September 2011 Archives

Oh remember the long lazy days of summer….seems so far away already! I miss summer’s carefree attitude, the light clothing, the active lifestyle, the ice cream, the ice cream, the ice cream!ice cream photo.jpgRegardless of whether we are actually away or just spending lazy days at home during the summer, we tend to loosen up the "rules" in our household. And in one respect, that's what makes summer so much fun for everyone - even if we don't go on that much desired exotic cruise! So we all sleep a little later, become a little more lazy in the mornings and definitely eat a little more!

Then summer comes screeching to a halt with September!... it's painful! School, schedules, routines, activities, games, homework, preparations - it seems to all come too fast, too much!

This year I decided to stop reinventing the wheel and to start preparing in advance for this transition phase. I still refuse to corrupt my summer's carefree style, so I will put my emphasis on regaining my routine back slowly but steadily. One of the first priorities I have is gaining ground on our nutritional habits again. While I wouldn't say we are on a family diet, I would say that we need to start eating smarter and healthier again. So a few little sneaky weight loss strategies are always useful!!

Here are a few tactics that I have implemented in my daily dinner habits:

• Set a date on the calendar at least once (or more!) a week to have sit down dinner in the dining room - this ensures the family all sit down together for a more relaxing, less hurried meal – note: kitchen counter doesn’t count like dinner around the dining table.

• Downsize plates for optical illusion - After reading studies that show that eating from smaller plates creates the illusion of eating more and being more satisfied, I was sold! So I traded my huge dinner plates that I tend to overfill and we now eat better proportioned meals on smaller (appetizer sized) plates (same goes for ice cream bowls – oops, I mean cups!)

• Stop serving “family-style” dinners - Small changes make big differences! I now “plate the food” in the kitchen and do not leave bowls/platters on table. Again, I want to be in a better position to control portion sizes and discourage dipping back into the pasta bowl for seconds and thirds! Exception: Only salads and vegetables are displayed on family table and encouraged for second servings before anything else

• Serve less starchy options - I'm making meals with more fresh vegetable options and relying less on filling, less-nutritious starchy options.

If you have any ideas for breaking the summer habits, I would love to hear from you!! 

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Dear Missy,

I was looking at your book, Sneaky Chef to the Rescue and saw Mac&Cheese Muffins. I would like to know the recipe :D Thank you. Robin D.

Dear Robin,

Hope you enjoy these mac 'n cheese muffins! Here's a recipe

With healthiest regards,


We’re off to a good start in the new school year, and my girls are finding their way with new teachers, new (and old) friends, and challenging new classes. I’m getting back into the swing of things, leaving the carefree days of summer in my rear view mirror and gearing up for homework, after-school activities, unavoidable chaos and of course, making healthy foods that my kids will actually eat and enjoy.

Even after just a few weeks of school, though, the kids are complaining they’re bored with sandwiches in their lunch box! Back to the drawing board.... Luckily my quest for something interesting and new gave rise to a totally delicious recipe that we are all psyched about - "Veggitos"!

Made with Veggie Patch’s Veggie Dogs, they take all the goodness of a meatless hot dog and a burrito and leave all the unnecessary and unhealthy out! They are fun, easy to make, portable, and most of all, the kids love them. And yes, you are right...they are absolutely healthy with vegetarian protein, beans, whole grains, and tomato! That will be our little secret though ;-)
Just pack a couple of extras in the lunch box because your kids will be hounded to share!!

Makes 6 servings
6 Veggie Patch Veggie Dogs
1/4 cup tomato paste
1⁄2 cup canned low-fat refried beans
1 to 2 teaspoons chili powder
6 (10- to 12-inch) flour tortillas, ideally whole wheat
3/4 cup low-fat shredded cheddar cheese, divided

Cook Veggie Dogs according to package directions. Set aside.
In a mixing bowl, combine the tomato paste, refried beans, and chili powder. Place tortillas between moist paper towels and microwave on high for 30 seconds to soften. Spoon 2 to 3 tablespoons of the bean mixture onto the bottom half of each tortilla. Top with the Veggie Dog and 2 tablespoons of cheese. Fold the end of the tortilla closest to you over the filling ingredients and then tuck the right end in and roll up. One end of the burrito is left open and unfolded. Repeat with the remaining burritos.
Wrap in wax or parchment paper, microwave on high for one minute, and serve immediately, or refrigerate for up to 2 days. Simply reheat for 30 seconds in the microwave when you’re ready to serve.

Safety note: This recipe is not advised for kids under 3, as hot dogs can pose a choking hazard. 

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