The Blog: Recipes & More

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!

Food Allergy-Friendly Lunches

October 13th, 2014

This weekend, I presented a lunchbox-building workshop at Whole Foods in Winston-Salem. The workshop was hosted by Food Allergy Families of the Triad, and I had the opportunity to share food allergen-friendly lunch ideas and recipes with parents and their children.

Nutritious Lunch Box

If you’re the parent of a child (or children) with food allergies, you know first-hand that lunch at school or daycare can be a source of stress. Even if you’re not the parent of food-allergic child, lunch can still be a source of stress if your child goes to a school that restricts foods (out of respect for those with food allergies or due to religious reasons).

Over the next few weeks, I’ll post the recipes we made at the workshop. In the meantime, here are some tips I shared to help parents build a healthy and fun allergen-friendly lunchbox.

Tips for Building Healthy & Fun Allergen-Friendly Lunchboxes

  1. Include at least 1 fruit and/or 1 vegetable in every meal. Pair with a heart-healthy protein and/or fat.
    Carbohydrates: Focus on vegetables, fruits, whole grains (brown rice, quinoa, gluten-free oats for those with Celiac disease)
    Proteins: Aim to include chicken, turkey, fish/seafood (if not allergic), lean red meat, beans, lentils, sunflower butter, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, rice or hemp milk (low-fat or nonfat dairy for those who are not allergic to milk)
    Fats: Try avocados, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, olives, olive oil, canola oil, sesame oil, coconut, flax seeds, hemp seeds, chia seeds
  2. Make food FUN!
    It’s all about fun colors, shapes and names. Use cookie and sandwich cutters for breads, fruits, pancakes, waffles and cheese.
  3. Get kids involved.
    Kids are more likely to try foods that they help prepare. Take them food shopping at supermarkets and farmers’ markets. Give children age-appropriate cooking tasks (wash fruit, set table, mix ingredients).
  4. Keep foods safe.
    Using freezer packs is a no-brainer. But, you can also help keep hot foods warmer for longer: Add boiling water to thermos long enough to “heat” thermos, empty hot water and then add food and close lid. Pack your own disposable or reusable (bamboo) utensils.
  5. Be a good role model.
    We all know too well that kids tend to do what they see, not necessarily what we tell them. You are your child’s best role model… model the behavior you want them to have as they grow up.

PLEASE SHARE: What are your favorite tips for packing food allergen-friendly lunches? Please share… we’d love to hear from you!

Confetti Pasta & Tuna Salad

October 10th, 2014

October is here. The leaves are changing, the weather is cooling and my favorite foods are making more of an appearance. Soups, roasted veggies, baked fruits and pasta. While pasta goes well with every season, the cooler weather invites a pot of boiling pasta water. Perhaps, it’s no coincidence that October is National Pasta Month.

Confetti Pasta Tuna Salad

I love a good pasta dish, and–like my children–would happily eat whole wheat pasta several days a week. So, when I saw this month’s Recipe ReDux Challenge “How Do You Celebrate National Pasta Month?” (in partnership with the National Pasta Association — Pasta Fits), it was a no-brainer that I had to enter.

Here are a few details about the Challenge:

Pasta is the perfect foundation for a healthy meal–it boasts energy, satisfies hunger, and pairs with vegetables and lean proteins to create delicious meals. In honor of October as National Pasta Month, the Pasta Fits Campaign would like to find out what pasta recipe fits into your healthy lifestyle and diet.

Easy to cook, convenient to keep in the pantry and very affordable, pasta is a great way to meet your needs for grains and nutrients. Whole wheat and whole grain varieties can provide up to one-quarter of your daily dietary fiber requirements, and easily fits into a busy and healthy lifestyle. One serving is about the size of your fist.

We almost always have some type of cooked whole wheat pasta in the fridge for easy-to-make lunches and dinners. Today, I whipped up this super-easy and delicious Confetti Pasta & Tuna Salad using cooked whole wheat rotini. With a pouch of tuna, diced veggies and a small dollop of canola mayonnaise to the pasta, this simple pasta salad paired perfectly with mixed greens.

Confetti Pasta & Tuna Salad

2 cups cooked whole wheat pasta
5 oz. pouch light tuna
1/2 cup celery, finely diced
1/4 cup yellow bell pepper, finely diced
1/4 cup orange bell pepper, finely diced
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, finely chopped
2 tsp. canola mayonnaise
1/2 tsp. dried dill
2 cups mixed salad greens
Dash of kosher or sea salt

Mix cooked pasta and next 7 ingredients (through dried dill) until well blended. Divide mixed greens between two plates, and top with pasta-tuna salad. Sprinkle with salt, to taste. Makes 2 servings.

Confetti Pasta Tuna Salad_process

PLEASE TELL: What are your favorite whole wheat pasta dishes? Please share… I’d love to hear from you!

By posting this recipe, I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by the National Pasta Association and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.

52 Moms Talk Food: Michele in Winter Park, FL

September 3rd, 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.

Michele and her husband currently live in Winter Park, FL, with their 9-year-old son. Michele is a fellow registered dietitian and a “foodie,” so I was excited about her tips for getting a nutritious dinner on the table with her family’s busy schedule. 

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Michele w/ her son (9 yrs old)

Q: You’re a dietitian, and many people tend to think of us as the food police. So, what is your food philosophy when it comes to feeding your family?
Michele: Nothing close to perfection. But, here are some rules that work in our kitchen…

  1. First and foremost, we try not to put too much attention on what our son’s eating or not eating. Do NOT get into food battles. We employ Ellyn Satter’s philosophy most of the time… always offer and let him choose. He’s had weeks of choosing mac’n’cheese, but we always offer vegetables and fruit. It’s there if he wants it.
  2. We let him make his own snacks. Fruit is always readily available, so he grabs an orange or an apple most days. He’s starting to experiment with [age-appropriate] cooking, which allows him some freedom.


Q: I know some RDs don’t like the word “picky.” But, it is more challenging to get some kids to eat real food. Any tips for those parents of “challenging” eaters?
Michele: Avoid power struggles. As my son gets older, he knows what triggers me and he plays that. If he knew food was a trigger for me, he would use it. Never let food get into power struggles. If my husband gets anxious about food and says “He needs to take a bite,” our son automatically says “No” to a new food. I’ll often say “Your loss” when he doesn’t try a new food, and two minutes later he’ll try it… most of the time. If he likes it, he can have more. If not, he doesn’t have to eat more.

Q: What are your favorite tips for getting dinner on the table?
Michele: We love Way Better foods. They’re fabulous and great for people with GI issues. We’ll build a meal around those in a pinch. (See some of Michele’s recipes for quick dinner and snack spreads below!)

Q: You are busy. How do you manage to take care of yourself?
Michele: I’m constantly trying to find balance! My husband is very supportive, and that’s key to allowing me to find balance. Beyond that, I find these are the three best ways I take care of myself…

1)      Girlfriends. Finding other moms that I connect with or that one girlfriend I can talk to.
2)      Planning a get-away. Doesn’t have to be expensive or long, just getting out of my element and demands of everyday life with my family.
3)      Staying in touch with myself so I know when I’m out of balance. Consciously try to check in… where am I with myself today? I constantly watch to make sure I feed myself well and take care of myself.

MY TAKE-AWAY: I love that Michele gives her son freedom to make his own food so feels he has some control over what he eats. And, her ability to keep food out of power struggles is key to helping her son develop healthy eating habits down the road. (Remembering to keep food out of power struggles is something I work on daily with my almost 5-year-old, so I applaud Michele’s success in this area!) Michele has such a calm and down-to-earth presence, and now I understand why—she employs some great tactics to achieving self-balance! Building a positive support system and taking care of ourselves are two vital things all of us parents should do regularly… so that we can recharge and be our best selves and, perhaps most importantly, so we can be positive role models for our children.


Best paired with: No Salt Naked Blues, Unbeatable Blues, Simply Beyond Black Bean, Simply Sunny Multi-Grain, Simply So Sweet Chili, Simply Sweet Potato

1 cup of black beans or black refried beans
2 avocados, mashed
1⁄2 cup cheddar cheese
2 cups romaine lettuce, chopped
1 cup of Greek yogurt, 0% or 2% fat
1 cup tomatoes, diced
1⁄2 cup Monterey Jack cheese or shredded Mexican-blend cheese
Black olives (optional)

Layer all ingredients, chill and serve.

Best paired with: Simply Sunny Multi-Grain, Simply Tangy Mustard + Onion, Simply Beyond Black Bean

1 tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper
2 large heads of garlic
1⁄2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated
1 (10 ounce) packages of frozen peas, thawed
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, or to taste

Put a rack in middle of oven and preheat to 400 F. Wrap each head of garlic tightly in foil and roast until tender, about 50 minutes. Carefully unwrap garlic and let cool for 10 minutes. Separate cloves and squeeze garlic out of skins into a bowl.

Cook peas in 3 tablespoons of water in a medium saucepan over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 3 minutes. Transfer peas to a food processor, add garlic, grated cheese, lemon juice, 1 tbsp. oil, 1⁄2 teaspoon salt, and 1⁄4 teaspoon pepper, and puree until smooth. Transfer puree to a bowl and let cool completely. Top with grated cheese, olive oil and garnish with arugula leaves (optional).


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 provide you a free nutrition consult!

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

Chocolate-Cherry Granola Bars {Recipe Redux}

August 22nd, 2014

Bars are popular in our house. The kids would eat them every day, if they could. But, there are a lot of inherent problems with bars… they tend to contain a lot of added sugars, few whole grains or–worst of all (for us)–nuts (to which my daughter has an allergy). I have been meaning to make granola bars from scratch, but just haven’t yet.

Chocolate cherry granola bars_cut_rec reduxe_08 14_edited

So when I saw this month’s Recipe ReDux theme Bars & Bites for Brown Bags, I immediately thought… GRANOLA BARS!

Whether you pack your lunch in a bento box, a brown bag or a retro cartoon character lunch box, don’t forget the bars and bites. Small squares or round bites can pack nutrition into a sweet or savory taste. Show us your favorite way to jazz up any type of lunch box.

Chocolate cherry granola bars_bowl_rec reduxe_08 14I leaned heavily on old-fashioned oats and lots of flavorful items, like mini chocolate chips (I like Enjoy Life mini chocolate chips), dried cherries, sunflower butter, coconut* and pumpkin seeds (I used allergen-free SuperSeedz salted pumpkin seeds). The kids couldn’t get enough of these bars (which were perfect for today’s lunchbox!), and I noticed the hubby taking a baggie of these bars to work today, too.

Feel free to play around with different seeds, dried fruit and nut or seed butters. Perfect for breakfast-on-the-go, brown bag lunches or after-school snacks, these bars are also delicious crumbled into a bowl of skim milk.

Chocolate Cherry Granola Bars {nut-free}

4 cups old-fashioned oats
¼ cup unsweetened shredded coconut*
½ cup spelt or whole wheat flour
¼ cup brown sugar
½ cup mini chocolate chips
2 Tbsp. chopped dried cherries (or other favorite dried fruit)
½ cup salted pumpkin seeds
2 Tbsp. sunflower butter
½ cup canola oil
2 tsp. vanilla extract
½ cup honey

Preheat oven to 425ºF. Mix oats and coconut on baking sheet. Toast for 5 minutes, or until lightly toasted.

Combine the remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Add oats and coconut mixture. Put parchment paper on baking sheet. Spread mixture evenly on top of parchment paper. Bake for 25 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes. Cut into bars or squares with serrated knife.

Chocolate cherry granola bars_bake_rec reduxe_08 14

*My daughter does not have an allergy or reactions to coconut, so I use sparingly in baking. However, the FDA recently added coconut to its list that those with food allergies with tree nuts should avoid, although 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 your favorite homemade lunchbox treat (for kids or adults)? I’d love to hear from you!

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