Making Sunday Brunch with the Kids


By Jessica Levinson, MS, RDN

Ahh, Sunday brunch. Who doesn’t like the thought of a lazy Sunday morning spent in bed followed by mimosas, French toast, and eggs benedict?

BK (aka Before Kids), Sunday brunch was a favorite pastime of mine. These days my Sundays are a bit different. We wake up early and get ready for a busy day, often filled with birthday parties or some other activity that will tire out the kids before we head back home for their nap. Sunday brunch happens sometimes, but often it’s an easy bagel brunch at home or a chaotic meal at a restaurant. Luckily my girls love to eat, so we’ve actually been pretty lucky with being able to have some good brunch meals out. They’re not the way they used to be back in the day – calm and relaxing; but it is possible to have a nice family brunch with the children at home. How?

I’ve said it before: when children are involved in the cooking process, they are more likely to try new foods since they had a hand in cooking them. And cooking with kids increases their competency in various domains, including fine motor skills, math, science, and reading. If those reasons aren’t enough to convince you, here’s one that will: when the kids are cooking with you, they’re occupied and having fun, meaning you don’t have to worry what trouble they’re getting in elsewhere and you can get a nice meal on the table. And maybe you’ll be able to enjoy a mimosa too!

One Sunday brunch recipe the whole family will enjoy making and eating is this Mushroom Onion Quiche.


When I posted this picture on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram a couple of weeks ago, I received so many likes and comments asking for the recipe. Come back tomorrow for the recipe and tell the kids to get ready to cook this weekend! Not sure what they can do? Here’s a video of my two-year old girls helping me make this recipe.

*You may want to lower your volume for the first 6 seconds to avoid a whining child. 


*Link to original post found here.

Color Me Red

Color Me Red

by Christie Caggiani, RDN, LDN, CEDRD 


As we enter February, we’re seeing Red around every corner.  Valentine’s Day and American Heart Month highlight the color, and give us a burst as the sometimes-drab days of winter continue to swirl around us.   Not only can our moods become a little blah this time of year, our food choices may become more monotonous as well.  By creating a theme, however, we can add a fun, proactive twist to eating, and bring more variety to our plates. What a great way to jazz up your kids lunchboxes, snacks or meals at home by picking a color theme– and what better color this month than RED!

Photo Credit: Kiwifraiz via Compfight cc

Our role as parent or provider is not to make sure our kids love everything they eat, but rather to present them with opportunities to explore food, develop their preferences, expand their comfort level around a variety of choices, and therefore become confident, competent eaters.  A color theme is one way that children can participate in the process, as they identify colors in the grocery store, find them in your fridge, and add them to their plate palate.  It also provides an opportunity for them to learn about the function of many foods.   For example, as you will notice below, many red fruits and veggies help promote heart health, so children can begin to connect the ways that foods work for them and support their bodies and brains.   If you are introducing a new food, make it fun and don’t be discouraged if they don’t enjoy it the first time around (or the first many times!). 

So roll out the red carpet and enjoy acquainting your family with some of these bright beauties: 

Acai: This berry from Central and South America is shown to have excellent antioxidant value, which may assist in heart health, decreased inflammation and decreased risk of some cancers.  Mix frozen acai in your blender with a splash of milk and banana, then top with granola, fresh fruit and shredded coconut for a colorful and satiating breakfast or snack. 

Cherries:  These succulent rubies give us great fiber, immune-helping vitamin C, and heart-happy potassium.  Slice up fresh or frozen cherries for a fun ice cream topping or substitute berries in your favorite recipe with equal parts (pitted) cherries. 

Cranberries:  Not only are they super for our urinary tract system, they may also help keep our digestive system protected from unhealthy bacteria and ulcers.   Pour a glass of cranberry juice, add some canned cranberries into a smoothie or mix some dried cranberries into your kids’ trail mix.

Raspberries:  Rich in vitamins C and K, and many antioxidants such as alpha and beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, and choline,  these berries can help protect our heart and prevent certain types of cancers.  Fold some fresh berries into your favorite muffin or pancake mix, or keep frozen raspberries on hand to toss into a smoothie or oatmeal

Strawberries:  They are a good source of heart-helping folate, which decreases the risk of certain birth defects, and are a powerhouse of the antioxidant vitamin C, giving a boost to our immune system.   Sprinkle some strawberries on cereal or blend up some frozen strawberries in a milk and yogurt smoothie.  Or dip into some melted chocolate for a super satisfying snack!


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Watermelon:  Despite popular belief that watermelon is made up of only water and sugar, it is actually considered a nutrient dense food, one that provides a high amount of vitamins, particularly A and C, mineralssuch as magnesium, potassium and zinc, and antioxidants, including high levels of lycopene.  Because it does contain 92% water, it’s also a wonderful way to help keep your kids hydrated.  Insert a popsicle stick into watermelon chunks for a fun snack, or freeze some watermelon balls to add to your kids’ water bottles. 

Beets:  With an earthy flavor that gets supersweet when cooked, beets are very nutrient-loaded, giving us 19 percent of the daily value for folate, necessary for the growth of healthy new cells.  Their rich color comes from the phytochemical betanin, which helps bolster immunity. Roast them, pickle them or shred them raw and dress them with citrus for a refreshing salad. 

Red peppers:  For the love of your eyes and your skin, include these vitamin A-packed foods.  Add a little crunch to your child’s favorite deli sandwich or have them taste test with peanut butter or hummus. 

Tomatoes:  These red beauties are heart protective and provide a great defense against prostate and potentially breast cancers.  Include a little more marinara sauce on your pasta or add some grape tomatoes into the lunchbox.  

11 Tips for Happy and Healthy Eating

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By Guest Blogger: Stefanie Dove, Human Nutrition and Dietetics Student

Ask any parent what their biggest battle is with their children and they will likely say getting them to eat their fruits and veggies.  With school back in session, it can sometimes be hard to monitor how much of the packed lunch your kids actually ate.

Here are a few tips and ideas to get them to eat all of the fruits and veggies you pack for them:

1. Bright colored containers not only catch the eye but depending on how small or large they are, it can also help our little ones stay engaged in their lunch as they keep opening up “surprises” in each container.

2. Kids not only love shapes but it also helps them become a little more curious about their fruits and vegetables which helps make it less of a struggle to get them to try some.  You can do things such as cutting whole wheat pita bread with their favorite cookie cutters and making a sandwich or even creating a hummus veggie pizza.

3. Grab your melon baller and scoop some of their favorite fruits to help make a great fruit salad.  The non-traditional shapes of the fruits will be more appealing.

4. Slice veggies such as cucumbers, zucchini, squash, and carrots with a crinkle cheese cutter to give them a new shape and texture.

5. Kids love being able to make their own food, so you can sauté fajita style veggies and pack in the lunch with additional healthy toppings such as a little Greek yogurt, spinach, tomatoes, etc. so that way they have a variety of veggies to choose from and get excited about being involved in making their own meals.

6. If your kids like guacamole, you can make this amazing version that also adds peas in it to give them that extra serving of veggies!  Just replace one of the avocados with a small bag of frozen peas to your favorite guacamole recipe.

7. Serving veggies with hummus is a great way to introduce veggies to even the pickiest eaters.  Most children love to dip their food in things and with the variety of flavors hummus comes in, if there is one they love, just try giving them bite size veggies to start.

8. For the younger children, you can try turning their plate full of fruits and veggies into a work of art.  A great way to do this is to create a rainbow scene on their plate or in the lunchbox by incorporating fruits and veggies of all colors.  Another way to do this is to make colorful fruit and veggie kabobs.  You can add cubes of their favorite cheese to make them more appealing.

9. A longtime staple in most homes has always been Mac & Cheese.  I love making these Mac & Cheese muffins for lunches, which are easy to pack. Adding butternut squash in them not only adds to the creaminess, but also gives that extra serving of veggies!  I also love using quinoa pasta in place of whole wheat so that I can get that extra protein punch as well!

10. Butterfly bags are a great way to send berries, grapes, baby carrots, and cherry tomatoes to school.  Decorate a wooden clothespin with your child’s favorite colors and fill each half of the sandwich bag with a different item and clip the pin in the center to make a butterfly.

11. Make mini cucumber sandwiches using slices of cucumbers with hummus, tuna salad, etc. between 2 slices of cumbers.

While it might continue to be a challenge incorporating some fun ways to incorporate fruits and veggies into the lunch box will help them become more comfortable with the idea of eating them on a daily basis.

Growing and Changing—MDIO IS EXPANDING

Growing and Changing—MDIO IS EXPANDING
By Laura Cipullo, RD, CDE, CEDRD, CDN and Mom

Like our children, adults grow and change in different ways. With my personal growth as a mother and as a professional, I have learned that bringing friends and colleagues together via networks can prove to be a valuable accomplishment. Almost two years ago, I was elected to become the president of the iaedp NY (International Association of Eating Disorders Professional, New York). My hope was to bring together a burgeoning yet independently specialized sector of professionals so that we could work together synergistically to make a greater difference. For iaedp NY the goal is to educate professionals about eating disorders. And we are doing it!! Our membership has grown to include 10 percent of national members, and we currently are hosting about ten educational events per year.

Understanding how effective this model has been, I have decided to transform the website of Mom Dishes It Out from mommy RD blogger to primarily comprise a platform of mommy healthcare professionals (mostly registered dietitians and speech language pathologists) who share the same message I do—“All Foods Fit”—by promoting a positive feeding and eating philosophy. It will be a one-stop educating experience for parents, teachers, and any reader interested in the future of food and nutrition.


I come across numerous health sites alleging that all food is “okay” but subsequently propose that certain foods are treats or certain foods are bad/junky. Being a RD in the world of eating disorders, I know this is misinterpreted by many. I hope this new platform will bring together mommy and daddy healthcare professionals adept at using more neutral and less judgmental language. We may not be perfect at putting the message into practice, but MDIO will post blogs in an attempt to adhere to the sensitivity surrounding food and food messages.


So—as soon as August 2014, the blog will be expanding. Certified Eating Disorder Registered Dietitians such as Amanda Mellowspring and Erica Leon have already signed on to contribute. The site will now share mommy health professionals’ personal experience and knowledge relevant to raising children in a positive nutrition/weight-neutral environment. This will be the go-to site advocating nutritional health achieved through self-care instead of dieting or weight loss.


I truly hope you share the website with your friends and family, and be sure to tell us what you think!


If you or a professional you know (OTR, SLP, RD, or MD) is interested in blogging about healthy habits in your field, please contact to be considered as a potential contributor. Moms in the health field or those who specialize in pediatrics are welcome to apply. 

100 Thoughts While Shopping at Whole Foods

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We saw the Buzzfeed 99 thoughts everyone has at Whole Foods last month and thought it would be fun to try our own version! So here’s the 100 thoughts an RD and Mom has when shopping at Whole Foods:

1. Where is the largest grocery cart? I need the biggest one!

2. Fresh cider when it’s not even apple season.

3. But 100% juice is fortified.

4. Let me see the berries.

5. Price per pound, grown where and are they organic?

6. Organic, grown in Florida or Ca, yes will get.

7. Local, $3.99, not organic is okay as likely sustainable; get them.

8. Organic, grown in Mexico – nope.

9. Apples – organic and grown in USA.

10. Ugh they are so expensive.

11. Better to spend money in health promotion.

12. What veggies do I need?

13. What happened to making grocery lists?

14. I need to make a list before coming here.

15. I need to choose three dinners for the week.

16. Oh, I am not in the mood for planning dinner.

17. I will get dinner for tonight and send the husband back later in the week.

18. Will my kids stop climbing in and out of the cart.

19. I look like such an awful mom.

20. Why can’t they just walk next to me?

21. No, we can’t get muffins yet.

22. I know it is freezing in this section.

23. Where is my favorite kale?

24. What is this? No Swiss Chard, not Kale and not collard greens?

25. I will buy it and try it.

26. I wish I had someone to cook me delicious fresh diners every night.

27. Oh I do, that’s me.

28. I just don’t have the desire, time or energy.

29. Smells fishy today.

30. Let me see how fresh the fish look.

31. Yes, we can get flowers but only for 10 dollars.

32. Yes, those are pretty, but 20.00

33. My son is so cute picking out flowers.

34. Hold the flowers you just picked out.

35. Yes, we can get your favorite cheese.

36. Yes, get 3 of them.

37. I wonder how much this bill will be?

38. $400.00, $300., $200.?

39. Would my boys eat this?

40. The cheeses smell wonderful.

41. Don’t forget Bobby’s favorite chicken.

42. Yes, I can hold your half eaten banana.

43. Which chicken is trimmed and thinly cut?

44. Where is the white turkey meat?

45. Organic chicken tastes so much better.

46. Chicken sausage, yum.

47. With kale and pasta.

48. That will be dinner tomorrow night.

49. Greek yogurts.

50. I miss Chobani.

51. I wish Whole Foods sold Chobani.

52. Skyr yogurts – 3.00.

53. My son is worth it.

54. I will buy the Skyr.

55. Love the spoon.

56. Can any green company sell a package of eco friendly spoons?

57. I have so many forks and knives – plastic, corn, bamboo..

58. I just need spoons.

59. How can cereal be 6.99 now?

60. I am not eating that anymore.

61. I will let my son eat it.

62. I can eat something cheaper.

63. Yes, we can get mac and cheese.

64. Look for the sale.

65. Is there anything my boys would try?

66. I need to try some new recipes.

67. I hope we don’t knock anything over.

68. I am getting used to this new layout.

69. Which mustard, ketchup…

70. How does one food shop for their family if they are not a RD?

71. I wonder if they think they are buying something healthy?

72. I should have opened a store like this.

73. I remember Alfalfas, Wild Oats and oh, their delicious muffins.

74. Now Whole Foods Reigns.

75. Omg, the stuff is spilling over my cart and we have only hit half of the aisles.

76. Thank goodness I don’t have the double stroller anymore.

77. I am no longer a train conductor rather a referee.

78. Yes, yes,. Lets get your muffins.

79. I need them to calm down and be quite.

80. Should I let them eat it now?

81. It will spoil their appetite for dinner.

82. I am so tired, I don’t care.

83. They will get hungry later.

84. Let them eat their muffins and bagels now.

85. I know I will end up eating that muffin.

86. Okay back to the aisles.

87. I need to come back and look at these new food products.

88. The organic baby food business is crazy.

89. Do people realize these gummies are just like any other gummy?

90. Which line is shortest?

91. Can I carry all of this home?

92. OMG, stop hitting each other.

93. OMG, stop bumping into other people.

94. Such good little helpers when they are not misbehaving.

95. I think we should get more than ten cents per bag.

96. I should get paid by Whole Foods.

97. I am a walking advertisement for them.

98. Where is my delivery card?

99. Oh, I forgot the sparkling water.

100. Definitely doing delivery.

What eating right means to this mom and RD…

What eating right means to this mom and RD…
By Laura Cipullo, RD CDE CEDRD CDN and Mom


The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recently asked RDs to explain what eating right means to them. So I asked my assistant, my interns and my student volunteers to describe what it means to each of them. They shared their definitions with me—and therefore with you—at

I really think my blogs—and even simply many of the titles of my blogs—paint a very accurate picture of what eating right means to me. But just in case you may have missed my continuing message, here’s a short synopsis:

One Size Does Not Fit All

I’ve learned that diets basically don’t work! And I learned this fact more than twenty years ago! Since then, via earning my RD credentials, attempting to balance my own state of wellness, and working with clients, I’ve definitively learned and absolutely believe that ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL! Every individual carries a different set of genes, brings a different mindset and lives in a different environment. So although I believe all foods can fit into a healthy lifestyle, how I educate my clients (and my children) depends a great deal upon their personal situations. The concept of eating right is truly unique to each person’s unique needs. We need to go back to defining diet as habitual nourishment, rather than a quick fix.

Mixed Meals with Internal Regulation

For me, eating right became much easier when I let go of perfecting my diet and made the decision to eat all foods. Yes…carbs, proteins and even fats! I began using internal regulation methods rather than external regulation methods such as calorie counting or using a scale to “weigh my health.” Eating “imperfectly” became my perfect! For example, this means that if I eat a cupcake with my boys or share a meal with a client even though I’m already full, I don’t think twice about it. Rather, I enjoy the taste while I’m eating and remain mindful of my overall lifestyle. Learning to eat meals mixed with all three macronutrients and snacks with two of the three was essential—and still remains my ideal means for structuring food intake throughout each day. Actually, many of the techniques I use to feed myself and my family as well as what I teach all of my clients are based on the knowledge I’ve gained as a diabetes educator. Eating in harmony with the endocrine system (insulin, blood sugar, mixed meals, rate of absorption and fullness, etc.) and empowering intelligent decision-making are integral to wellness.

Some Food From Boxes

But I also know that eating right must also be realistic! Being a mom of two and having a full-time career which requires my working out-of-my-home two nights each week means learning how to create— and quickly prepare—healthy meals with just a few basic ingredients. It means sometimes eating a Kale Caesar Salad with salmon, or pasta with fresh asparagus or just pizza. It means actually making my children’s meals—even if not totally from scratch. At the very least, what I prepare is much less processed than fast food or take-out. And it also means my family and I can choose to eat vegan chili for lunch with chocolate chip cookies for snack!

The 75/25 Approach

My personal eating behaviors reflect what I teach in my book HEALTHY HABITS: The Program plus Food Guide Index & Easy Recipes. Although I created this book to help parents and educators teach children how to feed and eat in healthy ways, my husband, my children and I all practice these lessons in our daily lives. As explained in HEALTHY HABITS, I employ the concept of consuming what I call “everyday” foods (nutrient dense and sustainable) the majority of the time  (in general about 75%) and “sometimes” foods (low nutrient dense and less likely to be earth friendly) the remainder of the time (about 25%). And I use a “hunger/fullness scale” to help determine my portion sizes.

 Eating a Variety of Real Food

As evidenced by massive, ongoing research, nutritional science is neither black nor white. We always hear what the latest study has found or is associated with; it may, in fact, be in extensive conflict with a study completed just a year previous. So I personally try to stay in the middle—what I like to refer to as the grey zone. If I’m not eating excessively of one food or nutrient, I genuinely feel this will help minimize my risk of developing disease—such as diabetes, heart disease or even cancer. Being in the grey zone also helps to keep me at ease mentally. The mind-body connection is an important part of eating and being healthy. The yin yang symbol of balance bearing the apple and the cupcake on the cover of HEALTHY HABITS truly summarizes my definition of health and healthy eating and therefore, eating right.

Focus on Behaviors

And one more thing, eating right does not get measured on a scale located in your bathroom or in your doctor’s office. Here’s what is truly measurable and absolutely remarkable: The behaviors we engage in on a daily basis and how these actions and interactions affect us as complete, unique individuals. For me, that means being a mom, a wife, a friend, and an RD who eats, moves, rests and, of course, laughs!

Have Some Fun

So while you’re trying to live a life with what you deem as eating right, be sure that flexibility, spontaneity and “ a light hearted” attitude accompany your food choices. Again, this is the grey zone rather than the extreme zone.


Healthy Weekends in Woodstock, Vermont

What better time than Fall to create new habits, especially regarding health. As you and your children start new routines for the school year, think outside the box. What other activities or family habits can you introduce to your children? Eating locally and moving for fun are 2 healthy habits that you and your family can practice to create a happy balance between food and life. For Labor Day weekend, my husband and I reinforced the message of moving for fun with a family trip to Vermont. With the cool weather and colorful scenery, Fall is the perfect time to head to Vermont to enjoy nature at it’s finest. Plus, there are tons of cute little cafes that offer farm-to-table produce! If you’re up for hiking, exploring farms or some homemade ice cream, head to Vermont for a weekend of family fun. For easy planning and a list of mom-approved activities, follow my guide for a healthy, happy weekend!

We headed to Vermont on Friday and stayed at The Kendron Valley Inn. I recommend looking for deals online and to always call to check availability as many websites may say “booked” online, but typically have vacancies when you call. The Kendron Valley Inn offers a complimentary breakfast! Each morning we had pancakes, Vermont maple syrup, homemade blueberry muffins and more. Plus, if it’s warm enough, you and your kids can swim in the Inn’s awesome pond. It was a great experience for my city kids!! Fuel their brains with an educational outing: a visit to the Vermont Institute of Natural Science  for an educational presentation on raptures.

Later, introduce your little ones to hiking on the easy, flat trails. The boys found walking sticks and loved romping through the forest. They even pretended they were baby bald eagles as they sat in the life-size bald eagle nest at the trail head. Next, stop by the Billings Farm and Museum. We watched the cows being milked on the farm, learned about Jersey Cows, machine milking and more. Although this was our second time there, there was still so much to learn! Did you know that some farmers place eggs in specific areas around their farms, knowing their hens will lay eggs near another egg? Yes, it’s true. Farmers use this strategy so they can find their hens’ eggs when they are free-range chickens. While the chickens on Billing’s Farm are not free range, they are not caged in tiny crates either. You can actually observe the “pecking order” in their coop. And if you’re planning to visit the the Billing’s Farm–don’t worry! No matter what weekend you visit, there’s always something fun to do. Each weekend, Billing Farm’s hosts theme events like Harvest Weekend and Autumn Wagon Ride Weekend. Again, using a positive engaging experience like this can be the perfect way to introduce your family to new foods. Lastly, don’t forget to stop by the ice creamery for some homemade ice cream!! If you want to visit an organic farm, you can opt for The Neighborly Farms of Vermont in Randolph Center.

On Sunday morning, head out for another kid-friendly hike. There are many options including the Faulkner Trail, Prosper Road Trail Hike and The Pogue. We chose to hike The Pogue, which leads to this fabulous little pond known for its turtles sunbathing on the logs. Throughout the trip, my oldest son played photographer and took all of our pictures. Enjoy your family meals amongst the beautiful scenery! Pack a picnic and eat on the beautiful field just around the pond or head back to town for some locally grown produce and of course, cheese and ice cream at the Mountain Creamery Restaurant in the center of Woodstock. This place looks like an old café/dinner but serves kid-friendly fare. While the boys ate grilled cheese, I devoured a garlic scape wrap with veggies and my hubby enjoyed a pulled ham sandwich. We then concluded our meal by sharing a bit of what we like to call, “sometimes food” (food that we eat some of the time, and enjoy in moderation!) We shared two ice cream sundaes for dessert and wow, were they delicious! Fresh, homemade ice cream – there’s nothing better!

Since we stayed for a long weekend, we also visited Simon Pearce to watch them make their glass dishware. The kids found this fascinating! We then ate off their dish-ware at their restaurant on the river in Quechee, Vt. Other options include visiting the Maple Sugarhouse Museum and or the Sugarbush Farm. So hiking for fun (and exercise), eating locally grown veggies and homemade cheese and ice cream were the highlights of this healthy weekend. I can’t wait to go back and I highly recommend this trip to others wanting a weekend away; filled with both wilderness and the comforts of home. It’s about creating fun experiences for ways to encourage your kids to move, and learn about where our food comes from. Let me know if you’ve been to Vermont, plan to go, or if you have any other healthy weekend ideas!

Get Ready to Bake a New Kind of Cake

Yesterday, my son was home from school and I thought, what better way to spend the afternoon with him than to do one of his favorite activities together…baking! Except this time, it was a different kind of baking; a cake in a mug that you can make under 10 minutes. (Yes, it’s true!) Aside from the speed and ease of baking mug cakes, the time you spend in the kitchen with your kids can be a fun way to introduce new (and old) foods to your kids, have them practice their hand at measuring ingredients and most importantly, build healthy habits.

So, get ready to make a new kind of cake with us! All you need is a mug, a microwave, and a few ingredients to follow along. And if you want to enter for a chance to win your own copy of the Mug Cakes cookbook by Leslie Bilderback, click here to enter our Mug Cakes Giveaway!

To watch Laura and Liam bake together, click each image below.






Devil’s Food Cake





 Classic Carrot Cake






Mug Cakes Cookbook Giveaway

Whether you’re a seasoned baker or new in the kitchen, we’re going to share with you a speedy way to serve up mouthwatering desserts… cakes in a mug! How adorable are these?! We recently just discovered an entire cookbook dedicated to mug cakes and were excited to review it! Mug Cakes: 100 Speedy Microwave Treats to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth by Leslie Bilderback contains a variety of flavors and is accommodating for any lifestyle diet. We mean it too! We were very pleased to find nut-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan and even sugar-free recipes.

Whether you’re a busy parent or college student, Mug Cakes are a quick solution to those who want to satisfy their sweet tooth–in a balanced and portioned serving. They are fairly easy to make, require only a handful of ingredients and minimal prep and bake time in the microwave/oven. Note: Most of the recipes call for self-rising flour but if you don’t have that on hand, the book includes a recipe to make your own self-rising flour.

Aside from the mouthwatering photos of mug cakes from cover to ucover, one of the best parts of this book is that it really breaks it down for you. From various mixing techniques to what types of flour work best, Leslie guides you through the basics of creating homemade mug cakes in minutes!

In line with our philosophy at Mom Dishes It Out and EALM, we believe in all foods in moderation..yes, that includes cakes too! As Leslie puts it, “Let the kids try their hand with S’mores and Root Beer Float cakes.” We agree– getting the kids in the kitchen is so important. Use your time in the kitchen to teach them how to develop healthy habits. Expose them to new foods by having them help you shop for ingredients. Allow them to help you measure and mix ingredients to introduce them to new food textures and a little bit of math! You can even encourage them to think creatively by having them help you decorate the mug cakes or top them off with fresh fruits like strawberries or raspberries.

If baking dessert isn’t your forte…with mug cakes it doesn’t have to be. With easy-to-follow directions, you can still create delicious desserts in your own kitchen in no time. Interested in your own copy of Mug Cakes? Enter to win your own copy of Mug Cakes cookbook!

Thanks to St. Martin’s Press, we’re able to give a lucky reader a copy of Mug Cakes by Leslie Bilderback. To enter, see details below:

**You MUST be a subscriber to enter
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!

Leave a comment here and “Like us” on our Facebook page

Follow @MomDishesItOut and tweet @MomDishesItOut and @stmartinspress is having a Mug Cake cookbook #giveaway!

Giveaway ends on Sunday, September 15th at 6:00 PM EST.

Tips For Feeding Children With Special Needs

By Guest Blogger, Virginia Cunningham

The science of parenting has reached dizzying heights of understanding, but even in the 21st century we are still butting heads with children who refuse to eat their broccoli. Getting children acclimated to various foods and basic eating etiquette will probably always be one of the most demanding arenas of raising kids, but in the case of special needs children, there may be deeper issues at stake. Here are the major hurdles you may face when introducing your son or daughter to the dinner table, as well as some hints to ameliorate the situation.
Food Attachment and Aversion
Parents of every stripe may be familiar with this stumbling block to ensuring your children consume the full range of nutrients needed for healthy development: stubbornly finicky taste. However, what might simply be old-fashioned childish obstinacy can take on an all but obsessive quality among special needs children.

Even adults can get stuck in a rut of eating comforting, familiar foods, but a special needs child may develop attachments to particular items based on their texture, color, or even temperature.

To expand your child’s monolithic diet, experiment with what behavioral psychologists call shaping and chaining. The method is simple enough. First, try to identify the particular quality of the food that has your child in its spell. A child might like a pasta dish for its bright orange color or for its squiggly shape. Identify what it is by the process of elimination, and then gradually mix in portions of another, potentially more desirable food. If a child only has eyes for cheddar cheese, for example, lead him or her toward similarly hued steamed squash.

“Purely Psychological” Factors
While food aversion is rooted in children’s relationship to the physicality of what they put into their mouths (or refuse to), children can also veto meals as a way of sending a message when they feel unable to communicate any other way. When a child is feeling particularly vulnerable, he or she may go on a mini hunger strike to vie for attention.

The worst thing to do in such a situation is the threat of punishment. Instead, use positive reinforcement in incremental steps (so as to avoid over indulging the child and enabling continued problem behavior). For instance, promise an additional few minutes of story time for every bite of spinach, peas, or whatever the target dish may be.


Oral-Motor Skills

So far we’ve looked at eating problems that amount to a child’s not wanting to eat. Among children with various physical impediments, the issue may be that they are simply unable to. When a young person’s jaws, tongue, and labial muscles are weak, uncoordinated, or both, the act of eating is itself difficult. (The attendant emotional frustration threatens to make matters even worse, so be sure not to register your frustration.

Here, good intentions alone will not set things right, as your child most likely needs a consultation with a specialist and a regimen of exercises to bolster the muscle groups involved in biting, chewing, and swallowing.

Medical Conditions

On top of physical impediments linked to muscle control and coordination, children with some afflictions may have other innate problems with ingesting and even digesting foods. Certain birth defects can lead to chronic gastrointestinal woes, for example; children with visual impairment may not trust foods they can’t see.

The most widely reported medically-related eating problem is gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD. Affecting a ring of muscle between the stomach and esophagus, this condition can manifest a variety of symptoms, but the most frequent is spasmodic vomiting. After the child grows to associate eating with unpleasantness, he or she may begin to be wary of food in general, sometimes making it difficult to discern whether the issue is behavioral. If parents have strong suspicions that the problem is a medical one, a specialist should be consulted immediately.

Given that “special needs” is hardly a unified category, not all of these difficulties will apply to all children included within it. Some concerns are consistent, however. Always take great care to discover whether the issue is a physical or psychological one, as the symptoms can often be similar. And whatever the corrective path, be sure to take a course that is positive, calming, and paced with your child’s comfort level.


About the Writer

Virginia Cunningham is a freelance writer. Her work with Northwest Pharmacy helps all individuals get the care that they need. As a mother of a special needs child, she has written extensively on nutrition, alternative therapy, and inclusion of special needs children.