The Blog: Recipes & More


July 22nd, 2014

Summertime smoothies… what could be more refreshing than a blend of frozen fruit, your favorite “milk” and maybe some wheat germ or chia seeds?

My family and I just got back from a week at the beach. Sand castles, early morning walks, dolphin watching… it was glorious!

Now back in the grind, I am so missing the water, the languid time and the calm. So, I whipped up a taste of the beach for this month’s Recipe ReDux post. July’s theme is A Spirited ReDux.

From plain Jane vanilla extract to fancy-pants elderflower liqueur, we like to keep a little liquor in the kitchen. Show us how you like to cook, bake or mix-it-up with spirits, extracts and other alcohols. A splash of vodka makes summer sauces shine – and liqueurs brighten desserts: What’s your healthy recipe with spirit?

Edisto Island, SC

Edisto Island, SC

While a taste of the beach with spirits is much more fun, I chose COCONUT EXTRACT as my spirit of choice. Don’t get me wrong… a taste-of-the-beach drink with spirits is quite enjoyable. But, I made a nutritious version my kids can enjoy alongside me as we sit on our deck and reminiscence about last week.

Thanks to the pineapple and banana, this drink is loaded with immune-boosting vitamin C. My kids love yogurt, so I used that as the protein base. And I added a little wheat germ to “up” my kids’ vitamin E intake, since we’re a tree nut-free house.

If You Like Pina Coladas Smoothie
1 frozen banana
1 cup frozen or fresh pineapple, diced
1 cup “milk” of your choice (I used skim milk)
1/2 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
2 tsp. coconut* extract
2 tsp. wheat germ
3-4 tsp. orange juice

Combine all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. Sprinkle with wheat germ. Add straws and fruit for garnish. Serves 2.

*Although coconut is a fruit and not a tree nut and the risks of an allergic reaction to coconut is unknown, the FDA lists coconut as a food for those with tree nut allergies to avoid. Some allergy experts say that those with tree nut allergies do not have a greater likelihood for developing a coconut allergy. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI), “Coconut is not a botanical nut; it is classified as a fruit, even though the Food and Drug Administration recognizes coconut as a tree nut. While allergic reactions to coconut have been documented, most people who are allergic to tree nuts can safely eat coconut. If you are allergic to tree nuts, talk to you allergist before adding coconut to your diet.”

PLEASE SHARE: What is the spirited drink that transports you to your favorite vacation spot? I’d love to hear from you!

And, be sure to check out recipes from my fellow Reduxers below.

As the first and only recipe challenge founded by registered dietitians, The Recipe ReDux aims to inspire the food lover in every healthy eater and inspire the healthy eater in every food lover. Thank you for visiting. We hope you enjoy!

(Please note that this is a closed link-up for Recipe ReDux posts only. Any links added to this collection for non-ReDux posts will be deleted.) 

52 Moms Talk Food: Hilary in San Diego

July 11th, 2014

Getting kids to eat takes creativity, patience and, sometimes, a bit of luck. 52 Moms Talk Food is my exploration of how inspiring moms make it happen.

DJ Mom Hilary

DJ Mom Hilary

A popular deejay in Southern CA, Hilary is one busy mom. I’m so excited to share Hilary’s tips and tricks for feeding her 7-year-old daughter.   

Q: You are BUSY! What are your tricks for getting good food on the table?
Hilary: Cooking from scratch is one of my favorite things to do, but it was also one of the first things to go when I became a mom. And once I went back to work? Forget about it. I let go of the guilt early on and became one with my local Trader Joe’s and Sprouts Farmer’s Market.

I’m fortunate that my daughter eats a variety of healthy foods, but variety is key. For lunches, we do baby carrots, sugar snap peas or cucumber and whatever fruit is in season and a sandwich or dinner leftovers. And, her hot lunch program at school rocks: whole grain breads and pasta, hormone-free local meats, local organic produce. As for dinners, we eat a lot of lean ground turkey tacos or burgers, rice pasta with marinara, veggie lasagna. We snack on brown rice cakes with honey and sunflower seed butter, frozen bananas, frozen acai bowls. And, I nixed the juice early on… she drinks a lot of water and sparkling water. Not every day is perfect, but—for the most part—I feel good about what we eat.

Q: What is your food philosophy?
Hilary: We try to aim for balance, and we talk a lot about food as fuel and how it gives us energy. Treats are “once in a while” foods. If my daughter refuses something, it’s usually a new (or newly prepared) food. So, we do a “thank you bite” to just try it… she’s usually game for one bite. We never force anything, but we do set limits.

My daughter has a life-threatening allergy to cashews and pistachios, which adds an entirely more complex (and scary!) dimension to eating. We keep her epi-pens near her at all times, no matter where she is. We have to read all food labels and be really careful about cross-contamination. She eats at the nut-free table at her school and summer camps. And, we’ll continue to educate her, her friends and their families (and ourselves!) about tree nut allergies all the time.

Q: With a dream job, lots of work commitments and an active kid, how do you find balance to stay sane (and healthy)?
Hilary: I don’t think I have found balance! I’m still chasing it. I do food shopping on Saturday mornings before the supermarkets get busy so we are set food-wise for the week. Sometimes we’ll hit the farmer’s market on Sunday morning. We used to have an awesome organic garden with broccoli, tomatoes and strawberries before we moved. One of our favorite activities is to walk to school with the dog. It’s about an hour round-trip, so we try to do that 3-4 times a week during the school season and walk the dog at a nearby canyon on the weekends. And, we try to get to the beach as much as possible, which is always good exercise—and fun!

Wanna’ see Hilary in action? Check out Hilary’s pics and Tweets at

MY TAKE-AWAY: Not only is Hilary rockin’ at getting nutritious food on the table, but she’s helping her daughter develop healthy eating habits. She offers nourishing foods like fruits, vegetables, lean protein and whole grains, but doesn’t sweat the occasional treat. She’s fortunate that her daughter’s school system offers such healthy foods, which helps when she’s pinched for time. While navigating cashew and pistachio allergies can be challenging, Hilary is doing a great job empowering her daughter to be healthy and learn how to eat safely.

MOMS (AND DADS) WELCOME: Do you have a story to share? If you’d like to be featured in 52 Moms Talk Food, please drop me a line at

My Food Fix: Picnic Tips & Super Salads

July 3rd, 2014

July is National Picnic Month!

Fox8_06 30 14_Picnic_crew

The fun part of Picnic Month? Dining al fresco, enjoying a meal with family and friends, less clean up(!). The not-so-fun part of Picnic Month? Increased risk of foodborne illness, which is usually caused by improper handling of food.

As I shared on Fox8 WGHP this week, there are four simple steps which can help ensure that your picnic and BBQ is remembered for the tasty food and good conversation, not because everyone got sick.

Four tips to help keep your picnic and BBQ safe:

  1. Toss the (dish) towel. Yes, dishtowels are an eco-friendly alternative to paper towels, but using the same towel while handling raw meat and then during (or after) cooking is ripe for cross-contamination. Use paper towels while handling meat and save the dishtowel for drying clean dishes.
  2. Washing rules. We KNOW to wash our hands before, during and after handling food, but sometimes we just forget (or get lazy). Seriously, folks, hand-washing could help prevent nearly half of all foodborne illnesses. If you don’t have running water, reach for the sanitizer. It works as a back-up.
  3. Keep your cool. Every time we open a cooler to grab a drink, the temperature in the cooler rises. Pack drinks and other frequently accessed food items with ice packs in a separate cooler from meats, chicken, fish, salads and other perishable foods. And, keep coolers out of direct sunlight, if possible.
  4. Forget the 2-hour rule. Kudos to you if you use the 2-hour rule–toss items that have been sitting out more than 2 hours. However, on hot days (days close to and above 90-degrees), stick to the 1-hour rule. Set your phone timer or alarm to alert you when food’s been out for an hour and then pack it up.


Now, for the fun part of picnics and BBQ… the FOOD!

Pack some fresh fruit, a salad or two (see my salad recipes below!), a protein-rich dish (fish kebabs, chicken breasts, BBQ tofu steaks, veggie or lean beef burgers) and some fruit-flavored water or unsweetened tea for a simple and portable meal. Here are two salads that take less than 20 minutes to make and pack a big nutrient punch!

Fox8_06 30 14_Picnic_salad

Quinoa & Avocado Salad
1.5 cups quinoa, uncooked
3 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1 Tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped
3 Tbsp. olive oil
¼ cup balsamic or red wine vinegar
Juice of 1 lime
1 (14.5 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
½ cup frozen corn, thawes
1 carton chopped tomatoes, drained
½ cucumber, chopped
2 avocadoes, cubed
Salt and pepper, to taste

Cook quinoa according to instructions (using broth instead of water). While quinoa is cooking, mix cilantro, olive oil, vinegar and lime juice. Mix black beans, corn, tomatoes and cucumber. Cool quinoa and add to veggie mixture. Top with oil-vinegar dressing. Top with avocado. Makes 4 servings.

Broccoli-Raisin Coleslaw
Bag of broccoli slaw
½ cup shredded carrots
¼ cup golden raisins
Light Goddess or Poppyseed dressing, to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste

Mix slaw, carrots and raisins. Add dressing, as desired. Toss well, and add salt and pepper to taste. Makes 6 servings.

PLEASE SHARE: What are some of your favorite picnic dishes? I’d love to hear from you!

52 Moms Talk Food: Rachel in Greensboro, NC

June 27th, 2014

Getting kids to eat takes creativity, patience and, sometimes, a bit of luck. 52 Moms Talk Food is my exploration of how inspiring moms make it happen.

Rachel with her daughter (3 years)

Rachel with her daughter (3 years)

A working mom of 2 young children, Rachel and her husband live in Greensboro, NC. She took a few minutes to chat with me about how she encourages her kids to eat their veggies.

Q: You have two young children. How are their eating habits?
Rachel: My kids have always been great eaters. I fed them healthy foods when they were babies and they have always eaten well, until recently. They are becoming more picky as they get older.

Q: What is your food philosophy?
Fruit is our #1 snack. We always keep a lot of fruit around, and the kids love to snack on it between meals. I don’t make separate meals for anyone, but I will modify a meal for the kids. If I’m making green beans with almonds for my husband and me, I’ll take out green beans for the kids before adding the nuts.

Q: You’re a busy working mom. How do you get a healthy dinner on the table?
Rachel: I don’t make a separate meal for anyone. Who has time to make a second meal? Our meals tend to be traditional and easy-to-make… usually a protein, salad and a vegetable. We make veggie-heavy family-style stir-fry and chili dinners, so the kids can pick and choose how to personalize their meal. (Check out Rachel’s favorite chili recipe below.) And, we always offer a variety of veggie options. If the kids aren’t in the mood for cooked vegetables, we usually have raw veggies like carrots and cucumbers around as a back-up.

MY TAKE-AWAY: I love that Rachel doesn’t cater to her children’s food whims, but encourages them to make their own food choices. By offering the kids a variety of vegetables and fruit, she’s ensuring that there will be some produce they like and allows them the freedom to choose what they want to eat that day. Rachel also told me she participates in her workplace-based organic produce CSA, which is a great way to expose the whole family to a variety of colorful (and sometimes exotic!) vegetables.

Here is Rachel shared her family’s favorite chili recipe, Cincinnati Five-Way Chili from Cooking Light (September 2008).

“This is so easy and the kids love it!  I also adapt the recipe: I only use 1 lb ground turkey and omit the sirloin. I usually serve the dish with a side vegetable like broccoli as well.”


MOMS (AND DADS) WELCOME: Do you have a story to share? If you’d like to be featured in 52 Moms Talk Food, please drop me a line at

Lavender-Blackberry Scones {Recipe Redux}

June 22nd, 2014

So excited to announce my first Recipe ReDux post!

lavender blackberry scones_plated_06 22 14_final

As you may be able to guess from the photo, this month’s theme is Floral Flavors.

Nothing brightens up a dish like a real flower! Whether you live in the northern or the southern hemisphere, edible flowers can add flavor and aroma to salads, breads, spreads, desserts or dips. Make your recipe bloom with rose water, flowering herbs, floral teas, dried lavender blossoms or even fresh flowers like nasturtiums, violets, borage, squash, sunflowers or pretty much any blossom in a vegetable garden.

lavender blackberry scones_cooking_06 22 14_edited

My flower of choice? Lavender. I fell in love with lavender many years ago when my husband brought lavender tea home from Hawaii. The tea was a consolation gift since he had just spent a week “working” in Maui, and I [sigh] had been unable to go. (As luck would have it, my writer husband was assigned to cover a lifestyle article on the island on the very first week of my dietetic internship.) While drinking the tea didn’t transport me to Hawaii, his gesture was lovely–and, so was the tea.

As some of you know from previous posts, my daughter has a tree nut allergy, so I enjoy experimenting with nut-free versions of nut-laden baked goods. Plus, it was Father’s Day last weekend, and my husband loves a good scone.

So, I created this NUT-FREE whole grain scone with blackberries and dried lavender. They were part sweet, part savory and simple to make. I used a combination of whole wheat and spelt flours (that’s just what I had on hand), and I made my own dairy-free buttermilk using quinoa/rice milk and lemon juice since my husband requested a milk-free version.

Lavender-Blackberry Scones
lavender blackberry scones_cooling rack_06 22 _edited

2-3/4 cup whole grain flour (I used a mix of whole wheat and spelt)
2-1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt (I used kosher salt)
1 Tbsp. dried lavender
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into dice-size cubes
1 egg, lightly beaten
3/4 cup buttermilk (I used quinoa/rice milk + 3/4 Tbsp. lemon juice)
1-1/4 cup fresh blackberries
coarse brown sugar (such as demerara or turbinado sugar) for topping

Preheat oven to 400°F degrees. Place parchment paper on two baking pans. Sift flour, baking powder and salt into large bowl. Add lavender and brown sugar, and mix to combine. Add butter. In a separate bowl, combine egg and milk. Beat lightly and add to flour mixture. Incorporate ingredients, but do not overmix. Fold in blackberries. Spoon scone mixture onto baking pans. Shape into triangles and flatten slightly. Sprinkle coarse brown sugar on top of scones. Bake 16-18 minutes, until golden. Makes 16-18 scones.

PLEASE SHARE: Do you cook or bake with florals? If so, I’d love to hear about your floral culinary adventures!

And, be sure to check out recipes from my fellow Reduxers below. Who knew there were so many ways to infuse florals into your favorite foods!

As the first and only recipe challenge founded by registered dietitians, The Recipe ReDux aims to inspire the food lover in every healthy eater and inspire the healthy eater in every food lover. Thank you for visiting. We hope you enjoy!