FREE Trial Membership for THRIVE MARKET + Save up to 50% on Your Favorite Organic & Natural Products

Stocking our pantries with wholesome and organic staples just got a whole lot easier and affordable thanks to a new online shopping service called, THRIVE MARKET.

And now everyone in our Meal Makeover Mom community can save too!

Thrive Market via

When you visit our affiliate page on THRIVE MARKET, you’ll automatically receive a two-month FREE trial membership and $10.00 towards your first purchase!

{Disclosure: As part of Thrive’s blogger affiliate program, we earn a percentage of every paid membership.}

Thrive Market via

As moms, dietitians,  and food bloggers, we’re constantly cooking up easy, healthy and affordable meals our families (and yours!) will love. That’s why we were thrilled when THRIVE MARKET contacted us and asked us to give their online store a try. Thrive delivers our favorite non-perishable natural and organic foods (and household products) directly to our doors at wholesale prices that make them even more appealing.

Are you sitting down? All 4,000+ products at Thrive Market are sold at a 25% to 50% discount!

Thrive Market via

 We’re having a blast using this online marketplace for our favorite staples: chia and hemp seeds, snack bars, protein powder, pancake mix, dietary supplements, and even natural cleaning supplies. Hey, somebody has to do the dishes!

Thrive Market via

Here’s How It Works:

– Once you complete your two-month FREE membership and like the convenience and savings, you can join THRIVE at $59.95 for an annual membership. That’s just $5.00 per month.

– For every paying member who joins, THRIVE donates one free membership to a low-income family, a veteran, or a school teacher. That’s the kind of social mission we can sink our teeth into!

– The site includes the option to shop by specific dietary needs or values: Certified Organic, Moms, Gluten Free, Nut Free, Low Sodium, Vegan, etc.

– THRIVE offers free shipping anywhere in the continental United States on orders of $49.00 or more.

– THRIVE is committed to the environment, using recycled packaging and making sure that all of their own packaging is recyclable as well. They also purchase carbon offsets and are completely carbon neutral.

Check out some of our recent purchases … and the  savings!

Thrive Market via$8.45 on Thrive
$12.89 retail

Thrive Market via

$7.95 on Thrive
$11.35 retail
{Try our Avocado Banana Frosty made with coconut oil}

Thrive Market via$9.95 on Thrive
$15.15 retail
{Try our Lemon Olive Oil Cake with Blueberry Compote made with EVOO}

Thrive Market via

 $7.95 on Thrive
$11.39 retail
{Try our Pumpkin Chia Pudding made with chia seeds}

Interested in trying THRIVE MARKET for a 25% to 50% savings on your favorite organic and natural products? Visit our affiliate page for a 2-month FREE membership and $10.00 towards your first online purchase!

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 🙂

Pickled Cucumbers, Pickled Beets, and the Many Reasons I Love my CSA

Picking up my weekly CSA share makes me very, very happy!

Janice at her CSA

I’ve been a member of my CSA—Farm Direct Coop—since it came to Melrose, MA close to a decade ago, and every Thursday during the growing season, I fill my re-usable shopping bags with gorgeous, farm-fresh produce. Last week, I grabbed cucumbers and beets (and lots more!), came home, and got busy creating two recipes that I saw featured on my friend Paul’s Facebook page: Roasted Pickled Beets from Alton Brown and Pickled Cucumbers from Epicurious.

Roasted Pickled Beets via

For the roasting part of this recipe, I used my grill (which took a long time), so I’ll probably do what Alton recommends next time and use my oven. Beets are a good source of vitamin C, iron, folate, and magnesium, they also contain a plant nutrient called betalain which has anti-inflammatory properties. Best of all, I love the flavor of this root vegetable, which happens to be in the same “family” as Swiss chard, spinach, and quinoa. Who knew!

Janice picking beets from CSA via

CSA stands for, Community Supported Agriculture. In 1990, there were only 60 CSAs in the country. Today, there are over 6,500! Here are my top 5 reasons why I love being a member:

1. I feel great about supporting local farmers.

2. It forces me to try vegetables that I might not ordinarily use in my everyday cooking.

3. I run into my friends at the weekly pick up.

4. It challenges me to find new recipes and go out of my culinary comfort zone.

5. The produce lasts longer because it’s picked that day … and it tastes better than anything from the supermarket.

Pickled Cucumbers via

This recipe is ridiculously easy. It took literally just a few minutes to make, and within four hours, I had pickled cukes!

If you’re a CSA member, tell me what’s growing in your area this week.

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

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

Kids Cooking Green #vegetables via

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

Kids Cooking Green via

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

Kids Cooking Green via

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

Kids Cooking Green via

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

White Bean and Roasted Garlic Dip via

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

Roasting garlic via

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

Roasted Garlic via

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

White Bean and Roasted Garlic Dip
This recipe is adapted from Kids Cooking Green. It’s a flexible recipe—you can add your favorite leafy herb such as basil, cilantro, mint, or parsley—and Lori, who created the recipe, likes to also add roasted red peppers.
Recipe type: Appetizer, Snack
  • 1 head garlic
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • Two 15-ounce cans white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons fresh herbs, such as cilantro
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Slice the top off the head of garlic. Drizzle with 1 to 2 teaspoons olive oil. Wrap in aluminum foil, place on a small baking dish, and bake until the cloves are soft and lightly browned, about 45 minutes. Remove from oven, cool, and squeeze out the cloves, which should be a bit mushy. Place in the bowl of a food processor.
  2. To make the dip, add the remaining olive oil, beans, herbs, and lemon juice to the bowl. Process until smooth and creamy. Season with salt and pepper to taste. If you don't own a food processor, you can add your ingredients to a large bowl and smoosh with a potato masher.
  3. Serve with sliced vegetables and baked tortilla chips. (Note: The dip will keep for 2 to 3 days in the refrigerator.)


White Bean & Roasted Garlic Dip


The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2012 … and Our Recipe for Monster Cookie Makeover

There’s nothing better than a good ol’ fashioned cookie swap, and this year, we took part in the granddaddy of ’em all. Thanks to two dedicated bloggers, Love & and Olive Oil and The Little Kitchen, the second annual Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap welcomed well over 500 food bloggers from around the world. As part of the swap, we were given the names of three fellow food bloggers, Hannah from Cats and Commas, Ali from Cheater Bites, and Jackie from Just Add Milk, and then we sent each of them a dozen of our homemade Monster Cookies. In return, we received three dozen cookies from three other food bloggers: Kelley from The Culinary Enthusiast, Janet from A Cook at Heart, and Kristin from Nanna’s Cookbook.  How fun is that?!

To participate, we made a $4.00 donation to Cookies for Kid’s Cancer, a non-profit organization that raises money for pediatric cancer research. To thank us (which they really didn’t have to do), OXO sent us a Be a Good Cookie spatula.

For our makeover, we swapped the usual butter for heart-healthy canola oil, tossed in dried cranberries, used chocolate-covered sunflower seeds (they look like little ornaments and they’re naturally colored), cracked open three Eggland’s Best eggs (gotta love the extra omega-3, vitamin D, and lutein), and added just one cup of brown sugar for all 40 cookies. We used lots of oats too, which are downright nutritious!

Monster Cookie Makeover

Makes 3 Dozen Cookies

Here at Meal Makeover Moms’ Kitchen, we’re all about taking popular recipes and giving them a healthy and delicious makeover. We recently asked our Facebook fans which cookie they’d like us to make over and Monster cookies came up several times. This recipe was inspired by a Monster Cookie recipe we found on The Pioneer Woman and another one from Paula Deen. As you can only imagine, the original recipes had LOTS of butter! We hope you love our butter-free, better-for-you-but-just-as-luscious makeover. Happy holidays!

  • 4 cups quick-cooking oats
  • 3/4 cup chocolate sunflower seed drops (we found them at Trader Joe’s)
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup semi-sweet mini chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup peanut butter

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Oil or coat two large baking sheets with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

2. Whisk together the oats, sunflower seed drops, cranberries, chocolate chips, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl until well combined.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, brown sugar, oil, and vanilla until well combined. Whisk in the peanut butter until the mixture is smooth. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients, and stir until just moistened.

4. Working in batches, scoop the batter using a 2-tablespoon cookie scooper and place on the prepared baking sheets, flattening slightly with the heel of your hand to create circles, about 2½ inches in diameter. Leave about 1 inch between each cookie.

5. Bake, 1 sheet at a time, about 10 minutes, or until the cookies are golden brown. Cool slightly on the baking sheet before transferring the cookies to a wire rack. Repeat with the remaining dough.

For the “BEFORE” nutrient analysis, we used The Pioneer Woman’s Monster Cookie recipe with 2 sticks of butter:

Nutrition Information per Serving (1 cookie): 200 calories, 9g fat (5g saturated), 160mg sodium, 27g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 2g protein

Here is the nutrient analysis for our “AFTER” creation with 1/4 canola oil!:

Nutrition Information per Serving (1 cookie): 130 calories, 7g fat (1.5g saturated), 95mg sodium, 14g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 4g protein

Print Recipe

The cookies were shipped to Liz’s house (no worries, she shared with Janice), and you can’t imagine the excitement Liz felt when the packages arrived. (Bottom left of the montage to bottom right) Amaretti Cookies from Nanna’s Cookbook, Double Chocolate Biscotti from The Culinary Enthusiast (great for dunking in hot tea), and Pebbly Beach Fruit Squares from A Cook at Heart.

Many thanks to Love & Olive Oil and The Little Kitchen for organizing The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap. Count us in for next year! As for this year’s recipes, Here’s a link to Recipe Roundup Part 1.

Janice Eats School Lunch with Leah to Celebrate “National Take Your Parents to Lunch Day”

When was the last time you ate lunch at your child’s school?  If you are like most parents, the answer is probably, “never.” For me, the answer was also “never” until this week when I joined my 6th grade daughter, Leah, for a lunch of jumbo cheese raviolis with basil marinara sauce and Italian-style green beans. Yes, she was mortified when I showed up, and yes, the lunch was quite delicious!

Leah can’t bear to look at our intern Sarah who was taking the picture. No worries though. She eventually let her hair down and seemed to enjoy the attention!

October 12th is National Take Your Parents to Lunch Day. The initiative was launched by KIWI magazine and the School Nutrition Association. I first heard about the project when my friend, Editorial Director Sarah Smith from KIWI magazine, asked me and Liz to help spread the word about the campaign. I jumped at the chance because as Sarah explained, it provides a chance to line up with a lunch tray, eat with your child, and talk to the people who serve up the food day in and day out. And it’s about communication — talking to your school and to your child to learn about what’s going well, and how you can work together to make school food even better.

In many elementary, middle, and high schools, the daily food offerings have come a long way since the days of mystery meat. So why not taste for yourself? Some of you may be thinking, “there is no way I would eat a school lunch.” In fact when Liz and I posted a photo from my lunch day on Facebook, one of our fans wrote this about school food: “I would rather chew glass!” She went on to say that her 5th grade son had never bought a school lunch and that until the food choices changed, he never would. Given that sentiment, I have a challenge for all of you. But first, I’d like to give you a little bit of background on Leah’s school.

There are no kitchen facilities at Leah’s school, so we have to work with an outside vendor to prepare and deliver the food. For years, this meant reheating meals that were cooked and flash frozen off site. The meals lacked fresh fruits and vegetables as well as whole grains, and the food was highly processed and too high in sodium and saturated fat for my liking. About five  years ago when I joined the school’s Wellness Committee, I began to rally for healthier menus. Finally, we found a new company called, Sidekim Foods. They came on board last year and the improvement has been dramatic. When teachers suddenly start ordering school lunches, you know they must be good.

Leah’s teacher, Mr. W., eats all of his green beans 🙂 He says his favorite lunch so far has been the Homemade Chicken Fingers with Noodles, Capri Blend Vegetables, and an orange

So, here is my challenge: Participate in National Take Your Parents to Lunch Day. Go to your child’s school and see what’s being served. If you don’t like what you see (or eat!), do something about it. Join the Wellness Committee, meet with the foodservice director, and be part of making a difference in the health of our nation’s children. To help you get started, check out the resources on the National Take Your Parents to Lunch Day website or visit Chef Ann Cooper’s Food Family Farming Foundation site.  And of course, before you head off to lunch, contact your child’s school to “make a lunch reservation.”

Judy gets the lunches ready for each classroom. Let’s hear it for the hard-working “lunch ladies” across the country. By the way, according to Sidekim Foods, the lunch trays are made from 100% recycled materials and they are biodegradable. As for the film on top, it is BPA free.

Let me know if you eat lunch with your child next Wednesday, and tell me all about it. In the meantime, I thought you might enjoy this Q&A with Robert Clickstein, School Food Specialist from Sidekim Foods.

Q: How many meals do you serve each day at Mystic Valley Charter School?
A: Approximate 450. As for all of our sites (schools and catering and senior centers), we serve about 4,200.

Q: Tell us about your menu and how you provide students with nutritious meals each day.
A: Our meals are prepared fresh every day using local ingredients. We provide students with a variety of whole grain, fresh fruits, vegetables, lean meats and healthy snacks. Our menus meet and exceed the USDA regulations for school meals.

Q: What sorts of vegetables do you serve and how do you make them appealing to kids?
A: We provide fresh steamed broccoli, zucchini, carrots, and a colorful vegetable medley as well as very tasty butternut squash from scratch. Instead of French fries, we prepare fresh roasted and homemade whipped potatoes.

Q: How do you design your menus so that kids will like the food?
A: We do a variety of things from surveys and site visits to weekly feedback from our schools food service coordinators.

Q: School lunch often gets a bad rap. How is your lunch different from those out there that have fallen under fire?
A: Our mission is to provide a healthy and nutritious alternative to the frozen prepared and prepackaged products that you typically see in school cafeterias. We do this by purchasing from local vendors and holding them to a higher standard and quality. We emphasize, “Eat Smart Be Smart,” which means prepared fresh, from scratch, lean, low sugar, whole grain, and whole wheat.

Q: Do you ever get push back from the kids on the menu? If so, what items have been the “toughest sell” and how have you won the hearts and taste buds of your students?
A: We do not necessarily get push back but we can tell by the participation and comments if a particular menu is not popular. It is important to us that we design menus that students will eat, so we are constantly looking for feedback and adapting to students’ tastes. For example we just rolled out a Latin menu for one of our customers and it has been a great success.

Q: Why is it important for parents to eat school lunch with their kids from time to time?
A: We feel that it is important for parents to see what their children are eating at lunch. We want them to see that their kids are eating a healthy meal which in turn will give them the energy and motivation to learn throughout the school day.

Liz and our intern, Sarah, pose with Leah. The best part about this experience for Leah:  seeing us walk out the door!

The teachers and most of the high school students have been happy with the changes to our lunch program, but it’s been less popular for some of the lower-school students. My hope is that as time goes by the student skeptics will learn to love the chicken fajitas, whole wheat penne pasta, vegetables and fresh seasonal fruit that Sidekim offers. From the way Leah ate her ravioli lunch with gusto (okay, maybe she didn’t eat all her green beans), I’m confident more and more kids will embrace the changes soon.

Leah and her friend Tommy enjoy the apples served with lunch!

Have you ever eaten at your child’s school? Do you plan to participate in the National Take Your Parents to Lunch Day?  Have you seen improvements in the school lunch program over the past few years?

Teaching Kids About Eating Green and Red and Yellow and Orange …

For the past few years, I’ve been the “dietitian on call” for a five week, after-school program in my community called, Kids Cooking Green. In partnership with the Lexington, MA farmers’ market, Kids Cooking Green introduces 5th grade students to the importance of eating locally-grown food and stresses the positive impact sustainable eating can have on the environment and the health of their bodies. Founded by two local moms and chefs, Lori Deliso and Liza Connolly, the program culminates with a dinner party the kids plan and prepare for their families.

Fifth grade student, Max, shows off his smoothie mustache!

During a recent nutrition class at the Fiske elementary school, I explain to the kids why eating a colorful array of fruits and vegetables (beans included) can keep them healthy — everything from getting fewer colds to having healthy eyes and skin. On this day, I drove home the point by dressing a gorgeous bunch of Swiss chard in a pair of sunglasses. I also sprayed sunscreen on an orange and bug spray on blueberries. Why? Because fruits and vegetables (green, orange/yellow, red, blue/purple, and even white) contain phytonutrients, natural plant compounds that act much like sunglasses, bug spray and suncream by shielding the plants from damage. Let’s face it: Sitting out in a field all day subjected to sun, wind, rain, pests and other elements of nature can be tough, so plants need all the natural protection they can get. And of course, when we eat a rainbow of colorful fruits and veggies, all of those health-enhancing phytonutrients get passed along to us.

Following our discussion of fruits and vegetables, I show the kids how to read food labels. For this exercise, we calculate how many teaspoons of sugar go into a 20-ounce bottle of grape soda. The math is pretty easy: Take the total grams of sugar and divide by four to yield the teaspoons of sugar. Since our grape soda has 83 grams of sugar, the number of teaspoons is approximately 21.

I have two volunteers make their own soft drink by mixing together water, sugar, and red and blue food coloring. When the kids ask if they can drink their creation, I say, “NO,” and promise smoothies instead!

From there, we set up a Food Network-style smoothie challenge. Our 10 and 11 year olds rush around the room gathering up frozen fruit, 100% fruit juice, and low-fat yogurt. They cram their ingredients into blenders, and the results are more delicious than you can imagine.

Over the summer, program organizers, Lori and Liza freeze fresh fruit and use it later during the smoothie challenge. Here, the kids have an opportunity to choose from peaches, blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries.

When I ask my students if they’d rather drink the fake, artificially-colored soft drink or one of their own fruit smoothies, they unanimously vote for the smoothies. It’s amazing how fun and delicious nutritious food can be when the kids make it themselves. As for the final dinner party, I was unable to attend the Fiske event, but I hear the kale chips were a huge hit 🙂

For more information on the benefits of eating the rainbow, visit the American Dietetic Association website at, and be sure to visit the Lexington Minuteman to read a recent article on Kids Cooking Green.

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 🙂


A Celebration of Vegetables: A Recipe for Winter Squash Risotto (Podcast #127)

We’ve done a lot of live TV interviews in our day and we’ve held a lot of cooking classes, but we’ve never cooked “live” online … until this week.  Thanks to Ustream technology, last Wednesday, December 15th at 1:00pm EST, we spent 30 fast-paced minutes sharing clever tips and easy recipes to inspire a love for vegetables, and our demo aired live on the new Birds Eye Facebook fan page. Pretty cool stuff!

Behind the scenes at the Tipping Point Labs studio, the director calls the shots.

Cameras, lighting, food styling by Kelly Upson, makeup by Phoebe Ramier: It took a lot of amazing cooks in this kitchen to pull the production together!

We were excited to team up with Birds Eye because they definitely share our goal of helping families get more veggies on the table. Did you know that  according to a new report from the National Fruit & Vegetable Alliance, 90% of young children don’t eat their recommended amount of vegetables?  We’d love to change that statistic, so during the show, we cooked up two easy, kid-friendly dishes. The first was our Cheesy Spinach Bake from No Whine with Dinner featuring frozen chopped spinach and the second, a recipe from Birds Eye for Winter Squash Risotto. As we cooked, viewers were able to ask questions (which we answered live on the air), and we also talked about some of the proactive mealtime tips from our book for getting kids excited about eating a wider array of vegetables. If you missed the demo, you can watch it on Ustream TV or listen to us talk all about it on this week’s Cooking with the Moms podcast.

Winter Squash Risotto

Makes 6 Servings

This rich and creamy risotto is perfect as a side dish. To turn it into a spectacular holiday-inspired main dish, simply top it with grilled shrimp or chicken.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1½ cups dry arborio rice
  • 4 slices nitrite-free bacon, cooked and chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried sage
  • 4½ cups hot chicken broth (and 1/2 to 1 cup additional water as needed)
  • 1 box Birds Eye® Cooked Winter Squash (12 ounce), thawed
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, optional

1. Heat oil in heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until golden, 5 to 7 minutes.

2. Add rice, bacon, and sage, and stir to coat with oil. Ladle 1/2 cup hot broth into the rice; cook at a strong simmer, stirring constantly, until broth is absorbed. Continue adding broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly and letting each addition absorb before adding the next.

3. When there is 1 cup broth remaining, stir in the squash. Continue cooking, adding remaining broth and additional water as needed, until rice is creamy yet firm. Stir in butter and Parmesan cheese.

4. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Top with parsley as desired.

Nutrition Information per Serving:  320 calories, 11g fat (3.5g saturated), 530mg sodium, 46g carbohydrate, 4g fiber, 9g protein, 60% vitamin A, 20% vitamin C, 10% calcium

Print Recipe

Tip 1 … Take 1 … Action!

As you may know, when it comes to vegetables, our philosophy is to make them highly visible on the plate … not concealed or hidden within the meal. If vegetables are a tough sell with kids, we have plenty of strategies to wow them. During the demo, we talked about three of our favorites:

Meal Plan as a Family: Have the kids help with the weekly meal planning. Let each child take ownership of one night with a recipe they choose, help shop for and help cook. Our Stuffed Spinach and Cheese Pizza (No Whine with Dinner, page 75) is a dish the kids will gladly help make!

Theme Nights: Once a week, pick a theme for dinner. Try Mexican Night, Picnic Night, or Asian Cooking Night. For this dish, we steamed up a bag of frozen veggie medley — broccoli, carrots, water chestnuts — then tossed it with lite teriyaki sauce. Have the kids sprinkle some toasted sesame seeds on top.

Celebrate Colors: With dishes like our Over-the-Rainbow Brown Rice (No Whine with Dinner, page 142), have your kids take turns calling out a color at the dinner table. Once they choose a color from their plate, have everyone take a bite of whatever color was chosen. Yell “green” for peas, “orange” for carrots, and “yellow” for corn. Before you know it, they’ll have three bites down the hatch.

The Ustream demo was a blast, and we can’t wait to hear what you all thought of it. In the meantime, between now and December 31st, if you “Like” the Birds Eye Facebook fan page, $1.00 will be donated to Share Our Strength, an organization dedicated to providing nutritious food to families in need. It’s all part of an effort to feed kids better!

Next Page »