Lavender Cookies

By Laura Cipullo, RD, CDE, Mom and Laura Cipullo Whole Nutrition Services Team


As summer comes to a close, that doesn’t mean extra family time has to come to an end! Last week, my boys and I made these fun and tasty lavender shortbread cookies! A great way to get us all in the kitchen and to learn about and try a new food.  An added bonus, your kitchen will smell wonderful!

We used the recipe from Joy The Baker, here.


1 tbsp dried lavender blossoms

1/2 cup + 1 tbsp raw or granulated sugar

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 tsp salt

1 egg, beaten (for egg wash)

extra sugar for sprinkling on top



1. In a medium bowl, whisk flour and salt together. Set aside.

2. In a small spice grinder or mortar and pestle, grind 1 tbsp lavender and 1 tbsp sugar.

3. In another bowl, that can be used with electric mixer with paddle attachment, add butter, ground lavender mixture, and remaining 1/2 cup sugar.  Cream ingredients on medium speed until slightly more pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes.  It’s okay if there are still some sugar bits at this point.  Add the flour and mix on low speed until the dough comes together.  The dough will have a crumbly texture, but will come together as you continue mixing.

4. Dump dough mixture out onto a clean surface and form into a ball with your hands.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

5. Line cookies sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

6. Divide refrigerated dough into quarters. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough out to 1/4 inch thickness.  Use a 1 1/2-inch round cookie cutter to cut cookies, or a pizza cutter to slice into squares.  Use a fork to prick the cookies.

7. Brush the cookies very lightly with the egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.  Make sure your oven is preheated to 350 degrees F and refrigerate cookies while oven preheats.

8. Place racks in the center and upper third of the oven.  When oven is preheated, bake cookies for 8-11 minutes, until just browned on the edges. Remove from oven and allow to cool on cookie sheet for about 10 minutes then move to a wire rack to cool completely.

9. Enjoy!

And He Eats!

And He Eats!
By Laura Cipullo, RD, CDE, CEDRD and Mom

Photo Credit: sean dreilinger via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: sean dreilinger via Compfight cc

Six years later, Billy finally eats. As many of you know, my two boys challenge my feeding and eating expertise on a daily basis. I think from all the Mommy RD stories here on Mom Dishes It Out, you now know that RDs have their fair share of food and nutrition conundrums. But like you, we need to separate our emotional-selves and work with our child. This is probably the hardest part. Being an objective feeder is quite the challenge. Don’t despair, your kids may surprise you..


I constantly have to remind myself to lighten up around the food and sometimes set more food boundaries. Just the other night, I bought chicken apple sausage and potato rolls for my oldest son. Bobby loves chicken apple sausage. However, it seems he only likes the sausage from Brooklyn. Anyway, we tried two new brands just yesterday. Bobby was trying it as a side to his dinner of rotisserie chicken with mashed potatoes and spinach. Billy excitedly comes into the kitchen declaring he will have a hot dog bun with peanut butter, two cheeses and a yogurt with a side of strawberries.


Here is conundrum number one. Do I allow him to dictate his meal? Conundrum two is whether he should try the chicken sausage. Because of my work with food phobias and eating disorders, I never want to force the boys to eat food and prefer exposure therapy. I let Billy know, he must first try chicken sausage on the hot dog roll. Of course, he verbally refuses. I have yet to understand if this is an animal thing, a chewing thing, a control thing or perhaps just a taste preference. I feel my blood begin to boil.


It is so hard to be objective. I proceed to make the sausage and set it on Billy’s plate. He is of course performing a song and dance. I also make Billy his requested dinner. I serve him both the sausage in a bun and his dinner preferences on the same plate.


Amazingly, he tries the sausage with one small bite. Not shockingly, he doesn’t like it. He eats his dinner. He doesn’t complain nor does he remove it from his plate. These are signs of his progress.


So, in the end we both faired well. I still feel defeated because he only took a small bite and he didn’t like it. But then I think back to March. The boys and I were eating dinner together. It was a simple dinner of tortellini. Bobby and I were eating it. I made Billy something else. All of the sudden, Billy says I want tortellini. I almost fell off my chair. Really??

Photo Credit: quinn.anya via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: quinn.anya via Compfight cc

Well, he did want it. He tried it and said it was dry. He wanted to try it with marinara sauce. He loved it. He basically had marinara soup with tortellini. Wow, that made my night and my month for that matter. The point is, after seeing us eat tortellini a million times, he tried it and liked it. Just like he has done with most fruit, breads and salsas. He typically tries food now without an issue. As long as it is not of animal origin. Well, the majority of the time.


In the end, Billy eats tortellini. We can go for Mexican and Italian food as a family and Billy can order off the adult menu. What a relief!! It has taken him six years to find a pasta he enjoys. I can’t wait to see what he likes over the next 6 years. Thank you Billy for teaching me patience is key while a little push is necessary, too.


Moms and dads, keep up your efforts to expose the kids to all foods and encourage trying foods. The act of trying is the most important thing. I know six years seems like a long time, and it is. But each child has his/her own process. Find what works for you and your child. Share with us your trials and tribulations. We can all learn and support each other. If you find yourself having a hard time keeping your feelings out of the kitchen, consult a registered dietitian or even a speech and language pathologist.


Looking for more tips? Check out our 7 Steps to Progress Your Picky Eater.

Preventing Food Jags: What’s a Parent to Do?

Preventing Food Jags: What’s a Parent to Do?
By Melanie Potock, MA, CCC-SLP

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

Photo Credit: r.nial.bradshaw via Compfight cc

As a pediatric feeding therapist, many kids are on my caseload because they are stuck in the chicken nugget and french fry rut…or will only eat one brand of mac-n-cheese…or appear addicted to the not-so-happy hamburger meal at a popular fast food chain. While this may often include kids with special needs such as autism, more than half my caseload consists of the traditional “picky-eaters” who spiraled down to only eating a few types of foods and now have a feeding disorder.  I  even had one child who only ate eight different crunchy vegetables, like broccoli and carrots.  Given his love for vegetables, it took his parents a long time to decide this might be a problem. The point is: These kids are stuck in food jag, eating a very limited number of foods and strongly refusing all others.  It creates havoc not only from a nutritional standpoint, but from a social aspect too. Once their parents realize the kids are stuck, the parents feel trapped as well. It’s incredibly stressful for the entire family, especially when mealtimes occur three times per day and there are only a few options on what their child will eat.

It’s impossible in a short blog post to describe how to proceed in feeding therapy once a child is deep in a food jag. Each child is unique, as is each family. But, in general,  I can offer some tips on how to prevent this from happening in many families, again, keeping in mind that each child and each family is truly unique.

Here are my Top Ten suggestions for preventing food jags:

#10: Start Early.  Expose baby to as many flavors and safe foods as possible.   The recent post for ASHA on Baby Led Weaning: A Developmental Perspective may offer insight into that process.

#9: Rotate, Rotate, Rotate: Foods, that is.  Jot down what baby was offered and rotate foods frequently, so that new flavors reappear, regardless if your child liked (or didn’t like) them on the first few encounters.  This is true for kids of all ages.  It’s about building familiarity.  Think about the infamous green bean casserole at Thanksgiving.  It’s rare that hesitant eaters will try it, because they often see it only once or twice per year.

#8: Food Left on the Plate is NOT Wasted: Even if it ends up in the compost, the purpose of the food’s presence on a child’s plate is for him to see it, smell it, touch it, hear it crunch under his fork and  perhaps, taste it.  So if the best he can do is pick it up and chat with you about the properties of green beans, then hurray!  That’s never a waste, because he’s learning about a new food.


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

Does your child need a Speech Language Pathologist or an Occupational Therapist?

Behind their Bite: When your child needs more than mom?
By Laura Cipullo, RD, CDE, CEDRD, CDN and Mom


Is your kid a picky eater, or is something else going on?  Read on to learn if your child needs an evaluation by a speech and language pathologist or occupational therapist.


The logic behind why a child does or doesn’t eat something is difficult to understand. There is no clear and easy direction to point when determining the preferences of one taste or texture to another. In fact, there can actually be a variety of factors at play.


If your child is showing signs of picky eating alongside a series of additional symptoms, he/she may need more than mom. Symptoms would include hypersensitivity to textures, tags in clothing, delays in daily activities such as dressing, brushing teeth, sitting and standing, slow developmental skills in the classroom and with crafts, delayed or slurred speech, excessive drooling while eating, coughing while swallowing, and/or difficulty chewing and swallowing.

Photo Credit: whologwhy via Compfight cc

Ideally it is best to work with a team of health care professionals, who can help you assess if your child’s aversion to certain foods is more than picky eating. A team would consist of a pediatrician, a psychologist, a speech and language pathologist, an occupational therapist, a registered dietitian and of course, the parents. In the perfect situation the team would do the following:

Sample case: Greg, age 4, makes a horrible face each time he sees and tries broccoli. He will not swallow it and spits it out. Claims it hurts his stomach.

  • A doctor will test to make sure there isn’t an allergy or sensitivity causing the stomach pain.
  • A psychologist, if required, will consult with the doctor to see if there is any pattern of disordered eating or need for therapy.
  • A speech and language pathologist will assess his ability to swallow, chew, and move the food through his mouth and esophagus to make sure there are no issues with feeding and swallowing.
  • An occupational therapist, in this particular situation, will assess anything that ranges from the plate to the motion of putting food into the mouth and the various factors that may affect this.
  • Using all of this information, and barring any allergies/sensitivities, a dietitian will help to integrate this food into the child’s diet or help find an alternative nutrient and/or food sources to replace this food in his diet.
Photo Credit: Leonid Mamchenkov via Compfight cc

Realistically parents do not always have access to this kind of multidisciplinary team. Remember it that it takes roughly 10-15 tries before a child acclimates to a new food. If your parent’s intuition leads you to believe something else is getting in the way, use the tips below to determine who should evaluate your child’s eating.

  • Get Evaluated by a Speech and Language Pathologist if:
    • Coughing or choking upon swallowing
    • Gaging
    • Poor tongue motion or movement
    • Inability to close lips while chewing and swallowing
    • Non-food behaviors (that could indicate challenges in overall sensory integration or motor planning affecting eating):
      • Hypersensitive to textures (e.g. Avoids “messy” crafts or toys such as painting, glue, play dough, sand box)
      • Hypersensitive to tags in clothing
      • Delays in other daily living activities (dressing, brushing teeth, climbing in and out of chair, manipulating toys, writing, cutting with scissors)
      • Late talkers
      • Excess drooling
      • Articulation errors (unclear speech)


  • Get Evaluated by a Occupational Therapist if:
    • Hypersensitivity to taste, texture, or tags
    • Refusal or inability to lift silverware
    • Refusal or inability to eat
    • Spiting food out
    • Throwing food
    • Any mechanical or behavioral interruption of feeding before consumption of food
    • Delays in development
      • Dressing
      • Brushing teeth
      • Climbing in and out of chair
      • Manipulating toys
      • Writing
      • Cutting with scissors, crafts


Look out for clues that suggest there may be a swallowing disorder or an inhibition restricting your child to self-feed outside of just being a picky eater. And remember, sometimes people just don’t like certain flavors or textures—and maybe that is what’s behind their bite.


Is your child a picky eater? What signs do they show that they dislike food, taste, or texture? 

Positive Interactions: How Friends Affect Our Health

Positive Interactions: How Friends Affect Our Health
By Laura Cipullo, RD CDE CEDRD CDN and Mom

I needed to keep my two boys as active as possible during their spring break from school. My intent was to safeguard their physical health—and my own personal mental health as well! We shared a fun-filled week. Although we did engage in some “brainy” activities like touring the Math Museum, we truly stretched our bodies and minds rock climbing.


Yup, thanks to my wonderful clients (they teach me things too!), I was introduced to indoor rock climbing. I have rock climbed in Colorado but never thought it would become an afternoon activity I could replicate here in NYC. Well…we did it…and will definitely be doing it again.


My “mommy” friend and I rounded up our children, and literally, up they all went! My older son Bobby has always been a little timid about rock climbing. He was about five years old the first time I introduced him to the sport…and he was positively terrified. As you might easily imagine, I was so very disappointed. I had paid for a full semester of mommy and son rock climbing! But now with some extra age plus the addition of his younger brother and his two peers, he just had to become highly self-motivated. Upon our arrival at the rock-climbing venue however, Bobby told me he wasn’t going to climb. Before I could say anything, my friend Abby said: “That’s okay. You can just watch.” Thank goodness she had responded to him first; it influenced me in a very positive way. I casually chimed in: “Yeah, don’t worry, you can just watch.” So, because the pressure had been removed, he decided to do it on his own. He saw the other three kids—including his younger brother Billy—happily putting on their harnesses and clipping in. I think he decided against letting his fears be the cause of his missing out on all of the fun. I also wonder if the fact that his friends were girls, and they were excited to rock climb, had any bearing on his decision. He even told the instructor he wasn’t sure if he was climbing. But, as soon as he saw the girls and Billy go up, he clearly said: “I’m next!” And he truly had the best time!

Wow! What a confidence booster for Bobby and real assurance for me about not pressuring my kids into doing anything they may not immediately embrace. Abby’s (the other mom) demeanor was great. When I thanked her for unknowingly helping me through the difficult earlier moment, she just laughed. And then she told me that if it had been her kids, she too would have been urging them to try and just do it.  So while I was supported by my peer, my older son also was supported by his peers. All four kids were climbing “rock stars”! I was so jealous. Now I’m planning to go back to climb there myself.


After two hours of rock climbing, the kids were famished and the moms were exhausted just from watching. When we all headed out to share dinner, Billy had this wonderfully positive interaction. His little friend was dipping her bread in olive oil with salt and pepper. He simply adores her…and surely was influenced to follow her lead. Playing it very cool, he poured himself some olive oil and sprinkled salt and pepper on it. He dipped his bread with real pride. We moms laughed knowing how the kids had all been such great role models for each other that afternoon and evening. And what a great day the moms had too. My belly laughs, the delight of watching all four kids summit the climbs, plus having another mom to share the experiences with. Easily the best dose of good health ever!


Did you catch Laura on The Daily Meal yesterday? Click on the photo below to hear Laura’s tips and to learn more about her book Healthy Habits!

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.

Enter to Win Peter Bereley's Cookbook and Solae Prize Pack

Last month, Solae–leading company in developing soy based foods like soy milk and energy bars–hosted a dinner created by Chef Peter Bereley. Peter Bereley, author of The Flexitarian Table, prepared a 4 course dinner with every dish containing tofu. Unlike the typical tofu you might imagine, Chef Bereley used it in innovating and delicious ways: tofu-ricotta,miso salad dressing, chili, and even pie for dessert! As he demonstrated how he prepared each dish, he provided creative tips on how to incorporate soy protein to our meals.  At the end of the event, Solae provided us with an awesome giveaway, including an extra for our readers! Included in the awesome backpack are several of Solae’s soy based products and a copy of Chef Bereley’s cookbook so you can try his “soy-licious” recipes on your own!

Thanks to Solae and Peter Bereley, Mom Dishes It Out will be giving away a “Solae Prize Pack”:

· A copy of Peter Bereley’s  “The Flexitarian Table”

· Solae Backpack

· Reusable Water bottle

· Cooking Tools

· A few coupons and samples of Solae’s soy-based products like Balance Bar, 8th Continent Soy Milk, and Special K protein shakes



Enter by one of the following ways. 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!

Winners will be announced on Friday, November 16, 2012 at 6:00 PM EST.

Teaching Children an Appreciation for Food

Getting kids involved in the kitchen can be a great way to introduce foods

By Guest Blogger: Debra Johnson

Many parents want their children to be happy and healthy. Eating nutrient dense foods is one way to accomplish a healthy body. However, some children are picky and may fight off the idea of new meals. The information below may help a parent introduce new foods into the home.

1. Add Fun – It is necessary for a parent to make eating fun. If a parent does not allow a child to associate excitement with lunch or dinner, introducing new foods may be exceedingly difficult. For example, a parent may choose to add the child’s favorite dipping sauce to the menu. The child may be willing to try a new food if he or she may add something that is familiar and comfortable. It is also possible to cut the new foods into fascinating shapes and give them creative names.

2. Do Not Push – Some parents may push their child into trying a new food; this is a terrible idea. The child may refuse to try the new food in the long run if a parent pressures a child. It is crucial to exercise patience. A child may have to look at the new food several times before he or she tries it. The parent should not punish the child for not eating more than one or two bites. It is a terrific idea to celebrate any taste tests, as this will encourage the toddler to try the food again at a later date.

3. Involve the Child – A child should feel that their opinion is important and appreciated. If a parent wishes to teach an appreciation for different foods, it is a fantastic idea to involve the child in the shopping process. The parent should point to new foods and allow the child to choose what to put in the grocery cart. However, if a parent does not like the chosen food, it does not have to be purchased. The child will feel a sense of belonging and power, and the child will be more likely to try the food at home. The child should also help with the cooking process.

4. Use A Routine – It is crucial to maintain routines. A parent should not change the course of a day if he or she wishes to teach children to try new foods. A child may feel scared or confused if he or she does not receive a snack at a certain time of day. If the child is not ready, he or she may be less willing to try something new. New routines may also spoil a child’s appetite; when dinner arrives, the child may not be hungry, and the new food may be rejected at a faster rate.

Toddlers and young children tend to be picky eaters. It may be difficult to get a child to try something different; however, it is not impossible. The information above may help a parent nurture a love of new foods. With some patience and a willingness to adapt, any parent may accomplish their goal.


About the Author:

This guest post is contributed by Debra Johnson, blogger and editor of She welcomes your comments at her email,


Keeping it Real: Dishing on My Boys’ Pickiness and Progress

Keeping things real is what Mom Dishes It Out is all about – and that includes the setbacks too. I’m the first to admit it; for every two steps forward that my kids make, they also eventually take at least one step back. In these instances, it’s most important to remember that the evidence continues to build supporting food exposure, rather than force feeding, works when given ample time and patience.

At the end of the day, my children are the real deal, and they give me plenty of experiences to share with you, my readers. Here’s what’s happening on the pickiness home front in my kitchen.

Hot and cold. I am not talking food temperature. Hot and cold has to do with Billy’s fickle nature when it comes to the most natural form of dried mango. One day he gobbles it down, and the next day Billy tells me he doesn’t like this type of mango anymore. So I give him sweetened dried mango. After eating this for about a week, I reintroduce the unsweetened dried mango and he happily eats it. This cycle is the never-ending.

Foods get breaks too. Raisins are another food in my household that the boys tend to love one month and despise the next. I used to always give the boys a box of unsweetened raisins as a snack or side with their lunch. Eventually, I noticed it coming back in Bobby’s lunch box. When I asked him about the raisins, he said he didn’t want them anymore (I believe he actually said he didn’t like them). After six blissful years of raising Bobby, I know that this means I am tired of this food.

About 6 months after this incidence, I’ve now reintroduced raisins—in addition to apple slices and string cheese—to Bobby’s lunch meal. And guess what: His lunch box is coming home empty! It’s not just raisins, apples or string cheese; this has happened with many foods. Moms and Dads, we need to remember children may express interest in old and new foods alike, so keep reintroducing and introducing foods.

Sneaking it in or dressing it up. Just the other day, I told Billy he eats pasta, and he was okay with this statement. Oddly enough, Billy does not like pasta, well with one exception. The trick is if I add his pasta to yogurt with wheat germ, he happily eats it and amazingly doesn’t say boo. In fact, this bizarre combination has become an everyday food for him.

I know that Billy is picky. I’m the first to admit that even registered dietitians can’t promise to raise perfect eaters. Using my professional and personal experience though, I also know that sneaking certain ingredients into foods I know he likes, for instance disguising pasta in yogurt or carrots in carrot cake, is acceptable while working along the continuum of exposure and variety. At the end of the day, if it gets Mr. Picky Palate to eat them, he is healthier and I am happier. While this may not be my first line of action, allowing Billy the opportunity to explore tastes and textures in an unintimidating way allows for progress.

Perfect Yogurt Pancakes

Chobani’s Perfect Pancakes

Adapted from Chobani’s Perfect Pancake recipe, this Mom’s swapped in some whole-wheat flour and a touch of flax seeds for a healthful kick!

INGREDIENTS (Makes 4 servings)
1/2 cup Chobani Simply 100 Vanilla Greek Yogurt
1/2 c all-purpose flour
3/4 c whole-wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
4 tbsp flax seeds
¼ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
¾ c skim milk
Nonstick pan spray
Driscolls berries and organic honey, for serving



1. In a large bowl combine all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, flax seeds, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a smaller bowl, gently whisk egg, Greek yogurt and milk.

2. Add wet ingredient mixture to flour mixture and gently mix.

3. In a nonstick skillet, spray a light coat of cooking spray over medium heat. Pour about ¼ cup batter onto pan for each pancake, leaving space between pancakes. Cook for bout 2 minutes, until bubbles appear on surface. Flip once to brown other side. Transfer to a large plate and repeat with remaining batter.

4. Serve warm with organic honey and berries.

While you’re at it, be sure to check out our Chobani giveaway! Mom Dishes It Out will be giving away one customized case of Chobani Greek Yogurt, with winner’s choice of favorite flavors. ENTER FOR GIVEAWAY HERE!