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. Doesn’t the color remind you of a parrot?

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

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

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

Leah with Pepe via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

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

IMG_5031

  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

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

Sweet Pea Crostini via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

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

The Slim Down South Cookbook via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

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

frozen peas via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

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

Sweet Pea Crostini via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

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

Sweet Pea Crostini via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

Sweet Pea Crostini

Makes 20 Servings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Print Recipe

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.

Hummus

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.

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

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

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

> Follow us on Pinterest.

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

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.

Pumpkin Nutrition … and a Recipe for Pumpkin Banana Smoothie

I woke up bright and early today, packed up a few coolers, and headed to New England Cable News for a “live” TV food segment on Spicing Up Fall with Pumpkins. During the segment (which you can watch on the NECN website), I talked to host Steve Aveson about pumpkin nutrition—it’s packed with vitamin A, fiber, and antioxidants like lutein—and showed off three kid-pleasing recipes: Pumpkin Banana Smoothie, Ghoulishly-Good Stuffed Sugar Pumpkin, and Black Bean Enchiladas with Pumpkin Sauce. (The smoothie and enchilada recipes can also be found on our new family recipe app, Meal Makeovers.)

Pumpkin Banana Smoothie via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

Each serving of this luscious smoothie has 100% of your vitamin A for the day. Oh, and it’s also delicious!

Pumpkin Banana Smoothie

Makes 2 Servings

When the month of October rolls around, our thoughts turn to pumpkin, a super food packed with immune-boosting vitamin A, fiber, and antioxidants like lutein, which is good for eye health. It may seem strange to add pumpkin to a smoothie, but trust us … this smoothie is beyond awesome! We make it with some canned pure pumpkin, protein-rich Greek yogurt, low-fat milk, pumpkin pie spice, and vanilla extract. And then we add a banana and a few drizzles of honey for a super-sweet touch. Serve with breakfast, as a snack, or for a spooky Halloween treat!

  • 1 small ripe banana, frozen
  • 1/2 cup 1% low-fat milk
  • 1/2 cup 0%-fat vanilla Greek yogurt
  • 1/3 cup canned 100% pure pumpkin
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1.  Break the banana into a few pieces. Place in a blender with the milk, yogurt, pumpkin, honey, vanilla extract, and pumpkin pie spice.

2. Blend until well combined. Place a few cubes of ice in two glasses. Pour smoothie over ice, drizzle with honey as desired, and serve each with a straw.

Nutrition Information per Serving (1 cup):  130 calories, 1g fat (0g saturated, g omega-3), 55mg sodium, 23g carbohydrate, 3g fiber, 7g protein, 100% vitamin A, 15% calcium

Print Recipe

Planning a TV segment takes a lot of effort—shopping, prepping, gathering props, figuring out what to say!—but it’s worth the effort. I had a blast hanging out with the NECN crew and sharing my nutrition knowledge and Meal Makeover Mom recipes with viewers.

Liz on NECN talking pumpkins!

Lights, camera, action!

pumpkin segment on NECN

NECN prep

Here’s what my house looked like the night before when I was laying out my props. Note to self: Don’t forget the extension cord and the ice….

A Gluten-Free Recipe for Autumn Apple Quinoa Salad … and More News on Our Recipe App, “Meal Makeovers” (Podcast #228)

It’s been a few weeks since we launched our new recipe app, Meal Makeovers. We hope those of you who’ve downloaded it—it’s available on iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch—are using it in good health! On this week’s Cooking with the Moms radio podcast, we tell you all about the app, and we share our latest app and blog recipe for Autumn Apple Quinoa Salad. The great thing about this recipe is that it’s nutritious thanks to the quinoa, apples, walnuts, dried cranberries, and Cheddar cheese as well as versatile (serve it as a lunch box or dinner side dish), gluten free, and incredibly delicious.

Meal Makeovers app - quinoa salad

You can find our Autumn Apple Quinoa Salad on our new recipe app, Meal Makeovers!

Apple walnut quinoa salad

Quinoa is often referred to as an ancient grain, but technically, it’s a seed. It’s gluten free, and we love it in this simple side dish recipe made with apples, walnuts, cranberries, and Cheddar cheese. Read on for the recipe as well as our tried-and-true technique for cooking up fluffy (not mushy) quinoa.

Autumn Apple Quinoa Salad

Makes 6 Servings

Every autumn, our kids go crazy over all the crisp, delicious apples available at the farmers’ market. Snacking on apples is easy—just slice ‘em up and enjoy—but sometimes it’s nice to use them in recipes like this easy side dish. Check out all the great nutrition per serving: almost 1 gram of heart-healthy omega-3 fat, 8 grams protein, and 3 grams fiber.

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1½ cups water
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 ounces reduced-fat white or orange Cheddar cheese, cut into 1/4-inch dice (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 medium red or green apple, cut into 1/4-inch dice (1 1/4 cups)
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped walnuts, lightly toasted
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries

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 the water or broth 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 the quinoa to a large bowl and fluff gently with a fork every few minutes until the grains cool.

4. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, maple syrup, mustard, salt, and pepper until well combined. Set aside.

5. Gently stir the cheese, apples, walnuts, and cranberries into the quinoa. Stir in the dressing. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Nutrition Information per Serving (about 1 cup): 330 calories, 18g fat (4.5g saturated, 0.9g omega-3), 190mg sodium, 35g carbohydrate, 3g fiber, 8g protein, 10% calcium

Print Recipe

To learn more about our Meal Makeovers app, check out the description in the iTunes store.  And for more quinoa recipes, scroll down for links to some of our other creations …

Maple Quinoa Crunch
> Maple Quinoa Crunch

> Greek Quinoa Salad with Feta and Dill

> Crunchy Quinoa with Almonds and Apricots

> Polka Dot Squash Quinoa

 

Family Dinner Dilemmas Solved with a Recipe for Southwest Corn, Rice & Bean Casserole

What’s your biggest family dinner dilemma? Now that the kids are back in school and families are back to their usual routines, we asked our Facebook fans to weigh in on that very question. Here are their top five answers: (1) coming up with meals to satisfy everyone in the family … especially picky eaters, (2) finding last-minute recipes that are easy to make, (3) getting organized … AKA meal planning, (4) preparing healthy meals with on-hand, pantry staples (i.e. nothing fancy) and (5) making meals that vegetarians and meat eaters both love. Phew. We’re tired just thinking about it. But to the rescue is our newest recipe for Southwest Corn, Rice & Bean Casserole. This dinner has it all!

Southwest Corn, Rice & Bean Casserole via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

Our recipe comes together quickly with nutrient-rich convenience ingredients including canned beans, instant brown rice, salsa, eggs, shredded cheese, and Del Monte’s new Southwest Corn with Poblano & Red Peppers. The company recently sent us some samples (along with Del Monte’s other new seasoned veggie variety: French Style Green Beans with Roasted Garlic), and they challenged us to create a dish that families would adore using one of the new products.

ingredients for southwest casserole

 Six ingredients. Are you kidding? Talk about easy and convenient! One of the nice things about canned veggies like corn and green beans is that the vegetables are picked and packed at the peak of ripeness, so they’re nutritious … and you can eat your favorite vegetables all-year round.

Southwest Corn, Rice & Bean Casserole

Makes 4 to 6 Servings

Liz’s husband is a vegetarian who eats fish and her two boys love their beef and chicken. Liz is flexible. When she tested this dish with the family, there wasn’t a single complaint. It’s hearty and filling, and with two teen boys at the table, the casserole disappeared quickly. You could certainly add diced roasted chicken to the dish for more protein. As for the vegetables, since the seasonings are already in the can, you don’t have to bother adding your own!

  • 2 cups cooked instant or regular brown rice
  • One 15.25-ounce can Del Monte Southwest Corn with Poblano & Red Peppers, drained
  • One 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup mild or medium salsa
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1½ cups reduced-fat shredded Cheddar cheese, divided

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

2. Place the rice, corn, beans, salsa, and eggs in a large bowl and stir to combine. Add 1 cup of the cheese and stir to combine. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan and spread evenly with a spatula, and top with the remaining 1/2 cup cheese.

3. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake until the cheese melts and the casserole is bubbly, 5 to 10 minutes.

Nutrition Information per Serving (1 slice):  330 calories, 11g fat (5g saturated), 730mg sodium, 42g carbohydrate, 6g fiber, 18g protein, 15% vitamin A, 10% vitamin C, 50% calcium, 10% iron

Print Recipe

Southwest Corn, Rice & Bean Casserole

Disclosure: We created this recipe for Del Monte and were compensated for the recipe and social media outreach. All opinions are solely our own. For more information on the new lineup of seasoned vegetables, visit the Del Monte website.

My CSA Bounty and a Recipe for Skillet Gnocchi with Chard & White Beans

I love my CSA (community supported agriculture), and I’ve been a member of the Farm Direct Coop for about eight years. Every Thursday from June through October I pick up my weekly bounty. Sometimes there are choices—pick three items from a table with six options—while other times the decision is made for you—take one pound of peaches and two pounds of apples, etc. I have a fruit and veggie share, and I also get bread from a local bakery.

CSA

One of the fun things about participating in a CSA is that you never know what you’re going to get from week to week, and for me sometimes I’m not familiar with all the items. What the heck is callaloo?

CSA veggies via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

Decisions, decisions: Should I get another bunch of kale or an eggplant?!

CSA via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

One nice thing about my CSA is that there are always people who like to give advice on how to prepare things. Here, a fellow member explains that he likes to pit his peaches,  stuff with cheese and herbs, and then roast them. I wouldn’t have thought of that!

Vegetables via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

This was my haul a few weeks ago. I got two beautiful bunches of Swiss chard and posted to our Meal Makeover Moms Facebook page asking for fresh advice on what to do with them. There was no shortage of ideas, but the recipe for Skillet Gnocchi with Chard & White Beans that Kristin shared really caught my eye. I made it and it was a huge hit with my family.

Skillet Gnocchi with Chard & White Beans

Makes 6 Servings

This recipe originally appeared in the January / February 2009 issue of Eating Well magazine, but I got it from our friend Kristin’s blog.  I didn’t change much, but I did leave out the water and saute the veggies instead, and I added more mozzarella cheese. Chard is in peak season from June through August (did you know there are over 50 varieties?), and it’s an excellent source of vitamins A, C, and K, as well as potassium, magnesium, iron, and manganese. It’s also high in antioxidants and fiber, and it helps support bone health thanks to the vitamin K.

  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • One 16-ounce package shelf-stable gnocchi, (see Tip)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 6 cups chopped chard leaves, (about 1 small bunch) or spinach
  • One 15-ounce can diced tomatoes with Italian seasonings
  • One 15-ounce can white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese (optional)
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add gnocchi and cook, stirring often, until plumped and starting to brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

2. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon oil and onion to the pan and cook, stirring, over medium heat, for 2 minutes. Stir in garlic and water. Cover and cook until the onion is soft, 4 to 6 minutes. Add chard (or spinach) and cook, stirring, until starting to wilt, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, beans and pepper and bring to a simmer.

3. If serving immediately, stir in the gnocchi and sprinkle with mozzarella and Parmesan. (Tip: If making ahead, keep the gnocchi separate so it doesn’t get soggy.) Cover and cook until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbling, about 3 minutes.  Sprinkle with red pepper flakes if desired.

Tip: Look for shelf-stable gnocchi near other pasta in the Italian section of most supermarkets.

Nutrition Information per Serving: 325 Calories, 7g Fat (2g saturated), 616 mg sodium, 55g carbohydrate, 6g fiber, 14 g Protein

Print Recipe

Skillet Gnocchi with Chard & White Beans

The gnocchi that I used in the recipe came from the new Whole Foods that just opened up in my town of Melrose, MA (yippee!). I used plenty of olive oil to saute the gnocchi which gave it a nice crispy texture!

Sriracha Chard Pickles via MealMakeoverMoms.com/kitchen

In the spirit of full disclosure, I also made Sriracha Fridge Pickles with my Swiss chard stems, as recommended on Facebook by Carol Ann. They were not a big hit around here, because the stems were pretty fibrous and the flavor was a bit too spicy. I may use the onions in sandwiches but probably won’t make the recipe again. It was fun to try though! :)

A Back-to-School Lunch Box Recipe for Sweetie Pie Quesadilla and a Giveaway for the Best Lunch Box Ever (and a Dacor Distinctive Range!!) {Giveaway CLOSED}

It’s hard to believe that kids across the country are heading back to school already. While ours still have a ways to go before the school bell rings, we realize that the daily routine of stuffing backpacks and lunch boxes is now a reality for many of you. What can we say other than, “boo hoo.”

Best Lunch Box Ever

To kick off the school year on a healthy note, we’re giving away a copy of the adorable new cookbook, Best Lunch Box Ever by Katie Sullivan Morford (Chronicle Books, 2013). Katie is a dietitian, food writer, and mom of three, and she hosts the award-winning blog, Mom’s Kitchen Handbook. As part of the giveaway, Katie is also tossing in a set of colorful stacking stainless steel lunch containers from Kids Konserve (combined retail value is $47.00).

TO ENTER: Leave a comment here on our blog and tell us about your kid’s hands-down favorite, must-have lunch box favorites. Perhaps it’s a roll up or a wrap  or a special my-mom-is-the-best-mom-ever snack or dessert. We’d love to hear about it so post away!

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, Twitter (@MealMakeovrMoms), or on Facebook.

Please be sure to leave us a new comment every time you do something extra, and GOOD LUCK. The giveaway ends on August 23rd at noon, and as always we’ll use Random.org to pick our winner. Good luck!

READ ON FOR THE QUESADILLA RECIPE AND A CHANCE TO WIN ONE MORE PRIZE: a Dacor Distinctive Gas or Electric 30″ range.

The Best Lunch Box Ever includes recipes for mains — sandwiches, salads, pinwheels, wraps — sides, goodies, and after school eats, and it includes a bunch of super helpful tips on everything from lunch-box supplies to best ways to keep foods cool and safe. The book is filled with playful photos and whimsical packing ideas. We made a few recipes from the book including this one for Sweetie Pie Quesadilla starring shredded sweet potato.

lunch box quesadillas

Sweetie Pie Quesadilla

Makes 2 Servings

Recipe courtesy of Best Lunch Box Ever. You can change up the cheese by using low-fat Cheddar or mozzarella, and according to Katie, leftover cooked veggies like broccoli, zucchini, or bell pepeprs can be chopped up and substituted for the sweet potato.

  • 3/4 cup coarsely grated Monterey Jack cheese
  • Two 8-inch whole-wheat flour tortillas
  • 1/2 cup grated peeled raw sweet potato
  • 1/4 cup cooked black beans, drained
  • 2 tablespoons mild green taco sauce (we used salsa)
  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

1. Sprinkle half of the cheese evenly over one tortilla. Scatter the sweet potato over the cheese, followed by the beans. Spoon the taco sauce over the beans and top with the remaining cheese and the remaining tortilla.

2. In a medium skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Put the quesadilla in the pan and cook until golden brown and crispy, 2 to 3 minutes. With a spatula, flip the quesadilla and cook until the second side is golden brown and crispy, about 2 minutes.

3. Transfer the quesadilla to a cutting board and let cool for a few minutes.

4. Cut into quarters. Wrap or pack into two containers.

Nutrition Information per Serving (1 quesadilla): 380 calories, 19g fat (8g saturated), 560mg sodium, 37g carbohydrate, 5g fiber, 16g protein, 130% vitamin A, 30% calcium, 10% iron

Print Recipe

Katie is hosting this giveaway, and a lot of other food and nutrition bloggers are participating. As a thank you to everyone who enters, Katie is offering one giant grand prize: a Dacor Distinctive Gas or Electric 30″ range. Retail value: $3,199 to 3,399 (depending on gas or electric).

dacor

Because there will be one winner chosen from among multiple participating blogs, Katie has asked us to use this Rafflecopter to run the grand prize contest. You can enter via the Rafflecopter below by clicking “Enter to Win.” For additional entries, you can “Like” Dacor on Facebook or follow them on Twitter. This giveaway also ends on August 23rd, and we sure hope one of our readers wins!  PS: Katie will be on our Cooking with the Moms radio podcast on August 14th so stay tuned …

a Rafflecopter giveaway

A Summer-Inspired Recipe for Corn & Spinach Fritters

Corn is once again in season here in New England. As with most of our local produce, it’s a short season … but we’ll take it no matter what! There’s nothing better than freshly shucked corn cooked the old-fashioned way in a pot of boiling and then brushed with melted butter and a sprinkling of kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Hmmmm. We’re getting hungry.

corn and spinach fritters

We can’t take all the credit for this recipe. These I-can’t-eat-just-one fritters were inspired by a recipe created by Aggie from Aggie’s Kitchen. We adapted it a bit by adding fresh corn kernels, green onions, lemon zest, and herbs.

Corn & spinach fritters

We prefer silver-dollar size fritters, but you can make them bigger (more like a pancake) if you prefer.

Corn & Spinach Fritters

Makes 6 Servings (24 fritters)

This recipe is pretty versatile. You can change up the veggies or use a variety of different herbs. We call for basil, but you could certainly mix in Asian basil, fresh thyme, or tarragon instead. Serve the fritters as a kid-friendly snack, with a salad, as a side dish … you name it. Just an FYI, if you use whole milk ricotta, each serving will have 23 grams total fat and 10 grams saturated fat.

  • 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced (white and light green parts only)
  • 1 ear cooked corn, kernels shucked (about 1/2 cup)
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh basil or any other favorite herb
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 cups baby spinach, thinly sliced
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper

1. Heat 1 teaspoon of the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the green onions and corn kernels and cook, stirring frequently until softened and golden, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and cool slightly.

2. Add the eggs, ricotta cheese, panko, Parmesan cheese, basil, and lemon zest and stir to combine. Stir in the sliced spinach until combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste. (As Aggie suggests, cook up a tiny fritter, taste it, and then adjust seasoning.)

3. Heat 2 teaspoons of the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Scoop a heaping tablespoon of the mixture and place in the skillet. Press down gently with the back of a spatula. Repeat until the skillet is filled (you should be able to fit 6 – 8 in the pan). Cook about 4 minutes until the bottoms are golden. Flip, flatten again with the back of a spatula, and cook another 4 minutes until golden and cooked through. Repeat with the remaining oil and ricotta mixture.

Nutrition Information per Serving (4 fritters):  320 calories, 19g fat (7g saturated), 300mg sodium, 18g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 18g protein, 20% vitamin A, 35% calcium

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corn & spinach fritters

Crispy on the outside, soft on the inside. Bring ‘em on …

A Vegetarian Recipe for Baked Falafel Sandwiches with Yogurt-Tahini Sauce

We’ve been on a vegetarian cooking jag lately, and this recipe for homemade falafel from The Food Lover’s Healthy Habits Cookbook recently caught our eye. The book, written by the editors of Cooking Light magazine and our friend and fellow dietitian, Janet Helm from the blog, Nutrition Unplugged, is filled with tips and recipes to help readers add new mealtime habits to their lives. Flavorful Baked Falafel Sandwiches with Yogurt-Tahini Sauce comes straight from the Go Meatless One Day a Week chapter, and based on the reaction in our kitchens, it’s a recipe even meat lovers will appreciate.

Falafel sandwich from The Food Lover's Healthy Habits Cookbook

Open a can of chickpeas and you’re well on your way to a fabulous dinner. For the sauce, we used low-fat Greek yogurt versus the whole-milk yogurt called for in the recipe, and it worked just fine. We also used pita bread versus flatbreads.

Chickpeas

We’re huge fans of the herb, cilantro. It’s definitely one of those herbs you either love or hate, but lucky for us, we’re in the “we can’t get enough of it” camp. Herbs are incredibly nutritious, so when we cook with them, we consider them a vegetable!

Falafel ingredients

Falafel Sandwiches with Yogurt-Tahini Sauce

Makes 6 Servings

You’ll find this recipe in The Food Lover’s Healthy Habits Cookbook by Cooking Light and Janet Helm, MS, RD.

Sauce:

  • 1 cup plain whole-milk Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon tahini (sesame-seed paste)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Falafel:

  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup uncooked bulgur
  • 3 cups cooked chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • Cooking spray

Remaining ingredients:

  • 6 (2.8-ounce) Mediterranean Style white flatbreads
  • 12 (1/4-inch-thick) slices tomato
  • Chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

1. To prepare sauce, combine the first 3 ingredients, stirring with a whisk until blended. Cover and chill until ready to serve.

2. To prepare falafel, bring 3/4 cup water to a boil in a small saucepan; add bulgur to pan. Remove from heat; cover and let stand 30 minutes or until tender. Drain and set aside.

3. Preheat oven to 425°. Combine chickpeas and the next 9 ingredients (through garlic) in a food processor; pulse 10 times or until well blended and smooth (mixture will be wet). Spoon chickpea mixture into a large bowl; stir in bulgur.

4. Divide mixture into 12 equal portions (about 1/4 cup each); shape each portion into a 1/4-inch-thick patty. Place patties on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 425° for 10 minutes on each side or until browned. Spread about 2 1/2 tablespoons sauce onto each flatbread or pita. Top each with 2 falafel patties, 2 tomato slices, and chopped cilantro, if desired.

Nutrition Information per Serving (1 stuffed flatbread):  340 calories, 8g fat (3.5g saturated), 535mg sodium, 65g carbohydrate, 15g fiber, 18g protein

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We hope to have Janet join us on a future Cooking with the Moms radio podcast to tell us more about the book, so stay tuned for that!

4 Tips for Adding Better Nutrition to Summer Cookouts … Plus, a Recipe for Rainbow Bean & Edamame Salad

On July 4th alone, Americans will consume a whopping 150 million hot dogs! But a new survey commissioned by Applegate shows that most consumers don’t think the dogs they buy are high quality. The good news is that not all hot dogs are created equal. Today, I joined The Morning Show at New England Cable News (NECN) to dish about better-for-you dogs and to offer tips for giving  summertime cookouts a healthy makeover. You can watch the segment by visiting the NECN website … or read on for my slimming, nutrient-boosting suggestions!

Applegate hot dogs and burgers. Organic and natural

There’s no reason to whine about wieners. The key to choosing the best brands is to look for organic and natural alternatives like Applegate. I’ve been working with them this summer to spread the news that eating hot dog and good health can go hand in hand. Their beef franks (my favorite) have just four ingredients (and yes, you can pronounce them): beef, water, sea salt, and spices. They are hormone and antibiotic free and don’t contain any fillers or nitrites.

fruit and veggie kebabs

Why stop at burgers and dogs? You can add great nutrition to any cookout by grilling up veggie or fruit kebabs. My favorite pop-on-the-grill vegetables are mushrooms, zucchini, and bell peppers. Brush with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and then grill for 10 to 12 minutes. Pineapple works wonders on the grill too as do plums, peaches, and nectarines.

Cookout condiments

Ketchup, mustard, and relish may be the most popular hot dog condiments, but there are plenty of other toppers to choose from. I love to saute sliced bell peppers and onions until they are caramelized, or you can adorn your dogs with diced avocado, salsa, and cilantro for a Tex-Mex topping.

A makeover of three-bean salad

Swap out the usual sides with interesting vegetable salads. And don’t rely solely on mayonnaise for your potato and pasta salads. You can switch over to low-fat mayo or use a combo of mayo and low-fat plain Greek yogurt. The yogurt provides protein and calcium.

Rainbow Bean & Edamame Salad

Makes 5 Servings

Three bean salad was popular when I was a kid, and it’s certainly always been a nutritious side dish given all the beans! But as I often do when I have some free time on my hands, I decided to give this classic recipe an updated flavor makeover. To that end, I mixed up a new recipe using chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans), edamame, raisins, carrot, bell pepper, and a bunch of interesting seasonings. Pack along for a picnic or cookout or stuff into a summer camp lunchbox for the kiddos.

  • One 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup shelled, cooked edamame
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1 small carrot, finely diced about 1/3 cup
  • Half of a small red bell pepper, cut into 1/4 inch dice (about 1/3 cup)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Pinch garlic powder
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper

1. Place the chickpeas, edamame, raisins, carrot, bell pepper, lemon juice, olive oil, Italian seasoning, cumin, and garlic powder in a bowl and mix until well combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Nutrition Information per Serving (1/2 cup): 200 calories, 6g fat (0.5g saturated), 190mg sodium, 30g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 8g protein, 40% vitamin A, 25% vitamin C

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Fireworks in Lexington, MA 2013

Happy July 4th everyone!

Disclosure: I created this recipe for Applegate and was compensated for the recipe and social media/TV outreach. All opinions are solely my own.

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