A Recipe for Springtime Asparagus Quiche … Plus, My Trip to Switzerland {Podcast #245}

I recently returned from a trip to Switzerland where white and green asparagus were in season, which meant that restaurant menus featured them predominantly. All those good eats inspired me to create this crustless Springtime Asparagus Quiche with my trusty Meal Makeover Mom partner, Janice. Read on for the recipe and some additional highlights from my trip, and be sure to tune into this week’s Cooking with the Moms podcast as we dish about my adventures.

Springtime Crustless Asparagus Quiche via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen #quiche #vegetarian #asparagus #glutenfree

This recipe looks oh-so gourmet, but it’s surprisingly easy to make. Rich in flavor but light on calories, this yummy crustless quiche is gluten free, nutritious, and of course, delicious.

Crustless Springtime Asparagus Quiche via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen #asparagus #glutenfree #vegetarian

Springtime Asparagus Quiche

Makes 6 Servings

This is a crustless quiche, but you can certainly create your own crust or buy one that’s ready made. If you go that route, just pour the filling into your pie crust and bake.

  • 8 ounces asparagus spears (8 to 10 spears)
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 shallot, peeled and thinly sliced into half moons
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • 5 large eggs, beaten
  • 3/4 cup 1% low-fat milk
  • 1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese
  • 1 teaspoon chopped thyme or tarragon, optional

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Coat a 9-inch pie plate with butter and set aside.

2. Wash the asparagus, trim about 2 inches off the bottoms, and discard (or composite). Cut 3 inches from the top portion of the asparagus and set aside. Slice the remaining stalks into 1/2-inch pieces.

3. Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook, stirring frequently, until golden, about 1 minute. Add all the asparagus and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until tender, 8 minutes. (Don’t walk away from the skillet; you don’t want that shallot to burn!) Season generously with salt and pepper. Carefully remove the 3-inch spear pieces and set aside.

4. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk until well combined. Stir in the cheese, diced vegetables, and herbs as desired. Pour the mixture into the prepared pie plate. Arrange the remaining asparagus tips around the top of the quiche so they resemble the spokes of a wheel. Carefully place unbaked quiche in the oven.

5. Bake until the eggs are set, about 35 minutes. Slice and serve.

Nutrition Information per Serving (1 slice):  180 calories, 12g fat (5g saturated), 140mg sodium, 4g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 12g protein, 15% vitamin A, 25% calcium

Print Recipe

Asparagus salad via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

 On our first night in Zurich, we ate at Restaurant Quaglinos where I ordered the SpargelSalat made with white and green asparagus, radishes, tomatoes, local greens, thinly sliced purple potatoes, and smoked salmon. Welcome to Switzerland!

Asparagus and Morel Tart via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

Dinner at the Kronenhalle restaurant featured classic Swiss cuisine, and one of the amazing things about the restaurant is that it houses works of art by famous artists like Marc Chagall. For an appetizer, we had this asparagus and morel mushroom tart. Yes please!

White Asparagus via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

Oh look: More asparagus. One night, we took a trolly up to The Dolder Grand hotel, which was quite spectacular in terms of the views and the artwork. My brother-in-law started his meal with white asparagus while my sister and I split an asparagus risotto.

Asparagus in Zurich via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

With gorgeous views and delicious local cuisine, I thoroughly enjoyed my trip!

Chocolate, Asparagus, Gorgeous Views and Other Highlights From My Trip to Switzerland

Last week I traveled to Zurich and the surrounding countryside with my mom, two sisters, and brother-in-law where breathtaking views greeted us at every turn and Swiss chocolates, brezels, and local produce—everything from strawberries to green and white asparagus—treated our taste buds. I’ll be sharing all the delicious highlights on this week’s Cooking with the Moms podcast (coming soon) along with a new recipe Janice and I just created for asparagus quiche. In the meantime, read on for a sneak peek.

Lake Zurich via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

My sister and brother-in-law are living a short walk away from Lake Zurich. It’s filled with boats, ducks, and swans, and on weekends, the lakefront buzzes with activity.

 Zurich and surrounding area via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

We spent the first few days touring the city and nearby town of Rapperswil and sampling the local cuisine. (Those are my sisters, Amy and Marian, in the photo along with my mom.) My mom takes a mean selfie.

Raspberry tart at sprungli via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

Everything in Switzerland is pretty. And if you happen to walk into one of the many Sprungli candy stores, you’ll find an impossible-to-resist array of chocolates, pastries, and freshly-made sandwiches. I brought back a box of chocolate-covered orange slices for Janice, and I told her not to share them with anyone. They are that good!

Eating brezels in zurich via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

If you love carbs, you’ll want to try a brezel while you’re in Switzerland. They’re one of the popular street foods in the region; soft, chewy pretzels that come with interesting toppings like roasted pumpkin seeds.

Chocolate May Beetles in Zurich via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

The Swiss love their chocolates. This time of year, you’ll find chocolate May beetles everywhere. My sister told me that over Easter, the stores were filled with chocolate bunnies and eggs. I wonder what they’ll have this summer.

Rapperswil view via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

The town of Rapperswil is a 30-minute drive from Zurich. This view from Rapperswil Castle looked like something out of a fairytale. Gotta love those Swiss Alps.

Quiche and salad in Rapperswil via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

In Rapperswil, we had lunch at the Burg Cafe for quiche and salad. Everything was fresh, local, and delicious.

Stein am Rheim, Switzerland

I’m a country girl at heart, and I absolutely adored visiting the medieval town of Stein am Rhein (located on the border of Germany). That’s my brother-in-law, Jim, hanging out by the main fountain. By the way, the water that comes out of all the fountains that I saw in Zurich and the surrounding towns was perfectly AOK to drink.

Tomato Spinach Crete in Stein am Rhein via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

This tomato, spinach, and feta crepe from la p’tite creperie was a nice change of gastronomic scenery from the vegetable quiches I’d been eating all week. Loved it!!

stein am Rhein

Stein am Rhein: Is this place really real!?

Local strawberries in Switzerland via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

Look what we picked up on our drive back to Zurich. Local, organic (AKA bio) strawberries.

Tibits vegetarian restaurant in Zurich via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

Tibits is one of my sister’s favorite restaurants. The vegetarian-only buffet features an amazing variety of non-meat dishes like guacamole, corn salad, and roasted veggies, which surprisingly, included okra.

Asparagus at the Coop in Zurich via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

Local asparagus was featured prominently on every menu in Switzerland during my visit. It’s in season—both the green and white varieties—and the fatter the stalk the better! I’ll tell you more about the local asparagus, the asparagus dishes I devoured on the trip, and share a new recipe for Springtime Asparagus Quiche in my next blog post.

Flavorful Diabetes Cooking, a Recipe for Roasted Cauliflower Steak with Mushroom Sauce, AND a Cookbook Giveaway (Podcast #244)

People with diabetes can essentially eat the same foods as everyone else, though it’s important they pay especially close attention to their total daily carbohydrate consumption. The same tenants of a healthy diet apply to all: Eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and calcium-rich dairy; also, maintain a healthy weight and keep a watchful eye on sodium. On this week’s Cooking with the Moms podcast, we explore the latest diabetes diet recommendations with dietitian and chef, Jackie Newgent, dish about her latest cookbook, The With or Without {Meat} Cookbook, and dig into two of her recipes: Roasted Cauliflower Steaks with Mushroom Sauce and Szechuan Edamame. Oh, and we’re also giving away a copy of her book.

Roasted Cauliflower Steak with Mushroom Sauce via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen #vegan #vegetarian

 The new book includes flexitarian recipes designed for diabetes, prediabetes, or heart health, and most are Mediterranean in style.

Roasted Cauliflower with Mushroom Sauce via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

To create the “steaks,” Jackie suggests the following technique: With a chef’s knife, slice down from the top of the cauliflower head down through the stem end. Use the largest center slices as “steaks.” Reserve the remaining cauliflower for other recipes, or toss with olive oil and roast with the steaks.

Roasted Cauliflower Steak with Mushroom Sauce

Makes 2 Servings

Recipe courtesy The With or Without {Meat} Cookbook by Jackie Newgent. We adapted it a bit based on the ingredients we had on hand. We used thyme, button mushrooms, and shelled pistachio nuts. We also used kosher salt and left out the hot pepper flakes. (Yes, we are wimpy!)

  • 2 (1-inch-thick) whole slices from a medium head cauliflower (about 6 ounces per slice)
  • 2½ teaspoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1/8 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
  • 1½ cups thinly sliced crimini mushrooms (4 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup marinara sauce
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium vegetable broth or water
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried hot pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 2 teaspoons pine nuts, toasted

1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Brush the cauliflower “steaks” with 1½ teaspoons oil and arrange on a baking sheet. (We lined our baking sheet with parchment paper.) Roast until lightly caramelized and the cauliflower florets are cooked through, about 20 minutes. Gently flip over each “steak,” sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon minced rosemary, 1/8 teaspoon pepper, and the salt, and roast until well caramelized and the cauliflower stems are cooked through, about 12 minutes. Adjust seasoning.

2. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 teaspoon oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon rosemary and 1/8 teaspoon pepper, and saute until the mushrooms are softened, about 5 minutes. Add the marinara sauce, broth, and hot pepper flakes, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until desired consistency, about 8 minutes. Adjust seasoning.

{With Meat} Add 4 ounces crumbled, uncooked ground turkey and a pinch of sea salt along with the mushrooms in step 2.

Nutritional Information per Serving (1 steak with 1/2 cup sauce each): 150 calories, 10g fat (1g saturated), 470mg sodium, 15g carbohydrate, 5g fiber, 6g protein

Print Recipe

With or Without Meat Cookbook

GIVEAWAY: One lucky blog reader or podcast listener will win an autographed copy of The With our Without {Meat} Cookbook. To enter, tell us why you’d like to win this book. Do you have diabetes or know someone who does? Are you trying to maintain a healthy weight or keep your cholesterol in check? Do tell!! (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 Facebook and Twitter (@MealMakeovrMoms)

We’ll pick our winner on June 4th at noon EST using Random.org. Good luck!

Flavorful Diabetes Cooking and a Recipe for Szechuan Edamame

Imagine you’re a busy, working mom of two and you wake up one day to the surprising news that you have Type I diabetes. That’s pretty much what happened last year to Katie, one of our loyal Cooking with the Moms podcast listeners. Katie recently contacted us to share her story of diagnosis and treatment and to ask about the best diet advice for people with diabetes, especially sugar substitutes. Should she use them or shouldn’t she? Were they really necessary? “I want to eat real foods,” she told us, “especially when I’m feeding my family.” To answer her questions, we invited fellow dietitian, cookbook author, and diabetes expert, Jackie Newgent, onto the show to shed light on the latest diabetes diet wisdom.

With or Without Meat

Jackie will be on the show this week—you’ll definitely want to tune in!—but in the meantime, we thought we’d tell you a little bit about her new book, The With or Without {Meat} Cookbook: The Flexible Approach to Flavorful Diabetes Cooking and share her recipe for Szechuan Edamame.

Szechuan Edamame via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen #vegan #glutenfree

Jackie serves up 125 vegetarian recipes in the book, created for people with diabetes and those trying to lose weight or keep it off. After making her edamame as well as her Roasted Cauliflower Steak with Mushroom Sauce (which we’ll post soon), we think this book works wonders for anyone and everyone. The cool thing about the recipes is that they can be easily tweaked for people who eat meat, fish or poultry. As for sugar substitutes, Jackie says they’re fine to use, but certainly not required. (Tune in for a more in depth look at myths surrounding sugar and sugar substitutes.)

Szechuan Edamame via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

Szechuan Edamame

Makes 4 Servings 

Recipe courtesy of Jackie Newgent, RDN, The With our Without {Meat} Cookbook (American Diabetes Association, 2014).

  • 1 pound frozen shelled edamame (3½ cups)
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated gingerroot
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
  • 1½ teaspoons naturally brewed soy sauce
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
  • 1½ teaspoons orange zest, divided

1. Prepare the edamame according to package directions. Drain well.

2. Heat the oil in a wok or large skillet over medium heat. Add the edamame, ginger, and hot pepper flakes, increase heat to high, and stir-fry until the edamame begins to caramelize, about 2½ minutes. Add the soy sauce, garlic, salt, and 1 teaspoon orange zest, and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Adjust seasoning.

3. Transfer to a medium bowl or individual bowls, garnish with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon orange zest, and serve.

{With Poultry, Fish, or Meat}: For the full recipe, finely dice 3 ounces uncooked beef tenderloin or sirloin, sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon sea salt, and add along with the edamame, ginger, and hot pepper flakes in step 2.

Exchanges/Food Choices: 1 Starch, 2 Lean Meat

Nutrition Information per Serving (3/4 cup): 160 calories, 8g fat (1g saturated), 270mg sodium, 12g carbohydrate, 6g fiber, 13g protein

Print Recipe

Stay tuned for the show, more recipes, and a chance to win The With or Without {Meat} Cookbook.


A Recipe for Liza’s Delicious Dipping Sauce, and an Afternoon Eating Vegetables with Kids Cooking Green {Part 2} Podcast Episode #243

Getting kids to try, eat, and love vegetables can be a challenge, especially when they’re finicky about the foods that cross their lips. But when children are allowed to play with their food, it’s amazing what they’ll happily eat.

Kids Cooking Green via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

I work with a program called Kids Cooking Green, and recently, we teamed up with Whole Foods Market in Charlestown, MA to cook up two delicious dips and sample a rainbow of vegetables with a group of elementary school kids. The photos tell the story: Every child was eager to help make the dips, try different veggies, and fill their “take out” plates to the point where they were pretty much overflowing. (That’s Kids Cooking Green teacher, Rosie Wall, helping a student whisk ingredients together for a Greek yogurt dip.)

Kids Cooking Green via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

This little guy was pretty psyched about his red bell peppers!

On this week’s Cooking with the Moms radio podcast, we dish about Kids Cooking Green, share recipes for White Bean & Roasted Garlic Dip and Liza’s Delicious Dipping Sauce (read on for the recipe), and serve up creative tips for getting kids to eat more vegetables.

Kids Cooking Green via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

With a gorgeous array of colors, flavors, and textures, it’s easy to see why the kids at our vegetable class found plenty of options to choose from.

Liza's Delicious Dipping Sauce

Serve dips with veggies that your kids already love, and then toss in a few new ones to expand their repertoire.

Liza’s Delicious Dipping Sauce

This recipe was created by Liza Connolly, co-founder of Kids Cooking Green. I adapted it a bit at home, but according to Liza, it’s a good idea to taste your dip as you go so you can adjust the ingredients and seasonings. As she says: “Add ingredients little by little to get it just right. If you add too much, though, you can not take it away. So taste as you go.”

  • One 7-ounce container low-fat plain Greek yogurt (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce

1. Place all ingredients in a bowl and whisk until well combined. Take a veggie, dip in the dressing, and taste. Adjust seasoning. Serve in a bowl and surround with sliced vegetables.

Kids Cooking Green via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

Posing with kids and staff from the John F. Kennedy Family Services Center in Charlestown, MA and Whole Foods Market volunteers.

A Recipe for White Bean & Roasted Garlic Dip, and an Afternoon Eating Vegetables with Kids Cooking Green {Part 1}

In 2007, Lori Deliso and Liza Connolly, two Lexington, MA moms concerned about the lack of “real” foods in kids’ diets and the desire to teach children about the benefits of eating locally and sustainably, cooked up a five week after-school program called, Kids Cooking Green. I joined the team along with two other dietitians to teach nutrition, and over the years, it’s been exciting to see the program expand to other communities in the Boston area. When you water and nourish a plant it grows, and so has KCG.

Kids Cooking Green #vegetables via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

Encouraging kids to try new vegetables can often be as simple as jazzing up the presentation, creating a flavorful dip, or letting friends exert some positive peer pressure on one another. Simply put: All it takes is a bit of clever “marketing” to entice even the most skeptical eaters to crunch their way through a variety of nutritious vegetables!

Kids Cooking Green via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

Last week, I met up with Kids Cooking Green at the John F. Kennedy Family Services Center in Charlestown, MA. The goal for the afternoon was to teach the kids about the importance of eating a rainbow of colorful vegetables. Who said kids don’t love green veggies?!

Kids Cooking Green via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

Whole Foods Market in Charlestown donated the food and helped the students—kindergarten through 2nd grade—create two flavorful dips: White Bean & Roasted Garlic Dip (see recipe below) and Liza’s Delicious Dipping Sauce, which I’ll share in another blog post next week. Pictured above is Nora Daniels, Marketing Team Leader at Whole Foods Charlestown.

Kids Cooking Green via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

All hands on deck! Chef Ed Jackson from Whole Foods Charlestown worked with the students on a white bean dip with roasted garlic, lemon juice, fresh cilantro, and extra virgin olive oil. The kids were engaged, focused, and eager to help.

White Bean & Roasted Garlic Dip via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

I can’t imagine too many kids who would turn down this veggie & dip platter. While I love the fiber-rich white beans in this recipe, it’s the roasted garlic that gives the dip its “wow” factor.

Roasting garlic via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

To roast garlic, slice off the top, drizzle with evoo, wrap in aluminum foil, and bake until the cloves are soft and lightly browned.

Roasted Garlic via mealmakeovermoms.com/kitchen

Roasted garlic is mild, creamy, and adds big flavors to the dip.

White Bean and Roasted Garlic Dip

This recipe is adapted from Kids Cooking Green. It’s a flexible recipe—you can add your favorite leafy herb such as basil, cilantro, mint, or parsley—and Lori, who created the recipe, likes to add roasted red peppers.

  • 1 head garlic
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • Two 15-ounce cans white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons fresh herbs, such as cilantro
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Slice the top off the head of garlic. Drizzle with 1 to 2 teaspoons olive oil. Wrap in aluminum foil, place on a small baking dish, and bake until the cloves are soft and lightly browned, about 45 minutes. Remove from oven, cool, and squeeze out the cloves, which should be a bit mushy. Place in the bowl of a food processor.

2. To make the dip, add the remaining olive oil, beans, herbs, and lemon juice to the bowl. Process until smooth and creamy. Season with salt and pepper to taste. If you don’t own a food processor, you can add your ingredients to a large bowl and smoosh with a potato masher.

3. Serve with sliced vegetables and baked tortilla chips. (Note: The dip will keep for 2 to 3 days in the refrigerator.)

White Bean & Roasted Garlic Dip


A Recipe for Japanese Sesame Slaw and Busting Myths about Canola Oil, PLUS: A Giveaway for a Cherry Wood Salad Bowl and OXO Salad Shaker {Podcast #242}

On this week’s Cooking with the Moms radio podcast, we shared some amazing emails from listeners including a note from Lori, a mom of two kids ages 10 and seven, who uses our Recipe Reviewer Chart to entice them to try new foods. Lori had this to say: “My son, especially, dislikes trying new foods. This chart worked like a charm. He was actually eager to try new foods and even decided he liked some of them. Miracle! For the first round, I opted to make the incentive prize worthwhile. $10 cash. Did you notice the Peanut Butter Power Cookies? They both loved those.”

Recipe Reviewer Chart via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

For those of you who follow our blog, use our Meal Makeovers app, and rely on our cookbooks to get healthy meals on your family’s table, you probably know by now how we often turn to canola oil for our cooking. So on this week’s show, we partnered with CanolaInfo.org to dispel some common myths about this heart-healthy oil and to share two new recipes: Japanese Sesame Slaw and Mini Blueberry Cornmeal Muffins. We’re also giving away an OXO Good Grips Salad Dressing Shaker and a cherry wood bowl with matching salad hands, so read on for the details on how to enter.

Japanese Sesame Slaw via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

For the salad, we used a 12-ounce bag of broccoli slaw and then tossed it with a tangy dressing made with canola oil, sesame oil, seasoned rice vinegar, garlic, ginger, and reduced-sodium soy sauce. For the complete recipe, visit CanolaInfo.org. {Disclosure: We were compensated for this myth-busting promotion, but all opinions are our own.}

Japanese Sesame Slaw via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

The salad gets topped with green onions and sesame seeds. To turn this from a side dish into a main meal, you could toss in some grilled chicken or shrimp.

Canola Myths … Busted:

Q: Is canola oil the same as rapeseed oil?
A: No. Canola comes from the crushed seeds of the canola plant, which is a member of the Brassica family that includes broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower. It was developed in Canada in the 1960s through traditional plant breeding from rapeseed, but the two crops and their oils are distinctly different.

Q: Is canola oil really heart healthy?
A: Doctors and dietitians laud canola oil for both what it does contain and what it doesn’t. Of all common cooking oils, canola contains the most plant-based omega-3 fat (11%) and the least saturated fat (7%) — half that of olive oil (15%).

To see how canola compares to other oils, check out this dietary fats chart.

Q: Is canola oil harvested and processed sustainably?
A: Absolutely. Once harvested, canola seeds are taken to a facility where they are crushed to extract the oil contained within the seed. This oil is then further refined and bottled as canola oil. Basic characteristics of this cooking oil include a pale golden color, light texture, neutral taste and high heat tolerance. The average canola seed is 45% oil (double the amount in soybeans). The remainder of the seed, which is very high in protein, is processed into canola meal and used as a high quality animal feed.

canola giveaway via mealmakeovermoms.com/kitchen

GIVEAWAY: Thanks to our friends at CanolaInfo.org, we are giving away a gorgeous cherry wood bowl with matching salad hands and an OXO Good Grips Salad Dressing Shaker to one lucky winner. To enter, tell us why you like cooking with canola oil or share your favorite recipe that calls for canola.

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 28th at 5pm EST using Random.org. Good luck!

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 MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

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 MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

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 MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

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 MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

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 MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

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 Random.org. 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 MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

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 MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitche

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 MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

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 MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

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 MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

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 MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

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 MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

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 Random.org. Good luck!

Announcing our Blogger Partnership with Backyard Farms, PLUS: A Recipe for Rustic Tomato and Cheese Pie

Say it ain’t so! It’s officially “spring,” but later this week, they’re predicting yet another snow storm here in New England. To soften the blow, we’re stocking up on Backyard Farms tomatoes. They’re grown hydroponically in Maine in huge greenhouses, and they taste like “summer” tomatoes. Given how cold we’ve been this winter, these Backyard Farms beauties are like a breath of fresh, warm air.

Backyard Farms Tomaties via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

The Backyard Farms greenhouse covers 42 acres. The tomatoes are grown year-round in Madison, Maine, and they’re juicy, sweet, and taste like summer no matter when you buy them.

To celebrate our new blogger partnership with Backyard Farms (we’re being compensated for creating a new recipe for their website and helping to spread the word about the flavor and versatility of their tomatoes) we’re sharing this recipe for Rustic Tomato and Cheese Pie from Mary Ann Esposito, the new Chef Spokesperson for the company.

Backyard Farms via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

Mary Ann, of PBS cooking show fame, demos how to make this simple and nutritious recipe in her YouTube video.

Rustic Tomato and Cheese Pie via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

When we made Mary Ann’s recipe, we added some fresh, chopped basil. Delish!

Rustic Tomato and Cheese Pie via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

It’s pizza time!

Rustic Tomato and Cheese Pie

Makes 4 to 6 Servings 

This recipe comes courtesy of Mary Ann Esposito

  • 1 pound store bought pizza dough
  • 1 tablespoon grainy mustard
  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil plus extra to drizzle on top
  • 3 to 4 Backyard Farms medium tomatoes on the vine, sliced into ¼ inch thick rounds
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 cup grated Swiss or cheddar cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 425F.

2. Pat or roll the dough out on a sheet of lightly oiled parchment paper into a 12 or 13 inch round. Place on a baking sheet.

3. Mix the mustard and 1 teaspoon of olive oil and brush over the surface of the dough. Overlap the tomato slices on the dough to within 1-inch of the sides. Sprinkle the sugar evenly over the tomatoes. Sprinkle the cheese evenly over the tomatoes. Fold the edges of the dough over the tomatoes, leaving the center open.

4. Bake 10 minutes, then lower heat to 375F and continue baking until the dough is nicely browned, about 15 minutes. Cool on rack and cut into wedges. Serve warm.

Backyard Farms via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

Last month, we attended a Summer in the City event in downtown Boston hosted by Backyard Farms and Clover Food Labs. All proceeds benefited the Greater Boston Food Bank.

Backyard Farms via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

And yes, it was freezing the day of the event. And yes, that’s Liz wearing Backyard Farms sunglasses.

We’re looking forward to working with Backyard Farms over the next few months. Stay tuned for our new chicken salad stuffed tomato recipe coming your way soon. (All photos with the exception of the picture grid, courtesy Backyard Farms.)


Veggie Quiche Patties for the March Recipe Redux Cooking Challenge, PLUS: Why Home Ec Should be Taught in Schools

We were super excited last week when Michelle Obama announced her new Let’s Move initiative to encourage families to get back into the kitchen to cook together. At the Partnership for a Healthier America’s Building a Healthier Future Summit in Washington DC, she said that getting everyone cooking more “can fundamentally change the way families take control of their own health.” Well, we couldn’t agree more, and in fact, here at Meal Makeover Moms, we’ve been on the front lines of family cooking for well over a decade. To that end, we break down the barriers to healthy home cooking with easy, affordable, and super flavorful recipes families love. This new recipe for Veggie Quiche Patties fits that bill 100 percent!

Veggie Quiche Patties via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen #eggs #SwissChard #kids #cooking

For this month’s Recipe Redux healthy cooking food blogger challenge, we were assigned the task of creating a patty; something cute, fun to eat, and stack-able. We kept our recipe simple—it calls for eggs, cheese, Swiss chard (or spinach), onion and garlic—and we cooked it in muffin tins. Kids and caregivers can easily make this recipe together.

Swiss chard via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

Our Veggie Quiche Patties call for one bunch of Swiss chard, stemmed, trimmed, and chopped. We’ve been finding gorgeous Swiss chard at the market lately, but you could certainly use a 6-ounce bag of baby spinach if you prefer.

Veggie Quiche Patties via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

Some kids shy away from eating things that are green. If that describes your child, then change the name of the recipe to entice them to take a bite. Try names like Baby Omelets, Hockey Pucks You Can Eat, Mini Frisbees … whatever it takes! (More Picky Eater Makeover tips on our main site.)

Veggie Quiche Patties

Makes 4 Servings

We’d love to see the re-introduction of Home Economics classes in schools! Teaching kids how to cook is critical if we’re going to stem the tide of obesity and poor nutrition. It makes sense, and it’s a gift. When kids gain confidence in the kitchen, they grow up knowing how to prepare healthy meals for themselves and for their own kids one day. These adorable patties are easy enough for kids to make (with supervision, of course, depending on their ages), and they also accomplish the goal of getting everyone to eat more vegetables!

  • 1/2 small onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 bunch Swiss chard, stems and center ribs removed, leaves cut into thin strips, washed and dried in a salad spinner
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 5 large eggs, beaten
  • 3/4 cup reduced-fat shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs (we used parsley and tarragon)

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly oil or coat 12 muffin cups with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

2. Heat 1/2 tablespoon of the oil in a large nonstick skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook 30 seconds to 1 minute, until golden and fragrant. Add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil and the Swiss chard and cook, stirring often, until wilted, about 7 minutes. Keep a watchful eye and adjust heat accordingly. Season with kosher salt and black pepper to taste. Remove to a cutting board, cool slightly, and coarsely chop.

3. Place the eggs, cheese, and herbs in a large bowl and whisk together until well combined. Stir in the chopped vegetables. Using a tablespoon measure, pour the egg mixture evenly into each of the muffin cups. (You’ll end up with about 2 tablespoons per muffin cup.) Smooth the tops.

4. Bake until golden brown and the eggs are set, about 15 minutes. Cool slightly, remove from muffin cups, and serve at breakfast, lunch, dinner, or for a snack.  :)

Nutrition Information per Serving (3 patties):  200 calories, 13g fat (4.5g saturated), 460mg sodium, 8g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 16g protein, 150% vitamin A, 60% vitamin C, 25% calcium, 20% iron

Print Recipe


Introducing Pepe the Parrot and a Recipe for Sweet Pea Soup

We’ve been seeing a lot of green lately in the Bissex household. No, we didn’t win the lottery, but we did inherit a 27-year-old parrot named Pepe. With Pepe’s arrival and St. Patrick’s Day approaching, I thought it would be fun to cook up something green, and so I tried my hand at making green pea soup. Doesn’t the color remind you of a parrot?

Sweet Pea Soup via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen #soup #vegetables

My recipe for Sweet Pea Soup calls for a 16-ounce bag of frozen peas. How easy is that? More on the soup in a minute …

As I sit here writing this blog post, someone keeps yelling, “hello, hello, hello!” Um, that would be Pepe, who, by the way, doesn’t talk very much unless her new best friend, Leah, is at home. Pepe belonged to my Uncle Paul, who died recently at the age of 94. Leah was very concerned about what would happen to his beloved parrot, so we offered to take her in.

Leah with Pepe via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

Leah and Pepe have formed quite a bond, which has been a lot of fun to watch. Pepe is bilingual. She loves to sit on Leah’s shoulder and say things like, bonjour mon cheri, au revoir, how are you?, the market’s up, and hello! She can even fake the sound of a sneeze!


  As you can see, Pepe’s dad, my Uncle Paul, had a real zest for life. I miss him dearly. Here’s a photo of Paul from Easter, 2013.

Sweet Pea Soup

Makes 5 Servings

One of the best things about my soup is its ease of preparation. I adore the flavor of fresh tarragon in this soup, but you could certainly sub it out for any number of other herbs—thyme, basil, or parsley.

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 small onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice (about 1 cup)
  • One 32-ounce carton all-natural vegetable broth
  • One 16-ounce package frozen green peas
  • 2 tablespoons fresh tarragon (leaves from one or two sprigs)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper
  • 1/2 cup croutons, optional

1. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until golden, 30 seconds to 1 minute. (If you use a regular saucepan, go with low heat to prevent the garlic from burning.) Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 7 minutes.

2. Stir in the broth and peas, bring to a boil, and simmer, uncovered, 10 minutes.

3. Let the mixture cool slightly. Transfer to a blender along with the tarragon, lemon juice, and lemon zest and puree in batches until smooth and creamy. You can also use an immersion blender to puree the soup.

4. Place the soup back in the Dutch oven over low heat. Warm through, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Top with croutons as desired.

Nutrition Information per Serving (1 cup): 110 calories, 3g fat (0g saturated), 390mg sodium, 14g carbohydrate, 5g fiber, 6g protein, 35% vitamin A, 20% vitamin C

Print Recipe

Making soup in my Breville Blender via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

Soup’s on thanks to my awesome Breville blender. I use it all the time for pureeing soups and making smoothies.

Sweet pea Soup via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

Let us know if you make this soup and what you and your family think! And feel free to say hi to Pepe too :)

Our Amsterdam Food, Nutrition, and Culinary Adventures {Podcast #239}

The city of Amsterdam is home to Rembrandt, the Anne Frank House, more bicycles than people, tulips, spectacular cheese shops (Gouda anyone!?), the best Dutch apple pie ever, a food scene that embraces local and sustainably grown produce, and a place where a growing number of chefs has declared themselves, “ambassadors for nature.” (We love that.) Recently, we traveled to the quaint Dutch capital for Food 3000, an annual educational meeting for food and nutrition communicators. We dished about our adventures on this week’s Cooking with the Moms radio show, so tune in and read on for some of the highlights.

Meal Makeover Moms go to Amsterdam

Bicycles, canals, and centuries-old buildings: Hello Amsterdam!

Disclosure: Our attendance at the conference was paid for, in part, by Porter Novelli and various co-sponsors. {If you followed our Tweets and Facebook updates during the trip, we used the hashtags, f3k and spon.} All opinions and insights in this post are our own.

Janice buys cheese in Amsterdam via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

We were off  on Day #1 as we toured the city. Say, “cheese …”

Pickled Herring via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

… and we sampled local favorites like this pickled herring from an outdoor food stall vendor (bring on the omega-3s) …

Eating pancakes in Amsterdam via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

… and we had pancakes from a place called, Upstairs. Those are some of our dietitian pals in the picture: Carolyn O’Neil, author of Slim Down South and Kate Geagan, author of Go Green, Get Lean. And that’s a Valentine’s Day pancake topped with strawberries and whipped cream (just in case you were wondering).

Puccini chocolates via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

We ate spectacular Dutch treats at Puccini Bomboni …


… and feasted our eyes on priceless works of art like The Milkmaid by Vermeer, on display at the Rijksmuseum.

The Grand Amsterdam breakfast via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and The Grand Amsterdam where we stayed put out quite the morning spread of savory dishes—roasted mushrooms and tomatoes, smoked salmon, salads, and cheeses—as well as Greek yogurt and fresh fruit.

We spent the bulk of our days attending scientific sessions where we learned about nutrient shortfalls in the U.S. diet (vitamin E, potassium, vitamin B6 to name just a few), the nutritional power of mushrooms (they’re loaded with antioxidants, and we plan to do an entire podcast soon on our favorite fungi), and we had a lively debate about processed foods and the negative feelings they conjure up. We debated if there might be a better way to frame them or perhaps differentiate them since many “processed” foods are actually quite nutritious (i.e. canned beans, orange juice, fortified whole grain cereals). And after long days using our brains, we treated our stomachs to delicious Dutch meals at night.

Restaurant De Kas via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

Restaurant De Kas was originally an old greenhouse, dating back to 1926, that belonged to Amsterdam’s Municipal Nursery. The menu at De Kas changes almost daily based on the seasonal ingredients from its own gardens. The main dish at our group dinner was roasted guinea fowl with bok choy, cavolo nero (AKA black leaf kale), potatoes and warm remoulade sauce. We love vegetables, so we were very happy. (That’s fellow RD Marisa Moore in the photo.)

De Kookfabriek Amsterdam

A highlight from Amsterdam was a field trip to De Kookfabriek where we had an opportunity to don aprons and bake up traditional Dutch apple pies (along with a few other decadent Dutch treats). We did this BEFORE dinner. Placed into groups of eight, we battled it out to see who could make the best Dutch apple pie. And you guessed it: Everyone was a winner! Oh, and there was lots of butter in the crust. (We’ve been trying to give the recipe a makeover, but sometimes you just can’t mess with tradition.)

De Kookfabriek via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

Fabulous RD friends, Jessica Crandall and Regan Miller Jones, founder of Healthy Aperture, were on Janice’s team.

Food 3000 via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

On our last night in Amsterdam, we headed off to the Garden of Amsterdam (The Arendshoeve) for a meal created by Chef Jonathan Karpathios, an advocate for the farm to table movement, author of Real Food, and owner of Vork & Mes. That’s Sharon Palmer in our selfie, author of The Plant-Powered Diet and Cheryl Forberg, dietitian for The Biggest Loser.

the garden of Amsterdam

What a beautiful setting; it felt like we were at a wedding :)

The arendshoeve

This was our appetizer, featuring ingredients sourced from the chef’s own gardens and farm partners: Russian Salad with Vegetable Pancakes and Poached Egg.

Aaron Paul with Liz via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

On a final note, Liz ran into Breaking Bad actor, Aaron Paul at Logan Airport before she flew to Amsterdam. He was kind enough to agree to a selfie. In fact, he took this photo, which he’s clearly done before. Just had to share …

Check out all of our photos on Flickr:
Liz’s pictures
Janice’s pictures

A Vegetarian Recipe for Mushroom Oat Cakes with Pecans

Every time I hear the advice to “eat the rainbow,” I always think, “But what about the white, beige, and brown fruits and vegetables at the market … and the whole grains, nuts, and seeds? They’re nutritious too.” So to celebrate all the goodness in some of my favorite pale-colored foods from the plant kingdom, I created these healthy little cakes using nutrient-rich mushrooms, pecans, onions, and oats.

Mushroom Oat Cakes with Pecans via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen #vegetarian

When I first set out to invent this recipe, I wanted to make a mushroom meatball. After some trial and error, I ended up with these cakes instead.

Mushroom Oat Cakes with Pecans via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen #vegetarian

 Grown in the wild, mushrooms provide vitamin D, and all types of mushrooms contain the disease-fighting antioxidants, selenium and ergothioneine as well as B vitamins, copper, and potassium.

Ingredients for Mushroom Oat Cakes with Pecans via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

Mushrooms are often grouped with vegetables, but technically, they’re a fungi, and because they’re rich in umami, the fifth flavor sensation, they bring a lot of taste bud excitement to the table.

Mushroom Oat Cakes with Pecans

Makes 4 Servings

While beige and brown foods can be super nutritious (as I proved with my mushroom oat cakes), they definitely benefit from a pop of color on the plate. So for dinner last night, I made a side dish of what I like to call the Three Sisters of Roasted Vegetables: Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and butternut squash.

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion
  • 10 ounces pre-sliced mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup loosely packed fresh basil, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped toasted pecans
  • 1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt-free Gourmet Seasoning (I used Spike)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1. Heat 1/2 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, 5 minutes. Add 1/2 tablespoon oil, raise the heat to medium high, add the mushrooms, and cook, stirring frequently until tender, about 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool for at least 10 minutes.

2. While the mushrooms are cooling, place the eggs, basil, pecans, oats, seasoning, salt, and pepper in a large bowl and stir to combine. Let stand 10 minutes to allow the oats to hydrate a bit. Add the cooled mushrooms and stir to combine.

3. Wipe the skillet clean. Heat 1/2 tablespoon more of the oil over medium heat. Use a 1/4-cup measuring cup to carefully scoop equal-size portions of the mixture from the bowl to the skillet. Work in batches. Add 4 scoops to the skillet, gently flatten each cake to measure 3 inches in diameter, and cook until golden on the bottom, about 3 minutes. Carefully flip the cakes and cook 3 more minutes. Repeat with the remaining oil and mushroom mixture.

Nutrition Information per Serving (2 cakes): 260 calories, 20g fat (2.5g saturated, 0.2g omega-3), 180mg sodium, 15g carbohydrate, 4g fiber, 9g protein, 10% vitamin A, 10% iron

Print Recipe


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 MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

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 MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen #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 MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

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 Random.org.

“I Can’t Believe It’s a Green Smoothie” Smoothie

My boys could drink smoothies all day … as long as the color suits their fancy. For years, I’ve been making strawberry smoothies, mango smoothies, and blueberry smoothies, so when I suggested they try a “green” smoothie, they asked, “what makes it green?” When I answered, “baby spinach,” they pretty much freaked out. Josh and Simon are teenage boys, so they eat almost anything that passes their lips … except, apparently, green smoothies made with spinach!

Green Smoothie via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

{We just added this smoothie to our iPhone “Meal Makeovers” recipe App!}

Determined to convince the boys that since they like spinach and smoothies they’d like my green smoothie, I set out to create a green-colored smoothie any kid would WANT to drink. Here’s what I came up with (after chatting with dozens of our fans on Facebook)…

Green Smoothie via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

My smoothie didn’t taste “green,” in my humble opinion. I loved it…

Green smoothie via mealmakeovermoms.com/kitchen

As for the boys, Josh liked it a lot, Simon was lukewarm (he’s not a kiwi fan, so maybe that was the deal breaker), and Simon’s friend who happened to be over for the taste test, drank the whole thing. Would I make this smoothie again? Absolutely. But I’ll probably just share it with Josh next time and blend up a different concoction for Simon!

Green smoothie ingredients via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

The ingredients are simple: 100% apple juice, 0%-fat vanilla Greek yogurt, banana, kiwi, spinach, agave, and frozen mango.

“I Can’t Believe It’s a Green Smoothie” Smoothie

Makes 2 Servings

Imagine one delicious and refreshing fruit smoothie bursting with 5 grams of fiber, 100% vitamin C, 25% vitamin A, and 7 grams of protein. My power-packed green smoothie is so nutritious (and yummy), you’ll want to make it again and again!

  • 1 cup 100% apple juice or orange juice
  • 1 cup frozen mango chunks
  • 1 kiwi, peeled and sliced
  • 1 cup loosely packed baby spinach (I used organic)
  • 1/2 to 1 ripe banana (best if peeled, sliced, and frozen)
  • 1/2 cup 0%-fat vanilla Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon agave nectar or honey

1. Place the juice, mango, kiwi, spinach, banana, yogurt, and agave in a blender, and blend until well combined.

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

Nutrition Information per Serving (1 cup): 230 calories, 0g fat (0g saturated), 45mg sodium, 53g carbohydrate, 5g fiber, 7g protein, 25% vitamin A, 100% vitamin C

Print Recipe

Let me know if you try the recipe and what you and your kiddos think of it …

Cheeseburger Pizza Pie Bundles {Recipe Redux Cooking Challenge}

Kids love pizza and they also love to eat with their fingers, which is why our playful pizza “bundles” should hit the spot. We’ve made “bundles” before with egg roll wrappers (check out our Chicken Pot Pie Bundles and Beef & Bean Taco Bundles) and now we’re back with a new “bundle” recipe for this month’s Recipe Redux cooking challenge.

Cheeseburger Pizza Pie Bundles

Reduxers were tasked with giving the pizza delivery guy a break, so for our creation, we combined nutrient-rich lean ground beef and spinach with pasta sauce, mozzarella cheese, and low-fat cottage cheese for these adorable Cheeseburger Pizza Pie Bundles.

Cheeseburger Pizza Pie Bundles via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

The trick to the perfect bundles is a little bit of patience. Lining 12 muffin tins with egg roll wrappers takes a few minutes, and you have to be gentle so you don’t rip the wrappers. GO SLOW! But once the muffin tins are lined, you’re ready for the filling. This recipe is fun to make—get the kids involved!—but even more fun to eat.

Cheeseburger Pizza Pie Bundles

Makes 6 Servings

Instead of making pizza into a predictable pie or even using pita bread to build it, we gave pizza a non-traditional twist by turning it into a “bundle.” By using ingredients like lean ground beef, spinach, pasta sauce, and protein-rich cottage cheese and mozzarella cheese, we came up with a recipe everyone in your family will love. It’s nutritious and of course, filled with fun flavors. For even more of a flavor kick, you can toss in fresh chopped basil.

  • 3 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • One 6-ounce bag baby spinach
  • 1 pound lean ground beef (90% lean or higher)
  • 2/3 cup pasta sauce
  • 1 cup part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 3/4 cup low-fat cottage cheese
  • 12 egg roll wrappers (NOT the smaller wonton wrappers)

1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Heat 2 teaspoons of the oil in a large nonstick skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until golden, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Raise the heat to medium-high, add the spinach and cook, stirring frequently, until the spinach wilts, 3 to 5 minutes. Place on a cutting board and coarsely chop.

2. Add the meat to the skillet and cook, breaking up the large pieces, until the meat is no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Drain excess fat. Turn off the heat. Add the spinach to the cooked meat and stir to combine. Add 1/2 cup of the mozzarella cheese and the pasta sauce and stir until combined and the cheese melts. (You will end up with 3.5 cups of the meat mixture.)

3. To prepare the bundles, use a muffin pan with 12 medium-size cups (do not coat with nonstick cooking spray). Gently place 1 egg roll wrap into each cup, letting it extend over the sides. Place a generous 1/4 cup of the meat mixture into each wrap. Top each with 1 tablespoon of the cottage cheese and arrange the remaining cheese evenly over each bundle. Fold the corners of the wrappers up and over the top of the filling and press to seal the edges (it doesn’t have to be perfect!). Brush the remaining 1 teaspoon oil on top of the bundles.

4. Bake until golden and crisp, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool slightly before eating.

Nutrition Information per Serving (2 bundles): 210 calories, 7g fat (2.5g saturated), 370mg sodium, 21g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 15g protein, 15% vitamin A, 10% calcium, 15% iron

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Cheeseburger Pizza Pie Bundles via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

Check out all the other homemade pizza creations from our fellow Recipe Reduxers …

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 MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

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 MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

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

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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 Random.org.

Sweet Pea Crostini from The Slim Down South Cookbook

Sometimes it’s nice to take a break from all of our “meal makeover” action by cooking a recipe created by someone else! That’s exactly what we did the minute The Slim Down South Cookbook arrived in the mail last week. Written by Atlanta-based registered dietitian and food writer, Carolyn O’Neil, MS, RD and the editors of Southern Living, the subtitle says it all: Eating Well and Living Healthy in the Land of Biscuits and Bacon.

Sweet Pea Crostini via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

There are dozens of recipes in this book that we’re dying to make: Country Chicken and Buttermilk Soup, Shrimp Risotto, BBQ in a Jar, Mini Berry Cobblers. We could go on and on! We decided to make these Sweet Pea Crostini first because they looked so darn good and because we knew our kids would be more than willing to try them as an after-school snack.

The Slim Down South Cookbook via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

Skillet Fried Chicken anyone? The photo on the cover of the book proves that you can definitely enjoy your favorite Southern-style foods without the guilt.

frozen peas via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

The recipe starts with two, 9-ounce bags of frozen peas. (We used one, 16-ounce bag.) Pop ‘em into a food processor …

Sweet Pea Crostini via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

… and then puree the peas with garlic, extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, and salt. It’s that simple. (For an even bigger flavor boost, we plan to add lemon zest and fresh tarragon the next time we make it.)

Sweet Pea Crostini via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

Sweet Pea Crostini

Makes 20 Servings

This recipe is straight from the pages of The Slim Down South Cookbook. It’s gorgeous to look at, and even if your kids shy away from green foods, with a name like “sweet pea” crostini, who could say no?

  • Two, 9-ounce packages frozen sweet peas, thawed (we used one, 16-ounce package)
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped (we used 3 small ones)
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/6 teaspoon table salt
  • 40 French bread baguette slices (15 ounces), toasted
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled blue cheese or goat cheese (we used goat cheese)

1. Place peas and garlic in a food processor; with processor running, pour oil through food chute in a slow, steady stream, processing until smooth. Stir in lemon juice and salt; season with freshly ground black pepper to taste. Cover and chill 2 hours.

2. Spoon pea mixture onto toasted baguette slices; sprinkle with cheese.

Nutrition Information per Serving (2 crostini): 107  calories, 2.9g fat (0.8g saturated), 214mg sodium, 16.6g carbohydrate, 1.6g fiber, 3.7g protein

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Stay tuned for this week’s Cooking with the Moms podcast, because Carolyn O’Neil will be on the show!

Our Top 10 Milestones, Memories, and Meal Makeovers from 2013 {Podcast #235}

The years always seem to fly by fast at The Meal Makeover Moms’ Kitchen. There’s never a dull moment, and we get to eat a lot of great (and healthy) food! As we look back over 2013, we thought we’d share our fondest food memories, most major milestones, and our best meal makeovers EVER. Read on for the highlights, and be sure to tune into this week’s Cooking with the Moms radio podcast as we close out 2013.

Meal Makeovers mobile recipe app via www.MealMakeoverMoms.com

We released Meal Makeovers, a mobile recipe app for the iPhone and iPad. Packed with dozens of family favorites made healthy, our app takes the muss and fuss out of mealtime. We worked SO hard on creating the app, and want to take this opportunity to send out a mega thank you to our app developer, Deborah Chud from Mobile Skillet!

Janice's Kitchen Renovation via www.MealMakeoverMoms.com

Janice endured seven months of a major kitchen renovation and survived to tell the story! Check out Janice’s “The Renovation Begins” blog post for all the “before” pictures. The transformation was pretty amazing…

Peanut Butter & Chickpea Soup via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

This was the year when we started to take food photography more seriously. One of our main motivators was Pinterest, which is now our number-two source of web traffic. Don’t you just want to dig into this Peanut Butter & Chickpea Soup?

Peanut Butter Soup

This is our “before” image of the same soup recipe, taken a few years ago. Quite an improvement, don’t you think?

DIY Photo BoardsWe also shared a tutorial on our blog on how to create DIY photo boards, something anyone can do to enhance their food photography.

Pop Tart makeover via www.MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

Our recipe for Strawberry Toaster Pastries was our toughest makeover to date. (OK, maybe our homemade Grab & Go Granola Bars were just as difficult.) The Pop Tart makeover was a labor of love for sure, and while playing with the recipe, we came up with a super-easy method for rolling out the pastry … in a zip-top bag.

Janice with Cheryl Forberg

In June, Janice became the official Chair of the Food & Culinary Professionals practice group of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Here she is at an event in the Napa, CA kitchen of Cheryl Forberg, the dietitian for The Biggest Loser TV show.

Liz and Simon in IcelandLiz and her son Simon, traveled to Iceland for five days to explore the lovely landscape and the interesting cuisine. While there, Liz also discovered the moreBeaute2 App, which explains why she looks like Simon’s sister in this photo :)

Tart Cherries via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

Sometimes we get invited to attend cool food tours like the trip to Traverse City, MI for the tart cherry harvest. Read all about it on the blog. Tart cherries are versatile (Liz used dried tart cherries in a new recipe for Cherry Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies) and they’re packed with great nutrition including fiber, potassium, vitamin A, and antioxidants that fight inflammation.

Asian Salmon Sticks via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

Our Asian Fish Sticks recipe (a makeover of frozen fish sticks) sums up what our cooking style is all about. We created this recipe in 2013 and love it for so many reasons: It’s easy to make, filled with kid-friendly flavors, and packed with protein and heart-healthy omega-3 fats. What more could a mom ask for in a recipe?

Veggie Side Dishes

As dietitians, we’ve always been obsessed with vegetables, but in 2013, we because especially obsessed with Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin. And were weren’t the only ones. Veggies ranked among the top food trends of the year.

We’ve had a great 2013, and in 2014 look forward to creating more meal makeovers for our awesome blog readers and podcast listeners! Stay tuned for another delicious year.

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