Entrees (Vegetarian)

4 Easy Meals When You’re in a Hurry for Vegetarian Friendly Food

Vegetarianism and veganism are on the rise with a combined 8% of people in the US identifying as one of the other.

This is largely due to people becoming more aware of the damaging effects eating meat has on the planet and of the poor welfare conditions animals face.

Are you new to vegetarianism? In this article, we’ll look at vegetarian friendly food that you can whip up in no time.

  1. Curry Is Quick and Delicious

If you’ve never made a curry before, it’s time you tried! Start by adding oil to a pan and throwing in chopped onion and garlic.

Then, add in spices such as a tablespoon of curry powder, garam masala, and half a tablespoon of spices such as turmeric, cumin, and coriander.

Once this is smelling fragrant, you can throw in tinned tomatoes and then any vegetables that you may like! Add coconut milk for a creamy curry.

There are thousands of brilliant curry recipes and once you get good at making your basic curry, it’s simple to throw one together. Cook your rice and it’s ready in under an hour.

  1. Perfect the Spanish Omelette

An omelet is the perfect easy meal. It packs a punch with lots of protein, raises your good cholesterol, helps maintain your eyesight, and is very filling!

But, have you ever made a Spanish omelet? This may take some perfecting but once you’ve practiced it a few times, it’s as quick and easy to make as a regular omelet.

You’ll need potatoes, eggs, onion, and oil. Firstly, stew roughly chopped potatoes and onion in a pan with your oil until they’re soft then strain them.

Beat your eggs in another bowl and then pour these in with your strained onions and potatoes. Finally, tip your mixture back into the pan with oil and cook for a few minutes.

Tip your omelet onto a plate and flip it back into the pan to cook the other side. Voila!

  1. Pasta and Tomato Sauce 

This classic Italian dish is still delicious without meat. Make sure you buy fresh tomatoes and basil to make the flavors pop!

Simply add oil and onions to a pan until they turn golden. Then, throw in some chopped garlic, tinned tomatoes, fresh tomatoes, basil, and any other vegetables you fancy. This simple sauce is delicious and can be perfected over time.

  1. Soup Is a Simple yet Delicious Choice

For evenings when you simply want to get home and put on your pajamas, there is no better dinner than soup and crusty bread.

You can make soup from a huge range of vegetables. Simply cook them all together, throw them in a blender, and then freeze the leftovers!

Do you need more inspiration for vegetarian foods? Check out this website for more ideas!

Vegetarian Friendly Food Is Easy to Find

Meat is everywhere in our society but it is much easier to avoid than you think. Hundreds of meat alternatives have been made if you need that fix.

Alternatively, look for world cuisines that aren’t as heavy on meat consumption. Countries such as Italy, Taiwan, Lebanon, and Sri Lanka have hundreds of meal options that are vegetarian and delicious.

Have you enjoyed this article about easy vegetarian friendly food? Visit the rest of the website for more interesting foodie content!

Entrees (Vegetarian)

Baby Led Weaning, Take Two

I’ll admit it, I get heart palpitations every time I feed my child.  It has gotten better, but when I first started Cam on solids, the Baby Led Weaning way, I was nervous!This was the first solid I gave Cam; a banana that was still half in its peel (which was supposed to make for easier grabbing). He just stared at it.

When I did Baby Led Weaning with Paige, it was different.  I wasn’t sure why, but now I understand.  First, it was my first time so I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I was sort of naive and uninformed, I was much better at going with the flow.  But really the main reason why it seemed a little less scary for me the first time, was that Paige was a more delicate eater.  She would nibble on foods and take tiny bites.  Cameron? He shovels the entire piece of whatever I give him in his mouth.Here, have a pancake. Ok mom, I’ll take this entire piece to the face!

So after a while I sort of went against what the Baby Led Weaning book suggested; which is to give them the whole piece. I started breaking things up and sort of mashing them a bit (such as the beans below).I do give him large chunks of soft things like avocado (ripe) and banana (ripe), but the kid still has trouble with the idea of not putting the entire thing in his mouth!With Paige I used to give her rice cakes with puree smeared on top (to sort of soften it a bit), but not Cameron. I did that once, and gave him one quarter piece of a large rice cake, and he put the entire thing in him mouth and it got stuck. I had to reach in, (which you’re never supposed to do), and pull it out!

Something else I’ve done, which I also did with Paige, is offer some purees.  According to Baby Led Weaning you shouldn’t give purees because it confuses them; purees don’t need chewed, so then they get used to purees and are thrown off when you give them whole pieces of food again.  This is why I never give completely pureed food, I always make sure there are chunks.  I also allow him to spoon feed himself so he is in control the whole time (again, it’s a mess).  I gave him some Daiya Blueberry yogurt (below) with chunks of blueberries.  Holy mess (see my Instagram video!)I’m a believer in doing what works, and for me offering a few purees here and there works.  After all, Cam’s babysitter didn’t really feel comfortable giving him whole foods at six months.  That’s understandable. I packed oat cereal for her to give to him, and asked her to make sure it was always a little chunky/lumpy (gross) rather than really runny.  He did well.  It’s also nice to use purees as a way to get his iron in.  After about six months infant iron stores are almost depleted.  If you arne’t feeding them formula it’s probably  good idea to supplement with iron (always ask your doctor first) and this is especially true for infants who were born premature (like Cam, he was born at 36 weeks) because infant iron stores build up during the last three months in-utero.So, I’ve yet to buy any baby food and am hoping to keep it that way.  We are heading to Chicago at the end of the month and all I’m bringing are my breasts and some Cheerios. I will be giving him food off of our own plates.My only complaint about BLW is that it’s messy. But, let’s be honest, infant and toddler meal times are messy regardless.Paige gets a kick out of watching Cameron eat.  I’ll tell you what, 99% of the time I have to take him out of his highchair, strip him down to his birthday suit, and throw him in the tub (ie: our kitchen sink).So what have we been feeding him, you ask?  Paige has been feeding him ice cream….But here is what he normally eats;

Breakfast (always starts with breastmilk, then possibly includes some of the following)

  • Cheerios (~2 Tbsp)
  • Scrambled eggs
  • Infant oatmeal cereal mixed with peanut butter or almond butter and pumpkin puree
  • Whole Greek yogurt mixed with almond butter and cinnamon
  • Frozen waffle (feels good on his gums)
  • Homemade whole grain pancakes
  • Kiwi (he’s in love wiht kiwi)
  • Banana

Lunch and Dinner (always starts with breast milk, then possibly some of the following)

  • Anything from the list above
  • Pasta with spaghetti sauce (messy!)
  • Canned carrots, green beans, or black beans (no salt added)
  • Avocado
  • Tuna patties (without the Greek yogurt dip)
  • Ground beef or turkey (sometimes made into burgers, he loves this!)
  • Roasted veggies with a dash of salt and oil; brussels sprouts, broccoli and butternut squash so far

I’m excited to continue this journey with Cameron because I can already tell he is more into food than Paige was (she eats like a bird).  I’m still convinced Baby Led Weaning is the best way to start babies on solids, but I know it’s not for everyone.  The gagging is scary (although keep in mind it doesn’t increase choking risk, in fact it probably reduces it!), and it’s messy, and it’s just so far removed from everything we were ever taught about introducing solids.  But, after reading the book I am truly excited about it and glad both my kids got to be introduced to food this way.  Please feel free to e-mail me or send me a note on Facebook if you have any questions of your own.

Entrees (Vegetarian)

Your Toddler Probably Doesn’t Eat Enough Vegetables

And just to be clear, you shouldn’t completely blame yourself! But, there are ways to improve your toddler’s chances of growing up with a more positive relationship with the “dreaded” greens and yellows they often slowly learn to despise.  I’ll get to that in a moment, but first, check out this article that described a survey of moms of 6-12-month-olds and their eating habits.  One in four of the mothers reported their children ate zero vegetables on days they were surveyed.  Not even a bite.  This is such telling information because that is the exact age when it’s most important to start introducing vegetables to your kids!  Sure, they probably won’t eat every last bite, they may even spit some out, but having them available on their plate at every meal is one important step in developing a healthy eater (breastfeeding is another good way to introduce them to the taste of vegetables, read my blog post).

My experience with Paige and vegetables has been pretty great (but not perfect).  Here are some vegetables I know she will always eat;

  • Broccoli
  • Pumpkin
  • Cooked carrots (must be cooked or she spits them out!)
  • Asparagus

Here are some vegetables that she eats sometimes, but not always

  • Corn
  • Brussel sprouts (she prefers them roasted…don’t we all?!)
  • Zucchini
  • Spinach (wilted with oil and a dash of salt)
  • Mushroom
  • Butternut squash

When Paige first started eating solids, we basically only gave her vegetables! She made a mess, but that’s the point. They explore everything about food.

As Paige has gotten older and more mature, she has shown us that she has a voice and will often repeat the opinions of her daycare colleagues that, “vegetables are yucky”.  Of course, the key is to not react and just continue giving her veggies (and eating them ourselves, in front of her).  Here are some of my tips for raising a good vegetable eater;

  • Read this blog post about the recommendations for servings of fruits and veggies for your toddler
  • Don’t ever give up on a specific vegetable. If you and your family eat green beans often, for example, and one day your toddler doesn’t eat them, don’t give up, continue feeding him/her green beans.  Did you know that it can take up to ten times of offering a food before your toddler will accept it?  Ok, so maybe he/she will end up not ever liking green beans, and that’s fine, but don’t give up too soon.
  • If your child eats a vegetable one day, but not the next, it doesn’t mean they don’t like it.I’ve given Paige zucchini before and she’s eaten it by the fistful, but other times she turns her nose at it.  I make zero comments.  I simply continue giving it to her when I make it for the family (I’m not going to make one type of vegetable for me and Nick, and then another for her!). If she eats it, great, if not, I’ll eat it myself and make no comment.
  • Don’t watch your child eat. And by this, I mean don’t sit and stare. I’ve been guilty of giving Paige a plate of food, wondering if she will eat what’s on it, and sitting there across from her watching her eat.  She, of course, notices this and takes advantage of “playing tough”; “Nope, I don’t want this mommy!”.  She notices when I am watching her intently so she does the typical toddler thing and does the opposite of what I want her to do.
  • Don’t force your child to eat a vegetable they don’t want to eat. This only makes eating vegetables more stressful for your toddler and may add an element of stress.  The only time I believe this to be acceptable is when, for example, your child has eaten more of his/her meal (including a couple of bites of vegetables) and then asks for dessert without finishing his/her plate.  If they have already indicated that they will eat the vegetable, I think it’s ok to ask them to take 1-2 more bites before dessert.
  • Let them eat sugar. I had a friend text me not too long ago and ask me when I first gave Paige desserts.  She wanted my opinion on giving her one and half-year-old ice cream.  I let her know that I’ve been allowing Paige to eat dessert since just before she turned one.  Her one-year birthday cake was not the first time she’d had cake.  I guess I believe that a healthy relationship with food means not avoiding anything.  If Paige eats her dinner, she gets a small dessert (and I don’t make a big deal about it such as “finish your vegetables first!”.  If she doesn’t eat her dinner, no dessert. Period. No discussion).  Just like I tell my adult clients that deprivation isn’t the key, it’s not the key for children either!  Allow them an occasional (or daily, in my opinion!) treat.

Don’t be fooled. She didn’t like the marshmallow; burnt or not.

  • Avoid juice. Your child may ask for juice instead of whole fruit and veggies, and that’s just no Bueno.   They can drink juice when they are old enough to make their own decisions about what goes into their bodies.  I’m one of those dietitians that believe fruit juice has no place in a healthy diet (aside from the occasional 100% orange juice, with the pulp of course!). Juice will also fill them up and not leave room for….you guessed it, fruits and veggies!
  • Make sure you and your spouse also eat vegetables. Need I say more?
  • Find some good veggie-loaded recipes and make them with your toddler!  Need some guidance?  Check out my picture book called “Cooking with Paige”!  This book is geared towards kids who are in first through fifth grade, but of course any child (younger or older) could find it entertaining.  The book takes you on a trip through the grocery store and ends in the kitchen where Paige and her dad make some veggie-loaded meatloaf, a quinoa salad, and ice cream with coconut whipped cream.  It also contains some great “healthful” resources”. If this doesn’t inspire your kids to try some new veggies, I don’t know what will!
Entrees (Vegetarian)

How Not To Get Too Few Vegetables and Fruits

In case you didn’t know, the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables per day for the average American is 5-9 servings (~1/2 cup per serving) or 5 cups per day.  So, here are some things you shouldn’t do if you ever want to reach this goal!

  • Do NOT leave for an early morning meeting assuming they will have a breakfast consisting of any type of produce whatsoever. DO assume they will have pastry’s and bagels (even if you’re attending a nutrition conference, I swear)
  • Do NOT sit down for a meal at your favorite lunch joint and assume that the lettuce and tomato on your chicken sandwich will add up to a full serving.
  • Do NOT wait until your child is one year old to stop giving him/her purees.  Hello, introduce them to texture sooner than later!  If your child hates fruits/veggies you are more likely to not buy them for yourself! Try Baby Led Weaning.
  • Do NOT assume your waiter knows that you want to substitute the fries for broccoli.  You must specify.

**NOTE: Do NOT assume that broccoli will be steamed.  It will probably be drowned in butter; again, you must specify **

  • Do NOT go to the supermarket, buy a bunch of fun new fruits and vegetables (because they looked so pretty!) and assume you will do something with them.  You must have a recipe in mind, or at least write yourself a note to use that produce before it goes bad!
  • Do NOT be afraid to think outside the box.  Stuff those zucchini with something (who says you can only stuff birds?!). Try this crab stuffed zucchini recipe
  • Do NOT assume airports will be equipped with fruits and veggies.  Pack some things like Larabars, apples, bananas, clementines, carrots, sweet potato chips (baked), dried fruits (no added sugar)
  • Do NOT let a meal go by that doesn’t include at least one fruit or vegetable
  • Do NOT count your LTO (lettuce, tomato, onion) as a vegetable, it’s merely there for crunch and flavor
  • Do NOT count your large iceburg salad with ranch dressing, cheese and croutons as “four servings of vegetable”…it’s probably (barely) two

**NOTE: Two cups green leafy vegetables count as 1-cup.  Aim for five total cups of F/V per day)

  • Do NOT believe the nutrition bars that claim to count as “three servings of fruits and vegetables”
  • Do NOT believe that “veggie chips” are healthy (although I’m a fan of sweet potato chips, at least they contain an excellent source of vitamin A!). I also love these…

Beanitos also does a great job; these chips are just made of BEANS! Take a Beano my friends…

  • That reminds me, do NOT assume all veggies will cause you indigestion!  Beano is great.

Works with broccoli, brussel sprouts, beans, tofu, yes yes yes

  • Do NOT be afraid of new kitchen gadgets (veggie spiralizers are my new favorite thing. Not sure if you’ll ever use it?  Then buy this handheld one that is less than twenty bucks!)
  • Do NOT ignore canned or frozen vegetables and fruits.  As long as there is no salt or sugar added (in the frozen versions) or minimal amounts (as in canned, look for low sodium or light syrup) they can often be better for you than fresh!
  • Do NOT believe that you resveratrol supplement will protect you from everything from cancer to heart disease.  Fruits and vegetables contain thousands of phyto (plant) chemicals that we haven’t even researched yet!  Why isolate the one we do know about and just consume that?  No good will come out of it (in fact it can be harmful) Just drink a glass of wine people.
  • Do NOT think that just because your main entree already has vegetables or fruits, having more on the side isn’t necessary.  Load em’ up!

Click to see recipe!

All right that’s it.  See ya next week for some fun news. In the meantime, eat your fruits and vegetables.

Entrees (Vegetarian)

Baby Led Weaning; Two Months In! Tips and Tricks

We are a little more than two months into our Baby Led Weaning experience.  Like all things that have come with being a new parent, this has been exciting and terrifying at the same time.  Today’s post is focused on some tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way.  I’m no expert, by any means, but I do feel like my profession as a dietitian has helped me a bit and has motivated me to stick this through.  Truth be told, it hasn’t been easy!Flank steak, grilled to perfection, not seasoned at all. I cook it until there is just a little bit of pink left because I typically have to reheat the steak when I serve it to her (6 seconds is all it takes) and by then it’s perfect. She sucks the juices until it’s jerky! haha This is a great way for her to get some iron.

You know how the baby books say that a small handful of babies simply don’t like food, and might take a few months before they really start accepting it?  Well, that would be Paige.  As I said in my first post about Baby Led Weaning, the first time I tried feeding her purees she really didn’t like them (and I did wait until she was just about six months, as is now recommended).  I kept giving them to her over and over again, to no avail.  Still two months later, she’s not a huge fan of food, and much prefers breast milk, but I’m not worried.  She’s gaining weight and reaching all appropriate milestones. And, thanks to this approach, she has tried many foods, even if she hasn’t ingested them all, and she is getting to know the flavors and textures and is learning how to grasp like a champ.  Below are some photos of Paige, my seven and a half month old, eating some of her favorite foods.  After the photos you’ll be able to read some tips and tricks I’ve learned, and a few other comments about Baby Led Weaning, should you be interested in trying it with your little one. I’d like to make note that most of what I’ve learned about this approach has come from the Baby Led Weaning book, by Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett.  Fantastic resource!She’s such a carnivore! Ok, so this steak is a bit more pink than that last photo. She’s still alive.  I’m only worried about pink chicken and poultry, not red meat.She loves broccoli, especially the flowery head. I always steam it but keep it pretty al dente.She loves strawberries. I give them to her whole. I try to buy organic, since they are “dirtier” but if not I am always sure to wash them well with cold water.

I made some oat and peanut butter bars (see previous post) and cooked them for a little less time so they were chewy. She liked them, but I think they are best for a more advanced BLW baby, as the small pieces sort of scared me. She handled them well though!

Just like her parents, Paige loves peanut butter. I have given her all of the top 8 allergen foods, as we do not have food allergies in our family and the latest research suggests it’s just fine. So far so good. Notice she is grabbing onto the stem of the banana. Keeping the skin on and only exposing part of the edible banana helps them grasp it, or else they just squeeze it into mush!

So now that we are a couple months in, here are some tips if you’re hoping to start this yourself.

  • Some other foods we’ve tried:French toast, scrambled eggs, plain yogurt (Greek!), apples, red and green peppers, cooked carrot, clementines, kiwis, sweet potato chunks, chicken legs (broiled), sourdough bread, pasta/spaghetti with light red sauce
  • They say it’s messy, and it is, so be prepared!  The first thing I did was go out to the store and buy a plastic tarp. We put it under her highchair before every meal.  It gets messy, we take it outside and clean it.  This is much easier than cleaning the floor each time.  Also, we always plan baths after dinner (duh!) and sometimes we just put her in her highchair naked (with a diaper of course. We aren’t fools).  Easy.
  • Just because the book says one food might be a good choice, it may not be a good choice for your   I read, on a blog, not in the book, that small uncooked oats would be fine, and that chia seeds would probably be ok too. While I think some babies could handle them right away, Paige couldn’t.  She wasn’t ready for them when I first gave them too her, they were too small and foreign.  Now, at almost 8 months, she’s ready.
  • Think outside the box, and have fun with your food choices, don’t aim for perfection! I see a lot of blogs and/or Intagram posts/photos of foods that are cut into perfect shapes and lined up perfectly on the babies highchair tray.  Umm, not necessary.  While it may look pretty, it’s ok if you don’t make every meal look perfect, it’s going to be all over the place soon (plus, who has time for that?!).  I literally offer Paige four pieces of food at each sitting (again, this may be different for your baby depending on their appetite, but Paige does well with just four pieces).  I typically do a fruit piece, a vegetable piece, a grain (bread, or French toast or spaghetti) and a protein (chicken legs or flank steak or sometimes scrambled eggs).  Once those pieces have been manipulated enough, and are no longer in appropriate form for her to grasp, she’s finished.  If she wants more I’ll get her more, sure, but that’s rare.
  • She/he will gag, and you have to be ok with it.  You will also have at least one moment when you freak out and shake.  I remember the first time this happened with Paige.  I literally shook for about ten minutes after it happened.  She was eating a rice cake and started gagging (note: not choking) and her face turned bright red.  I freaked out.  She kept coughing (a good sign) and eventually she threw up and the large piece of rice cake came out with the vomit.  I actually told Nick that night that we were done with BLW, I was too terrified.  But, we continued and it’s been ok since.
  • You will meet naysayers who don’t think your baby is getting “enough nutrition”.All I have to say about this is read the book.  The book explains everything so well.  To sum it up, we are sort of brainwashed into thinking that babies “need a certain amount of solids by the time they reach six months”.  This is just not true.  Until about 9 or 10 months the majority of their nutrition will be coming form milk, regardless of how much they are fed!
  • Your baby may not actually ingest much of the food you give him/her.  Most of the first couple months is about exploring textures, flavors, and smells, not learning how to chew and swallow food.  Remember your baby is still getting most, if not all of their nutriiton from breast milk or formula (or both), as I said above.  As long as your baby is growing and reaching milestones, have no fear.  Let meal time be more about fun, playing, and learning to have a great relationship with food.
  • It’s ok to try purees in between. The book suggests not to, but I did/do, and Paige is still thriving and hasn’t stopped eating foods on her own.  Just like when my lactation consultant said I shouldn’t ever use a bottle or else Paige wouldn’t nurse, I went against the rules and so far it’s not made a difference.  Actually by giving her more foods with a spoon she is able to explore more foods and flavors faster.  She’s not really ingesting much when she feeds herself, just exploring flavors and textures.  When I feed her purees she is not only tasting the food but swallowing too.  I make a point to only offer foods with a spoon once she is finished with her BLW/exploring. She typically takes a few bites and then lets me know when she is finished.  Most of the time I give her pureed purple carrots, peas or oatmeal.  She also gets fed oatmeal at lunch by the babysitter.  I’m ok with this.

Have comments or questions? Let me know below! I’ll see you next week with a delicious and simple tuna burger recipe (so good that even my husband ate it. I promise, that’s saying a lot!).

Entrees (Vegetarian)

Simple Quinoa and Roasted Vegetable Side Dish

Good morning, and happy Monday!  Today I have a recipe for you that I know you’ll enjoy.  Not only is this recipe low FODMAPs and gluten-free, but I can safely say it’s a great recipe for your baby who may be trying the “Baby Led Weaning” approach (or for your infant or toddler who has made it past purees).  The quinoa can be a little scary for young ones (at least, for me, being new to this) so I just game Paige the veggies and whipped off the quinoa.  As someone with a 6-month old, a husband, and a full-time job, I don’t have much time on my hand for blogging, let alone tacking great photos.  That’s my excuse for the two photos below.  I used my phone.  I’ve been away from the serious blogging for a while so the camera didn’t make its way out.  I apologize.

Anyway, about the recipe…..I used to be afraid of a fennel bulb.  It’s large and somewhat ugly, really.  Then I started tasting it in dishes and realizing that this low-carb vegetable is full of flavor, versatile and has just the perfect amount of CRUNCH to satisfy any craving (especially when doctored up with a bit of oil, salt, and pepper).

This dish was easy and also could be modified to fit your own personal likes and dislikes.  For example, don’t like zucchini? Try carrots.  Don’t like red pepper (you’re crazy)?  Use cherry tomatoes (just be careful when they burst in your mouth and are hotter than sin).  You get it.  Really, you could use whatever vegetables you want, as long as they are sturdy and “roastable” (think potatoes, parsnips, sweet potato, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, turnips).  If you’re sticking to a strictly low FODMAPs diet, however, tomatoes, potatoes, parsnips, turnips, red pepper, and fennel would be your best choices.  The others listed could be used, but you’ll have to moderate your intake (who wants to do that?!).

4.0 from 1 review

Simple Quinoa and Roasted Vegetable Side Dish


  • 4 bell peppers (any color), seeded and cut into chunks
  • 2 large zucchini, cut into chunks
  • 2 small fennel bulb, cut into thin wedges
  • 5 Tbsp. olive oil **
  • 4 tsp. minced fresh rosemary
  • 2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 2 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken stock **
  • 2 cloves chopped garlic **
  • 4 Tbsp. flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • ⅔ cup pine nuts, toasted
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 435 degrees. Put the peppers, zucchini, and fennel in a roasting pan large enough to hold the vegetables in a single layer.
  2. Drizzle the oil over the vegetables and sprinkle with the rosemary and thyme. Season well with the salt and pepper (if you are using this for a young child use very little salt!) and mix well with clean hands. Roast in a preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, until tender and lightly charred.
  3. Meanwhile, put the quinoa into a saucepan with the stock and garlic. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes or according to the package directions. Remove from the heat, but keep the pan covered for an additional 7 minutes to let the grains swell. Fluff with a fork.
  4. Remove the vegetables from the oven. Add the quinoa to the roasting pan. Add the parsley and pine nuts and toss together. Serve warm or cold.


** NOTE: If you are following a low FODMAPs diet be sure to look for a low FODMAPs stock (find a recipe on my low FODMAPs tab. Another option is Progresso Tuscan Chicken Broth or if you have Giant Eagle; Valu Time Reduced Sodium Chicken Broth). Also, omit the garlic cloves and use a Tuscan or garlic-infused olive oil to replace the flavor.

Nutrition Information

Serving size: 1 cup Calories: 300 Fat: 15 Carbohydrates: 30 Fiber: 6.5 Protein: 9

Enjoy!  And, have a wonderful week.  I’ll be back soon with a one-pot Thai chicken recipe.  Another great low FODMAPs and a baby-friendly recipe for your files (i.e.: your Pinterest page).

Entrees (Vegetarian)

A Look Into Baby Led Weaning

I recently had flashbacks of those early days after Paige was born. Those days when I realized that the whole breastfeeding thing wasn’t going to be as easy as I had imagined.  Those days when I thought I could just hold her up to my breast and she’d latch without a second thought.  You see, once Paige turned six months I was just so excited to start feeding her solids. I had done the research, decided what I was going to feed her, and when.  I had a whole system figured out (what? I’m a dietitian, that’s what I do!).  I was literally counting down the days until she was six months, as if that was some magical age that meant she could start eating solids and would accept them without hesitation.  Again, I was naive.

She didn’t like solids.  And by solids I mean purees.  I figured I’d start her on purees like all the books said; and, quite frankly, like I had started when I was an infant (at that time it was normal to start purees at four months!).  I bought her some fortified oats, and then made some pureed butternut squash, carrots, and peas.  This was the face I got in return for many, many days (see below).  Weeks even.  To be blunt, she wasn’t having it.  She thought I was playing a game.  Nick and I tried and tried and tried, to the point where she would start to cry and then I simply couldn’t continue because I didn’t want her to hate eating and get stressed out whenever I put her in her highchair.

She enjoyed sitting in the chair though, and looking cute.  As long as we weren’t trying to get her to eat, she was happy.  I even started giving her pieces of really soft avocado.  I was thinking a modified “Baby Led Weaning” approach might be better.  Still, she wasn’t having it.  She was just making a mess.

So, I completely got rid of all purees and decided to strictly use the “baby lead weaning” (BLW) for a bit, and have her feed herself with her hands.  I went on Amazon, bought the book.  Done.

So far, so good.  She still hasn’t ingested much (as in, she’s six and a half months and has probably eaten four tablespoons of actual food) but she’s actually grabbing hold of the food, putting it towards her mouth, chewing on it with her gums and not spitting it out (at least not all of it, some still comes back!).  To me, this is success.

It’s true that a majority of the food ends up on her lap or on the floor (we have it protected with a plastic sheet) but still, I feel so far this approach has been better for us, and for her.  Here is what we have given her (ie: displayed on her highchair food tray):

Banana (still in the peel, see below)

Soft avocado

Well-cooked baby carrots

Well-cooked broccoli florets

Oatmeal cereal cookies (take 1-cup infant oat cereal, 1 banana, mix well and bake 11-13 minutes at 350 degrees)

And just yesterday; rice cakes with smooth natural peanut butter.  You’ve read the latest research on introducing allergens, like nuts, earlier rather than later, right?  She definitely belongs to Nick and me, because she took this PB to the face!

So what the heck did I do with all of this pureed food I Had already made? I found ways to use it.  Oh yes, I’m thrifty and sustainable.  I used the mashed sweet potato and carrots in my breakfast (mixed with oats or greek yogurt.  Don’t judge, it was really tasty!  Remember this post?).

Look how prepared I was with all these colorful purees!

Stay tuned for a follow-up post.  We’re only about 2-weeks into the BLW approach, but I’ll be back with more after a while.  In the meantime I have to really work hard to get her babysitter to understand that we aren’t feeding her purees, but instead whole foods. This is a concept with which she is not yet familiar.

Entrees (Vegetarian)

Cheese and Vegetable Panini (Meatless Monday)

Happy week after Thanksgiving, and official start to the Holiday season.  I hope everyone enjoyed some great family and friend time, and of course some delicious food.  And if you’re a Buckeye, I hope you enjoyed every minute of the game on Saturday when we kicked the butts of that team up north. Of course we did, it’s a tradition.

As you create your holiday wish list this year I’m sure you’re thinking about kitchen gadgets.  Do you ever buy kitchen equiptment and then realize you could have used something else in your kitchen to do the same thing?  We had a couple people come into our workplace last week, trying to sell us something that makes a fruit ice cream, and the whole time I was thinking; “I make this all the time with my food processor!”.  Regardless, the gadget was pretty amazing and not a bad price so I’m sure the convenience factor might sway people to buy it (maybe even me, I mean it was pretty neat) but still, the gadget really wasn’t necessary since I could already make this with what I had in my kitchen. We are just so gadget happy these days.  I don’t know about you but I simply don’t have the space for these gadgets in my kitchen, and whenever I can use one gadget to do two (or more) things, I will!  Case in point; I don’t have a panini maker, but I do own a grill pan (second best option).  I often see panini recipes online and never even thought to use my grill pan until someone told me that’s what they use for paninis.  Duh! It makes sense, I can get the true “panini” marks and everything.I just did one panini at a time, but the recipe said to do two. Don’t be confused, I just don’t listen to recipes sometimes.  I sort of wanted to do a test run first….do you ever do that?  Plus my panini was overflowing with veggies so I felt like it needed its space.  I’m so thoughtful, I know.

5.0 from 1 reviews

Cheese and Vegetable Panini


  • 4 ounces shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup shredded zucchini
  • ½ cup shredded carrot
  • ¼ cup finely chopped red onion **
  • ¼ cup prepared salsa **
  • 1 tablespoon chopped pickled jalapeño pepper, (optional)
  • 8 slices whole-wheat bread **
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil


  1. Have four 15-ounce cans, a medium skillet, and a non-stick skillet (or grill pan!) ready by the stove.
  2. Combine Cheddar, zucchini, carrot, onion, salsa and jalapeño (if using) in a medium bowl. Divide among 4 slices of bread and top with the remaining bread.
  3. Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in the large nonstick skillet (or grill pan if you want those grill marks!) over medium heat. Place 2 paninis in the pan. Place the medium skillet on top of the paninis, then weigh them down with the cans (or whatever you have in your kitchen that is heavy enough to weigh down the paninis). Cook the paninis until golden on one side, about 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low, flip the paninis, replace the top skillet and cans, and cook until the second side is golden, 1 to 3 minutes more. Repeat with another 1 teaspoon oil and the remaining paninis.


** If you want this to be lower in FODMAPs, omit the onion and use a gluten free bread. Also, omit the salsa or use less (~1/8 cup instead of ¼th cup) because salsa has onion and garlic almost 100% of the time. I actually used the full ¼th cup and wasn’t bothered, but for some omitting the salsa is best. Add some flavor back with Texas Pete’s hot sauce if you’d like, it’s a low FODMAPs hot sauce.

Nutrition Information

Serving size: 1 Sandwich Calories: 280 Fat: 13.7 g Saturated fat: 6.8 g Sugar: 4.9 g Sodium: 550 mg Fiber: 4.8 g Protein: 15 g Cholesterol: 30 mg

Nutrition Highlights: Under 300 calories, good source of vitamin C, iron, and fiber, excellent source of calcium and vitamin AI don’t eat bread often, at all, not even gluten free bread.  I tend to get my grains from things like wild rice, brown rice, oats and quinoa.  When I took a bite of this panini I was flooded with endorphins, and thoughts ran through my head such as “Holy cow! Gina, why has it been so long since you’ve had a hot sandwich with hearty bread, overflowing with veggies and cheese?!”.  I knew right away that Nick would love the panini as much as I did.  And I was right.Such a perfect idea for a last minute dinner or lunch.  And if you’d like to make this a vegan panini you could use a vegan cheese such as my favorite; Daiya. It melts well and actually taste pretty similar to the real thing.  I know Daiya cheese would be perfect in this panini.

Question time; Do you have any kitchen gadgets at your house that you know you don’t really need, but you bought anyway? Or, do you want any kitchen gadgets that you know you don’t necessarily need?  For me it’s a soda stream. I want one so bad, but do I need it? No, not at all.  Do I have room for it? Not really.  I guess I’ll have to think of something to get rid of first…. Hmm, anyway, stay tuned for some great recipes coming up this week and next, including a butternut squash and sourdough soup, and the two amazing side dishes I prepared for Thanksgiving (yes, I’m flattering myself by saying they were amazing, but they were!  They were healthy contributions to the table, and people actually truly enjoyed them.  That’s always a win in my book).

Entrees (Vegetarian)

Roasted Red Pepper Dressing with Butternut Squash

We actually just finished our last butternut squash from our garden last weekend. Can you believe it?!  We even gave several squash away, and we still had over 25 squash.  Nick can grow a mean squash, let me tell ya.  So today’s recipe is simply a Roasted Red Pepper Dressing.  It would go well with a spinach salad, or mixed into your favorite vegetable to give it some extra flavor, or I was thinking it would even be delicious drizzled over some hearty pasta (make it a cold or warm dish, either way, yum).  But today I’ve added it to butternut squash, because, well if you read the second sentence of this post you know why.

Roasted Red Pepper Dressing (low FODMAPs)


  • 1 cup jarred roasted red peppers (not in oil!)
  • ¼ cup garlic-infused extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 T sherry vinegar
  • 1 t. smoked paprika
  • ¼ t. salt
  • ¼ t. freshly ground pepper


  1. Blend all ingredients in a blender or Magic Bullet.


If you are lucky and you are not avoiding garlic in your diet, use regular EVOO and add 2 cloves of chopped garlic into the recipe instead of getting the garlic flavor from your oil.

 Low FODMAPs and absolutely delicious. Seriously, one of the best dressings I’ve ever tasted.

I added about 1/3rd cup of the dressing to one cooked and cubed butternut squash.  It was heavenly.   I also added a few chives (Green part only for low FODMAPs) to add extra flavor, although in reality the flavor wasn’t needed, I just thought it looked pretty.

What’s that? This looks like a good Thanksgiving side dish? I agree.  Just be sure to clean-up the sides of the bowl before you serve it.  I cleaned it up in photoshop but for some reason my “cleaned-up photo” isn’t appearing on this post.  Whatever, it’s more realistic this way.  You know, not every dish looks perfect in real life!

 Now that we’re out of butternut I’m starting to get into other squash; acorn and spaghetti.  I can’t wait to post the simple and delicious Greek spaghetti squash casserole I made the other day.  It’s just too bad every time we try to grow spaghetti squash it’s a failure. What’s the deal?!

Happy Monday everyone, make it a good one!

Entrees (Vegetarian)

Stuffed Shells with Pumpkin and Ricotta

Would you ever think to add pumpkin to ricotta shells?  It’s random, right? But of course, as we know, this time of year pumpkin shows up in just about everything (I have a post about this very topic coming up soon… about some major “health halos”!).  You might think that pumpkin-stuffed shells are a healthy entree, but, really, it’s just a little extra vitamin A and other antioxidants, but overall not much.  That being said, I still love pumpkin and love this recipe (and highly recommend it for your next dinner party).  This recipe was so easy, even Nick could prepare it (Zingggg!!!). Sure, there were a lot of steps that took some time, such as stuffing the shells, but come on, the end product was worth it.  The one thing I might change about this recipe is the amount of sauce. I wanted more, and Nick agreed. Maybe just save a bit to serve on top of the finished product once it’s on your plate? I dunno, I’m just a huge fan of red sauce, especially when it’s free of onion and garlic, and still tastes authentic and delicious (that would be the Rao’s Sensitive Formula Sauce).

Do you ever have recipes that suggest putting the shells open-face down? I have seen recipes like that before. This one didn’t say so we made them open-face up.

Stuffed Pumpkin Ricotta Shells


  • 24 Jumbo Pasta Shells **
  • 1 tablespoon(s) Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 22 ounce(s) (2½ cups) Fat-Free Ricotta **
  • 1 can(s) (15-ounce) pumpkin puree
  • 2½ ounce(s) Pecorino Romano, grated (3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 large Egg White
  • 2 clove(s) Garlic, minced **
  • 1 cup(s) Fresh Basil, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon(s) Finely Chopped Fresh Sage
  • 1 teaspoon(s) Salt
  • 1 teaspoon(s) Freshly Ground Pepper
  • 1 jar(s) (26-ounce) Store-Bought Tomato Sauce **


  1. Cook pasta shells according to package instructions; drain. Transfer to a baking sheet and drizzle with oil. Set aside and let cool.
  2. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, stir together ricotta, pumpkin, ¾ cup pecorino Romano, and remaining ingredients, except tomato sauce.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread sauce in bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Fill each pasta shell with about 3 tablespoons ricotta-pumpkin mixture and arrange in pan, open-face up. Cover pan with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
  4. Remove foil, sprinkle shells with remaining pecorino, and bake for 15 minutes more. (If desired, stuff shells the night before and refrigerate overnight in an airtight container, in between layers of plastic wrap; arrange shells on sauce right before baking.)


** If you are following a low FODMAPs diet, be aware that the shells contain wheat (unless you buy a gluten or wheat-free variety) and thus contain FODMAPs. However, most people should be able to handle 1-2 shells in a sitting. Also, if you are lactose intolerant you may want to use the Lactaid brand of cottage cheese instead of ricotta (make sure to strain the cottage cheese first). The romano contains lactose, but very little. Also, omit the garlic and use a garlic-infused olive oil to replace the flavor. Lastly, use Rao’s Sensitive Formula sauce for the tomato sauce, or make your own (see my tomato sauce recipe on my low FODMAPs page)

Nutrition Information

Serving size: 3 shells Calories: 321 Fat: 9 g Carbohydrates: 45 g Sodium: 977 mg Fiber: 6 g Protein: 22 g Cholesterol: 19 mg

Nutrition Highlights:  Under 350 calories (not bad for such an amazing dish!), and an excellent source of fiber.  If you’re worried about the sodium (it’s high….) omit the added salt.  There should be plenty of salt in the cheese, shells, and sauce, who needs more?  When I make this again, I will omit the salt, for sure.

We topped the shells with some dried basil, for a nice photo.  The dried basil was actually a pleasant surprise (delicious).  I hope you make these and enjoy them as much as we did!  And before you leave today, don’t forget to check out my Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo Goodie Bag giveaway.  Check out all this loot!!  Have a great Tuesday everyone.