French Kids Eat Everything Giveaway and a Recipe for Five-Minute Fish en Papillote (Podcast #195)

Getting kids to eat and LOVE a healthy, veggie-filled diet can be a challenge for some families. Here to the rescue is Karen Le Billon, mother of two and author of the new book, French Kids Eat Everything: How our family moved to France, cured picky eating, banned snacking, and discovered 10 simple rules for raising happy, healthy eaters. Wow, that’s a mouthful! Karen joins us on this week’s Cooking with the Moms radio show to chat about her secrets for getting children everywhere to adopt a healthier way of eating and to share two of her recipes: Cauliflower Casserole (also known as Gratin de Chou-Fleur) and Five-Minute Fish en Papillote. We’re also giving away a copy of Karen’s book, so read on for the details.

 Janice made Karen’s five-Minute fish and used two 12-ounce fillets of barramundi.  The flavor of the dish was very lemon-y thanks to the juice of an entire lemon.

Sometimes you just have to improvise. Janice didn’t have any plain yogurt on hand, so she used a combo of light mayonnaise and low-fat sour cream instead.

If you don’t have parchment paper, use aluminum foil. We use it for our Teriyaki Salmon in Foil recipe and it works wonders.

Five-Minute Fish en Papillote

Makes 2 adult Servings

Here’s what Karen has to say about this recipe: “Cooking en papillote means tightly wrapping something (usually fish) in parchment paper and baking it in the oven. The dish steams in its own juices, and the flavors are wonderfully concentrated. Bring the baking dish to the table, and watch everyone’s faces as you unfold the wrapping to release the savory steam.” From French Kids Eat Everything.

  • 1 tablespoon olive or canola oil
  • 1 fillet of fish per person (salmon, sole, and halibut are our favorites)
  • 1 medium zucchini (for every 2 fillets), sliced thin (but not peeled)
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt (or mayonnaise or creme fraiche, if you have it)
  • 1/2 cup fresh minced chives
  • Optional: salt and pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

2. Choose a baking dish that’s just big enough to hold the fish in a single layer. On a work surface, spread out a sheet of parchment paper or aluminum foil that’s twice as big as the dish. Spread the oil over half of the sheet and lay the fish on the oil (skin-side down, if appropriate).

3. Layer the zucchini slices on top of the fish.

4. Mix the lemon juice, yogurt, chives, and salt and pepper, if desired, and pour the mixture on top of the fish.

5. Fold and close the paper tightly so that no steam can escape (I usually make two or three folds with the two edges, then tuck the ends under). Bake for 10 minutes per inch measured at the thickest part of the fish (no peeking!). You’ll know it’s done when it flakes easily when a fork is inserted gently.

Tip: Kids love helping to prepare this meal: wrapping the fish in it’s “cocoon” before it heads into the oven feels festive, like preparing a lovely present.

We adore the French Food Rules outlined in the book. They can all be easily adapted to North American kids: Slow food is happy food (as in eat slow); Remember, eating is joyful; Eat your veggies … think variety; Kids eat what adults eat … no short-order cooking! Karen is a mom after our own hearts :)

GIVEAWAY NEWS: One lucky blog reader, podcast listener, or Facebook fan will win a copy of Karen’s new cookbook, French Kids Eat Everything.

TO ENTERLeave a comment here or on Facebook and give us your BEST tip for getting your kids to eat a healthy diet, packed with nutrient-rich foods like fruits, veggies, whole grains, seafood, and beans!  We will enter you into the giveaway additional times if you …

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Please be sure to leave us a new comment every time you do something extra, and GOOD LUCK. The giveaway ends on August 9th at noon, and as always we’ll use Random.org to pick our winner.

Broccoli-Mushroom Frittatas AND a Giveaway of the New “Muffin Tin Chef” Cookbook (Podcast #194)

Thankfully, Matt Kadey, dietitian and author of Muffin Tin Chef: 101 Savory Snacks, Adorable Appetizers, Enticing Entrees & Delicious Desserts sent us two copies of his new cookbook. Otherwise, we would have fought over the single copy. We love this book; every recipe says “MAKE ME.” Matt joins us on this week’s Cooking with the Moms podcast to tell us why muffin-shaped, mini meals are so appealing (to kids and adults alike) and to share two of his recipes: Broccoli-Mushroom Frittatas and Lemon Cakes with Blueberry Compote. He’s also giving away a copy of his book, so read on for details.

Matt’s mouthwatering recipes include everything from these veggie-filled frittatas to Turkey Pot Pies, Fish Tacos, Strawberry Yogurt Tarts, Sweet Potato Brownie Bites, and lots more. Each recipe is cuter and more family friendly than the next. (Photo courtesy Matt Kadey.)

Broccoli-Mushroom Frittatas

Makes 5 Servings

According to Matt (and we agree), there are countless other vegetables that would work wonders in this recipe. You can also boost the protein by adding chopped, cooked chicken or sausage. This recipe is perfect for breakfast, brunch, or dinner.

  • 1 tablespoon grapeseed or canola oil
  • 3 cups chopped broccoli florets
  • 1/2 cup diced broccoli stems, tough outer skin peeled off
  • 2 cups sliced mushrooms
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 large whole eggs
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 cup grated Gruyere or other Swiss-style hard cheese (about 4 ounces)
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 teaspoons grainy or Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the broccoli florets, broccoli stems, mushrooms, shallot, and garlic, and cook until the vegetables have softened, about 5 minutes.

2. In a large bowl, beat together the whole eggs, egg whites, cheese, lemon juice, thyme, mustard, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Stir in the broccoli mixture.

3. Divide the mixture among 10 medium muffin cups and bake until the eggs have set, about 20 minutes. Let cool for several minutes before unmolding.

Nutrition Information per Serving (2 muffins):  230 calories, 14g fat (5g saturated), 360mg sodium, 10g carbohydrate, 4g fiber, 17g protein, 40% vitamin A, 120% vitamin C, 30% calcium, 10% iron

Print Recipe

GIVEAWAY NEWS: One lucky blog reader, podcast listener, or Facebook fan will win a copy of Matt’s new cookbook, Muffin Tin Chef.

TO ENTER: Leave a comment here or on Facebook and tell us about your favorite muffin tin recipes (mini quiche, cupcakes, snack muffins, you name it).  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.
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> Follow us on Pinterest.
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Please be sure to leave us a new comment every time you do something extra, and GOOD LUCK. The giveaway ends on July 30th at noon, and as always we’ll use Random.org to pick our winner.

We featured Matt’s recipe for Lemon Cakes with Blueberry Compote on our blog a while back. It’s ideal for entertaining or as a special treat for the family.

Read all about Matt on his website, Muffin Tin Mania.

A Recipe for Peachy Strawberry Smoothies, A Celebration of National Dairy Month, and a Pamper-Yourself Gift Basket Filled with Morning Essentials

June marks the month when we can finally breathe easy. School’s out, mornings are less hectic, and our kids get to shift their energy from homework to unstructured play — or in the case of Josh and Carolyn, they get to make some spending money! June is also National Dairy Month (who knew?), and to celebrate, we whipped up a super-slushy peachy strawberry smoothie using 1% low-fat milk as the base … and we have a giveaway with lots of goodies to brighten up your morning routine.

Kick start your family’s day with this nutrient-rich smoothie. Made with low-fat milk, our smoothie provides calcium, vitamin D and potassium – three key nutrients lacking in the American diet.

Peachy Strawberry Smoothies

Makes 2 Servings

Milk at breakfast provides protein — one 8-ounce glass has 9 grams — and protein in the AM has staying power, keeping you feeling fuller longer. Studies show that missing out on milk in the morning (or skipping breakfast altogether), makes it nearly impossible to achieve adequate intakes of key nutrients like calcium and vitamin D throughout the day.

  • 1 cup 1% low-fat milk
  • 3/4 cup frozen peaches
  • 3/4 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1/3 cup 0%-fat vanilla Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon honey or agave
  • 1 or 2 drops almond or vanilla extract
  • 2 fresh strawberries

1. Place the milk, peaches, strawberries, yogurt, honey, and almond extract in a blender, and blend until well combined.

2. Pour into individual glasses, garnish each glass with a fresh strawberry, and serve with a straw.

Nutrition Information per Serving (1 cup): 160 calories, 1.5g fat (1g saturated), 80mg sodium, 30g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 9g protein, 130% vitamin C, 20% calcium

Print Recipe

We’re all about simplicity, especially in the summer, and this smoothie couldn’t be easier. You can change it up by adding half a ripe banana, some frozen pineapple or mango, or just about any other fruit you have on your kitchen counter or in your freezer. Made with milk, it’s a cost-conscious option when compared to its “replacements,” which can cost more than double.

GIVEAWAY NEWS: It’s time for some mommy pampering. Our friends over at the Milk Mustache / The Breakfast Project are sponsoring our latest “I Heart Milk” giveaway. One lucky winner will receive a milk crate filled with an array of morning essentials: Cow slippers (have you ever seen anything so cute?), a cozy bathrobe ($58.00 value), bath essentials including shampoo, conditioner, and body wash, a giant insulated cup, some cool spoon/straws, and more.

To Enter: Leave a comment here or on Facebook and tell us about your favorite breakfast / milk routine. Do you drink it straight from the glass, pour it over a bowl of whole grain cereal, whip it into a smoothie, or some other creative idea? We will enter you into the giveaway additional times if you …

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> Tweet about the giveaway with a link back to this post.
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Please be sure to leave us a new comment every time you do something extra, and GOOD LUCK. The giveaway ends on July 9th at noon, and as always we’ll use Random.org to pick our winner.

A Family-Pleasing Recipe for Confetti Chicken Wraps AND a Giveaway for a 12-Piece Anolon Cookware Set!

We are bona fide foodies through and through. We think about food 24/7 and we’re also a bit obsessed with anything and everything that typically resides in a home kitchen: dishware, cloth napkins, glassware, pots, pans, skillets, you name it. Neither of us is particularly fond of doing the dishes or emptying the dishwasher, though we’ll do it under duress. If you ask us which kitchen gadget or cookware we can’t live without, we’d probably both agree it’s our trusty nonstick skillets. Read on for a super easy, family-pleasing recipe for Confetti Chicken Wraps (they cook up in minutes in a nonstick skillet and cleanup is just as quick) and for our latest giveaway for a 12-Piece Anolon Cookware Set. You heard that right!

We call for pinto beans in this recipe but just about any bean would work just fine. Bean help to extend the protein at just pennies a serving, and they’re rich in fiber and health-enhancing antioxidants. Just like blueberries, beans are also antioxidant powerhouses.

Confetti Chicken Wraps

Makes 6 to 8 Servings

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 large orange bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch dice (about 1½ cups)
  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • One 15-ounce can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • One cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
  • 1 cup shredded reduced-fat Cheddar cheese
  • 3/4 cup salsa
  • Six to eight 8-inch flour tortillas
  • 1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream, optional

1. Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.

2. Add the bell pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken, cumin, and chili powder and cook until the chicken is no longer pink, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in the beans, corn, cheese, and salsa and cook until the cheese melts and the mixture is heated through, about 2 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, stack the tortillas on a microwave-safe plate, uncovered, and heat in the microwave until warmed through, 30 to 45 seconds. Assemble by placing the chicken mixture down the center of each tortilla. Wrap burrito style and serve with sour cream as desired.

Nutrition Information per Serving: 320 calories, 9g fat (3.5g saturated), 330mg sodium, 33g carbohydrate, 6g fiber, 26g protein, 20% vitamin A, 60% vitamin C, 15% calcium

Print Recipe

Here’s a video of Liz cooking up this recipe!!

Giveaway News:  Thanks to our friends at Dupont, we are thrilled to be giving away a 12-Piece Anolon Professional Hard Anodized Nonstick Cookware Set (over $200.00 value). This beautiful set includes a 2-quart saucepan with lid, 3-quart saucepan with lid, 4-quart saucepot with lid, 5-quart sauté pan with lid, 8-quart stockpot with lid, 4-quart steamer insert, and 10-inch skillet . It’s coated with durable Dupont™ Teflon® nonstick coating and features stainless-steel, stay-cool handles. It’s also oven-safe to 500 degrees.

To Enter: Leave a comment here or on Facebook and tell us why you’d love to win new cookware and/or what you like about nonstick. If you have a favorite recipe that would cook up beautifully in one of these pots or saucepans, feel free to tell us about it.

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.
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> 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 May 14th at noon, and as always we’ll use random.org to pick our winner.

Win a Family Meal Makeover with Liz & Janice, The Meal Meal Makeover Moms

We’re excited to announce that we’ve partnered with Holland House, makers of premium vinegars and cooking wines, for a springtime meal makeover giveaway. To receive a personal meal makeover complete with a phone consultation and a healthy revamp of your favorite dinner recipe, head over to the Holland House Facebook sweepstakes page. Three lucky winners will get the chance to talk with us about their mealtime challenges, have a favorite dinner recipe made over, and win a new set of cookware.

Give your recipes that extra je ne sais quoi by including flavorful vinegars and cooking wines in the ingredients. This spring, three winners will work with us to add better nutrition and flavor to their diets, and we can’t wait to get started.

To toss your name into the drawing, all you have to do is “Like” Holland House on Facebook. Once entered, names will be picked randomly; one on April 11, one May 10th, and one more on May 31st. We hope you’ll enter.

In the weeks ahead, we’ll be sharing the three winning recipes. But in the meantime, visit Holland House to sample their recipes — the Broccoli Beef Stir Fry featuring Sherry Cooking Wine, Multi Grain Pilaf with White Cooking Wine, and Cool Cucumber Dressing with White Wine Vinegar look amazing.

Get Your Plate in Shape for National Nutrition Month … a Recipe for Easy Baked Chicken … Plus a 7 Piece Sur La Table Bakeware Giveaway (Podcast #181)

March is National Nutrition Month, and this year’s theme from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is Get Your Plate in Shape. On this week’s Cooking with the Moms podcast, we share tips for fine-tuning the foods you place on your family’s breakfast, lunch, and dinner plate and share two new recipes: Chewy Blueberry Oatmeal Cookies (which we featured on the blog last week) and Easy Baked Chicken, a nutritious alternative to fried chicken.

To get your plate in shape, make half your plate fruits and vegetables, make at least half your grains whole, switch to fat free or low-fat milk, and vary your protein sources — eat seafood twice a week and include more beans, tofu, and other meat alternatives in your diet.

This oven-baked chicken recipe is super easy and features a coating made with bread crumbs and heart-healthy canola oil. Did you know everybody needs a little fat in their diet? Fat is part of every body cell, it provides energy, helps with the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, and slows digestion so you feel full longer. Just be sure to choose the right fats. We like canola oil because it has the least amount of saturated fat of all the cooking oils, and it contains heart-healthy monounsaturated and omega-3 fats (Check out the Comparison of Dietary Fats chart on CanolaInfo.)

Easy Baked Chicken

Makes 8 Servings

  • 1½ cups fine bread crumbs (we used seasoned Italian) (375 mL)
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour (125 mL)
  • 1 teaspoon paprika (5 mL)
  • 1 teaspoon dried or fresh chopped rosemary, basil, or oregano (5 mL)
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil, divided (45 mL)
  • 8 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Lightly oil or coat a 9 x 13 inch (22 x 33 cm) baking dish with nonstick spray and set aside.

2. In a bowl, combine the bread crumbs, flour, paprika and rosemary. Mix in 2 tablespoons of the canola oil until well combined.

3. Place the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in a separate bowl. Roll the chicken in the oil until well coated. Roll the chicken in the bread crumb mixture until evenly coated, and arrange in the prepared dish.

4. Bake 30 to 35 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear.

Nutrition Information per Serving (1 chicken breast half):  300 calories, 10g fat (1.5g saturated), 230mg sodium, 21g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 30g protein

Print Recipe

Janice’s dad is a stained glass artist. A decade ago, he created a Food Guide Pyramid stained glass window for Janice’s office. After the USDA unveiled its new MyPlate icon, Mr. Newell got to work on this beautiful stained glass MyPlate design.

 GIVEAWAY NEWS: Our friends at CanolaInfo.org are sponsoring this blog post and giveaway. One lucky blog reader (or Facebook fan), will win a Sur La Table Platinum Professional Bakeware, 7 Piece Set valued at $150.00. The set includes one 9 X 13-inch cake pan (perfect for making our Chocolaty Pumpkin Bars), one 8 X 8-inch square cake pan (perfect for our Fudgy Black Bean Brownies), a 12 count muffin pan (Cutie Quiche Cakes anyone?), and a whole lot more!

To Enter: Leave a comment here or on Facebook and tell us how you use canola oil — in baking, salad dressings, for stir fries, etc. — and feel free to share the recipe!

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.
> “Like” us on Facebook and/or share the giveaway news with your Facebook fans and friends with a link back to the post.
> Follow us on Pinterest.

Please be sure to leave us a new comment every time you do something extra, and GOOD LUCK. The giveaway ends on March 30th at noon, and as always we’ll use random.org to pick our winner.

Disclosure: CanolaInfo.com is a Meal Makeover Moms’ Kitchen sponsor for the month of March.

A Recipe for Beef Brisket with Carrots, and a Giveaway for a Le Creuset 7-1/4 Quart Round French Oven (Giveaway Ended 3/14/12)

(The giveaway ended on March 14, but I hope you’ll read on for our awesome recipes!) My mom makes the best beef brisket in the world. The second best recipe (in my humble opinion) is this one from The New Basics Cookbook by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins. I make it several times each winter, and I am finally getting around to sharing it with all of you. Read on for the recipe (I’ve added a few tweaks), a delicious way to use the leftovers in nutrient-rich quesadillas, and our latest super-duper giveaway for a Le Creuset Round French Oven.

My favorite way to serve beef brisket is with oven-roasted creamer potatoes and steamed asparagus drizzled with evoo and kosher salt. Even though the original recipe says it serves eight, my family of four gets way more servings out of it.

Nach Waxman’s Brisket of Beef

Makes 10 to 12 Servings

One of my go-to recipe sources is The New Basics Cookbook. Page 494 of my book is well worn because I turn to it so often. Nach Waxman’s Brisket of Beef calls for just a few simple ingredients including lean beef brisket, and I always ask my butcher to cut off as much of the fat as possible so I don’t have to hassle with it when I get home. For this recipe, I use more carrots than the original recipe calls for, and I add some red cooking wine to enhance the depth of flavor.  The original recipe calls for a 5 to 6 pound brisket, but I prefer a slightly smaller piece because it fits nicely into my Le Creuset.

  • One 4 to 5 pound first-cut brisket of beef, trimmed of most of its fat and cut in half
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • Coarsely ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 8 onions, thickly sliced and separated into rings
  • 1/3 cup red cooking wine (I use Holland House Cooking Wine)
  • 2 cloves garlic, quartered
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1½ teaspoons kosher salt

1. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Dust the meat very lightly with the flour.  Sprinkle with pepper.

2. Heat half the oil in a large heavy flameproof casserole (I use my 7-¼ Quart Le Creuset Round French Oven).  Add half the brisket, and brown on both sides over medium-high heat until some crisp spots appear on the surface. Repeat with the remaining oil and beef.

3. Transfer the brisket to a dish.  Keeping the heat medium high, add the onions to the casserole and stir, scraping up the brown particles left from the meat. Cook until the onions have softened and have developed  a handsome brown color, 10 to 15 minutes.

4. Stir in the cooking wine. Scrape up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan, and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the garlic and carrots

5. Remove the casserole from the heat, and place the brisket, along with any juices that have accumulated, on top of the onions.  Spread the tomato paste over the brisket as if you were icing a cake.  Sprinkle with pepper and the salt.  Cover tightly.  Place the casserole on the middle rack in the oven, and bake for 1½ hours.

6. Remove the casserole from the oven, and transfer the meat to a cutting board.  Cut it into 1/8 – 1/4 inch-thick slices.  Return the slices to the pot, overlapping them at an angle so that you can see a bit of the top edge of each slice (in effect resembling the brisket, slightly slanted).

7. Correct the seasoning if necessary, and if absolutely necessary add 2 or 3 teaspoons of water to the casserole. Cover, and return the casserole to the oven.  Cook until the meat is brown and fork-tender, 1-3/4 to 2 hours longer. Transfer to a heated platter and serve at once.

Nutrition Information per Serving:  430 calories, 16g fat (5g saturated), 330mg sodium, 10g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 57g protein, 45% vitamin A, 15% vitamin C, 25% iron

Print Recipe

Brisket is one of the 29 lean cuts of beef available at the market. It’s rich in nutrients — protein, iron, zinc, B vitamins — and is ideal for braising and slow cooking.

We usually eat the brisket for two nights. On the third night, I make quesadillas. The ingredients in these easy-to-assemble, anything-goes quesadillas include chopped leftover brisket and carrots, frozen corn kernels (thawed), diced red bell peppers (sauteed), fresh cilantro, BBQ sauce, and shredded low-fat Cheddar cheese. Arrange over half of each of the flour tortillas you’re using, fold in half, and cook in a non-stick skillet with a bit of canola oil. Slice in half or into thirds and devour!

GIVEAWAY NEWS: I am hooked on my Le Creuset French Oven and turn to it every time I make this recipe. (I also use it for soups, stews, and cooking up big batches of kale and other hearty greens.) And now, one of you will own one too. Thanks to our friends at Le Creuset, one lucky blog reader (or Facebook fan), will win a 7-¼ Quart Le Creuset Round French Oven valued at $280.00. Winner gets to pick the color :)

To Enter: Leave a comment here or on Facebook and tell us about your family’s favorite winter soup, stew, braise, or slow cooker meal and/or why you would love to own this heavy-duty French oven.

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.
> “Like” us on Facebook and/or share the giveaway news with your Facebook fans and friends with a link back to the post.
> Follow us on Pinterest.

Janice and I hope you’re as excited about this giveaway as we are! Please be sure to leave us a new comment every time you do something extra, and GOOD LUCK. The giveaway ends on March 14th at noon, and as always we’ll use random.org to pick our winners.

Immune-Boosting Foods, Recipes for Fruity Yogurt Parfaits and Immunity Booster Blast, and a Giveaway of the New Book, Healthy, Healing Foods (Podcast #174)

Colds. Flu. Achoo!!  As far as we’re concerned, getting the sniffles, or worse, a headache and fever, is one of the yuckiest parts about winter. We don’t mind the sleet or snow (well, maybe we mind just a tad), but a runny nose … no way. To keep our immune systems — and yours — in tip-top shape during winter (and all year long for that matter), we sat down via Skype with fellow registered dietitian, Victoria Shanta Retelny, RD to dish about her new book, The Essential Guide to Healthy, Healing Foods, and her best food secrets for keeping our immune systems armed and ready for attack.

Dietitian and author, Victoria Shanta Retelny, makes a nutrient-rich salad with her kiddos.

Tune into this week’s Cooking with the Moms radio show to hear which immune-boosting foods to toss into your grocery cart and to get two new recipes: Victoria’s Fruity Yogurt Parfaits with homemade granola and our Immunity Booster Blast smoothie. We’re giving away two copies of Victoria’s book too, so read on for details on how you can enter to win.

Ingredients for Victoria’s fruit parfait include immune-building blueberries, citrus, yogurt, and almonds.

> Yogurt: Some brands contain vitamin D, which boosts the immune system, as well as probiotics, friendly bacteria that live in the intestinal tract and rally to combat the ill-effects of bad bugs. Kefir, a fermented milk beverage, is loaded with probiotics, so add that to your shopping cart too.

> Berries: Compounds called anthocynanins, found in the skin of berries — blueberries, strawberries, raspberries — boost the body’s defense against invaders.

> Broccoli: This cruciferous veggie protects against colds and flu as well as chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and diseases of the eye. Broccoli contains high levels of a compound called diindolylmethane which has antiviral and antibacterial properties. And no, we have no idea how to pronounce diindolylmethane.

> Almonds: The antioxidant vitamin E is found in almonds, and it helps to strengthen the immune system.

Tune into the show to hear about other immune defending super foods: mushrooms, spinach, watermelon, citrus, and oysters.

Any fruit works with this parfait. We chose Mandarin oranges — a favorite with Janice’s 12-year old, Leah, and blueberries, which everyone loves.

Fruity Yogurt Parfaits

Makes 4 Servings

Given what’s in season and available at the market and the taste preferences of our kids, we tweaked Victoria’s recipe a bit. What follows is a delicious homemade parfait, perfect for keeping the body’s natural defenses on the ready.

  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 2 tablespoons slivered almonds
  • 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon agave nectar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch salt
  • Pinch ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup dried fruit (choices: raisins, cranberries, diced dates, etc.)
  • 2 cups low-fat yogurt, flavor of your choice
  • 1 cup fresh fruit (choices: blueberries, cubed watermelon, sliced strawberries, Mandarin oranges, etc)

1. Preheat the oven to 300°F. In a medium bowl, combine the oats, almonds, and flaxseed.

2. In a small bowl, mix together the oil, agave, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg until well combined. Drizzle into the oat mixture and stir together until the oats are well coated.

3. Spread the mixture onto a cookie sheet and bake about 25 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until the oats are golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool. Mix in the dried fruit.

4. For the parfaits, use long fluted dessert glasses. Layer a dollop of yogurt, a sprinkle of fruit (one type or a combination), and granola. Repeat until filled to the top. Serve chilled.

Nutrition Information per Serving (1 parfait): 300 calories, 8g fat (1.5g saturated, 0.4g omega-3), 110mg sodium, 48g carbohydrate, 5g fiber, 11g protein, 25% vitamin C, 25% calcium

Print Recipe

We don’t know too many kids who would turn their noses up to this after-school snack … or early morning breakfast. How fun and nutritious!

Vitamin C can reduce the severity and duration of the common cold. Our Immunity Booster Blast smoothie has over half a day’s worth thanks to the strawberries and pomegranate juice. It’s also made with kefir, our favorite probiotic drink, as well as Greek yogurt which provides a healthy dose of protein.

Immunity Booster Blast

Makes 4 Servings

  • 1 cup 100% pomegranate blueberry juice
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1 small ripe banana
  • One 6-ounce container 0% fat strawberry Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup strawberry kefir
  • 4 ice cubes
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon ground flaxseed

1. Place the juice, strawberries, banana, yogurt, kefir, ice cubes, honey, and flaxseed in a blender, and blend until well combined.

2. Pour into individual glasses and serve with a straw.

Nutrition Information per Serving (1 cup): 150 calories, 1g fat (0g saturated, 0.2g omega-3), 35mg sodium, 32g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 5g protein, 60% vitamin C

Print Recipe

GIVEAWAY NEWS: We are giving away a copy of The Essential Guide to Healthy, Healing Foods (Alpha, 2011) by Victoria Shanta Retelny, RD to two lucky winners. This book explains how diet plays a vital role in keeping every cell in our bodies in optimal health. From eating for immunity to understanding good versus bad fats to the power of protein, Healthy, Healing Foods clarifies the latest nutrition research and clears up the confusion.

To Enter: Leave a comment here or on Facebook and tell us about your family’s favorite super foods and why you include them in your diet and/or tell us how you keep everyone in your family healthy and strong all winter long.

We will enter you into the giveaway a second, third, and/or fourth time if you …

> Subscribe to our RSS feed.
> Tweet about the giveaway with a link back to this post.
> “Like” us on Facebook or share the giveaway news with your Facebook fans and friends with a link back to the post.

Please be sure to leave us a new comment every time you do something extra, and GOOD LUCK! The giveaway ends on February 1st at noon, and as always we’ll use random.org to pick our winners.

MyPlate for Moms, a Recipe for Pork, Asparagus, and Cashew Stir Fry and a Recipe for Cinnamon Pumpkin Smoothie. PLUS a Book Giveaway (Podcast #169)

Are you old enough to remember The Four Food Groups? We certainly are. If not, you probably remember the Food Guide Pyramid. Last spring, the Pyramid was replaced with a new symbol called MyPlate. On this week’s Cooking with the Moms, registered dietitian, Elizabeth Ward joins the show to tell us all about this plate-shaped icon and to dish about her new book, MyPlate for Moms: How to Feed Yourself & Your Family Better.

On the show, Elizabeth, a mom of three, explains how to customize MyPlate to your family’s likes, dislikes, and lifestyle. She also explores the importance of protein and whole grains, and she cooks up two recipes from the book: Pork, Asparagus, and Cashew Stir Fry and Cinnamon Pumpkin Smoothie.

Elizabeth visited us at The Meal Makeover Moms’ Kitchen with ingredients in hand and whipped up this easy and oh-so satisfying stir fry.

A few simple ingredients and you’ve got a dinner worthy of MyPlate!!

Pork, Asparagus, and Cashew Stir Fry

Makes 6 Servings

Pork tenderloin is as lean and low in calories as boneless, skinless chicken breast. Cashews provide flavor, crunch, and heart-healthy fats.

  • 1 bunch of asparagus, trimmed, and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch, divided
  • 1 pound pork tenderloin, trimmed
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil, divided
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
  • 1 cup unsalted cashews, chopped

1. Cook the asparagus until crisp-tender. Do not overcook.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the chicken broth, vinegar, sugar, soy sauce, and 1 tablespoon cornstarch until no lumps remain. Set aside.

3. Cut pork into 1/2-inch medallions, then cut each medallion into 1/2-inch thick strips. Add pork to a large bowl and toss with 1 tablespoon oil. Add remaining 2 tablespoons of cornstarch to pork mixture and toss to coat the meat.

4. In a 12-inch skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. Cook half the pork, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from skillet and set aside, covered, on a plate. Repeat with remaining oil and pork. (We cooked the pork in one batch in a large wok.) Remove pork from pan. Add asparagus to pan, along with garlic and ginger. Cook for 30 seconds.

5. Stir broth mixture before adding to skillet. Cook until thickened, about 2 minutes. Add pork and cashews to pan and cook until heated through, about 1 to 2 minutes.

Nutrition Information per Serving: 308 calories, 14 grams carbohydrate, 2 grams fiber, 19 grams fat (3 grams saturated) 22 grams protein, 410 milligrams sodium, 30 milligrams calcium

Print Recipe

Cinnamon Pumpkin Smoothie

Makes 1 Serving

Cinnamon brings out the natural sweetness of pumpkin, so you don’t need much added sugar.

  • 1/2 cup fat-free milk (we used 1% low-fat)
  • 1/2 cup canned 100% pure pumpkin
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch ground cinnamon
  • 2 ice cubes

1. Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Blend. Pour into a tall glass and drink immediately.

Nutrition Information per Serving: 106 calories, 22 grams carbohydrate, 4 grams fiber, 0 grams fat (0g saturated), 5 grams protein, 60 grams sodium, 190 milligrams calcium

Print Recipe

GIVEAWAY NEWS: We are giving away a copy of MyPlate for Moms by Elizabeth Ward to three lucky winners. If you’re looking for easy ways to give your family’s diet a healthy makeover, this is the book for you. Packed with solid nutrition advice and lots of tips and tricks for adding healthier foods to YourPlate, it’s a must-have for any busy family.

To Enter: Leave a comment here or on Facebook and tell us about the biggest downfall in your family’s diet and/or one big change you’ve made lately that’s brought better nutrition to YourTable!

 

We will enter you into the giveaway a second, third, and/or fourth time if you …

> Subscribe to our RSS feed.
> Tweet about the giveaway with a link back to this post.
> “Like” us on Facebook or share the giveaway news with your Facebook fans and friends with a link back to the post.

Please be sure to leave us a new comment every time you do something extra, and GOOD LUCK! The giveaway ends on December 15th (Janice’s birthday) at noon, and as always we’ll use random.org to pick our winners.

Good luck :)

Healthy Halloween Tricks, and Recipes for Juicy Mango Wigglers and Chocolate Pumpkin Whoopie Pies … AND a Giveaway for an Orange Le Creuset Utensil Set (Podcast #163)

On October 31st, kids from coast to coast will dress up, stay out late, and fill their Halloween buckets with lots and lots of candy. It’s just one of those days where kids’ sugar consumption increases dramatically. What’s a concerned parent to do? On this week’s Cooking with the Moms, we make gooey, chewy, sugar-laden Halloween less horrific with recipes for Juicy Mango Wigglers (a homemade makeover of Jello Jigglers) and Chocolate Pumpkin Whoopie Pies. The addition of pumpkin ups the nutrition, and we don’t use any butter in the whoopie pie batter or the filling. We also share some creative tricks for downsizing your Halloween handouts and managing all the candy your little goblins bring home Halloween night. Tune in for all the gory details!

 

Don’t be intimidated by gelatine. It’s easy to use in this Jello Jiggler makeover, and with just four basic ingredients, our silly orange wigglers come together quickly.

Juicy Mango Wigglers

Makes 12 Servings

In No Whine with Dinner, we offer a strawberry version of these wigglers. You’ll find the recipe in the snack chapter on page 166.

1½ cups 100% tropical mango juice blend, divided (you can also use mango juice or orange juice)
1 cup frozen mango
2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
1 to 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1.  In a blender, blend together 1 cup of juice and the frozen fruit until smooth.  Pour into a small saucepan and bring to a boil.  Stir occasionally to break up any frothy bubbles.

2.  Meanwhile, place the remaining 1/2 cup juice in a large bowl.  Sprinkle the gelatin over the juice and let stand 1 minute.  Add the hot juice mixture and stir, or gently whisk, until the gelatin completely dissolves, about 5 minutes. Stir in the sugar.

3.  Pour the mixture into an 8 x 8-inch pan or dish. Refrigerate until firm, about 3 hours.  Cut into twenty four, 2 x 1 1/3-inch rectangles (Use an off-set spatula to remove them from the pan).

Nutrition Information per Serving (2 pieces):  35 calories, 0g fat, 5mg sodium, 7g carbohydrate, 1g protein, 20% vitamin C

Print Recipe

This is an “encore” recipe. We featured it on Meal Makeover Moms’ Kitchen in May as part of our Food Network Throwdown series.

Chocolate Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

Makes 14 Pies

For the Cakes:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1½ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup 1% low-fat milk
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Filling:

  • One 8-ounce package 1/3 less fat cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt

1. Preheat the oven to 400° F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside, Whisk together the all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Set aside.

2. Combine the sugar, pumpkin, and oil in a large bowl and beat on medium speed until well blended, 1 minute. Add the egg, milk, lemon juice, and vanilla extract and continue to beat until smooth. At low speed, gradually beat in the flour mixture until just combined.

3. Drop heaping tablespoons of the batter onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches between the cakes. Bake, 1 sheet at a time, about 8 minutes, or until the cakes are puffed and springy to the touch. Cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet before transferring the cakes to a wire rack. Repeat with the remaining batter. You should make a total of 28 cakes.

4. For the filling, place the cream cheese, pumpkin, and vanilla extract in a large bowl, and beat at medium speed until blended. Gradually add the  powdered sugar, cinnamon, and salt and beat at low speed until blended. Raise the speed to medium once the sugar is incorporated and continue to beat until creamy.

5. To assemble, spread1¾ tablespoons of the filling on the flat side of half the cakes, and then top with the remaining cakes.

Nutrition Information per Serving (1 whoopie pie):  230 calories, 6g fat (2g saturated), 40g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 320mg sodium,  5g protein,  30% vitamin A

Print Recipe

GIVEAWAY NEWS: Thanks to the folks at Le Creuset, we are giving away a bright orange Revolution Utensil Set. Here’s what our one lucky winner will get:

To Enter: Leave a comment here or on Facebook and tell us about your favorite healthy Halloween treats … or share your best advice for managing all the Halloween candy that your kids collect. U.S. only please.

We will enter you into the giveaway a second, third, and/or fourth time if you …

> Subscribe to our RSS feed.
> Tweet about the giveaway with a link back to this post.
> “Like” us on Facebook or share the giveaway news with your Facebook fans and friends with a link back to the post.

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

World Heart Day, Recipes for Bistro Chicken Pasta Salad and Quick Dark Chocolate Brownies, AND a Le Creuset Skillet Giveaway (Podcast #159)

September 29th is World Heart Day, so we decided to devote this week’s Cooking with the Moms podcast to easy tips for eating and savoring a heart-healthy diet. Back in the day, a heart-healthy diet was far from satisfying and quite restrictive. Eggs, nuts, and shrimp were often off limits, and people were urged to opt for fat-free fare. Today, research shows that a heart-healthy diet can and should include a wide array of mouth-watering and nutrient-rich foods: eggs, seafood and shellfish, canola oil (the lowest in saturated fat of all the popular cooking oils), and other good-for-you fats, nuts, fruits and veggies and so much more!

Our post today features two recipes from the Home is Where the Heart Is collection on CanolaInfo.org: Bistro Chicken Pasta Salad made with a flavorful dressing of balsamic vinegar, canola oil, and lots of fresh basil and a decadent yet healthy dark chocolate brownie made with canola oil versus butter.

This pasta salad gets its nutritional boost from whole wheat penne, juicy cherry tomatoes, and a dressing made with canola oil, which provides cholesterol-lowering monounsaturated fat and heart-healthy omega-3 fat.

Bring on the healthy dressing!

Bistro Chicken Pasta Salad

Makes 6 Servings

Whole grain pasta, a good source of cholesterol-lowering fiber, is the foundation of this satisfying dish. We love it as a school lunch salad, a dinner side dish, or a take-to-work lunch. The recipe was created by Alison Lewis for CanolaInfo.

  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar (75 mL)
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (15mL)
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil (10mL)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 cups whole wheat dried penne pasta, cooked (500mL)
  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, grilled or cooked, cut into cubes
  • 1/4 cup grated or shaved Parmesan cheese (60 mL)
  • 12 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1/2 small red onion, sliced into rings
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano (1 mL)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (1 mL)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil (125 mL)
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, canola oil, and garlic. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the cooked pasta, chicken, Parmesan, tomatoes, onion, oregano, and pepper, tossing gently. Gently stir in the balsamic mixture and the basil until well combined. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate up to two days.
Nutrition Information per Serving (1 generous cup):  270 calories, 6g fat (1g saturated), 190mg sodium, 34g carbohydrate, 4g fiber, 21g protein

Print Recipe

Brownies anyone?! We nix the butter in favor of canola oil and add almonds for good measure!

Each brownie has just 130 calories — quite respectable for a gooey dessert. Stick to the suggested portion size to keep calories in check.

Quick Dark Chocolate Brownies

Makes 16 Brownies

CanolaInfo has partnered with the World Heart Federation to raise awareness about heart-smart eating. And this month, in honor of World Heart Day on September 29th, Meal Makeover Moms’ Kitchen is working with CanolaInfo to help spread the word too! To learn more, check out their Home is Where the Heart Is recipe collection.

  • 1 cup granulated sugar (250 mL)
  • 1/3 cup dark chocolate cocoa powder (75 mL)
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour (60 mL)
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (60 mL)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder (2 mL)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (1 mL)
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup canola oil (124 mL)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (5 mL)
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips (60 mL)
  • 1/3 cup chopped almonds

  1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, cocoa powder, flours, baking powder, and salt until well combined. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, canola oil, and vanilla. Add the egg mixture into the flour mixture, mixing well. Stir in the chocolate chips and almonds.
  2. Spread batter in a lightly greased 8 x 8-inch baking pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack before slicing.
Nutrition Information per Serving (1 brownie):  130 calories, 6g fat (1g saturated), 55mg sodium, 19g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 2g protein

Print Recipe

GIVEAWAY NEWS: Thanks to the folks at CanolaInfo, we are giving away a gorgeous Le Creuset yellow iron skillet and a heart-healthy tool kit including an apron, cookbook, and spatula.

To Enter: Leave a comment here on our blog or on Facebook and tell us how you and your family celebrate a heart-healthy lifestyle. Feel free to share your favorite heart-smart recipes too! U.S. and Canada only please.

We will enter you into the giveaway a second, third, fourth and/or fifth time if you …

> Subscribe to our RSS feed.
> Tweet about the giveaway with a link back to this post.
> “Like” us on Facebook or share the giveaway news with your Facebook fans and friends with a link back to the post.
> “Like” CanolaInfo on Facebook. And while you are there, check out their new Facebook “virtual chef” game.

Please be sure to leave us a new comment every time you do something extra, and GOOD LUCK! The giveaway ends on September 29th at noon, and as always we’ll use random.org to pick our winners.

Disclosure: CanolaInfo is a sponsor of our blog this month. The recipes we featured on the blog were created for CanolaInfo and then tested here in the Meal Makeover Moms’ Kitchen. CanolaInfo is fulfilling the giveaway.

Lunch Box Safety, a Recipe for Curry Chicken Salad Wraps, and a Backpack & Lunch Box Giveaway (Podcast #158)

A recent study on Temperature of Foods Sent by Parents of Preschool-aged Children found that most sack lunches are kept at unsafe temperatures, and researchers say this could lead to foodborne illness in kids. On this week’s Cooking with the Moms podcast, we share important tips for keeping school lunches out of the temperature “danger zone” of between 40°F and 140°F where bacteria can grow. We also serve up a new recipe for Curry Chicken Salad Wraps and some exciting giveaway news. Oh, and hold onto your hats folks: September is National Food Safety Education Month, so there’s no time like the present to give your lunch box-packing routine a food safety makeover!

 Our chicken salad gets flavor and crunch with the addition of curry powder, golden raisins, and roasted shelled pumpkin seeds.

 Food Safety Pointers for Safe Sack Lunches:

> Freeze lunch boxes along with ice packs. The reason: Ice packs placed in room-temperature lunch boxes expend extra energy cooling them.
> Store non refrigerated items — things like homemade goodies, whole grain pretzels, sweet potato chips — separately.
> Wash hands before preparing food and wash lunch containers regularly.
> Keep lunches sufficiently cooled when they leave the house. How? Pack not one but two ice packs and refrigerate things like juice boxes, mini applesauce, and mini fruit cups the night before.
> Pack lunches in insulated lunch bags and boxes.

Other important things to remember ….

> Perishable foods can sit in the danger zone for up to two hours before becoming a risk.  The goal is to keep sack lunches in the safe zone as long as possible.
> Commercially prepared mayonnaise can actually help to keep foods safe. Mayo is made with acidic ingredients such as lemon juice and vinegar which can slow or prevent the growth of bacteria, and it contains pasteurized eggs versus raw eggs which are often used in homemade mayonnaise.

Curry Chicken Salad Wraps

Makes 3 Wraps

  • 2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken (8 ounces)
  • 1/3 cup light canola mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 2 tablespoons roasted shelled pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 lettuce leaves
  • Three 8-inch whole wheat flour tortillas
  1. Combine the chicken, mayonnaise, raisins, pumpkin seeds, curry powder, salt, and pepper to taste in a large bowl and mix well.
  2. Lay the flour tortillas on a work surface. Place one lettuce leaf down the center of each tortilla followed by the chicken mixture (1/2 generous cup per wrap).
  3. Roll up tightly burrito style and slice in half. Place in sandwich containers and pack in insulated lunch boxes or bags.
Nutrition Information per Serving (1 wrap):  390 calories, 14g fat (1g saturated), 560mg sodium, 33g carbohydrate, 3g fiber, 30g protein

Print Recipe

GIVEAWAY NEWS: Thanks to the folks at One Step Ahead, we are giving away a school lunch ensemble complete with a backpack, lunch box, reusable snack bags, and water bottle AND an EZ Freeze Sandwich Container. The ensemble comes in either pink or blue, and our one lucky winner will get to choose the color of her dreams! 

To Enter: Leave a comment here on our blog or on Facebook and tell us about your children’s lunch box favorites or share your best tips for keeping lunches cold and safe. U.S. only please.

We will enter you into the giveaway a second, third, and/or fourth time if you

> Subscribe to our RSS feed.
> Tweet about the giveaway with a link back to this post.
> “Like” us on Facebook or share the giveaway news with your Facebook fans and friends with a link back to the post.

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

Disclosure: One Step Ahead sent us sample products for review.

We look forward to reading your comments!

A Recipe for Healthy Blueberry and Mango Snow Cones {GIVEAWAY CLOSED}

We don’t know too many children who would turn their noses up to ice cream and other frozen treats. In fact, we can still remember hot summer days from our youth when the ice cream man drove by with a truckload of Hoodsie Cups and we’d eat them with flat wooden “spoons.” It was never easy, but the effort was well worth it since our parents only allowed such decadence once a week!

Nowadays, ice cream is a daily ritual in some families — the fat, sugar, and calories can really add up — so for this month’s Recipe Redux frozen dessert challenge, we decided to create a light frozen treat perfect for every day of the week. We used our new electric ice shaver machine and silicone cone cups and holders for the icy snow cone base, and then we whipped up two syrups made with lots of real fruit — blueberries and mangos — and no refined sugar or artificial colors.

Though we haven’t tried this yet, we think the fruit syrups would be a refreshing topping for low-fat frozen vanilla yogurt.

Blueberry Snow Cone Syrup

Makes 8 Servings (about 2 tablespoons per serving)

  • 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

1. Place the blueberries, water, honey, and lemon juice in a blender, and blend until well combined.

2. Pour the syrup into a squeeze bottle and pour over shaved ice.

Nutrition Information per Serving (2 tablespoons):  15 calories, 0g fat (0g saturated), mg sodium, 4g carbohydrate, 4g sugar, 1g fiber, 0g protein

Print Recipe

Mango Snow Cone Syrup

Makes 12 Servings (about 2 tablespoons per serving)

  • 1 cup frozen or fresh mango chunks
  • 3/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Place the mango, juice, and vanilla extract in a blender, and blend until well combined.

2. Pour the syrup into a squeeze bottle and pour over shaved ice.

Nutrition Information per Serving (2 tablespoons):  15 calories, 0g fat (0g saturated), 0mg sodium, 4g carbohydrate, 2g sugar, 0g fiber, 0g protein, 20% vitamin C

Print Recipe

Janice’s daughter, Leah, and her friend Julianne cool off this summer with our fruit-filled snow cones.

GIVEAWAY NEWS: {Giveaway is closed}

Thanks to the folks at West Bend kitchen appliances, we are giving away an Electric Ice Shaver (retail value, $29.99), a set of 4 Silicone Cone Cups (retail value, $5.99), and a set of 4 Snow Cone Cup Holders (retail value, $5.99). One lucky winner will win all three frozen treat items!

To Enter: Leave a comment here on our blog or on Facebook and tell us about your family’s favorite frozen dessert recipe. U.S. only please.

We will enter you into the giveaway a second, third, and/or fourth time if you

> Subscribe to our RSS feed.
> Tweet about the giveaway with a link back to this post.
> “Like” us on Facebook or share the giveaway news with your Facebook fans and friends with a link back to the post.

Please be sure to leave us a new comment every time you do something extra, and GOOD LUCK! The giveaway ends on September 6th at noon, and as always we’ll use random.org to pick our winners.

Disclosure: We requested and received sample products for review.

RECIPE REDUX BLOGGERS:

Emma Stirling – The Scoop on Nutrition
Greek Yogurt Pavlova Popsicles

Cherie Schetselaar – Grain Crazy
Blackberry Lemon Almond Torte

Emma Cutfield – The Hearty Heart
Coconut Ice, Blueberry and Cocoa, Joint Healing Dessert

Carlene Helble – Carlene’s Figments
Peanut Butter Banana ‘Ice Cream’ Sandwich

Janel Funk – Eat Well with Janel
Peanut Butter and Jelly Ice Cream

Kat Lynch – Eating The Week
Coconut Chia-Seed Fruit Pops

Dr Barb – Nutrition Budgeteer
Simply Fruit Mango-Pineapple Sorbet

Rebecca Scritchfield – MeFirst
5-minute Frozen Peach Pie

Gretchen – kumquat
Chocolate “Ice Cream” Bars

Emily Greenfield – The Nutriscientist
Honey and Strawberry Semifreddo

Liz Marr – Liz On Food
Peach Lavender Ice Cream

Elizabeth Jarrard – Don’t (White) Sugar-Coat It
Adult Popsicles: Frozen Boozy Treats

Regan – The Professional Palate
Frozen Samoa Pie

Jessica Fishman Levinson – Nutritioulicious
Watermelon Sorbet

Alexandra Caspero- Delicious Knowledge
Mango & Coconut Popsicles

Karman Meyer- Nutrition Adventures
Coconut Ice Cream with Strawberry Puree

Yuri – Chef Pandita
Acerola Chia Lime Popsicles

Kristen Bourque – Swanky Dietitian
Peanut Butter Coffee Popsicles

EA Stewart – The Spicy RD
Luscious Lemonade Pie

Danielle Omar – Food Confidence RD
Banana Soft Serve

Katie Caputo- East Meats West
Auntie Rosie’s Ice Cream Pie

Alysa Bajenaru – Inspired RD
Coffee Granita

Kara Lydon – Peace, Love, and Food
Peanut Butter Banana “Ice Cream” With Dark Chocolate

Serena Ball – Teaspoon of Spice
Splendid Key Lime Frozen Yogurt

Nicole Ferring Holovach – Whole Health RD
Peaches and Rum Ice Cream Pie

Jackie Mills – Delicious Diabetes Cooking
Summer Fruit Popsicles

Audra Losey – Nutrition Know How
Mocha Pops

Kristina LaRue – Love and Zest
Frozen Berry Yogurt

Four-Fruit Compote, Fabulously Fried Sweet Potatoes, and Very Veggie “Meat” Balls from The Best Homemade Baby Food on the Planet (Podcast #154)

Between us, our kids range in age from 11 to 19, yet today, we found ourselves making baby food again. Ah, the good ‘ol days! Our reason for spending the afternoon mashing and mushing  … a new, beautifully illustrated cookbook called The Best Homemade Baby Food on the Planet. On this week’s Cooking with the Moms podcast, author Tina Ruggiero, MS, RD, joins the show to chat about tips for making your own simple, delicious and nutritious baby food at home.

Four-Fruit Compote is featured in the book’s Recipes for Eight Months section and calls for an apple, a pear, dried apricots, and dried plums. It’s naturally sweet and, even though it’s technically “baby food,” we loved the flavor too.

The Best Homemade Baby Food on the Planet (Fair Winds, 2010) serves up 200 playful recipes for babies from six to twenty-three months. Tina and her co-author, Karin Knight, RN, call for pure and wholesome ingredients so parents can sleep easy knowing what goes into every bite. From Ready, Set, Go Avocado Puree in the Six Months section (did you know avocados are a nutrient-rich, super-convenient first food for babies?) to Wonderful White Bean Soup for the toddler set, the recipes are simple yet sophisticated enough to be enjoyed by the whole family. The book is packed with helpful hints for feeding babies, important nutrition advice, and it even has a Feedback Chart at the back. We could go on and on, and we hope you’ll tune into the show to hear all about it!

Four-Fruit Compote

Makes 2 Baby Servings

  • 1/4 cup prunes (dried plums)
  • 1/4 cup dried apricots
  • 1 apple
  • 1 pear
  • 2 cups water

1. Dice the prunes and apricots. Peel, core, and dice the apple and pear.

2. Place the prunes, apricots, apple, pear, and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 20 to 30 minutes until the fruit is soft and most of the water is absorbed.

3. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking and add more water if needed. Mash and serve warm.

Nutrition Information per Serving (1/3 cup): 160 calories, 0.2g fat (0g saturated), 8mg sodium, 41g carbohydrate, 6g fiber, 1g protein, 20% vitamin A, 10% vitamin C

Print Recipe

Tina’s recipe for sweet potato fries is in the Recipes for Eighteen to Twenty-Three Months chapter but could easily be jazzed up for a more mature palate with cumin, chili powder, or other simple seasonings.

Fabulously Fried Sweet Potatoes

Makes 4 Toddler Servings

  • 1 sweet potato
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

1. Scrub the sweet potato and prick its skin with a fork in several places.

2. Microwave on high 5 minutes. Cool and peel the potato. Halve it lengthwise and cut each half into 1/2-inch slices.

3. Lightly coat a frying pan with oil and heat over medium heat. Add the potato slices, season lightly with salt if desired, and cook until nicely browned on the bottom. Turn the slices and cook 1 minute more until golden and crisp.

Nutrition Information per Serving (2 slices): 57 calories, 3.5g fat (0.5g saturated), 18mg sodium, 6g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 0.5g protein, 30% vitamin A

Print Recipe

Does this look like toddler food? These vegetarian “meat” balls call for some of our favorite ingredients: eggs, pecans, and cheese.

Very Veggie “Meat” Balls

Makes 6 Toddler Servings

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup pecans
  • 1/3 cup grated sweet onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
  • 3/4 cup Italian-style seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1 cup grated 4-cheese mexican blend or a mix of grated Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

1. In a blender or food processor, combine the eggs, pecans, onion, and salt (if using) and process until the nuts are completely ground.

2. Transfer to a large bowl. Stir in the bread crumbs, mixing well. Mix in the cheese and parsley.

3. Form 12 small balls. Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the balls and fry, turning often so they will not burn, for 10 minutes until nicely browned.

Nutrition Information per Serving (2 “meat” balls): 277 calories, 20g fat (4.5g saturated), 395mg sodium, 14g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 10g protein

Print Recipe

GIVEAWAY NEWS: We love this cookbook, and we’re thrilled because Tina is giving one lucky winner their very own autographed copy.

To enter, leave us a comment here on the blog (or on Facebook) and tell us about your favorite baby food or toddler recipe or why you would like to win this book.

We will enter you into the giveaway a second, third, and/or fourth time if you

> Subscribe to our RSS feed.
> Tweet about the giveaway with a link back to this post.
> “Like” us on Facebook or share the giveaway news with your Facebook fans and friends with a link back to the post.

Please be sure to leave us a new comment every time you do something extra, and GOOD LUCK! The giveaway ends on August 17th at noon, and as always we’ll use random.org to pick our winner.

“Yummy for my tummy” is the best way to describe this meal. We can’t thank Tina enough for coming on the show (via Skype) to talk about easy ways parents and caregivers can expose their babies to a wonderful array of colorful, flavorful, and nutritious first foods.

Mediterranean Mussels with Farro and White Wine, Bulgur with Butter-Roasted Almonds, and a Giveaway for Ancient Grains for Modern Meals (Podcast #153)

If recipes with names like Wheat Berry Fools, Mediterranean Mussels with Farro and White Wine, and Bulgur with Butter-Roasted Almonds and Cinnamon pique your culinary interest, you’ll definitely want to sink your teeth into Ancient Grains for Modern Meals. This cookbook — which features recipes for nutrient-rich farro, barley, quinoa, wheat berries, and other whole grains — is by far one of our new favorites.  On this week’s Cooking with the Moms, we feature our recent lunch interview with author Maria Speck and share a few of the amazing recipes from her new cookbook.

Plump and chewy farro stars in this summer-inspired recipe for Mediterranean Mussels with Farro and White Wine. In the United States, the type of farro that’s typically sold is of the emmer variety, first cultivated in the Fertile Crescent almost ten thousand years ago. We like to use semi-pearled farro because it cooks up quickly in just 20 to 25 minutes.

Maria treated us to a lunch of Mediterranean mussels!

Mediterranean Mussels with Farro and White Wine

Serves 3 or 4 as a Light Main Course, or 4 to 6 as a Starter

For the Farro

  • 1½ cups water
  • 3/4 cup farro
  • 1 small bay leaf
  • 2 whole peppercorns
  • Pinch of fine sea salt

For the Stew

  • 2 pounds fresh mussels in their shells
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup finely chopped yellow onion (about 1 small)
  • 1 cup thinly sliced carrots (about 2 small)
  • 1 cup thinly sliced celery stalks (1 to 2 pieces)
  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic, lightly crushed
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 dried red chile
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1½ cups dry white wine
  • 1½ cups chopped fresh or diced canned tomatoes with their juices, (one 14-ounce can)
  • 1½ cups water
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sugar

To finish

  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus lemon wedges to serve
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1. To prepare the farro, bring the water, farro, bay leaf, peppercorns, and salt to a boil in a 2-quart saucepan. Decrease the heat to maintain a simmer, cover, and cook until the grain is tender but still slightly chewy, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the bay leaf, drain any remaining liquid, and set aside.

2. While the farro simmers, rinse the mussels under cold running water, brushing to remove sand and residue on the shells. Remove the beards (hairy clumps around the shell) with tweezers or a sharp knife. Discard chipped mussels. Tap any open mussels and discard if they don’t close. Set the cleaned mussels aside.

3. To make the stew, heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion, carrots, celery, garlic, 1 teaspoon of the rosemary, the bay leaves, chile, and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables soften, 3 to 5 minutes. Increase the heat to medium-high, add 1/4 cup of the white wine, and cook until syrupy and the liquid is almost gone, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, the water, the remaining 1 1/4 cups white wine, the pepper, and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt; bring to a boil. Cook, uncovered, at a lively simmer until the carrots are crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the sugar.

4. Add the mussels and the farro together with the remaining 1 teaspoon rosemary to the pot and bring to a boil. Cover and steam over medium to medium-high heat, shaking the pot once or twice in between, until the mussels open, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat, and discard any unopened mussels.

5. To finish, add the lemon juice. Taste for salt and pepper and adjust. Drizzle the mussels with the olive oil and serve right away in deep plates, garnished with parsley and with lemon wedges on the side.

Print Recipe

Maria refers to bulgur as “the perfect ancient fast food.” It’s often associated with tabouli but also finds its way into soups, meatballs , and pilafs. Bulgur is made by boiling wheat and then drying and cracking it into various sizes. The outer bran layer is removed, so it cooks up very quickly.

Bulgur with Butter-Roasted Almonds and Cinnamon

Serves 4

  • 1¾ cups water
  • 1 cup medium-coarse bulgur
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup toasted whole almonds, skin on (we used slivered almonds)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper

1. Pour the water into a small saucepan and bring to a boil.  Stir in the bulgur and salt, and return to a boil. Decrease the heat to low to maintain a simmer. Cover, and cook until the water is absorbed, 12-15 minutes. Remove from the heat, cover, and set aside to steam for 5 minutes. Taste and adjust for salt.

2. While the bulgur steams, melt the butter over medium heat in a large skillet or saucepan, preferably stainless steel. Cook, watching attentively, until the aroma of the butter becomes deep nutty-sweet, the color turns golden brown, and the bottom of the pan fills with brown specks, 3-5 minutes

3. Add the almonds, cinnamon, and cayenne and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute Add the bulgur to the skillet (it might splatter!), stir to combine and serve right away.

Print Recipe

“Recipe reprinted with permission from Ancient Grains for Modern Meals by Maria Speck, copyright © 2011. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.”  Book cover: Photo credit, Sara Remington © 2011

GIVEAWAY NEWS: Maria is offering one lucky blog reader/podcast listener the chance to win a copy of Ancient Grains for Modern Meals, U.S. only please. The publisher sent us one copy, and we’ve had a hard time sharing (or shall we say, Liz has had a hard time sharing). We’re thinking about setting up some sort of Meal Makeover Mom “shared custody” schedule for the cookbook!

To Enter: Leave a comment here on our blog or on Facebook and tell us about your favorite grain and how you like to use it. From quinoa and millet to barley and brown rice, we can’t wait to read about your favorites grains and preparations.

We will enter you into the giveaway a second, third, and/or fourth time if you

> Subscribe to our RSS feed.
> Tweet about the giveaway with a link back to this post.
> “Like” us on Facebook or share the giveaway news with your Facebook fans and friends with a link back to the post.
> “Like” Ancient Grains for Modern Meals 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 10th at noon, and as always we’ll use random.org to pick our winner.

In Maria’s kitchen, jars of different whole grains are kept within easy reach.

Liz’s mother-in-law, Joy, joined us for lunch at Maria’s beautiful home.

What a way to end a meal: Maria treated us to Wheat Berry Fools with Grand Marnier Figs. She calls for soft wheat berries in this recipe but also suggests using leftover cooked spelt, kamut, or farro.

Summer Salads & Dressings and a Giveaway for a Case of California Olive Ranch Olive Oil (Podcast #151)

When we think “summer,” we think fresh, colorful salads tossed with zesty homemade dressings. While store-bought dressings may be convenient, making dressings from scratch with a handful of simple ingredients — things like evoo, vinegar, lemon juice, honey, fresh herbs, and garlic — can be almost as convenient … not to mention fast and flavorful.

The inspiration for this week’s summer salads & dressings Cooking with the Moms podcast comes from Kirsten, a fan and mother of two from northern California. Kirsten works for the California Olive Ranch (COR) company, and as you can imagine, we are ridiculously jealous! Extra virgin olive oil is one of our favorite ingredients; it’s heart healthy and makes everything from crusty slices of fresh-baked bread to vinaigrettes taste great. After hearing from Kirsten and exchanging a bunch of emails, we invited her to join us on the show for a fascinating primer on olive oil, a preview of COR’s Freshen Up Your Salad program (more on that further down in the post), a giveaway for a case of Arbequina extra virgin olive oil, and two family-friendly recipes: Sweet Basil Dressing and Greek Village Salad.

We had a blast gathering the ingredients for this refreshing Greek Village Salad. Thanks to Janice’s thriving backyard vegetable garden, we picked the parsley, oregano, and dill minutes before this photo was taken. The radishes and lettuce came from Janice’s CSA, and the Arbequina extra virgin olive oil was sent to us compliments of the California Olive Ranch company. By the way, Arbequina (pronounced are-buh-keen-ah) is crushed from a Spanish olive varietal, and its fruity flavor pairs perfectly with summer salads.

Greek Village Salad

Makes 6 to 8 Servings

Kirsten sent us this recipe, and we adapted it a bit to suit our kids’ taste buds. For example, we swapped out the green bell peppers for red (okay, maybe Liz’s dislike of green bell peppers drove that decision), and we used fresh oregano instead of the dried oregano called for in the recipe. We also added more romaine.

For the dressing …

  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 1/2 cup Arbequina extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the salad …

  • 1 small head romaine lettuce, broken into bite-size pieces
  • 5 medium-size ripe red tomatoes, cut into wedges
  • 1 small red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 5 green onions, green tops only, very thinly sliced
  • 5 radishes, trimmed and very thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • 1/2 cup Greek olives
  • 4 ounces crumbled feta cheese, lightly packed (1 cup)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

1. For the dressing, combine the vinegar, parsley, garlic and oregano in a mixing bowl or blender. In a slow, steady stream, add the oil, whisking (or blending) constantly until creamy and emulsified. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed with salt and pepper.

2. For the salad, place the romaine, tomato wedges, bell pepper strips, green onions, radishes, dill, olives, and feta cheese in a salad bowl; toss with just enough dressing to lightly coat each leaf, then season to taste with salt and pepper. 

3. Mound onto chilled salad plates, and serve immediately. (Reserve extra salad dressing, and store in the refrigerator for another use.)

Print Recipe

Sweet Basil Dressing

Here’s another recipe from our friends at COR. With honey from Janice’s CSA and fresh basil from her garden, this recipe really hits the summer spot. You can use it as a simple dressing for crisp green salads or farm-fresh tomatoes or as a marinade for grilled meat, fish, or poultry.

  • 2 tablespoons seasoned rice wine vinegar (we had lite seasoned rice wine vinegar on hand, so we used that)
  • 3 to 4 fresh basil leaves
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 6 tablespoon Arbequina extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Place the rice wine vinegar, basil, and honey in a blender. Pulse until the basil is pureed and incorporated.

2. Add the olive oil and pulse briefly to incorporate. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate leftovers.

Print Recipe

Now for some news on a cool campaign called, Freshen Up Your Salad. During the month of July, California Olive Ranch will feature fresh and healthy salad recipes on their website and blog. They will also be hosting the Seasons Best Salad Recipe Contest where you can win prizes including VikingRange.com gift cards, an emulsion blender for making your own at-home dressings, olive oil, and much more (cookbook author, Marie Simmons, will be picking the top two winners)! To enter your original recipe, visit their Facebook page.

GIVEAWAY NEWS: As for our giveaway, the folks at California Olive Ranch are giving one Meal Makeover Mom blog reader/podcast listener/Facebook fan a case of their Arbequina extra virgin olive oil (that’s 12 bottles)!

To enter, tell us about your favorite ways to use olive oil — in a salad dressing, as the base of a marinade, in a cake! Or simply tell us why you’d like to win this giveaway.

We will enter you into the giveaway a second, third, fourth  and/or fifth time if you
> Subscribe to our RSS feed.
> Tweet about the giveaway with a link back to this post.
> “Like” us on Facebook or share the giveaway news with your Facebook fans and friends with a link back to the post.
>“Like” California Olive Ranch on Facebook.

Please be sure to leave us a new comment every time you do something extra, and GOOD LUCK! The giveaway ends on July 27th at noon, and as always we’ll use random.org to pick our winner.

To hear all about how olive oil is made, the best way to store it, the various flavor profiles, the difference between extra virgin olive oil and regular olive oil, and a whole lot more, be sure to tune into this week’s Cooking with the Moms!

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS): An Interview with Hillary Wright, RD and a Giveaway for The PCOS Diet Plan (Podcast #149)

On this week’s Cooking with the Moms podcast, we take a break from our usual food-focused format to feature Hillary Wright, a registered dietitian at the Domar Center for Mind/Body Health in Boston who has devoted her career to treating women with PCOS. Hillary is the author of the new book, The PCOS Diet Plan: A Natural Approach to Health for Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (Celestial Arts, 2010), and her nutrition and lifestyle advice are helping women everywhere manage this common condition.


Hillary spent an afternoon at Meal Makeover Moms’ central chatting about her book and her diet/lifestyle tips and sharing a healthy, veggie-filled lunch with us … perfect for women with PCOS. Read on for a Q&A with Hillary and a giveaway of The PCOS Diet Plan.

Salad greens were tossed with a light vinaigrette and then topped with tomatoes, toasted pecans, grilled asparagus, and salmon salad made with light canola mayonnaise and shredded carrot. On the side (not shown here), we had whole wheat couscous.

Q: What is PCOS and what health problems can it lead to?
A: PCOS is a genetic condition that is the most common hormonal problem in women in their reproductive years. It is the primary cause of infertility due to ovulation problems.  Having PCOS also leaves women at a higher risk for diabetes, heart disease, and possibly endometrial cancer.

Q: How big a problem is PCOS?
A: PCOS affects up to 10% of all women … and possibly more.  Being overweight or obese worsens the hormonal problems associated with PCOS. Given the obesity epidemic, we’re likely to see an increase in the number of women diagnosed with this condition.

Q: What are the diet and lifestyle changes you recommend for women with PCOS?
A: In at least 75% of women with PCOS, insulin resistance is a major contributing factor to their hormonal problems.  In it’s most advanced form, insulin resistance causes diabetes, so a diabetes-type diet where added sugars are limited and unrefined, whole grain carbohydrates are encouraged (in reasonable portions) is helpful.  Exercise is also essential for anyone with insulin resistance because it’s the most natural way to normalize insulin and hormone levels.

Q: If you are a woman with PCOS what would be the perfect lunch or dinner to enjoy on a busy weekday?
A: I would encourage a balanced plate — very similar to the government’s new MyPlate — where half your plate is covered with vegetables, 25% with lean protein, and 25% with whole grains or a starchy vegetables.  For lunch that might look like a green salad with grilled chicken or tuna on top and a whole grain roll or pita bread on the side.  For dinner, three to four ounces of chicken or fish, one cup of brown rice or sweet potato, and a half plate of any kind of a steamed vegetables will do it!

GIVEAWAY NEWS: One lucky winner will receive a copy of The PCOS Diet Plan. To enter, simply post a comment here or on our Facebook page telling us why you’d like to win this book … or share a personal note about your own PCOS journey.

We will enter you into the giveaway a second, third, and/or fourth time if you
> Subscribe to our RSS feed.
> Tweet about the giveaway with a link back to this post.
> “Like” us on Facebook or share the giveaway news with your Facebook fans and friends with a link back to the post.

Please be sure to leave us a new comment every time you do something extra, and GOOD LUCK! The giveaway ends on July 1st at noon, and as always we’ll use random.org to pick our winner.

We’d like to thank Hillary for coming into our “studio” and sharing her in-depth knowledge about PCOS with our community. If you’d like to follow Hillary, join her PCOS Diet Facebook page.

A Memorial Day Recipe for Veggie-Topped Beef Burgers and a George Foreman Grill Giveaway (Podcast #146)

Summer is right around the corner here in New England, although until yesterday, it sure didn’t feel that way. We slogged through a long, snowy winter and a long, rainy spring, and now our fingers are crossed we’ll see the sun this summer!

It’s hard to believe Memorial Day is this Monday (!!), and just in case the weatherman doesn’t cooperate, we decided to create a veggie-topped burger recipe using our indoor grills. We share the recipe on this week’s Cooking with the Moms podcast, and we also announce our latest giveaway for a George Foreman Grill and exciting news about a recipe contest that we will be judging.

Veggie-Topped Beef Burgers

Makes 4 Servings

  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 small red onion, sliced into four (or a few more) ¼-inch-thick rounds
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound 80% lean ground beef, shaped into four ¾-inch-thick patties (4 ounces each) **
  • 4 whole wheat hamburger buns, lightly toasted
  • 4 teaspoons basil pesto

1. Slice off the top of the bell pepper just below the stem and slice off the bottom ½-inch. Stand the bell pepper upright on a cutting board, and use a sharp knife to split the pepper from the top to the bottom. Slice the pepper into 4 equal-size pieces, and remove the inside core and seeds.

2. Attach the grill plates to the grill. Adjust the angle of the grill to the flat, level position. Close the grill cover and preheat to high.

3. Brush both sides of bell pepper pieces and red onion slices with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place on the grill, close the cover, and cook until the vegetables are browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove the vegetables to a plate and cover with aluminum foil until ready to serve.

4. Adjust the angle of the grill to the sloped position and place the drip tray in front of the grill. Sprinkle both sides of the patties with salt and pepper. Place on the grill, cover, and cook until the meat is no longer pink in the center, about 8 minutes.

5. Spread the basil pesto evenly over each top bun half. Place a cooked hamburger, 1 bell pepper piece and 1 red onion slice (* if you have extra, top with 2 slices as desired) on each of the bottom bun halves. Place the remaining bun half on top.

Nutrition Information per Serving (1 hamburger): 360 calories, 18g fat (6g saturated), 280mg sodium, 26g carbohydrate, 4g fiber, 25g protein, 20% vitamin A, 70% vitamin C, 20% iron

** If you use 90% lean ground beef, each burger will have about 330 calories, 14 grams fat, and 4.5 grams saturated fat.

** According to an independent study, the George Foreman grill removes up to 42% of the fat from a 4-ounce burger made with 80/20 beef (that’s a reduction of about 90 calories per burger).

Print Recipe

Lean Mean Burger Challenge Recipe Contest: Between now and June 3rd, you can share your favorite original burger recipe using the George Foreman Grill. Upload your recipe to the George Foreman Facebook page, and you could win $1,000.00 (or one of five runner up prizes of a $100.00 GeorgeForemanCooking.com gift certificate). We are helping to judge the contest, so we hope you’ll submit a recipe!

Disclosure: We are working with the George Foreman Grill company on several projects: Recipe development, a Twitter party (which we did a few weeks ago), recipe contest judging, our latest giveaway, and four George Foreman Friday blog posts.

GIVEAWAY NEWS: And now for even more fun stuff …  one blog reader or Facebook fan (U.S. only please) will win a George Foreman Grand Champ Family Value Grill (it serves nine!). Retail value is $60.00.  To enter, leave us a comment telling us about your favorite indoor grill recipe or why you’d like to win the grill. 

We will enter you into the giveaway a second, third, and/or fourth time if you

> Subscribe to our RSS feed.
> Tweet about the giveaway with a link back to this post.
> “Like” us on Facebook or share the giveaway news with your Facebook fans and friends with a link back to the post.

Please be sure to leave us a new comment every time you do something extra, and GOOD LUCK! The giveaway ends on June 10th at noon, and as always we’ll use random.org to pick our winner.

Indoor grills are versatile and make good nutrition easy to achieve. Recently, we have made chicken kebabs, grilled tilapia tacos, grilled asparagus and endive, and even a chocolate and banana quesadilla. We plan to post more recipes in the coming weeks, so come back and visit us again.

An Interview with The Biggest Loser Dietitian … Plus a Cookbook Giveaway (Podcast #145)

Are you a fan of the hit NBC show, The Biggest Loser? Did you know the show has a registered dietitian (RD) on staff who works behind the scenes designing customized diets for the contestants? Cheryl Forberg is The Biggest Loser’s very own dietitian. She worked as a chef before she became an RD, so you better believe that the food plans she creates for her clients are rich in nutrients and packed with big flavors. Yes, weight loss can taste great!

On this week’s Cooking with the Moms podcast, we chat with Cheryl about her role on the show and about her new farmhouse in Napa, CA (the house is still under construction which is why you may hear some noise in the background). She answers a bunch of weight-loss questions posed recently by our Facebook fans (like, “what do I do when I hit a weight-loss plateau?”) and offers one lucky blog reader/Facebook fan a copy of her new cookbook, Flavor First. Be sure to tune in for an amazing back-lot tour of The Biggest Loser, and read on for your chance to win Cheryl’s cookbook.

On a recent trip to Napa, Janice had dinner with Cheryl (and Michelle Stern, author of The Whole Family Cookbook) at Rotisserie & Wine, a Tyler Florence restaurant. Their hands-down favorite thing on the menu: Farro Verde with Wild Mushrooms and Farm Fresh Egg.

And speaking of favorite things to eat, we asked Cheryl what she typically eats during her busy days, and here is what she said: “Though our fridge is always loaded with fresh produce, I tend to eat more veggies … and my boyfriend eats most of our fruit! Of course that will change when our plum, fig and peach trees are producing in another couple months. I am crazy about rapini lately.  I steam  a bunch in the morning and nibble on it all day until it’s gone. My favorite meal is chicken roasted with lemon, garlic, and rosemary, and served with two or three different vegetables.”

Be sure to visit Cheryl’s blog when you get a chance, because it’s jam packed with interesting articles and valuable weight loss advice. And for anyone whose weight loss has stalled, check out her SOS Plan.

GIVEAWAY NEWS: Thanks to our friend Cheryl, one blog reader or Facebook fan (U.S. only please) will win a copy of Flavor First: Cut Calories and Boost Flavor with 75 Delicious, All-Natural Recipes (Rodale 2011). With recipes like Apple-Cinnamon Breakfast Quinoa, Beer-Braised Pork Tacos (cover recipe), Huevos Sofrito, and Chocolate Nut Truffles, you’re going to want this book!

To enter, leave us a comment telling us about your best weight loss secret or your favorite nutrient-packed recipe. We will enter you into the giveaway a second, third, and/or fourth time if you

> Subscribe to our RSS feed.
> Tweet about the giveaway with a link back to this post.
> “Like” us on Facebook or share the giveaway news with your Facebook fans and friends with a link back to the post.

Please be sure to leave us a new comment every time you do something extra, and GOOD LUCK! The giveaway ends on June 1st at noon, and as always we ‘ll use random.org to pick our winner.

Mediterranean Diet Month, a Recipe for Make-Your-Own Veggie Pita Pizzas, and a Cookbook Giveaway! (Podcast #144)

The Mediterranean diet — rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, seafood, nuts, legumes, and olive oil — is one of our favorite styles of eating. It’s naturally nutritious, and the flavors are irresistible and kid friendly. So when our friends at Oldways told us that May was Mediterranean Diet Month, we decided to get in on the action. To learn all about it, we invited Sara Baer-Sinnott, President of Oldways, to join us for a Mediterranean-inspired lunch of make-your-own pizzas and be a guest on Cooking with the Moms.

With lots of veggies to choose from, we created our own pizzas. For the smiley-face design (which Janice gave to Leah when she got home from school), we used chopped baby spinach for the hair, sautéed bell peppers for the mouth, mushrooms for the nose, and orange grape tomatoes for the eyes!

Our lunch also included a platter filled with crisp vegetables — zucchini, summer squash, bell peppers, grape tomatoes, and sugar snap peas — that we dipped in hummus, baba ganoush and tzatziki. How could you NOT love veggies after looking at this photo?

Oldways is a non-profit group in Boston dedicated to helping people everywhere live longer, healthier lives by embracing the “old ways” of eating,” and they were the group that launched the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid over a decade ago. During the month of May, they hope to get their lushly illustrated pyramid into the hands of over one million Americans and showcase all the health benefits associated with this scientifically-proven way of eating. You can download your own copy (and be counted) on the Oldways website.

Talk about bright colors, big flavors, and good health! Our toppings included veggies, part-skim mozzarella cheese, feta cheese, basil pesto, and pasta sauce. And the base was easy as pie, because we used whole grain pitas.

Make-Your-Own Veggie Pita Pizzas

Makes 4 Servings

These vegetable-topped pitas are more of a concept than an actual recipe. Anything goes in terms of the sautéed veggies you choose to use. We like onions, mushrooms, bell peppers, and baby spinach, but depending on your family’s taste buds, you could also add olives, eggplant, broccoli, diced butternut squash, and tomatoes. For a non-vegetarian option, use cooked chicken sausage or grilled shrimp. As for amounts, it’s entirely up to you and your family.

  • 4 large whole grain pita rounds
  • Pasta sauce
  • Basil pesto
  • One 5- or 6-ounce bag baby spinach, sautéed
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, coarsely chopped and sautéed
  • 1 Vidalia onion, sliced into thin half-moons and sautéed
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch dice and sautéed
  • Shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • Crumbled Feta cheese
  • Extra virgin olive oil for sautéing

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Arrange the pita rounds on one large baking sheet.

2. Spread pasta sauce or basil pesto (or both) on each pita and then top with your choice of vegetables and cheese.

3. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the cheese melts and is lightly browned.

Print Recipe

GIVEAWAY NEWS: Thanks to our friends at Oldways, one lucky blog reader or Facebook fan (U.S. only please) will win a copy of The Oldways Table: Essays & Recipes from the Culinary Think Tank by K. Dun Gifford & Sara Baer-Sinnott.

To enter, leave us a comment telling us about your favorite Mediterranean food, ingredient, or meal … or the most memorable Mediterranean meal you ever ate (wait until you hear about Sara’s!). We will enter you into the giveaway a second, third, and/or fourth time if you

> Subscribe to our RSS feed.
> Tweet about the giveaway with a link back to this post.
> “Like” us on Facebook or share the giveaway news with your Facebook fans and friends with a link back to the post.

Please be sure to leave us a new comment every time you do something extra, and GOOD LUCK! The giveaway ends on May 27th at noon, and as always we ‘ll use random.org to pick our winner.

How many foodies does it take to sauté onions, mushrooms, bell peppers and spinach? Apparently, quite a few!

Our meal was fresh, flavorful, and easy. It was a lovely break from all the usual Meal Makeover Mom happenings and reminded us that we need to do this more often (i.e. eat a leisurely lunch). The next day, Liz set up a pizza bar for her family, and everyone — especially hubby, Tim who is still sticking with his vegetarian diet — said the meal was amazing!

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