Healthier Macaroni & Cheese

Add favorite vegetables for texture and nutrients: spinach, broccoli tops, mushrooms – I always add veggies to my children’s mac and cheese to add volume, fiber, and antioxidants. This is a great way to get your kids or even yourself to eat more veggies!

INGREDIENTS (Makes 3 Servings)

  • 3 cup whole-wheat elbows, cooked
  • 1 tablespoon whole-wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup low-fat organic milk
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1 cup frozen chopped frozen spinach thawed or microwaved for 60 secs.


1. Bring a large pot of water with salt to boil. Add the elbows, cook as directed on the package and then drain.

2. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan over low heat, whisk the milk and flour until thickened. Add the Parmesan and whisk until melted. Add water or milk if necessary to get smooth and creamy. Combine the pasta and cheese/spinach sauce in the pot. Make colorful by serving with fresh carrot sticks on the side. Serve immediately.


353 calories, 11g fat, 44g carbohydrates, and 25 grams of protein per serving

The Reality of My Food: What this Mom Eats

Someone recently asked me, “Do you only eat organic foods?” People have also asked me, “Are you really healthy?” Others, who do not know me well have commented, “I should probably order healthy since I am sitting at the table with a dietitian.” Let me cure your curiosity!! I eat all foods and so do my kids. So what does this mean?

To start off the day, I typically eat what my boys are eating since I can’t resist! Lately I make them homemade multigrain pumpkin pancakes with dark chocolate chips, using eggs and 1% milk.

On average, I eat two big pancakes and my son eats about one. If I am hungrier, I will eat more; this is especially true on Sundays when I spin. I eat prior to spinning and after. Some days I use syrup and some days I don’t. On mornings when I’m not enjoying pancakes with my sons, I have Kashi’s Good Friends cereal with almond milk (as I am lactose intolerant), with a pack of almonds and a banana. Breakfast may vary but one thing remains constant: It’s always followed by a double-tall soy latte!

Lunch during the weekday varies depending if I am home or lunching with clients, colleagues or friends.  Previous meals have included corn bread with a cup of chicken soup from Whole Foods, and from time to time, a chicken gyro. When dining out for lunch, once I am full I take what is leftover and bring it back to the office. Last week was different since I was able to bring Thanksgiving leftovers for lunch. Since I am not a huge fan of turkey, the chicken sausage stuffing was my protein source (and although not low-fat, was balanced by the other sides.) However, if I am home lunch may be a simple peanut butter and jelly on whole wheat bread with a Greek Yogurt. I am also a huge fan of homemade wraps with melted cheese and avocado.

Dinners always vary. There is no standard since I eat out quite often. Tonight we are having whole-wheat pasta with meatballs (beef – 93% lean and made by me last night). I try my best to cook three meals a week for the family. Ideally, I like to make a grain, protein and serve two veggies but this is not always the case. For example, last night’s dinner was simple: a two egg and cheese omelet with pasta. Although it doesn’t sound very appetizing and wasn’t ideal, I couldn’t bare to make anything more complex.  Monday’s dinner was salmon with leftover quinoa and salad topped with cranberries and goat cheese. Sunday was Tandoori Chicken, dried fruit and quinoa. I had red wine with dinner Sunday and Tuesday. When dining out, my  favorite restaurants are Lupa, North End Grill, Commerce and Hudson Clearwater. Recently I have eaten at Acme, Harry’s Italian Pizzeria (with the family which is easy and always a favorite!), and The Lamb.  Meal choices vary depending what is on the menu. It may be pasta at Harry’s, veal meatballs with polenta at Commerce or fish at North End Grill.

Last but not least, I am a chocolate and sweets “mom”ster, so many evenings involve cookies (I love cookie dough too), chocolate bunnies, ice cream or at the very least chocolate chips. The kids enjoy a night snack with me, too. Sometimes we eat yogurt, fruit or perhaps fruit only smoothies.

The reality of my food? I think I eat healthy the majority of the time but don’t stress about it the rest of the time. That means, I eat white baguettes and white pasta from time to time and when the kids have Starbuck’s chocolate chip banana bread, it happily becomes mine when they are full. Fortunately, nutrition is second nature to me, so there is no crazy thought process or anxiety around food decisions. Please know, I never look at another’s dish to critique it when I am out. Going out to dinner is my time off from work, a time to socialize and enjoy with my family, friends and kids. The only plate I am looking at is my plate and when it’s almost empty!

Brussels Sprouts with Crispy Pancetta

Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis

During the holidays, certain foods remain a tradition within some families. However, I find the holidays to be a wonderful time to explore new recipes. Next to the traditional Thanksgiving dishes, I prepared a new one: Brussels Sprouts with Crispy Pancetta—which turned out to be a healthy hit! The only modification I made to the original recipe is not adding oil, as there is plenty of flavorful fat from the pancetta!


  • 1 pound fresh Brussels sprouts, trimmed
  • 3 ounces paper-thin slices pancetta, coarsely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth


Partially cook the Brussels sprouts in a large pot of boiling salted water, about 4 minutes. Drain.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the pancetta. Continue to saute the sprouts for about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant but not burnt, about 2 minutes. Add the Brussels sprouts to the same skillet and saute until heated through and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Add the broth and simmer until the broth reduces just enough to coat the Brussels sprouts, about 3 minutes. Serve.

Building More Than Just Healthy Habits: Self-Empowerment and Confidence

Moms and Dads, what does “building healthy habits” mean to you? Is it about changing the foods we eat or incorporating more physical activities into our families’ daily lives? While these are certainly important factors, building healthy habits is about more than just food and exercise.

Please take a second to read the personal account of a young lady’s journey, whose self-driven nature drove her to make healthier lifestyle modifications.

“Growing up in the South, cooking was always a huge part of my life, unfortunately it was not always the healthiest cooking.  Three years ago, I decided to make a positive change in my life. I threw out the processed foods and swapped the takeout for healthy meals I made at home. My love for healthy eating and lifestyles also impacted my professional career.  I worked in fashion for over 7 years and decided to follow my true passion and am now pursing a degree in Pediatric Nutrition.  I am a believer that if you expose children to healthy foods from a young age they are more prone to develop and maintain healthy eating habits in their adult life. I believe that cooking and nutrition should be fun.  It does not have to be a challenge to eat healthy, nutritious meals, instead you can turn it into quality family time and get everyone involved!


As Stefanie’s story shows, building healthy habits includes building self-confidence, motivation and empowermentkey components that we, and our children needto lead a happy and healthy lifestyle. Her inspiring story tells us that as parents and caregivers, we have the ability to influence our children’s relationship with foods and to start them on the track towards leading a healthier lifestyle. In addition to setting a foundation and equipping our children with the tools they’ll need to maintain healthy eating habits, we can help them build self-confidence, motivation and empowerment along the way.

Helping our children build healthier habits can be challenging, but not impossible. For guidance and additional tools, I have developed a Healthy Habits Program to help children and their educators educate children of all shapes and sizes on how to make appropriate nutrition choices for the rest of their lives. For more information, details about the Healthy Habits Program can be accessed here. 

Easy Eggs Pre-Thanksgiving

Easy cooking and clean up, spinanch and eggs are a great source of iron. If you pair it with orange slices or berries, the vitamin C will help absorb the iron!


  • 1 whole grain English muffin
  • 1 organic egg, and an additional egg white
  • ¼ cup frozen chopped spinach
  • Canola oil spray


  1. Toast English muffin. Add the eggs and spinach into a small microwave-safe ramekin (a bowl is fine too), whisk gently. Cook in a microwave on 50% power for about 2 minutes, or until cooked. Serve egg+egg white combo, on English muffin. Add avocado slices or tomato slices for extra nutrition or to make more filling.

Reminder: Be careful, microwaves have diff. watts so cooking times will vary. Start of at 1 minute and continue to add 30 seconds if needed.

What does FAT mean to you??

By Mom and RD, Elyse Falk

When you see or get introduced to a person who appears to be overweight, what thoughts go through your mind? Perhaps you’ve been thinking—“He/she needs more exercise or to go on a diet, is lazy or has low self-esteem or a lack of willpower, is unhealthy or not very bright and/or just may be depressed.” Yes, there surely are some overweight people who may have some of these character traits, but do you ever think these same things about thin people? Why not? More often than not, when we see a slender person (not too slim!), we may have these thoughts—“Beautiful, healthy, smart, high self-esteemed”—when in fact we can be completely wrong! This weekend I attended an eating disorder conference where I learned the term “weightism.” It’s defined as weight stigma, weight bias, and weight discrimination. Our society, including doctors, can be a bit harsh…making judgments just by looking at people’s sizes. There are many healthy fat people! And there are many unhealthy thin people! Let’s not look at people’s sizes and draw conclusions about what their health circumstances might be.

What’s really crucial is the behaviors people choose to incorporate into their lives such as eating mindfully, being active most days of the week, participating in feel good exercise routines, connecting with others and treating their bodies with respect. Bodies come in many different shapes and sizes; just because someone falls into the overweight category doesn’t mean he/she is destined to have a heart attack. There is actually little evidence that risk factors for disease will be lowered if heavier people lose weight. There is also little evidence that “diets” really work in the long term.

Are these judgments that we make about other people’s sizes trickling down to our thoughts and feelings about our own children’s body sizes? Do our children hear us talking about body size and then pass these judgments on to their peers? “Weightism” starts at a young age, even as early as three! It’s essential to facilitate positive associations with all types of people at all different weights. From one mom to another, I ask you to think seriously about whether you are teaching your children this biased thinking…or perhaps even judging your own children in this way. I encourage you to think about promoting healthy, positive self-care behaviors like engaging in physical activities; using coping skills rather than drugs, alcohol or tobacco; eating regular meals and snacks instead of dieting or binging; meditating to help prevent internalizing; and the list goes on and on… The most significant factor in good health is what we are doing…not how we look! Perhaps with January so near, this is the time to make a firm resolution to refuse to contribute to “weightism.” You can speak about any bodily shapes and sizes in a neutral manner; then ask questions about behaviors before coming to your own conclusions. Most important…love and nurture your children no matter what size they are and never put them on diets. As we already know, diets lead to binge eating and weight gain. For more information research HAES – Health At Every Size and Additional information obtained from the lecture of Dr. Deb Burgard and her website,


Enter to Win Peter Bereley's Cookbook and Solae Prize Pack

Last month, Solae–leading company in developing soy based foods like soy milk and energy bars–hosted a dinner created by Chef Peter Bereley. Peter Bereley, author of The Flexitarian Table, prepared a 4 course dinner with every dish containing tofu. Unlike the typical tofu you might imagine, Chef Bereley used it in innovating and delicious ways: tofu-ricotta,miso salad dressing, chili, and even pie for dessert! As he demonstrated how he prepared each dish, he provided creative tips on how to incorporate soy protein to our meals.  At the end of the event, Solae provided us with an awesome giveaway, including an extra for our readers! Included in the awesome backpack are several of Solae’s soy based products and a copy of Chef Bereley’s cookbook so you can try his “soy-licious” recipes on your own!

Thanks to Solae and Peter Bereley, Mom Dishes It Out will be giving away a “Solae Prize Pack”:

· A copy of Peter Bereley’s  “The Flexitarian Table”

· Solae Backpack

· Reusable Water bottle

· Cooking Tools

· A few coupons and samples of Solae’s soy-based products like Balance Bar, 8th Continent Soy Milk, and Special K protein shakes



Enter by one of the following ways. You can submit more than one entry by doing any of the following. Just be sure to leave an additional comment letting us know you did! Good luck!

Winners will be announced on Friday, November 16, 2012 at 6:00 PM EST.

Heart Healthy Mexican Recipes: Vegetarian Burrito


  • 2 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 2 tbsp garlic chopped
  • 8 whole wheat tortillas
  • 1 15 oz can low salt black beans
  • 1 15 oz can low salt kidney beans
  • 1 cup corn, frozen or fresh, steamed
  • 2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tbsp cilantro


  • 4 cups brown rice, cooked
  • 2 cups reduced fat and grated cheese
  • 1 avocado, sliced


  1. In a large bowl, combine the beans, corn, tomatoes, lime juice and cilantro. Drizzle oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the red onion, and garlic and sauté for 1-2 minutes. When garlic becomes fragrant, add the bean mixture and reduce to low heat.
  2. Warm tortillas in the microwave for 20 seconds or over the sauté pan. Remove from heat and spread each tortilla with ½ cup rice down the center, followed by the bean mixture. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup shredded cheese and few slices of avocado.
  3. First, fold the bottom of the tortilla over the filling and the tortilla directly on the opposite end. Wrap the left side of the tortilla over the filling and seal with a bamboo toothpick. You now have a swaddled burrito! Serve with carrot sticks and lemon lime seltzer.


Constant Hunger…your child’s relentless pursuit of food!

Does your child constantly nag you for food? Does this happen only at particular times…or all of the time? Do you eventually give in due to exhaustion? Or perhaps a headache? What is his/her temperament like? Is he persistent in getting his way all of the time? If so, this is likely a power struggle…and not a hunger issue. Think about your child’s interactions with others. Do grandma and grandpa or the nanny spoil your child and always oblige him? If so, you may have a cute little “monster” on your hands.

Sometimes our children are naturally hungry—a wonderful trait for many. As parents, however, we need to determine when our child is truly hungry or truly just pushing our buttons to see how much he/she can get away with—or actually get from us. Remember, structure and boundaries are important issues in raising our children whether it’s about food or even something as simple as wearing a hat on a cold day.

3 Clues to Determine If Reported Hunger is Real or an Attempt for Control

  1. Your child nags you about food at non-meal times when you are trying to get him to do something else. (Examples: Bedtime, clean up time, quiet time.)
  2. Your child is asking for food when you are not giving her attention. (Example: You are talking on the phone or working on the computer and your child is not self- entertaining.)
  3. Your child engages in power struggles over food he/she likes yet refuses to eat.  (Example: You agree to a snack of apples and cheese at the kitchen table but your child demands crackers instead and wants to eat them on the couch.)

If these mini scenarios remind you of your child, be very cautious in your next moves. Your child is most likely trying to win a power struggle around food…and may be succeeding! This battle is comparable to his/her feelings about control in life and about the parent/child relationship.  If not kept in check, it may turn into a counter-productive relationship with food later in life…likely leading to obesity or any other eating disorder.


5 Tips to Eliminate the Parent/Child Power Struggle

  1. Set specific times for meals and snacks. They can range with a “must” start time of 15 minutes before or after the predetermined times.
  2. Have your child sit down at the kitchen table for all meals and snacks with no screens to view while eating.
  3. At least one hour before bedtime, offer a p.m. snack and clearly state that this is the last opportunity for food. After that time, do not give in to your child’s pleas! You are setting appropriate food boundaries.
  4. Do not succumb to the begging, crying and screaming even if it lasts for an hour. If you give in, your child will recognize his power and push the limits even more or longer the next time. Instead of crying for an hour to get his way, he will persist for 75 to 90 minutes until he gets his snack.
  5. Ask your child if there is something else she would like…perhaps a hug or to read a book with mommy, or even the chance to help prepare the next meal.


Don’t fall prey to the hunger trap. Employ the five tips above to help create positive new behaviors. If struggles remain or you feel helpless, enlist the help of a Registered Dietitian specializing in both pediatrics and eating disorders. This will help to guarantee that food intake is removed from the power struggle and make it less likely your child will/won’t eat to satisfy control issues.

Pesto in a Pinch

Photo Credit:

Recipe by Laura Cipullo, R.D., C.D.E.  *Originally published published in Modern Mom

The Story: For the vegetarians with bold palates, serve up a serious punch of heart-healthy flavor with pesto. This is my husband’s recipe, and as always, I encourage all you moms to get your partners in on the cooking process too. After all, what better way is there to check another meal off your to-do list than by having your spouse make it with the kids?

Ingredients (Makes 1 ¼ cups)

  • ½ cup pine nuts
  • 4 cups lightly packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1 garlic clove chopped
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¾ cup (1 ½ oz) grated pecorino or Parmesan (or blend both)


Preheat the oven to 325°F. Spread the pine nuts on a baking sheet and cook until aromatic and golden brown for 8 to 10 minutes. Stir the nuts frequently to ensure even cooking. Remove from oven and let cool.

Combine the basil, pine nuts, garlic, lemon juice, and kosher salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and process until the ingredients are well incorporated, or for about 15 seconds.

Shut off the motor and scrape down the sides of the bowl. With the motor running, slowly add the ½ cup of olive oil through the feed tube. Shut off the motor and scrape the sides of the bowl.

Freeze this base mixture for up to 2 months. Add the cheese after defrosting and mix well on the day you intend to use. If you plan to use the pesto within the next few days, go ahead and add the cheese by pulsing the mixture together until you have a thick paste.

Add to whole-wheat pasta, layer on fish or use as a condiment on a sandwich. Refrigerate the leftovers, in a Pyrex dish with a tight lid.

Quick Tips:

  • Always use whole grains such as whole-wheat pasta rather than white pasta.
  • Frozen vegetables are just as healthy as fresh, if not more.