Staying Healthy During the Holidays

The holiday season has officially started! Here’s a Mom’s guide to making it through the holidays:

Photo Credit: kevin dooley via Compfight cc

Staying Healthy During the Holidays
By Laura Cipullo, RD, CDE, CEDRD, CDN

  1. Be the Tupperware Lady– bring Tupperware to family events to pack leftovers or “seconds” and  bring home to eat another time.
    • Rather than overeat on delicious food, plan to use hunger fullness cues. Pack the remainders up for a mini holiday dinner part II.
  2. Healthy Cook Book Exchange (rather than cookie exchange)
    • Holidays typically revolve around gifts and food, so why not give a gift about being healthy and moderate? Healthy cookbook ideas are the Mayo Clinic Williams – Sonoma Cookbook and Martha Stewart’s Healthy Quick Cook
  3. Favor family over food– make festivities about seeing family and not about eating food.
    • Serve a simple meal and focus on entertainment like music and or trivial pursuit.
  4. Stretch your dollar, save your waist – Use Intuitive Eating to portion your restaurant meal.
    • Be economical and bring leftovers home to eat at the next day’s snack or meal.
  5. Eat your favorite food– skip the appetizers and save room for dinner.
    • If dessert is your favorite, don’t fill up on apps and entrees. Make sure you are still hungry for your chocolate cake!!
  6. Secure a snack– before leaving make sure you are not starving, eat a snack to prevent overeating at the party.
    • Restriction cause binging, don’t restrict the day of a special event. You are likely to overeat or even binge later that night.

      Photo Credit: Lotus Carroll via Compfight cc

  7. Wine, beer and liquor on a full belly. If you drink on an empty stomach you are more likely to make poor decisions and overeat.
    • Take your sip of wine with your entrée. If you drink on an empty stomach you will not be mindful of your internal or external cues.
    • Most importantly, don’t drink and drive.

Healthy Quinoa and Mushroom Stuffing + Giveaway

With the holidays just around the corner, the MDIO kitchen has been buzzing with festive recipes. A recent idea we’ve been working on is feeding holiday guests who have food allergies, sensitivities or other food aversions. Therefore, we’ve whipped up a vegetarian, nut- and gluten-free dish that is just as delicious as traditional stuffing!

Healthy Quinoa and Mushroom Stuffing

Photo Credit: Dot D via Compfight cc


-1 tbsp EV olive oil
-1-2 large onions, chopped
-3 cups or 1 24oz container of vegetable broth
-2 cups quinoa
-1 cup mushrooms, sliced
-1/2 cup parsley, chopped
-3 stalks of celery, chopped
-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
-1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
-1/4 tsp ground allspice
-1 bay leaf
-salt and pepper to taste



1) In a medium saucepan, add quinoa and 2 1/2 cups of the broth. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for 10-15 minutes (note: time varies by package/brand, so be sure to check the directions!), or until tender and all the broth has absorbed. Set aside.

2) Heat oil in a large saute pan. Add celery, onions, garlic, bay leaf, and seasonings, stirring occasionally. Allow to cook for about 3 minutes or until fragrant. Add the mushrooms and stir. When the mushrooms begin to brown, add the parsley.

3) Stir in the cooked quinoa with the remaining broth. Season with salt and pepper. Cook on low heat for an additional 5-10 or until all liquid is absorbed.


There you have it, an allergy-friendly twist on a traditional holiday dish. This stuffing is great to serve to gluten-free (as long as the quinoa package is labeled gluten-free), nut-free and vegetarian guests. This recipe makes about 4 cups, enough to serve 8 people as a side dish.

Giveaway: black + blum

We are giving away a black + blum water bottle to one lucky subscriber!

To enter you must do at least one of the following:

-Be a Mom Dishes It Out subscriber (you can do so at the top of our homepage)

-Tweet us @MomDishesItOut

-Like this Facebook post

Giveaway ends Monday, November 25th!

Mindfully enjoying, and eating, your way through the holiday season…one holiday at a time!

By Erin Potasnick, Nutrition Student at Yeshiva University and the Laura Cipullo Whole Nutrition Services Team

Labor Day Weekend has passed. What we consider to be the traditional summer season has ended…even though the Autumnal Equinox is weeks away! School is starting. And the Jewish New Year is beginning; the high-holiday period commences with Rosh Hashanah and ends ten days later with Yom Kippur. During the span of this holiday, customs dictate feasting on a wide variety of foods which we may not have eaten all year. For example, one symbolic practice is the consumption of apples dipped in honey to represent wishes for a “sweet” new year. As the holiday approaches, most celebrants think about all that has happened in their lives and the world during the past year as well as their goals for the coming year, what kind of life they want to live, and how to improve themselves. And, of course, there are endless possibilities for improvement. The first one for many might be changing their eating habits in a variety of ways. Because this holiday, among all the others to come during the remainder of our regular calendar year, entails a bountiful amount of traditional, very often high-calorie foods, it presents great challenges.

During all holiday seasons, it’s very easy to consume much more food than you usually do. You may spend endless hours sitting around various tables with family and friends eating large lunches and dinners. With all of this scrumptious-looking food actually surrounding you, your mind may get a little too excited. You definitely want to spoon a portion of every appetizing dish on the table directly onto your plate. This feeling is absolutely understandable! You really do want to “taste” everything—a good word to keep in mind because it should help you to be mindful about how much of each dish you are taking. You want to fill yourself rather stuff yourself. And remember that when people sit around a food-laden table for an extended period of time, they tend to take more servings just because the food is just inches away! The key to changing this behavior is learning to pace yourself.

Since you know there will be a spectacular abundance of traditional mouth-watering dishes prepared for each meal you serve or attend, you must begin by pacing yourself. Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind:

  1. There is enough food for everyone! Don’t rush to be the first one to take food.
  2. It’s not a race! Eat slowly and savor the different flavors. Your friends and family are there to enjoy not only the meal but also the time shared with one another.
  3. Try to balance out your food groups. Look for a tradeoff between lighter and heavier meals; it’s hard to eat heavy meals all the time. A light meal for dinner doesn’t mean going overboard for lunch.
  4. Try to eat only as much food as you would normally. You won’t feel so bloated or uncomfortable after.
  5. Do save room for dessert! But remember, holiday desserts can sometimes be extreme. Extremely elaborate! And extremely delicious! Just be mindful about what and how much you consume.

As noted above, we specifically eat apples dipped in honey during this holiday to represent the “sweet” new year we hope will come; the apple also embodies the scent of the Garden of Eden which was very holy. While a key symbol of this holiday tradition, apples always make a great snack or dessert because of their sweetness and nutrients like Vitamin C.  Plus, they help us feel full with the soluble fiber called pectin (the white inside) and the insoluble fiber, the skin. Incorporating apples and other seasonal fruits into holiday desserts can be a very good idea!

The holidays certainly do offer a cornucopia of sometimes conflicting choices for many people—the joys of sharing precious moments with family and good friends along with potential concerns about nutritional wellness. But trust me, if you’re mindful and attuned to what you are craving and how much you consume, you’ll feel much better about your decisions as you will feel mentally satisfied and physically full. Wisely listening to your body’s needs can take you a long way!

Happy New Year 5774 to all our Jewish friends…



Rosh Hashanah Roasted Apples

Happy Rosh Hashanah! A Delicious Holiday Recipe

Rosh Hashanah has a number of delicious and traditional recipes. We did our research and found one that is both tasty and has a great message behind it. The use of apples and honey are a traditional food pairing served during Rosh Hashanah. It is believed that dipping apples in honey will bring a sweet new year. We love the symbolism and chose this recipe with the idea of having the kids join in on the preparation. So round up the kids, prepare this scrumptious dish together, and enjoy a Shana Tova (good year)!


Rosh Hashanah Roasted Apples



  • 4 cups 100% apple cider, we like to use Langers, but any brand will suffice
  • 5 tbsp unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 tbsp organic honey
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 6 medium yellow onions, cut into wedges
  • 6 tsp chopped fresh oregano
  • 6 medium apples, preferably of the red variety, cored and cut into wedges


  • Boil apple cider in pan for about 28 minutes, or until it has significantly reduced. Add applesauce and honey, whisk until incorporated. Add salt. Set aside.
  • Preheat oven to 425°F. Butter 2 large rimmed baking sheets. Toss onion wedges in large bowl with 2 teaspoons oregano and 3 tablespoons apple cider mixture. Arrange in single layer on 1 sheet. Toss apples in 2 teaspoons oregano and 3 tablespoons apple cider mixture. Arrange in single layer on second sheet. Sprinkle both with pepper.
  • Roast onions for 10 minutes. Roast apples for 20 minutes.
  • Remove both sheets from oven. Drizzle remaining apple cider mixture evenly over onions and apples. Roast for an additional 20 minutes.
  • Increase the temperature to 475°F. Roast onions and apples for about 10 minutes, until tender and lightly browned. Sprinkle with remaining 2 teaspoons of oregano.
  • Serve and enjoy!


This recipe makes a great pair to this traditional Honey Cake Recipe. We here at MDIO want to wish you all a safe and celebratory Rosh Hashanah!

Nutritional Content (1 serving): 156 calories, 0.3g fat, 0.0g saturated fat, 157.5mg sodium, 39.2g carbohydrates, 4.3g fiber, 30.3g sugar, 0.9g protein.


Recipe adapted from Epicurious.

Brussels Sprouts with Crispy Pancetta

Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis

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


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


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

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

MDIO’s Healthy Halloween Party

How this mommy RD prevents candy chaos!

What are you dishing out this Halloween? This mom and RD started celebrating early. Last Friday we hosted our first annual “Healthy and Haunted Halloween Party!” I wrote about planning such a party in early October for Modern Mom’s magazine. You can download their app to get detailed instructions for making it a really good time for mummies and their ghouls.

Here’s the scoop on our sweet and spooky celebration. My boys’ treat was to have the party; the trick was that it was healthy…and the kids didn’t even know it!

The Healthy and Haunted Halloween Photo Book:

With the help of my boys’ sitters, we made this party
happen at a local NYC park—with a permit and liability
insurance, of course! First we prepped and cooked the
food at home. Then we loaded our double stroller with
party supplies and pushed our way to the park. We
decorated the picnic tables and started the task of
filling each container with water and two apples for
“personal pail apple bobbing!”

*Please note that I created “personal pail apple bobbing” because the cold season is upon us and there are just
too many runny noses! Individual buckets dispel concerns about spreading bacteria and getting any other ghost’s germs. It’s a good idea to host this event at a location with an easily accessible water supply to fill the pails. We were not so lucky! Thankfully, with the help of the sitters and parents, all 20 buckets were filled in a timely fashion. The children loved bobbing for apples…even the kids missing their front teeth!


For snacks, we served pumpkin bread with dark chocolate chips and whipped pumpkin cream cheese for dipping. Tip: In keeping with the autumn theme…carve out a mini pumpkin, remove the interior flesh, and fill with dip.

After letting the kids run freely all around the grassy park, it was time for our “mummy wrap.” All of the boys grabbed partners…and an adult to supervise. We raced to wrap our ninjas and super heroes in toilet paper (consider using environmental friendly green toilet paper). Here we are in action. The best part was that the kids all joined in to clean up the used mummy wrappings.

And then, dinner was served: Meatballs (lean organic turkey) on sticks, vegetarian lasagna, plus fruit and vegetable platters. Everyone ate at his/her own pace. Beverages were kept simple and easy by providing water only.

After the kids spent more time running around and chasing each other in their costumes, it was time to play Pin the Hat on the Witch. Everybody loves this game! Even me…

Have I mentioned candy yet? No! And that’s because there was no candy…and there were no complaints about it either! To teach moderation—that “sometime” foods can be eaten in smaller amounts some of the time—we handed out party bags filled with organic air-popped popcorn mixed with candy corn. The final Halloween touch: festive skeleton ribbon ties…

Special thanks to Laura, Erica and Jenna for making this party such an unforgettable, and haunting, experience!!

The Pursuit of Happiness and Health

This time of year is crazy for me, as I’m sure it is for many parents. There’s the holidays, both boys’ birthdays, volunteer work, Mom dinner nights (where all the classroom moms go to dinner), and of course, the never ending effort to feed our kids healthfully yet moderately through the holiday season.

Herein, a glance at some of the recent accomplishments and challenges on the home front.

Thanksgiving (without turkey)

So I decided not to bring any food for my boys to my sister’s house on Thanksgiving. This year, they would eat a Thanksgiving dinner or nothing at all. As expected, when it came time for the turkey, Bobby asked for mac and cheese. I held strong and said no, I will not make mac and cheese.

After careful consideration, he instead asked for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Damn, he is clever! I stood my ground though and told him to ask his father. So much for that plan; my husband then asked me.

Not wanting to create a scene on Thanksgiving, my husband eventually caved and made both boys a good old PB n’ J for Thanksgiving dinner. To be clear, while the rest of the family (and country, for that matter) scarfed down turkey and stuffing, my boys ate PB n’ J.

As a dietitian, this is an obvious dilemma. As a mom, though, I know that I have to pick my battles—a tactic that, this time, definitely worked. Bobby showed his effort to participate in the family meal by eating a small piece of cucumber. (Thank goodness for my one lick rule!) And Billy, without being prompted, asked to try a bite of pumpkin pie. See? Miracles do happen. J (By the way, Billy didn’t like the fresh whipped cream and wouldn’t eat the crust, but he did enjoy two forkfuls of pumpkin pie filling.)


Clementines are back in season, and I absolutely love them. I added a few segments to the boys’ plates, and this is what happened. Bobby licked his clementine and approved of its taste. Still, he didn’t end up eating it because he hated the texture. Billy, on the other hand, licked his clementine and immediately gave up. For now, he’ll stick to dried mango.


Two years after first tasting (and enjoying) one, Bobby informed me that he likes strawberry smoothies. He specifically recalls liking the one he made in nursery school two years ago!

Naturally, I immediately went out and bought frozen strawberries to make smoothies. Voila! It seems that both boys love eating strawberries—so long as they’re pulverized into a thick, icy drink. Turns out my kids have issues with the textures of certain foods. C’est la vie.

So as you see, while the boys may not have munched on turkey slices this November or fully swallowed a slice of Clementine, they, along with their picky palates, are beginning to expand. For now, flavors of foods are more easily accepted then certain textures (see above: Clementine), but it remains a work in progress.

I wonder what we’ll discover at their big birthday party this weekend! Stay tuned!

Hints for Halloween from the RD in this mom.

What are you giving out for Halloween?

Written by Laura Cipullo, RD, CDE on October 18, 2011 · From

Trick-or-Treat: Keeping Halloween Healthier Yet Fun.

With Halloween around the corner, why not think outside the box? We can’t trick our Halloween visitors but we can treat them to new Halloween delights. Read on to get some healthier options, unconventional goodies, and finally a run down at the candy counter.

New Delights:

Clif Kid Twisted Fruit Rope, Clif Z Bar (granola bars), Organic raisins, Blue Diamond mini nut packs – almonds, Bearito’s No Oil No Salt Microwave Popcorn or Earth’s Best Organic Puree (fruit and veggies pureed like applesauce in squeeze pack)

Unconventional Goodies:

Tattoos, bouncy balls, yo-yos, stickers, pencils, chalk and mini coloring books

Candy Counter:

For those that adhere to moderation the top 5 Halloween candy picks: Smarties, Tootsie Pops, York Peppermint Patties, Twizzlers and Milk Duds

**Just know I will be giving out Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups because they taste so yummy and a variety of the above!!

Optional Reading – nutritional information listed below:

  1. Smarties: 25 calories, 0 grams of fat, 6 grams of sugar (per roll)
  2. Tootsie Pop: 60 calories, 0 grams of fat, 10 grams of sugar (per lollipop)
  3. York Peppermint Patty: 60 calories, 1 gram of fat, 0.5 grams of saturated fat, 10 grams of sugar (per snack size patty)
  4. Twizzlers: 160 calories, 1 gram of fat, 0 grams saturated fat, 19 grams of sugar (4 pieces)
  5. Milk Duds: 170 calories, 6 grams of fat, 3.5 grams saturated fat, 20 grams of sugar (13 pieces)