Happy Thanksgiving! + Giveaway

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Going Back to Our Roots—Recreating Thanksgiving

by Laura Cipullo RD, CDE, CDN, CEDRD, Mom, and Bitsy’s Registered Dietitian 

Here in the USA, Thanksgiving is the day to celebrate the harvest. Thanksgiving dinner is informally yet nationally known by all as the meal and even day of binging on harvest foods, including turkey, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and, of course, a pie of apples, pumpkin, or sweet potatoes.

How did we get from giving thanks to a day that sometimes seems focused simply on overeating?  For many of us there is nothing to be more thankful for than a healthy family.  So how can we return to the roots of gratitude of Thanksgiving, while celebrating over a traditional healthy and wholesome family meal?

As you read this blog, consider how you and your family can go back to the roots of the first Thanksgiving in 1621, when the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag natives gave thanks for the plentiful harvest. Both pilgrims and the Wampanoag natives were accustomed to giving thanks by feasting and sport, whether recreational or dance (the latter referring specifically the natives)1.

The original feast likely included wild fowl of some sort, but not necessarily turkey. Rather, it was geese and waterfowl such as ducks that probably appeared on the first-ever Thanksgiving menu1. And if there was stuffing of the fowl, it would have been made with herbs and onions; perhaps the Pilgrims even used oats. What about cranberry sauce? Being that sugar was quite expensive at that time, it can be assumed our sauce version was not on the table. Rather, cranberries were found in recipes of Wampanoag dishes, and “possibly added tartness to a Pilgrim sauce1.” However, it was “fifty years later when an English writer would mention boiling this quintessential New England berry with sugar for a “Sauce to eat with… Meat.”1” Potatoes are from South America and were not yet a staple in New England’s diet. Wampanoag did eat other tubers including Jerusalem artichokes, groundnuts, Indian turnip and even water lily. Pumpkins and squashes were native to New England but again, sugar, butter and piecrust were not available and thus pumpkin pie was not on the first menu1. “Today’s typical Thanksgiving dinner menu is actually more than 200 years younger than the 1621 harvest celebration and reflects the holiday’s roots in Colonial New England of the 1700s and Victorian nostalgia for an idyllic time when hearth and home, family and community were valued over industrial progress and change.1”

– See more at Bitsy’s Brainfood

 

A Thanksgiving Giveaway!

We’re all thankful to be spending our Thanksgiving with family and friends this year. To spread some holiday cheer we wanted to host a giveaway! Our friends at Litehouse Foods were kind enough to gift one of our readers with a spice set (perfect for holiday cooking)!

Photo Courtesy of Litehouse Foods

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5 Tips for Welcoming Herbivores to the Holiday Feast

From vegetarians to vegans and pescatarians to gluten-free, throwing a holiday feast can be quite challenging. If you are planning to host a dinner party this holiday season, rest assured, entertaining guests with multiple food sensitivities does not mean you need to toss out traditional or favorite Holiday foods. With a few modifications, many foods can be easily modified.  What should you do when welcoming herbivores to your holiday feast? We’re dishing out 5 tips you need to do and know before you start cooking this holiday season.

1. Confirm Your Guests’ Dietary Restrictions – First things first, before you start purchasing any ingredients find our what type of food preferences your guests have and if they have any allergies. Keep in mind that not everyone has the same food preferences. Some people will eat dairy but not eggs and vice versa. Knowing your guests’ food styles won’t just help you plan out what dishes you can serve, but it will ensure there is something at the table for everyone.

2. Always Serve A Main Vegetarian Dish – If you pass on confirming your guests’ dietary preferences, steer on the safe side by preparing a main vegetarian dish. This way, anyone who passes up the turkey or other main meat dish will still have something just as delicious and satiating as the latter. For large crowds, a dish like vegetarian lasagna can be appetizing for both non-meat and meat eaters alike.

3.  Make Your Side Dishes Veggie-Friendly – Make sure there are side dishes that everyone can enjoy. While you don’t have to dish out a whole chicken, turkey fish or tofurkey to meet all of your guests’ dietary preferences, side dishes are where you can make something suitable for everyone’s palates and preferences. To do this, keep an open mind by serving dishes other than a simple salad. Some side dishes can include sliced fresh fruits, cheeses, crackers, bruschetta, Brussels sprouts, cranberry sauce, deviled eggs, potato salad, roasted cauliflower, chickpeas, lentils, latkes, corn on the cob, cornbread, stuffed mushrooms, quinoa salad, garlicky kale or spinach.

4. Encourage Your Guests to Bring a Dish – After you letting your guests know in advance that you will be preparing vegetarian/vegan dishes, offer to let them bring a couple of dishes that they enjoy too. If you feel like you’re scrambling to find enough vegetarian/vegan dishes, allow your guests to bring dishes to share with everyone.

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5. Prepare Two Dessert Options – When dishing out dessert, consider eggs and dairy products. If possible, it’s best to prepare one non-dairy dessert option. If you plan to make the dessert yourself, there are a ton of substitutions on the market that add flavor and moisture to your baked goods. For egg substitutes, you can try applesauce, chia seeds in gel form, or EnerG Egg Replacer, which can be found at a health foods store or Whole Foods Market. To substitute cow’s milk, you can use soy, almond or hemp milk and vegetable margarine in many baked goods. For those who are new to creating sweet concoctions without dairy and eggs, know that it is possible to serve a scrumptious vegan dessert!

 

Have you ever hosted a vegetarian or vegan dinner? What tips would you give to new hosts?

Start a new “Family Meal” weekly tradition… beginning with Thanksgiving this year!

Start a new “Family Meal” weekly tradition… beginning with Thanksgiving this year!
Laura Cipullo, RD, CDE, CEDRD, Mom and Bitsy’s RD

*This post was originally posted on the Bitsy’s Brainfood blog.

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, the idea of family meals surely must be on your mind. For many people, Thanksgiving conjures warm feelings because it’s consistently about meals featuring family members, good friends, and yummy food. Are these the same thoughts that come to mind when thinking about family meals? Are you even able to have family meals especially during the regular work/school week? Most people now know that family meals are not only beneficial but also very much encouraged by the experts. How does this translate to your daily life? What does the latest research recommend? How should you, as parents and food consumers, interpret this information?

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Nutrition

Fortunately, there has been quite a bit of research of late. Some of the most noteworthy include Project EAT (I-III)Purdue University’s Family Meals Spell SUCCESS, and studies coming from research by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA). We surely know that family meals can be difficult to arrange—especially with working parents, kids’ afterschool activities, strained family relationships, and possibly even the aversion to foods served at family meals. But the statistics drawn from multiple studies via Project EAT have found that adolescents sharing family meals had higher intakes of fruits and vegetables, plus the mineral calcium, while drinking less soda. In addition, the more frequently the family meals occurred during adolescence, the more likely these individuals later would have shared household meals as young adults. Family meals were also linked to higher academic performance, greater emotional wellbeing and a reduced risk of using unhealthy behaviors for weight control1.

Overall Well Being

According to CASA surveys:

  • Teens who eat dinner with their parents twice a week or less are four times more likely to smoke cigarettes, three times more likely to smoke marijuana, and nearly twice as likely to drink as those who eat dinner with their parents six or seven times a week2.
  • Teens who eat frequent family dinners are also less likely than other teens to have sex at young ages and get into fights; are at lower risk for thoughts of suicide; and are likelier to do better in school. This is true regardless of a teen’s gender, family structure, or family socioeconomic level2.
  • Teens who have frequent family dinners are more likely to be emotionally content, work hard at school, and have positive peer relationships, not to mention healthier eating habits2.

 

Academics

Family Meals spell SUCCESS further supports these results. A study by Dr. Catherine Snow at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education notes that conversations occurring around the family table teach children more vocabulary and forms of discourse than they learn when you read to them2.

Reader’s Digest survey revealed  – a teen eating meals with their family was a stronger predictor of academic success than whether they lived with one or both parents. Research by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA) and others has found a striking relationship between frequency of family meals and grades2.

 

Mental Well Being

When family meal research is further analyzed, the most evident benefit of family meals is decreased depressive symptoms3.

Ultimately, we need more information on the actual frequency of meals, the length of each meal, who is present at the meals, and/or if the research is simply correlated with having frequent meals or truly a direct outcome of family meals. Is it possible that people who engage in family meals have specific characteristics that are different from those in families who do not engage in family meals? The answer is yes. More long-term research identifying the above details is needed3.

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Putting Family Meals In Practice

But what we do know? It’s estimated that three or more family meals, consistent family meals (i.e.: every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday), mealtimes with positive interactions and no TV are favorable…and most likely lead to the most beneficial outcomes for children3. So do your best to get some type of meal on the table and enjoy the time with your family. If one shared meal is possible, start here but make it weekly and don’t forget to turn off the TV and your iPhone!! Here at Bitsy’s we don’t strive for perfection, but we do strive for family time and healthier food for all families.

Are sharing family meals reasonable and achievable in your household? As working moms, we know this is incredibly challenging. Can you share your suggestions with the  readers?

 

References:

  1. “Epidemiology & Community Health Research.” Epidemiology Community Health Research. University of Minnesota, 2013. Web. 06 Nov. 2013.
  2. “Family Meals Spell S-U-C-C-E-S-S.” Purdue University Center for Families’ Promoting Family Meals Project. Purdue University, n.d. Web. 6 Nov. 2013.
  3. Cook, Eliza, and Rachel Dunifon. “Do Family Meals Really Make a Difference?”Parenting in Context. Cornell University College of Human Ecology, 2012. Web. 2013.

 

*This post was originally posted on the Bitsy’s Brainfood blog.

Planning for Holiday Meals with a Picky Eater

By Melanie Potock, MA, CCC-SLP

*This post was originally published on ASHA’s online blog. The original can be found here.

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As an SLP  focused on the treatment of pediatric feeding disorders,  there is one common denominator among all the families on my caseload:  The stress in their homes at mealtimes is palpable.   Now that Thanksgiving and other food-centered holidays are approaching,  the anticipation of an entire day focused on food has many parents agonizing over the possible outcomes when well-meaning relatives comment on their child’s selective eating or special diet secondary to food allergies/intolerances.This time of year, I try to find practical ways to reduce the stress for these families.   One of the first steps in feeding therapy is for parents to lower their own stress level so that their child doesn’t feed into it (pardon the pun).   I often address parent’s worries with a “What IF” scenario.  I ask, “What’s your biggest fear about Thanksgiving?”   The top 3 concerns are as follows:

 

What IF Junior won’t take a bite of Aunt Betty’s famous green bean casserole?

It’s not about the bite, it’s about wanting Aunt Betty’s approval.   Focus on what Junior CAN do.  If he can sprinkle the crispy onion straws on top of Betty’s casserole, call Betty ahead of time and ask if he can have that honor.  Explain how you would love for him to learn to eventually enjoy the tradition of the green bean casserole and his feeding therapist is planning on addressing that skill in time.  But, for now, she wants him to feel great about participating in the process of creating the green bean masterpiece.  If Junior can’t bear to touch the food because he is tactile defensive, what can he do?  Pick out the serving dish perhaps and escort Aunt Betty carrying the dish to the table?  Taking the time to make Aunt Betty feel special by showing interest in her famous dish is all Betty and Junior need to feel connected.

 

What IF Grandpa Bob reprimands Junior for “wasting food” or not eating?

Keep portions presented on the plate quite small – a tablespoon is fine.  Many families use ‘family-style” serving platters or buffet style, where everyone dishes up their own plate.  Practice this at home.  It’s not wasting food if Junior is practicing tolerating new foods on his plate.  That food went to good use!  If Grandpa Bob grew up during the Great Depression, this might be tough for him to understand.  If he reprimands Junior, change the subject and tell Junior your proud of him for dishing up one whole brussel sprout! That requires some expert balancing and stupendous spoon skills!

To continue reading, please click here to be redirected to ASHAsphere.

A Mom & RD's View on Halloween Candy

How Much Halloween Candy Do You Let Your Children Eat?
By Elyse Falk, MS, RD, CDN

My kids, like all of yours, will be trick-or-treating soon.  The age-old questions always arise amongst my friends, “How much candy do you let your kids eat?”  “Do you throw it all out?”  “Do you donate it?” “Do you let them have a little bit of candy all week long?”  “Do you let them have the candy all at once?”

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I think my kids are like any other kids and love to eat their treats the night of Halloween.  Heck, I love to eat the candy we are giving out and the candy my kids collect too!   As a family, we know that too much candy in one night will make us feel sick (evidenced by real-life events).  So, I have the kids pick a few pieces to eat on Halloween night, put the rest in zip-lock bags labeled with their names for safe keeping, and place the bags in the pantry closet.  I find that if it’s not spread out on the kitchen counter all day, every day, it’s less likely that they will mindlessly snack on it.  I guess my sons would say that I let them enjoy their Halloween candy but put a limit on it only when the other food groups are being left out.  I may tell them to pair some pieces of candy with a nutrient-rich meal or snack.  Pairing some candy like this is always an option … it gives less value to the candy.

 

Interestingly enough, as the week progresses, their desire for the candy diminishes.  My truth is that the more I limit it, the more my kids want it.  It’s a great opportunity for them to learn moderation and to always know the candy is there when they want it and that I am not going to make a big deal about it.  If on any one Halloween night they do overeat the candy, it is certain that they will not feel good.  I chalk that up to a teachable moment.  If you treat the topic of the candy more neutrally, with less emotion or judgment, the Halloween candy won’t be a “thing” between you and your children.

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Lastly, I believe that eating some candy with your kids is a must!  They need to know that eating a few pieces of candy on Halloween is okay and normal.  This is especially true when you have a child who may have heard sugar and candy is a “bad” food from a friend.  Remember, we as parents are role models.  I hope that we can teach them that there is no “bad” or “forbidden” food and that sometimes, on occasions such as Halloween, it is okay to enjoy some candy.  Happy Halloween!

Disclaimer:

We only call it treats due to Halloween but they are really candy, food, or food with lower nutrition.

Fourth of July Fruit Kabobs

Happy 4th of July! To celebrate this summer holiday we wanted to share a quick, easy, and fun dessert. These red, white, and blue kabobs are both festive and delicious, plus they make a great activity for the family. We hope you enjoy!

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Fourth of July Fruit Kabobs
Makes 10 skewers

Ingredients

  • 1 pint strawberries, rinsed and stems removed
  • 1 pint blueberries, rinsed
  • 3-4 bananas, cut into 1 inch-wide slices
  • 10 skewers
  • Other Options: marshmallows, watermelon, white cake cut into cubes

Method

  1. Place each fruit into their own bowls.
  2. Have your kids add fruits and other items as they wish.
  3. They can be stored in the fridge until ready to eat.
  4. Tips: make it a learning activity and have your kids make patterns with the kabobs.

 

Take a page from The Kitchn’s book and make a flag to serve on a platter for dessert!

Coconut Macaroons with a Chocolate-y Drizzle

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Coconut Macaroons with a Chocolatey Drizzle

With Passover right around the corner, we had the idea of trying out some Kosher for Passover recipes. While this recipe makes a delicious macaroon, it also allows you the opportunity to get your kids helping in the kitchen and to teach them the traditions of Passover.  Make these delectable desserts with your little ones and share with family and friends at your next gathering!

 

Ingredients:

  • 4 egg whites
  • 3 ½ cups of shredded coconut, unsweetened
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp of salt

Optional:

½ cup of semisweet chocolate chips

 

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F.
  2. Combine the egg whites, coconut, sugar, vanilla extract, and salt into a bowl.
  3. Place the bowl over a pot of simmering water.  Do not let the bowl and the pot touch.
  4. Stir the ingredients until the sugar has melted, roughly 5 minutes.
  5. When the mixture is slightly thick and begins to appear opaque, remove the bowl from the heat.
  6. On parchment paper or a non-stick baking sheet, spoon out 2 tbsp of the batter for each cookie.  Leaving approximately 2 inches of space between each cookie.
  7. Bake for 5 minutes.
  8. Lower the temperature to 325˚F and bake for another 10 minutes so that the outside is a deep golden brown.
  9. Remove the cookies from the oven and let them cool before serving.
  10. (Optional)- Melt the chocolate chips in a small saucepan over low heat.  With a fork dipped into the chocolate, drizzle the chocolate over the macaroons.
  11. (Optional)- Let the cookies sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes until the chocolate has cooled.

A Guide to Hard "Boiled" Eggs

With Easter around the corner, learn how to make hard-boiled eggs great for dyeing and then for eating.

How to Hard “Boil” an Egg[i]

 There are many theories about how to perfectly cook a hard “boiled” egg. Well, MDIO decided to find the perfect way to cook an egg in it’s shell by testing the traditional “boiling” method versus the seemingly favorite Pinterest method – “baking”.

 

Just so you know a hard-“boiled” egg is actually a misnomer. Boiling an egg will ruin the egg. Not only will the bubbles from boiling cause the eggs to crack and leak, the high temperature of the water will lead to over cooking. The secret to perfectly cook a hard-COOKED-egg is the temperature.

When eggs are cooked the proteins coagulate (come together) at various temperatures depending on the parts of the egg (white vs. yolk). Usually this happens when the egg is between 145-165 degrees F. When the temperature is too high, proteins overcook causing the whites to become rubbery and the yolk to dry out. When using the “wet method” also commonly referred to as boiling, the water should simmer around 180 degrees. It is faster to cook an egg in water than bake since water conducts heat 23 times faster than air.

TIP: If you add the eggs to cold water and then boil, they will taste better, however if you add the eggs to already boiling water, they will peel more easily.

Remember, once the water reaches boiling point turn down the heat to prevent over cooking. Cooking eggs in water is ideal for quickly hard-boiling an egg.  If you don’t want to use a thermometer, try my favorite way to achieve this:

DIY Hard “Boiled” Eggs

  1. Place the eggs into a large pot of room temperature water (cold for taste and boiling for ease of peel).
  2. Bring the water up to a boil. Watch closely!
  3. When you begin to see tiny bubbles (light boil), cover the pot.
  4. Remove from heat.
  5. Let the eggs stand and cook for 10-12 minutes.
  6. To stop the cooking, add the eggs to a cold water bath for about 10 mins.

 

TIP: If the eggs are hard to peel McGee’s On Food and Cooking1 shares a secret. Use older eggs versus fresh eggs. Fresh eggs are harder to peel because they are more acidic. As the egg ages, the pH becomes more basic. This causes the egg  to separate from the shell membrane and makes it easier to peel!

 

Science Note: As your egg cooks this is what is happening inside

  • 3-5 minutes warm yolk, milky whites
  • 5-6 minutes: sold yolk, firm white, can peel a this time
  • 10 minutes: dark yolk
  • 15 minutes: light yellow and dry yolk

If you have a large amount of eggs such as when dying Easter eggs, you can easily bake them without the mess of multiple pots of boiling water. Baking eggs also helps to ensure the yolk doesn’t get too dried out. Of course be sure to add the eggs to a cold-water bath – to stop the cooking process.

 

DIY Baked Hard “Boiled” Eggs[ii]

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F
  2. Place eggs in muffin tin
  3. Bake for 30 min
  4. Remove from pan
  5. Place eggs in ice or cold water bath for a 3-10 minutes to stop the cooking process

 

TIP: Some people suggest poking a pin hole. The significance of the pin hole is thought to prevent eggs from cracking and to make then easier to peel, however studies are inconclusive. The hole does allow air to escape so that the pressure can release quickly and thereby prevent the shell from cracking. 

 


[i] Harold McGee. On Food and Cooking. New York, NY. Scribner. 2004

[ii] Hard Cooked Eggs in the oven. Available at: www.food.com

 

 

St. Patrick's Day Brown Soda Bread

Less than 4 days until St. Patrick’s day, folks! To celebrate the joyous occasion we wanted to share a traditional Irish soda bread recipe with you. This recipe is from Cooking Light’s Global Kitchen cookbook, written by David Joachim, which features 150 nutrition-packed recipes from around the globe. So, check out the tasty recipe below and be sure to tweet us pictures of your St. Patrick’s Day celebrations/recipes at @MomDishesItOut!

Photo courtesy of Cooking Light’s Global Kitchen

Brown Soda Bread
Serves 12

Ingredients

  • Cooking spray (we use canola oil spray)
  • 2.5 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 0.5 cups steel-cut oats
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp wheat germ
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 0.5 tsp salt
  • 2 cups low-fat buttermilk
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 325˚F.
  2. Coat a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray or line pan with parchment paper, and coat with cooking spray.
  3. Combine flours with the remaining dry ingredients. Combine egg and buttermilk in separate bowl, mix and add to flour mixture. Stir just until combined.
  4. Spoon mixture into prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour and 5 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Invert bread onto a wire rack; cool completely. Remove parchment (if used), and slice bread into 12 slices.

 

Nutrition Info (1 slice): 160 calories, 1.8g fat (0.5g sat. fat), 7.2g protein, 30.8g carbs, 4g fiber, 18mg cholesterol, 17mg iron, 286mg sodium, 86mg calcium

 

Did you love this recipe?
Be sure to head on over to www.EatingAndLivingModerately.com tomorrow to check out a special surprise!

Diabetes-Friendly Roasted Veggie Mac & Cheese

The winter holidays are just around the corner. And we’re sure you’re as busy as we all are trying to prepare gifts, holiday dishes, and our homes to entertain our family and friends. This past Thanksgiving we posted an allergy-friendly recipe, so we wanted to continue that tradition and share a dish from Laura’s new book: The Diabetes Comfort Food Diet Cookbook. We chose the Roasted Vegetable Macaroni and Cheese recipe, because its diabetes-friendly and a great comfort food for the snowy nights to come. We hope you and your families enjoy a happy and healthy holiday season!

Roasted Vegetable Mac and Cheese
6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into large florets
  • 1 large onion, cut into wedges
  • 1 yellow or red bell pepper, cut into eighths
  • 2 tsp canola oil
  • 8 ounces whole grain elbow pasta
  • 2 cups 1% milk
  • 2 tbsp whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp dried mustard
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded reduced-fat sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 2 tbsp grated Romano cheese

 

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Coat an 11″ x 7″ baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. On a rimmed baking sheet, roast the cauliflower, onion, bell pepper, and oil for 30 minutes, stirring once, or until the cauliflower is golden brown. Remove from the oven to a cutting board and chop the roasted vegetables coarsely. Add to the prepared dish.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare the pasta according to package directions. Drain and place in the dish with roasted vegetables.
  4. In a medium saucepan, whisk together the milk, flour, mustard, and salt. Cook for 4 minutes, whisking, or until the mixture begins to thicken. Stir in the Cheddar and Romano and cook for 2 minutes, or until melted. Pour over pasta and vegetables, tossing to coat. Bake for 20 minutes, or until bubbling.