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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:
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author Q&A, cookbook, cookbook Q&A, cooking, cooking with kids, eating in color, family recipes, Food, frances largeman-roth, fruits, healthy dinners, healthy eating, picky eaters, recipes, Rheanna O'Neil Bellomo, vegetables, weeknight meals | Categories:
Monday, November 25th, 2013
It is, quite literally, a once on a lifetime moment (unless scientists finally resolve that whole mortality): Thanksgiving and Hanukkah, two very wonderful events, happening simultaneously. The next time that the first day of Hanukkah falls on Thanksgiving will be in 79,043 years. So, of course, this confluence has its own name: Thanksgivukkah.
At our house, we’re extra-super excited, because Thanksgiving/Hanukkah Eve, the night we light the first candle, is also my oldest daughter’s seventh birthday. Happiness abounds! Of course, she’s doubly thrilled because of the multiplicity of presents this brings. (Among the things I am thankful for this year: Thanksgiving is not a present-giving holiday.)
How to celebrate? Buzzfeed’s got a mouth-watering Thanksgivukkah menu, for starters, and this Thanksgivukkah Pinterest board can keep you occupied for hours. Here on Parents.com you can find these fun Hanukkah crafts and recipes, and a wealth of activities, crafts, and recipes for Thanksgiving. And don’t miss these Thanksgiving printables.
Personally, the double holiday doesn’t affect my family much–we’ll celebrate both as we always do. But I much prefer the mash-up of Thanksgiving and Hanukkah to the more routine lumping together of Christmas and Hanukkah. Giving thanks–for the miracles in our lives and the freedoms we enjoy–are central themes of Hanukkah, and of course, Thanksgiving. So perhaps the best celebration we can have on this day is to enjoy ourselves and take the message of these holidays seriously by giving thanks for all the blessings in our lives. I know that’s what I will be doing.
Still looking for great holiday-weekend activities? Find great around-the-house crafts.
Image: candle and pumpkins via Shutterstock
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Thursday, November 7th, 2013
Rounding 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
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Food, food allergies, food allergy, gluten allergy, gluten-free, holiday dinner, holiday foods, holiday recipes, Holidays, meal, meal planning, menu, recipe, recipes, thanksgiving, thanksgiving dinner, udi's | Categories:
Food, GoodyBlog, Holidays
Wednesday, October 16th, 2013
Blogger Jessica Fisher is a meal-planning and food-prepping guru. On weekends you’ll find her cooking up a storm, making up to 30 dinners to freeze and then reheat as needed throughout the month. This freezer-cooking method inspired her first book, Not Your Mother’s Make-Ahead & Freeze Cookbook, which hit bookstores recently. Fisher also shares tips for managing meals, home, and family on her two websites: LifeasMOM and GoodCheapEats. We asked the mom of six (!) how she gets dinner on the table in a flash so that you can, too.
What inspired you to share your cooking and home-making experiences in a blog?
I have always been a home cook, starting when I was about six or seven years old. My mom let me have free reign in the kitchen, so I was primarily self-taught. Many of my jobs as a teen and in college were food-related, including catering and waiting tables in restaurants. Over time I learned about food, from prepping to eating.
GoodCheapEats is all about food for families: how to get dinner on the table in a timely manner, make it fun for kids, and remain economical. I started it because, at the time, our family was in debt. By cutting back and being smarter about spending and saving, we paid off $18,000 in about a year and a half.
How does freezer-cooking fit in?
When I was pregnant, my friend and I decided to try freezer cooking for the first time. We spent the whole weekend cooking up a bunch of meals, packaging them, and then freezing them. That week, it was incredibly nice to come home and reheat a dish the oven, on the stove, or in the microwave. To have that luxury for a month was totally worth the two days I invested!
That was 17 years ago. Since then, I’ve conducted personal research and it’s been all trial and error. My family is used to my experiments, many of which have led to culinary adventures and memory-making!
You have six children ranging in ages from 5 to 16. How do you manage such a large dinner table while staying on budget?
We typically serve buffet style up at the counter. I will plate for little ones and everyone else serves themselves—it’s so much easier this way.
By planning and cooking everything in advance, the cost-savings are huge. This way, I can buy in bulk and then make a month’s worth of dinners for about $300. That means each meal for eight people costs about $10—that’s a great ratio. Plus, I’ve saved on energy bills from using the stove and other appliances less often.
What other benefits might families see from using the freezer-cooking method?
Saving time, keeping a healthy diet, and having peace of mind. Once I fill my freezer, I don’t have to think about, “What’s for dinner?” until next month. Freezing is my sanity saver. Plus, it saves us from going for fast food when we’re in a pinch—that’s why I always keep burritos or soup in the freezer!
So what exactly can we put in the freezer?
There is so much that can freeze, that it’s more about what can’t: soft cheeses, anything with mayo, deli cheese or meats, and obvious items like salads. The “What Can’t You Freeze?” section of the book goes into more detail.
How does your freezer-cooking method work?
Choose recipes that have common ingredients. When chopping onions for one dish, you’re doing so for multiple dishes—just like a larger commercial kitchen that has a prep cook. Once everything is prepped, you simply put the items together in different ways. This is what cuts down on time and hassle.
To save time, get as many things as you can. I call it getting my “maids” working: my two slow cookers, bread machine, and stock pots on all stove burners. Use the technology at your disposal to help get your timing right.
When you’re ready to freeze, plastic zip-top bags are good options, but I love heavy-duty plastic containers with lids. Just be sure all food cools completely before stowing it away. Chilling dishes in the refrigerator first works well.
Label dates and names clearly, not only for food-safety reasons but also to avoid mistaken identities. One night, my husband thought beef gravy was chocolate ice cream. Yuck! And don’t forget to rotate your stock—all items should be used within two to three months.
So can moms combine pre-made, frozen items with fresh items?
Of course! I highly recommend stir-fries: freeze your choice of protein prepared in a sauce. Then, when you’re reheating, add fresh peppers, onion, and snap peas.
How can moms who’ve never cooked in bulk get started with make-ahead freezer cooking? What are good learning curve tips? What about easy first recipes?
It depends on how comfortable you are with cooking to begin with. If you’re a home cook with a little experience, it can be a smooth transition. If you haven’t cooked from scratch very much, it can be overwhelming.
I always suggest that if you have a favorite meal, start with that. This way, you know your family likes it and you simply make a double or triple batch. If you’re only freezing two meals during your week of cooking, you can experiment with how you package it and how your freezer responds. Then, move on to making short meal plans.
To get started, choose a couple of recipes and just go for it—it takes practice so try, try again. You can’t really lose with the plans in the book, especially because I’ve already made grocery lists for you!
Does this mean mom has to sacrifice her entire weekend cooking to make the weeknights easier?
There are shorter ways to cook in bulk. Sometimes I make several dishes over the course of a few weeknights, after kids are asleep. If you don’t want or need to do a full 30-day prep, it can be as easy as doubling or tripling dinner.
Or try recycling menu plans. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel every week. Try having a meatloaf night on Monday, or tacos on Tuesday. That takes the guesswork out of it. With things like pizza, you can vary the toppings each week and keep it healthy with salad and veggie dippers on the side.
Okay, so you had a crazy weekend and your freezer stock is out. What is your go-to recipe during the week?
If worse comes to worse, I always have red sauce frozen and pasta in the cupboard. Having a back-up plan takes the pressure off—because sometimes, we just don’t have the time or energy!
Interview has been edited and condensed.
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cookbook, cookbook Q&A, cooking techniques, cooking tips, Food, food prep, freezer, freezer-cooking, good cheap eats, GoodCheapEats, Jessica Fisher, life as mom, LifeasMOM, make-ahead meals, not your mother's, recipes, Rheanna O'Neil Bellomo | Categories:
Food, GoodyBlog, Your Life
Friday, September 27th, 2013
If you’re like many busy parents across the country (including us), it can be tough to come up with quick meal ideas to keep your family healthy and happy. Enter food blog superstar Stacie Billis. The author of “One Hungry Mama,” a family-friendly food blog with tips, tricks and recipes to encourage healthy eating, is also a child development specialist who produced her own organic family food brand. She believes that keeping an eye on what kids eat is just as important as monitoring what they play with and watch on TV. For the month of October, Billis will be joining the fun over on our Pinterest page and pinning her favorite recipes, parenting tricks and other One Hungry Mama-approved picks.
In addition to being our guest pinner, Billis also lends her voice to the Huffington Post and Cool Mom Picks, where she is a regular contributor. Her work has also been featured in publications including Parents magazine and Every Day with Rachael Ray magazine to name just a few.
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Friday, May 10th, 2013
I am lucky not to have any food allergies, but I still want to make so many of the delicious-sounding recipes in Elizabeth Gordon’s new book, Simply Allergy-Free: Quick and Tasty Recipes for Every Night of the Week. Just looking at the gorgeous photos in the book, you’d never know that ever recipe is free of gluten, dairy, soy, eggs and nuts. Author of the blog My Allergy Free Life and owner of the online allergen-free bakery Betsy & Claude Baking Company, this busy mom of two girls has multiple food allergies. She says, “I like to think of these recipes as the little black dress of my pantry—simple and economical fare that can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion.”
She shows you how to use (and where to buy!) key ingredients like xanthan gum, agave nectar, superfine rice flour, powdered vanilla rice milk, and sorghum flour, which can make gluten-free and allergen-free foods taste like “the real thing.” The recipes I can’t wait to try include chicken tikka burgers, chickpea French fries, beef tostadas, corn quinoa salad, herbed biscuits, and chocolate pretzel pie. Yum!
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allergen-free, allergy, cookbook, family dinner, food allergy, gluten allergy, gluten-free, recipe, recipes | Categories:
Food, GoodyBlog, Health & Safety
Tuesday, February 26th, 2013
Big news, you guys. You know that delicious bowl (or, um, sometimes pseudo-bucket) of olive oil they give you at every Italian restaurant? The one you sometimes feel a little guilty about sopping up with tons of gorgeously crusty bread? Well, scientists have just proven that indulging in a bit of olive oil as part of a Mediterranean diet can dramatically reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke, or death from heart disease. And? It’s a smart diet to borrow from during pregnancy—minus the recommended glasses of vino, of course!
Along with a focus on olive oil, the heart-healthy Mediterranean diet studied included servings of fish every week (make sure it’s not a high mercury fish!), including plenty of nuts and legumes, and avoiding processed meats and snacks. No calorie counting. No cardboard-tasting diet foods. Just a delicious “diet” that can save your life.
The really cool thing is that the Mediterranean diet has extra health benefits for pregnant women and their babes-to-be: olive oil (and the olives it comes from), fish, and legumes all contain healthy fatty acids, which are vital in developing your baby’s nervous system—including her brain. Add in a bunch of fruits and veggies for balance, and you’ve got yourself a smart and scrumptious pregnancy feast!
Can’t wait to try the Mediterranean diet? Try this Grilled Greek Salad or Tilapia with Lemony Herb Salad. Yum!
If you’ve got any other good recipes that would go with the Mediterranean diet, put them in the comments.
Image of olive oil via Shutterstock.
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fatty acids, fish, Food, health, Mediterranean diet, Nutrition, olive oil, Pregnancy, pregnant, recipes | Categories:
Tuesday, December 11th, 2012
Tired of whipping up the same old? Stumped on your holiday menu this year?
Better Homes and Gardens has come up with the perfect solution. The brand re-launched its “Must-Have Recipes” app for the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.
The new app features more than 500 recipes — everything from appetizers and main dishes to decadent desserts and holiday recipes.
Other cool features of the app include how-to videos, advanced browsing capabilities, the ability to share recipes by e-mail and Facebook, and personalized shopping lists.
Download the free app here today!
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