Posts Tagged ‘ Food ’

Lessons From A Day of No Sugar

Friday, April 11th, 2014

Table-SugarWe did it! We survived a day of no sugar. Inspired by Eve Schaub’s new book Year of No Sugar, several of my colleagues and I shunned the sweet stuff on Wednesday, part of a national #NoSugarChallenge. That meant no table sugar, honey, agave, maple syrup, or any sugar in packaged foods. Sweet fruit and vegetables were still on the table.

While Eve and her family gave up sugar for an entire year, one day seemed like a manageable goal. But, for many of us, it was a tougher challenge than we anticipated, primarily because sugar is in so many foods—80 percent of products found in the supermarket in fact.

• Learn more about identifying added sugar and cutting processed food from your diet.

Here are our reports on what was easy, what was hard, and what we learned:

Laura Fenton, Lifestyle Director – So, I failed straight off the bat: I forgot it was no-sugar day and poured myself a bowl of cereal for breakfast (looking at the label after work, I saw that the brand contains both honey and molasses, a.k.a. sugar). But once I got to work and remembered my mission I had a steely reserve to resist sugar, including: Bagels, cookies at my cube mate’s desk, and jelly beans at my other cube mate’s desk. When I went for lunch, I actually looked at the label for the salad dressing to make sure it was sugar free (it seemed to be!) and said “no thank you” to the roll that was offered with my salad that was likely made with sugar.

Alexandra Johnston, Assistant Photo Editor – I thought by biggest struggle would be handling my after-lunch sweet tooth, but my sugar-free banana chocolate “ice cream” was amazing and it actually felt very indulgent. The rest of the day proved to be more difficult. I didn’t realize how many condiments and packaged ingredients actually had sugar in them. While I won’t be making this a permanent change at this time, it did open my eyes to the problem and I will be checking the labels more closely in the grocery store from now on.

Rheanna Bellomo, Editorial Assistant – I made it through breakfast, lunch, and dinner by making all my own fresh food (nothing processed) and snacking on a mango in the afternoon. What I found so funny was that once I settled in for the night with my book, the challenge completely slipped my mind and I had a piece of chocolate. It was so mindless! That’s what really stuck with me: the need to be more thoughtful about food.

Karen Cicero, Contributing Food and Nutrition Editor – It was a lot harder than I expected—and we are really careful about added sugar to begin with. Breakfast was easy (eggs & fruit), but when packing lunch, I remembered that our whole-wheat bread has one gram of sugar per slice and the peanut butter has a gram per serving. I couldn’t do much about that last minute so Katie had three grams of added sugar in her lunch. I had a salad for lunch, and made my own balsamic vinaigrette so it would be sugar-free. But I blew my sugar-free day when I mindlessly tried a piece of a granola bar that came in the mail for an upcoming story—that was about three grams of sugar. For dinner, we had whole-grain pasta with a fresh sauce I made with heirloom tomatoes and red onions. Overall, it was a really good reminder about how pervasive added sugar is in foods that don’t taste at all sweet, and how deliciously sweet and satisfying fruit is. I’m going to try to do it once a week–a la Meatless Monday, maybe this is Sugar-Free Sunday. Starting the week after Easter, of course!

Allison Berry, Editorial Assistant – My goal of cooking vegan was unsuccessful (I didn’t realize how complicated some of the recipes could be!), but I was able to eat vegan for the day, which I loved! The hardest part was passing up a morning bagel and cream cheese, but I was surprised to find that during the workday especially, my sugar-free snacks of fruit, almonds, and tea kept me going between meals. After dinner did get hard for me, seeing as a lot of the snacks I go for after dinner have added sugar in them. If definitely opened my eyes to what even having a cookie after dinner can do to your sugar intake. The habit I’ll definitely continue is snacking on almonds and fruit through the workday. I bought a 1 bag of almonds at the drug store and they’ve kept me full and lasted all week.

Sherry Huang, Features Editor – The two toughest times of the day were the afternoon (when I usually eat a sugary snack) and the evening (when I usually have dessert after dinner). After eating a few Craisins by accident (shoot, added sugar!), Jenna rescued me with a no-sugar-added protein bar for a snack. Dessert was a little pitiful – plain saltine crackers and natural peanut butter. I did feel slightly more alert and energetic throughout the day, so that was a bonus. Overall, the challenge was slightly easier than I anticipated, in part because it was just for one day, and there were no tempting treats lying around the office! I do confess to waiting until midnight to eat some cake, but I’d be willing to try avoiding sugar for a few more days…but maybe not consecutive ones.

Ruthie Fierberg, Editorial Assistant – It took some planning, but turns out I have a good amount of meal options that I typically eat anyway that are sugar-free. The main component of my meals didn’t deviate from my norm (eggs over spinach with some nuts for breakfast, a salad with black beans and an apple for lunch, banana for an afternoon snack, chicken and rice and a small salad for dinner with blackberries for dessert). What DID surprise me is how many of my condiments had sugar in them. I couldn’t have my usual salad dressing – I opted for lemon juice instead – and I couldn’t have barbeque sauce on my chicken – that actually has a LOT of sugar in it. I think in the future I will pay more attention to the “sugars” listing on nutrition labels and opt for things with less sugar, but I have no plans to go sugar-free for good. I like my whole wheat pastas and multigrain breads and even that barbeque sauce. The challenge was certainly interesting and eye-opening!

Madeleine Burry, Associate Managing Editor – The best part of the sugar-free day was the need to be thoughtful about what I eat: Does that salad dressing have sugar added? What about that bottled tomato sauce? I prepped for the day with lots of tiny containers of fruits and veggies (apple slices in one, cut up cucumber in another, and grapes in the last little tupperware), and was able to escape the kitchen without trying the cookies temptingly laid out on the counter, and make it through the treacherous three to five p.m. window, when I’m most vulnerable to lure of the sugary snack. Will I quit sugar forever? No way! I quit sugar for a month once, and midway through, life felt dark and dreary. A little sweetness is a good thing, and sometimes an apple just doesn’t cut it. But I will definitely try to be more mindful when eating, especially about the presence of sugar in foods I don’t think of as being sweet (like ketchup, instant oatmeal packets, dried fruit, and salad dressing).

For my part, feeding my daughter sugar-free meals turned out to be the toughest challenge. She usually has a low-sugar cereal for breakfast, but we decided on eggs and whole grain crackers for breakfast—not something I’d want her to have everyday. I left a list of sugar-free snacks for the babysitter, and it was a little humdrum: dried plums, more crackers, fruit, milk.

Participating in this challenge made me realize just how hard it is to not eat sugar throughout the day, especially for kids. Since all the grams of sugar – in cereal, chocolate milk, yogurt, and granola bars – add up, even if I feel like I’m feeding my daughter a “healthy” diet, it is still very sugary. My new goal is to step up my game and find some delicious, sugar-free options for her everyday diet.

Could you or your kids ever go sugar-free—even just for a day?

Sign up for our weekly newsletter to get delicious recipes and food inspiration sent directly to your inbox!

Nutrition Labels: 3 Things To Avoid
Nutrition Labels: 3 Things To Avoid
Nutrition Labels: 3 Things To Avoid

Image: Sugar on wooden table via Shutterstock

Add a Comment
Back To GoodyBlog

Parents Tackles A Day of No Sugar

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

Zero. Zilch. Nada. Today, a few of us here at Parents are going sugar-free. That means no table sugar in our coffee, honey in our tea, or syrup in our oatmeal. It also means saying no to any processed foods that contain sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, brown rice syrup, cane sugar, fructose, evaporated cane juice, agave, or molasses, just to name a few of sugar’s aliases.

But, just because we’re saying no to a lot of foods, there are many others we can still say “yes” to including naturally sweet fruits and vegetables.

Many of us are also enlisting our families in this experiment. We were inspired by writer Eve Schaub’s new book Year of No Sugar, in which she, her husband, and her two small children cut out sugar – for a whole year. Schaub has declared today, Wednesday, April 9, the Day of No Sugar Challenge.

Why are we doing this? We each have our own reasons, but the fact is that Americans are drowning in added sugar. According to Robert Lustig, M.D., about 80 percent of items in grocery stores contain added sugar. We now consume an average of 22 teaspoons of sugar a day, about double what we should be eating.

• Learn more about identifying added sugar and cutting processed food from your diet.

Here is what my colleagues are saying about giving up sugar tomorrow:

Ashley Oerman, Assistant Editor: I’m doing this because I think I might actually be addicted to sweets. I think it would be a great exercise in impulse control (a study I just read said this could be genetic. I blame my ice cream-aholic dad).

Sherry Huang, Features Editor: I have an irrational fear that I am addicted to sweets or the taste of sweetness. When I wake up in the morning, the first thing I crave is something sweet. When 3 p.m. rolls around, I need a sweet snack, and after dinner, a meal is never complete without dessert (who cares about a cheese plate?). I would like to make (more of) an effort to curb the craving and resist my pull toward eating an excess of sugary, processed foods so I can start to gravitate toward more healthy, natural foods.

Karen Cicero, Contributing Food and Nutrition Editor: For my daughter, no chocolate milk in her lunch—water instead. No cookie or small piece of candy after dinner; it will be fruit! And I’ll be sure to make dinner since you don’t know what’s in the restaurant food!

Ruthie Fierberg, Editorial Assistant: So I’m a pretty healthy eater anyway – lots of fruits and veggies. I’d say it’s most likely going to affect breakfast the most – since I won’t be having cereal or oatmeal and probably opt for something more protein-y like eggs. In general, it will be tough not to eat processed foods. I sometimes eat a frozen meal or a veggie burger or salad with salad dressing for lunch, so I’ll have to check on that. But I really don’t eat too much sugar, so I’ll be surprised if one day of this is crazy challenging. (Famous last words.)

Laura Fenton, Lifestyle Director: A sugar-free day wouldn’t be a big challenge for most of my meals, but it would be difficult for me to pass up on treats, if they came in my path. I almost never say no to a cookie or a sweet, if it’s offered. [And, here at Parents, they’re offered a lot!]

Allison Berry, Editorial Assistant: Since I’ve always been curious about going vegan, I’m using this as a chance to try a couple of sugar-free vegan recipes I’ve pinned! Fingers crossed the goodies in the Parents kitchen don’t get the best of me…

Alexandra Johnston, Assistant Photo Editor: I’ve always been pretty good about not adding sugar to drinks or fruit but boy do I have a chocolate sweet tooth. Especially after lunch and dinner, I always love a bite (and sometimes more) of chocolate to feel like I’ve completed the meal. Tomorrow I’m hiding the cookies and candy and trying a Pinterest recipe of a frozen banana mashed with a bit of cocoa powder. I’m hoping the result will curb my appetite for chocolate!

Personally, I am going to miss sugar in my coffee the most. And, I’m nervous about finding a sugar-free breakfast my 8 year-old will like (I’m thinking of giving her a smoothie with milk, Greek yogurt, unsweetened almond butter, frozen grapes, and a banana). But, I’m excited to choose from all the delicious, sugar-free foods at our disposal: hummus and veggies, apples with unsweetened peanut butter, roasted sweet potatoes, pasta with quick homemade marinara, and chicken noodle soup, just to name a few.

Tomorrow or Friday we’ll report back and let you know how we survived our day of no sugar.

Will you say no to sugar with us today? Give it a shot, and let us know how you’re doing by tweeting us @parentsmagazine using the hashtag #NoSugarChallenge.

Sign up for our weekly newsletter to get delicious recipes and food inspiration sent directly to your inbox!

Nutrition Labels: 3 Things To Avoid
Nutrition Labels: 3 Things To Avoid
Nutrition Labels: 3 Things To Avoid

Image: Year of No Sugar book cover courtesy of Sourcebooks, Inc.

Add a Comment
Back To GoodyBlog

Could You Give Up Sugar for a Day? Join Us As We Try

Monday, April 7th, 2014

A couple years ago writer Eve Schaub, her husband, and their two small kids stopped eating sugar — for a whole year. Not only did this mean no cookies, candy, or ice cream, they also discovered that many of their favorite everyday foods contained hidden sugars including some brands of bacon, crackers, yogurt, salad dressing, pasta sauce, chicken broth, tortillas, and even ketchup.

Schaub learned that the sweet stuff is everywhere, often lurking on food labels under names like high-fructose corn syrup, agave nectar, maple syrup, honey, brown rice syrup, cane sugar, fructose, dextrose, glucose, evaporated cane juice, or molasses.

She chronicled her family’s journey in the upcoming book Year of No Sugar. And, now she’s organizing an event for the rest of us to test our sugar-free mettle, for one day only (phew!). Schaub has declared Wednesday, April 9, the Day of No Sugar Challenge. Several of us here at Parents are going to participate, and we’d love to have as many of our readers as possible join us.

But, first of all — why give up sugar at all?

To be clear, not all sugar is “bad.” Natural sugars in fruit and vegetables are fine. Because your apple contains fiber that counteracts its sugar content, your body remains balanced. But, dig in to packaged applesauce with its heaping teaspoons of sugar, and your body must produce insulin to battle it. All too often, this can lead to a number of problems ranging from sluggishness and irritability to diabetes and heart disease.

The World Health Organization recommends limiting daily sugar intake to 9 teaspoons for men, 6 teaspoons for women, and 4 teaspoons for children. A typical breakfast of cereal and juice can rack up 11 teaspoons—that’s nearly four times the amount your kid should have in an entire day! Clearly, we need to cut back.

On top of this, sugar does not satisfy hunger. Instead, it can make you hungrier (or “HANGRY”) and more moody once your blood sugar drops.

So how did sugar get in virtually everything we eat in the first place?

Sugar used to be a condiment, sprinkled lightly onto food. Now, sugar has become our food. According to Robert Lustig, M.D., about 80 percent of items in grocery stores contain added sugar. This is because a majority of the food we eat is processed, which requires refined sugar to be palatable.

One of the best examples of this is flavored yogurt. Often considered a health food, yogurt can actually be pit of hidden sugar. Traditional yogurt is strained, sour milk—it’s supposed to be tangy. “Who gave us the notion to add fruit-flavored syrups to make it sweet? The food industry, which wants to sell more,” says Dr. Lustig. “No doctor would suggest that.”

Learn more about identifying added sugar and cutting processed food from your diet.

I’m already thinking about what my 8 year-old daughter and I will eat on Wednesday. Surprisingly, I think breakfast will be the toughest challenge. With no honey or maple syrup, oatmeal just won’t be the same. The vast majority of packaged cereals are out. Virtually any bread I buy at the grocery store has sugar in it, so no toast. I will probably make us a smoothie with milk, banana, unsweetened yogurt, frozen fruit, and unsweetened peanut butter. Eggs are another possibility.

Does this one-day experiment seem like more trouble than it’s worth? For a minute. But, then I remember that sugar doesn’t really belong in every single food we eat. I’ve come to crave the taste so much that any meal without something sweet seems like it’s missing something. I want to prove that I have power over my cravings. Because, really, we should be able to make it through just one measly day without sugar. Right?

Would you ever give up sugar, even just for a day? If you’re game, join us on Wednesday: Tweet to @parentsmagazine using the hashtag #NoSugarChallenge.

Sign up for our weekly newsletter to get delicious recipes and food inspiration sent directly to your inbox!

Nutrition Labels: 3 Things To Avoid
Nutrition Labels: 3 Things To Avoid
Nutrition Labels: 3 Things To Avoid

Image: Year of No Sugar book cover courtesy of Sourcebooks, Inc.; close up on fruit salad via Shutterstock

Add a Comment
Back To GoodyBlog

Kelsey Nixon Wants You to Have Kitchen Confidence

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

Star of Cooking Channel’s Kelsey’s Essentials, Kelsey Nixon dishes on the challenges of feeding her toddler, breaking into TV, and her new cookbook Kitchen Confidence: Essential Recipes and Tips That Will Help You Cook Anything.

You started your own cooking television show in college. What inspired that?

I grew up in a family where food seemed to be at the center of every get-together or celebration. In fact, when I left for college, I missed my mom’s home-cooked meals fiercely, and it forced me to step into my dorm room kitchen and start cooking on my own. I was a broadcast journalism major who wasn’t that interested in a news career, but I loved food and television. A lucky break with an internship at Martha Stewart Living working on the Everyday Food cooking show solidified things – I was going to find a way to work in food television! I returned to my university and approached a professor about supporting a college cooking show, and to my surprise, he thought it was a great idea. With his support we produced nearly 100 episodes of my cooking show before I graduated.

What’s the best (and worst) part of having your own series on Cooking Channel?

The best part is that my job is to essentially be myself! I get to talk about and teach the things that I feel so passionately about, and that is truly a gift. The biggest challenge is not knowing if the show will be renewed each season. When you put everything you’ve got into a show that represents you, you want so badly for it to succeed!

This is your first book. Why did you decide to call it Kitchen Confidence?

I felt that the title carried a strong, simple message that many home cooks are looking for. The book is full of recipes that are basic, yet not boring, and when made will hopefully spark a bit of that kitchen confidence that will slowly grow with every culinary success you have.

Sometimes cooking at home can seem expensive. What are some ways parents can save money feeding their families?

Carving out the time to sit down and plan your family’s meals for the week is no easy task, but it can be beneficial in so many different ways, especially when it comes to sticking to a grocery budget and having a plan to use up the ingredients that you buy so that nothing goes to waste. I’m also a big fan of shopping the ads at your local markets and stores. Some stores will even ad match, which is a great way to save as much as possible on your weekly grocery bill.

How has your cooking life changed since your son Oliver was born nearly two years ago?

Well, to be honest, I cook a little less! But, I feel like I cook with more intent now — intent to feed and nourish a growing family. I rely heavily on making three to four meals a week and really utilizing the leftovers. Not only does it save me time in the kitchen, but it also relieves me of the mental stress of deciding what to make for dinner every single night.

How did you move your son to solids?

I followed the guidance of our pediatrician when it came to a timeline for transitioning to solids, but when it came to what foods to introduce, I took a few more liberties. I always followed the guidelines of only introducing one new food at a time to check for any allergies, but I also made an effort to season his first food purees with a few mild spices like cinnamon, ginger, and garlic. We went through a big puree stage, which worked for us. But for a future child I’m really interested in the concept of baby-led weaning and may give that a try. I have a few friends that are moms who swear by it!

What are his favorite finger foods?

My Oliver loves edamame, string cheese, and black beans. Ironically the only thing I have trouble feeding him is fruit! I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before he comes around.

Do you make special “toddler food” for your son?

I’ve made a big effort to offer our son a version of what we’re eating each night at dinner to try and avoid the habit of making multiple meals. Some nights are easier than others and I probably spend way too much time wondering if he got enough to eat, but I feel strongly that offering him a variety of options will pay off in the long run. Realistically I’ve also got a couple of go-to toddler meals on hand to use for easy lunches and nights when mom and dad order in.

Why do you tell people they shouldn’t worry about making mistakes when they’re cooking?

So many cooking mistakes can be corrected. If something tastes a little bland or you added too much of one thing or another, there’s a good chance that simply seasoning the dish with salt and pepper can correct the problem. To have the gusto to make these adjustments, you need to trust your gut. Once you start cooking this way, cooking becomes more enjoyable and freeing.

What are five things always found in your refrigerator?

Eggs, good cheese, fresh herbs, unsalted butter, and chicken thighs (in the freezer).

What are your three favorite recipes from the book?

Lemon Scented Chicken Thighs, Sautéed Brussels Sprouts with Maple Pecans, and Essential Yellow Birthday Cake.

The recipes all sound so appealing. What do you look for when developing a recipe?

I look for unique ingredient pairings and constantly turn to seasonal ingredients for inspiration throughout the calendar year. It’s important to me that the food sounds and looks just as appealing as it is to eat. I’m a firm believer that we eat with our eyes first, so it’s critical that the recipes I develop look every bit as good as they taste.

What do you hope cooks take away from this book?

Ultimately, I hope this book will inspire home cooks to cook more often and find joy in the kitchen. I hope that each reader finds a few recipes that are a perfect fit for their families and that they will continue to refer to the book over the coming years for classic recipes that they know will always work. Everyone needs a great recipe for things like Lasagna, Roasted Vegetables, and Birthday Cake – you’ll find just that in my book.

Interview has been edited and condensed.

Make meal planning easy with our Weekly Recipe Newsletter. 

Family Dinners: 4 Tips To Make Them Better
Family Dinners: 4 Tips To Make Them Better
Family Dinners: 4 Tips To Make Them Better

Add a Comment
Back To GoodyBlog

Valentine’s Day Treats for the Whole Family, Including Yourself!

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

Is there any better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day than with food? Some have even said the stomach is the way to the heart, a mantra we embrace. Just in time for the holiday, here is a list of treats that you can give to others… or yourself. We won’t judge.

For a special candy treat, try Lake Champlain’s Friendly Frog Valentine Chocolates set. Kids will enjoy the fun heart-shaped gift box printed with their very own frog prince. Six assorted chocolates await inside, two of each flavor including chocolate, peanut butter and caramel. ($11, LakeChamplainChocolates.com)

For a unique twist on traditional holiday candies, Harry & David is offering a set of I LUV U Valentine Praline Pops. The pralines are made with caramel using whipped cream and pecan pieces. Each pop is individually wrapped, so you can divide between three loved ones. (Or between two loved ones and, um, yourself.) ($19.95, HarryAndDavid.com)

For a more traditional approach to a Valentine’s Day treat, Ghirardelli Impressions is the way to go. Each milk chocolate square is printed with a white or dark chocolate heart in the middle. In addition to the regular-size bags, Ghirardelli is also offering new mini bag for only $1 — perfect for giving to school friends. (Ghirardelli.com)

For a vegan option, Farm Sanctuary offers up this “Milk” Chocolate Heart. But wait, there’s more! The heart opens up to reveal even more organic vegan treats inside. Not only will the gift spread your love to your kids, or even yourself, you’ll also be helping abused and neglected farm animals through the purchase. Eating chocolate while helping cute animals? That’s a win-win. ($18, FarmSanctuary.org)

The Chew co-host and Top Chef alum Carla Hall is ready to share her little bites of love with everybody. The Carla Hall Petite Cookies are bite-sized treats in sweet and savory varieties including Mexican chocolate chip, almond ginger cherry shortbread and Harissa spiced nuts. The cookies also make great little snacks for dolls and tea parties. ($8 and up, CarlaHall.com)

For the height of decadence, Ike’s Cookies offers a box of Lover’s Gold. Because, seriously, what says “I love you” more than gold? Each order comes in an elegantly packaged box of 15 dark chocolate cookies wrapped in 23-carat gold leaf. As you bake them (instructions included) the cookie expands to create a crinkle effect, but instead of being covered in powdered sugar, the cookies are covered in gold. Yes, edible gold. The cookies, made from organic and locally sourced ingredients, are easy to make and come out chewy and delicious. It may be a little extravagant, but Valentine’s Day only happens once a year, right? ($48, IkesCookies.com)

Not in the mood for store-bought products this year? No problem! You can also try some of our homemade Valentine’s Day sweets and candy recipes, perfect for telling someone special how much they mean to you.

For more food inspiration, sign up now for our weekly recipe newsletter!

Valentine's Day Treats: Waffle Heart Sandwiches
Valentine's Day Treats: Waffle Heart Sandwiches
Valentine's Day Treats: Waffle Heart Sandwiches

Fine me on !


Add a Comment
Back To GoodyBlog

Eating in Color: Helping Kids Love Fruits and Vegetables

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014


Frances Largeman-Roth is a registered dietician, author of four cookbooks, and a mom of two—with a third on the way. A health expert who has appeared on Good Morning America, CNN, and the Today Show, she has helped thousands of women find the best foods during pregnancy, lose weight the right way, and incorporate healthier meals into their lives. Her latest book, Eating in Color, hits bookstores this month so we asked her how to add pops of color to our dinner plates and why it’s so important.

This book is entirely about fruits and vegetables—when they’re in season, how to choose them, how to store them, and, of course, how to use them. I have to ask: which is your favorite?

Mangos! When I spent a semester abroad in Australia, I learned how to cut them properly and incorporate them into many dishes. There are two seasons there: fall/winter and spring/summer, so you get different varieties.

You write about a study that found only 30 percent of Americans are getting the recommended 3 servings of vegetables and 2 servings of fruit each day. Why is improving this statistic important to you?

My father passed away when I was 12. He had all the things that we now understand as warning signs for heart disease and diabetes. We just didn’t know it at the time. Growing up we ate fruits and vegetables, but with my mom’s German background there was also a lot of cured meats and pastries. Now that I’m a parent I understand that moms and dads are super busy, aren’t getting enough sleep, and are more stressed than ever. Because of that, convenience often outweighs nutrition. But this book is about eating better in a fun and visual way.

Tell us more about the five rules you created: eat color often, don’t be monochrome, go outside your comfort zone, make dates with your kitchen, and exercise.

I wanted to explain to readers how they can actually attain this lifestyle and not just admire beautiful images of fruits and veggies. I wanted to connect the message and explain the execution. Sure, everyone is crazy about kale right now, but you can’t just rely on that one super-healthy thing. Plus, trying new things is essential to your health. We all get stuck in ruts with the same go-to recipes or takeout dishes. Pushing out of your comfort zone, though it may take more time and planning, is worth it! And eventually a new recipe will become part of your repertoire. And getting active just has to be part of it.

You describe nutrition not just as a career choice but a life path. How can families make this a priority in their life while balancing their often-crazy schedules?

When you’re rushing home from work to pick up your kids to then rush home to cook something up for them, it’s easy to rely on processed food. But if you can spend time in the morning or on Sunday, you can make so much happen! Simply put it into your calendar to “chop veggies.”

A trip to a farmers market is a great way to get inspired and it’s really fun for your kids. It exposes them to new sights and tastes. You can do something similar at the grocery store because there’s always something new in season. Just the other day I saw a beautiful dragon fruit that turned into an entire lesson: I asked my daughter where it came from, what color it would be inside, how the rough and scaly texture looked and felt. The bottom line: What kid wouldn’t want to try a super-bright pink fruit? This is such an easy way to dive in.

When your daughter Willa was learning colors in school, you offered her “reds, oranges, and greens” instead of “beets, sweet potatoes, and broccoli.” How did changing your food vocabulary help?

It sounds like such a small idea, but it made everything much less frustrating at the dinner table. I completely understand that from the parents’ perspective, trying to get your child to try one item 15 to 20 times is just too many. By the tenth try, you’ve wasted too much food and energy. Instead, go into it with a no-stress mentality. Just put a new food on the table and see what happens. Remember: sometimes kids are simply exerting independence when they are picky about dinner. If you take the pressure off both them and yourself, much of it can be resolved. This doesn’t mean your kids will eat and love everything, but it helps them try new things.

I like to display fruits and veggies in little bowls and in compartmental kids’ plates. I often ask them, “How many colors we can get on our plates tonight?” My two can get a bit competitive with each other, which can help on the dinner-table front.


Some families have super-picky eaters. What else can they do to make the introduction of new foods easier or more appealing?

Let your child have some control. During a trip to the farmers market or grocery store, ask him or her to pick out produce by color—one yellow and one red. Depending on your child’s age, have him or her pick out a recipe and then make it with them. I can guarantee that because they had a hand in it, your children will be more willing to try it.

Just remember that it takes patience. Kids can love something one time and hate it the next. (And vice versa.) But don’t ever stop offering! Their tastes are constantly changing. Or, like in my daughter’s case, their siblings can be influential. When she saw her brother eating avocado, she wanted some.

Don’t cater to “kid food.” The more you offer tater tots and chicken nuggets, the less your children will try the other things. I’m a big advocate of the family meal. Sure, you can have back-ups on hand, but you are not a short-order cook.

Your recipes run the gamut from meals, sides, and snacks to drinks and desserts. Why so much variety?

I wanted to show that fruits and vegetables have a place in everything. When I first started working on the book, I made a list of my chapters. I always knew it would be organized by color. So I started asking myself tough questions like “Besides a pie or crumble, what else can I do with rhubarb?” I approached recipes from outside the box.

You also added a black and tan chapter—including grains, seeds, nuts, and oats. (And my favorite: chocolate!) Why are these are just as important?

I think of the black and tan chapter as the items you pair with all of the other colors. It’s your base layer. To me, these items are a great way to bring in a lot of texture to your dishes.

Okay, we want the scoop. What’s your go-to when you’re in a pinch?

We have pasta often because it’s very versatile. I personally like to make roasted veggies on the side. I use whatever’s in season—butternut squash, sugar snap peas, purple onion, baby carrots, zucchini, cherry tomatoes. Creating a mix is best! We always have grated Parmesan in the fridge so a spaghetti dish can be done in 15 minutes.


Interview has been edited and condensed.

Author photo by Quentin Bacon.


To help get your little one on board with fruits and vegetables, Elmo and Murray told Parents their favorite snacks:

Sesame Street Lessons: Healthy Eating
Sesame Street Lessons: Healthy Eating
Sesame Street Lessons: Healthy Eating

 

Add a Comment
Back To GoodyBlog

Family Favorites for Feeding America

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

Just like many others, my family’s holiday season is all about tradition. Though Thanksgiving is a couple days away, I already know we’ll be having my aunt’s garlic “smashed” potatoes and my gram’s pimento-stuffed celery (even though she’s the only one who likes it). We keep these recipes in the rotation because they’re near and dear to us. But this year, sharing them with others gives bigger benefits to those in need.

Go to Dish Up the Love to submit your favorite recipe and $1 will be donated to Feeding America, a nationwide network of food banks leading the fight against hunger. Each dollar provides nine meals for families who need them.

Partnering with the program is Top Chef alum and mom Antonia Lofaso, whose first book The Busy Mom’s Cookbook was recently released in paperback. A single parent, Antonia relishes her time at home with her daughter, Xea, making memories through food.

“For me the holidays are about making memories with family and friends around the kitchen table and giving back. Dish Up the Love celebrates these special holiday moments,” Antonia says. “I shared the recipe for my grandma’s lasagna because it’s served at all Lofaso family holidays. At Thanksgiving, we have turkey, but there’s always lasagna and tons of other Italian food.”

Grandma’s Lasagna

Serves: 6 to 8
Total time: 85 minutes

SAUCE INGREDIENTS
• ¼ cup olive oil
• ¼ cup chopped garlic (about 8 cloves)
• 3 (16-ounce) cans of peeled, whole plum tomatoes
• ½ teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon sugar

LASAGNA INGREDIENTS
• ¼ cup olive oil
• 1 ½ pounds ground turkey
• ½ teaspoon salt
• 2 tablespoons dried Italian seasoning, or 4 teaspoons fresh marjoram or oregano
• 1 (9-ounce) package of no-boil, oven-ready lasagna noodles
• Sauce (from above)
• ½ cup shredded or grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
• 2 cups whole-milk ricotta cheese
• 4 cups shredded whole-milk, mozzarella cheese
• 3 Roma tomatoes, sliced into 6 to 8 slices each
• 12 medium to large fresh basil leaves

DIRECTIONS

1. For the sauce, head the olive oil in a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the chopped garlic and just as it starts to brown around the edges, throw in the canned tomatoes. You don’t want the garlic to burn, so have the cans open and ready to go beforehand.

2. Add the salt and sugar and whisk it all together. Let the sauce simmer on medium-low for 40 minutes while you prep the other ingredients. If any foam rises to the top of the sauce, skim it off. That’s the acid from the tomatoes, and your sauce will taste better without it. Using a hand blender or counter top blender, blend on medium until smooth.

3. Preheat oven to 375 F. In a 10-inch sauté pan heat the olive oil on medium-high. Add the ground turkey and the salt. Cook the turkey for about 5 minutes, until it’s browned throughout. Just as it’s finishing the cooking process, stir in the Italian seasoning. Drain any excess fat or liquid from the pan.

4. Cover the bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking pan with 3 sheets of pasta. Ladle 1 cup of sauce over the noodles. You don’t want the sauce to soak through, so you don’t need to overdo it. Layer on half of the meat, followed by half of the Parmigiano-Reggiano, and half of the ricotta cheese. Sprinkle on one-third of the mozzarella and arrange one-third of the fresh tomatoes on top of it. Top with one-third of the basil.

5. Repeat the process for the next layer: 3 sheets of pasta, a cup of sauce, the rest of the meat, the rest of the Parmigiano-Reggiano, the remaining ricotta, a third of the mozzarella, a third of the fresh tomatoes, and another third of the basil. The last layer is your presentation layer, so make it pretty. Add three more sheets of pasta.

6. Top the noodles with the last of the sauce, mozzarella, fresh tomatoes and basil. Bake uncovered for 40 minutes, rotating halfway through. The top should be a crispy golden brown when the lasagna is done, and the pasta sauce around the sides of the dish should be thick, not runny. Let the lasagna stand for 10 to 15 minutes before serving. If you cut into it while it is still piping hot, it will fall apart.

___________________

For more information and to share your favorite family recipe, visit worldkitchen.com/dishupthelove. After submitting a recipe, you’ll be entered for weekly sweepstakes to win Pyrex, Baker’s Secret, and CorningWare products.

Get more kid-friendly recipes from Antonia Lofaso.

Recipe and image reprinted from The Busy Mom’s Cookbook with permission from Avery, an imprint of Penguin Group.

Image of Antonia and Xea by Alex Martinez.

Add a Comment
Back To GoodyBlog

Plan a Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Menu With Udi’s (Yes, It’s Possible!)

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

Udi's gluten-free food - sweet potato hummus, sausage and fennel stuffing, roasted beet salad with garlic croutons, snickerdoodle cranberry cream cheese tartRounding up the family together for Thanksgiving (and having them get along) is already hard enough without the added worry of creating dishes to satisfy certain diets and picky eaters. And if you have family members who have certain food allergies and sensitivities (especially to gluten), you might feel even more overwhelmed.

But don’t throw in the towel yet.

Hosting a gluten-free Thanksgiving feast is possible — and Udi’s Gluten Free has simple and delicious recipes that can even convert gluten lovers (like me). Recently, another editor and I were invited to a special Udi’s Thanksgiving luncheon, along with other Meredith editors, to sample gluten-free takes on classic holiday dishes. As a foodie and someone who believed going gluten-free meant eating pale imitations of “real” foods, I was surprised by the versatile spread and even more surprised by the delicious flavors.

On the menu was a whole course that incorporated gluten-free bread, chips, and cookies:

I could definitely see the sweet potato hummus and roasted beet salad on my own Thanksgiving table, which usually has some gluten-free (and dairy-free) dishes made especially for my little nephew, who has a few food allergies. Even if no one in your family has gluten allergies, there are still some benefits to going gluten-free, like taming tummy troubles and maintaining a healthy weight. And some studies have shown a gluten-free diet could possibly help kids with autism, though research results are inconclusive.

Best of all: these gluten-free dishes could easily substitute Thanksgiving mainstays (without sacrificing tastiness) and be worth repeating for Christmas, perhaps served with an additional dessert like ice cream sandwiches made with Udi’s maple pecan chocolate chip cookies. So now that you have some new recipes, I hope this year’s dinner planning will be just a little easier!

More Gluten-Free Foods on Parents.com

Add a Comment
Back To GoodyBlog