The Blog: Recipes & More

52 Moms Talk Food: Heidi in Lindstrom, Minnesota

December 18th, 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.

It’s been a little while since I’ve updated my 52 Moms Talk Food series, but I am so excited to post my 52 Moms chat with Heidi, a wellness coach and organic gardener in Minnesota. She and her husband have a toddler. Heidi took a few minutes to share with me some tips on how she gets her daughter excited about eating a sustainable and local diet.

52Moms_Heidi_Minn_12 2014

Heidi and her daughter (2.5 yo)

Q: What are your favorite tips for getting nutritious food on the table?
Heidi: We are very committed to eating sustainably-produced food, so we tend to eat seasonally and organically. We have a large garden, and I spend a lot of time chopping, stewing, freezing, canning and drying all types of produce to last us through the winter and spring. In the fall, I do a lot of freezing and dehydrating to use up our harvest, which helps us throw healthy meals together quickly during the cold Midwest winters. I do spend a few mornings each week making larger batches of soups and casseroles to eat later in the week or freeze for those hectic days. We keep fresh, frozen and dried fruits, granola, yogurt, cheese and whole grain crackers on hand for snacks, and enjoy eating–and making–most of our meals at home.

Q: What’s your feeding philosophy? How do you get your toddler to eat her fruits and vegetables?
Heidi: Our food philosophy: Offer healthy foods at all times. Our daughter doesn’t always want these foods, but they are always available to her. This summer, she happily ate peas straight out of the pod and raspberries off the brambles. One of the advantages of having a garden is getting to see where your food comes from, and this has encouraged our toddler to eat well. We have very few processed foods in the house (though we do like Annie’s organic graham crackers and Annie’s organic cheddar bunnies), and I continuously remind myself that if she doesn’t eat something today, she may like it tomorrow or in 3 months. I tend to believe that by surrounding a child with wholesome and real food, they will (eventually) come to appreciate the value of eating in a way to support their health and the earth.

Thinking back on my childhood, I vividly remember a time when I wanted nothing to eat but cheese bagels and boxed mac and cheese. Since my parents were also committed to eating sustainably and seasonally, I imagine that they were not thrilled with my diet choices. But, I believe their choices and the environment they created are the main reasons why I eat the way I do now, and why I am committed to providing the same for my child.

Q: Between working, gardening and raising a toddler, how do you find balance in your life?
Heidi: My husband does the bulk of the shopping–usually with our daughter in tow–while I’m at work. We share household tasks… I do most of the gardening and cooking, he does most of the wood chopping and home maintenance. Sharing responsibilities and being open to doing things differently when needed is essential to finding that balance for everyone in the family. I get up early–always before everyone else–and go for a bike ride, practice yoga or work in the garden. This alone time helps me stay grounded and cultivates excitement about the day ahead. I am very intentional about what I allow to dictate my days, and I do my best to keep healthy boundaries and commit only to things that truly mesh with my values.

Check out Heidi’s blog RedBrushFarms about her farm and garden (she provides some yummy recipes!), or her regular contributions at enough..


MY TAKE-AWAY: Healthy living and eating whole foods are in Heidi’s DNA, so it’s no surprise that she is raising her daughter to have a healthy and wholesome appetite. I love that Heidi grows her own food (she’s an inspiration to this wanna-be gardener!) and that she spends a little up-front time early in the week to prepare meals for later in the week. That is KEY to eating healthy meals, and preventing the what-do-we-eat-tonight dilemma. Two other things Heidi does that help to encourage healthy eating… she continues to offer vegetables to her daughter even if she doesn’t like them the first time and she keeps mostly whole, minimally-processed foods in her house. That’s another key that’s important for the whole family… don’t keep foods in the house that you don’t want your kids (or yourself) to eat. Oh, and I’ll be trying her recipe for Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese (see below) tonight!



One of our 2 year old’s favorites is Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese. I usually assemble the casserole in the morning and then we bake it in the evening for dinner. You can also freeze the baked casserole. As for the squash, I bake several squash after they are harvested (roast cut side down in a shallow baking dish until you can pierce skin with fork) and freeze the puree into 1 cup zip lock bags for later use.

8-12 ounces whole grain pasta shapes (spirals or penne work well)
1-2 cups chopped veggies (any vegetable that you have on hand)
1 cup pureed butternut squash
2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. flour
1 cup milk
½ cup cheddar cheese
Panko or breadcrumbs
½ cup mozzarella cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste

Cook pasta according to package instructions.  Add vegetables (if using raw) to the pasta pot a few minutes into cooking.  When noodles and veggies are tender, drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a medium saucepan.  Whisk in the flour to make a paste.  Gradually add the milk, whisking as you add.  Continue to stir occasionally until the sauce thickens (about 10 minutes).  Add the butternut squash and cheddar cheese and stir until incorporated.

Combine all ingredients, mixing well, and place in a baking dish.  Sprinkle with panko or breadcrumbs and top with the mozzarella.  Cover with foil and bake at 350 for about 30 minutes.  Remove foil and broil for a few minutes to crisp the top if desired.


SEEKING MORE MOMS (AND DADS!): Do you have some great ideas to share with other parents? Or, want free family nutrition advice? Share your story and I’ll offer you a free nutrition consult!

So, if you’d like to be featured in 52 Moms Talk Food, please drop me a line at

Another month, another pie: Cinnamon Apple Pie

December 5th, 2014

It’s December. Another month of parties, which means another month of desserts.

I’m not a huge pie person. (I’m more of a decadent brownie or chocolate chip cookie gal.) But, my husband and kiddos love pie… and cinnamon. So, I made this apple pie big on cinnamon and fiber-rich fruit. I like sweet apple pies, so I used Honeycrisp apples (my favorite!). And, I wanted a semi-nutritious crust, so I used white whole wheat… looks a little darker than white flour crust, but no one even seemed to notice. I had fun playing with the pie crust… my crust wasn’t perfect, but I stretched and pieced together the dough until I got the shape I want. Kitchen play-dough!

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Cinnamon Apple Pie {dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free}


  • Instructions
  • Whole Wheat Pie Crust
  • 2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp. granulated sugar
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ½ cup coconut oil
  • Cinnamon Apple Filling
  • 5 sweet apples (like Honeycrisp or Pink Lady), thinly sliced
  • ¾ cup + ½ Tbsp. granulated sugar, divided
  • 2 tsp. + ¼ Tbsp. ground cinnamon, divided
  • ½ tsp. nutmeg
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp. non-dairy margarine, melted


  1. To make crust, combine flour and next 3 ingredients (through cinnamon). Mix in food processor or in mixer with paddle attachment. Add oil. Mix until dough becomes sticky. Divide dough into two halves and pat each into a mound, wrap both mounds in wax paper and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  3. To make apple pie filling, combine apples, ¾ cup sugar, 2 tsp. cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and margarine; mix well. In a small bowl, mix ½ Tbsp. sugar and ¼ Tbsp. cinnamon; set aside.
  4. Oil 9-in. deep pie pan. Roll out 1 mound of dough and place in pie pan, stretching to fit pan. Pour apple mixture onto pie crust; spread evenly. Roll out second dough and cut into 1-in. strips. Using dough, form a lattice on top of apple mixture. Sprinkle top with sugar-cinnamon mixture. Bake 50-60 minutes, or until crust is golden. Let cool for 30 minutes.
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PLEASE SHARE: What are your favorite holiday pies? Please share. I’d love to hear from you!

Say Goodbye, Pecan Pie {Recipe ReDux}

November 22nd, 2014

A lot of stuffing, a little green bean casserole and small slivers of both pumpkin pie and pecan pie. To me, those foods used to equal a delicious Thanksgiving. But this year? It’s goodbye, pecan pie.

Pumpkin pie_edited

Since we found out my toddler has a tree nut allergy in February, this Thanksgiving means experimenting… re-creating some favorite recipes without nuts (pecan-free pumpkin seed stuffing, anyone?) and having fun creating some new Thanksgiving sides. You can find me, on Thursday, doing both.

When I saw this month’s Recipe ReDux theme, I knew I had to find a pie that offered a taste of that gooey, sticky, caramel-y pecan pie filling without the nuts.

November 2014 Recipe ReDux: A Food Memory For Which You Are ThankfulIn the US, November marks the Thanksgiving holiday. But many of us are especially thankful for food memories we have shared with friends or relatives throughout our lives. Was it a special meal you ate as a child? Or, maybe it was a food you grew and harvested with your own children. Please share one of your favorite food memories and the healthier “redo” of the recipe.

Then, I came across a recipe for Sticky-Toffee Pecan-Pumpkin Pie from Food Network Magazine. What if I made a pumpkin pie with a toffee topping sans pecans?

I used an allergen-friendly whole wheat pie crust I had in the freezer, and subbed in roasted pumpkin seeds for pecans and non-dairy margarine and coconut milk for dairy products. The final product? Delicious! The pumpkin pie filling was creamy, and the toffee layer was gooey, sticky and Thanksgiving caramel-y good.

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Pumpkin Toffee Pie {nut free}


  • 1 (9-in.) allergen-friendly whole wheat pie crust (I used frozen Wholly Wholesome frozen pie crust)
  • 3/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds, chopped, lightly toasted, divided
  • 1/2 cup prunes
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 tsp. granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract, divided
  • 3 Tbsp. non-dairy margarine
  • 1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin puree
  • 3/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 4 tsp. whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 Tbsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 3/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 Tbsp. non-dairy margarine
  • 1/4 packed light brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
  • 2 Tbsp. of coconut cream mixture (from filling)
  • Dash of salt


  1. Preheat oven to 350 F degrees.
  2. Spread 1/2 cup lightly toasted pumpkin seeds evenly on bottom of pie crust. Pour enough boiling water over prunes to cover; soak for 5 minutes.
  3. In standing mixer or food processor, whip coconut milk, granulated sugar and 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract until coconut milk is creamy and thicker, about 5 minutes. Set aside.
  4. In blender or food processor, combine soaked prunes, margarine, pumpkin puree, maple syrup, brown sugar, remaining vanilla extract, flour, pumpkin spice and cinnamon. Blend until smooth. Reserve 2 Tbsp. of coconut cream mixture and set aside; add remaining coconut cream mixture to blender or processor. Add eggs and pulse until combined. Pour mixture into pie crust. Bake until filling is set, about 1 hour. Transfer to cooling rack and cool completely.
  5. While pie is cooling, make toffee topping. Combine margarine, brown sugar, maple syrup, reserved 2 Tbsp. coconut cream mixture and salt in in saucepan. Bring to boil; reduce heat to medium low and simmer until thick and dark in color, about 10-12 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool about 5 minutes.
  6. Pour toffee topping onto cooled pie and sprinkle with remaining pumpkin seeds. Let sit about 1 hour. Serves 8-10 people.
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PLEASE SHARE: Do you have a favorite nut-free holiday pie? If so, please share! I’d love to hear from you.

Don’t forget to check out delicious recipes from fellow Recipe ReDux’ers below. Wishing you a happy and safe Thanksgiving!


Food: It’s the Whole Package that Counts

November 6th, 2014

Communicating the benefits of a food: Seems like it would be simple. You can talk about the nutrients in the food or describe the specific roles that those nutrients play in your body or, as is usually the case, both. But, it’s rarely as easy as this.

IMG_0605Earlier this week, I spoke to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Risk Communication Advisory Committee during the public testimony period with suggestions about how to effectively communicate the new draft seafood advice so that pregnant and breastfeeding women (and their doctors) feel confident eating (and recommending) fish during pregnancy. Even though the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans advise pregnant and breastfeeding women to consume 8-12 ounces (or 2-3 servings) of a variety of seafood each week, most pregnant women in the U.S. consume less than 2 ounces per week.

We sometimes fall prey to touting foods by the nutrients they contain. But, foods are not nutrients. They are packages comprised of (hopefully) nutrients and antioxidants and sometimes bacteria, mold, contaminants or even pathogens. Some of these are good (think bacteria in yogurt and sourdough bread or mold in blue cheese), some of them are bad (think mold in expired bread or cheese) and some of these just are (like PCBs in vegetables or mercury in fish). We know the benefits of healthful foods like vegetables and fish far outweigh any potential exposure to trace amounts of contaminants, but sometimes the benefits become minimized or, even worse, forgotten about.

This is such an important topic because those omega-3s in seafood are so vital to baby’s brain and eyes during baby’s most critical developmental periods. But, it’s more than that… fish is a whole food package that contains numerous other nutrients so important during pregnancy, like protein, vitamin D, B vitamins, selenium and iron.

The much-needed updated draft advice was released in 2014. It is unclear when the final draft seafood advice will be released, but for the estimated 4 million babies that will be born in 2015, I hope it’s sooner rather than later.

PLEASE SHARE: Are you an expectant or new mom? I’d love to hear about your experiences with fish during pregnancy and/or breastfeeding. Please share.


Although I provide consult to National Fisheries Institute, the opinions expressed on this blog are entirely my own opinions, and do not reflect the opinions of the National Fisheries Institute or any other client with whom I contract. I did not receive compensation to post this message, and National Fisheries Institute is not responsible for any information contained in this blog.

Paprika Chickpeas & Kale {Recipe ReDux}

October 22nd, 2014

Ahhh, those spices and herbs that lurk in the back of the spice rack or pantry. They’ve been there for… well, you’re not sure how long. But, you know  what I’m talking about… those jars, bottles or even baggies you bought for a specific recipe or received as a gift. Well, this month’s Recipe ReDux challenged us Recipe ReDux’ers to use those spooky spices collecting dust. My spice of choice? Paprika.

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Spooky Spices: You know they are lurking there: Way in the back of your spice drawer. There lie the herbs, spices, or rubs that are getting dusty because you’re afraid to use them… you simply don’t know what to do with them! Well, pull them out and show us a recipe you created to deliciously conquer that fearful spice. (Or maybe the recipe was a flop – and the spice still give you nightmares?!) 

RecRed_10 14_paprika ingredOnce used in goulash or on top of deviled eggs, my paprika jar had grown a dusty layer. So, I dusted it off an challenged myself to use paprika in a dish using ingredients I had on hand.

So along with the paprika, I pulled out a can of chickpeas, pre-washed kale salad greens and a box of crushed tomatoes.


Paprika Chickpeas & Kale {Recipe ReDux}


  • 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1 (15-oz.) can garbanzo beans
  • 4 cups kale, chopped (I used pre-washed kale salad greens)
  • 1 (13.5-oz) box crushed tomatoes
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Heat oil over medium heat.
  2. Add garlic and paprika, cook for 2 minutes.
  3. Add garbanzo beans, kale and tomatoes. Cook over medium-high heat for 5-7 minutes, or until kale is wilted. Add salt and pepper, as desired.
  4. Serve over brown rice, with a side of nonfat plain yogurt sprinkled with paprika. Serves 2.
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PLEASE SHARE: What is your spooky spice (or herb) of choice? I’d love to hear from you!

And don’t forget to check out recipes from my fellow Recipe ReDux’ers below. You’re sure to find a spooky dish that tingles your palette!