National Nutrition Month “Eat Right…With Color”

– johanna | March 29th, 2011

Filed under: NUTRITION

The theme this year for National Nutrition month is, “Eat Right…With Color.” The challenge? To swap out calorie dense starches and fats for fruits, vegetables and whole grains. This month we have joined the leagues with the National Dietetic Association; in addition to, the many accompanying voices of dietetics from the Pacific to the Atlantic oceans to promote healthy habits. We discussed ways to filter out the high calorie prepackaged foods by reading labels; checking for ingredients that are closest to nature. Sadly too many products on the supermarket and natural food store shelves posing as food are really un-food. Fortunately for us today we do not have to spend the day in the kitchen preparing meals. There are honest companies out there producing products without the harmful additives and preservatives. Be sure to always check the labels. The following week we posted links to help our pickiest eaters over come their food fears. Be Patient and keep offering them the good stuff. One day they will surprise you. We would like to wrap up National Nutrition Month with a guide to seasonal foods.

Eat the Color of the Rainbow“…”Eat Clean”…”Eat Seasonal”…What does this all mean? Food is fuel for our body. Each morsel of food contains within it nutrients and minerals our body needs to boost the immune system, help cells and organs function properly, and support growth and development. Eating a variety of foods (the color of the rainbow) is the best way to get all the vitamins and minerals our bodies need each day.

When fruits and vegetables are at their peak they contain abundant amounts of the vitamins and minerals our body craves. Over time these vitamins and minerals diminish. Eating seasonal fruits and vegetables ensures that we are getting the maximum benefit from our food. Choosing meals and snacks around what is in season keeps costs low. When foods are in season it means they are usually shipped locally. As a result prices are substantially lower and the taste is superb. Use this opportunity to stock up for later months. Find a farmers market or packing plant nearby for fresh produce and keep an eye out for sales on poultry and fish. (**Refer to the chart above for foods listed by season.)

Eating clean is the practice of eating whole, natural foods and avoiding any manmade fats, sugars, dyes and preservatives. Let’s say one sweet potato has the same amount of carbs as a candy bar. Even though the potato is largely a carbohydrate it has less sugar and calories and more soluble fiber than the candy bar. The potato also has zero harmful preservatives (such as BHA, BHT and TBHQ) or food dyes (made from petroleum). The health benefits of a starchy potato far outweigh those of the candy bar. Whole, unprocessed, foods like seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, fish and fresh lean meats provide the nutrients our bodies need to grow properly.


Additional Reading:

Raise Healthy Eaters: Wonderful spot for everything you ever needed to know about feeding children.

The Gracious Pantry: How Tiffany transformed her pantry filled with junk food to one that supports clean eating habits.

Nut Shell Nutrition: “Make a Rainbow on Your plate”, also be sure to peruse the site. Brittany has several informative posts on making health goals that might be of interest.

Dish on Dieting: A witty article describing the use of a GPS to guide us down the road of meal choices.

A Sprinkle of Sage: “What’s Your Nutrition Resolution?” The first of a month long series of tips to reach this month’s goal for optimal health.

Kleiner Nutrition: Great articles to help inspire us to stay on the path to better habits. Be sure to check out the interview with Hope Warshaw.

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Banana Oat Pancakes

– johanna | March 25th, 2011

Filed under: RECIPES - Breads, RECIPES - Breakfast

Yum, yum pancakes. Oatmeal banana pancakes. I so love pancakes. I think my son could eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner. He is a picky eater. Occasionally he will surprise me like the time he ate hummus with carrots. He did not start out picky. In fact, when he started solids the more gourmet the better. Pancakes is one area I have made gradual changes. I swapped out the all-purpose flour for oat flour, added wheat germ and ground flax seed and omitted the sugar. I feel better knowing he is getting some nutrition. He ate these banana pancakes without a single peep. Be sure to visit Simple Bites to read the post for Banana Oatmeal Pancakes. You will find a few more suggestions to placate a picky eater.

The addition of ground oatmeal flour gives the cakes a nice hearty texture. Be sure to puree the banana it helps it blend in nicely with the other liquids. I was worried about the strong flavor of the honey but you cannot even taste it.

Source: Simple Bites
makes about 20 pancakes
1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
3 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tablespoon ground flax seed
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups low-fat milk, room temperature
1 cup plain or vanilla yogurt, room temperature
3 tablespoons melted butter or canola oil
1/3 cup honey
1 1/3 cup puréed ripe bananas, about 4 medium bananas
2 eggs, lightly beaten, room temperature

Preheat a large skillet over low heat.

Add the oats to a food processor and process until very fine. In a large bowl, whisk together the whole wheat flour, ground oats, flax seed, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.

In a separate medium-sized bowl, combine the milk, yogurt, cooled butter or canola oil, honey, banana, and eggs. Hand whisk until thoroughly combined, but do not beat.

Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Pour the liquids into the bowl and stir with a wooden spoon until well incorporated. Do not beat the mixture. Just stir until moist and combined.

Turn the heat on the pan or griddle up to medium-low. Grease with cooking spray, oil, or butter according to your preference. Add the batter 1/4 cup per pancake to the pan. Cook until golden brown on the bottom before flipping.

You can usually tell it is ready to flip because the top will start to bubble. Pancakes can be kept warm in a 150 degree oven on an oven-safe plate or cookie sheet while the remaining cook. Serve with sliced banana, your favorite jam, honey, or syrup.

To freeze leftovers: Cool on a cookie cooling rack completely. Then, place pancakes in gallon-sized zip top bags. To reheat, warm in a toaster oven or microwave.

– Swap oats for instant oatmeal and process as directed. Or use oat flour, no need to process.
– Use sour cream in the place of yogurt.
– Replace the wheat flour with all-purpose or gluten free mix.
– Add chopped or broken pecans to the batter or sprinkle on each pancake after you pour the batter onto the hot griddle.
– Swap the banana puree with pumpkin puree, sweet potatoes or applesauce.

Recipe for a simple version of Whole Wheat Banana Pancakes.

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Feeding Your Picky Eaters

– johanna | March 22nd, 2011

Filed under: NUTRITION

Over the past few years we have had many requests inquiring how to feed a picky eater. If you have a picky eater then you are familiar with what a daunting task this can be. We want our children to grow up healthy and strong and along the way develop healthy eating habits to ensure their success. When all a little guy wants is cereal or yogurt that goal may sometimes seem unattainable. Fear not. There is hope. The following is my own account of the struggles we are currently facing and how we deal with them. I have included additional links to posts with further suggestions on how to placate a picky eater.

Like many other households opting for a cleaner choice of foods we choose to limit the types of prepackaged foods in the house to wholesome cereals and breads and low fat dairy. By making the majority of our snacks at home at least I can control what goes into them. I feel better knowing our picky guy is eating something better than just empty calories. Secondly, our picky eater has a major sweet tooth. If it is not in the house he nor I will eat it. If we happen to have crackers in the pantry they are put up where the kids cannot get into them. A picky kid with a taste for sugar is not going to want to eat his chicken and broccoli when there is a pantry filled with crackers and granola bars.

Limit the Treat and Packaged Foods:

Treats are reserved for special occasions such as movie night or dessert with Sunday dinner. By making a few alterations a basic sweet such as a muffin can become a filling snack offering the much needed vitamins and minerals a growing body needs. Some of the variations we make include:

— Replacing regular all-purpose flour with whole wheat, oat or coconut flour. I always add a double tablespoon of wheat germ and ground flaxseed.
— Swap out lard and vegetable oils for canola, olive and coconut oil. Butter instead of margarine.
— Replacing part or all of the refined sugar with pureed vegetables or fruits or natural local honey.
— Adding chopped, pureed and shredded vegetables to snacks and meals.

Restrict Snacking Before Dinner and Other Meal Times:

We follow strict snack times to help tie our kids over until dinner is ready. When kids snack right before dinner time they are less likely to try new foods much less eat their dinner. Our rule is they have to take at least one bite. If we are having salad with chicken and green beans they have to take one bite of each item. Our picky eater will often feign that he does not like something to keep up with his picky appearance. We have caught him sneaking additional bites. We do not make a big deal over it because with his temperament the praise would backfire. We just let him explore on his own while continuing to offer him the good stuff. We want to make dinner a positive experience for him.


For a picky eater trying new foods takes time. It requires working with them to help them overcome their fear. When I am cooking I let him help stir or measure. Sometimes I give him his own bowl and let him create his recipe. It allows him to feel in control as he places each item in the bowl and mixes it with his hands.

Our doctor reassured me our son would not starve. Meanwhile continue to offer the good stuff. Most of all make dinner a positive experience for them. Avoid negative comments and of course never try to force feed your child. Be sure to include something they are likely to eat but avoid making two dinners. Give them time and love and eventually they will come around.

For additional reading on how to placate a picky eater visit the following links:

Make and Takes – Helpful Tips to Appease Picky Eaters

Raise Healthy Eaters – How to Tell if Your Picky Eater Needs Help

What’s Cooking With Kids – Tips to Help Kids Accept New Foods

The Motherhood – How to Appease Picky Eaters

Dazzledish- More Peas Please

Food For My Family – Picky Eaters

Keep Kids Healthy – Picky Eaters

Nutrition Fitness Life – Getting Picky Eater to Eat Healthy – Science of Picky Eaters

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Tilapia with Pesto

– johanna | March 18th, 2011

Filed under: RECIPES - Main Dish

The first time I had pesto was with my friend Tammy. She was making pesto with pasta for a girl’s night out pot luck. I was in love at first bite. The history of basil begins in the regions of Liguria, Italy. This region of the country is extremely fertile and thus known for it’s rich abundance of vegetation; particularly basil. Pesto or Pesta (meaning to pound) comes from the act of crushing the basil leaves, oil and nuts with a mortar and pestle until creamy and smooth. Pesto is best noted as a sauce for pasta. Traditionally that is true however the Italians and Persians enjoyed pesto with boiled potatoes as well.

Tilapia with pesto is by far my favorite Dazzledish recipe. I love pesto first of all. Then add a creamy light fish such as Tilapia and you have a match made in heaven.

1 1/2 bunches fresh basil (about 1 1/2 cups lightly packed)
4 ounces pine nuts
2 Garlic cloves
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 pieces (6 ounces each) fresh tilapia
1 Tbsp. olive oil

Toast pine nuts in a pan over medium heat until golden and fragrant. Process pine nuts and garlic in a food processor until it a smooth paste forms. Add the basil and cheese; processing until completely blended and smooth. Slowly drizzle in the oil while the processor is on. Season with salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Season the tilapia with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat a large oven proof sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add oil. Cook the fish for 1 to 2 minutes (If using fresh fish start on the flesh side) or until it turns light golden brown. Flip the fish over and spoon the pesto generously over the fish.

Transfer pan to the oven and continue to cook 5 more minutes or until the fish is cooked through. Serve with a salad of mixed greens for a complete meal.

— Pesto sauce without the cheese

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March National Nutrition Month

– johanna | March 15th, 2011

Filed under: NUTRITION

Graphic Art by: Kia Robertson

During the month of March the American Dietetic Association focuses their efforts on helping families understand the importance of physical activity and more importantly how to make the right food choices. This March Dazzledish is celebrating National Nutrition Month with a two part health series. This week we will dive into the basic stepping stones to begin a journey to better health. Next week we will look at ways to help our pickiest eaters overcome the challenge of trying new foods.

The first component to a healthy diet is to reduce the amount of refined sugars and enriched carbs by replacing them with fresh fruits, nutrient rich grains and fiber dense vegetables. Easier said than done, right? So where do you start exactly? Start with little baby steps. Begin by reading the labels.

Reading the nutrition labels is crucial when trying to switch to a healthier lifestyle. Food companies are less concerned about your health and more concerned with meeting this quarter’s profits. Prepackaged and fast foods sell because they are convenient and they are made to taste great. Problem is fast foods in addition to prepackaged foods are unnecessarily overloaded with large quantities of sugar, sodium and calories that leave us hungry for more. Moreover, sugar and sodium have been linked to numerous health conditions later in life in addition to the increase of type-2 diabetes in children and teens. Of course these are the foods that are cheap and always available.

I doubt many of our parents actually understood the direct impact theses types of foods would have on our bodies. We were taught to celebrate with mounds of candy and sugary confections. White bread, whole milk and fried foods were the norm. We ate a carb with a side of carb. Ie: Lasagna with garlic bread or a sandwich with chips. Only now are we as a society beginning to realize the harmful effects these habits wreak on our bodies. Today the food companies, to their credit, have tried to heed the demand for healthier products. Introducing the 100-calorie snack packs, fat free and low fat and sugar free products. Unfortunately what they took out they had to replace with something else to make it taste delicious. Fat free foods still contain sugar and sugar free products still contain fats. When eaten in excess these foods can still be stored as fat. The number one misleading product on store shelves is whole wheat bread. Surprisingly, the majority of breads claiming to be %100 whole wheat use enriched wheat flour and contain high fructose corn syrup.

The nutritional label and the ingredients list should be evaluated as a whole. The ingredients are listed in descending order from the most to the least. It should be short, comprehensible and minus all the man-made ingredients. A loaf of bread for example is mostly flour and water. Flour would be listed first because there is more flour in a loaf of bread than any other ingredient. When shopping for bread look for whole grain or whole wheat flour in the number one spot. Enriched flour white or wheat has been refined and processed until it no longer holds any nutritional value. Instead choose breads with whole wheat, corn, potato and/or oat flours.

Sugar is stated as being a culprit of childhood obesity. It is no wonder when it is in just about everything. Take for example a can of soda. There is an average of 39 grams of sugar and over 100 calories in one 12-ounce can of soda. That equals 9 ¾ teaspoons of sugar or 3 1/4 tablespoons.
This much sugar can wreak havoc on our energy levels. A healthier option might be a glass of crystal light or flavored sparkling water (check the label for the type of artificial sweetener). For a nutritious pick me up in the afternoon try a handful of nuts with a piece of fruit. The protein in the nuts helps the body feel full longer without the spike in blood sugar.

Sugars may be listed in the form of: corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, maple syrup, brown rice syrup, fruit juice concentrate, maltose, dextrose, fructose, sucrose, honey and artificial sweeteners. Put back anything that contains high fructose corn syrup. High fructose corn syrup can only be converted to glucose through the liver. The worse part is the body turns high fructose corn syrup straight into fat. The liver’s function is to filter out toxins. Eating high fructose syrup places unneeded stress on the liver in addition to being highly addictive.

Next, limit products whose fat source comes from saturated fat or trans fat. They have the ability to increase the likelihood of heart disease. On the flipside we do need some fat in our diet. These “good” fats are called monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats derived from plants such as oils, avocados or nuts. Fats are listed in both the ingredients and on the nutritional label. A product may not contain trans fat according to the nutritional label but a hydrogenated oil or partially hydrogenated oil listed in the ingredient list means that product contains some trans fats.

Lastly, calories are the amount of energy in a food. A cup of lettuce contains 10 calories while there are 500 in a regular sized vanilla milkshake. If the intake of calories is higher than what the body burns the excess calories are turned to fat. Keep an eye on the amount of calories per serving size in the foods you choose. You will be surprised at how easy it is to accumulate calories. A serving of bread is typically one slice. Depending on the brand that 1 slice can contain 70 to 100 calories. Add another slice, meat and cheese to make a sandwich and you have a complete 350 calorie meal. That is not counting the can of soda and bag of chips that so often accompany a sandwich.

Be careful to watch the amount of calories per serving in addition to the calories from fat percentage. The calories from fat should make up no more than a quarter percent of the total calories. Peanuts are a perfect example of high calories from fat. There are about 170 calories in 1 serving (28 nuts) of peanuts with 130 calories from fat. Nuts are a great source of protein; however, if you are looking to snack Cashews or almonds are a better choice if you are watching your fat intake.

This first phase helps identify the type of food choices we regularly make. The reduction of refined flours and sugars prepare the body and taste buds for the next phase.

Additional Reading:
To the Fullest: Join Beth on her inspiring journey to better health by overcoming food addiction.
Walk About: Find the balance to eating healthy.
Healthy Life Style Balance: Learning how to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Simple Nourished Living: Overcoming constant hunger
Medifast Plan: Understanding fats and carbs
Raise Healthy Eaters: Raising Healthy Eaters recipes and advice

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Peppery Irish Beef Stew

– johanna | March 11th, 2011

Filed under: RECIPES - Soup / Salad

Photo: Property of The Good Mood Food Blog

Traditional Irish stew begins with mutton (or lamb). It includes onions and other root vegetables such as turnips, carrots and potatoes. The use of Guinness beer in Irish beef stew is as Irish as the St. Patrick’s Day Leprechaun. In America beef was cheaper than lamb, therefore, the beer was an Irish-American addition used to give the less flavorful beef stew more flavor. Traditionalists would rather use cheaper shanks and other boney pieces with little to no meat on them to flavor the broth rather than switch to beef. To thicken the stew they used potatoes, flour or barley grains.

In this version of Irish beef stew the potatoes are sliced then layered. During cooking the potato slices near the bottom of the casserole dish break down then meld with the juices to thicken the stew. The black pepper really compliments this stew but the 2 teaspoons might be too much for children and those averse to pepper. Reduce the pepper to 1/2 to 1 teaspoon.

Source: The Good Mood Food Blog
3 tbsp flour
2 tsp ground black pepper
1 1/2 pounds stew meat, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tbsp oil
4 large carrots, cut into 1/2-inch slices
2 large onions, sliced into half moon pieces
6 cups beef stock
Pinch course salt
2 bay leaves
5 large potatoes, peeled, sliced into 1/2-inch discs
Chopped parsley, to garnish
Oven Safe Casserole or pot with lid

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Combine the flour and black pepper in a resealable bag or plastic container. Add stew meat, seal and shake until meat is thoroughly coated with flour.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add half the meat. Brown on all sides then transfer to a large over safe pot. Brown the other half of the meat and transfer to pot.

In the same skillet saute the onions for 2 minutes, adding a little oil if necessary. Transfer the onions to the casserole. Add the carrots, beef stock, sea salt and bay leaves to the pot stirring to scrape up all the burnt bits on the bottom of the pan. Pour into pot. Toss the potato slices on top of the onions and carrots. Season with a generous amount of black pepper and cover. Cook for 1 1/2 hours. To serve pour into individual bowls and sprinkle with a little parsley.

Serves 6 generously

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Family Togetherness: Sunday Brunch

– johanna | March 8th, 2011


Photo: Paul Horsch and his family during their Sunday dinner

Courtesy of

Sunday dinner at my Grandmother Jepson’s home was always pot roast with carrots and potatoes. As my Grandmother opened the front door to let us in the smell of roast accompanied by the warmth from the oven would hit us so strongly making our bellies ache to eat right away. Today we carry on the Sunday dinner family tradition. Even though my grandparents have passed away and I am far from home I savor the memory.

During the week life can get fairly hectic. Dinners are kept simple to accomodate busy schedules. On Sunday however, we slow down. I like to use to down time to cook. Sunday dinner usually consists of vegetables and a hearty meat such as pot roast or a roasted chicken. Sometimes we just make pancakes. Sunday is also the day I make a dessert. The gang opts for cookies most of the time. We all agree the extra effort to make a feast is worth it. It is a nice change to sit back and relax while enjoying good food that for once fills our bellies unlike the lighter weekly fare.

— Make Sunday dinner a time to relax, laugh, tell stories and enjoy the company.
— Invite friends and extended family over to share in the feast.
— Have breakfast for dinner or dinner for brunch.
— Learn to make a family recipe together.
— Get everyone involved. Make fresh rolls or bread together.
— Set the table. Take the time to lay a clean tablecloth and set out candles or flowers. Use the fine china. Let the family know this is a special day.
— Decide on casual or church dress.
— Practice your manners.
— Clean up together.
— Play board games afterward.

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Pistachio Pesto

– johanna | March 4th, 2011

Filed under: RECIPES - Sides

I have been on a pesto kick this past month. I cannot get enough of the stuff. In years past my springtime addiction has consisted of cilantro and limes. Not sure why the sudden change. None the less I am not complaining. Pistachio pesto is a new take on the traditional basil pesto. It is a perfect green dish to celebrate St. Patrick’s day. Watch the garlic though. Too much will have tender young mouths breathing fire.

Source: Parents Magazine December 2010
1 cup packed spinach
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup shelled pistachio nuts
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 clove garlic,
12 oz. dried pasta, cooked and drained

Put the spinach, oil, nuts, cheese, salt and garlic in the food processor.
Process until smooth. Toss with pasta and serve.

Makes 6 cups

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March Website Review: The Thrifty Crafter

– johanna | March 1st, 2011


Photo: Property of The Thrifty Crafter

A Bargain Shopper’s Guide to Expressing Creativity

This months website review is on one of my three favorite go to craft sites: The Thrifty Crafter. The thrifty Crafter offers tantalizing recipes like Halibut and Chickpea Salad or a Sweetharts Sugar Cookies tutorial. You will also find fun zany projects and stylish elegant ideas. My favorite of all and the reason I came across The Thrifty Crafter was the huge paper pom poms.

Happy Entertaining!

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