2012 Foodie Highlights, 5 Family Health Resolutions for 2013, and a Veggie-Filled Recipe for Spinach Mac & Cheese

2012 Foodie Highlights, 5 Family Health Resolutions for 2013, and a Veggie-Filled Recipe for Spinach Mac & Cheese2012 was a whirlwind year filled with fun foodie adventures, Janice’s mega kitchen makeover, a Best Culinary Podcast nomination from IACP, and the exciting news that we won a recipe app contest from the app development company, Mobile Skillet. We’re entering 2013 with a big bang for sure! On this week’s Cooking with the Moms radio podcast, we share highlights from 2012, dish about food trend predictions, divulge our personal health resolutions (hint: Liz vows to get rid of her wrinkles!), and serve up a super healthy and family-friendly recipe for Spinach Mac & Cheese. We hope you’ll tune in.

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In 2012, we forged a partnership with health and well-being company, HumanaVitality and created 15 makeover recipes for their Tumblr page. HumanaVitality shares our philosophy that eating right and living a healthy lifestyle is doable for everyone … especially when nutritious recipes like Spinach Mac & Cheese are at your fingertips!

Spinach Mac & CheeseMakes 8 Servings

We love this recipe because it’s nutritious, moderate in fat and sodium thanks to ingredients like reduced-fat cheese, 1% milk, and a roux made with evoo versus butter, and kids love it. Talk about a great way to get more veggies on the family table.To streamline this recipe a bit, skip the Parmesan cheese and the baking dish and serve the gooey pasta straight from the pot.

1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Drain the spinach in a colander. Press with the back of a large spoon to remove excess moisture. Set aside.

2. Cook the pasta until almost tender. Drain and set aside.

3.  While the pasta is cooking, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a Dutch oven or saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until golden and fragrant, about 1 minute.

4. Whisk the flour, pepper, and remaining 2 tablespoons oil into the onion mixture and cook for 1 minute. Whisk the milk, broth, soy sauce, and mustard slowly into the flour mixture. Raise the heat and bring to a low boil, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat and continue to simmer and stir gently until the mixture thickens, about 3 minutes.

5. Remove from the heat and stir in the Cheddar cheese and spinach until well combined. Add the cooked pasta and stir to combine. Spread the mixture evenly in a 9 x 13-inch baking pan or dish. Top with the Parmesan cheese and bake until bubbly and the top turns golden brown, about 15 minutes.

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Liz stopped by Boston’s NECN TV station for a New Year’s segment on family resolutions. You can watch the segment on the NECN site or read on for Liz’s five resolution tips!

1. Start the Day with a Hearty, Nutritious Breakfast Kids who eat breakfast have better school attendance and test scores compared to students who skip their morning meal. Other breakfast benefits include weight control. People who skip breakfast are twice as likely to be overweight compared to breakfast eaters. Surprisingly, skippers end up eating 100 more calories a day. Skipping breakfast also makes it tough to make up for nutrient shortfalls throughout the day. Breakfast eaters consume more of several key nutrients including calcium, potassium, fiber, and folic acid. Morning meal ideas include our Ham & Cheesy Breakfast Sandwich and our Peanut Butter Pancakes.

2. Fill Half Your Plate with Fruits & Vegetables People who eat fruits and veggies every day have a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and certain cancers. In the New Year, follow the advice of MyPlate and get in the habit of filling half your plate with fruits and veggiesShake things up to avoid fruit and vegetable boredom! Try cara cara oranges, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, Asian pears, dinosaur kale, and add canned pumpkin to pancake and muffin batters. Healthy veggie ideas for families include our T-Rex Kale Chips and our Better-for-You Brussels Sprouts Gratin.

3. Eat Together as a Family Turn off the TV and the cell phones and eat meals together. Research shows that when kids eat together with their families, they end up eating a more nutritious diet.  A new study from the UK found that children whose families always ate meals together consumed 4.4 ounces (1.5 portions) more fruits and vegetables a day compared with children whose families never ate together.

4. Be a Meal Planner Get organized and plan ahead. Sit down once a week and plot out your meals … and get the kids to help too. By planning ahead, you’re less likely to order take-out and more likely to create healthy, home-cooked meals. To help you get organized, check out our free, downloadable 7 Day Meal Planner and our cookbook, No Whine with Dinner.

5. Switch from Full-fat Dairy to Low Fat This simple swap can dramatically cut calories and artery-clogging saturated fat from the diet. A simple switch, like going from a glass of whole milk to a glass of skim milk takes saturated fat from 5 grams down to zero. One of our favorite recipes that calls for low-fat dairy is right here in this blog post: Spinach Mac & Cheese!

Have a happy and healthy New Year, and feel free to share YOUR resolutions with us. We always love hearing from you.

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