Giveaway Winners!

Rabbit, rabbit! I can’t believe it’s already February.

Well, the giveaway is over and I’ve got two winners who are going to get some free Barilla pasta and aprons!

Congrats to Karen Fitz and Betsy Kindblade! I chose their responses with the random number generator.

I hope you all have a great weekend.




I was delighted a few weeks ago when the good peeps at Barilla contacted me about creating a healthy recipe for the new year and doing a pasta giveaway. They are generously offering several boxes of free pasta and a Barilla apron to two of my readers! Woot! More details on how to enter after the recipe below.

We eat a ton of pasta around here, seeing as how I was a vegetarian for a long, long time and I still don’t really know how to cook meat. Pasta is basically our meat.

Barilla sent me some boxes of new varieties of pasta to test out, and they were awesome. I’ve always used the Barilla Plus; have you tried it? It’s pasta with extra protein, fiber and omega 3s added. I’ve switched between that and a whole wheat pasta for years. But recently the 9 year old has told me he doesn’t like the whole wheat pasta anymore. He’s been eating it for forever and a fortnight, but suddenly he doesn’t like it. Feh. But he’ll still eat the Barilla Plus.

What I hadn’t tried, though, were the veggie pasta and the white fiber pasta. The veggie pasta has pureed vegetables in it, and the white fiber appears to have some whole wheat flour mixed in—they bill it as a white pasta with extra fiber, but on the ingredients list there’s whole wheat flour, so I’m guessing that’s where the extra fiber comes from. Which is great; much better than some kind of artificial added fiber.

As you know from my month of resolutions, one thing I’m trying to do is lose a little weight and eat a little healthier. So when I make pasta, I pair it with as many veggies as I can. I use just as many veggies as I do pasta, in a 1 to 1 ratio, if you will. I decided to create a dish that included our family’s favorite vegetables and as much healthy stuff as possible. Here’s what I wanted to achieve:

  • include healthy veggies
  • include something everyone likes
  • make it a one pot meal
  • incorporate a vegetable protein

Hence was born Pasta with Kale and Mushrooms. Everyone loved it!


  • 1 bunch kale, washed, stems removed, and torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 12 oz. sliced mushrooms
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 1/2 c. pomegranate seeds
  • 1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • chunk of Parmesan cheese
  • 1 box Barilla White Fiber pasta (I used mini penne)
  • salt and pepper
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Put all the kale inside and blanch it for 5 minutes. Remove from the water with a slotted spoon or chinese strainer, and set aside. Bring the water to a boil again. Cook the pasta according to the package directions in this water.
  2. Meanwhile, add the olive oil to a large pan over high heat. Add the onions and mushrooms with a dash of salt. Cook until the mushrooms release their liquid, the liquid evaporates, and the mushrooms begin to brown.
  3. Add the kale to the mushroom mixture and cook until any of the liquid from the kale leaves evaporates.
  4. Add the cannellini beans to the mixture and cook for one minute. Remove from heat.
  5. In a large bowl, mix the pasta, the mushroom and kale mixture, and the pomegranate seeds. Toss well and add more salt and/or pepper to taste. Top with slivers of Parmesan cheese shaved off the block.
Does anything smell better than sauteing onions?

Does anything smell better than sauteing onions?

A few notes to add:

  • You can use more or less pasta to your taste. I used only 3/4 of a box, but adjust it so that your ratio of pasta to vegetables is to your liking.
  • You could use up to 2 bunches of kale; it wilts down significantly.

Enjoy! The whole family ate this up. And it’s super healthy!

Now, to the GIVEAWAY! If you’d like to enter, like me on Facebook and leave a comment there telling us about your favorite healthy pasta dish. Straight up tomato sauce on farfalle? Turkey lasagna? A reinvented mac and cheese? We’re dying to know. The giveaway will be open until next Wednesday at 5pm PST. I’ll choose the winner by random generator  on Thursday. Make sure to check back then!

P.S. — The official stuff: Barilla sent me pasta to play with, but I was in no other way compensated for this post. My opinions are all my own. You know the drill.


While there are few things I am proud of as a parent, I am happy that my kids eat vegetables every day. I’ve spent a good deal of my parental meal planning time coming up with ideas for vegetables that my kids will not only eat, but will enjoy.

In general, if your kids will absolutely not eat vegetables, you are probably going to have some work ahead of you. Research shows that it takes many introductions of a particular food before a child will eat it; a nutrionist at Tufts suggests a “rule of 15″—introduce a food 15 times before your child might accept it.

Hopefully, though, these vegetable sides might be a little easier for kids to try.

1.  Cheesy broccoli

(Image: Share My Kitchen)

When my kids were little, I used to put cheese on their broccoli all the time. Not cheese sauce, which in my opinion tastes rather bleh. Real cheese. After steaming it, I’d simply put a small piece of cheese (usually I’d tear off a small piece of a sliced cheese, like muenster or havarti) on top, and then I’d cover the whole batch with the pot I’d just used to steam it. That trapped the heat from the cooked broccoli and melted the cheese. And my kids loved it.

2.  Maple Carrots

It doesn’t get much sweeter and delicious than maple-glazed carrots. You can cook them to whatever texture your kids like and adjust the sweetness, too. For my recipe, see here. You can even add a little brown sugar while cooking to sweeten even further.

3.  Roasted asparagus

(Image: Simply Recipes)

I’ve tried steamed asparagus before, but roasted is so much more delicious, and my kids like it better, too. I simply coat the spears in olive oil, toss a little salt over them, and stick them in the oven for 5 – 10 minutes at 400º (how long you put them in depends on the thickness and how tender your kids will like them). It’s one of my kids’ favorite vegetable dishes.

4.  Zucchini Coins

Pretty much anything breaded tastes good, right? My Zucchini Coins are simply thin slices of zucchini that you bread with healthy stuff and bake. Calling them coins only adds to the mystique and can help get a kid to try something they might be wary of. For my recipe, see here.

5.  Pumpkin Nuggets

Probably the most unusual of the vegetable dishes, Pumpkin Nuggets might seem odd at first. But bear with me. Pumpkin is a super food, and since it’s not an easy vegetable to serve, I came up with this recipe. It’s really quite delicious. Kind of like moist pumpkin cookies. And since it doesn’t resemble a dreaded green vegetable, sometimes kids are willing to try it. My recipe is here.

What’s your go-to vegetable for your kids?

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Hi, peeps!

I’d like to introduce a new Friday column I’m working on that I’m calling “Five on Friday.”  I know, isn’t that unique and clever?

Anyhoo, every Friday I will give you a list of five things.  They may be anything from tips to cool products to fun links.  But hopefully they will be of use or interest to y’all.

I’m kicking it off with my list of five ways to get your kids to eat broccoli.  I’ve chosen broccoli because it’s one of the healthiest vegetables and because my kids have been successfully eating it for years.  We probably eat broccoli about three or four times a week.

If your kids won’t eat broccoli, and you are interested in changing that, here are my five tips!

(Image: Flickr member JACoulter licensed for use under Creative Commons)

1.  Put soy sauce on it.  This is how my five year old prefers to eat his broccoli.  I only put a little on, but that’s enough to enhance the flavor, and he eats it willingly and happily.

2.  Call them trees.  This is an oldie but a goodie.  Sometimes just changing the name of something makes it more intriguing.  Obviously, this won’t work with the most intractable vegetable naysayers, but perhaps combined with some other tricks, it might send them over the edge.  I like to present it with no irony or explanation: “Ok, boys, tonight we’re having pasta, apples, and trees.”  Then they starting thinking, “Is Mom crazy?  Did she just say trees?”  Crazy like a fox, suckas.

3.  Put cheese on it.  Isn’t everything better with cheese?  I think this is how I got my kids to eat broccoli in the first place.  For the first six months to a year of their broccoli consumption, I would put a little melted cheese on it.  Eventually, I got tired of that extra step, and by the time I did they were willing to eat it without the cheese.  My technique?  I would steam the broccoli and immediately upon taking it out of the pot, I’d sprinkle some grated cheese on top.  Then, I’d cover it with the upside down pot, and within a minute or two the heat from the cooked broccoli would melt the cheese.  Voilà!

4.  Make it a game or competition.  I know, I probably shouldn’t be promoting competitive vibes with food.  But sibling peer pressure can be a force for good when it comes to healthy eating.  My one caveat is that I never make the competition a race, since I’m terrified of choking and I don’t want them scarfing their food.  Instead, it can be something like “Who can eat that piece of broccoli most politely?”  or “Who can eat more pieces of broccoli using only his left hand?”  I’m sure you all have better ideas for challenging your kids to eat what’s good for them.

5.  Make them apple trees with ketchup.  Someone just mentioned this idea to me, and I think it’s kind of brilliant.  It’s kind of a combination of calling them trees and putting something they like on it.  Ketchup can be a good motivator, too, and if you put a few tiny drops on a piece of broccoli, suddenly you’ve got apple trees.  I haven’t tried it, but I thought it sounded like a great strategy.

Do your kids eat broccoli?  Have you done anything brilliant to encourage them?  Don’t keep it to yourself… let us know in the comments!