Zucchini "Pasta" with Shrimp and Cherry Tomatoes

Photo credit: evilchefmom

INGREDIENTS (Makes 5 servings)

1 large zucchini

1 garlic clove, minced

1 tbsp olive oil

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

1/2 lb. medium shrimp, cooked, peeled and deveined

2 tbsp fresh basil, sliced

8 black olives, sliced

2 tbsp Feta

1/4 tsp dried red pepper flakes *optional

1 lemon, cut into wedges



In a large bowl, combine the olive oil, garlic and oregano. Set aside.

Keeping the skin of the zucchini on, slice it length-wise and into thin “pasta” strips.

Return to the large bowl and add the tomatoes, olives and shrimp. Gently stir in the zucchini “pasta,” top with Parmesan cheese and serve with fresh lemon wedge!

Keep Your Family Moving…Yoga and More

As you know if you read this Mom Dishes It Out blog on a regular basis, I have two sons who are picky eaters. But what you may not know is that my two picky eaters are not only exposed to various foods but various forms of movement as well. As a young child, I remember my mom doing her leg lifts to Jane Fonda on the TV. I also remember a magnet on the refrigerator that read something like: “Don’t break your DIET! Don’t open the frig!”

I always viewed my parents as being overweight. Now I look back at old pictures and think: “Wow, they were so much smaller in the 70s and 80s than now in 2013!” Back then, we were a pretty active family. We always went camping during the summer, hiking on weekends, and skiing in the winter. Mind you, my parents did not ski. But they definitely helped us children to be active. Eventually—and unfortunately—they became inactive. They stopped camping, hiking and even doing little Jane Fonda-like exercises. They became the parents that hung their clothes on the exercise bike. They’d pay for gym memberships for an entire year, but never go!

On the other hand, I kept active through school sports and then later via gym memberships. In college, I was blessed with opportunities to rock climb, mountain bike, backpack, and snowshoe through the Rocky Mountains along with other great physical activities. My dad was ecstatic that I loved the outdoors like he had when he was young…and gladly footed the bills for all of my expensive equipment. And I was happy to experience the thrills as well as the sense of accomplishment these activities brought me. 

Well, now I’m a parent too. But I don’t have the luxury of a home in the suburbs with a big backyard. This is my choice! For a variety of important reasons, my family and I choose to live in New York City. What I do maintain is a true love of movement. I also know how critical it is for parents to role model healthy behaviors such as active movement on a daily basis. This does not necessarily mean pumping weights at the gym or sweating it out on the stepper in LuLu Lemon!

My father never hiked, biked or camped with weight loss or even heart health in mind. He did so for enjoyment only. Unfortunately for my dad—and my mom too—they stopped enjoying the activities. And they stopped engaging in them! Of course, they should have continued for health reasons.

Well, I persisted and still continue to be active today. I must admit, however, that I did at one point get lost and confused. I was exercising—especially running—for a calorie burn rather than enjoyment and overall health. Thankfully, I didn’t get lost for too long. Believe it or not, an injury forced my introduction to new types of movement and a renewed adoration for moving to increase my energy, to decrease my stress levels, to balance my body, and to straighten my posture. And to just have fun while keeping my heart healthy and my body efficient.

I want to pass this love of movement on to my kids. I think I have passed it on to my husband, who didn’t exercise at all when I met him…in part because he hated running. He now spins and practices yoga because he tried these activities with me and loved them. Together we have taken the kids hiking, skiing and on active family vacations through the mountains of Colorado. Just the other day I heard my son Bobby tell my mother that I had just retuned from spinning and then he corrected himself and said: “Oh no, I mean Pilates.” Not only does this create dialogue around physical activity, but our boys, just like any other children, observe that their mommy and daddy enjoy different physical activities for different reasons and with different people. 

For example, while pregnant with each of my boys, I practiced yoga and Pilates. Unable to find a prenatal yoga class six years ago, I found a yoga instructor willing to barter with me instead. I would provide nutrition education and she would provide yoga in my home. Well, it has become the best deal ever because for years now, my sons have watched my husband and me practice yoga together. Sometimes they even join the session, but for just a few minutes. However, this past week was different. Our yoga instructor, Jen G, came to the apartment for a session. My husband joined in and so did my children. It was the cutest thing ever. All four of us were doing yoga together. And the boys lasted for 30 minutes! It was definitely not the most de-stressing yoga session, but it was absolutely the most fun. When thinking about our family yoga session, I also realized that not only has movement positively affected our lives as a family, but yoga specifically has also helped me to teach the boys to take a deep breath and “Om” when they’re frustrated or just need to let off some steam.

As parents we are endlessly prompted to role model healthy behaviors and to exercise for our own health. Just remember that all of our behaviors—whether healthy or not—are indeed observed and then reenacted. Please don’t ever connect exercise with weight loss because your children will come to think about it as negative, dreadful and fruitless. Rather, explain how exercise helps to guarantee their health.

We have the ability to help our children to love their bodies and love to move…and ultimately move for the right reasons. As a mother and a dietitian, I encourage parents to teach their children to be physically active for strength, heart health, strong bones, stress relief, and most importantly, fun. Remember, the best exercises are those that we enjoy and want to do again and again. So don’t wait! Get up right now. Grab your kids and go to the ice-skating rink…or wherever your family can share some healthy and fun-filled physical activities.

Lemon-Caper Salmon with Greek Yogurt

This recipe is courtesy of Candice Kumai, whom I had the pleasure of meeting a few months ago. I was given a copy of Candice’s cookbook and have been trying out recipes ever since. Two weeks ago, I tried the Kale and Fennel Caesar Salad, which was refreshing and hearty at the same time.  With a lucky streak in the kitchen, I decided to try another one of Candice’s simple and delicious recipes. Salmon? —Yes, please!


1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 tablespoons capers

1/3 cup 0% Greek Yogurt

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

4 (5 oz.) boneless salmon fillets

1 large shallot, finely minced


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and drizzle with olive oil. Place the salmon fillets on the baking sheet with skin side down. In a small bowl, whisk lemon juice, capers, yogurt, Worcestershire and mustard. Brush a generous amount of the yogurt mixture on the top of each fillet. Bake in the middle rack for 20 minutes, or until the salmon is opaque at the edges and still pink at the center.

The Imperfect Food Mom

The imperfect mom…well, that’s me! But I’m not suffering from low self-esteem; rather, I acknowledge that despite being an expert in food and nutrition, I make some less than perfect decisions when it comes to feeding my boys. While I honestly think I do a great job the majority of the time, it’s always a day-to-day challenge. Just like in any home, feeding and eating is not black and white. It’s a grey area because our children do not always like what we feed them.

Right after the holidays, I was once again re-motivated to continue the never-ending journey of increasing my no-longer-toddlers’ food variability. We had been to “The Palm” for Christmas Eve dinner where my youngest son Billy decided not to eat anything since he didn’t like the choices on either the adult or children’s menus. I had no expectation he would select something. And I also did not bring along any food to accommodate his pickiness. My oldest son Bobby started off by eating the bread on the table and then went on to enjoy a chicken cutlet with plain pasta. Although he isn’t the fanciest eater, he is willing to try most foods nowadays. Bobby ordered ice cream for dessert and ate about half of it. From the other side of the table, Billy said, “They don’t serve what I like!” He was definitely hungry and probably felt a gnawing in his belly. He did, however, contently sit in his seat while everyone else enjoyed their appetizers and entrees. (Note: I must admit that he was playing a game on my iPhone!) When dessert time came around, he did order chocolate milk and ice cream. The moment his chocolate milk was served, he drank the darn thing as fast as possible—he didn’t take his little mouth off of the straw for an instant! He also didn’t have any room left for his ice cream and left it untouched. My letting Billy order ice cream and chocolate milk was not my flaw; it showed up later.

As a dietitian and a mom, my imperfect mothering revealed itself the day after Christmas when we were shopping at Whole Foods. (I had arranged to take a week off from work to dedicate time to spend with my boys, to create new recipes and make time for family meals.) With our holiday meal difficulties fresh in my mind, I asked the boys to pick out a new food each wanted to try. Bobby quickly chose tortellini despite the fact he had had it before and used to love it. His desire to eat tortellini seemed to be a passing phase, so I was happy he was willing to reincorporate this form of pasta. Billy, on the other hand, was not so eager to choose a new food. While picking up some steamed greens and veggies at the deli counter, I spied a yummy-looking sweet potato puree with ginger. I knew it would be a great side with our dinner that night. I asked Bobby to try it to see if he liked it. He did try, but the face he made clearly said: “Not me…I won’t eat this!” Billy, who regularly eats sweet potato pureed in a squeezer form, was laughing. He was not going to try it. I told Billy that the puree was the same thing that was in his kid squeezer, except that now he could see the contents. He knew I wanted him to taste it because this time I really did want him to try.

I didn’t want to be the patient mom who engages in exposure therapy with foods to help establish positive relationships with eating and neutral relationships with foods. Blah blah blah! I just wanted to be the mom with a kid who ate normal adult food! I stood with the trial-sized spoon topped with the puree. We walked to another section; Billy tormented me by opening and shutting his mouth. He would pretend he wanted some of the sweet potato and then change his mind. He was laughing and I was getting frustrated. So when he was laughing I just dipped that tiny spoon into his mouth! I know this doesn’t work. I know a child will not like a food forced upon him just for the mere fact that it was not his choice. And the experience was certainly most unpleasant. At that moment, I did not care. Well, until it was too late!

When Billy realized what was happening, he flung my hand away, spit the puree out and drooled all over himself while screaming and crying. Yes, a child can do all of this at once! Well, I had done it. Honestly, I was more embarrassed than anything… and that’s my second flaw. I was more worried about what others in the market were thinking…especially since I am a certified eating disorder specialist and surely know better. I thought: “What if someone knows who I am?” I was also embarrassed by my own behavior. Not only should I not have given Billy the sweet potato, but I also should have been truly concerned with his feelings regarding this petite intrusion.

Gleefully distracted by something else, he was absolutely fine a few minutes later. While I indeed know how one should handle such food situations, in this case, I simply chose to ignore my knowledge. When all is said and done, my motherly rebellion with my picky eater will not damage Billy. Thankfully this is not a regular occurrence in my house. But yes…just once, I wanted to push the envelope and see what would happen. And what happened was precisely what one would predict!

The point here is: Dietitians and mothers are not perfect. Some mothers don’t know any better when feeding their children and then there are some of us who surely do. Despite knowing, sometimes moms like myself get impatient and/or frustrated and very lost in the “doing” part.

So take what you want from this blog entry. Perhaps that I am imperfect despite my credentials; perhaps that you shouldn’t feel guilty when you mess up with your kids; perhaps that it’s fruitless to blame your parents for your own food issues as no one, not even an RD, is perfect at feeding her kids. Or maybe just…DON’T FORCE FOOD ON YOUR CHILD!

Baked Crispy Chicken Nuggets

For a free DIY tutorial featuring Laura Cipullo RD, CDE, CEDS, visit EHow’s Health

Serves 4


  • 1 pound organic chicken cutlets, cut into 1” strips
  • ¾ cup Progresso Italian Breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 cup skim milk (or 1%), more milk may be needed
  • Canola oil spray



  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees F.  Line a large sheet pan with foil and spray with canola oil. Place the breadcrumbs in a medium bowl. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the egg white and milk.
  2. With a fork, dredge each cutlet through the bowl of skim milk and egg white. Immediately transfer to the bowl with breadcrumbs and dredge each side of the cutlet thoroughly with breadcrumbs. Place the breaded chicken strips on the sheet pan and repeat process.
  3. Spray a light mist of oil on the top of each chicken strip for crispier coating.  Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, turning once.  Serve with tomato sauce or applesauce instead of ketchup.


This Mom's Advice on Navigating Advice During Pregnancy

By Guest Blogger: Justine Roth, MS, RD

From a mother’s weight gain during pregnancy to the day of delivery and after, it seems like motherhood is coupled with a continuous stream of judgments about our size, the way we eat and how we are feeding our kids. Now I know people mean well and am confident enough not to be too bothered by these things but how do comments and advice affect moms out there and eventually their children?

Mothers might internalize these comments, which can potentially affect the way they feel about their own body image and thus the children. It is challenging enough to be a new Mom, let alone questioning if what we are feeding our babies and ourselves is exactly “perfect.” In reality there is no perfect; rather the goal can be to create a healthy relationship with food and our bodies while keeping in mind what makes the most sense for you and your family.

My little girl is now 6 months old and I have been fielding comments regarding my size and hers since the day she was conceived. Throughout my pregnancy, various people told me how big I was getting (you must be having a girl!) to how my face hadn’t changed a bit (it must be a boy!) After she was born however, the attention and comments shifted to my daughter, “Look at those thighs, what do you feed her?!” Similarly, I have also heard the opposite in cases where mothers carrying small or who have smaller babies feel sensitive to comments regarding both their own and their children’s size.

As a registered dietitian, I feel it is very important to focus more on nourishing yourself and your child both during and after pregnancy, and less about the weight gain that naturally occurs during pregnancy or where your child falls on the growth chart. Whether you are breast-feeding, giving formula, or introducing solid foods to your little ones, it is crucial to not listen to all of the “shoulds” and “musts” about feeding your family and go with what you feel the most comfortable with.

As new mothers, comment (no matter what they are) may feel like a judgment hitting on something we might already be nervous about. Truthfully, many times pregnant women and new mothers receive more advice than they may like to hear or know what to do with. Pregnancy and motherhood can be filled with conflicting emotions and ideas. Remember that weight gain during pregnancy is natural and when the time comes, focus more on nourishing your newborn the best you can, rather than their weight or size. When it comes to fielding comments, the best we can do is to learn how to weed through what we feel is helpful and try to let the negative or less beneficial comments roll off our back.


About Justine:

Justine Violante Roth MS, RD, CDN ., is a registered dietitian who specializes in eating disorders, medical nutrition therapy, and general nutrition counseling. She is the director of the nutrition department at the NYS Psychiatric Institute, an inpatient treatment hospital affiliated with Columbia University. Justine has almost 10 years experience working with the eating disorder population in various settings including inpatient, day program, and private practice. She has also shared her expertise with st