10 Back-to-School Good Nutrition Tips and a Lunchbox Recipe for California Avocado Orzo Salad

This lunchbox recipe features orzo pasta, avocados, olives, cucumbers, pine nuts, and feta cheese. Read on for the recipe as well as 10 back-to-school nutrition tips.

It’s hard to believe that between us, we have two kids in high school, one in college, and one paving her way out in the real world! Our kids may be getting older, but we’re still busy at work cooking up new lunchbox recipes for our kids … and yours. Our latest, greatest creation is this avocado orzo salad featuring naturally nutritious California Avocados. Read on for the recipe along with our top 10 back-to-school nutrition tips.

California Avocado Orzo Salad via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

Disclosure: We created this recipe for the California Avocado Commission and were compensated for the recipe and social media outreach. All opinions are solely our own. For more avocado recipes, visit CaliforniaAvocado.com

California Avocado Orzo Salad

Makes 6 Servings

When it comes to packing lunches and snacks, we’re all about weaving fun and flavorful ingredients that also bring great nutrition to the cafeteria table! CA Avocados provide nearly 20 vitamins and minerals and monounsaturated fat, one of the good-for-you fats.

  • 8 oz. dried orzo pasta
  • 2 ripe, Fresh California Avocados, seeded, peeled, and diced into 1/2-in. pieces
  • 4 Tbsp. lemon juice, divided
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest
  • 1/3 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and cut into quarters
  • 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/3 English cucumber, diced into 1/2-in. pieces
  • 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh dill, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

1. Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain, rinse under cold water until the pasta cools, drain again, and transfer to a large bowl.

2. In a separate bowl, gently toss the avocados in 2 tablespoons of lemon juice.

3. Add the avocados, lemon zest, olives, feta, cucumber, pine nuts and dill into the pasta and mix to combine. Add the remaining lemon juice, olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.

Nutrition Information per Serving: Calories 340; Total Fat 19 g (Sat 3.5 g, Mono 10 g); Cholesterol 5 mg; Sodium 240 mg; Potassium 370 mg; Total Carbohydrates 36 g; Dietary Fiber 5 g; Total Sugars 3 g; Protein 9 g

Print Recipe

Back to School Nutrition via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

 Now that your kids are back in school, get back in the daily routine of adding great nutrition to your family’s diet. Our A-plus tips and tricks will get you started.

1. Get Your Zzzzzs

2. Eat a Healthy Breakfast

3. Plan Together

4. Pack Ahead

5. Think Balance:

6. Add Eye Appeal to Lunchboxes

7. Choose Whole Grains

8. Stay Hydrated

9. Smart Snacking

10. Be a Positive Role Model

What are your best back-to-school nutrition tips?

How I Got my Daughter to Eat Kale … Farm Living … and a Recipe for Kale & Black Bean Burritos

It’s amazing how living for just one short week on a farm can change a child’s taste buds and willingness to try new foods, including the king of all veggies … kale. My brother-in-law and his wife own a 40-acre farm in Vermont where my teenage daughter, Leah, visited last week. When she got home she raved about the flavorful foods she ate, including her Aunt Mary’s kale burritos. So, in true Meal Makeover Mom fashion, I decided to recreate the burritos this week for Leah and for all of you!

Kale & Black Bean Burritos via MealMakeoverMoms.com

For the recipe, I used kale from my Farm Direct Coop CSA.

Kale & Black Bean Burritos

Makes 6 Servings

When Leah happily devours a recipe she’s eaten at someone else’s house (positive “peer pressure” at work?), I don’t waste any time making it at home. Everyone who sampled these vegetarian burritos agreed with Leah that they were delicious, filling, and a great addition to my summer recipe rotation. I served the burritos with diced California avocados, sour cream, and salsa.

  • 1 tablespoon expeller pressed canola oil
  • 1 medium white onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • One 15-ounce can no-salt-added diced tomatoes (undrained)
  • One 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/2 bunch kale, washed, stems removed, and roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro
  • 1 cup reduced-fat Cheddar cheese, divided
  • Six 10-inch burrito-style flour tortillas

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

2. Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, 5 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 1 more minute. Add the tomatoes, beans, cumin, and chili powder and stir to combine. Raise the heat, cover, and bring to a low boil. Stir in the kale, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until wilted, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the lime juice, cilantro, and 1/2 cup of the cheese.

3. To assemble the burritos, place 2/3 cup of filling down the center of each flour tortilla. Roll up tightly, tucking in the ends, and place seam side down in the dish. Cover evenly with the remaining 1/2 cup cheese, and bake, uncovered, until the cheese melts, 15 minutes.

Nutrition Information per Serving (1 burrito): 390 calories, 14g fat (3.5g saturated), 870mg sodium, 57g carbohydrate, 8g fiber, 15g protein, 120% vitamin A, 100% vitamin C, 35% calcium, 20% iron

Print Recipe


kale via mealmakeovermoms.com/kitchen

Kale is a nutritional powerhouse. One cup of raw, chopped kale has just 33 calories but well over a day’s worth of bone-building vitamin K, vitamin A, and vitamin C.

VT farm / Kale via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

Don and I have a sweet little backyard garden, so after visiting Karl and Mary in Vermont, to say I’m suffering from “garden envy” would be an understatement. Look at all that kale!!

VT farm / Kale via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

Mary with a few ingredients for lunch.

VT farm / Kale via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

Karl and Mary let a local, CSA farmer grow produce on their land in exchange for all the produce they can eat. It’s a win-win for everyone!

If you like this recipe, then be sure to check out our Black Bean Enchiladas with Pumpkin Sauce!

A Recipe for Wild Rice Summer Salad … Plus the Best Recipes of Summer {Podcast #248}

There’s so much to love about summer: the beach, the sun, the farm-fresh produce. Thanks to farmers’ markets, CSAs, and backyard gardens, we’re eating lots of fresh produce and interesting, nutrient-rich recipes this season. On Cooking with the Moms radio this week, we celebrate summer’s best recipes with Roasted Pickled Beats, Pickled Cucumbers, and this Wild Rice Summer Salad—a version of Emerald City Salad.

Wild Rice Summer Salad via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

The kale in this recipe came from Janice’s garden as did the parsley! If you don’t have kale, you can use Swiss chard or spinach, and if you’re not a fan of parsley, toss in basil, cilantro, or mint.

Wild Rice

Wild rice is grown in the Great Lakes region of the U.S., and technically, it’s not a rice but rather, the seed of a grass. It has a nutty flavor, a crunchy texture, and takes about an hour to cook. A one-cup serving has over 6 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber.

LISTEN TO COOKING WITH THE MOMS HERE! And don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE to our show on iTunes.

Wild Rice Summer Salad

Makes 8 Servings

When Liz’s son, Simon, tried this salad, he said it was “fresh,” and couldn’t imagine anyone NOT loving it. All last week, he packed it as a side salad for his camp lunch.

  • 1 cup wild rice
  • 1/2 bunch kale, washed, stemmed, leaves removed and cut into thin ribbons (about 2½ packed cups)
  • 1 orange bell pepper, diced (we cut it into 1/4 inch dice)
  • 2 to 3 green onions, thinly sliced (white and light green parts only)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped toasted pecans
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 celery stalk, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • Crumbled feta cheese, optional

1. Cook the wild rice according to package directions. When done, drain, place in a large bowl, and stir occasionally until the rice is cooled.

2. When cool, stir in the kale, bell pepper, green onions, parsley, pecans, cranberries, and celery. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper until well combined. Stir into the rice mixture.

3. Season with additional lemon juice, salt, and pepper to taste and refrigerate until ready to eat. Add feta cheese as desired.

Nutrition Information per Serving (1 cup):  150 calories, 12g fat (1.5g saturated), 90mg sodium, 12g carbohydrates, 2g fiber, 2g protein, 60% vitamin A, 100% vitamin C

Print Recipe

Wild Rice Summer Salad via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen #vegan #vegetarian #kale #wildrice

If you’re vegan or vegetarian, this is a great addition to your diet. To increase the protein, toss in more nuts, feta cheese (vegetarians only!), or some diced and sauteed tofu.

Janice's Garden

Janice’s garden is in full swing. Here she is with our intern, Tavierney.

Wild Rice Summer Salad via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen #vegan #vegetarian #kale #wildrice

Wild Rice Summer Salad – Enjoy!

Pickled Cucumbers, Pickled Beets, and the Many Reasons I Love my CSA

Picking up my weekly CSA share makes me very, very happy!

Janice at her CSA

I’ve been a member of my CSA—Farm Direct Coop—since it came to Melrose, MA close to a decade ago, and every Thursday during the growing season, I fill my re-usable shopping bags with gorgeous, farm-fresh produce. Last week, I grabbed cucumbers and beets (and lots more!), came home, and got busy creating two recipes that I saw featured on my friend Paul’s Facebook page: Roasted Pickled Beets from Alton Brown and Pickled Cucumbers from Epicurious.

Roasted Pickled Beets via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

For the roasting part of this recipe, I used my grill (which took a long time), so I’ll probably do what Alton recommends next time and use my oven. Beets are a good source of vitamin C, iron, folate, and magnesium, they also contain a plant nutrient called betalain which has anti-inflammatory properties. Best of all, I love the flavor of this root vegetable, which happens to be in the same “family” as Swiss chard, spinach, and quinoa. Who knew!

Janice picking beets from CSA via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

CSA stands for, Community Supported Agriculture. In 1990, there were only 60 CSAs in the country. Today, there are over 6,500! Here are my top 5 reasons why I love being a member:

1. I feel great about supporting local farmers.

2. It forces me to try vegetables that I might not ordinarily use in my everyday cooking.

3. I run into my friends at the weekly pick up.

4. It challenges me to find new recipes and go out of my culinary comfort zone.

5. The produce lasts longer because it’s picked that day … and it tastes better than anything from the supermarket.

Pickled Cucumbers via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

This recipe is ridiculously easy. It took literally just a few minutes to make, and within four hours, I had pickled cukes!

If you’re a CSA member, tell me what’s growing in your area this week.

8 Healthy Summer Picnic Recipes for Your Family {Podcast #247}

The most popular day for picnics in the United States is July 4th, so we’re just in time with this roundup of healthy and delicious picnic-friendly recipes. On this week’s Cooking with the Moms podcast, we serve up our Watermelon Strawberry Punch, Blueberry Banana S’mores, and six other must-make summer recipes from fellow food bloggers around the web. Read on for links to all the recipes, and be sure to tune in!

Healthy Picnic Recipes via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

Liz is partial to picnics on the beach; Janice prefers picnics lakeside. But no matter where you set down your blanket and picnic basket, the key is to show up equipped with healthy, mouth-watering recipes the whole family will love.

We surfed the internet for recipes we would want to pack for our families, and here’s what we came up with! (Starting top/left and moving clockwise): 

Meal Makeover Moms’ Kitchen: Watermelon Strawberry Punch

Picky Palate: Roasted Chicken Quinoa Salad

Two Peas and Their Pod: Southwestern Grilled Sweet Potato Salad

Meal Makeover Moms’ Kitchen: Blueberry Banana S’mores

Juggling with Julia: Thai Grilled Chicken with Honey and Lime

Mom’s Kitchen Handbook: Best Homemade Granola Bars

Teaspoon of Spice: Broccoli and Carrot Raisin Slaw

A Bachelor and His Grill: Creamy Avocado Greek Yogurt Dip with Homemade Tortilla Chips

Feel free to weigh in with your go-to picnic faves …

A Meatless Monday Recipe for Quinoa with Almonds & Apricots

This recipe has it all! It’s gluten free, vegetarian, packed with protein, and it’s perfect for summertime picnics and cookouts. Oh, and kids love it too thanks to the crunch of the bell peppers, quinoa, and almonds and the sweetness of the apricots and honey. This recipe first appeared in No Whine with Dinner and we’ll be adding it to our Meal Makeovers app this week.

Quinoa with Almonds & Apricots via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

Quinoa contains all nine essential amino acids. Half a cup of cooked quinoa has 100 calories, 2.5 grams of fiber, and 4 grams of protein. And it’s versatile, making its way into breakfast cereals, salads like this one, and hearty mains.

Quinoa with Almonds & Apricots via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen #glutenfree #quinoa #vegan

 This is a flexible recipe. You can add just about any dried fruit you love, any nut, and if you’re a carnivore, your favorite grilled meat.

Quinoa with Almonds & Apricots

Makes 5 Servings

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1/2 small red bell pepper cut into ¼-inch dice (1/2 cup)
  • 1/3 cup toasted sliced almonds
  • 1/3 cup dried apricots, coarsely chopped (or golden raisins)
  • 2 scallions, white and light green parts thinly sliced
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • Freshly ground black pepper

1. Place the quinoa in a fine-mesh strainer and rinse very well several times under cold running water. Drain well. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Place the quinoa in the skillet and “toast,” stirring frequently, until the quinoa is dry and gives off a nutty aroma, 4 to 5 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, place 1½ cups water in a medium-size saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the “toasted” quinoa and stir well. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is fluffy, 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand, covered, for an additional 5 to 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

3. Transfer quinoa to a salad bowl and fluff slightly with a fork every few minutes until the grains cool.

4. Stir in the bell pepper, almonds, apricots, scallions, cumin, and salt until well combined. In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil and honey. Stir into the quinoa mixture until the grains are well coated. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.

Nutrition Information per Serving (about 1 cup): 240 calories, 8g fat (0.5g saturated), 250mg sodium, 36g carbohydrates, 4g fiber, 7g protein, 15% vitamin A, 35% vitamin C, 15% iron

Print Recipe

Quinoa with Almonds & Apricots via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen #glutenfree #quinoa #vegan

A Recipe for Pasta Primavera with Zucchini, Cherry Tomatoes, and Ricotta from Cooking Light Dinnertime Survival Guide

When it comes to feeding your family, what’s your biggest dinnertime dilemma? Lack of time? A tight budget? Feeding picky eaters? If getting healthy dinners on the table night after night feels like—or is!—a daunting challenge, then you’ll definitely want to check out the new Cooking Light Dinnertime Survival Guide by friend, fellow dietitian, and founder of RealMomNutrtion.com, Sally Kuzemchak.

Pasta Primavera with Zucchini, Cherry Tomatoes, and Ricotta via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

The book is filled with recipes from Sally’s kitchen as well as the kitchens of Cooking Light Magazine, and each is kid friendly and flexible. For example, if your kids don’t love the tomatoes in this pasta primavera dish then leave them out, or sub in another veggie like mushrooms or bell peppers.

Dinnertime Survival Guide

Besides the recipes—everything from Asian Lettuce Wraps to Ravioli with Pan-Roasted Tomatoes to Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Apples—the book is filled with practical, real-mom tips. For instance, if you’re trying to get your kids psyched about eating their vegetables, Sally offers tips like trying different shapes, striking while the kids are hungry, and embracing ranch dressing since kids love to dip.

 Pasta Primavera via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

The book is peppered with in-the-trenches mealtime advice from fellow moms as well as helpful “Crazy Tricks” sidebars designed to make dinners easier to prepare and more nutritious.

Pasta Primavera with Zucchini, Cherry Tomatoes, and Ricotta

Makes 4 Servings

This recipe is from Cooking Light Dinnertime Survival Guide by Sally Kuzamchak (Oxmore House, 2014).

  • 2 cups uncooked penne
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1½ cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced basil leaves

1. Cook pasta in boiling water 7 minutes, omitting salt and fat. Drain pasta in a colander over a bowl, reserving 1/4 cup cooking liquid.

2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add zucchini; sauté 2 minutes. Add garlic, salt, black pepper, and crushed red pepper; sauté 2 minutes. Stir in reserved 1/4 cup cooking liquid, tomatoes, and butter; sauté 1 minute or until butter melts. Add pasta, ricotta cheese, and basil to pan; toss gently to coat.

Nutrition Information per Serving (2 cups): 337 calories, 10g fat (4.2g saturated), 369mg sodium, 50g carbohydrate, 3.7g fiber, 13.2g protein

Print Recipe

Stay tuned, because Sally will be a guest on Cooking with the Moms next week … AND we’ll also be sharing her recipe for Asian Lettuce Wraps :)

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, Dolder Grand Hotel, Zurich Switzerland

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!

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

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.

 LISTEN TO COOKING WITH THE MOMS HERE! And don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE to our show on iTunes.

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

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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 Vegetarian, Kid-Pleasing Recipe for Goat Cheese Pistachio Pizza!

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been a foodie. I can still taste my Nana’s lemon sponge cake at Thanksgiving, my mom’s baked ziti, and the cheese pizza from our local pizza place in New Rochelle, NY, which, by the way, cost just 25 cents a slice back in the 60s and 70s! Fast forward to today and things are clearly more expensive, but they’re also much more varied. Take that slice of cheese pizza for example. Back “in the day,” I never would have imagined a pizza topped with goat cheese, pistachios, honey, and red onions, but that’s exactly what I had last weekend while visiting my family, who now lives in CT.

Goat cheese pizza at Tarry Lodge via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

Josh was home from the University of Delaware for spring break, so we went down to Westport to visit my mom and dad. My mom and I grabbed lunch at Mario Batali’s restaurant, Tarry Lodge, and I ordered a goat cheese, pistachio, honey, and red onion pizza. And no, I did not eat the whole thing! I decided to recreate that same pizza once I got home … so here goes.

Goat cheese and pistachio pizza via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

I never would have thought of putting nutritious pistachios on a pizza, but if Mario did it, so can I!

Goat cheese and Pistachio Pizza via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

So pretty. To add another veggie to this pie, you could top it with lightly dressed arugula, diced avocado, or roasted cubes of butternut squash.

Goat cheese pistachio pizza via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

What are your favorite pizza toppings? I asked our Facebook fans that very question and heard all sorts of suggestions including Brussels sprouts and bacon, caramelized onions and a purée of cannellini beans with olive oil, garlic, and oregano, and a Greek-inspired pizza with olive tapenade, feta, tomatoes, onions, mozzarella, and topped with fresh spinach, cucumbers, and a drizzle of Greek dressing.

Goat Cheese Pistachio Pizza

Makes 2 Pizzas (6 Servings)

  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 red onion, cut into very thin half-moon slices
  • One 16-ounce pizza dough, brought to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup reduced-fat shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1/3 cup shelled roasted, lightly salted pistachios, roughly chopped
  • A few sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed, optional
  • 4 ounces goat cheese, broken up into small pieces
  • 2 tablespoons honey

1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large nonstick skillet or Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until it caramelizes and is lightly browned, about 20 minutes. Stir frequently.

2. Lightly oil or spray two small baking sheets with nonstick cooking spray. Divide the dough in half and place on each of the baking sheets. Top each dough ball with 1/2 teaspoon oil. Use your fingers and the heel of your hands to gently stretch and flatten each dough ball until it covers most of the baking sheet, measuring about 12 x 7 inches. The dough should be thin and the shape can be oval, round, or just plain ol’ rustic.

3. Spread 1/4 cup Cheddar cheese evenly over each of the pizzas. Top evenly with the red onion, pistachios, thyme as desired, and goat cheese, and then drizzle evenly with the honey.  Place the baking sheets in the oven and bake until the bottoms are golden brown and the cheese is melted and bubbly, 12 to 15 minutes. (Depending on the size of your baking sheets, you may need to cook the pizzas one at a time.) Slice and serve.

Nutrition Information per Serving: 340 calories, 14g fat (4.5g saturated), 750mg sodium, 41g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 11g protein, 10% calcium, 10% iron

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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

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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.

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

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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 :)

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

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Sweet Pea Crostini from The Slim Down South Cookbook

This vegetarian recipe for Sweet Pea Crostini can be served as an afternoon snack for the kids or turned into an elegant appetizer for a dinner party.

Sweet Pea Crostini via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

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.

Carolyn joins on Episode #236 of Cooking with the Moms to dish about her book and her Southern-style recipes.

LISTEN TO COOKING WITH THE MOMS HERE! And don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE to our show on iTunes.

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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Don’t forget to tune into Episode #236 of our Cooking with the Moms podcast, because Carolyn O’Neil is on the show!

Ring in the Holidays With Our Recipe for Overnight Pumpkin French Toast

It’s the morning after … You’ve just feasted on an insane amount of great food, mingled with your family and closest friends, and now it’s time to either digest your turkey dinner or shop till you drop! Either way, we decided to create this easy-does-it recipe to keep everyone well fueled during the hectic days that we affectionately call, “The Holidays.” Our Overnight Pumpkin French Toast is as nutritious as it is delicious, and it takes advantage of leftovers, something we all have plenty of this time of year.

Overnight Pumpkin French Toast via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

You can top this French toast with pure maple syrup or a dollop of low-fat vanilla Greek yogurt.

Overnight Pumpkin French Toast

Makes 4 Servings

Who doesn’t love a slice or two of French bread with dinner? But what do you do if you have a small family and end up with stale leftovers the next day? Our solution? Slice up what’s left of your loaf and whip up an overnight French toast. Since it’s almost winter and we’re still cooking with lots of canned pumpkin, we add some to the eggy mix. It adds a nice hint of flavor and plenty of great nutrition … vitamin A to be exact. Leftover pumpkin, by the way, can easily be transferred to a zip-top bag and frozen for later use.

  • 6 to 8 ounces French bread, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup 1% lowfat milk
  • 3/4 cup 100% pure pumpkin
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 pinch ground nutmeg
  •  1/3 cup chopped pecans

1. Lightly oil an 8 x 8-inch baking pan or dish with nonstick cooking spray or coat with butter. Arrange the bread slices evenly in the pan in two layers and set aside. (It’s okay if the bread slices overlap a bit.)

2. Whisk the eggs, milk, pumpkin, 2 tablespoons of the brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large bowl until well combined. Pour egg mixture over bread slices, cover with plastic wrap or foil, and place in the refrigerator overnight.

3. In the morning, preheat the oven to 375°F. Top the casserole with the pecans and the remaining 2 tablespoons of brown sugar and bake until set, about 30 minutes. Slice and serve.

Nutrition Information per Serving: 350 calories, 12g fat (2.5g saturated, 0.3g omega-3), 340mg sodium, 44g carbohydrate, 4g fiber, 15g protein, 120% vitamin A, 10% calcium, 20% iron

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Overnight Pumpkin French Toast via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

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 …


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