Healthy Cooking 101 for National Nutrition Month, PLUS: A Recipe for Slow Roasted Salmon with Toasted Barley and Fennel … And a Giveaway for Two $25.00 Stop & Shop Gift Cards

Before the month of March and National Nutrition Month come to a close, we wanted to tell you about a fun food blogger event we recently attended at Boston University. Sponsored by Stop & Shop Supermarket, Healthy Cooking 101 featured a recipe demonstration and hands-on cooking class led by local Executive Chef, Jeremy Sewall and Stop & Shop Nutritionist, Julie Menounos, MS, RD. The recipes—everything from Cucumber, Lime & Mint Mocktails, Mixed Green Salad with Toasted Spice Vinaigrette, and Slow Roasted Salmon with Toasted Barley and Fennel—focused on incorporating herbs and spices into meals to make them flavorful and healthy.

Chef Jeremy Sewall via

Chef Sewall plates up the toasted barley with fennel. We loved how he toasted the barley first to bring out its nutty flavor and how he incorporated curry powder and orange juice and zest into the dressing.

Salmon via

Salmon fillets get topped with lemon juice and zest, shallot, and extra virgin olive oil. The chef recommended roasting the fish at 250°F for 15 to 20 minutes. We’ve never cooked salmon at such a low temperature, but it worked beautifully! Hey, you learn something new every day.

Mixed green salad via

Green salads can include so much more than plain ol’ lettuce.  The chef’s recipe called for radishes, blanched asparagus and English peas, carrots, and mixed baby greens. His dressing included cardamom and coriander for a big pop of flavor.

Cooking 101 via

Oh look. That’s Annmarie from the blog, Real Food Real Deals. We follow her blog, so it was great fun getting to meet her in person.

Salmon with Barley via

Instagram image of our dinner!

Slow Roasted Salmon with Toasted Barley and Fennel
Makes 4 Servings

Many thanks to Stop & Shop and Executive Chef, Jeremy Sewall for the recipe.

For the Barley:

  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • 1/2 cup shaved fennel
  • 1 cup arugula leaves
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • Zest and juice of 1 orange
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

For the Salmon:

  • Four 6-ounce salmon filets
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (you can get away with using less!)

1. For the barley, preheat the oven to 350°F. Put the barley on a baking sheet and place in oven until lightly toasted, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and place in a medium saucepan. Cover with cold, salted water and simmer until tender, about 35 minutes.

2. Drain well and let cool. While the salmon is cooking, toss all of the ingredients together to make the salad.

3. For the salmon, preheat the oven to 250°F. Place the salmon on a baking sheet and top with the lemon zest, shallot, salt and pepper. Drizzle a little of the olive oil on top. Place in oven and bake until it’s cooked to your liking, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and drizzle with lemon juice. Serve immediately with the barley salad.

Stop & Shop

GIVEAWAY NEWS:  To celebrate Stop & Shop’s 100 year anniversary, they’re giving away two, $25.00 gift cards to their market. We will pick two lucky winners for this giveaway! Stop & Shop stores are located in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, and New Jersey.

TO ENTER:  Leave a comment here on the blog and tell us about some of the healthy foods you’ll buy at the supermarket if you win the gift card. Will you stock up on fresh produce, whole wheat pasta or cereal, seafood, canned beans? What will you put in your cart?

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 Facebook and Twitter (@MealMakeovrMoms)

We’ll pick our winner on April 12th at noon EST using Good luck!


A Recipe for Chicken Salad Tomato Bites, PLUS: A Tomato Tasting Kit Giveaway {Podcast #241}

Even though we’re months away from summer, we’re talking tomatoes on this week’s Cooking with the Moms radio podcast. Tune in for valuable tomato tips, new recipes for Rustic Tomato and Cheese Pie and Chicken Salad Tomato Bites, and find out why our families are eating a lot of tomatoes now despite the tundra-like weather outside here in Boston! Oh, and read on for news about our giveaway for a Tomato Tasting Kit.

Chicken Salad Tomato Bites via

For this recipe, we teamed up with Backyard Farms in Madison, Maine where juicy, ruby-red tomatoes are grown year round in greenhouses, so they always taste like summer. With our new partners, we’re helping to spread the word about tomato nutrition, versatility, and flavor … and we can’t wait for you to try these cocktail tomatoes stuffed with a healthy homemade chicken salad.

Backyard Farms tomatoes at Wilson Farm in Lexington, MA via

Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, a cancer-fighting antioxidant, and they also contain power nutrients like immune-boosting vitamins A and C.

Disclosure: We are being compensated for our work with Backyard Farms, but all opinions are our own.

Chicken Salad Stuffed Cocktail Tomatoes via

To make our Chicken Salad Tomato Bites, slice off the tops of the tomatoes and then remove the pulp and seeds with a melon baller.

Chicken Salad Tomato Bites via

Fill the tomatoes with a generous tablespoon of the chicken salad mixture. (Notice the tablespoon in the background. When we say we measure, we mean it!!)

Chicken Salad Tomato Bites via

Place the “hats” back on top. They’re so cute, but you will want to remove them before eating the tomatoes.

Chicken Salad Tomato Bites

Makes 3 Servings

The great thing about this nutritious chicken salad is that it’s versatile. Instead of orange juice and zest, you can use a lemon; instead of sunflower seeds, switch to pumpkin seeds or chopped pecans; instead of raisins, use dried cranberries; instead of fresh basil, choose fresh tarragon, dill, or mint (or a combo); and you can add a teaspoon of honey mustard if you want to give the mixture more of a kick!

  • One 10-ounce box Backyard Farms Cocktail Tomatoes (8 to 10 small tomatoes)
  • 1 cup finely chopped cooked chicken breast (roasted or rotisserie)
  • 2 tablespoons golden raisins
  • 1 tablespoon roasted, salted sunflower seeds
  • 3 tablespoons 2%-fat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper

1. Slice the top off of each tomato, keeping the stem intact, and set aside. Carefully scoop out the tomato pulp and seeds with a melon baller. Place the tomatoes upside down on a paper towel for a few minutes to drain excess liquid.

2. Place the chicken, raisins, sunflower seeds, yogurt, basil, orange juice, and orange zest in a bowl and mix until well combined. Season with kosher salt and pepper to taste.

3. Sprinkle a pinch of kosher salt and pepper inside the hollowed-out tomatoes. Scoop a generous tablespoon of the chicken mixture into each tomato. Top with the stem “hats” and serve. (When it’s time to eat, remove the “hats,” set them aside, and enjoy the stuffed tomatoes!)

Nutrition Information per Serving (3 stuffed tomatoes):  140 calories, 3.5g fat (1g saturated), 55mg sodium, 10g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 18g protein, 15% vitamin A, 25% vitamin C

Print Recipe

Chicken Salad Tomato Bites via

Tune into Cooking with the Moms for tomato tips from Backyard Farms. Here’s a sneak peek: (1) Ripen tomatoes on your kitchen counter, NOT in the refrigerator. (2) Use a tomato knife or serrated knife for slicing tomatoes. (3) For crushed tomatoes, use a cheese grater when you want to crush your own tomatoes versus using canned. Watch this YouTube video to see how it’s done.

Backyard Farms giveaway via

GIVEAWAY NEWS: One lucky blog reader or podcast listener will win a Tomato Tasting Kit complete with a Backyard Farms cutting board, tomato knife, seasoned salt, olive oil, and boxes of cocktail tomatoes. (U.S. only please.)

TO ENTER:  Leave a comment here on the blog and tell us what you love most about summer tomatoes, or share your favorite tomato tip or recipe.

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 Facebook and Twitter (@MealMakeovrMoms)

We’ll pick our winner on April 10th at noon EST using Good luck!

Book Review: Younger Next Week … and a Recipe for Asian Peanut Chicken {Book Giveaway ENDED + Podcast #238}

The Fountain of Youth may be too good to be true, but you’ll get one step closer if you follow the plan laid out in Younger Next Week: Your Ultimate Rx to Reverse the Clock, Boost Energy and Look and Feel Younger in 7 Days by Elisa Zied, MS, RD.

Younger Next Week via

In the book, Elisa outlines some of the habits that sabotage vitality including overeating, caving to cravings, dieting, and skipping meals. She reveals the Vital Foods that defy aging … and the Vital Moves to keep you feeling young. She even offers her signature STRESSIPES (rhymes with recipes) for optimal sleep, fitness, food, and relaxation. Tune into this week’s Cooking with the Moms podcast for Elisa’s secrets and a Vitality recipe from the book for Asian Peanut Chicken. And read on for news on how you can win a copy of Younger Next Week.

Asian Peanut Chicken via #peanuts #chicken #stirfry #nutrition #carrots

Vitality Recipes at the end of the book showcase the foods Elisa encourages everyone to eat: things like fruits and vegetables, healthy fats from seafood, seeds, and nuts, lean protein foods, and whole grains. (Confession: When we tested this recipe, we used white rice since we already had some cooked and on hand. A better choice: whole wheat spaghetti or brown rice.)

Asian Peanut Chicken

Makes 4 Servings

This recipe works well for a quick lunch or dinner. It’s easy to assemble thanks to the package of shredded carrots, though we peeled and thinly sliced a few carrots since that’s what we had in the fridge. This recipe is flexible; you could sub out the carrots for snow pea pods, or use both. Elisa created the recipes in the book with culinary expert, Robyn Webb.

  • 1 tablespoon minced jarred ginger
  • 1 tablespoon bottled minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 3/4 pound chicken tenders
  • 1/2 tablespoon canola oil, plus 1/2 tablespoon for sauteing
  • One 8-ounce package shredded carrots
  • 2 scallions, root ends removed and minced
  • 3/4 tablespoon hoisin sauce
  • 1/4 cup chopped roasted unsalted peanuts
  • Plan Ahead: 2 cups cooked whole wheat spaghetti

1. In a medium bowl, combine the ginger, garlic, soy sauce, water and cornstarch. Mix well. Add the chicken tenders to the marinade and let stand for 5 minutes.

2. Heat 1/2 tablespoon of the oil in a large wok or a large heavy skillet over high heat. Add the chicken tenders and their marinade to the skillet and stir-fry for 5 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.

3. Lower the heat to medium and add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil to the wok or skillet. Add the carrots and scallions and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Next, add the reserved chicken and stir-fry for 1 minute. Stir in the hoisin sauce, mixing well. Remove the wok or skillet from the heat and garnish the chicken with chopped peanuts. Serve the chicken over cooked whole wheat pasta. (We used rice.)

Nutrition Information per Serving: 458 calories, 23g fat (4.2g saturated), 586mg sodium, 44g carbohydrate, 6.8g fiber, 20g protein

Print Recipe

Younger Next Week via

GIVEAWAY NEWS: Who wants to turn back the hands of time? Younger Next Week reveals the secrets to feeling more vital and youthful. One lucky winner (U.S. only please) will receive a copy of Younger Next Week by Elisa Zied, MS, RD.

TO ENTER: Leave a comment here on the blog and tell us what you do to stay young … or tell us why you want to win the book.

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 Facebook and Twitter (@MealMakeovrMoms)

We’ll pick our winner on February 26th at noon EST using

Valentine’s Day Snacks and Desserts Featuring Red Super Fruits: Strawberries, Raspberries, Apples, Grapes, Cranberries, and Tart Cherries

Valentine’s Day fever is in the air, and there’s no shortage of chocolate recipes circulating around the web right now. We’re bucking the chocolate trend this year with our favorite Meal Makeover Mom creations featuring red-colored fruits including strawberries, raspberries, red grapes and apples, cherries, and dried cranberries.

Red Super Fruit Valentine Treats via

Colorful red fruits are packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, which are natural plant chemicals that fight everything from memory loss to heart disease, so read on for our oh-so-red Valentine’s recipes including Peanut Butter Crepes with Strawberry Sauce, Strawberry-Filled Toaster Pastries, Raspberry Breakfast Cake, Apple Crisp Snack Parfaits, Cherry Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies, and Monster Cookie Makeover.

Peanut Butter Crepes with Strawberry Sauce via

Peanut Butter Crepes with Strawberry Sauce is elegant yet easy to make, and the strawberry sauce provides almost half a day’s worth of vitamin C per serving.

Strawberry-Filled Toaster Pastries via

Strawberry-Filled Toaster Pastries are a healthy makeover of Pop Tarts. They’re a labor of love, so yes, they’re the perfect way to say, “I love you!” In addition to vitamin C, strawberries are also rich in potassium.

Raspberry Breakfast Cake via

Our Raspberry Breakfast Cake recipe can be found here on Meal Makeover Moms’ Kitchen, and now it’s also on our new iPhone recipe app, Meal Makeovers. One cup of raspberries has a whopping 8 grams of fiber, plus they’re also one of the highest antioxidant foods in the produce aisle.

Apple Crisp Snack Parfaits via

Apple Crisp Snack Parfaits offer a one-two punch for better nutrition. Made with apples, which are rich in fiber and grapes, packed with polyphenols, which are compounds that keep our hearts healthy, this special snack brings great nutrition and a naturally sweet, almost fragrant flavor, to the Valentine’s table.

Cherry Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies via

Dried tart cherries have anti-inflammatory benefits, heart health benefits, and half a cup has almost a half day’s worth of immune-boosting vitamin A. We use them in these super scrumptious Cherry Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies.

Monster Cookie Makeover via

Dried cranberries have twice the antioxidants as raisins, and they make their way into this better-for-you Monster Cookie Makeover recipe. They’re a great addition to any cookie jar.

Other Valentine recipes you may want to try …

> Super Strawberry Pudding

> Apple, Rhubarb & Berry Crisp (you’ll have to use frozen rhubarb this time of year)

> Mini Berry Cheesecakes

> Rustic Pear & Grape Tart

> Watermelon Pomegranate Pops

A Recipe for Chicken BLT Salad and a Giveaway of The Slim Down South Cookbook {Podcast #236}

We adore The Slim Down South Cookbook. And even though we’re Yankees who say silly things like “wicked awesome” (OK … Maybe we’re exaggerating just a bit), this cookbook is a must-have, no matter where in the country you may live.  The book was written by Atlanta-based dietitian, Carolyn O’Neil and the editors of Southern Living, and this week, Carolyn joins us on Cooking with the Moms to dish about the book. Be sure to tune in for Carolyn’s Sweet Pea Crostini, this Chicken BLT Salad, and a few more lightened up Southern-style recipes including Honey-Grilled Pork Tenderloin and Baked Pears with Toasted Oat Topping. Oh, and we’re also giving away a copy of the cookbook, so read on for details on how to enter.

Chicken BLT Salad from The Slim Down South Cookbook via

This light yet rich-tasting salad calls for just two slices of bacon. Carolyn recommends using center-cut bacon, which is lower in fat and calories.

Chicken BLT Salad via

For the chicken, we used Trader Joe’s roasted chicken. It was a fast and flavorful shortcut.

Chicken BLT Salad

Makes 4 Servings

This recipe is from The Slim Down South Cookbook. Serve it as a salad or use the mixture for a sandwich or wrap. Don’t like tomatoes? Leave ’em out or substitute with diced red bell peppers or cucumber.

  • 1/2 cup buttery garlic-and-herb spreadable cheese
  • 3 cups chopped cooked chicken (about 6 breast halves)
  • 1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/3 cup chopped green onion tops
  • 2 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled
  • 1/16 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Assorted mixed greens, optional

1. Microwave cheese in a small microwave-safe bowl at HIGH 20 seconds. Stir in next 4 ingredients, tossing well. Add salt and pepper. Serve on assorted greens, if desired.

Nutrition Information per Serving (1 cup): 279 calories, 12.5g fat (6.3g saturated, 1.3g monounsaturated), 350mg sodium, 3.2g carbohydrate, 0.4g fiber, 35.8g protein

Print Recipe

The Slim Down South Cookbook

GIVEAWAY: We’re giving away one copy of The Slim Down South Cookbook (Oxmoor House, December 2013). We love this book and have already filled it with Post-It Notes! To enter, leave a comment here telling us about why you want to win this book or about your favorite Southern-style recipe that you’d like to see lightened up.  (U.S. entries only please.)

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)

Good luck everyone. We’ll pick our winner on January 30th at noon using

A Recipe for Triple Fruit Ice Cream … and a Giveaway for Yonanas

A few weeks back, we attended the annual meeting of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in Houston. While cruising the exhibit hall in search of interesting new food products, we stopped by the Dole booth where a rep from Yonanas was demonstrating how to make fruit-based ice creams. A few refreshing bites later, we decided to give the gadget a try in The Meal Makeover Moms’ Kitchen. And guess what? Now we’re giving one away. Read on for the refreshing details.

Yonanas via

It looks like soft serve ice cream. It tastes like ice cream. But it’s really ripe, frozen fruit…

To make the Triple Fruit Ice Cream, you’ll need two frozen bananas, 2/3 cup frozen chopped peaches, and 6 frozen strawberries. Garnish with a few mini, semi sweet chocolate chips. Once combined, you’ll end up with about 1¾ cups. Not a bad way to satisfy a sweet tooth at snack time or dessert!


GIVEAWAY: With the holidays just around the corner, one reader will win this gift of good health. We’re giving away Yonanas, an appliance that turns ripe, frozen fruit into soft serve ice cream. Talk about a delicious way to get more fruit into your family’s diet! To enter the giveaway, tell us why you want to win Yonanas and the first frozen fruit creation you would make if you won it. (U.S. entries only please)

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)

Good luck everyone. We’ll pick our winner on December 2nd using

A Hummus Recipe from Plenty … and a Chance to Win the Cookbook of Your Dreams {Giveaway Ended}

If you were stranded on a desert island with an unlimited pantry to cook from and you were told you could only bring ONE cookbook, what would you toss into your life raft? Janice and I were discussing that question the other day and my answer didn’t surprise her: I’d bring Plenty by UK chef, Yotam Ottolenghi. I love this cookbook. It’s filled with vegetable-based recipes like marinated mushrooms with walnut and tahini yogurt, eggplant with buttermilk sauce, and hummus, and I turn to Plenty when I’m craving big, bold flavors that elevate veggies from simple to sensational. (BTW, if I could bring my iPhone, I’d take our Meal Makeovers recipe app along for the ride too!)

Plenty by Ottolenghi

The eggplant with buttermilk sauce that’s on the cover of Plenty is topped with pomegranate seeds and seasoned with za’atar (a Middle Eastern spice mix) and lemon thyme. I’m not saying this dish is “everyday food,” but if you’re hosting a dinner party, bring it on!

Hummus from the cookbook, Plenty

I’m more than a bit overdue with this blog post. I’ve been meaning to write it since the summer when I visited my husband’s family in London. While Simon and I were in town, “Uncle Dick” made Ottolenghi’s hummus one afternoon, and I got a big kick out of photographing his culinary endeavors. When I returned home, I made the hummus for a going-away party my friend Meg hosted for Josh and his college-bound high school buddies.

dinner party with Josh and his friends

Here’s Josh (last guy in the back on the left) getting ready for dinner with his best high school friends.

hummus with Plenty of Vegetables

The beauty of hummus—besides the fact it’s made with fiber-rich chickpeas—is that it’s the perfect dipper for crunchy, raw veggies.


Makes 6 Servings

Cooking for a crowd? Bring along Ottolenghi’s hummus. While Janice and I almost always turn to canned for convenience, the difference in this sensational hummus is soaking and cooking dried chickpeas. Hydrating the dry beans first results in a creamy, luscious hummus texture. This recipe is gluten free and vegan, and it yielded well more than six servings since I served it as an appetizer. (Recipe adapted from Plenty.)

  • 2½ cups dried chickpeas (about 1 pound)
  • 1½ tablespoons baking soda
  • 1¼ cups tahini paste (I used a bit less)
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 6 garlic cloves, crushed
  • kosher salt
  • extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, sweet paprika, chopped parsley

1. Soak the chickpeas overnight. Place in a large bowl and cover with double the volume of cold water. Add 1 tablespoon of the baking soda to the chickpeas and set aside. The next day, drain and rinse.

2. Place the soaked chickpeas and remaining baking soda in a medium saucepan and cover with double their volume of cold water. Bring to a boil, then simmer very gently for 2 to 3 hours, or until totally soft and easy to mush. Add more water during cooking if necessary, to keep them immersed. Drain the chickpeas, retaining the cooking liquid.

3. Transfer the warm chickpeas to a food processor, reserving a few to garnish at the end, and add the tahini, lemon juice, garlic and 1 teaspoon salt. Blitz for a minute or two until totally smooth. Add some of the cooking liquid and blitz again. You want the mixture to be very soft, almost runny, but just holding its shape. Taste and add more salt if you like. Keep warm.

4. To serve, spread the warm hummus in small individual plates. (I served in two bowls w/ lots of veggies.) Drizzle hummus with olive oil and lemon juice. Sprinkle with paprika, and garnish with the reserved chickpeas and parsley.

marinated mushrooms from Plenty

Here’s the recipe for Marinated Mushrooms with Walnut and Tahini Yogurt from Plenty. I changed it up by adding shelled edamame vs. fava beans.

GIVEAWAY: To show our blog readers some love, we are giving away the cookbook of your dreams. It could be Plenty, No Whine with Dinner (that’s our book!!), Best Lunchbox Ever, The Essential New York Times Cookbook … you name it. Just leave a comment here on the blog and tell us which cookbook—and yes, there are thousands out there—you want to add to your bookshelf (or toss into your life raft). Tell us the name of the cookbook and the author. U.S. only please.

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 Monday, October 28th at noon, and as always we’ll use to pick our winner. Good luck!

A Back-to-School Lunch Box Recipe for Sweetie Pie Quesadilla and a Giveaway for the Best Lunch Box Ever (and a Dacor Distinctive Range!!) {Giveaway CLOSED}

It’s hard to believe that kids across the country are heading back to school already. While ours still have a ways to go before the school bell rings, we realize that the daily routine of stuffing backpacks and lunch boxes is now a reality for many of you. What can we say other than, “boo hoo.”

Best Lunch Box Ever

To kick off the school year on a healthy note, we’re giving away a copy of the adorable new cookbook, Best Lunch Box Ever by Katie Sullivan Morford (Chronicle Books, 2013). Katie is a dietitian, food writer, and mom of three, and she hosts the award-winning blog, Mom’s Kitchen Handbook. As part of the giveaway, Katie is also tossing in a set of colorful stacking stainless steel lunch containers from Kids Konserve (combined retail value is $47.00).

TO ENTER: Leave a comment here on our blog and tell us about your kid’s hands-down favorite, must-have lunch box favorites. Perhaps it’s a roll up or a wrap  or a special my-mom-is-the-best-mom-ever snack or dessert. We’d love to hear about it so post 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, 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 23rd at noon, and as always we’ll use to pick our winner. Good luck!


The Best Lunch Box Ever includes recipes for mains — sandwiches, salads, pinwheels, wraps — sides, goodies, and after school eats, and it includes a bunch of super helpful tips on everything from lunch-box supplies to best ways to keep foods cool and safe. The book is filled with playful photos and whimsical packing ideas. We made a few recipes from the book including this one for Sweetie Pie Quesadilla starring shredded sweet potato.

lunch box quesadillas

Sweetie Pie Quesadilla

Makes 2 Servings

Recipe courtesy of Best Lunch Box Ever. You can change up the cheese by using low-fat Cheddar or mozzarella, and according to Katie, leftover cooked veggies like broccoli, zucchini, or bell pepeprs can be chopped up and substituted for the sweet potato.

  • 3/4 cup coarsely grated Monterey Jack cheese
  • Two 8-inch whole-wheat flour tortillas
  • 1/2 cup grated peeled raw sweet potato
  • 1/4 cup cooked black beans, drained
  • 2 tablespoons mild green taco sauce (we used salsa)
  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

1. Sprinkle half of the cheese evenly over one tortilla. Scatter the sweet potato over the cheese, followed by the beans. Spoon the taco sauce over the beans and top with the remaining cheese and the remaining tortilla.

2. In a medium skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Put the quesadilla in the pan and cook until golden brown and crispy, 2 to 3 minutes. With a spatula, flip the quesadilla and cook until the second side is golden brown and crispy, about 2 minutes.

3. Transfer the quesadilla to a cutting board and let cool for a few minutes.

4. Cut into quarters. Wrap or pack into two containers.

Nutrition Information per Serving (1 quesadilla): 380 calories, 19g fat (8g saturated), 560mg sodium, 37g carbohydrate, 5g fiber, 16g protein, 130% vitamin A, 30% calcium, 10% iron

Print Recipe

Katie is hosting this giveaway, and a lot of other food and nutrition bloggers are participating. As a thank you to everyone who enters, Katie is offering one giant grand prize: a Dacor Distinctive Gas or Electric 30″ range. Retail value: $3,199 to 3,399 (depending on gas or electric).


Because there will be one winner chosen from among multiple participating blogs, Katie has asked us to use this Rafflecopter to run the grand prize contest. You can enter via the Rafflecopter below by clicking “Enter to Win.” For additional entries, you can “Like” Dacor on Facebook or follow them on Twitter. This giveaway also ends on August 23rd, and we sure hope one of our readers wins!  PS: Katie will be on our Cooking with the Moms radio podcast on August 14th so stay tuned …

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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 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 For more July 4th avocado recipes, click here. 

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