A Bite-Size Dessert to Celebrate the One-Year Anniversary of the Recipe Redux: A Recipe for Mini Berry Cheesecakes

Get ready to feast your eyes and your appetites … but don’t worry too much about your waistline. Our newest recipe for Mini Berry Cheesecakes keeps the calories in check without losing the luscious flavor and texture we’ve all come to expect from cheesecake.

This is a have-it-your-way recipe. You can garnish your own bite-size treats with any number of toppings: blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, sliced almonds, toasted coconut, fresh mint, and/or maple syrup.

For this month’s Recipe Redux blogger cooking challenge, we were charged with creating a mini-portioned sweet treat. It’s the one-year anniversary of the Redux (happy birthday!), so what better way to celebrate than with dozens of decadent, albeit tiny, Reduxer desserts!?

Here at Meal Makeover Moms’ Kitchen, we’re all about giving recipes a healthy “fix,” and for this one, we trimmed the fat and calories by switching to 1/3-less fat cream cheese, creating a light “crust” using wonton wrappers, and we made it mini to keep the portion size down. We topped our cheesecakes with nutrient-rich berries and almonds and boosted the flavor with one of our favorite ingredients: almond extract.

Here’s what these babies look like before they’re popped into the oven.

Mini Berry Cheesecakes

Makes 20 Cheesecakes


  • 20 square won ton wrappers
  • One 8-ounce package 1/3-less-fat cream cheese (Neufchatel)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons 0%-fat vanilla Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond or vanilla extract

Optional Toppers:

  • Sliced strawberries, blueberries, raspberries
  • Shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened), lightly toasted
  • Sliced almonds, lightly toasted
  • Pure maple syrup
  • Tiny mint leaves

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray 20 mini muffin cups with nonstick cooking spray and set aside. Press a won ton wrapper into each muffin cup, letting it extend over the sides. In a medium bowl whisk together the cream cheese, egg, sugar, yogurt, flour, and almond extract until smooth and creamy.

2. Carefully spoon equal amounts of the mixture into each lined cup using a small spoon.

3. Bake until the wrappers are browned and the filling is set, 16 to 18 minutes. Let cool before removing from tins.

4. Set out the optional toppers and let everyone decorate their own cheesecakes, or create a “chef’s” assortment using the different berries.

Nutrition Information per Serving (2 cheesecakes):  120 calories, 3.5 g fat (2g saturated), 190mg sodium, 17g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 5g protein

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Check out what our fellow Reduxers cooked up this month:

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A Recipe for Cheesy Chicken Cordon Bleu and a Chance to Have Your Favorite Recipe Made Over! (Podcast #189)

We love nothing more than the challenge of taking family-favorite recipes and giving them a healthy and nutrient-rich makeover. Recently we teamed up with Holland House — they make super-convenient, flavor-packed cooking wines and premium vinegars — for a Meal Makeover Sweepstakes. A total of three winners will be selected this spring, and we’ll work with each of them on their personal recipe makeover. Winner #1, Lolli, a mom of five from the DC area, was already announced and we chose her chicken cordon bleu recipe for our first “fix!” We dish all about it on this week’s Cooking with the Moms podcast.

Lolli’s family loves chicken cordon bleu. She typically makes it with chicken, a can of cream of chicken soup, chopped ham, and Swiss cheese. For the makeover, we decided to nix the soup and create a from-scratch sauce instead. To boost the flavor, we added half a cup of Holland House white cooking wine. This dish is light and luscious, and our own kids went bonkers (that’s a good thing) when they tried it.

As part of the Holland House Sweepstakes, we will be shooting three new cooking videos. Here we are after shooting the Cheesy Chicken Cordon Bleu. Scroll down to see the video.

Cheesy Chicken Cordon Bleu

Makes 6 to 8 Servings

The flavor of this dish shines thanks to the Holland House cooking wine. You can serve it with brown rice and steamed broccoli florets on the side … or with whole grain noodles and just about any other veggie your family loves: peas, asparagus, carrots … you name it.

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour plus 3 tablespoons, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into 1 x 3-inch strips (32 total)
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 cup Holland House White Cooking Wine
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1½ cups 1% low-fat milk
  • 1 cup all-natural chicken broth
  • 6 ounces diced spiral or honey-baked ham (1 cup)
  • 2 ounces low-fat Swiss cheese, chopped or shredded (about 1/2 cup)

1. Place 1/2 cup of the flour and the pepper in a large bowl and stir to combine. Toss the chicken in the flour mixture until each piece is well coated.

2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large Dutch oven or saucepan over medium-high heat. Add half of the chicken pieces and cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Remove to a plate and repeat with 1 more tablespoon oil and the remaining chicken. Adjust the heat to medium if the chicken browns too quickly. Remove the chicken to a plate when done.

3. Lower the heat to medium. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil, the remaining 3 tablespoons of flour, the basil, paprika, and celery seed and whisk constantly until smooth, about 2 minutes. Whisk the cooking wine into the flour mixture until well incorporated and the wine has cooked off a bit, about 1 minute. Whisk in the milk and broth until well combined. Raise the heat and bring to a low boil, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat and continue to simmer and stir gently until the mixture thickens, 2 to 3 minutes.

4. Stir the chicken and ham into the milk mixture and simmer, uncovered, until the chicken is cooked through and no longer pink, about 10 minutes.  Stir occasionally. Remove from the heat, stir in the cheese until it melts, and serve on individual plates with your favorite vegetable and whole grain starch.

Nutrition Information per Serving: 340 calories, 13g fat (3.0g saturated), 590mg sodium, 13g carbohydrate, 0g fiber, 37g protein, 15% calcium

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 Adding wine to a dish acts as a flavor conductor; like fat, it dispenses flavor throughout. Pretty cool, don’t you think!?

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Disclosure: We are being compensated for our consultation work with Holland House.

Lightened Up Raspberry Crème Brûlée, Tips for Storing Egg Yolks and Egg Whites, and Recipes that Call for Whites or Yolks Only (Podcast #183)

If you’re an avid cook or baker, you’ve probably come across a recipe (or two or three) that calls for egg whites, or egg yolks, but not both. This means you’ll be challenged with figuring out how to best store the liquid-y leftovers so they don’t go to waste. On this week’s Cooking with the Moms podcast, we crack the code on the best way to store leftover whites and yolks, how to use them in various recipes, dispel the myth that egg yolks are unhealthy, and we serve up a new recipes for Raspberry Crème Brûlée and Scrambled Up Snack Tacos.

This recipe is a lighter version of the typical crème brûlée because we swap the usual heavy cream for evaporated milk.

Our intern, Tashia, joins us on the show. She’s a master’s student in nutrition at Boston University and a graduate of Johnson & Wales University, a culinary school based in Providence, RI. Tashia knows her stuff, and what follows is a guest post featuring her tips and tricks for storing and then using leftover egg whites and yolks.

Once frozen, yolks and whites should be good for up to a year. Defrost in the fridge before using.

How to Store Egg Whites: Leftover whites can be stored in a plastic container for up to four days. For long-term storage, freeze individual egg whites in ice cube tray containers and then transfer the frozen cubes to a freezer bag.

How to Store Egg Yolks: Yolks can be stored for a day or two in the refrigerator. Place unbroken yolks in a plastic container and cover with a little water. Once the water is drained, the leftover yolks can be used just like you would fresh yolks. Freezing egg yolks requires a bit more attention. Freezing yolks directly from the shell can result in a thick, gloppy mess once defrosted. For best results, whisk a pinch of salt or sugar into the yolks before freezing. Whether you use salt or sugar is strictly about preference, but my rule of thumb is to use salt if I’m planning something savory and sugar if I’m making something sweet. Once stabilized, pour the yolks into an ice cube tray (1 yolk = 1 tablespoon), pop them into the freezer, and then transfer them to a ziplock bag once they’re frozen.

Crème Brûlée

Makes 4 to 6 Servings

For this recipe, I drew inspiration from the basic crème brûlée recipe in Dessert Circus by Jacques Torres. As you can only imagine, it was not “light,” so I took some creative liberty and used evaporated milk as a substitute for heavy cream.

  • One 6-ounce container raspberries
  • One 12-ounce can 2% evaporated milk
  • 4 large egg yolks (We use Eggland’s Best Eggs)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 to 6 teaspoons brown sugar (depending on the number of ramekins you use)

1. Preheat the oven to 300oF. Place 4 to 6 ramekins into a large casserole dish or pan. Place 6 to 7 raspberries in the bottom of each ramekin.

2. Place 4 cups of water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and set aside. In a small saucepan, heat the evaporated milk over medium-low heat until it just comes to a simmer.

3. While the milk is heating, place the egg yolks and sugar in a large heat-safe bowl and whisk until well combined. Slowly whisk in about 1/4 cup of the hot milk until combined. Gently whisk the remaining milk and vanilla into the egg mixture. Pour evenly into the prepared ramekins.

4. Carefully place the casserole dish of filled ramekins into the oven and pour the boiling water into the dish until it reaches halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the edges are set and the center wiggles like Jell-o when you shake it. Carefully remove the ramekins and refrigerate for at least 4 hours until very cold and completely set.

5. Just before serving, move one rack of the oven as close to the broiler as possible, and preheat the broiler on high. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon brown sugar evenly on top of each crème brûlée. Place on a baking sheet and place directly under the broiler. Watch closely as the sugar melts and remove ramekins when they are slightly darker than golden, approximately 5 minutes. (You may need to move the crème brûlées around in the oven and rotate the sheet pan to make sure they brown evenly.) Remove from the oven, cool for 1 to 2 minutes, and serve.

Nutrition Information per Serving: 180 calories, 5g fat (1.5g saturated), 80mg sodium, 25g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 7g protein, 10% vitamin A, 15% vitamin C, 20% calcium

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For more recipe inspiration, check out Ruby Red Grapefruit Cake (calls for egg yolks and egg whites), Peppermint Meringue Snowballs (calls for whites), and Peanut Butter Fun Cake from Bon Appetite magazine which calls for whites in the PB-and-fluff frosting.

Maple Quinoa Crunch (Recipe Redux Cooking Challenge)

When my daughter Leah turned 12 last fall, we surprised her with a parakeet. Most kids beg their parents for a dog or a cat (which is exactly what Leah did), but, long story short, we settled on an adorable bird named Jazzy.

The reason for Jazzy’s 15 minutes of fame here on Meal Makeover Moms’ Kitchen is this month’s Recipe Redux nutrition blogger cooking challenge. For the challenge, Reduxers were asked to create a recipe using the natural sweeteners, honey or maple syrup. Since Liz and I live in New England, we chose maple syrup, and with the help of our intern, Marsi, cooked up this gluten-free recipe for Maple Quinoa Crunch. When Leah saw it, she said it looked like Jazzy’s bird seed. Well, there you have it folks; from the mouth of my babe, we present to you our latest recipe for … “bird seed.”

This crunchy, nutty topping is perfect for sprinkling over a bowl of calcium-rich fruited or plain yogurt. And even though it freaked Leah out when she saw it (she said it looked “creepy”), Liz’s boys enjoyed it as an after-school snack :)

To produce one gallon of maple syrup, it takes 40 gallons of sap, tapped from mature sugar maple trees. In fact, it can take four trees to produce that one gallon of syrup (this explains why pure maple syrup is so pricey). Another interesting fact about maple syrup is that  one tablespoon has 20 milligrams of calcium, the same amount found in milk. This natural sweetener also contains iron, magnesium, phosphorous and potassium, B vitamins, biotin, and folic acid.

Maple Quinoa Crunch

Makes 16 Servings (total yield = 2 cups)

We love this gluten-free topping for yogurt because it’s flavorful, crunchy, and reminds us of the Grape Nuts cereal we ate as kids!

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds
  • 1/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut
  • 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup diced dried plums (we used Plum Amazins)

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. Place the quinoa in a fine-mesh strainer and rinse several times in cold water. Drain well, pat dry with paper towels, and transfer to a medium bowl.  Add the almonds, coconut, flaxseed, maple syrup, canola oil,  and cinnamon and stir to combine.

3. Spread the mixture in a thin layer on a large rimmed baking sheet.  Bake until lightly browned, about15 minutes. Stir every 5 minutes to ensure even baking. Remove from the oven and cool.  Transfer to a mixing bowl and stir in the dried fruit.

* Serving suggestion: Use as a topping for yogurt. Add fruit as desired: sliced strawberries, fresh or frozen blueberries, diced apple, sliced bananas, diced mango.

Nutrition Information per Serving (2 tablespoons):  80 calories, 3g fat (0g saturated, 0.3g omega-3), 5mg sodium, 11g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 3g sugar, 2g protein

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Check out the other maple syrup / honey blog posts featured in this month’s Recipe Redux challenge:

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Chocolate Pudding with Toppers (Recipe Redux Challenge)

When the month of February rolls around, all we can think about is chocolate. Not milk chocolate. Not white chocolate. But dark and semi-sweet chocolate. We love chocolate, and happily, research shows that eating an ounce or so of dark chocolate a day (along with a diet rich in fruits, veggies, whole grains … you get the drift) is good for the heart. Of course, no matter how healthy chocolate may be — chocolate and cocoa powder come from cacao beans that contain natural disease-fighting antioxidants called flavonoids — if you mix it up with heavy cream, cupfuls of sugar, and sticks of butter, all those health attributes get smothered … literally.

We created this luscious yet light chocolate pudding from scratch. It’s wholesome, low in saturated fat, and brimming with calcium, and with toppers like berries, nuts, and crunchy whole grain cereal, a bowl of our pudding is a nice way to end a meal. And let’s not forget how happy our kids are when we serve this as an after-school snacks.

Simple ingredients mean this recipe comes together oh-so quickly. To increase the protein, you could easily switch to Greek yogurt.

Chocolate Pudding with Toppers

Makes 6 Servings 

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2½ cups 1% low-fat milk
  • 1/2 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Optional Toppings: Crushed Graham crackers, chopped nuts, granola cereal, blueberries, raspberries, sliced bananas, sliced strawberries, light whipped cream

1. Whisk together the sugar, cocoa, cornstarch, and salt in a medium saucepan. Gradually whisk in the milk until well blended.

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

3. Remove from the heat and stir in the yogurt and vanilla. Spoon the mixture into 6 individual serving bowls. Cover with plastic wrap or wax paper (this will prevent a film from forming) and chill for at least 1 hour.

4. Sprinkle with toppings as desired and serve.

Nutrition Information per Serving (1/2 cup): 160 calories, 1.5g fat (1g saturated), 115mg sodium, 31g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 6g protein, 15% calcium

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Liz hosts a Meal Makeover cooking segment for Everwell TV (the videos run in doctor’s offices nationwide), and she recently featured our better-for-you chocolate pudding recipe!


Every month, we participate in a nutrition blogger challenge called, Recipe Redux. This month’s challenge was chocolate. To see and sample the recipes from our fellow dietitian bloggers, check out all the links below:
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Our Recipe for Skinny Fettuccine Alfredo Appears in Every Day with Rachael Ray!

If you open the March issue of Every Day with Rachael Ray to page 60, you’ll see our Meal Makeover recipe for Skinny Fettuccine Alfredo. This is our first story for the magazine, and we’re pretty excited (and no, unfortunately we have never met Rachael Ray).

Traditional fettuccine Alfredo is made with butter and heavy cream, so each serving can have over 500 calories and nearly a day’s worth of the bad-for-you saturated fat. We slimmed it down Meal Makeover Mom style with 2% milk, chicken broth, and a mixture of EVOO and flour for thickening (AKA a roux), and we amped up the flavor with garlic, sage, nutmeg, and grated Parmesan cheese.

If you’re wondering how we got this assignment, here’s the back story: When No Whine with Dinner was released, we went to New York to shoot a segment for Better TV. While there, we set up some desk-side meetings with a few magazine food editors, and that’s when we met Pamela Mitchell, Executive Food Editor for Every Day with Rachael Ray. We talked about contributing to the magazine’s monthly Meal Makeover column, and the assignment came our way soon after.  We then posted a note on Facebook asking our fans to send us their most decadent recipes for a makeover.  Lois H., a mom of two from Cumming, GA wrote in and requested we re-make her fettuccine Alfredo … and the rest is history!

Skinny Fettuccine Alfredo

Makes 4 Servings

  • 8 ounces dried fettuccine
  • 2 tablespoons EVOO
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage, plus small whole leaves for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup all-natural chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup 2% milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 pinch ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

1. In a pot of boiling, salted water, cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and transfer to a large serving bowl.

2. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, heat the oil over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and sage and cook, stirring frequently, until the garlic is golden, 1 to 2 minutes.

3. Whisk in the flour until smooth, about 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in the broth, milk, pepper, and nutmeg. Bring to a low boil, stirring constantly. Lower the heat and simmer, stirring gently, until the mixture thickens, about 3 minutes.

4. Pour the sauce over the pasta and toss. Stir in 3/4 cup Parmesan. Top with the sage leaves and more Parmesan as desired.

Nutrition Information per Serving: 370 calories, 13g fat (4g saturated), 390mg sodium, 48g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 15g protein, 20% calcium, 15% iron

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To fit our fettuccine into the new MyPlate guidelines, you could serve it with grilled or roasted chicken, fresh fruit, and a side salad or any other favorite vegetable. You could also boost the nutrition by switching to whole wheat fettuccine or a whole wheat blend.

Last June when we created and photographed this recipe, we had a special guest in the Meal Makeover Moms’ Kitchen. Michelle W., an avid Cooking with the Moms podcast listener was in Boston for a conference, and she took some time before her meeting to meet up with us! We loved having a visitor and appreciated the third opinion on the recipe. Thanks Michelle!!

Enjoy this new recipe and stay tuned for our next Rachael Ray Meal Makeover: General Tso’s Chicken (coming this spring) :)

Strawberry-Topped Peanut Butter Pancakes, Peanut Butter Banana Pancakes, and a Giveaway for an Anolon Griddle! {Giveaway is CLOSED}

Peanut butter and pancakes is a great culinary combination. Give it a try! 

Every month we participate in a blogger challenge called Recipe Redux, and this month, we were charged with a breakfast makeover. Since makeovers are what we’re all about, we took a quintessential morning fave — pancakes — and added a hefty helping of good health. We used nutrient-rich ingredients including peanut butter, whole wheat flour, ground flaxseed, lowfat milk, omega-3 eggs, bananas, and berries. What follows are two peanut butter-inspired recipes — Strawberry-Topped Peanut Butter Pancakes and Peanut Butter Banana Pancakes — perfect for busy weekdays or lazy weekends. Take your pick!

Strawberry Topped Peanut Butter Pancakes via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

 Strawberry-Topped Peanut Butter Pancakes

We’re thrilled to announce that for the next few months, we’ll be partnering with the National Peanut Board on their “Peanut Butter for Breakfast” campaign. As part of the program we’ll be spreading the word (pun intended) that PB and breakfast are the perfect morning combo. Peanut butter brings protein to the table (2 tablespoons has 8 grams), heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, and vitamin E. It’s also versatile; you can swirl some into your oatmeal, whirrr some into a smoothie, or spread some on a whole wheat bagel. We’ll be gathering YOUR ideas too and sharing them through our various social channels.

Strawberry-Topped Peanut Butter Pancakes

Makes 5 Servings (about 14 pancakes)

We love the challenge that comes with developing new recipes families will love, but for some reason, we couldn’t agree on the final ingredients for this pancake post. As a result, we created two versions.  This recipe comes from Janice. She wanted some crunch and texture in her stack, so she added coarsely chopped peanuts to the batter.

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup roasted, unsalted peanuts, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed or wheat germ
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/3 cup natural peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1-1/3 cups 1% lowfat milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sliced strawberries (or more!)
  • Pure maple syrup, optional

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

2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, peanut butter, and honey until well blended. Whisk in the milk and vanilla. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.

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

4. Cook until bubbles begin to appear on the surface of the pancakes and the bottoms turn golden, about 3 minutes. Flip and cook until the other sides are golden, an additional 2 to 3 minutes. Repeat with the remaining cooking spray and batter. Top each stack of pancakes with strawberries and maple syrup as desired.

Nutrition Information per Serving (about 3 pancakes): 380 calories, 16g fat (3.5g saturated, 0.7g omega-3), 370mg sodium, 47g carbohydrate, 5g fiber, 15g protein, 50% vitamin C, 25% calcium, 15% iron

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Peanut Butter Banana Pancakes via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

 Peanut Butter Banana Pancakes

Peanut Butter Banana Pancakes

Makes 5 Servings (about 16 pancakes)

This recipe comes from the Liz, the other Meal Makeover Mom. It calls for one ripe and mashed banana, which adds natural sweetness to the pancakes and a lovely balance in flavor to the peanut butter. With two teenage boys at home who need a big breakfast that sticks to their ribs and holds them over until lunch, these pancakes have already been added to the morning rotation.

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed or wheat germ
  • 2 tablespoons mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup mashed banana (from 1 banana)
  • 1/4 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1½ cups 1% lowfat milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pure maple syrup, optional

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

2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, banana, and peanut butter until well blended. Whisk in the milk and vanilla. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.

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

4. Cook until bubbles begin to appear on the surface of the pancakes and the bottoms turn golden, about 3 minutes. Flip and cook until the other sides are golden, an additional 2 to 3 minutes. Repeat with the remaining cooking spray and batter. Serve with maple syrup as desired.

Nutrition Information per Serving (about 3 pancakes): 320 calories, 12g fat (3g saturated, 0.6g omega-3), 360mg sodium, 43g carbohydrate, 4g fiber, 13g protein, 25% calcium, 15% iron

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PS: Liz’s 16-year old son, Josh, ate six of these pancakes for breakfast yesterday … plus syrup, plus a cara cara orange, plus a glass of lowfat milk. You do the math!

GIVEAWAY NEWS: Thanks to our friends with the National Peanut Board, one lucky winner will receive the following cool gifts:
> A large Anolon Advanced nonstick double burner griddle (18″ by 10″), which is perfect for making pancakes, French toast, you name it.
> Three jars of peanut butter — JIF Extra Crunchy, Skippy Natural Creamy, and Peanut Butter & Co. Dark Chocolate Dreams.
> A National Peanut Board Spreader, Apron and Oven Mitt.

To Enter: Leave a comment here or on Facebook and tell us how you use peanut butter to enhance your morning meals. If you have a favorite muffin, quick bread, or scone recipe, etc. that calls for peanut butter, feel free to share it here on the blog.

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 9th at noon, and we’ll be using Random.org to select our winner.

Disclosure: We have been hired by the National Peanut Board to assist with their breakfast campaign, but the thoughts and recipes shared this post are our own. The NPB is a sponsor of our blog and podcast.

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Creamed Spinach Gets a Healthy Makeover for the Holidays + Cream-less Creamed Spinach

When we think of creamed spinach, our minds wander back to the 1950s and 60s. We’re not sure why, but creamed spinach has a certain, shall we say, retro feel about it. It’s also loaded — and we mean loaded — with more saturated fat and calories than a nutrient-rich vegetable like spinach deserves!

A few weeks ago, Facebook fan, Cindi, sent us her family’s favorite creamed spinach recipe and asked us to give it a makeover, so we did what we usually do and got cooking.

Cindi’s recipe, made with half & half, full-fat cream cheese, and lots of butter, needed a slim down (and a bit of a flavor boost). To that end, we created a cream-less base for the spinach using 1% low-fat milk, a roux made with olive oil versus butter, and a bit of light cream cheese. For added flavor, we turned to sauteed onion, nutmeg, and grated Parmesan cheese. We share the recipe on episode #172 of Cooking with the Moms podcast and chat about our favorite holiday recipes and food adventures from the 2011 season.

Crazy-Good Cream-less Creamed Spinach

Makes 6 to 8 Servings

Liz’s 13-year old son, Simon, has declared this recipe his hands-down new favorite. His exact words … “it’s mad good.” That’s pretty high praise from a young teenager, don’t you think? We sure hope your kids love it as much as Simon does!

  • Two 10-ounce boxes frozen chopped spinach
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1½ cups 1% low-fat milk
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • A few generous pinches ground nutmeg (use fresh if you have it)
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup light cream cheese

1. Cook the spinach according to package directions. Once cooked, drain in a colander, and press with the back of a large spoon to remove excess moisture. Set aside.

2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the flour and whisk constantly until the mixture is smooth and golden, about 2 minutes.

3. Whisk the milk, salt, pepper, and nutmeg slowly into the flour mixture. Raise the heat and bring to a low boil, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat and continue to simmer and stir gently until the mixture thickens, about 3 minutes.

4. Turn off the heat and whisk in the Parmesan cheese and cream cheese until the cream cheese melts. Stir in the cooked spinach, and season with additional salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste. Place over low heat and reheat if necessary.

Nutrition Information per Serving (about 1/3 cup): 150 calories, 9g fat (2.5g saturated, 0.5g omega-3), 300mg sodium, 11g carbohydrate, 3g fiber, 7g protein, 190% vitamin A, 10% vitamin C, 25% calcium, 10% iron

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For comparison sake, Cindi’s creamed spinach is a lot higher in the numbers: 210 calories, 17 grams fat, and 10 grams saturated fat (that’s about half a day’s worth).

Our healthy “creamed” spinach recipe is a keeper for sure. Perfect for the holidays … or any time of the year as far as we’re concerned. As for the holidays, we ate a lot! What follows are just a few of the culinary highlights:

Before: Janice’s daughters, Carolyn and Leah, decorate gingerbread houses with their neighborhood gal pals.

After: Call the dentist, because one very silly 12-year old (the girl in the Santa hat) is about to devour A LOT of candy!

Christmas Eve appetizers at Janice and Don’s house: Smoked salmon with capers and light cream cheese, grape tomatoes stuffed with smoked oysters, olives, cheeses, and skinny string beans with dip.

Right before the holidays, Liz attended a dinner at Forum restaurant in Boston sponsored by Bard Valley Medjool Dates. To read more about the evening and to savor every delicious bite of the meal, head on over to fellow food blogger Janel’s blog post at Eat Well with Janel. In the New year, we hope to create a few new recipes featuring dates.

Liz’s mom makes the best matzo ball soup on the planet. The matzo balls float versus sink, which is just how the whole family likes them.

Blooper photo of the week and reminder to selves: Always keep a damp cloth on hand when shooting food photos especially as the sun starts to set and you’re racing against the clock so you can use natural light for your photo shoot!

Tell us about your most delicious food adventure this holiday season. And if you try our Crazy-Good Cream-less Creamed Spinach, let us know what you and your family think of it.


Lightened-Up Seven Layer Bars for Cookie Swaps

It’s that time of year again for cookie swaps, luscious seasonal treats, and some clever behind-the-scenes cooking secrets designed to lighten up and health-ify our holiday tables. For December’s Recipe Redux cooking challenge, we used the humble chickpea — a fiber and folate-rich legume — for Lightened-Up Seven Layer Bar, a recipe that’s been a huge hit with our families, friends, and online community ever since we pulled our first batch out of the oven earlier this month.

Lightened Up Seven Layer Bars via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

The bottom layer of our bars calls for chickpeas (AKA garbanzo beans), a nutritious ingredient that we sometimes use as a fat replacer in desserts. Legumes are a class of vegetables that includes beans, peas, lentils, peanuts, and soybeans. They recently made big news when the 2010 Dietary Guidelines recommended the following: Eat a variety of vegetables, especially dark-green and red and orange vegetables and beans and peas.

Every year around this time, Janice attends her annual neighborhood cookie swap. Last year, she brought our Ginger Drizzle Cookies from No Whine with Dinner. The year before, it was Our Favorite Chocolate Cookie from The Moms’ Guide to Meal Makeovers. Last week as a dozen friends gathered to exchange cookies and gossip, Janice treated her fellow cookie swappers to something new: our latest makeover for sticky, gooey, over-the-top decadent Seven Layer Bars. On episode #170 of our Cooking with the Moms podcast, we bake up a batch of Lightened-Up Seven Layer Bars and serve up a taste of Janice’s sweeter-than-ever swap.

Lightened-Up Seven Layer Bars via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

Dried cranberries give our updated, better-for-you layer bars a holiday flare.

Seven Layer Bars are typically made with 2 cups of chips — chocolate and butterscotch, sweetened condensed milk, nuts, lots of shredded coconut, and a crust of graham cracker crumbs with melted butter or margarine, so they’re typically high in fat, saturated fat, and calories. For our makeover, we slimmed ‘em down and boosted the nutrition with a bottom layer made of oats, chickpeas, wheat germ, just 2 tablespoons of butter, and 2 tablespoons of heart-healthy canola oil. In a million years, you would never know there were beans in the crust! We cut back on the chocolate chips and coconut and used dried cranberries. We kept the sweetened condensed milk (though we switched to the low-fat version) because, well, they wouldn’t really be Seven Layer Bars without it.

Janice gets ready for her cookie swap with two batches of our Lightened-Up Seven Layer Bars.

One of our bars has 160 calories and 2.5 grams of saturated fat. Not bad for a sweet holiday dessert and a lot better than traditional Seven Layer Bars with 200 calories and 7 grams of saturated fat.

Lightened-Up Seven Layer Bars

Makes 30 Servings

You can easily modify our recipe to be gluten free by eliminating the wheat germ (or switching to ground flaxseed) and by using gluten-free oats. For a nut-free recipe, nix the walnuts and replace them with 1/2 cup roughly chopped toasted, unsalted pumpkin seeds (also called pepitas). To cut back on the sugar, replace the sweetened shredded coconut with unsweetened. Two tablespoons of sweetened coconut has 5 grams of sugar — that’s over a teaspoon — while the same amount of unsweetened coconut has 1 gram.

  • 1½ cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup wheat germ
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 3/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • One 14-ounce can low-fat sweetened condensed milk

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly oil or coat a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

2. Spread the oats evenly on a baking sheet and bake until lightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir occasionally to ensure even browning.  Remove and set aside. Place the walnuts on the same baking sheet and bake, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned and fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes. (Keep a watchful eye on the nuts so they don’t burn!) Remove and set aside.

3. Place the toasted oats in the bowl of a food processor and process for 10 seconds.  Add the beans, wheat germ, butter, canola oil, and salt and pulse until well combined. Press the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan, and smooth down evenly with your fingers or palms to form a bottom crust.

4. Top evenly with the chocolate chips, cranberries, walnuts, and coconut. Pour the condensed milk evenly over the layers.

5. Bake 22 to 25 minutes, or until the coconut is golden brown. Cool on a wire rack and cut into thirty 1¾ x 2-inch bars. Best if stored in the refrigerator.

Nutrition Information per Serving (1 bar): 160 calories, 7g fat (2.5g saturated, 0.5g omega-3), 50mg sodium, 20g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 14g sugar, 3g protein

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For comparison sake, here’s what you’ll get in a traditional Seven Layer Bar: 200 calories, 12g fat (7g saturated, 0.4g omega-3), 85mg sodium, 23g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 18g sugar, 3g protein.


Cookie swap fun. Everyone got to take six of every cookie.

(left to right) Chris, Molly, Janice (in her dashing sweater vest, circa 1992), Patti, and Mary.

Wishing everyone a festive and fun-filled holiday season :)

Here are a few other lighter holiday treat recipes from our website and blog that you may want to bake for your friends, family, or Santa:

Ginger Drizzle Cookies
Mini Mango Cheesecakes
Peppermint Meringue Snowballs
Our Favorite Chocolate Cookie
Date Bars
Fruitcake Cupcakes
White Bean Blondies


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A Hanukkah Recipe for Sweet Potato and Ginger Latkes

Hanukkah begins at sundown on December 20th. To celebrate the festival of lights, we created a recipe for latkes, a traditional Hanukkah potato pancake side dish cooked in oil. Latkes are a definite Hanukkah favorite, and they are typically made with white potatoes, onion, salt, pepper, and eggs … and then cooked in oil. For our recipe, we took a twist on the traditional by using sweet potatoes, and we kept the amount of oil in check by using just two and a half tablespoons for the entire recipe. No worries: Our latkes are still crisp and crunchy.

Sweet Potato and Ginger Latkes via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

The ginger adds a fresh flavor to this simple yet satisfying side dish, and the sweet potatoes bring a big burst of immune-boosting vitamin A to the table.

Sweet Potato and Ginger Latkes via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen #Hanukkah

Sweet Potato and Ginger Latkes

Makes 5 Servings

  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • One 1-pound sweet potato, peeled and shredded (4 cups)
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/8 cup minced onion
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2½ tablespoons canola oil, divided

1. In a large bowl, mix together the eggs, sweet potato, whole wheat flour, onion, salt, ginger, and pepper until well combined.

2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high. Working in batches of 4, place 1/4 cup loosely packed potato mixture per latke into the skillet and flatten to 4-inch diameter. Cook until golden brown, about 4 minutes per side. Repeat with another tablespoon of oil and 4 more latkes, and finish with the remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil and 2 latkes. Adjust heat as needed.

Note: To keep the latkes warm, we placed a wire cooling rack on a baking sheet, popped it in a 200 degree oven, and then placed the finished latkes on top.

Nutrition Information per Serving (2 latkes):  170 calories, 9g fat (1g saturated, 0.7g omega-3), 210mg sodium, 17g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 4g protein, 220% vitamin A, 15% vitamin C

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Sweet Potato and Ginger Latkes via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen #Hanukkah

What are some of your favorite holiday food traditions? Are you a white potato latke fan or a sweet potato latke fan? Or, have you made latkes with other interesting ingredients? Do tell…

A Makeover Recipe for Pumpkin Cranberry Thanksgiving Bread

Last Saturday I woke up early (not because I wanted to but because Tim got up at the crack of dawn to play golf and was banging around in our room) and since the boys were still sleeping, decided to bake something yummy. I chose a recipe for Thanksgiving Bread from Taste of Home. Why? Because Kristen, a Facebook fan and Twitter follower, had recently asked us to make it over. Kristen wrote the following plea on our Facebook wall: “HELP! Loved this recipe (fresh cranberries!!!) but hated adding 2 cups of sugar. Suggested substitutions?”

Yes, I was a bit bleary eyed and yes, I made a complete mess of my kitchen, but the bread turned out great. It only lasted two days in my house because Josh and Simon are currently in an “eat like a locust” teenage boy phase. Here’s how my meal makeover unfolded:

> I did not have fresh cranberries on hand so I used dried cranberries. I also added some mini chocolate chips because I love the chocolate/pumpkin flavor combo.
The original recipe made two loaves, calling for 1 cup of sugar per loaf. I made one loaf and cut the sugar from a cup to 1/2 cup.
Instead of using all white flour, I used half all-purpose flour and half whole wheat pastry flour. Pastry flour is less dense than regular whole wheat flour, plus, it’s what I had on hand.
I used an Eggland’s Best egg because EB eggs have more omega-3, vitamin D, and vitamin E than regular eggs … to name just a few of the benefits.
I added two tablespoons of wheat germ for added fiber and vitamin E. You could certainly use ground flaxseed instead.

Messy kitchen …. but worth the little bit of effort (this recipe came together quickly)!

Pumpkin Cranberry Thanksgiving Bread

Makes 1 Loaf (16 slices … or less if you live in my house)

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 tablespoons wheat germ (or ground flaxseed)
  • 1/2 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup canned 100% pure pumpkin
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped dried cranberries
  • 2 tablespoons mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Oil or coat an 8 x 5-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

2.Whisk together the all-purpose flour, pastry flour, wheat germ, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl until well blended.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg, sugar, pumpkin, oil, and vanilla until well combined. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and stir until just moistened. Fold in the cranberries and chocolate chips.

4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and smooth the top with a rubber spatula. Bake 40 to 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool about 15 minutes in the pan, then turn the loaf onto a wire rack. Once cool, cut into 8 slices and then cut each slice in half.

Nutrition Information per Serving: 110 calories, 4.5g fat (0.5g saturated, 0.33g omega-3), 40mg sodium, 15g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 9g sugar, 2g protein, 20% vitamin A

Here’s the BEFORE on each slice of Thanksgiving bread: 120 calories, 0.1g omega-3, 1g protein, 20g carbohydrate, and 13g sugar. Overall, we have 1 teaspoon less sugar per slice and more heart-healthy omega-3 fat from the canola oil.

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I will definitely try this again with fresh cranberries. I suspect I might need to add a bit more sugar since fresh cranberries are rather tart. Details to follow. :)

Recipe Redux Challenge for Whole Grains: A Recipe for Carrot & Zucchini Farro Risotto

We’re constantly on the lookout for nutritious whole grains to add to our families diets, and over the past few years, have turned to interesting grains like quinoa, wheat berries, and bulgur. When we heard that this month’s Recipe Redux challenge was whole grains, we had a tough time deciding which grain to cook with. We finally narrowed it down to farro, an ancient whole grain grown and used in Italy since Roman times. Farro is light brown in color and looks a bit like brown rice, but its hearty nutty flavor and chewy texture add more of a “wow” factor to savory soups, colorful salads, and sides.

For our recipe, we were inspired by a side dish for Farro Risotto from America’s Test Kitchen. Apparently, Italian cooks prepare farro in the same way they prepare Arborio rice for a creamy dish called farrotto. We tweaked the Test Kitchen recipe a bit by adding zucchini (the original recipe only called for carrots) and switching from chicken broth to vegetable.

The brand of farro that we found at the market was Earthly Choice Italian Pearled Farro. Pearled farro has the hull removed which still keeps plenty of the fiber intact but shortens the cooking time to 20 to 25 minutes. A quarter cup uncooked farro has an impressive 5 grams of fiber and 7 grams protein. Not bad!

Carrot & Zucchini Farro Risotto

Makes 6 Servings 

We need to thank America’s Test Kitchen for this recipe. We made a few changes, but by and large, the recipe is the same one featured in their Best Recipes and Reviews 2011 magazine.

  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and chopped fine (about 1 cup)
  • 1 small zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 1½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 1½ cups pearled farro
  • 2 cups all-natural vegetable broth
  • 1½ cups water
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1. Combine the onion, carrot, zucchini, oil, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a large Dutch oven or saucepan. Cover and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

2. Stir in the farro and cook until lightly toasted, about 2 minutes. Stir in the broth and water, raise the heat, and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat and continue to simmer, stirring often, until the farro softens but is still a bit chewy, about 25 minutes.

3. Stir in the parsley and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

* Unlike traditional risotto, with this recipe, you don’t have to heat the liquid first and you can add it all at once. Be sure to stir often and keep the lid off to allow some of the moisture to evaporate.

Nutrition Information per Serving (about 2/3 cup):   230 calories, 5g fat (0.5g saturated), 170mg sodium, 42g carbohydrate, 6g fiber, 8g protein, 80% vitamin A, 10% vitamin C, 15% iron

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The carrots and zucchini add a slight sweetness to this side dish. Every spoonful is a real treat!

The best part about this recipe is that our kids really enjoyed it. What a nice change of pace from pasta and rice!

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Brussels Sprouts Thanksgiving Side Dishes: Better-for-You Brussels Spouts Gratin and Roasted Sesame Brussels Spouts (Podcast #167)

Turkeys don’t fly (or at least not the ones you cook for Thanksgiving) but time sure does. It seems like just yesterday we were whipping up sweet potato casseroles and cranberry sauce for our Turkey-Day dinners. This year, we’ve turned our culinary attention to Brussels sprouts. This cancer-fighting cruciferous vegetable is the perfect holiday side dish; it’s nutritious and versatile, and well, perfect for any day of the year.

Brussels Sprouts on a stalk via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

On this week’s Cooking with the Moms podcast, we feature two new Brussels sprouts creations. First up is our Better-for-You Brussels Spouts Gratin, a makeover of a cream-laden recipe that one of our Facebook fans asked us to make over. Next up is a recipe for Roasted Sesame Brussels Spouts, which was sent to us by Mindy from The World in My Kitchen. On the show, we also kvell (hey, it’s better than kvetch) over a few other delicious-looking dishes: Brussels Spouts Salad with Cranberries and Walnuts from Alison Lewis at Ingredients Inc., Balsamic Roasted Brussels Spouts with Apples from Regan at The Professional Palate, and Brussels Sprouts Salad from Gluten-Free Girl.

Brussels Sprouts Gratin via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen #makeover #holiday #casserole #sidedish

Janice’s friends own a farm in western, MA and they gave us two lovely stalks of Brussels sprouts for our week of recipe testing. To see photos from the farm, check out our Fickr page.

Brussels Sprouts Gratin via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

Our Facebook fan, Danica, asked us to give a recipe for Brussels Sprouts Gratin from AllRecipes.com a makeover. In Danica’s words, “Please, oh please, make it over!” The original recipe called for 2½ cups of heavy cream and half-and-half combined as well as 1½ cups grated Parmesan cheese and a teaspoon of salt. When we crunched the nutrition numbers, we were not surprised that each serving had 400 calories, 18 grams of saturated fat (that’s nearly a day’s worth), and over 800 milligrams of sodium.

Better-for-You Brussels Sprouts Gratin

Makes 8 Servings

The secret to our healthy makeover is the roux made with EVOO, just 1 tablespoon of butter, flour, and 1% low-fat milk. We kept the original 4 ounces of lean prosciutto for flavor and depth. The Brussels sprouts come out soft and tender … they literally melt in your mouth.

  • 2 pounds Brussels sprouts
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 ounces prosciutto, roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2½ cups 1% low-fat milk
  • 1/4 cup sherry
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Peel off any damaged outer layers of Brussels sprouts. Trim the stem to make it flush. Cut small sprouts in half and larger ones into quarters lengthwise. Keep a bit of the core attached.

2. Heat the oil and butter in a large Dutch oven or saucepan over medium heat until the butter melts. Add the prosciutto and sauté , stirring frequently, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant and golden, about 1 minute. Stir in the Brussels sprouts and stir continuously for 2 to 3 minutes.

3. Add the flour and continue stirring for 2 minutes. Stir in the milk and sherry, raise the heat, and bring to low boil (keep stirring). Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring frequently, until the liquid thickens and reduces by about a third, 7 minutes. Stir in 1/2 cup of the Parmesan cheese, pepper, nutmeg, and salt. Transfer to an oven-proof casserole dish. Cover with the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan. Cover with aluminum foil and bake until the Brussels spouts are tender and the top turns golden brown, about 25 minutes. Serve immediately.

Nutrition Information per Serving: 200 calories, 10g fat (4g saturated, 0.3g omega-3), 620mg sodium, 17g carbohydrate, 3g fiber, 13g protein, 25% vitamin A, 130% vitamin C, 25% calcium, 10% iron

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Brussels sprouts are an excellent source of vitamins A, C, and K. Vitamin K is important for healthy bones as well as normal blood clotting.

The ingredients for Roasted Sesame Brussels sprouts are pretty basic: Brussels sprouts, toasted sesame oil, kosher salt, and pepper. So easy!

Roasted Sesame Brussels Sprouts via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen #makeover #holiday #casserole #sidedish

We love this recipe for roasted Brussels sprouts. If you prefer your sprouts very tender, we suggest you place them in a microwave-safe bowl and heat for about 2 minutes in the microwave before placing in the oven.

Roasted Sesame Brussels Spouts

Makes 3 Servings (total yield 1 1/3 cups)

We sent out a tweet on Twitter asking our followers to share their favorite Brussels sprouts recipes. Here’s a recipe for roasted Brussels sprouts that got tweeted back. We cooked it up today and made a few minor tweaks (that’s tweaks not tweets). Adapted from the blog, The World in My Kitchen

  • 1/2 pound large Brussels sprouts (about 11 sprouts)
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

1. Remove any wilted or loose leaves from the Brussels sprouts. Rinse and dry them. Quarter them so that each piece still has a bit of the core attached. Place in a bowl and toss with the sesame oil. If there’s not enough oil to coat them lightly but evenly, add a little more. Let sit for 20 to 30 minutes. In the meantime, heat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. When the Brussels sprouts are done marinating, sprinkle with the salt and a few cranks of pepper. Spread the the sprouts in one layer on a baking sheet or in a stoneware baking dish. Place in the oven until the sprouts start to brown and caramelize a bit, 20 to 25 minutes. Turn them over about half-way through. Drizzle with a tiny bit of sesame oil and serve hot.

Nutrition Information per Serving (about 1/2 cup): 70 calories, 5g fat (0.5g saturated), 110mg sodium, 5g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 2g protein, 10% vitamin A, 80% vitamin C

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Brussels spouts stalks … minus the sprouts! Thank goodness our intern, Sara, was here today to help us harvest our crop :)

Do you have a favorite Brussels sprouts recipe? We’d love to hear about it, so feel free to share a link or description on this post.

Ghoulishly-Good Stuffed Sugar Pumpkin – Recipe Redux

Every month we join fellow food and nutrition bloggers for the Recipe Redux challenge. Our assignment this month: Cook with fresh pumpkin. If you read our blog or listen to our weekly radio show, you probably know that we’re big fans of canned pumpkin. It’s nutritious, convenient, and versatile, and we use it all the time in some of our families’ favorite recipes: Chocolate Pumpkin Whoopie Pies, Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins, Pumpkin Pancakes, and Pumpkin Spice Bundt Cake. But fresh pumpkin?

Talk about motivation: Janice’s friends own a farm in Western Massachusetts, and they brought back some sugar pumpkins for us to cook with. We are so jealous of their pumpkin patch!

For the challenge, we drew inspiration from a recipe for Pumpkin Stuffed with Everything Good from cookbook author, Dorie Greenspan. We tweaked it quite a bit and came up with this Ghoulishly-Good Stuffed Sugar Pumpkin. It’s downright cute, and with a mixture of savory and sweet ingredients — things like apple chicken sausage, whole grain bread, walnuts, and dried cranberries, it says “try me” the second you look at it.


Add whimsy and good nutrition to your pre-Halloween dinner with our stuffed pumpkin. If you don’t have dried cranberries on hand (or they’re not a family favorite) use 1/2 cup of peeled, diced apple.

Ghoulishly-Good Stuffed Sugar Pumpkin

Makes 4 Servings

Serve as a main meal and you’ll get about four portions. As a playful side dish, you’ll probably get up to six.

  • 1 medium-size sugar pumpkin, about 3½ pounds
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups whole grain ciabatta bread (or any whole grain bread), cut into 1/2-inch chunks
  • 1 or 2 fully cooked apple chicken sausages, casings removed and meat cut into 1/4-inch pieces (1/2 to 1 cup)
  • 1 cup shredded reduced-fat Cheddar cheese (4 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped toasted walnuts
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons dried cranberries (or ½ cup peeled, chopped apple)
  • 3 tablespoons 1% low-fat milk
  • Ground nutmeg
  • Pure maple syrup

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment and set aside.

2. Use a sharp, sturdy knife to cut the cap out of the top of the pumpkin. Cut off enough of the top so you can get your hand into the pumpkin and clear away the seeds and strings. Cut the seeds and strings away from the cap as well. (Save the seeds and roast them after the pumpkin comes out of the oven!) Season the inside of the pumpkin generously with salt, pepper, and cinnamon. Place on the baking sheet.

3. Meanwhile, in a bowl, stir together the bread, sausage, cheese, walnuts, cranberries (or apples, if you choose to use them instead), and milk. Season with a few pinches of salt, pepper, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

4. Pack the mixture into the pumpkin. Put the cap in place and bake until the flesh of the pumpkin is tender and easily pierced with the tip of a knife, about 90 minutes. Remove the cap and bake until the top of the stuffing is golden, an additional 20 minutes.

5. Carefully transfer the pumpkin to a plate or platter and serve. Dorie Greenspan suggests the following technique for serving (and we agree): Spoon out portions of the filling, making sure to get a generous amount of pumpkin into the spoonful.

6. Serve with maple syrup for drizzling.

Nutrition Information per Main Dish Serving:   310 calories, 13g fat (4.5g saturated), 480mg sodium, 35g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, 19g protein, 340% vitamin A, 35% vitamin C, 30% calcium, 15% iron

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Don’t waste those pumpkin seeds. We’ll be sharing a recipe for nutrient-rich roasted pumpkin seeds this weekend, so stay tuned!


Drizzling with pure maple syrup at the table adds a delicious blast of autumn flavor!

The best part about participating in the Recipe Redux monthly challenge is getting to see what our fellow Reduxers come up with. Here’s a list of all the other healthy and delicious fresh pumpkin recipes:

Cherie Schetselaar – Grain Crazy
Fresh Pumpkin Risotto

Alexandra Caspero – Delicious Knowledge
Pumpkin Enchiladas

Katie Hamm – Healthy & Happy Hour
Pumpkin-Bacon Penne

Alysa Bajenaru – Inspired RD
Sweet & Spicy Pumpkin Fries

Everyday Tastiness
Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

Dr Barb – Nutriton Budgeteer
Pumpkin Chili Chicken Pizza

Elizabeth Jarrard – Don’t (White) Sugar Coat It
Vegan Pumpkin Soup

Kristen Bourque – Swanky Dietitian
Baked Pumpkin Oatmeal

Marie Spano – Performance Nutrition
Cream Cheese Pumpkin Muffins

Regan – The Professional Palate
Pumpkin Ravioli in a Walnut-Sage Cider Sauce

Danielle Omar – Food Confidence RD
Pumpkin Goulash

Emma – The Hearty Heart
(Vegan) Cocoa Pumpkin (Whiskey) Mousse

Gretchen – kumquat
Baked Mini Pumpkins

Emma Stirling – The Scoop on Nutrition
Chermoula Chickpea & Pumpkin Sliders

Janel Funk – Eat Well with Janel
Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

Nicole – Whole Health RD
Kaddo Bourani – Candied Pumpkin with Yogurt and Meat Sauce

Yuri – Chef Pandita
Pumpkin Apple Soup

Lisa – Healthful Sense
Pumpkin Cream Pie Filling & Pudding

Jessica Fishman Levinson – Nutritioulicious
Pumpkin Pancakes

Jane Schwartz, RD
Pumpkin Coconut Soup

Kat Lynch – Eating The Week
Pumpkin yogurt dip for waffle sticks

Katie Caputo – East Meats West
Pumpkin Stuffing

Serena – Teaspoon of Spice
Whole Pumpkin Cheddar Gratin

Kristina – Love and Zest
Pumpkin Mash

Carrie Miller – Nutrition Know How
Baked Stuffed Pumpkin & Pumpkin Orange Muffins

Ann Dunaway Teh – Eat to Nourish, Energize & Flourish
Pumpkin, Squash and Apple Soup

Kara Lydon – Peace, Love, and Food
Pumpkin Yogurt Dip

Stephanie Howard – Give Them Something Better
Fall Harvest Chili

Karman Meyer – Nutrition Adventures
Pumpkin-Potato Breakfast Hash

Ayla Withee – Eat Simply
Salt and Vinegar Pumpkin Seeds

Heather Calcote – Dietitian on the Run
Pumpkin Rosemary & Mushroom Quinoa

Jill Melton – The Relish Dish
Ham and Cheese Stuffed Pumpkin

EA – The Spicy RD
Pumpkin Pesto Bruschetta

Diane Welland – Eat Well, Eat Clean
Pumpkin Cranberry Scones

Rebecca Noseworthy – It’s a Savoury Life
Fall Pumpkin Chili

What’s your favorite pumpkin recipe :)

This recipe is featured in the I’m Lovin It Tidy Mom Fridays party post.

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.

Hamburger Helper Gets a Recipe Rescue: Give our Healthier Hamburger Helper a Try!

Walk into your local supermarket and chances are, that sitting along a very long shelf, you’ll find not one, not two, not three but as many as 40 varieties of Hamburger Helper. Convenient? Yes. Nutritious? Well, we’ll let you be the judge. Nicole, a mom of two from Havertown, PA often relies on Hamburger Helper to get dinner on the table for her two “picky” teens.  According to Nicole, “The kids love the Lasagna-flavored Hamburger Helper.  It’s kind of like spaghetti and meatballs but all mixed up. It’s something easy I can make, but I know it’s not healthy.”  So what’s a busy mom to do? Nicole posted on our Facebook wall and asked us to give Hamburger Helper a healthy makeover. We knew it would be one of our most extreme makeovers ever, but we gladly took on the challenge. Read on for all the yummy “rescue” details and the surprising reaction from Nicole’s family.

A 1 cup serving of Lasagna-flavored Hamburger Helper (prepared according to package directions) has 11 grams of fat, 4.5 grams saturated fat, and 770 milligrams of sodium. It also contains some ingredients we’re just not crazy about: Monosodium glutamate, yellow 5 and 6, and red 40. Our rescued version is made with wholesome ingredients. It’s a lot leaner and more nutrient rich thanks to ingredients like lean ground beef, 1% low-fat milk, no-salt-added tomato sauce, frozen chopped spinach, and whole grain pasta.

At first glance, Nicole thought our recipe might have too many steps, but it cooked up quickly. “I’m not used to thickening with corn starch but it was great. I liked the texture and the creaminess,” she told us. Nicole also tried the recipe with ground turkey, but she felt the lean beef imparted a richer flavor and deeper, more pleasing (and familiar) color.

Healthier Hamburger Helper

Makes 8 to 10 Servings

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice (about 1½ cups)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound lean ground beef (93 or 95% lean)
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • One 32 -ounce carton all-natural chicken broth
  • One 8-ounce can no-salt-added tomato sauce
  • 1 cup 1% low-fat milk, divided
  • One 10-ounce box chopped frozen spinach, thawed, drained and squeezed dry
  • One 12-once bag dried whole grain, wide egg noodles (we used Ronzoni Healthy Harvest)
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

1. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven or saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook an additional minute.

2. Raise the heat to medium-high. Add the meat, Italian seasoning, pepper, and red pepper flakes, and cook, breaking up the large pieces until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Drain any excess fat.

3. Stir in the broth, tomato sauce, 3/4 cup of the milk, and the spinach, cover, and bring to a boil.

4. Stir in the pasta and return to a boil. Reduce the heat and cook at a low boil, covered, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is tender, about 9 minutes.

5. In a bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and remaining 1/4 cup milk until well combined.  Stir the cornstarch mixture into the pasta. Maintain at a low boil and stir gently until the mixture thickens, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the Parmesan cheese and fresh basil.

6. Top individual servings with additional Parmesan cheese, red pepper flakes, and chopped basil as desired.

Nutrition Information per Serving (1 generous cup):  290 calories, 8g fat (2.5g saturated), 400mg sodium, 38g carbohydrate, 6g fiber, 20g protein, 80% vitamin A, 15% calcium, 20% iron

Print Recipe

Nicole made the recipes twice — once with wagon wheel shaped pasta and the second time with the egg noodles. Taste testers, Nina and Alex preferred the wagon wheels (so feel free to use either shape in this recipe), and according to Nicole, the kids liked the recipe and no one tried to pick out the spinach since it blended right in!

We can’t thank Nicole and her kids enough for trying the recipe. We are thrilled everyone liked it! In fact, this summer when the family first tried the recipe, 16-year old Nina packed our Healthier Hamburger Helper in a Thermos and took it to camp for lunch. If you have a recipe that you think needs a “rescue,” send it our way … or tell us about it right here on the blog.

Recipe Redux Condiment Challenge: A Recipe for Garden Fresh Tomato & Avocado Salsa

For this month’s Recipe Redux cooking challenge, we were charged with the mouth-watering task of creating a healthy and delicious condiment recipe. With both of our gardens brimming with sweet, jewel-colored cherry tomatoes (red in Janice’s garden and yellow in Liz’s) we decided to add a farm-fresh twist to one of our favorite condiments: salsa.

Salsa is nutritious and versatile. We love it as a dip for baked tortilla chips, a filling for a wrap or taco, and a topping for an omelet, grilled fish, chicken, or beef. There are plenty of options to choose from at the supermarket — black bean salsa, mango salsa, traditional tomato-based salsas — and in most markets, you can find both jarred and fresh varieties. When it comes to sodium, however, jarred salsas tend to be high in sodium. A quick  peek at the salsa in Liz’s pantry reveals a whopping 200 milligrams of sodium in each 2 tablespoon serving.

The great thing about salsa is that it’s easy to make from scratch. For our Garden Fresh Tomato & Avocado Salsa, we took full advantage of local and fresh ingredients: cilantro from Liz’s farmers’ market and red onion from her CSA, a California avocado from Janice’s grocery store, and cherry tomatoes from our backyard gardens. Oh, and by the way, we have practically no sodium in our salsa; our handful of fresh ingredients provided plenty of big flavors without the need for much salt.

Garden Fresh Tomato & Avocado Salsa

Makes 3 Servings

  • 1 ripe California avocado, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, cut into 8ths
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon finely diced red onion
  • Juice of 1/2 lime (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1/8 teaspoon chili powder
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. In a large bowl, gently stir together the avocado, tomatoes, cilantro, red onion, lime juice, and chili powder until well combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Nutrition Information per Serving (1/2 cup): 90 calories, 7g fat (1g saturated), 5mg sodium, 7g carbohydrate, 4g fiber, 1g protein, 10% vitamin A, 25% vitamin C

Print Recipe

Thanks to Janice’s daughter, Leah, we had an abundance of rub-red cherry tomatoes for our recipe.

The best part about participating in the Recipe Redux monthly challenge is getting to see what our fellow Reduxers come up with. Here’s a list of all the other creative condiment recipes:

Carlene Helble from Carlene’s Figments: Roasted Eggplant Pepper Schmeer

Deanna Segrave-Daly from Teaspoon of Spice: Sicilian Relish

Cherie Schetselaar from Grain Crazy:  Fry Sauce

Dr Barb from Nutrition Budgeteer: Jalapeno Ranch Dressing is Versatile & Healthier

Elizabeth Jarrard from Don’t (White) Sugar-Coat it: Spicy Tahini Dressing

Kara Lydon from Peace, Love, and Food: Edamame Hummus

Kat Lynch from Eating The Week: Citrus Sesame Avocado Dressing

Emma Stirling from The Scoop on Nutrition: Recipe Redux Kitchen Garden Salsa Verde

Lisa from Healthful Sense: Sweet Peanut Sauce & Dressing

Regan from The Professional Palate: Ponzu Sauce

Danielle Omar from Food Confidence RD: Your New Favorite Vinaigrette

Stephanie Howard from Give Them Something Better: Creamy Garlic Feta Dressing

Nicole Ferring Holovach from Whole Health RD: Maple Salad Dressing

Kristen from Swanky Dietitian: Italian Vinaigrette Aritichoke Dipper

Ann Dunaway Teh from Eat to Nourish, Energize & Flourish: Thai Basil Peanut Pesto

Kristina from Love and Zest: Spiced Pumpkin Dip

Meg from Meg’s Food Reality: Sweet Potato Hummus

Gretchen from Kumquat: dariy-free ranch dressing 

Alysa Bajenaru from Inspired RD: How to Roast Garlic & a Recipe for Roasted Garlic Hummus

EA Stewart from The Spicy RD: Creamy Triple Pepper and Kale Dip 

Diane from Eat Well Eat Clean: Honey Fig Jam with Goat Cheese

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.


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

Pina Coladas Get a Healthy Makeover: A Recipe for Pint-Size Pina Coladas

“If you like pina coladas and getting caught in the rain. If you’re not into yoga, if you have half a brain.” Once you start singing that Jimmy Buffet song, it’s hard to get it out of your head, isn’t it? Sorry. We do like pina coladas, but this Caribbean cocktail is often loaded with fat and calories and made with an artificial, sugar-laden mix … and no real fruit at all. We decided to create our own pina colada (sans the alcohol), and we’re happy to report that it’s sweetness comes naturally from the “real” pineapple.

As part of this month’s Recipe Redux summer beverage cooking challenge — Recipe Redux is an ongoing food blogger series — we give pina coladas a healthy makeover by frozen pineapple, 100% fruit juice, and light coconut milk.

Our Pint-Size Pina Colada is made with three simple ingredients: 100% pineapple juice, light coconut milk, and lots of frozen pineapple. We like the light coconut milk because it’s a lot lower in fat and calories than the regular (1 cup has 150 calories compared to 450 in the full-fat version). In the unlikely event you have leftovers, pour the smoothie into ice pop molds and freeze.

Pint-Size Pina Colada

Makes 3 Servings

  • 2 cups frozen pineapple chunks
  • 1½ cups 100% pineapple juice (we use two 6-ounce cans)
  • 1/3 cup light coconut milk or 1/2 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt

1. Place the pineapple, juice, and coconut milk in a blender, and blend until well combined.

2. Pour into individual glass and serve with a straw. Add a few ice cubes as desired.

Nutrition Information per Serving (1 cup):  120 calories, 1.5g fat (1.5g saturated), 15mg sodium, 27g carbohydrate, 20g sugar, 1g fiber, 0g protein, 130% vitamin C

Print Recipe

Tip: Though our recipe only calls for 1/3 cup coconut milk, you can freeze what you don’t use. Measure out 1/3-cup portions, pour into zip-top bags, and place in your freezer. Thaw slightly before adding to your next pina colada recipe. The next time you make rice, you can also use leftover coconut milk as part of the liquid.

Janice’s daughter, Leah, cools off with our Pint-Size Pina Colada. Let’s just say she was a willing taste tester :)

Recipe Redux Bloggers:

Nutrition Budgeteer: Triple Cherry Chiller
Carlene’s Figments: Mint Berry Seltzer
Peace, Love, and Food: Blueberry Basil Lemonade Fizz
Eat Well with Janel: Mango Melon Smoothie
Teaspoon of Spice: Cantaloupe Basil Aqua Fresca Fizz
Nutritioulicious: Blueberry Basil Cooler
Performance Nutrition:  Workout Power Smoothie
Don’t White Sugar-Coat It:  Southern Blackberry Smash
The Nutriscientist: Apple, Pear and Strawberry Smoothie with Chia
Swanky Dietitian: Fresh Fruit and Club Soda Cooler
The Professional Palate: Berry-Lime Bubbly
Eating the Week: Sparkling Melon Fizz
Healthful Sense: Berry Refreshing Chia Seed Smoothie
The Spicy RD: Gingery Peach Float
Inspired RD: Blackberry Banana Swirl
Eat to Nourish, Energize & Flourish: Pregnancy Mocktails
Chef Pandita: Green Tea Ginger Limeade with Chia Seeds
Nutrition Adventures: Orange-Mint Iced Green Tea
Grain Crazy: Mango Strawberry Smoothie
The Scoop on Nutrition: Recipe Redux Tangelo-ade
Delicious Knowledge: Strawberry Splash Mojito
Food Confidence RD: Almond Iced-Coffee Latte
MeFirst:  Banana Split Smoothie
Nutrition Know How: 12 Smoothie Recipes to Beat the Heat
Eat Well, Eat Clean: Watermelon Aqua Fresca

Mushroom Burgers With the Works and a Recipe for Basil Cannellini Spread

Cheeseburgers piled high with lettuce, tomato, and mayo or ketchup are a staple at backyard cookouts, and on our blog today, we reinvent them.  As part of a new monthly blogger challenge called Recipe Redux, we take  summer’s time-honored burger and give it a healthy and incredibly delicious makeover.

This month’s challenge was grilling. With such an open-ended assignment, we decided to create a build-your-own burger bar with grilled portobello mushrooms as the star ingredient.

Make-your-own meals are especially appealing to kids. Kids love choice and we love all the veggies on the table. With grilled mushrooms as the foundation of our burger redux, we also serve up grilled red onions, Bibb lettuce and baby spinach from Janice’s CSA, slices of juicy tomatoes and fresh mozzarella cheese, and a nutrient-rich Basil Cannellini Spread (read on for the recipe). We set out whole wheat burger buns too, and for a change of pace, Flatout Foldit 5 Grain Flax “hinged” flatbread.

In the June issue of Bon Appetite, the editors make the following plea in their Summer Cooking Manifesto article: “Let’s please never grill portobello mushrooms again.” Well, well, well. Imagine the surprise when we read that! We couldn’t disagree more. Mushrooms are low in calories and are a good source of fiber and selenium. Their meaty texture makes them the ideal vegetarian stand-in for beef or turkey burgers, and our children adore this recipe. Need proof? Here is what they had to say:
> Josh (Liz’s 15-year old): “It’s like, flavorful.”
> Simon (Liz’s 12-year old): “This is a mean burger. It’s magic.”
> Leah (Janice’s 11-year old): “I hope there are more of these!

Mushroom Burgers With the Works

Makes 4 Servings

  • Four 4-inch-diameter portobello mushroom caps (or 5-inch caps if using the Flatout Foldits)
  • Four 1/2-inch-thick slices red onion
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 whole wheat burger buns or 4 Flatout Foldits
  • Burger bar toppers: 4 tomato slices, 4 thin fresh mozzarella slices, Bibb lettuce or baby spinach leaves, Basil Cannellini Spread (we suggest about 1 tablespoon per burger)

1. Preheat outdoor grill to medium-high heat and lightly oil the grate. Wipe the mushroom caps clean with a damp cloth or paper towel. Trim off the stems. Place the mushroom caps and onion slices on a plate or cutting board.

2. Using a pastry brush, brush both sides of the mushrooms and onion slices evenly with the olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

3. Place the mushroom caps and onion slices on the grill. Grill until tender, 6 to 8 minutes per side.

Nutrition Information per Serving (1 mushroom burger):  330 calories, 17g fat (4.5g saturated), 230mg sodium, 38g carbohydrate, 7g fiber,  11g protein,  10% vitamin A, 30% vitamin C, 10% iron

Print Recipe

Hold the mayo, and try our Basil Cannellini Spread instead. Beans are technically a vegetable, so this spread is packed with fiber and health-enhancing antioxidants. Use leftovers as a dip for crunchy vegetables — bell pepper strips, baby carrots, celery sticks.

Basil Cannellini Spread

Makes 1¼ Cups

  • One 15-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup packed fresh basil leaves
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 small clove garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1. Place the beans, basil, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth and creamy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.

Nutrition Information per Serving (1 tablespoon):  35 calories, 2.5g fat (0g saturated), 35mg sodium, 3g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 1 g protein

Print Recipe

Be sure to check out the other bloggers taking part in this month’s Recipe Redux grilling challenge.

> Delicious Knowledge / Grilled Summer Fruit Salad
> Inspired RD / Grilled Romaine Salad
> Eat to Nourish, Energize and Flourish! / Grilled Flank Steak with Grilled Corn and Peach Salsa
> Nutrition Know How /Grilled Vegetables: Not Like Your Mom Made
> Eat Smart, Live Confidently / Grilled Sweet Peppers
> Eat Well Eat Clean / Grilled Beet & Onion Salad with Goat Cheese
> Nutrition Budgeteer / Grilled Veggie Salad Takes Heat out of the Kitchen
> The Spicy RD / Grilled Polenta Veggie Stacks with Balsamic Cherry Tomatoes
> The Scoop on Nutrition / Char Siu BBQ Pork
> Kumquat / Grilled Tandoori Chicken Skewers
Delicious Diabetes Cooking / Grilled Proscuitto Shrimp with Asian Dipping Sauce
> Nutritioulicious / Grilled Salmon Burgers with Cherry Chutney
> Eating The Week / Portobello Mushrooms Stuffed with Spiced Couscous
> East Meats West / Succulent Sirloin Kabobs
> Swanky Dietitian /Portabella Mushroom Burgers with Grilled Corn
> Healthful Sense / Grilled Veggie Bean Burgers
> Whole Health RD / Grilled Eggs
> MeFirst / Grilled Plantains: A Sweet Summer Side Dish
> The Professional Palate / Grilled Eggplant & Two-Tomato Whole-Wheat Piadina
> Teaspoon of Spice / Grilled Watermelon Salad
> Performance Nutrition / Italian Style Turkey Burgers
> Chef Pandita / Grilled Vegetables

Our summer nutrition interns (from left), Hillary, Jeanine, and Stephanie, help us cook and eat our Recipe Redux feast.

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