Memories are made when food is shared.  At least that is my motto.  And there is no better way to share food than by cooking with your kids in the kitchen and then sitting down to that meal you all created!  Recently, my son asked us if we remembered eating under the table for an upside down meal.  When my kids were younger, I know I tried to create some fun meals, but I didn’t remember this one! But both of my kids did because it was fun, out of the ordinary and apparently we ended up getting out from under the table because it was hard to eat laying down on our stomachs!  Mom fail.

Raddish Logo

Enter Raddish Kids.

A brilliant company that I discovered a few months back while scrolling through my Facebook feed.  Raddish creates kits for parents or even grandparents to make memories in the kitchen with their children.  How cool is that?

What’s even cooler, is that as a subscriber (as we are) you receive a monthly, themed kit that features three recipes that are laminated  (complete with easy to follow, step-by-step pictured instructions and food facts and history) , a shopping list for those recipes, an iron-on apron patch (hey just like those other clubs!), a skill card that encourages kids to learn something new in the kitchen (like how to set the table), table talk conversation starters, and even a fun activity that’s connected to the theme.  You can also find bonus content on their website including lesson plans for extending the theme.

I’m pretty impressed.  We love how it’s so organized, comes right to our door about the middle of the month and how it allows families to create memories together.  And no more upside down, under the table meals! :)

Our first kit included a fun restaurant theme, complete with pad to take orders on, a menu board and paper money. 

Restaurante Meals at Home

Learning how to set a table was the skill – a great one to teach not only to learn how to set the table, but we used our best dishes so we could learn how to eat in a restaurant too.

 Setting the Table

And of course, the food.  We loved the Roasted Vegetable Quesadillas and they now have become a favorite on our menu! Sorry for the poor food photo, but we were making memories and couldn’t stop eating them because they were that good!!  

Roasted Vegetable Quesadillas
A quick and easy dinner the whole family can make and eat together!
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Ingredients
  1. 1 red pepper, diced
  2. 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  3. 1 tablespoon olive or canola oil
  4. Salt and pepper to taste
  5. 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  6. 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  7. 2 tablespoons butter
  8. 6 large whole wheat tortillas
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425. Line baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  2. Toss vegetables with oil and salt and pepper to taste. Roast until tender, approximately 20 minutes.
  3. Mix cheeses in a bowl.
  4. Once vegetables are finished roasting, remove from oven and set aside. Heat skillet over medium heat. Add a 1/2 tablespoon butter to pan.
  5. Set one tortilla in pan. Sprinkle with 1/6th of cheese and 1/6th of vegetables.
  6. Cook until golden brown (1-2 minutes) and fold in half. Remove to baking sheet.
  7. Repeat with remaining tortillas. Bake quesadillas until cheese oozes (3 minutes).
  8. Slice and serve warm with salsa and light cream. Taste and share!
Adapted from Raddish Kids
Adapted from Raddish Kids
Jen Haugen RD http://www.jenhaugen.com/
 If you are looking to create fun, food memories in the kitchen, check out Raddish Kids!

And check out my dietitian friends who also had to share a favorite food memory in this month’s Recipe ReDux Link Up!

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Do you ever wish you had a personal, live-in chef to create meals while you are away at work, or running kids or errands all around town? I’ve been asked multiple times to come and cook for my clients, but my goal is always to empower my clients to cook for their families. However, there’s one way to feel like someone has been cooking for us when we step through the door: the slow cooker.

Slow cooker meals are essential in bringing families into the kitchen together after a long day apart. What makes a slow cooker meal a healthy one? Lots of vegetables, lean meats or proteins and lots of flavor. 

slow-cooker

Tips for creating a healthier slow-cooked meal

1. Think of the slow cooker crock as a cupboard with shelves. Typically, you want the heaviest things on the bottom, right? Same with the slow cooker. You will want the densest foods — like fresh potatoes, carrots, onions, winter squash and celery — on the bottom because they take the longest time to cook. And be sure to cut these vegetables about the same size for even heating. Also, canned vegetables like tomatoes make great additions to slow cooked meals. 

2. Create extra flavor from meat by browning it first in a sauté pan on the stove top. Yes, this is an extra step, but it’s essential to creating a depth of flavor your family will enjoy. Start with thawed meat, preheat your pan to medium and brown each side for one or two minutes in a tablespoon of canola oil. Then add the meat to the slow cooker above the dense vegetables — this is your middle layer.

3. During the last hour of cooking, add tender vegetables like mushrooms, zucchini, cauliflower, broccoli, spinach, peas, corn and peppers. Adding them as your top layer during the last hour helps them retain their shape and flavor. And of course, adding them in general means extra vegetables and nutrients! Just throw in these delicate vegetables right when you get home and let them simmer while everyone gets ready for dinner.

4. What are the best raw meats to use in the slow cooker? Some meats work better than others because of their cut and leanness. Great choices from the meat department are: beef brisket, beef chuck roast (including shoulder, blade and arm roasts), beef stew meat, pork tenderloin, pork chops and pork roasts, chicken thighs, chicken breasts, chicken drumsticks and turkey breasts. And if you are going meatless, canned beans, firm tofu or textured vegetable protein make great additions to a slow cooker meal. Food safety tip: If you are using ground meat — beef, pork, chicken or turkey — cook and crumble it first before adding to the slow cooker. 

5. Go for low-sodium flavor boosters. Add dried herbs and spices for extra flavor. Use canned vegetables, like tomatoes, without added salt. And at the end, stir in fresh herbs to brighten flavors. 

Other quick tips

  • Keep the lid on it! Every time you peek, it can add 15-20 minutes to your cooking time.  
  • Start with thawed ingredients to prevent possible food-borne illness. It takes a while to cook frozen meats in the slow cooker and that can mean the temperatures are in the danger zone (between 40-140 degrees).
  • The two-hour rule. Once you have turned off the slow cooker, be sure to get the leftovers in the refrigerator in shallow containers within two hours.
  • Make a list of five to 10 slow cooker meals that your family loves and put one on the menu one night each week. If you need to — and if you have a removable crock — make up the meal the night before and stick in the refrigerator. Just pull it out in the morning and set it on low — all the prep work is done.

Rather than feel like you have to run through the drive-through on those busy nights, allow your “personal chef” to do the work. Use your slow cooker and these tips for family meals that will bring your family together in the kitchen.

I authored this post that was originally published on the Stone Soup Blog, the official blog of Food and Nutrition Magazine, on 11-11-2014.  Image from the Stone Soup blog.

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 I received free samples of Libby’s new Vegetable Pouches mentioned in this post. By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by Libby’s and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.

Family gathered around the table: it’s what I love most about weeknights. I tell you I’m kind of obsessive about it.  The hustle and bustle of everyone pitching in by grabbing the plates, forks and cups and setting them on our farmhouse-style, wooden table; pouring the milk into mason jar glasses; bringing the meal to the table so we can all sit down together…it’s what I classify as the perfect evening.  

And you never know how much your kids appreciate it until one of them gets sick and doesn’t feel good enough to even eat a meal at the table and is relegated to the couch.  After recovering, I hear precious words I’ve never before heard: “Mom, it’s nice to be back at the table again.”

Heart happy.

Enter cool new product for more happy.

Libby’s new Vegetable Pouches.

Libbys Vegetable Pouches

Time-saving, shelf-stable and microwaveableHeat and eat.  Getting our kids (and us)  to eat more vegetables because they are easy to keep on hand.   Need I say more when only 10% of kids get enough vegetables everyday?  Confession: My kids included.

Another reason to love the new Libby’s pouches?  You can add farm-fresh goodness to your table in less than one minute.

Not kidding.

Farm Fresh

Plus, they are rolling out in all of my family’s favorite vegetables: sliced carrots, sweet peas, cut green beans, mixed vegetables and sweet corn.

Libby’s is the first to offer ready-to-heat vegetables in environmentally-friendly pouches.  (Taking 75% less energy to produce this packaging and waste is easily compressed in the garbage and at the land fill.) 

More to love:

  • Flexible, no-sharp edges (a plus for cooking with your kids)
  • Won’t dent
  • Stands up
  • Fits nicely in kitchen cabinets, takes up less space
  • Easy-to-open, easy-to-carry (another plus for cooking with your kids)

I come from a long line of canned food pantry stackers.  You know, open the pantry door and the cans are stacked so high they come falling down if you make the wrong move.  As a Midwesterner, we have looonnng winters which is why we want to stock our pantries. But we also have the best sweet corn in the summer.  And while tearing open this package of sweet corn, the sweet smell of summer comes rolling right back.  Just in time for our prediction of measurable snow.  In three days.

Cheesy Corn Dip

This appetizer, Cheesy Corn Dip, is a Midwestern favorite, but I’ve lightened it up a bit by swapping out sour cream and using plain non-fat Greek yogurt instead and added a few more vegetables.  It captures summer sweet corn at it’s peak and combines red peppers, green chilies, onions and cheese.  And it’s perfect for right now – football watching parties, Thanksgiving gatherings and even holiday parties.   And you can make it in less than 10 minutes.

Cheesy Corn Dip

 

Cheesy Corn Dip
Serves 8
In 10 minutes or less, you will have a summer-flavored dish featuring sweet corn, peppers, chiles and onions. Be sure to serve it at your next football watching party, Thanksgiving gathering or your holiday party.
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Total Time
10 min
Total Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. I pouch Libby's Sweet Corn (1-1/2 cups)
  2. 1/4 cup minced yellow onions
  3. 1/4 cup minced red bell pepper
  4. 1/4 cup canned, diced green chilies
  5. 1/2 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  6. 1/2 cup light mayonnaise reduced fat made with olive oil
  7. 1-1/4 cups shredded taco flavored cheddar cheese
Instructions
  1. Heat corn per package directions and drain.
  2. In medium bowl, mix corn, onions, peppers and chilies. In a separate smaller bowl, stir together yogurt and mayonnaise.
  3. Pour yogurt mixture over vegetables and mix. Add shredded cheese and stir to combine.
  4. Serve with tortilla chips or crackers.
Jen Haugen RD http://www.jenhaugen.com/

Cheesy Corn Dip

Note: Libby’s Vegetable Pouches are rolling out in select Walmart stores this fall, but will be available nationally in January 2015.  For more inspiration, check out my fellow dietitian bloggers below!

 

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 Want a super easy recipe that the kids will love to cook up with you this Halloween (or after with leftover Halloween candy)? Peanut Butter Cup Mini Cheesecakes are the perfect little treat to bring to a party. You wouldn’t believe that it contains a low-calorie sweetener to lower the sugar content, but it does. Why is that a good thing? You can enjoy this little treat with reduced calories. (It’s also a positive for those with diabetes because the carbohydrates are reduced too for better blood sugar control!). I’m excited to share the recipe with you, thanks to the Calorie Control Council and their sponsorship. This recipe is the perfect post-Halloween treat and it’s a great dessert to even bring to an upcoming holiday party.

Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecakes 4

And because Halloween is the un-official start of the holiday season, meaning we have the potential to eat more calories between now and the New Year, it’s the perfect time to cut back on some of those calories by using low-calorie sweeteners. Here are some fast and easy ways to make sugar swaps:

  • Replace sugary beverages with fruity-flavored beverages that contain a low-calorie sweetener. As a young girl, I remember our holidays and family get togethers always included Kool-Aid. And when you are running around as a kid, you get pretty thirsty. Cup after cup adds up, imparting about 100 calories per 8-ounce glass. Trade it for a fruit-flavored powdered beverage mix made with low-calorie sweetener. In our house, we like the Crystal Light varieties as they are tasty and only about 5 calories.
  • Instead of yogurt sweetened with sugar, try the “light” yogurts. Light yogurts are sweetened with low calorie sweeteners to reduce the calories, yet they still contain the protein that yogurt provides, just at a lower calorie level. And if you are wondering how much sugar in yogurt is added? The average 8-ounce cup of yogurt naturally contains 12 grams of lactose or milk sugar. So whatever is above and beyond that number is added. And for a quick holiday fruit dip idea, try partnering a light yogurt with light whipped topping. Mix and match yogurts with the fruits that will be dipped, it’s the perfect party treat.
  • Swap out sugar in recipes for low-calorie sweeteners, especially those desserts! Making these mini cheesecakes was so easy, and it’s fun to get the whole family involved!  Kids will have a blast smashing the vanilla wafer cookies, unwrapping the peanut butter cups and whipping up the filling.  And they can get creative by adding a little chocolate or peanut butter chip drizzle to the top!

Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecakes 2

Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecakes
These individual desserts are perfect for holiday parties and so easy to make! To add holiday flair, melt colored chocolate chips and drizzle lightly after baking!
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CRUST
  1. 1-1/4 cups vanilla wafer crumbs
  2. 4 tablespoons stick butter or margarine, melted
CHEESECAKE
  1. 3 packages (8 ounces each) reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
  2. 3/4 cup granulated no calorie sweetener, like Equal Spoonful
  3. 2 eggs
  4. 2 egg whites
  5. 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  6. 1 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  7. 1 teaspoon vanilla
  8. 16 sugar-free miniature peanut butter cups
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 325° F. Place a cup liner in each cup of your muffin pan (16 total).
  2. For the crust, combine vanilla wafer crumbs and butter or margarine. Press the crust into the bottom of each cup- about a tablespoon per cup.
  3. Remove the wrappers from the peanut butter cups and place in the center of the crust in each cup.
  4. For Cheesecake, beat cream cheese and sweetener in mixing bowl until smooth and well combined. Mix in eggs, egg whites and cornstarch. Fold in sour cream and vanilla until well combined. Spoon the cream cheese mixture over the peanut butter cups, evenly dividing among the 16 cups- about ¼ cup of the mixture for each cup.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven 20-25 minutes or until center of each cup almost set. Remove from the oven and cool on wire rack.
Notes
  1. Nutritional Information
  2. Serves 16
  3. Calories 196
  4. Fat 12.6g
  5. Cholesterol 58mg
  6. Sodium 232mg
  7. Carbohydrates 15.4g
  8. Protein 7.6g
Jen Haugen RD http://www.jenhaugen.com/
eanut Butter Cup Cheesecakes

Disclosure: As a Calorie Control Council advisor, I was compensated to write this post.  But all writing is my own.  See more resources and research on sweeteners on Food Insight, Best Food Facts, and the Calorie Control Council website.

Additional Resources:
Everything You Need To Know About Aspartame

A Guide to Sugar Substitutes

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Inspiration. It can come from anywhere. Inspiration to learn something new. Inspiration to pursue a new and exciting goal. Inspiration to accomplish something big. Less than a week ago, I was in Atlanta attending the Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo, lovingly called FNCE®, the official national conference for registered dietitians. One reason I love going to FNCE is because it brings the best of the best together. The best presenters, the best trends, the best dietitians in the profession all together in one place so we can grow exponentially together.

And another big reason I love it? Inspiration.

No matter what career path we are in, we need inspiration now and again. Here are five ways I was inspired by things that happened at FNCE this year. I hope you pursue some of these same ideas to inspire you as well!

10-27 FNCE 5 Ways

1. Go to a conference!

Want to get out of a rut? Explore going to a conference where you can learn new trends, new ideas, new research and be inspired! And meeting new people is often the very best part. And this may be the only way you may meet them!

Here are a few conferences on my list: 

2. Watch a powerful video.

This video captured the audience’s attention and emotions during the opening session.  Not going to lie, tears were shed and it made me so proud to be a part of this profession. (Click on the link on top of the video since playback on other sites has been disabled).
3. Talk with people that have done what you want to accomplish. Thinking about an idea? Talk about it! During a networking event, one of the dietitians at my table shared this little tidbit that was pretty powerful. The more you talk about an idea, the more you can visualize it.  And the more you visualize it, the more it is likely to really happen. 

10-27 FNCE friends
4. Pursue a TED talk. TED stands for Technology Education and Design with the tagline of “ideas worth spreading”. And by pursue I mean watch some, think about what you would say if you made one. I had the opportunity to do just that this past year: How Moms Can Change the World.  It was a life-changing experience. 

Check out this TED talk from our opening presenter at FNCE, Peter Diamandis - on the power of abundance and optimism. 
5. Insert fun.

I made some new goals (pretty exciting ones), met some pretty amazing people, and shared meals and laughs with dietitian friends. I even was able to see a few Walking Dead zombies (husband was jealous :) And I left inspired and rejuvenated with some pretty fun memories – even making an impromptu video with Best Food Facts

Of course there are other ways you can be inspired in your career too, share them below in the comments!

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