Hello all,  just wanted to share with all that I’ve renamed my blog to reflect a bit more about me and the blog.  Welcome to  Same great blog, with much better name!  Hope you like it and my logo as much as I do!  Will be posting soon, but am a bit wrapped up in my latest book endeavor–will keep you posted on that too.


World Food Day: Sunday Dinner

This Sunday, October 16, 2011 is World Food Day. In honor of the day, Oxfam America, would like all of us to host a Sunday Dinner for our family and/or friends.  The goal is to promote a greater understanding of where our food comes from, with the larger goal of trying to help support small farms as well as the farmers and their families who own them.  These farmers work tirelessly to grow wholesome food for their families and all of us as they struggle against mother nature and big industry.  Many of these farms have been around for generations and its up to all of us to do what we can to help them continue to grow and provide delicious, wholesome food we can enjoy throughout the year.

At your Sunday dinner, Oxfam America has a few ideas for how to begin a meaningful conversation around the topic of where our food comes from:

Where does your food come from?

What is your favorite recipe? Why? What memories are associated with it? Where do you get the ingredients?

Where do they come from and who grows them? Are there times of the year you can’t make your favorite dish because some of the ingredients aren’t available?

Who is the face behind your food?

When you picture a farmer, who do you see? Do you know any farmers? How often do you buy food from a farmer directly? How many farms are in your town? County? State? Do you grow anything? If you could, what would it be?

How have rising food prices affected you?

Do rising food prices influence your choices at the grocery store or what you choose to eat? What are the staplesyou always have in your fridge? What is always on your grocery list? Where do you shop to get the basics(grocery stores, farm stands, corner stores, etc.) Do you grow or catch any of your food? Do you buy organic or local? Have you seen the prices of organic or local foods rise at all in the past year?

How is the global food system connected?

Have you visited another country? What are the popular foods there? Can you get those foods back home? How much of the food in your fridge is from the US? How much from other countries? If you could only buy food within a 100-mile radius, within a 1000-mile radius, or from the US, would it change your diet and life choices?

This Sunday my family will be sitting down to homemade spaghetti, as usual.  What will your’s enjoy?  Go to my facebook page, and let me know.  The first 5 responders will get a free set of recipe cards created especially for Oxfam America by chefs like Mark Bittman, Giada De Laurentiis, and others.



STOP at any time to unsubscribe.)

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For Kids, Cooking & Nutrition Go Hand in Hand

Have to let you know upfront, I didn’t write this post, but can’t say enough how important (and fun) it can be to get your kids in the kitchen with you–even if it is a bit messier and slower.  :o

Childhood obesity is a national epidemic. The percentage of obese children is at or above 30 percent in over 30 states. These are startling facts, but they are the harsh reality of the world we live in today. Unfortunately, many children are not getting enough exercise due to the rapid increase in technology. Video games, computer and cell phones all contribute to the lack of exercise in a child’s life. However, that is not the only issue. Children
are not taught about nutrition. Teaching children to live a healthy lifestyle through a balanced nutrition can help prevent childhood obesity.

Teaching our children about nutrition can be easy and fun. For many of us, getting our children to eat their fruits and veggies can be challenging. By engaging them in the preparation process however, we can stimulate their desire to want to eat what they’ve made. That’s right; let the children cook!

“The kitchen is often the most popular place in the house for families to gather. It’s a place for learning and sharing, where the family can enjoy quality time. Children can also develop a sense of responsibility by sharing in daily tasks”,says  Dr. Mary Zurn of Primrose Schools By sharing in the experience of preparing food, we can begin to introduce our
children to nutritional facts and healthy foods.

The following tips can help you have a fun learning experience each time you are  cooking/baking with your children and will also help keep them safe from potential kitchen hazards.

1.)    Set Ground Rules. This is the most important tip to remember when your child is in the kitchen with you. These rules will ensure a safe environment for everyone there.  Designate certain tasks as “adult-only” such as using sharp knives and putting items into and removing them from the oven. These rules can also teach children about things such as germs and bacteria. Teach your child to wash his or her hands before and after each time they handle food.

2.)    Engage Your Child.  Don’t forget to let your child help! Keep in mind, the goal is not perfection in the dishes, the goal is teaching your kids how to cook healthy food, and in turn, learn a key part of a healthy lifestyle. There are many simple tasks children
can help with, pouring, mixing, sprinkle and rolling are all simple ways to engage children and make them feel like they are helping.

3.)    Build up Skills Step- by-Step. All children learn at a different rate. Make
sure you don’t give them a task that will be to hard for them. Allow them to master a skill, such as cutting a very soft with a dull knife, before you advance them to cutting something denser. This of coarse should only be for older children, younger children can work on mastering things such as cracking an egg, or rolling the cookie dough into a ball.

4.)    HAVE FUN! Always have fun when you are cooking/baking with your child. It will make the experience memorable and meaningful. The more fun you have, the easier it will be to mask the learning aspect of the activity. Throwing in subtle hints of nutrition won’t seem as education to your child if you continue to have fun. Also, if your child makes a mistake, stay calm, and allow them to try it over with some guidance from you. The more
relaxed you are, the more relaxed your child will be making it a more fun and
safer environment.

Cooking is something we do everyday. As Dr. Zurn pointed out, the kitchen is often the most popular place for families to gather. So instead of neglecting our younger children while we cook and bake, we can spend quality time with them while teaching them important lessons. Nutrition is a key component to living a healthy lifestyle so the earlier we teach our children about it, the more likely they will be to continue living

Submitted by Dan Gilbert on behalf of Primrose Schools. For over 25 years, they have
helped individuals achieve higher levels of success by providing them with an AdvancED® accredited, early child care services and education.  Through an
accelerated Balanced Learning® curriculum, Primrose Schools preschool students are exposed to a widely diverse range of subject matter giving them a much greater opportunity to develop mentally, physically and socially. Dan has written a number of
articles on topics varying from bilingual learning to teaching the importance of volunteering.

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In the Kitchen: Get Me Some Green–Roasted Corn & Avocado Salsa Recipe

I was recently fortunate enough to sample a Hass avocado from Paradise Grove in Ventura, California.  Now, not being a big guacamole fan, I’m always looking for interesting ways to use this bumpy, green fruit.  One thing I love is actually mashing up very ripe avocados and using them to replace half of the fat in quick bread and muffin recipes.  You’d be amazed at the results!

But, on these long, sunny days of summer, I’m more inclined to find no-bake ways to enjoy my foods.  And fortunately for me, I came up with the following recipe for a Roasted corn and Avocado Salsa.  It is YUMMY!

If you’re having any end of summer BBQ’s this year, jot down these ingredients before heading off to the market.  You won’t be sorry.

   Roasted Corn & Avocado Salsa

2 ears of corn, roasted or grilled (leftover is fine)

3 roma tomatoes, diced

1 small red pepper, diced

1/3 cup red onion, finely chopped

1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced

1 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 avocado, peeled, pitted and diced

2 tablespoons olive or canola oil

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, about 1 lime

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt


Cut corn of cobs.  Combine corn in a bowl with the next 5 ingredients, through beans.  Gently fold in avocado, olive oil, lime juice, and salt.  Chill a few hours, or over night to let flavors combine.

Enjoy!  Let me know what you think.

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Healthy Eating During Cancer Treatment

Well, I’m trying something new today–I have my first guest blogger! Her name is Kate Flaherty and she’s involved with the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance.  Here she shares some tips on healthy eating while undergoing treatment for cancer.

Chemotherapy and radiation are hard on a person’s system.
Often, they can make the cancer or mesothelioma
patient more uncomfortable than the actual disease. Proper diet and nutrition
can help ease the discomfort and symptoms of chemotherapy and radiation and
improve the cancer or mesothelioma prognosis.

While most people are familiar with the basic guidelines of eating healthy,
cancer can cause a whole new set of challenges. How do you get enough calories
in a day when your treatment is making you nauseated? Some treatments can
change the way you taste or smell food, making eating less pleasant. Additional
problems include constipation and diarrhea, fatigue and difficulty swallowing.

Prior to treatment, it is important to get your body in top shape so that it
can help the medications work and fight the cancer. The American Cancer Society has
several tips for getting your body nutritionally sound. Some tips include;

– Make plant-based foods a strong focus in your diet. Trade the meat for peas
and beans for a few meals each week.

– Try new and different foods. You never know what food might work for you
during treatment when nothing tastes the same.

– Choose a wide variety of fruits and vegetables every day. The more colorful
the fruit or veggie, the more powerful phytochemicals
it is likely to contain and these substances promote good health in a number of

– Limit fats. Stick to low-fat dairy and lean proteins. Bake or broil your
food instead of frying it.

– Avoid foods that are smoked, cured or pickled.

– Get plenty of exercise.

When cancer treatments have made eating feel like a chore, try some of these
tips to help:

– Don’t limit your favorite
. Eat what you like, regardless of the time of day.

– Even if you don’t feel hungry, try eating a small meal every couple of

– Feel free to eat high calorie and high fat foods in moderation.

– You can increase your appetite with a little gentle exercise, like taking a
short walk.

– Try to maintain healthy eating habits as best you can. Incorporate fruits
and vegetables into your diet, eat whole grains and high quality proteins.
Keeping your body properly nourished will help fight the disease.

Good nutrition is important following your treatment as well. Your body is in
recovery mode and needs all the good nutrients it can get. Following many of
the tips for eating right before treatment starts will help. Asking for
assistance from a nutritionist or dietician who is familiar with cancer
treatment will also be incredibly helpful.

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Beat the Heat with a Blast from the Past

Popsicles and ice cream are great, no doubt about it, but when I was a kid, one of my favorite summer treats were Jello Pudding Pops. They came in chocolate, vanilla, or a swirl of both. Fast forward several years and now that I’m ready to share these yummy treats with my little ones, I find that Jello has, without my knowledge, stopped making these! How dare they.

So what’s a mom to do? Get in the kitchen and make her own of course! How hard can it be, right? Not hard at all! Plus, by making them myself I’m in control of the ingredients. I can use skim or low fat milk to get a fat free (or lowfat), low calorie, calcium-rich, frozen, creamy, “ice cream-like” treat for my kids (and me!)

Pudding Pops      

2 cups skim or 1% milk

1 (3.8 oz) box instant pudding (any flavor)

1 teaspoon vanilla

Beat all ingredients together in medium bowl for 2 minutes.  Pour into popsicle molds or paper or plastic cups.  Insert wooden popsicle stick or mold handle into each.  Freeze 5 to 7 hours.

To remove pop from mold, run under warm water for about 20 seconds, until it slides out easily when gently pulled. (don’t twist or pull hard on stick or it may break off in pudding pop.)   This made 9 pops for me, but the amount varies depending on size of mold.

Get creative by layering two different flavored puddings or by adding extras such as sliced bananas to chocolate or banana cream pudding or sliced strawberries to vanilla pudding.

Hope you like them as much as we did!  Let me know your favorite flavor combos.

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EarthDay and the Healthy Family

As another Earthday rolls around, I’m reminded of how much nutrition and a clean earth can be connected.  And of course, it provides more opportunties to teach our children how to keep themselves and and our home planet healthy.  Here are just a few ways to help your family be nutritionally and environmentally aware.

  • Say so long to single-serve packages.  Sure the box of 10 individual bags of nuts, or crackers or cookies is convenient but it’s also costly, both financially and environmentally.  Try buying a full size box or bag and a few small sealable, reuseable containers such as Lock & Lock (see my Dec 2010 blog on kitchen gadgets), Tupperware, or Rubbermaid and create your own single-servings with a lot less waste and $$.


  • Make sure your entire family has a reusable water cup, and use them!  No need for umpteen bottles or cups of water every week.  If every student in my daughter’s kindergarten class used their own cup at snack time, there would be about 4000 fewer cups in landfills over the course of one school year.  And that’s  just one class, in one school, in one town.


  • Its never to early to teach your children that garbage goes in the trash or recycle bin not on the ground or out the window.  It never ceases to amaze me how many young people and adults I see littering on a regular basis.  Gum wrappers, bottles, cups, and so much more, it really adds up.  In fact, in just a short time yesterday, my daughter’s class picked up over 3 pounds of litter in their school yard–it looked fairly clean from a distance, but you can see how one little thing here and another there can really pile up!


  • Start a garden–no matter if you plant one item or twenty, growing your own food is a great way to teach kids where food comes from and why its so important to keep the Earth clean.


  • Start a compost pile–especially great if you’re following the above tip.  Not only will your garden thrive naturally, but you’ll be throwing that much less in the garbage.



  • Go to your local library or bookstore and check out books in the Why Should I? series for kids.  There’s one on recycling, saving water, saving energy, and keeping the planet clean.

Let me know some of your favorite ways to keep our planet clean for our kids and their future!


Some Things Can’t Be Planned For

So, the basic premise of my latest book, When to Eat What, is all about planning ahead so that you don’t find yourself stuck in difficult food situations.  A fair amount of the book is spent giving ideas of how to plan ahead, nutritionally speaking.  But, as we all know, life doesn’t always go as expected and we can still find ourselves unprepared now and again. 

Well, that’s what happened to me today.  My 3 1/2 year old son had a 9:45 am follow up Dr. appointment and then school at 12:30.  And, we had lots of ideas for what we were going to do in those 2 plus hours between the two, including an early lunch around 11:30 at home like we usually do on a school day.  Well, we walked into the Dr.’s office at 9:45 and walked out at 12:01!  Forget all of those fun ideas, now we had less than 30 minutes to get home to get his backpack, eat lunch, and get to school.  No grilled cheese, tomato soup, and cantaloupe for us, not today!

So, what does a self-respecting mom and dietitian do now?  She takes advantage of the local McDonald’s drive thru is what she does.  Now when I was growing up, McDonald’s was a once-in-a-while special treat, not the kind of place where the employees called you by name when you walked in.   And, with my own family now, it’s still a once-in-while, there’s-no-other-option kind of place.  Personally, I think fast food places, have their purposes and if used properly, i.e. once in a while, can fit fine in a well-balanced eating plan.  I don’t believe they should be a daily, or even weekly habit, but occasionally there’s nothing wrong with a visit.

But, what you do at that visit is important to.  Just because you’re doing fast food, doesn’t mean you have to go hog wild and jumbo-size the 3 layer bacon cheeseburger “value” meal.  As long as you keep things simple, you can have a occasional fast food meal and your scale will be none the wiser.  For example, basic, simple burgers are usually a safe bet, sharing fries is great, and they all sell lowfat milk or water.  Most have simple salads too, and drizzled with just a bit of reduced fat dressing and you should be good to go.

So, the next time your best laid plans go awry, don’t assume you’re healthy eating needs to go out the window, just take a deep breath, and choose some simple foods from as many food groups as you can to get you through to your next meal.


To Be or Not To Be….Sneaky

I recently spoke to a local MOM’s club and was asked a question that got me thinking:  What do you think of hiding vegetables in other foods so kids will eat them?  Well, I’ve given it alot of thought and while I agree with my answer that day (which I’ll share in just a bit) I’ve decided I have more to say.   It’s not so cut and dry as “It’s a good idea” or “It’s not a good idea.”    

My initial response was, I’m not really a fan of hiding kale in brownies and other tricks like that.  I have a couple of reasons for that.     

     ♥ I believe we should teach our children to enjoy and choose a variety of healthy foods.  Sure, in the short term, if there’s veggies in the chocolate chip cookies your child will eat them.  But…in the long term, as they get older and start making more of their own choices they won’t choose all of those snuck-in veggies because they will still not like them.     

     ♥ If we sneak healthy foods into less than healthy foods, we end up encouraging our kids to eat more of the brownies, cookies, cakes, or whatever not so healthy food we’ve packed veggies or beans into.  Sure the treat now has some nutrition power to it but it also has sugar, fat, and all of those other things that make it a food we should choose less often instead of more often.    

So that pretty much summed up my answer at the meeting.  However, like I said, I’ve been giving it more thought and have an addition to my original response.     

If you have a healthy eater or are developing a healthy eater and are providing a variety of healthy fruits, veggies, protein, whole grains, etc. I think there is nothing wrong with adding something to a food to simply boost the nutritional quality.  For example, I recently made meatballs (see recipe below) and I put spinach in them.  My kids like raw baby spinach but I’m not crazy about cooked spinach so they don’t get exposed to it that much.  I then added the meatballs to a soup which also had tomatoes and carrots and we had a salad before the soup.  So, my family got plenty of veggies in the meal as it was and the spinach was just a bonus!    

So, my amended answer is if you’re simply hiding healthy foods in less than healthy foods to avoid the challenges of getting your kids to eat healthy foods–no not for it.  If, on the other hand, you’re doing it as extra nutrition or to go along with what they are getting as they’re developing their healthy tastes–yes, for it.  With one caveat–don’t overdo the adding veggies to treats.  Pumpkin pancakes, sure.  Zucchini bread, fine.  Spinach brownies, not so sure about ones like that.  Just my opinion though.  What’s yours?     

Keep in mind though, my whole delicious & nutritious eating concept.  I’m all for accessorizing food to make it tastier, more interesting, more fun, and more likely to be eaten.  Nothing wrong with a little bit of cheese sprinkled on broccoli, some peanut butter spread on an apple, a shake of cinnamon on oatmeal, and this one I’m dying to try—saw on TV the other day–Kale chips (basically roasted kale leaves) with a sprinkle of brown sugar–yes, I know it sounds strange, but the sugar is supposed to help cut the bitterness of the kale.  I’ll let you know how that goes next time I pick up some kale.    

Mighty Meatballs

I’ve recently started to try to make at least one meal a week that I can double up and freeze the extra for a second meal during a busy week.  This recipe actually gave me 3 batches of meatballs for our family–1 to eat and 2 to save.  Hope you enjoy it!    

 Meatballs in Meatball Minestrone

1 pound lean ground beef
1 pound ground pork
1 pound lean ground turkey or chicken
1 (10-oz) box frozen, chopped spinach, thawed, drained, and squeezed dry
1/4 cup grated romano cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
3/4 cup plain breadcrumbs
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup skim or low fat milk
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons parsley
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350°.  Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.  In a large bowl, mix together all of the ingredients and mix until well incorporated, but don’t overmix.  Pinch off about a teaspoon of meat mixture and gently roll into about a 1-inch ball.  Repeat, arranging balls about 1/2-inch apart on prepared baking sheets.  Bake until lightly browned and register 160° on a meat thermometer, about 25-30 minutes.  Eat right away, or let cool, place on baking sheet and freeze for about 20 minutes then place in ziplock freezer bags and freeze for up to 3 months.  I made 92 meatballs out of this last week.    




In the Kitchen: Breaded Cauliflower

This week I start sharing recipes, something I hope to continue to do.  Growing up, I loved cauliflower topped with buttered bread crumbs.  So, when a friend recently gave me this recipe, I knew I’d love it–a slighty healthier version of one of my childhood favs.

Breaded Cauliflower 

I’m not giving specific amounts because this is one of those recipes that you can easily upsize or downsize depending on the size of your family.

One head of cauliflower, cut into florets and washed

Beaten egg (1 is perfect for a medium sized head)

Breadcrumbs, plain or seasoned (I’m going to try Panko next time)

Canola or Olive oil

Brush a large baking sheet with a thin coat of canola or olive oil.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place egg in a bowl and bread crumbs in a seperate bowl.  Dip florets first in egg and shake of excess, then in breadcrumbs, rolling floret gently in crumbs to get it covered all over.  Place on prepared pan.  Mist florets with canola or olive oil or spray with non stick cooking spray.  Cook for 30 minutes, turning the florets over halfway through the cooking time.  Delish!!!!

Me and my 5 year old daughter devoured these.  My husband agreed they were good.  My 3 year old ate a bit more than half of his serving before announcing he didn’t like them, but when I reminded him of how yummy they were, he gobbled up the rest.  I hope you and your family enjoy this simple, nutrient-packed dish as much as mine did.  Let me know!

Put on your chef’s hats–I’m hoping to have a recipe contest soon, so start thinking of a favorite healthy recipe to send it.