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!



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


½ cup of semisweet chocolate chips



  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.

Healthy Habits is coming to a school near you!

Healthy Habits is coming to a school near you!
By Lauren Cohen and Laura Cipullo Whole Nutrition Services Team

Starting in early March, members of the Laura Cipullo Whole Nutrition Services Team have been heading out to share our nutrition education program, Healthy Habits, with New York City students.  It has already proved to be an incredibly rewarding experience for both the students and teachers.


Over the past few weeks, we have been heading out to Schools and Day Cares around NYC and it’s boroughs to spend some time with students. With ages ranging from 5-9, we really have our hands full! It was thrilling to see the amount of nutrition knowledge students in this age range already had. The younger students were full of great information and even better questions while the older students were explaining the benefits of protein and exercise and asking questions about metabolism!


Here are some of the highlights:

1.  Meeting the students and finding out what they know.

The students at our first two locations have a nutrition program already and we quickly learned that all their hard work paid off. The students were able to name all of the food groups from MyPlate and were even able to categorize their lunch foods. They told us all about the lunch they had that day—there was something from every food group! They were eager to display their knowledge and learn more. Needless to say, we were very impressed!


2.  Learning about Sometimes and Everyday foods.

After we learned what the students had that day, we asked them what they liked to eat. They named a ton of healthy foods but also a lot of snacks and treats. Sometimes and Everyday foods are a big and exciting philosophy that Healthy Habits teaches. The students seemed happy to learn that chocolate chip cookies and cupcakes fit in the sometimes category. This is an important part of Healthy Habits’ lesson plan and the students were very taken to this concept.


3.  Learning about the Hunger and Fullness scale.

How hungry are you now? How hungry are you after you eat? Before you eat? Sometimes these questions are hard to answer. It’s a precious skill to be able to listen to your body’s hunger and fullness needs. We asked the students how to identify what hunger and fullness felt like and if that was how they felt now. It can be a big challenge to tune into your body that way and it was exciting to see the students pick up on this quickly. Some of them were hungry and some of them were not but their ability to gage their hunger/ fullness needs worked out well for the next part of our lesson!


4.  Learning how to eat mindfully.

Have you ever thought about your senses while you eat? What does your food look like, sound like, and feel like? How does it smell? How about the taste? Have you ever thought about the food you’re eating while you’re eating it, or taken three slow breathes to enjoy your meal before chowing down? All of these factors have a huge impact on how we feel about our food and eating. It’s a valuable skill to incorporate into your daily habits. This was the student’s favorite part! Maybe it was the snacks or perhaps because we were playing with food—either way, it was a blast!


We wanted to say a very big thank you to the students and faculty at the various locations we have been working with for welcoming us into your school and allowing us to have such a wonderfully positive experience learning with you.


If you are interested in having members of the Laura Cipullo Whole Nutrition Services Team come teach Healthy Habits at your school, please contact us at


For more information on the Healthy Habits curriculum or to purchase it, please visit

 For a FREE download of one of our Healthy Habits worksheets click the photo below!

Screen shot 2014-04-03 at 7.40.20 AM

Salmon Patties for Breakfast!

We mentioned the importance of getting kids active in the kitchen in yesterday’s blog post. To continue with that message, we wanted to post a recipe that makes a great addition to a homemade, weekend brunch and serves as a wonderful opportunity to get your children to expand their eating and cooking horizons! Salmon is a great source of both DHA and EPA, forms of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to aide in decreasing the risk of heart disease and help fight inflammation. So have the kids help with the potatoes (careful of the knife, of course!) or cracking the egg. Then enjoy a family meal all together to help further foster a positive relationship with food!

Photo Credit: Dalboz17 via Compfight cc

Salmon Breakfast Patties
Serves 6


  • 1/2 cup sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized cubes
  • 8 ounces skinless, deboned salmon
  • 1 lg egg white
  • 3/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions
  • 1 tbsp chopped basil
  • 1 tsp canola oil + oil for cooking



  1. Bring potatoes to a boil in small saucepan. Cook for 5-7 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Drain and allow to cool.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350˚F.
  3. Place salmon in a food processor and pulse until chopped. Add the egg white, salt and pepper. Process until pureed.
  4. Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl. Mix in the potatoes, onions, oil and basil.
  5. Spoon the mixture into burger-sized patties. Set aside.
  6. Heat a skillet with canola oil over medium-high heat. Add patties and cook until brown (roughly 2 minutes per side). Transfer the cooked patties onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat until all patties are cooked.
  7. Bake the patties an additional 5-7 minutes in the oven.
  8. Remove from oven and enjoy!


Recipe adapted from the Mindful Eating Miraval Cookbook.

Get your kids cooking in the kitchen!

Get your kids cooking in the kitchen!
By Laura Cipullo, RD CDE CEDRD CDN and Mom

To honor National Nutrition Month we wanted to focus on helping children foster a positive relationship with food. A great way to do that is by getting kids active in the cooking process. Even if its making sometimes foods like baking cookies or, in this case, making pancakes! Here’s a cute video we made with the kids:


Buttermilk Pancakes
Recipe makes about 12 pancakes, depending on size.


  • 1 large egg
  • 2.5 cups low-fat buttermilk
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • maple syrup for serving


  1. Mix all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Beginning with the eggs, followed by the buttermilk, butter, and whisk until combined. Add flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and whisk until the flour is incorporated.
  2. Heat a large frying pan over medium heat, add a little butter or cooking spray to the pan. Spoon about 1/2 cup of batter into heated pan and cook about 2 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Flip and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes or until golden brown.
  3. Serve with optional warm butter, maple syrup, and/or fruit.



– See more at: Bitsy’s Brainfood

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:



Do 13 year olds really think about six-pack abs?

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Do 13 year olds really think about six-pack abs?
By Mom and RD, Elyse Falk


Boys and body image! Wow…what a perfect topic for me to be blogging about right now. The scenario goes something like this: My almost 13-year-old son comes home after a Bar Mitzvah party for one of his friends. It’s 12:00 am. I drag my butt out of bed to make sure he’s OK and to ask him how his evening was. As I walk sleepily down the hallway, I unintentionally catch a glimpse of his reflection in the bathroom mirror. He’s standing there, shirtless, flexing his muscles in the mirror and pulling in his abdominals. “Really?”…I think to myself. Not knowing quite what to say at that exact moment, I utter something innocuous: “OK. You can look at yourself tomorrow. It’s past midnight. Get into bed.” He quickly pulls on his shirt, and I, in turn, make a mental note about it.


As the days followed, I became aware of a noticeable decrease in his food intake…especially one night while we were eating dinner together. So I asked him: “Aren’t you hungry?” He answered: “Well, I’ve just been watching how much I eat and my stomach looks smaller when I eat less.” Because I’m a registered dietitian who specializes in counseling clients with eating disorders, I almost had a heart attack when I heard his response! “Listen to me, dude!” I said. “Your body is strong from karate and the recreational sports you participate in during the year. Your body is healthy from all the different foods you eat. You’re getting bigger and taller because you’re a teenager. Your body is changing so much right now! You’re starting to become a man! Your belly has gone through many changes throughout the last two years. It’s gotten bigger and then, when you grew taller, your belly became smaller again because that’s precisely what happens when you go through puberty!” He seemed to listen to what I was telling him, looked at me briefly, and simply said “Hmm….” He came into the kitchen a little bit later and, without any hesitation, ate some cookies. I didn’t say a word. The conversation hasn’t come up again since!

Photo Credit: Aka Hige via Compfight cc

Here’s what I’ve learned: The knowledge that boys (as well as girls) can and do fall prey to those troubling messages in the media about body image and dieting. In addition, puberty is often a very difficult life passage for any tween. When our bodies undergo various changes during puberty, our psyches do too. Many suffer with dismal thoughts and awkward feelings; throwing in the need to “fit in” by “looking a certain way” during this adolescent stage directs even more attention to their bodies. Please understand that it’s natural for your tween to be curious about his/her body’s new changes and how food affects those changes. And it’s most important for you to know that this is a crucial time for us, as parents, to watch our words and to keep our eyes pried wide open for the little (sometimes almost microscopic) clues our kids may be displaying. A particularly vital task at hand is helping our boys understand how food helps their bodies and that the changes to their tummies, their voices, and their broadness are all normal and need to be balanced with the consumption of healthy foods and fun physical activities…but most definitely not controlled!


Elyse Falk is a registered dietitian who specializes with clients who have disordered eating/eating disorders and practices in Northern Westchester and can be reached at

Dinner Olympics…challenge your child's palate!

Dinner Olympics…challenge your child’s palate!
This post was written by Alyssa Mitola, Dietetic Intern

According to the groundhog’s prediction, there are still four more weeks of winter left; but, on the bright side, we have the Winter Olympics to entertain us. Olympic athletes serve as great role models for our children. They demonstrate passion, dedication, and commitment. They also display strength and endurance. Athletes from around the world remind us of the importance of fueling our bodies with the proper nutrition. In the spirit of Winter Olympics encourage your own little Olympian to try some new foods and stay physically active just like their favorite athletes.


Challenge your kid’s palate (and your cooking skills) with your very own Dinner Olympics. Each week try cooking a new recipe from one of the many countries competing at the Sochi Winter Olympics. At the end, have your child decide which new dinner takes home the gold!


Dinner Olympics is a great way for your child (and you) to try some new foods and explore different flavors. Exposing children to new foods from a young age is important for shaping children’s food preferences and acceptance of new foods throughout their life (Birch 1982). This fun activity also exposes children to the cultural importance of food. Point out different flavors, ingredients, and customs of each country as you gather around the dinner table. Mealtime is a wonderful way to get the whole family together. Research has shown that family meals are positively associated with improved dietary intake, fewer discorded eating behaviors, and overall psychosocial well-being (Neumark-Sztainer et al. 2010).


After dinner is over, encourage an Olympic-inspired family activity. Try some indoor competitions, such as a dance party, can of soup “weight lifting” competition, or some jumping jacks. If you really want to get in the Winter Olympic spirit, plan ski trip or an outing to an ice skating rink.


Kick off your family’s Dinner Olympics this week. Below are a few international recipes to get you started:


Photo Credit: Neven Mrgan via Compfight cc

Russia: Try this version of a favorite Hungarian stew, Chicken Paprikash (adapted from

  • 1 pound of chicken breast
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 peppers
  • 1 onion
  • 3 tsp paprika
  • ½ cup dry wine
  • ½ dry white wine
  • 2 cups crushed tomato
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp parsley
  • Egg noodles


  1. Dice chicken and sauté in oil for 3-5 minutes. Add salt and pepper. Set aside
  2. In a new pan cook peppers, onions over medium heat for five minutes. Add paprika
  3. Add wine and cook until evaporated
  4. Add tomatoes, broth and lemon juice bring to a boil.
  5. Add chicken and simmer until chicken is cooked through.
  6. Prepare egg noodles as per package.
  7. Serve chicken and sauce with egg noodles and sprinkle with parsley


Photo Credit: PincasPhoto via Compfight cc

Spain: Paella originated in eastern Spain, but variations of this classic dish can be found throughout the country. Cook up this easy seafood variation of this favorite Spanish dish (adapted from

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 peppers (red and green)
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  •  1 cup rice
  • 28 oz can of low sodium vegetable stock
  • ½ tsp saffron
  • Frozen seafood mix (defrosted)
  • 1 cup of frozen peas
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice


  1. Sauté onions in oil until soft. Add peppers and garlic
  2. Add rice and stir
  3. Pour in vegetable broth. Simmer for 20 minutes until rice is cooked
  4. Stir in seafood, peas, and lemon juice. Cook for two minutes


Photo Credit: vincen-t via Compfight cc

Great Britain: Try this British classic, a roasted leg of lamb with mint sauce and potatoes (adapted from

  • Leg of lamb
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 bunch fresh rosemary
  • lemon zest
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound of red potatoes, peeled and cut in half

Mint sauce

  • 3 tablespoons mint leaves, chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/3 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp hot water
  • 4 tbsp white wine vinegar


  1. Preheat oven to 400 F
  2. Boil the potatoes for ten minutes. Remove from pot and dice. Place in pan with leg of lamb
  3. Mix garlic, rosemary, lemon zest and olive oil. Rub over leg of lamb. Add salt and pepper and place in oven. Cook 60-90 minutes.
  4. Prepare the mint sauce, by mixing together mint, sugar, salt, water and vinegar.
  5. Let the lamb sit for 10-15 minutes before serving


Photo Credit: Gideon Tsang via Compfight cc


Israel: Originally from Tunisia, this dish has become very popular in Israel. Poached eggs cooked in a spiced tomato sauce, Shakshuka can be served for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. (adapted from

  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2  onion,
  • eggplant, diced
  • 1 ½ tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 ½ tbsp smoked paprika
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 4 medium jarred roasted bell peppers, small dice (about 1 cup)
  • 3 (14 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • Pita bread

1. Heat oil in a medium frying pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook 2 to 3 minutes. Add eggplant and sauté.
2. Stir in tomato paste, paprika, and garlic, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
3. Add peppers and tomatoes bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 30 minutes. Sprinkle in parsley
4. Break the eggs over the tomatoes. Cover and continue to cook for about 7 to 8 minutes, until the eggs are set.
5. Serve with pita bread or baguette to dip


India: This delicious lentil dish is popular in India. For more information on this recipe and the art of adding legumes to your recipes click here.

  • ½ cup moong dal (yellow lentils)
  • Pinch of turmeric
  • 2″ piece of of ginger, chopped
  • 3 to 4 dry red chilies, torn into halves
  • 1 tbsp of ghee or oil
  • 1 tsp of jeera/cumin seeds
  • ¼ tsp of asafoetida/hing
  • Salt to taste
  • Chopped coriander leaves for garnish (optional)


  1. Wash and boil the dal with turmeric and sufficient water (generally about 2 cups) until it’s the right consistency and the dal is totally cooked.
  2. Heat the ghee or oil in a separate pan and then add the cumin seeds and red chilies. Fry until the cumin turns golden and the chilies turn almost black; take care not to burn them.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat and add the asafoetida and ginger. Sauté until the ginger wilts in the heat.
  4. Then dunk the entire mixture into the dal. Add salt and chopped coriander leaves. Serve with basmati rice or a yummy kale salad for a perfectly scrumptious, highly nutritious meal!


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Italy: Italian Minestrone Soup is a rich source of vegetables that will warm the soul on a cold winter day. Use any combination of vegetables as you stir up this simple winter soup.

Minestrone Soup (adapted from

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 carrots, chopped
  • 4 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 pound spinach
  • 2 potatoes
  • 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 fresh rosemary sprig
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans of low sodium cannellini beans, drained, rinsed
  • 28 oz can low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 ounce Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Heat the oil in a heavy large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery, and garlic. Sauté until the onion soft, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add potato, tomatoes and rosemary sprig.
  3. Add broth bring to boil. Add in 1 can of beans. Reduce to simmer and cook for 15 minutes. Stir in spinach until wilted.



The Kids Cooking with Cacao… DIY Cocoa Tea and Inca Hot Chocolate

The Kids Cooking with Cacao…
DIY Cocoa Tea and Inca Hot Chocolate

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner—and a totally unplanned day to fill while in Lima, Peru—we took our boys to the Cocoa Museum for a class called “Beans to Bar.” Upon our arrival, I tasted their cocoa tea which is supposed to be great for altitude sickness as well as digestion without causing the jittery edge caffeine normally does. I had drank cocoa tea for the three days while we were in Cusco and Machu Picchu to help me manage the high altitudes! What a relief.


The children took the class while the moms helped and, of course, learned a few important new things along the way. For example:


One cacao tree produces about 40 pods—the big fruit-like looking thing hanging on the tree. Each pod contains about 20 to 60 beans; 100 beans are needed to make one bar of chocolate. After opening the pod, the beans are placed in a wooden box and left to ferment for approximately 3 to 9 days. Then, the beans are left to dry under the sun for three sunny days. But here’s the fun part!


The kids started their class at this point in the bar-making process. The beans were roasted for roughly 15 minutes until they started to make crackling sounds. (See the pictures for an informative visual story.)


Next, the shells had to be separated from the nibs. This was the children’s favorite part; it took quite some time to accomplish. But it was a perfect hands-on activity. The shells are used for brewing tea while the nibs are mortared down into a buttery paste to be used for making chocolate. The kids also loved making the paste by grinding the nibs in a circular motion. It did take some muscle power though. My oldest son truly loved this! When the process was complete, there were shells in one bowl and nibs turned into a paste in another.


We placed nearly one cup of shells in a pitcher, then added boiling water with one teaspoon of sugar and stirred the mixture for a minute. After straining to remove the shells, we poured our cocoa tea into a mug and sipped. Ooh la la…just delicious!





If you want to pep up the cocoa tea…

Next we made a tea from the cocoa paste. We added one cup of cocoa paste, 1½ tablespoons of honey, 2 teaspoons of chili spice and ½ teaspoon of Achiote spice (for its red color) to a pitcher with two cups of boiling water. It’s mixed by pouring the liquid from one container to another many times until the tea cools down a bit—usually about one to two minutes—then strained and served. I loved this version but the kids didn’t like the spice.

And then we learned how to make the first “hot chocolate” ever devised; it’s called Mayan or Incan hot cocoa.


We added 1 teaspoon cloves, ½ liter of milk and a few cinnamon sticks to a sauce pan, and then heated it to a low boil and set it aside. We placed 4 teaspoons of sugar and about 1½ cups of cocoa paste in a pitcher and then used a “molinillo”—a Mexican turned wooden whisk—to combine the sugar and cocoa paste. Then we poured the warmed milk, cloves and cinnamon mixture into the pitcher and again used the molinillo to combine everything together. And voila…you’ve created a most delicious hot chocolate!


While we made this delightful drink in tropical 80 degree weather, I definitely plan to make it at home…especially since it will warm us up during this particularly frigid winter! I even bought the cocoa shells to make the tea at home. If you want to try to replicate our experience, you can buy the cocoa beans right here in the States and then make it with your kids. The Cocoa Museum also sells their products online at




Guest Blog: Elyse Falk

Hi, I’m Elyse Falk and I am a registered dietitian in Westchester, NY and a mom of 3 wonderful, energetic boys, ages 11, 8, and 4. I initially decided to become an RD because I love good food—you know, the kind that makes your body healthy and strong—and immediately knew I wanted to raise a family that would grow up appreciating good, wholesome food as much as I do.

Through my education as well as my professional and personal experiences, I have learned that both parents and their children must play active roles in cultivating a healthy relationship with food.
As a parent, I am responsible for determining the types of food that are in the home and preparing these ingredients in a way that my family will actually eat and enjoy. In order to do this, I am always planning a day ahead and thinking about how to serve meals that include at least 3 to 4 food groups. Looking at my childrens’ diets as a whole, I ask myself: Did they get their fruits and vegetables for the day? What about lean proteins and low-fat dairy?

But it’s not just about what they eat; I am also in charge of structuring their meals and snacks throughout the day, deciphering how they eat too. My ultimate parental role is to educate my children so that they understand the difference between when to eat foods that “do good things” for the body versus when to eat “sometimes foods,” otherwise defined as those products or ingredients that don’t offer much nutrition for the body.   
Something I’ve discovered is that “sometimes foods,” like cookies (my boys love chocolate chip cookies), don’t necessarily need their own place and time. Instead, I find that they should be neutralized in order to eliminate the notion of treats. If they ask for cookies, for example, I allow my boys to eat them with their dinner, a decision which neutralizes dessert so that it is not necessarily the highlight of their evening intake. When I first started combining dinner and dessert, I was fascinated that my son actually went back and forth between eating his veggie burger and cookie at the same time, finishing both without an issue. This also proves how insignificant dessert really is to children; all they’re really hoping for is a “sometimes food” at some point during their meal.

All parents, myself included, need to serve as a role model for healthy eating. One way I accomplish this is by sitting down for meals with my children and showing them how I enjoy consuming delicious, wholesome food. As for the kids, at the end of the day, they are the ones who are in charge of how much food to eat and whether they want to eat certain kinds or not. While I encourage them to try new foods, I won’t ever push them to the point where it becomes an issue. (I do expect them to say, “no thank you” and “please,” though. Manners are important too.)

Photo Credit: ….Tim via Compfight cc

As my boys get older, they seem to be developing more adventurous tendencies. If one tries a new food, the others seem to want a taste too. (This is incredibly funny to watch as an outsider.) As they’ve grown, I’ve also learned a thing or two about their eating habits. For instance, I don’t celebrate if one of them tries a new food, because as soon as they see my contentment, they’ll stop eating it (it has to do with control). I’ve also discovered that some days they can eat me under the table whereas other days they’re just not as hungry.

Being an RD and working with clients with disordered eating habits has made me particularly sensitive to the way my boys experience food at home. As a mother of 3, I know that food can be both necessary and fun, and yet I’m also aware that it can cause stress and concern at times too.
Laura, my friend and colleague for 10 years, has asked me to join her efforts on Mom Dishes It Out and to contribute my experiences and expertise to give her readers yet another perspective on finding joy and balance in moderate parenting and feeding. I am happy to be a part of this project and hope all the feeders and eaters out there know that it is a constant balancing act, but it is one that is worth every minute.

Raising Children With Different Nutrition Needs

By Laura Cipullo, RD, CDE with Elyse Falk, MS, RD

Photo Credit: Marina K Caprara via Compfight cc

A Real Mom’s Question

How should a parent handle instances when one child has a HUGE sweet tooth, and is underweight but the other kids in the same family are a normal weight or overweight?  For example, at dessert time, all the kids want ice cream – maybe one child shouldn’t have a ton and the other really could use it.  How does a parent deal with this situation in a way that doesn’t create food issues?

Two Real Moms’ Answers

Focus on Equality

First and foremost, everyone should be treated equally at the dinner table. In order to prevent any type of discord between the kids, you’re far better off teaching them the importance of nutrition and their health in a more neutral setting.

Regardless of weight, children need to focus on eating balanced meals and snacks. Sweets, like cake, cookies, and candy, are what we like to call “sometimes foods,” because they are foods that are okay to eat some of the time.

The child with the huge sweet tooth has to learn to eat an array of flavors – not just those made mostly of sugar – otherwise they may develop nutrient deficiencies or simply close their mind to the idea of fruits, vegetables, lean meats, nuts, eggs and low-fat dairy. Even an underweight child should not make sweets his or her primary source of nourishment. Instead, teach them to focus on increasing the amount of nutrient-dense foods they consume throughout the day. Young children need to learn to eat the kind of food that’s necessary for their bodies, and observe healthy role models who guide them, so that they can grow into confident eaters.


Did your family’s pediatrician recommend that your child gain weight, or are you assuming this? Do your children’s height and weight fall into in the same percentiles on the growth chart? If so, it is probably safe to assume that both of your children are at appropriate weights. In general, the focus should not necessarily be on gaining weight. Instead, it should be on eating enough nutritious food on a daily basis. Consider seeking counseling with a registered dietitian.

If your child’s weight is truly beneath their height on the growth curve, your child has not grown in a year, or if a physician prescribed weight gain, then you’ll need to focus on increasing the quantity of food your child is consuming while simultaneously looking for ways to add nutrient-dense foods to their intake (this refers to a small serving of food that is high in calories). As Mommy Faulk reminds, children have smaller stomachs than adults and often can’t consume large amounts of food at a time. Because of this, they may need to eat smaller, nutrient-dense meals more often.

You may also want to ask yourself: Is my child a picky eater? Don’t forget that, just because school sets aside time for lunch doesn’t mean your child is eating. Perhaps something happened at school that is causing them not to eat, or maybe they don’t have enough time to eat. This may be the problem, especially if your child has lost a significant amount of weight in the past 2 months (>/= 2%) and could possibly put them at risk of developing an eating disorder. In other words, in order to remedy the situation, it’s essential to first determine why your child is not meeting their nutrition needs.

Quick Tips to Increase Intake Without Increasing Quantity

  • Add 1-2 tbsp of wheat germ to yogurt, meatloaf, cereal, muffins, etc.
  • Add an extra slice of cheese to their sandwich.
    • Add granola to low fat yogurt or allow them to eat it plain.
    • Put peanut butter on their muffin.
    • Make smoothies with protein powder and lots of berries.
    • Add a morning snack of raisins or nuts at around 10 a.m.
    • Provide a snack of crackers and a spread like hummus before bed.
    • Encourage healthy fats such as avocado, olives, olive oil, nuts, and nut butters.
    • Have all-natural nutrition bars and packaged low-fat milk available on the go.
    • Let them have a mini-meal when they get home from school, like a sandwich, grapes, low-fat cheese, hearty soup, homemade English muffin pizza, etc.
    • Add olive oil to whole-grain pasta and veggies; let child dip whole-grain bread into olive oil with their meal.

Behaviors to Implement

  • Talk to the school to help your child to remember to eat.
  • Help your child relax before meals and decrease anxiety to prevent emotional fullness.
  • Encourage your child to help choose the menu.
  • Do not discuss food issues and/or weight at the table.
  • Focus on your child’s behaviors around food and commend them for trying new foods or practicing self-care.
  • Make meals an enjoyable time so they are not rushing to finish and leave the table.
  • If the pediatrician is concerned, have them talk to the child with a parent in the room and explain why they need to get more nutrition.