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

Print Recipe

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

Print Recipe

The Slim Down South Cookbook

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

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

> Tweet about the giveaway with a link back to this post.

> Share the giveaway news with your Facebook fans and friends with a link back to the post.

> Follow us on Pinterest.

> Follow The Meal Makeover Moms on Twitter (@MealMakeovrMoms)

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

Celebrate the New Year with a Recipe for Slimmed Down Scallop and Cauliflower Alfredo

To ring in the New Year, we decided to get a little more fancy than usual here at The Meal Makeover Moms’ Kitchen. For the holidays, Liz’s friends, Chris and Marybeth, send her five pounds of gorgeous bay scallops from Nantucket, and instead of hogging them all, she did what any good coauthor would do. She shared them. The result is our latest creation for Scallop and Cauliflower Alfredo. This recipe is so special and so yummy (and healthy too!) that we hope you’ll consider it for a closer to 2013.

Scallop and Cauliflower Alfredo via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

Bay scallops are smaller than sea scallops. They’re also more tender and sweet and require a shorter cooking time. One ounce has just 30 calories, 6 grams of protein, and they’re virtually fat free.

Scallop and Cauliflower Alfredo via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

Instagram style!

Cauliflower via MealMakeovermoms.com/kitchen

Before tossing them into our lightened up fettuccine Alfredo, we roast bite-size pieces of cauliflower to bring out their natural sweetness.

bay scallops via mealmakeovermoms.com/kitchen

Saute bay scallops just 1 to 2 minutes per side, and you’re good to go…

Scallop and Cauliflower Alfredo via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

Scallop and Cauliflower Alfredo

Makes 5 Servings

  • 1 small head cauliflower, cut into bite-size florets (4 to 5 cups)
  • 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 pound bay scallops, rinsed and patted dry
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups all-natural chicken broth
  • 1 cup 1% low-fat milk
  • 2 tablespoons sherry wine
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • A few pinches ground nutmeg
  • 8 ounces dried fettuccine, broken in half
  • Big handful fresh parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 425˚F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and set aside. Place the cauliflower in a bowl and toss with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Sprinkle generously with kosher salt and black pepper. Place on the baking sheet. Bake 10 minutes, toss, and bake until crisp tender and golden, about 5 minutes more. Remove to a plate and cover with aluminum foil.

2. Meanwhile, heat 1 more tablespoon of the olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the scallops in a single layer and saute until cooked through, about 2 minutes per side. (Don’t overcook or the scallops will get tough.) Set aside on a plate and cover with aluminum foil.

3. Cook the pasta according to package directions in another saucepan. (Time it so the pasta is drained when the sauce is done.) While the pasta is cooking, make the sauce in the Dutch oven by heating the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil over medium low heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in the flour until smooth, about 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in the broth, milk, sherry wine, lemon zest, 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. Gently stir in the cauliflower, scallops, parsley, cooked pasta, and Parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve in individual bowls with additional Parmesan cheese as desired.

Nutrition Information per Serving:  560 calories, 19g fat (4g saturated), 740mg sodium, 53g carbohydrate, 4g fiber, 43g protein, 20% vitamin A, 90% vitamin C, 25% calcium, 30% iron

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Happy New Year everyone!!

Family Mealtime Inspiration, A Recipe for The Marvelous Mediterranean, And a Giveaway for “The Truly Healthy Family Cookbook” {Podcast #234} * Giveaway Closed

What are your favorite go-to family dinners? For Tina Ruggiero, a fellow dietitian, friend, and author of The Truly Healthy Family Cookbook, it’s recipes like All-Star Kale and Potato Frittata, Caribbean Sammy, The Marvelous Mediterranean, and Best Pesto Scramble. Tina is a creative cook whose goal with the new book is to inspire moms (and dads) everywhere to bring new foods and flavors to the family table. We interviewed Tina on this week’s Cooking with the Moms podcast for some fresh mealtime ideas like the shrimp and fettuccine casserole posted below … and shared a few of our own mealtime winners.

The Truly Healthy Family Cookbook

As you can see, when we received a copy of The Truly Healthy Family Cookbook, we weren’t sure what to make first. (Thank goodness for sticky notes.)

The Marvelous Mediterranean via MealMakeoverMoms.com

Janice had a crowd over for dinner one night and decided to make The Marvelous Mediterranean, a savory mix of seafood, pasta, and veggies.

The Marvelous Mediterranean via MeaMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

If you’re not a fan of broccoli rabe or can’t find it at the market, switch to broccoli florets. Looking for more ways to boost your family’s fiber intake? Switch to whole wheat fettuccine. Tina’s recipes are creative … and flexible.

The Marvelous Mediterranean

Serves 8

Recipe courtesy of The Truly Healthy Family Cookbook (Page Street Publishing, 2013).

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups medium dice onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon thyme leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • One 28-ounce can plum tomatoes
  • 3 cups roughly chopped broccoli rabe (tough stems removed)
  • 1 pound fettuccine
  • 2 cups jarred artichokes, quartered
  • One 15-ounce tub part-skim ricotta
  • 32 medium shrimp
  • 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. While it’s heating, start the tomato sauce. Heat a saucepan over medium heat, add the oil and saute the onion until softened and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, thyme and pepper flakes, and cook until aromatic, about 30 seconds. Add the tomato paste and stir to caramelize slightly. Add the wine and tomatoes, breaking them up. Bring to a simmer and cook until thickened slightly, about 10 minutes.

2. Add the broccoli rabe to the boiling water and cook until softened, 3 minutes. Strain out the broccoli rabe but save the water to cook the pasta. Reserve.

3. Cook the pasta following the manufacturer’s recommendation but cook it one minute less than recommended for al dente.

4. To build the baked fettuccine, place half the fettuccine along the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch pan. Ladle half the tomato sauce over the pasta. Strew half the broccoli rabe and half the artichokes over the sauce. Spoon half the ricotta in 8 evenly spaced spoonfuls over the vegetables. Place 2 shrimp on top of each ricotta. Repeat. Finish by sprinkling with the Parmigiano-Reggiano. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the shrimp are cooked through and everything is nice and hot. Allow to cool slightly before serving.

Nutrition Information per Serving: 510 calories, 13g fat, 58g carbohydrate, 760mg sodium, 4g fiber

Print Recipe

 Flipped-Out Flapjacks via MealMakeoverMoms.com

These curried vegetable pancakes (AKA Flipped-Out Flapjacks) are next on our list of recipes to try. Meanwhile, if you’d like to win a copy of Tina’s book, read on for our giveaway details …

GIVEAWAY: Ring in the New Year with a new approach to family cooking and win a copy of The Truly Healthy Family Cookbook. Tina’s book is creative and sophisticated and filled with nutrient-packed recipes. Make My Date date and almond muffins anyone? To enter, post a comment here telling us about YOUR favorite creative family dinner (or snack or dessert).  (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 6th at noon using Random.org.

Roasted Butternut Squash with Apples and Onions for Thanksgivukkuh

Creative cooks are having a field day with this year’s November 28th Thanksgivukkah “holiday” when the first day of Hanukkah falls on Thanksgiving. Don’t hold your breath, because these two holidays won’t collide again for another 70,000 years. ReformJudiasm.org started a Thanksgivukkah Pinterest board with images of turkey-shaped challah bread, Brussels sprouts latkes, cranberry applesauce, pumpkin donuts, and other hybrid food creations. This once-in-a-lifetime holiday is definitely bringing out some interesting flavor combinations!

Roasted Squash with Apples and Onions via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen #Thanksgivukkah

Roasted Butternut Squash with Apples and Onions was created by Tina Wasserman, Food Editor at ReformJudiasm.org and author of the new cookbook, Entrée to Judaism for Families: Jewish Cooking and Kitchen Conversations with Children (scheduled for release December 2, 2013). When we looked at the book (we received a preview copy from our dietitian friend, Robin Plotkin who is helping to promote the book), we thought this side dish would be perfect for anyone’s Thanksgivukkah table.

Can you spot the onion that looks like a menorah???

Entree To Judiasm

Other recipes in the book include Three-Ingredient Brisket, Quick Honey Cake, and Barley Salad with Fresh Herbs and Pomegranate Dressing. Sounds good to us!

butternut squash via mealmakeovermoms.com/kitchen

Tina’s roasted butternut squash gets topped with dried cranberries, pine nuts, and cinnamon. Lots of color means it’s filled with lots of great nutrition; vitamin A, fiber, heart-healthy fats … we could go on and on …

butternut squash via mealmakeovermoms.com/kitchen

For the Roasted Butternut Squash with Apples and Onions recipe, visit ReformJudiasm.org. (We cut the squash into 3/4-inch dice vs. 1 inch, but otherwise, we didn’t make any adjustments to the recipe). Overall, we loved the flavor, especially the way the balsamic vinegar brought out the sweetness of the apples and squash.


10 Healthy Thanksgiving Side Dishes {Podcast #232}

It’s time to talk turkey and all the luscious side dishes that go with it. On this week’s Cooking with the Moms radio podcast, we served up 10 amazingly delicious and healthy side dishes from fellow dietitians across the web. Read on for links to all the recipes, and don’t forget to swing by iTunes to download our show, or listen right here.

10 Healthy Thanksgiving Side Dishes via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

Looking for ways to indulge in your favorite Thanksgiving side dishes without feeling like a stuffed bird at the end of the meal? These 10 better-for-you recipes are lower in fat and calories than their traditional counterparts, are made with wholesome and natural ingredients, and they taste just as good!

Red Quinoa & Cranberry Salad from Kumquat is gorgeous to look at, gluten free, and it’s made with a super-flavorful blend of fresh mint and parsley, pecans, champagne vinegar, lemon, and honey.

Colorful Cabbage Salad with Apples, Walnuts & Dried Cranberries from Mom’s Kitchen Handbook comes together beautifully with a dressing of apple cider vinegar, olive oil and maple syrup.

Roasted Butternut Squash with Walnuts and Cherries from Healthy Aperture is super simple, and on the blog, you’ll also find this How-To Video on cutting, peeling, and cubing butternut squash. How cool is that?!

Buttermilk Whipped Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes from Prevention RD is a slimmed down version of regular mashed potatoes. By adding cauliflower, buttermilk, and light cream cheese, this traditional side dish is better than ever.

artichoke squares

Amazingly Addictive Artichoke Squares. Image by The Spicy RD Blog.

Artichoke Squares from The Spicy RD Blog is an appetizer you’ll definitely want to make for your holiday table. The squares are made with marinated artichoke hearts, bread crumbs, eggs, cheese and lots of other yumminess.

Ginger Cranberry Sauce from Teaspoon of Spice is made with fresh ginger, honey, and orange zest; the perfect compliment to turkey.

Creamy Corn Muffins from The Nutrition Twins are made with real corn (!) as well as Greek yogurt and light sour cream. We want one :)

Thanksgiving Casseroles via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

If you haven’t tried ‘em already, be sure to check out our Brussels Sprouts Gratin and our Pecan-Topped Sweet Potato Casserole. Both are traditional in flavor but gentle on the waistline.

Quinoa & Kale Crustless Quiche from Food Confidence is gluten free, and it’s made with some of our favorite ingredients: quinoa, feta cheese, eggs, and kale!

What side dishes are you making for Thanksgiving? Any makeovers on your menu? Do tell …


How to Roast Sweet Potatoes … and a Recipe for Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Coconut Oil

If one of your mealtime goals is to get your family to eat more vegetables, this is the time of year to put that goal into action. From Brussels sprouts and butternut squash to pumpkin and sweet potatoes, autumn’s bounty of veggies is a mom’s best friend. One of the secrets to getting kids to try a variety of vegetables and to love them is roasting, a preparation that brings out the natural sweetness in vegetables.

How to Roast Sweet Potatoes via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

Roasted sweet potatoes are a simple side dish for any weeknight family dinner. They’re rich in immune-boosting vitamin A and are a good source of many nutrients including vitamin C, potassium, and fiber. Once roasted, slice each one open and top with a pat of butter and a pinch of cinnamon, or if you’ve been assigned a Thanksgiving side dish, use them in a luscious sweet potato casserole. (For casseroles, we prefer roasting to boiling or steaming since the latter yields soggy sweet potatoes.) Read on for our tried-and-true sweet potato roasting technique:

How to roast sweet potatoes via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

Start with three pounds of sweet potatoes. We chose medium-size potatoes for a total of five.

How to roast sweet potatoes via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

Place one tablespoon of virgin coconut oil in a small bowl and melt in the microwave.

How to roast sweet potatoes via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

Place potatoes on a foil-lined baking sheet. Pierce each potato multiple times with a sharp knife. Use a pastry brush to brush the coconut oil over each sweet potato. Sprinkle with kosher salt.

As the sweet potatoes roast, the aroma of the coconut oil and sweet potatoes will make your house smell like candy. Amazing!!

How to roast sweet potatoes via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

Roast the potatoes at 400°F for 45 to an hour, until soft and easily pierced with the tip of a knife. Dig in!!

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