin
  • Graham Cracker Almond Crust (see make-ahead recipe below)
  • Raspberries, light whipped cream, toasted shredded coconut for garnish (optional)

1. Place avocados in the bowl of a food processor with the yogurt, agave, lime zest and vanilla extract; pulse until well combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Set aside.

2. Place the coconut milk in a small saucepan and bring to low boil. Set aside. Place the lime juice in a large bowl. Sprinkle the gelatin over the juice and let stand 1 minute. Gently whisk in the hot coconut milk. Continue to whisk until the gelatin completely dissolves, about 5 minutes. Stir in the avocado mixture until well combined.

3. Pour the mixture into the prepared pie crust. Carefully transfer to the refrigerator and chill, uncovered, until firm, about 3 hours. Garnish with optional toppings. (Store leftovers in the refrigerator, and cover with plastic wrap.)

All we use in the crust is one tablespoon of butter. Imagine that! Almonds, which are naturally rich in the good-for-you monounsaturated fats, help to moisten the crust.

Graham Cracker Almond Crust

  • 1/2 cup unsalted, whole roasted almonds
  • 7 whole graham crackers (14 squares)
  • 3 Tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 egg white

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. Place the almonds in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until coarsely ground. Add the graham crackers, sugar and salt and pulse until finely ground. Add the butter and egg white and pulse until evenly moistened and combined.

3. Press the crumb mixture firmly on the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch pie plate. Bake 10 to 12 minutes, or until fragrant and golden. Cool completely before filling.

Nutrition Information Per Serving (1 slice of pie): Calories 220; Total Fat 11g (Sat 2.5 g, Trans 0 g, Poly 1.5 g, Mono 6 g); Cholesterol less than 5mg; Sodium 100mg; Potassium 340mg; Total Carbohydrates 27g; Dietary Fiber 2g; Total Sugars 1 g; Protein 6g

Print Recipe

GIVEAWAY NEWS:  Thanks to our friends at the California Avocado Commission, one lucky blog reader, Facebook fan, or podcast listener will win a gourmet gift basked filled with beautiful avocados from California, a bamboo cutting board, an avocado slicer, a copy of our cookbook, No Whine with Dinner, and lots more.

TO ENTER: Leave a comment here or on Facebook and tell us about your favorite way to eat avocados in summer. We will enter you into the giveaway additional times if you …

> Subscribe to our RSS feed.
> Tweet about the giveaway with a link back to this post.
> Share the giveaway news with your Facebook fans and friends with a link back to the post.
> Follow us on Pinterest.
> Follow The Meal Makeover Moms on Twitter (@MealMakeovrMoms)

Please be sure to leave us a new comment every time you do something extra, and GOOD LUCK. The giveaway ends on August 24th at noon, and as always we’ll use Random.org to pick our winner.

Disclosure:  We created this recipe for the California Avocado Commission, and they are sponsoring this giveaway.

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