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

Print Recipe

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


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

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

Kids Cooking Green via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

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

Kids Cooking Green via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

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

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

Kids Cooking Green via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

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

Liza's Delicious Dipping Sauce

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

Liza’s Delicious Dipping Sauce

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

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

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

Kids Cooking Green via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

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

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

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

Kids Cooking Green #vegetables via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

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

Kids Cooking Green via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

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

Kids Cooking Green via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

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

Kids Cooking Green via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

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

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

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

Roasting garlic via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

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

Roasted Garlic via mealmakeovermoms.com/kitchen

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

White Bean and Roasted Garlic Dip

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

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

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

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

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

White Bean & Roasted Garlic Dip


A 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

Print Recipe


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 …


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!!

See What Happens When Two Unsuspecting Nutrition Interns Get Ambushed With a Chopped Challenge {Guest Post + a Recipe for Meatless Baked Tacos}

Every Monday, Catherine, a grad student at UNC-Chapel Hill and Stephanie, an undergrad at Boston University intern with us. Last week, we ambushed them with a Food Network style Chopped challenge. The reason: Sometimes we just like to shake things up around here!

Chopped competition via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

Rather than pit one intern against the other—Stephanie is a self-proclaimed non-cook—we teamed them up with the following assignment: Make a recipe so delicious, so nutritious, and so irresistible that even a picky 14-year old (who also happens to be a vegetarian) would love it and eat it up happily. Read on for Catherine’s account of the day and the recipe she and Stephanie created for Meatless Baked Tacos.

Meatless Baked Tacos via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

{Catherine’s Post} No day with The Meal Makeover Moms is the same, so when Stephanie and I walked into their test kitchen (AKA Janice’s awesome new kitchen) last week and were asked to trade our text books for a cutting board and sharp knives, we accepted our Chopped challenge graciously!  The Moms handed us four mystery ingredients and told us to “get cooking.”

Chopped challenge via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

The mystery basket included meat free grounds, a Clementine, a yellow bell pepper from Janice’s CSA, and corn tortillas. Meat free grounds were new to us, and in the spirit of full disclosure, I don’t usually care for corn tortillas, but with the pantry open to our use we began crafting a recipe that we would like … and more importantly, one that the judges—Liz, Janice, and her daughter, Leah—would like! The ingredients lent themselves to Mexican food, so off we went in search of the usual suspects: tomatoes and other veggies, spices, beans, and sour cream.


chopped competition

We chopped the veggies, sautéed them in expeller pressed canola oil, and added spices and the meat free crumbles. Then we remembered the Clementine! Deciding the citrus would balance the diced tomato and spices, we chopped it up and into the sauté pan it went …

Our mixture smelled delicious, but we still didn’t know exactly what dish we were going to prepare. Tacos? Our toughest judge has braces, so crunchy tacos shells wouldn’t win us points. A casserole? It was past 2 o’clock and we were already starving, so 40 minutes in the oven wasn’t an option. Enchiladas? I’ve never actually ordered enchiladas, much less made them. Uh oh. Clock was ticking. Ultimately we decided to stuff the mixture into the corn tortillas to resemble tacos, but packed them together in a dish like enchiladas. We sprinkled cheese over them and placed ‘em in the oven to melt the cheese.

chopped competition

 Twelve minutes later, we had a vegetarian recipe for Meatless Baked Tacos! And they were delicious. Packed with protein, fiber, and vitamins A and C, we created a dish worthy of The Meal Makeover Moms. And the best part? Our toughest critic agreed!

Chopped Challenge via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

Here’s the recipe for our easy, super yummy, nutrient-packed, Meatless Monday dish that even the pickiest eater in your house will love.

Meatless Baked Tacos

Makes 8 Servings

  • 1 teaspoon expeller pressed canola oil
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, cut into 1-inch dice
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch dice
  • 2½ teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • One 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • One 12-ounce package meat-free or soy crumbles
  • Eight 6-inch corn tortillas
  • One 15-ounce can fat-free refried beans
  • 1 cup shredded reduced-fat Cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup baby spinach, chopped, optional
  • 1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream, optional

1. Preheat the oven to 400°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 over medium-high heat. Add the bell peppers, cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper and cook until the peppers are tender, about 5 minutes.

3. Add the diced tomatoes and meat-free crumbles and cook, stirring frequently until heated through, about 5 minutes.

4. Arrange the tortillas in the prepared baking pan so they resemble folded taco shells. Place 2 tablespoons refried beans into  the bottom of each tortilla. Top each with a sprinkling of baby spinach, as desired. Arrange 1/3 cup of the veggie mixture into each of the tortillas. (You’ll have over 1 cup of the mixture remaining, which is perfect as a salad topper or with rice the next day!) Sprinkle shells evenly with the cheese.

5. Bake, uncovered, until the cheese melts, about 12 minutes. Serve with sour cream as desired.

Nutrition Information per Serving: 210 calories, 5g fat (2g saturated), 560mg sodium, 27g carbohydrate, 8g fiber, 16g protein, 25% vitamin A, 130% vitamin C, 30% calcium, 20% iron

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Enjoy ….

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

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

Plenty by Ottolenghi

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

Hummus from the cookbook, Plenty

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

dinner party with Josh and his friends

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

hummus with Plenty of Vegetables

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


Makes 6 Servings

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

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

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

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

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

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

marinated mushrooms from Plenty

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

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

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Please be sure to leave us a new comment every time you do something extra, and GOOD LUCK. The giveaway ends on Monday, October 28th at noon, and as always we’ll use Random.org to pick our winner. Good luck!

More Foodie Adventures from the Pacific Northwest … and a Vegetarian Side Dish Recipe for Cowboy Caviar (Part 2) {Podcast #229}

I still can’t believe my niece, Jennifer, just got married. I can remember the day she was born like it was yesterday …  and not 27 years ago! Jen married the man of her dreams a few weeks ago at the Red Barn Studios in Chehalis, Washington, and I can still taste the fresh shellfish and Northwest flavors from her Big Day.

Jen and Rand Wedding via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

Here were Jen and Rand cutting the cake. In case you’re wondering, the cake was created with luscious layers of carrot cake, white cake, and a boysenberry filling.

On this week’s Cooking with the Moms podcast, Liz and I dish about my recent foodie adventures in the Pacific Northwest. I share the highlights here and also in Part 1 of my two-part Northwest food series (which included a recipe for Kale and Berry Health Smoothie).

Chef Xihn via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

 Chef Xinh, all five feet of her, is swift with a knife, and you should see her shuck an oyster! She’s won the West Coast Oyster Shucking Championship five times, and she’s now the owner and executive chef of Xinh’s Clam and Oyster House in Shelton, Washington. Lucky for me and everyone else at the wedding, Chef Xinh and Taylor Shellfish Farms catered the event.

Curried Mussels via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

 Chef Xinh’s famous Mussels with Curry Sauce features fresh shelled mussels sauteed in a Vietnamese style curry made with coconut milk, lemongrass, cayenne pepper, ground peanuts and a seafood sauce. She serves it with jasmine rice.

Dad, Mom, Chris, Lori, and Janice at Wedding via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

My sister, Lori (shown here with Dad, Mom, her husband Chris, and me), kept us well fed while we were in Olympia.

Baked Halibut, Wheatberries, Beets, and Grilled Corn via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

 On our first night in Olympia, Lori served us a meal of baked halibut, wheat berries, beets from her garden, and corn on the grill.

Cowboy Caviar -- made with black-eyed peas, avocado, cilantro, and corn

Lori and her husband have a boat, and this is one of the salads she made before we took a trip around the Puget Sound. I know. I know. Rough life …

Cowboy Caviar

Makes 8 Servings

Lori’s friend, Kathy, gave her this recipe years ago, and it’s now Lori’s go-to recipe for picnics and excursions on the boat.

  • One 15-ounce can black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
  • One 11-ounce can shoepeg corn
  • 1 red bell pepper or 2 roma tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 1 ripe avocado, seeded, peeled, and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1/4 cup expeller pressed canola oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1. Combine the black-eyed peas, corn, bell pepper, green onions, cilantro, and avocado in a large bowl.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together the canola oil, vinegar, garlic, cumin, salt, and pepper until well combined.  Stir into the bean mixture.

Nutrition Information: 180 calories, 11g fat (1g saturated, 0.7g omega-3), 290mg sodium, 19g carbohydrate, 5g fiber, 5g protein, 30% vitamin A, 50% vitamin C

Print Recipe

Nancy, Janice, Diane at Wedding via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

I love weddings. Here I am celebrating with my sister Diane (right) and my sister-in-law, Nancy. :)

If you want to see more photos from my trip to Olympia, check out our Flickr page.

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