Bistro Pasta Salad

As you know, for the past month I have been working with CanolaInfo on its World Heart Day 2011 campaign. To help encourage families to take their health into their own hands, I developed the “Home is Where the Heart Is” Recipe Collection, which is filled with delicious, healthy and easy-to-prepare recipes that both kids and parents will enjoy.

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death in the U.S for men and women as well as something that has affected my family directly. Unfortunately, childhood obesity has continued to grow at an alarming rate. The reason this is so disturbing is because research has shown that children who are overweight or obese are more likely to be overweight or obese as adults. Obesity is a huge risk factor for CVD but one that is preventable with diet and exercise. That is why teaching my children healthy eating habits is so important to me – and something that can start right here at home.

As a mother of three, I wholly understand the challenges of being a busy, working mom and getting healthy meals on the table – not to mention making something the kids will eat! When developing this recipe collection, I really tried to consider what would be fast, economical, healthy and delicious for the entire family, and I think I accomplished just that.

As a common ingredient in all these recipes, I chose to use canola oil. It has the least amount of saturated fat and most omega-3 fat of all cooking oils. Its versatility in cooking and baking simplify my life even more, and it’s inexpensive! This coming Thursday, Sept. 29, is World Heart Day. To celebrate, I will be hosting a Facebook Party on CanolaInfo’s Facebook page from 7-8 PM CST! I will be discussing ways to be heart-smart at home by getting your whole family involved. I hope you will share your own tips and stories as well. Ten of you will be chosen at random to receive a CanolaInfo Heart Health Toolkit. You can RSVP here.

Easy and Healthy Beef and Broccoli

My three kids love Asian flavors. This easy and healthy Beef and Broccoli recipe is a hit every time that I make it. It’s so quick to prepare using very simple-to-find ingredients. I love using skirt steak as it’s very tender after being simply marinated with honey, fresh ginger, reduced-sodium soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic and red pepper flakes. Just marinate the steak for an hour or overnight, and dinner is on the table in less than 30 minutes. This dish is perfect for busy weeknights. I served with rice and some edamame beans, and everyone loved it (and was full).

Meatless Monday Main Dish: Ziti with Roasted Summer Vegetables


School is a few weeks underway already in Alabama, and I am amazed at how hard my kids’ homework is. Last week, my two oldest children were up to almost 10 every night doing math problems, reading their quota of 150 minutes a week and so on. My son even had to do a “glog” which is actually the same thing as a “blog”. Pretty cool, huh. After a long day at school (and after-school sports), I love to serve the kids something really healthy, colorful and fresh. This dish was a hit the other night, especially topped with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. It’s great when I can feel good about what they are eating, especially when they are working so hard and need good nutrition.

Easy Weeknight Family Favorite: Baked Penne


My kids love pasta for dinner especially when it’s made with penne noodles. I thew this recipe together in no time, and they went crazy over it. It’s as simple and basic as can be, but it is a true family pleaser.

Weeknight Family Comfort Food: Spinach-Mushroom Baked Ziti


Normally I can’t get my daughter, Leigh, to eat much protein. When I make pasta at home, she usually doesn’t like it with meat sauce, until she tried baked ziti at camp. I added spinach, mushrooms and garlic to this version, but if you’re kids are picky eaters, just omit those ingredients and use an 11- x 7-inch baking dish. Spinach-Mushroom Baked Ziti makes a great comforting weeknight dinner.

Simple Baby Back Ribs


Birmingham Alabama is a great place for ribs. I always cook my baby back ribs on the grill, so when I was asked to create a recipe for wintertime and indoors, I was a little nervous. These Chipotle Baby Back Ribs came out great. The Baja Chipotle Marinade is awesome, and these ribs fell of the bone. These are so easy that anyone can make them.

Pecan Waffles


For breakfast this weekend, I am making Pecan Waffles. My daughter, Leigh, is away at camp, and I miss her so much! She is the one in the family always wanting to make waffles. She pulls out the waffle iron and makes the batter on her own (she even made them on live television). I don’t always use the powdered sugar and butter, but maple syrup is almost all you need with this delicious recipe (and Leigh wouldn’t have it any other way). 

Appetizer or Entree: Honey Mustard Chicken Tenders


Since most kids and adults love chicken fingers, I thought I would try my hand at developing a low-fat yet delicious recipe that kids and adults would enjoy. This recipe is a cinch. It’s only 4 ingredients and takes less than 25 minutes to prepare. Make extra honey-mustard dipping sauce by stirring together Dijon mustard and honey. I love using panko breadcrumbs in this recipe, and they are so easy to find even in the grocery stores. Just check where breadcrumbs are sold. Enjoy as an appetizer or entree when you need something fast and tasty.

Easy and Healthy Homemade Granola Bars


One of my very favorite things in the world is granola. Most of the time, I have to battle myself not to buy it, because once I start eating it, I can’t stop. I also have prepared many granola recipes, but again, I have to limit myself. So, when I was asked to come up with some healthy breakfast recipes for a national food magazine, one of my recipe concepts was a granola, Breakfast Bar. I really wasn’t sure if I could get the recipe to work, but on the second try, it was a home-run. I was so excited, and I couldn’t wait to share them with friends. I went straight from recipe testing to a tennis lesson with my tennis pro, Bob (who isn’t a health nut), and he said, “Wow” and “delicious”, and I feel healthy already”. I know you will agree. These are a more than a wow!

Kid and Adult-Friendly: Easy Pizza Quesadillas


It’s my oldest son, Alec’s, birthday this weekend so I thought I would feature a recipe that he actually made up himself. It’s Pizza Quesadillas, and for those of you who have kids, take note. My kids actually make these by themselves with little help (except turning on and off the stove) so when you’re in a pinch on what to have for dinner, give these quesadillas a try.