Asian Beef Bowls: A Fast and Flavorful Family Dinner

This Asian Beef Bowl is made with lean ground beef and a flavor-filled sauce of reduced-sodium soy sauce, toasted sesame oil, ginger, a bit of brown sugar, and fresh mint and cilantro. Serve over brown rice, and top with sesame seeds, sugar snap peas, and sliced radishes for a fast, easy and nutrient-rich family dinner. 

Asian Beef Bowls via #lean #beef #vegetables #brownrice

When my boys came home from school in late May, the first thing they asked me after lots of hugs and multiple loads of laundry was, “what’s for dinner?” It still blows my mind that my boys are now 21 and 17. Lucky for me, they’ve always been good eaters, and over the years, their appetites have grown to the point where even after dinner, they ask, “what’s for dinner?” I’m not kidding. This is what really happens in my house every night!

Asian Beef Bowls via #lean #beef #vegetables #dinner #rice

I’ve been playing around with this recipe for Asian Beef Bowls since my boys descended on my kitchen last month, and I finally nailed it today. This easy bowl meal satisfies my boys’ hearty appetites, and it provides stellar nutrition.

I use a pound of lean ground beef, so everyone gets a healthy, 4-ounce portion (uncooked) and reaps the health benefits of beef: zinc for a healthy immune system; protein for strong muscles; B vitamins for energy; phosphorous for building bones; and iron, which helps the body use oxygen.

{A 3-ounce portion of lean beef has less than 10 grams of total fat, 4.5 grams or less of saturated fat, and nearly half of the daily value for protein.}

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Rib-Sticking Meatloaf Gets a Healthy Makeover + Freezer Meal Tips and Tricks {The Recipe Redux}

Stick-to-your-ribs meatloaf gets a healthy makeover with lean ground beef, the addition of shredded carrot and oats, and flavor enhancers like green onion, garlic, and garden-fresh basil.

You can easily double this recipe and freeze the second loaf for a family-friendly freezer meal.

Rib-Sticking Meatloaf makeover via

September always feels like my busiest month of the year. Summer vacation turns to back-to-school time, and Tim and I always find ourselves clocking more hours at the office. (My office is my home, so I can’t complain!) I tend to cook a lot more, and when I can, I double what I’m making so I can freeze it for another day.

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How to Make Homemade Tamales

Tamales. I had enjoyed them in Mexican restaurants but never considered making homemade tamales for myself… until my friend, Catherine, invited me over for a tamale-making gathering at her house.

Homemade Tamales with Guacamole

Tamales are packets of corn dough with a savory or sweet filling. They are usually wrapped in corn husks or banana leaves and steamed.  Tamale making is often a community event, and we enjoyed our creations with a bowl of vegetarian posole soup and a side of guacamole. Comfort food at its best!

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Food & Nutrition Adventures in Atlanta at FNCE 2014

Liz and I both attended the annual Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo (FNCE) of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in Atlanta earlier this month, and we dish about our experiences on this week’s Cooking with the Moms podcast.

Liz shared the highlights of her trip in an earlier blog post, and now it’s my turn. For me it’s all about the people. Don’t get me wrong, I love to go to educational sessions and learn new things, but it’s connecting with my RDN friends – both new and old – that really inspires me.

Janice in Atlanta at FNCE with Flat Matthew

My good friend and colleague, Joan Salge Blake, was on my plane from Boston so we shared a cab to downtown Atlanta. She brought along her nephew’s Flat Matthew and we had fun taking pictures of him with different people -including the Delta pilot and flight attendants, and me!

Southern Dining at Pittypat's Porch

My first night in town I followed my cab driver’s advice and ate shrimp and grits at the iconic Pittypat’s Porch with my friend Susan. Collard greens, beans, and cornbread rounded out our meal. Sometimes a girl just needs some southern cooking!

Janice and Susan selfie

The Academy is getting hip to the social media scene and had several areas for members to take selfies. Here I am with my best attempt at taking a selfie with Susan.

Constance Brown-Riggs, RD singing National Anthem

Before every FNCE opening session our amazing  colleague, Constance Brown Riggs, sings the National Anthem in front of the thousands of attendees. It always send chills up my spine to hear her beautiful voice.

Food products from FNCE 2014

Here are some of the foods that I saw and sampled on the Expo floor: breads made with ancient grains and nuts, pumpkin yogurt (YUM!), pre-washed kale and collard greens, and dried fruits. I’m sure this is the type of food you get at all conferences, right?

KIND bar samples

My daughter, Leah, had just one request for me on this trip: “Bring me back some KIND bars!” KIND was featuring their new Strong & Kind savory bars with flavors like Honey Mustard, Roasted Jalapeno, and Thai Sweet Chili. Leah tried them and decided she prefers the sweeter, original flavors.

Kate Geagan with Eat Well Embrace Life hummus

I ran into my good friend, Kate Geagan at the Eat Well Embrace Life hummus booth. The beet hummus was my favorite!

Biltmore Hotel Atlanta- Food & Culinary Professionals reception at FNCE 2014

I am past chair of the Food & Culinary Professionals subgroup of the Academy, and attending our networking reception at the Biltmore Hotel was a highlight of the conference. Just look at the beautiful room and the amazing food we ate. The champagne was fun to drink too!

Food & Culinary Reception with Kim Beavers, Deanna Segrave-Daly and Amy Myrdal-Miller at FNCE 2014

I couldn’t resist one more photo of the FCP reception. Here I am with RD pal Kim Beavers, and fellow past chairs, Deanna Segrave-Daly and Amy Myrdal-Miller.

It’s hard to keep up with all the great receptions during FNCE. Here I am sipping on a pomegranate champagne cocktail at the Wonderful reception with friends Maye Musk and Susan Latham.

Skyview Atlanta with Jackie Newgent, Katie Cavuto, and Susan Latham

I went up in the very cool Skyview Atlanta ferris wheel in downtown Atlanta with my friends Jackie Newgent, Katie Cavuto, and Susan. Thanks, Wonderful brands!

NCBA Beef Lunch and Cranberry Dinner at FNCE

I was lucky enough to be invited to some awesome sponsored events. At a beef-sponsored luncheon, learned how to cut ribeye steaks and then ate them for lunch. The first course was elegant Pickled Summerland Farm Beets.

The dessert in the photo is of an upside down cranberry semolina cake with raspberry sauce and cranberry-black pepper ice cream that I devoured at an Ocean Spray dinner. Wow, wish I could eat like this every night!

Swag from FNCE

It’s always fun to unpack your bag when you get home from FNCE and look at all the swag and share it with your family. I love my job!

In case you think that all I did was hang out with friends and eat good food I will tell you that I did attend a number of sessions and some of the buzz words I took back from the conference are fermentation (we need to eat more fermented foods) and microbiome. Did you know you have 10 times more bacteria than cells in your body? We need to make sure the good bacteria outnumber the bad. Fascinating stuff. If you want to learn more you’ll need to listen to our podcast!

Cha Cha Cha Chia Meatballs + Chia Seed Nutrition

This low fat, gluten-free meatball recipe is a dinner favorite with busy families. Made with lean ground beef, grated carrot, chia seeds, and fresh basil, they’re nutritious and delicious.  

Cha Cha Cha Chia Meatballs via

I love the flavor of these lean meatballs, and they’re super healthy too thanks to a bunch of nutrient-rich ingredients: lean ground beef, carrots, and chia seeds. We dish all about chia seeds on episode #254 of this week’s Cooking with the Moms radio podcast, and we share this meatball recipe as well as our recipe for Chocolate Chia Pudding.

Cha Cha Cha Chia Meatballs via

Chia seeds have a long list of health and culinary benefits. They’re rich in heart-healthy omega-3 fats as well as fiber. And chia seeds are hydrophilic, which means they absorb water. In this recipe, they help to bind the ingredients together, so you don’t need breadcrumbs.

This healthy, low-fat meatball recipe is made with lean ground beef, chia seeds, carrots, and fresh basil #family #dinner

Meatballs are easy to make. Just place all your ingredients in a large bowl and mix away.

This healthy, low-fat meatball recipe is made with lean ground beef, chia seeds, carrots, and fresh basil #family #dinner

 These meatballs are gluten free, because the chia seeds replace the usual  breadcrumbs.

This healthy, low-fat meatball recipe is made with lean ground beef, chia seeds, carrots, and fresh basil #family #dinner

Serve my meatballs with rice for a gluten-free option; If gluten is not an issue with your family, serve on a sub roll or with your favorite pasta.

Cha Cha Cha Chia Meatballs
Meatballs are one of those recipes we turn to all the time when our kids say, "I'm hungry!!" They're nutritious, filling, and easy to make when we're busy but still craving something homemade.
Recipe type: Dinner
Serves: 6
  • 1 pound lean ground beef (90% lean or higher)
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 medium carrot, grated (about ½ cup)
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • ½ cup packed basil leaves, roughly chopped (about ¼ cup)
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 green onions, white and light green parts, finely chopped (about ¼ cup)
  • 1 medium clove garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • One 24-ounce jar pasta sauce
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil. Spray with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
  2. Place the ground beef, egg, carrot, chia seeds, basil, Parmesan cheese, onions, garlic, salt and pepper in a large bowl and mix until just combined. Shape the meat mixture into twenty-four 1½-inch balls. Place on the prepared baking sheet and cook until lightly browned, 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, place the pasta sauce in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cover and bring to a simmer. When the meatballs come out of the oven, add them to the sauce, reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the meatballs are fully cooked and have absorbed some of the sauce-y flavors, about 20 minutes.
Each serving has .7 grams omega-3 fats, 50% vitamin A, 15% vitamin C, and 20% iron.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: (4 meatballs), Calories: 220, Fat: 10g, Saturated fat: 3.5g, Carbohydrates: 13g, Sodium: 520mg, Fiber: 4g, Protein: 9g,

Tell me how you incorporate nutritious chia seeds into your family’s diet. We’d love to hear your ideas.

Cheeseburger Pizza Pie Bundles {Recipe Redux Cooking Challenge}

Kids love pizza and they also love to eat with their fingers, which is why our playful pizza “bundles” should hit the spot. We’ve made “bundles” before with egg roll wrappers (check out our Chicken Pot Pie Bundles and Beef & Bean Taco Bundles) and now we’re back with a new “bundle” recipe for this month’s Recipe Redux cooking challenge.

Cheeseburger Pizza Pie Bundles

Reduxers were tasked with giving the pizza delivery guy a break, so for our creation, we combined nutrient-rich lean ground beef and spinach with pasta sauce, mozzarella cheese, and low-fat cottage cheese for these adorable Cheeseburger Pizza Pie Bundles.

Cheeseburger Pizza Pie Bundles via

The trick to the perfect bundles is a little bit of patience. Lining 12 muffin tins with egg roll wrappers takes a few minutes, and you have to be gentle so you don’t rip the wrappers. GO SLOW! But once the muffin tins are lined, you’re ready for the filling. This recipe is fun to make—get the kids involved!—but even more fun to eat.

Cheeseburger Pizza Pie Bundles

Makes 6 Servings

Instead of making pizza into a predictable pie or even using pita bread to build it, we gave pizza a non-traditional twist by turning it into a “bundle.” By using ingredients like lean ground beef, spinach, pasta sauce, and protein-rich cottage cheese and mozzarella cheese, we came up with a recipe everyone in your family will love. It’s nutritious and of course, filled with fun flavors. For even more of a flavor kick, you can toss in fresh chopped basil.

  • 3 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • One 6-ounce bag baby spinach
  • 1 pound lean ground beef (90% lean or higher)
  • 2/3 cup pasta sauce
  • 1 cup part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 3/4 cup low-fat cottage cheese
  • 12 egg roll wrappers (NOT the smaller wonton wrappers)

1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Heat 2 teaspoons of the oil in a large nonstick skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until golden, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Raise the heat to medium-high, add the spinach and cook, stirring frequently, until the spinach wilts, 3 to 5 minutes. Place on a cutting board and coarsely chop.

2. Add the meat to the skillet and cook, breaking up the large pieces, until the meat is no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Drain excess fat. Turn off the heat. Add the spinach to the cooked meat and stir to combine. Add 1/2 cup of the mozzarella cheese and the pasta sauce and stir until combined and the cheese melts. (You will end up with 3.5 cups of the meat mixture.)

3. To prepare the bundles, use a muffin pan with 12 medium-size cups (do not coat with nonstick cooking spray). Gently place 1 egg roll wrap into each cup, letting it extend over the sides. Place a generous 1/4 cup of the meat mixture into each wrap. Top each with 1 tablespoon of the cottage cheese and arrange the remaining cheese evenly over each bundle. Fold the corners of the wrappers up and over the top of the filling and press to seal the edges (it doesn’t have to be perfect!). Brush the remaining 1 teaspoon oil on top of the bundles.

4. Bake until golden and crisp, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool slightly before eating.

Nutrition Information per Serving (2 bundles): 210 calories, 7g fat (2.5g saturated), 370mg sodium, 21g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 15g protein, 15% vitamin A, 10% calcium, 15% iron

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Cheeseburger Pizza Pie Bundles via

A Recipe for Slow Cooker Sweet & Hearty Beef Stew … Plus, Go Red Sox {October Recipe Redux Challenge}

When it comes to sports, The Meal Makeover Moms are Yin and Yang. Janice is an avid sports fan and wouldn’t miss a Red Sox or Patriot’s game for the world. Liz on the other hand is a fair-weather fan … at best! But when it comes to the World Series, we’re all in.

The Meal Makeover Moms

As the World Series begins tonight, the goal for family meals this week will be fast, easy, and comforting, which is why we were excited about this month’s Recipe Redux cooking challenge featuring slow cooker creations.

Slow cooker beef stew

Our Sweet & Hearty Beef  Stew recipe takes just five minutes to assemble, and then the slow cooker does the rest of the work for you. As Red Sox Nation cozies up to watch their team battle it out with the Cardinals, steamy bowls filled with a mix of lean stew beef, sweet carrots, and mushrooms are guaranteed to hit the spot.

Sweet and Hearty Beef Stew

Makes 6 Servings

Looking for a home-run recipe for your family? Try this slow cooker beef stew with three veggies: mushrooms, carrots, and peas. Serve over egg noodles (fun for kids), brown rice, or with a whole wheat roll and a salad.

  • 8 ounces presliced mushrooms
  • 2 pounds lean stew meat, trimmed of fat
  • One 16-ounce bag baby carrots
  • One 8-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons cold water
  • 1 cup frozen petite peas, thawed

1.  Place the mushrooms in the bottom of a 5- or 6-quart slow cooker. Top with the stew meat and carrots.  In a bowl, mix together the tomato sauce, maple syrup, and vinegar, and salt and pour evenly over the meat and vegetables. Cover and cook on low until the meat and carrots are tender, 6 to 7 hours.

2.  When done, maintain the slow cooker on low heat. In a bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and water until well combined. Gently stir the cornstarch mixture and the peas into the slow cooker and cover until the liquid thickens and the peas heat through, about 5 minutes.

Nutrition Information per Serving:  350 calories, 11g fat (4g saturated), 420mg sodium, 29g carbohydrate, 4g fiber, 32g protein, 220% vitamin A, 15% vitamin C, 24% iron

Beef Stew

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.

A Recipe for California Avocado Macaroni Summer Salad … Plus Other Cookout Favorites {Podcast #222} … And a Giveaway for Fresh CA Avocados {Giveaway Closed}

Summer pasta salads are often loaded with mayonnaise, adding gobs of fat but not a whole lot of nutrition. We give classic macaroni salad a makeover by swapping out the mayo for a homemade dressing made with California Avocados, low-fat Greek yogurt, fresh herbs, olive oil, lemon juice, and garlic, and we feature it on this week’s Cooking with the Moms podcast. Tune in for our oh-so-healthy mac salad makeover and a second summer recipe for Avocado Beef and Black Bean Burgers. Read on for the recipes and news on our latest giveaway for fresh California avocados and assorted avocado kitchen essentials.

Macaroni salad made with a dressing of California Avocados and low-fat Greek yogurt

From the July 4th holiday right through Labor Day, take advantage of gorgeous, seasonal produce from farmers’ markets or your own backyard gardens. And don’t forget about local avocados from California, they’re in season right now through September.

California Avocado Macaroni Summer Salad

Makes 8 Servings

When we think of summer holidays, classic macaroni salad comes to mind. We lighten it up with our own avocado-inspired dressing, and then we toss in diced avocado, tomato, and corn kernels. And, of course, we use whole grain pasta! The addition of the avocados adds heart-healthy monounsaturated fat as well as nearly 20 vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients.

  • 3 cups dried whole wheat blend macaroni
  • 3 ripe Fresh California Avocados, halved, peeled and seeded
  • 1/2 cup low-fat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, packed
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint, packed
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice, divided
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 small clove garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup fresh corn kernels (or frozen and thawed)
  • Basil and mint, chopped (garnish)

1. Cook the pasta according to package directions.

2. While the pasta is cooking, place an avocado half in the bowl of a food processor or blender. Add the yogurt, basil, mint, olive oil, two tablespoons of the lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic, salt and pepper and process until smooth and creamy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.

3. Drain the pasta and place in a large bowl. Cool completely. Stir the dressing into the pasta until well combined. Meanwhile, cut the remaining avocados into 3/4-inch dice. Gently stir into the pasta with the tomatoes, corn and the remaining lemon juice.

4. Season with salt and pepper to taste, garnish with additional chopped herbs, and serve.

Nutrition Information Per Serving: Calories 370; Total Fat 19 g (Sat 3 g, Trans 0 g, Poly 2 g, Mono 13 g); Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 140 mg; Potassium 670 mg; Total Carbohydrates 44 g; Dietary Fiber 10 g; Total Sugars 4 g; Protein 10 g; Vitamin A 2044 IU; Vitamin C 24 mg; Calcium 62 mg; Iron 2 mg; Vitamin D 0 IU; Folate 110 mcg; Omega 3 Fatty Acid 0.1 g

*Large avocados are recommended for this recipe. A large avocado averages about 8 ounces. If using smaller or larger size avocados adjust the quantity accordingly.

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Taping an avocado summer recipe segment for The Daily Buzz

We cooked up this recipe as well as our avocado beef burgers for The Daily Buzz syndicated morning show. Here’s a behind the scenes photo of The Meal Makeover Moms in action with the crew from Video Link.

CA Avocado giveaway

Giveaway News: If you love avocados as much as we do, you’ll definitely want to enter this month’s giveaway for an avocado gift basket. One lucky winner will receive six fresh California avocados, a bamboo cutting board, an avocado apron and tee shirt, a reusable shopping tote, and more. (Open to U.S. residents only.) To enter, tell us your favorite way to eat avocados? Guacamole? A sandwich topping? In an Avocado Key Lime Pie? Share 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.
> 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 July 16th at noon, and as always we’ll use to pick our winner. Good luck!

Disclosure: We created this recipe for the California Avocado Commission and were compensated for the recipe and social media outreach. All opinions are solely our own. For more avocado recipes, you can visit For more July 4th avocado recipes, click here. 

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