Ending the Mealtime Battle with your Picky Eater

Ending the Mealtime Battle with your Picky Eater

Chickpea
This post is a collaboration with ALDI. I received compensation, but all opinions are my own. 

 

Coming out of quarantine many of us have been preparing a lot more meals at home. I will go out of my way to avoid being a short-order cook for my picky eater.  Before you roll your eyes, it’s not because my kids are angels, raised by a dietitian and eat kale for every meal. In fact, that is probably the furthest from the truth. The truth is, I have three small children and I’m too tired to make multiple meals. That doesn’t mean I take off my dietitian hat at dinner time though, I still want to serve my family affordable healthy meals that they will EAT.  Whether you have a picky eater or not, I think we all can agree that we don’t want to make multiple trips to the grocery store.That is why I love to shop at ALDI. ALDI has everything I need and it seems that every time I go in I find new great foods to try.  At my most recent trip to ALDI I found this 90 second quinoa and brown rice packet that makes a great addition to my taco bar (will share picture).  If you haven’t made a trip into ALDI recently you may not know that they have Earth Grown, an entire line of vegetarian and plant-based products, some of the lowest priced organic produce in the grocery industry and a whole line of wine and beer under $10*.  I’ve partnered with them to share with you 5 ways I avoid being a short-order cook for my family. 

1.  Create Simple Meals. 

When I have made complicated “kid-friendly” meals with hidden ingredients, it usually turns into a treasure hunt for my picky eater to find the foods she doesn’t like. My kids prefer seeing all the ingredients. Keeping my meals simple with a good protein source and a frozen veggie is a great place to start. I like to use Fremont Fish Market frozen fish and shrimp because no matter what happens at dinnertime I can have it on the table in 15 minutes or less and it pairs really well with a simple frozen veggie and fresh fruit.

2.  Build-Your-Own Bars 

Avocado Ranch Dip

 

 

We love to do build-your-own pizza, burger, or taco bars. Having a build your own bar allows my family to pick what they want but I’m only preparing one meal.  I recently shared all my ideas for a build-your-own taco bar on Good Day Kansas check out the segment here.

3. Serve a Less Traditional Meal 

Dips are a great way for me to get my kids to eat veggies. I love this Avocado Jalapeño Ranch Dip that has a base of Greek yogurt (protein) avocado (healthy fat) and goes great with veggies. Sometimes we eat this alone with veggies for a quick meal.
Avocado Ranch Dip

4.  Pair a Favorite with Something New 

My kids, like most kids, love things like chicken fingers, fish sticks and PB&J. I like to serve those things alongside other foods that maybe they have never had or they don’t enjoy as much. I love this recipe for Sweet Potato Salad, it is a spin on traditional potato salad.

5. When All Else Fails, Serve Dessert First!

This summer I have been obsessed with these chocolate covered cookie dough balls. I have served them for breakfast, lunch and dinner. They have a secret though, the base is chickpeas, so I am giving my family a dose of fiber and protein with each bite.  I know that in case my best attempts at serving dinner fails, I can trust dessert to provide them the nutrients they need.

Yields 15-20 bites

Serves 2 bites

Chocolate Covered Cookie Dough Bites
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Ingredients

  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup Simply Nature creamy peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup Specially Selected maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon almond flour
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips, divided
  • 1 teaspoon simply nature coconut oil

Instructions

  1. Add chickpeas, vanilla, peanut butter, maple syrup, and salt, to a food processor and process until combined.
  2. Add almond flour, pulse until a thick dough is formed. Add 1/4 cup chocolate chips and lightly pulse through.
  3. Use a spoon or cookie scoop to scoop dough and form into small balls. Place formed bites onto a parchment lined cookie sheet and place in the freezer for an hour. Place 1/2 cup chocolate chips and coconut oil in a small saucepan and heat on low heat stirring frequently being careful not to burn. Roll frozen bites into chocolate and return to the cookie sheet. Store in the freezer until ready to eat.
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https://www.kansascitydietitian.com/2020/07/ending-the-mealtime-battle-with-your-picky-eater/

 

For more info, check out ALDI.us, @ALDIUSA on Instagram and Twitter, and @ALDI.USA for Facebook. Use #ALDILove to show off your own build-your-own bar fueled by ALDI. 

 

*Price and availability may vary.

 

Healthier Steak Fingers & Black Pepper Gravy

Healthier Steak Fingers & Black Pepper Gravy

This post is a collaboration with the Kansas Beef Council on behalf of the Beef Checkoff. I received compensation, but all opinions are my own. 

Healthy Meal Plan Checklist 

I get asked all the time, how do I make a healthy meal plan? Most people think it has to involve a complicated recipe, expensive ingredients or, at the very least, must be a boring salad. I am here to tell you none of those are the case. My healthier steak fingers recipe is the perfect example. A healthy meal starts with a lean protein. In this case we are using tenderized round steak. It is tenderized so that even though it’s lean, it won’t be tough. Using beef for these fingers brings an unbeatable taste. Picking beef as your lean protein provides 10 essential nutrients and you never have to check the ingredients list because beef is just one simple ingredient.  To complete your healthy meal, just add a healthy fat and a fiber-rich carb. In this case we are adding ground flaxseed, which is both a healthy fat and a fiber-rich carb. Flax nutritionally provides a plant-based source of omega-3 fatty acids and acts as the gluten-free breading and gravy thickener for these healthier steak fingers. 

 

The Steak Fingers 

Growing up, country-fried steak was one of my favorite meals. These steak fingers are my take on country-fried steak. Steak fingers are made by first dredging in a milk and egg mixture, then tossing in a coating of flour and spices. Most traditional recipes would then fry the coated fingers in oil. For my steak fingers we are using ground flaxseed as the coating, which means this recipe is naturally gluten-free. Then we skip frying them in oil and instead bake them. The end result? A delicious and healthy comfort food. If you are looking for more beef recipes, be sure to check out www.kansasbeef.org/one-simple-ingredient

The Gravy 

No steak finger is complete without a little gravy. For this simple gravy we used ground flaxseed instead of flour and let me tell you, you won’t miss it. This goes great as a dip for the steak fingers, or I like to put them on mashed cauliflower to get a veggie side in for my picky eaters.  My favorite flax is Manitoba. It has a two-year shelf-life and is the smoothest I have ever worked with, which makes it great as a steak finger coating or in a gravy.

Healthier Steak Fingers and Black Pepper Gravy
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Ingredients

  • 1.5 -2 Pounds Tenderized Round Steak or Cube Steak
  • 3/4 cup ground flaxseed
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried chipotle chili (ancho or cayenne will work too)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • For Gravy:
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 Tablespoons ground flaxseed
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • 3/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and lightly spray with non-stick spray.
  3. Slice the steak into 1" fingers
  4. Place flaxseed and all the spices in one shallow dish and mix well to combine. In another shallow dish whisk together milk and egg.
  5. Dredge steak fingers in the dish containing the milk and egg, then in the dry ingredients. Put on the cookie sheet. Continue until all fingers are coated.
  6. Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes, flip and continue cooking for 5 more minutes until slightly browned and cooked through. Optional: Broil for the last few minutes if you prefer a crispier coating. You can also try putting it on an oven-safe cooling rack to bake.
  7. For the gravy: Melt the butter in a medium sauce pan over medium-low heat. Add flax, pepper, salt, and garlic salt, whisking constantly.
  8. Slowly add in milk, whisking until it thickens. Serve immediately.
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https://www.kansascitydietitian.com/2020/02/healthier-steak-fingers-black-pepper-gravy/

Find out more about the Kansas Beef Council and all they do to support Kansas farmers:

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/ksbeef

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/KansasBeef/

YouTube https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChKfCz9R5HHqw-jSzjM6AUw (where they have lots of recipe ideas)

Pomegranate Recipes Roundup

Pomegranate Recipes Roundup

I realized that my love for pomegranates has turned into an obsession. Going back through the recipes I’ve posted over the years, I’ve found that pomegranates are one of my most reoccurring ingredients, and honestly, can you blame me? I even found a new way of introducing pomegranates to my kids when some of my favorite pomegranate recipes aren’t always picky-eater approved. I put all the pomegranate seeds on a cookie sheet and froze them and my son couldn’t get enough. 

My pomegranate recipes started with my Pomegranate Salsa back in 2014, and this year I’m adding my Rosemary Pomegranate Spritzer to the list.  This recipe is similar to my Pomegranate ACV Mocktail but the rosemary addition makes it o so much more seasonal and delicious. You can always make either of these into a fun adult beverage if you choose. I hope that you will cook your way through all of my pomegranate recipes. Keep scrolling to find them all: 

Pomegranate Salsa, Chocolate Covered Pomegranate Tarts, Chocolate Avocado Dessert Nachos, Superfood Muffins, Pomegranate ACV Mocktail, Rosemary Pomegranate Cheeseball, and Festive Beet and Pomegranate Bruschetta 

 

Pomegranate ACV Mocktail - 2O19

Festive Beet and Pomegranate Bruschetta - 2O18

Chocolate Avocado Dessert Nachos - 2O18

Rosemary Pomegranate Cheeseball -2O17

Superfood Muffins - 2O15

Chocolate Covered Pomegranate Tarts - 2O15

Pomegranate Salsa - 2O14

Yields 1

Serves 8 oz

Rosemary Pomegranate Spritzer
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Ingredients

  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • 3 full Rosemary sprigs
  • 2 oz Pomegranate Juice
  • 6 oz Sparkling Water
  • Pomegranate Arils and Rosemary Sprigs (optional for garnish)

Instructions

  1. To make the Rosemary simple syrup: Add sugar, water and rosemary into a small saucepan, stir to combine. Heat on medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Increase heat until boiling, then remove from heat and let cool for 20 minutes. Can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a month.
  2. Add 2 tablespoons rosemary simple syrup to pomegranate juice and sparkling water. Mix to combine.
  3. Optional: Add ice, garnish with rosemary and pomegranate seeds.
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https://www.kansascitydietitian.com/2019/12/pomegranate-recipes-roundup/

I wanted to make sure that you could find all of my favorite pomegranate recipes in one place and hopefully add a few new ones to your favorites list. If you are looking for information on the best ways to pick a pomegranate and how to extract the seeds, from the pomegranate, check out this post

 

3 Gut Healthy Cocktails

3 Gut Healthy Cocktails

The other day we were sitting on our back patio. In the distance you could hear the happy tune of the ice cream truck weaving it’s way through our neighborhood.  This was Leighton’s first time experiencing this, and as it grew louder she became more curious.  Finally, as it was nearing our house, she asked me with a confused look what the noise was.  I turned to her and said, “it’s the sound of summer”. She of course was neither amused nor satisfied with that answer.

Honestly, I have zero desire to rush out and grab an ice cream from these trucks for anything other than nostalgia. But you know what would be amazing? An ice cream truck that dished out cocktails, or even better healthy cocktails. Right? Every mom’s dream! So far, I’m not ready to take on that business endeavor, but in case someday my dream becomes a reality, I’ve rounded up my go-to drink recipes for summer. There’s an extra kick– they all have nutrition and gut healing benefits too. There is a recipe for everybody from young children to adults; keep reading to find the one that suits you! 

Mint Chocolate Chip Smoothie

 

Who should drink me:

  • Anyone and everyone looking for a sweet treat! Even (my) picky kids like it! 

 

Nutrition benefits:

  • The fiber from the banana, avocado, spinach and cacao nibs can help keep your gut healthy
  • Healthy fats from avocado and cacao nibs for heart health
  • The smoothies is filled with antioxidants as well!

 

This smoothie is a great way to add in extra nutrients while keeping you cool. All the nutritional benefits of a salad, but it tastes like mint chocolate chip ice cream! This still qualifies as a healthy cocktail right? 

Healthy Cocktail
Mint Chocolate Chip Smoothie
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Servings
1 8 oz serving
Servings
1 8 oz serving
Healthy Cocktail
Mint Chocolate Chip Smoothie
Print Recipe
Servings
1 8 oz serving
Servings
1 8 oz serving
Ingredients
Servings: 8 oz serving
Instructions
  1. Lightly blend spinach and almond milk together first.
  2. Add remaining ingredients, except cacao nibs. Blend until smooth.
  3. Add in cacao nibs and pulse a few times.
  4. Serve immediately.
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Pomegranate ACV Mocktail 

Who should drink me:

  • Anyone looking for a flavorful and refreshing, yet healthy cocktail

 

Nutrition benefits:

  • Probiotics in ACV with the “mother” help support a healthy digestive system
  • ACV can help to balance stomach acid which aids in digestion 
  • High in antioxidants from the pomegranate juice and apple cider vinegar
  • Apple cider vinegar may help control blood sugar after a meal

Healthy Cocktails
Pomegranate ACV Mocktail
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Servings
1 serving
Servings
1 serving
Healthy Cocktails
Pomegranate ACV Mocktail
Print Recipe
Servings
1 serving
Servings
1 serving
Ingredients
Servings: serving
Instructions
  1. Stir all ingredient together.
  2. Serve chilled or over ice.
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Kombucha Mule 

Who should drink me:

  • Anyone looking for a healthier new cocktail to share with friends

 

Nutrition benefits:

  • Probiotics from the kombucha can help support the good bacteria in your gut
  • This mule has less sugar than a standard cocktail

Healthy Cocktails
Kombucha Mule
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Servings
4 4 oz servings
Servings
4 4 oz servings
Healthy Cocktails
Kombucha Mule
Print Recipe
Servings
4 4 oz servings
Servings
4 4 oz servings
Ingredients
Servings: 4 oz servings
Instructions
  1. Mix well. Serve chilled or over ice with lime wedges.
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Now, I can’t wait to hear, which one is the right one for you? 

Dinnertime Inspiration When you Can’t Bring Yourself to Cook

Dinnertime Inspiration When you Can’t Bring Yourself to Cook

Disclosure: This post is in collaboration with Brookside Holistic Solutions all opinions are my own.

 

I often find myself daydreaming about having a live in chef. You may be thinking, aren’t you a dietitian that shares recipes? Listen, I like to cook, I actually REALLY like to cook. I like to experiment and think about new combinations, but having a family and a business that centers around food there are still times that I don’t want to cook and need some dinnertime inspiration.

Have you found yourself in this dilemma? Your stomach says Pinterest-worthy meal, but your brain is on overload, here are few of my favorite tips to bust through that cooking funk and rediscover dinnertime inspiration: 

 

  • Dig through the freezer

I hate to have my first tip require cooking, when we’ve already established that this is when you have no desire to cook. However, preparing extra meals that you can keep in your freezer for days that you lack dinnertime inspiration, because we all know they will come, prevents you from being at the mercy of whatever package frozen foods you find in your grocery store. One of our favorite meals to make and freeze is Freezer-Friendly butternut squash enchiladas . There are also several places in Kansas City that offer freezer meal exchanges and cooking classes so you can make freezer meals in bulk and just pull them out as needed.

  • Avoid imposter syndrome

Up until recently the weeknight dinner table was one of routine. It wasn’t uncommon to have spaghetti every Monday night, or meatloaf once a week. It’s true, in general, there was a lot less variety and meals had a lot less hype. (Imagine how boring those Instagram feeds would have been). If you are lacking inspiration or motivation sometimes the answer isn’t to turn to Pinterest or Instagram but instead to shut those off. Perfect Pinterest or Instagram dishes can make you feel like a failure if you are serving your family boring old tacos AGAIN!  Going back to the basics and not always viewing food as something needing improvement or perfection may be just the thing to help your dinnertime inspiration. Plan out your meals with a simple schedule like this:

Monday – Sheet pan veggies

Tuesday – Tacos

Wednesday – Breakfast for Dinner

Thursday – Spaghetti with Banza Pasta

Friday – Pizza

  • Try a cook-it-yourself meal prep service or a meal delivery service

Although we are an e-mail driven society, we all still love getting snail mail. Imagine getting dinner delivered in your mail box. These subscription programs package all the food and supply the recipe too. All you have to do is the final cooking step. These would be companies like Sun Basket, Hello Fresh, or Blue Apron. Here is another dietitian’s review on some of the top meal delivery services.

  • Try a no-cook meal prep or meal delivery service

No-cook meal prep services come in individual packages and are portioned and fully prepared. These types of services aren’t just for individuals wanting a whole week of meals, this can be a great option for someone that wants a few meals a week to take a break from cooking but doesn’t want to always eat out or eat convenience foods.

 

I tried three different Kansas City based services and there really is something out there for everyone. If you haven’t heard of Evolve, Brookside Holistic Solutions, Rawsome Nutrition or Fitstyle Foods let me introduce you and help you narrow down which one might be a good fit for you:

Location 

 

From Riverside to Olathe and Blue Springs to Bonner Springs it doesn’t really matter where you live in Kansas City there is a location that is convenient for you. FitStyle Foods has seven locations across Kansas City, including Brookside Holistic Solutions in Lee’s Summit where I got mine. Rawsome Nutrition is also available at Brookside Holistic, so you place one order and can pick up both at the same time. 

Evolve has 4 locations in Kansas City: Overland Park where I got mine, Briar Cliff, Liberty, and the Crossroads. Plus for my non-Kansas City readers it is also available in seven other midwest cities in Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Arkansas, and Iowa.

Rawsome Nutrition Taco Quinoa Salad 

Special Dietary Requirements 

Vegetarian/Vegan: If you follow a vegetarian or a vegan diet Rawsome Nutrition has some amazing varieties. I loved the nacho “cheese” and “meat” crumbles, they have a great authentic texture and traditional vegan taste. If you want to experiment with more plant-based options these are the meals for you. I will warn you that if you are trying to trick a friend or family member into thinking there is meat or cheese these substitutions, while very tasty, are not similar enough to fool the meat-lovers palate. 

Paleo/Gluten-Free: For those following a Paleo diet, or needing to be gluten-free, Evolve’s chef prepared meals are the way to go. Although you do a quick heat up of most of these meals you will feel like you’ve had a chef in your home. The Evolve meals were my favorite out of the bunch with many unique varieties to pick from including Asian Ahi Tuna Salad and Chicken Fried Chicken. 

Macros: Both FitStyle Foods and Evolve help those wanting to count their Macros by providing the macro content of each dish both on their website and right on the container. 

 

Evolve’s Chicken Fried Chicken and Cauliflower Mash

Delivery 

For an additional $7.50 Evolve will deliver to most addresses in the KC Metro. If you are tight on time this is a great service! Rawsome also offers home delivery for about $10 extra. 

Evolve’s Mustard BBQ Pork and Sweet Potato Salad 

With all these ideas I’m feeling inspired, how about you? How do you come back from a lack of inspiration? 

Gluten Free Carrot Cake Donuts

Gluten Free Carrot Cake Donuts

One of my friends jokingly suggested that I should open a healthy donut food truck. I guess I’m trying to expand my offerings. I’ve already shared my veggie lover’s donuts, and my chocolate lavender donut, and now I’m bringing you your springtime favorite gluten free carrot cake donut with amazingly simple cream cheese frosting. 

Often when baking gluten free donuts they can become tough and dense because gluten is what provides the structure. One of my favorite additions to this recipe is the cream of tarter, it is optional, but it makes the texture of these donuts so rich and fluffy you won’t want them without it. If you aren’t familiar with cream of tarter, you can find it in your spices aisle. The only thing that makes these better is the simple cream cheese frosting made of cream cheese, honey and a little unsweetened almond milk. 

Half of the fun of these donuts is decorating them. We toasted extra shredded carrot and some coconut to get that nest like texture. Then we topped them with some chocolate egg candies. What ways can you dream up to decorate them? 

gluten free carrot cake donuts
Gluten-Free Carrot Cake Donuts
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Servings
12 donuts
Servings
12 donuts
gluten free carrot cake donuts
Gluten-Free Carrot Cake Donuts
Print Recipe
Servings
12 donuts
Servings
12 donuts
Ingredients
Cream Cheese Frosting
Servings: donuts
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Add eggs to a large bowl and beat well with a stand mixer or hand mixer.
  2. Add in tahini, coconut oil, vanilla, and maple syrup and beat together.
  3. In a separate bowl whisk together both flours, salt, baking soda, cream of tarter brown sugar and spices.
  4. Slowly add flour mixture into wet ingredients and mix just until combined. Stir in 1 cup of shredded carrots.
  5. Spray donut pan with non-stick spray. For best results, spoon batter into pan, or place batter in a large ziplock bag and snip off a corner to pipe batter into the donut pan.
  6. Place pan in oven and bake for 15-18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before removing from pan.
  7. Meanwhile, line baking sheet with aluminum foil, spread remaining shredded carrots on and bake for 5-10 minutes, add shredded coconut and bake for another 5 minutes until toasted.
  8. For frosting: Beat honey and cream cheese together. Add unsweetened vanilla almond milk.
  9. Spread frosting onto cooled donuts and top with toasted shredded coconut and carrots.
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