Food Trends and Nutrition News at FNCE 2015 {Podcast Episode #276}

Every year, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) hosts the Food & Nutrition Conference and Expo (FNCE), the world’s largest meeting of food and nutrition professionals. This year it was in Nashville, so we traveled to the Music City with over eleven thousand of our fellow registered dietitian nutritionists for a taste of the hottest food trends and the latest nutrition news.

Food Trends from #FNCE via

On this week’s Cooking with the Moms radio podcast, we’re joined by Janet Helm, MS, RDN, food trends tracker and the voice behind the blog, Nutrition Unplugged.

Tune into our Cooking with the Moms radio podcast to hear all about the latest food and nutrition trends by clicking the play button above. And don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE to our show on iTunes.

Food Trends from #FNCE via
Together on the show, we dish about the trend toward clean eating and labeling, how mainstream food companies are giving their packaged products a healthy makeover, nutritional superstars like probiotics and sprouted grains, food waste and how to reduce it, eating with a spiritual compass, and so much more.

Food Trends from #FNCE via #podcast

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Cabot Virtual Road Race to Benefit Feeding America + a Cheese Giveaway

On Columbus Day, I ran the Tufts Health Plan 10k for Women road race with my friend, Mary. Besides the fact that I like to run (sometimes), I was eager to join the Cabot Virtual Race to benefit Feeding America, an organization dedicated to feeding America’s hungry through a nationwide network of food banks. If you’re interested in joining the virtual race, you can still sign up 🙂

Janice and May: Cabot Virtual Race to Benefit Feeding America

Here we are sampling Cabot cheeses before the race. We usually don’t eat right before running, but I think we actually did better with some food in our tummies!

Disclosure: As a Cabot Team Leader for the virtual race, Cabot paid for my entry fee for the Tufts 10k and made a $100 donation in my name to my local food bank. I was not compensated for writing this post, and  all opinions are my own.

Janice and Mary at Tufts 10k starting line

At the starting line, we asked ourselves what we were thinking when we agreed to run six-plus miles. “Run” is actually a bit of an overstatement, since what we do is more of a slow jog or “wog.”

Mary and Janice running Tufts 10k for Women with Cabot

After 5.5 miles we were still smiling!

It’s not too late to participate in the Cabot Virtual Race to benefit Feeding America. To participate, you don’t have to join an official race; all you have to do is register, pay $25.00, and get out and run or walk or jog or “wog” before the end of October. You can even complete your run on a treadmill!

Cabot Cheese Gift Box

In addition to making donations to food assistance programs across the country through Feeding America, Cabot is also offering this Legacy Collection gift box filled with savory cheeses and a cork screw to one of our blog readers.

TO ENTER the gift box giveaway, post a comment here telling us how you’d use this cheese in your everyday cooking and/or entertaining. (U.S. only please.)

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

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

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

> Follow us on Pinterest.

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

We’ll pick our winner on November 1st at noon EST using Good luck!

Oh, and do let me know if you end up running 🙂

A Sneak Peek of our Recent Trip to NYC for the Annual Meeting of the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP)

Last weekend, we traveled from Boston to the Big Apple for The Fashion of Food: Where Food, Fashion, and Media Connect, IACP’s annual food conference. For starters, we sat in on seminars featuring everyone from cookbook author Sara Moulton and Amanda Hesser of Food52 to Ruth Reichl, former Editor in Chef of Gourmet Magazine. As a main course, we listened to chef celebrities like Mario Batali, co-host of The Chew and Grant Achatz, owner of Alinea and Next and a leader in molecular gastronomy … and we hobnobbed with fellow food bloggers, cookbook authors, and dietitians. On a forthcoming Cooking with the Moms podcast, we’ll fill you in on all the delicious details. But in the meantime, here are just a few of the scrumptious highlights.

Okay. Let’s start with the bad news. Our podcast, Cooking with the Moms, was an IACP award’s finalist for the best culinary audio program in the broadcast and new media category. We did not win (hence the sad faces). But alas, it sure was an honor to be nominated!

At the award’s ceremony, Jacques Pepin paid homage to Julia Child. Did you know that this August marks the 100th birthday of the late food icon?

Look who we ran into … Virginia Willis, author of several cookbooks including Basic to Brilliant Y’all. Virginia was signing books at the CanolaInfo booth during the IACP’s Culinary Expo.

The Culinary Expo showcased cookware giants like KitchenAid and Cuisinart and local, New York-based artisanal food makers including Mitch Speaks, creator of these handmade Mitchmallows. The mint chocolate chip flavor was out of this world. If you listen to our podcast, you’ll know that Liz is obsessed with marshmallows, so she spent quite a bit of time at Mitch’s booth!

Liz spent Sunday afternoon showing off our cookbook, No Whine with Dinner at the Book & Blog Festival. Stopping by for a visit were Janet Helm, MS, RD from the blog, Nutrition Unplugged and co-founder of Healthy Aperture … and Wendy Bazilian, RD, author of The SuperFoods RX Diet.

Janice spoke on a panel sponsored by Dupont Teflon to discuss new consumer food trends — everything from cooking at home more often to paying more attention to the price of food. Other experts on the panel included award-winning health journalist and television personality Rovenia Brock, PhD, author and food stylist Lauren Braun Costello, Editor-in-Chief of Jocelyn Ramos Campbell, and food scientist Kantha Shelke, PhD. Kelsey Nixon from the Cooking Channel’s Kelsey’s Essentials moderated the panel.

We can’t wait to tell you about the AMAZING meal we had at Locanda Verde and the foodie/dietitian friends who joined us (hint: one of them was Ellie Krieger, host of the Cooking Channel’s Healthy Appetite). This salad featured bitter greens with dried cherries, hazelnuts, truffles, and smoked speck.

Stay tuned for more IACP news in the weeks to come 🙂

Bean Brownies … The Fun Never Ends. A Recipe for White Bean Blondies Made with Garbanzo Beans!

It was exactly two summers ago when our dream of creating a delicious, kid-friendly black bean brownie became a reality. We posted our then-new recipe for Fudgy Black Bean Brownies on our blog, and since then, it’s been the number-one, most popular post ever. Who new?!

White Bean Blondie Brownies via

Recently, fellow dietitian and friend Regan Miller Jones over at The Professional Palate made our Fudgy Black Bean brownies. She’d been watching the growing bean-dessert trend in the blogosphere for quite some time and was determined to try our recipe. She was more than pleasantly surprised with the results, and from there, turned her culinary attention to blondies … using garbonzo beans (also called chickpeas).

White Bean Blondie Brownies via

Interestingly, a few months back, we were on the same white-bean-brownie mission but decided to use cannellini beans. We had limited success (the brownie texture was a bit “gummy” for lack of a better word), so when we saw Regan’s recent White Bean Blondies post (recipe adapted from our Fudgy Black Bean Brownies and Chocolate-Chip Blondies by Chocolate Covered Katie), we headed straight to The Meal Makeover Moms’ test kitche to give ’em a whirl. The brownies turned out so great, and our kids loved them so much, that we have awarded Regan our Healthy Meal with Kid Appeal Award (we haven’t given out this award in quite some time — been soooo busy — so we’re excited to get it up and running again).

White Bean Blondies

Makes 16 Servings

Regan calls for cinnamon in her recipe to “soften” the flavor of the beans, and she also recommends blending the beans in a food processor until very smooth to avoid biting into any “bits” of beans! We tweaked the recipe just a tad by using mini chocolate chips versus regular chips. Next time we make these, we will probably cut the amount from 3/4 to 1/2 cup. Please note too that we adapted the recipe format a bit to adapt to our blog style.

  • One 15.5-ounce can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained and rinsed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 3/4 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

White Bean Blondie Brownies via Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly oil or coat a 9 x 9-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

2. Place the garbanzo beans in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth and creamy. Add the eggs, sugar, oil, vanilla extract, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon and process until smooth.  Add the oats and chips and pulse just until blended.

3. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and smooth the top with a rubber spatula.

4. Bake 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let stand at least 20 minutes before slicing. Store in refrigerator. (Recipe adapted from The Professional Palate.)

Nutrition Information per Serving (1 brownie):  130 calories, 5g fat (1.5g saturated), 70mg sodium, 20g carbohydrate, 2g fiber,  3g protein

Print Recipe

White Bean Blondie Brownies via love these brownies for several reasons:

> They are super kid friendly!
> They taste great.
> They are easy to make.
> They contain some of our favorite nutrient-rich ingredients: beans, eggs (we use Eggland’s Best eggs because of their vitamin E, D and omega-3 content), and old-fashioned oats which are a whole grain.

Let us know if you try Regan’s White Bean Blondies or if you have another bean brownie recipe that’s worked out well for your family. As always, we enjoy hearing from you. A huge congrats to Regan for her award and a huge thank you for contributing such a delicious recipe to our kitchens.

Registered Dietitian Day and a Tribute to Katherine Musgrave (Podcast #137)

Today is Registered Dietitian Day, and to celebrate I’d like to tell you about the dietitian of all dietitians. Last weekend Don and I drove five hours in the pouring rain from Boston to Orono, Maine to attend a luncheon in honor of Katherine Musgrave, DSc, RD.  Katherine in no ordinary dietitian. Since 1942, she has been a member of the American Dietetic Association and has been practicing her profession ever since.  When I attended the University of Maine in 1978 (please don’t do the math!) Katherine was my nutrition professor and adviser, and today, even though she is 91 years old, she continues to work full time.

In addition to teaching nutrition at the University, she also consults in a doctor’s office, is a weekly guest expert on a local radio show, and advocates at the state and national level for public policy issues relating to nutrition and health. And did I mention that at the age of 85, she served as President of the Maine Dietetic Association … and that was her second term? On this week’s Cooking with the Moms we pay tribute to my very favorite dietitian, mentor, and hero, Katherine Musgrave.

Katherine became a dietitian in 1942 (we love the white uniform). One year later, the USDA recommends Americans eat 2 tablespoons of butter each day. That’s 200 calories and 14 grams of saturated fat and a far cry from what’s recommended today!

I think food is too accessible even in our own homes. Our kitchens now are so available with our cupboards and our refrigerators. When I was a child growing up on a Tennessee farm, the kitchen was closed at night. When that stove got cold after supper, nobody went back into the kitchen for a snack. I was from a hard-working family, but nobody ever went back into the kitchen for a snack.” — Katherine Musgrave

What I believe is that the human body is a miracle that will heal itself and will prevent disease if we treat it right. And I think a large part of this treatment is the food we eat.” — Katherine Musgrave

Everyone at the luncheon was greeted with this special I’m a Fan button touting Katherine’s nutrition mantra: Balance, Variety, Moderation.

The lunch featured many local foods including Salad with Maine Scallops, Shrimp & Mussels, Orzo with Roasted Balsamic Vegetables, and Fettucine with Maine Seafood.

Dessert was an apple crisp. On this week’s show, we serve up our own version of apple crisp: Apple Blueberry Walnut Crisp (you can use frozen wild blueberries for a burst of antioxidants).

Katherine founded a scholarship several years ago to benefit nutrition students. After the event, I was delighted to make a donation on behalf of Meal Makeover Moms 🙂


Healthy Meal with Kid Appeal Award: Mommy’s Kitchen’s Blueberry Banana Smoothie

A few weeks ago, my daughter Carolyn had all four of her wisdom teeth removed (just the thought of it makes me cringe). Around that time, our friend Tina from Mommy’s Kitchen sent us her Blueberry Banana Smoothie recipe.  It looked delicious, so I decided to make it for Carolyn as she sat crumpled on the couch recuperating from her ordeal.  As the blender was whirring, Courtney, Carolyn’s godmother, stopped by for a visit. After a few sips, both declared the smoothie a winner.

Carolyn, hidden on the left (hey, no one looks good after having four teeth pulled), and Courtney enjoying their smoothies!

Even though Carolyn is 17 years old and about to enter college (yikes!), it still breaks my heart to see her in pain. Tina’s cool, refreshing smoothie made her feel a little bit better … and I felt better too because Tina’s smoothie is packed with great nutrition thanks to the blueberries, bananas, yogurt, and milk. Given all this recipe has to offer, we are pleased to announce that Mommy’s Kitchen is the recipient of this month’s Healthy Meal with Kid Appeal Award!

Tina’s photo of her yummy Blueberry Banana Smoothie.

Testing the smoothie in The Meal Makeover Moms’ test kitchen.

Blueberry Banana Smoothie
Makes about 3 Servings

  • 1 1/2 cups ice cubes
  • 1/2 to 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1  cup low fat milk, plain or vanilla soy milk, or almond milk
  • 1  cup blueberry or vanilla yogurt
  • 1 to 2  ripe bananas

1. Add the ice cubes, blueberries and milk to the blender. Blend on ice breaker or icy drink to break up the ice a bit. Add yogurt and bananas and blend until smooth. Pour into glasses and enjoy.

Print Recipe

When Leah got home from school, she tried the smoothie and gave it two thumbs up!

Tina’s little friend Gracie drinks her smoothie in a sippy cup!

What I like about the recipe if that it’s flexible. For example, you can add 1 to 2 bananas depending on what’s on hand and you can use soy milk, almond milk or cow’s milk. The kids don’t have to know that it is chock full of great nutrition — bone-building calcium and vitamin D from the milk and yogurt, vitamin C and antioxidants from the blueberries, and potassium from the bananas. Thanks Tina for sharing your recipe!  For more great recipes, head on over to Mommy’s Kitchen blog.

Healthy Meal with Kid Appeal Award: Treats and Feasts’ Carrot Cake Cookies

There’s nothing unusual about a recipe for carrot cake or for that matter, carrot cupcakes. But carrot cookies? Last month, Facebook fan Leah S., a mom of two and a fellow registered dietitian and food blogger (her blog is called Treats and Feasts), shared her recipe for Carrot Cake Cookies. The original recipe came from her sister-in-law, but Leah tweaked it a bit by replacing the butter with canola oil, swapping out some of the white flour for whole wheat, and tossing in some ground flaxseed for good measure. Needless to say, The Meal Makeover Moms were intrigued!

Leah’s children peel carrots and help mom make one of their favorite treats.

This cookie “overhaul” has everything we love:  Big-time kid appeal (Liz’s boys, Josh and Simon, couldn’t believe there were actually carrots in the cookies and that they actually liked them!), ease of preparation, and great nutrition. Given all this recipe has to offer, we are pleased to award Leah with our Healthy Meal with Kid Appeal Award.

Carrot Cake Cookies

Makes About 3 Dozen (adapted from Treats and Feasts)

  • 1/2 cup canola oil (original was butter)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (original was 1 cup)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (original was 2 cups white)
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour (or you can use 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour)
  • 1/4 cup ground flaxseed (added from original)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice (original was nutmeg)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/3 cup oats
  • 1 cup grated or finely chopped carrots (about 8 ounces)
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts)

1. Whisk together the oil and sugars until well combined. Whisk in the eggs until well combined.  In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, flaxseed, baking powder, baking soda, salt, allspice, and cinnamon. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until combined.  Stir in the oats, carrots, and nuts.

2. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 9 to 12 minutes until golden on the bottoms. Repeat with remaining batter.

Optional: For the icing, mix together about 1/2 cup powdered sugar with milk (add 1 teaspoon at a time) and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract until smooth. Not too thick, not too thin. You want it to hold its shape when piped onto cookies. You can use an icing piping bag or cut the end off a sandwich bag just big enough to let the icing pipe out onto cookies.

Nutrition Information per Serving (1 cookie without icing): 90 calories, 6g fat (0.5g saturated, 2.5g monounsaturated), 8g carbohydrate, 1.5g fiber, 2g protein, 20% vitamin A

Print Recipe

Here are some additional notes from the Meal Makeover Moms’ Kitchen:

> For the carrots, you can grate them on the fine holes of your box grater or buy pre-shredded carrots and chop them into tiny bits.

> We didn’t top our cookies with icing, and the kids still loved them. They came out a bit more rounded than Leah’s … and kind of reminded us of little muffin tops.

> We made the cookies with nutmeg, so feel free to use either nutmeg or allspice.

> We used quick-cooking oats, and we chopped the walnuts until they were pretty fine.

We’d like to thank Leah for a super easy, kid-friendly (and mom friendly) recipe. This is a cookie you can feel good about serving and one your kids will surely gobble up.

Healthy Meal with Kid Appeal Award: Steamy Kitchen’s Chinese Beef Broccoli

I used to spend a lot of time reading food magazines, but thanks to the explosion of thousands of amazing food blogs, my attention has turned to the web. A few months back, Diana from Dianasaur Dishes was running a giveaway on her blog for The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook: 101 Asian Recipes Simple Enough for Tonight’s Dinner, written by fellow food blogger and social media diva, Jaden Hair (Jaden just launched a new website called Food Blog Forum, so be sure to check it out). Lucky for me, I won the giveaway! This past weekend it rained nonstop in the Boston area (a la Noah’s Ark), so I finally had time to sit down and read through the book.

The recipe I decided to make was for Chinese Beef Broccoli. It was easy to prepare, called for ingredients I had on hand, and was packed with lots of broccoli. Best of all, it went over BIG with Simon (Josh and Tim were out at a Boston University hockey game eating heaven knows what, so they missed out on our feast). Since Jaden has two boys of her own, I figured this recipe would be a winner … and I was right.

Given all the great things this recipe has to offer and the fact that Simon ate every last bite of broccoli on his plate, Janice and I are honoring  Jaden from Steamy Kitchen with our Healthy Meal with Kid Appeal Award! Read on for the recipe …

Chinese Beef Broccoli

From The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook (with a few tiny tweaks)

Here’s how Jaden describes this dish: “I can’t remember the last time I went to a restaurant and ordered Broccoli Beef. Love the dish, but there’s nothing I detest more than goopy brown sauce that normally drags this dish down. I want my broccoli to be tender-crisp and taste like broccoli, not just covered in thick sauce. My tip is to steam the broccoli separate and to use a minimal amount of cornstarch (it’s only in the steak marinade).”

  • 1 ½ teaspoons soy sauce (I used lite soy sauce)
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • ½ teaspoon cooking oil (I used canola oil)
  • Freshly ground black pepper to season the beef
  • 1 pound top sirloin or flank steak, thinly sliced across the grain into 1/8th-inch-thick strips
  • 3 tablespoons gluten-free oyster sauce (I used an MSG-free oyster sauce)
  • 2 teaspoons Chinese rice wine (or dry sherry)
  • 2 teaspoons Chinese black vinegar (or balsamic vinegar)
  • 1 ½ pounds broccoli, cut into bite-size florets
  • 1 tablespoon high-heat cooking oil (I used canola oil)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic

1. In a bowl, combine the soy sauce, cornstarch, cooking oil, and pepper for the beef marinade. Add the beef and let marinade for 10 minutes at room temperature.

2. In a small bowl, mix together the oyster sauce, rice wine, and vinegar for the stir-fry sauce.

3. In a wok or large sauté pan, add 1 inch of water and bring to a boil. Add the broccoli and cover to steam for 3 minutes. The broccoli should be bright green, crisp tender, and you should be able to pierce the stem with a fork. Drain and set aside.

4. Discard the water in the pan and dry the pan well. Set the pan over high heat and when hot, add the high-heat cooking oil and swirl to coat. Add the garlic and fry for 15 to 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add the steak strips, keeping them in one layer and fry 30 seconds. Flip the strips and fry the other side.

5. Pour in the stir-fry sauce and stir to combine. Simmer until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon, about 30 seconds. Add the cooked broccoli back into the pan and toss to coat well.  Jaden recommends serving over steamed Jasmine rice.

Print Recipe

Here are a few additional cooking notes from MY steamy kitchen:

> Jaden suggested replacing the meat with “meaty” shitake mushrooms for a vegetarian option. I decided to make the dish with 3/4 pound flank steak and 1/4 pound quartered shitake mushrooms, and I steamed the mushrooms with the broccoli.
> I served the stir-fry with brown rice, and I cheated by using the frozen Trader Joe’s variety!
> This recipe can serve a family of four comfortably. I think it would be great with some sliced pears or orange slices on the side.
> I couldn’t find Chinese rice vinegar or Chinese rice wine, so I used the alternative ingredients Jaden called for in the recipe.

I liked this recipe so much that I definitely plan to make it again. Thanks Jaden!

The Biggest Losers

Last Saturday, the “Biggest Losers” was definitely the overarching theme of our day.

For starters, we had the pleasure of meeting our friend, Cheryl Forberg, for lunch in Napa, CA. Cheryl is the official dietitian for NBCs The Biggest Loser and the author of the newly released book, The Biggest Loser Simple Swaps. We’ll tell you more about our lunch with Cheryl in a bit.

Later that day, the “loser” theme popped up again at the first annual Foodbuzz Dinner & Award Ceremony in San Francisco, which we attended. Here’s the back story: Last month, we were nominated by Foodbuzz for Best Family Blog. We were humbled and honored to say the least. Coincidentally, we were scheduled to speak in Napa at the Manic Mommies Escape the same weekend as the Foodbuzz Festival, so we were thrilled that we’d be able to stop by the dinner to collect our award (LOL).

Okay, okay. We lost. But we were up against some pretty stiff competition: La Fuji Mama, Pioneer Woman, Savor the Thyme and A Little Bit of Spain in Iowa. The Pioneer Woman — horseback riding food and lifestyle blogger living in Oklahoma who takes the prettiest darn pictures you’ve ever seen — took home the Golden Fork, and we salute her (and thank everyone who voted)! Hey, there’s always next year.

Phew! Now that we’ve spilled our guts about losing, we thought you might like to hear a bit about the food blogger dinner. But before we share the details, in the spirit of full disclosure, on the drive back to Napa, The Meal Makeover Moms were pulled over while driving across the Bay Bridge.


It seems Liz was driving too SLOW in the right lane! That’s right. You can actually get pulled over for that (in her defense, it was a dark and stormy night, the Bay Bridge had just reopened after repairs, and it was kind of scary). The police officer was mighty handsome and quickly realized that the women driving the rented Toyota Corolla were just two sweet, innocent , and yes, loser dietitians with no bad intent. So off into the night we went without so much as a warning (but then again, what could he say?).

So, the dinner. The event was held at the GreenLeaf Produce Market in San Francisco (did we mention we arrived 45 minutes late because our GPS got us lost?!) and prepared by Outstanding in the Field which brings together local farmers, food artisans, chefs and winemakers to explore the connection between the earth and the food on your plate. There were a couple hundred food bloggers in the room (did we mention it was as cold as a walk-in refrigerator?) including Biggie from the blog Lunch in a Box, Elise from Simply Recipes, and Diana from Dianasaur Dishes who sat across from us at the end of the long, meandering table (did we mention we were in the overflow section?).

There was no shortage of delicious food at the feast including Mushroom Risotto with Koshihikari Rice and Crispy Maitake Mushrooms, Soy Braised Beef Cheeks and Oxtails, Baby Carrots and Fingerling Potatoes, OB Beer and Denjang Demi, and Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Ponzu Fried Garlic, Guanciale, and Bonito Flakes (our favorite). Despite the various trials and tribulations we encountered on our journey to the dinner and back, the night was a huge success.

Now, for our other Biggest Loser story: Earlier that day, we had lunch with dietitian pal, Cheryl Forberg. Now in her 8th season as nutritionist for The Biggest Loser, we think she has one of the coolest jobs on the planet. Cheryl suggested we meet at Ubuntu, a vegetarian restaurant and yoga studio in downtown Napa.

We wanted to eat a light lunch so we shared three lunch entrees and one tiny dessert.

Liz chose the Salt-Roasted Hudson Ranch Beets, Crushed Avocado, Red Quinoa, ‘Ruju’ Persimmon, Hazelnut “Soil.” The dish reminded us that we really need to come up with a recipe using quinoa (and no, we have no idea what “hazelnut soil” is).

From there, we dug into Cheryl’s pick: a steamy bowl of Rancho Gordo Yellow Eye Bean Stew with Rosemary, Torn Bread, Chili, and Braised Black Kale.

And finally, Janice chose the Organic Grits with a Soft Farm Egg, Goat’s Milk Whey, Green Tomato Marmalade, and Trumpet Bacon.

The Mini Vegan Carrot Cucapes with ‘Cream Cheese’ Frosting and Tiny Purple Haze Carrots on top was a sweet ending to a fabulous meal.

We’d go back to Ubuntu in a heartbeat. The ambiance, decor, service, and food were all top notch, and it was great to hear some of Cheryl’s behind-the-scene stories from the show.

On a final note, stay tuned for our Cooking with the Moms podcast next week when we share all of our adventures — including the Manic Mommies Escape — out in California.

PS: For more photos from the Foodbuzz dinner and the Ubuntu lunch, visit our Flickr page.

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