“Mom what’s for dinner?”
“Ick. I don’t like vegetables. I don’t want to eat that.”
Sound familiar? Unfortunately most –if not all- parents have to deal with inevitable food fights. If we aren’t dealing with a picky eater, we just don’t have time to get a healthy meal on the table – take out anyone? If it’s not a time factor, we run out of ideas when we have made chicken for the 100th time in a row. What’s mom to do?
Enter Meal Makeover Moms! Janice Newell Bissex and Liz Weiss are registered dietitians who are authors of two books, the genius moms behind MealMakeoverMoms.com, Meal Makeover Moms’ Kitchen blog, Cooking with the Moms radio podcast, videos and e-newsletter, these Meal Makeover Moms are on a mission. They are two of the nation’s top experts on family nutrition and they are here to help busy families eat better.
We LOVE their site. It is so practical – recipes, tips for picky eaters, a 7-day meal planner you can download – and that is just for starters! We were thrilled to have the opportunity to talk with Meal Makeover Moms. We know you will love getting to know them as well.
What inspired you to start Meal Makeover Moms? After the release of our first cookbook, The Moms’ Guide to Meal Makeovers (Broadway Books, 2004), we decided to launch our website, MealMakeoverMoms.com and the Meal Makeover Moms brand. We knew families were in need of a healthy meal makeover, and as moms and dietitians, we knew we could help.
What has been the biggest surprise for you personally as you began your journey to be a “healthy meal mom”? The biggest and most rewarding surprise for both of us has been the positive response from moms and dads across the country and around the world. We hear from our followers and fans every single day with success stories, creative mealtime strategies, and heartwarming feedback on the resources we make available online and in bookstores.
What has been the greatest challenge? Thanks to the internet and social media, we understand that in order to stay front and center in the family nutrition arena, we need to “feed” our blog, podcast, and website regularly (okay, all the time). It’s exciting and creative, and as a result, we’ve developed countless new family-friendly recipes for our readers and listeners. But sometimes it’s downright exhausting!
What are the 3 most important steps a mom can take to start to makeover her family’s meals and eating habits? How about five? In our first cookbook, we outline a 5-Step Meal Makeover Plan for our readers. In a nutshell, here’s what we recommend:
- You have to start somewhere. Make one positive change to your family’s diet each week such as adding an extra serving of fruit each day or cutting out sugary juice drinks and soft drinks.
- Market good nutrition to kids. Tout carrots as yummy, not medicine, give foods fun names (i.e. Princess Peas), and present healthy foods in a playful and colorful way.
- Establish food rules. Make them specific, reasonable, and enforceable such as no soft drinks at dinner or no “dissing” moms’ home cooking.
- Streamline time in the kitchen. Maximize time-saving tools and tactics with sharp knives, a mini food processor, and kitchen shears.
- Eat together as a family. And turn off the TV during dinner.
In many ways, writing a book and website is like birthing a baby. There is the gestation period, the growing period, the birthing time when the book is published and then the nurturing time as your book “grows up.” What would you say is your favorite part of your books/website? The best part about writing No Whine with Dinner: 150 Healthy, Kid-Tested Recipes from The Meal Makeover Moms (M3 Press, 2011) was the community involvement. To make sure our recipes were really “whine free,” we asked our blog readers, Facebook fans, and podcast listener to test — and have their kids taste — every one of the 150 recipes in the book. Their feedback is included at the bottom of each recipe. They also contributed their own tried-and-true secrets for getting picky eaters to eat a healthy diet which we include in the chapter, 50 Moms’ Secrets for Getting Picky Eaters to Try New Foods. Another rewarding part of the process is after the book is released, hearing from busy moms who tell us how delighted they are that their kids are enjoying our recipes. We never get tired of hearing that!
With all that you are juggling – moms, nutritionists, wives, writers, speakers, etc. etc.- how do you keep your sanity? It’s not easy! To keep us on track, we recently started setting short term and long-term goals for Meal Makeover Moms, and every Monday morning we meet over the phone to discuss our objectives for the week. We find that we get a lot more accomplished when we “divide and conquer.” Also, Janice recently started doing yoga and Liz makes it a point to take long walks as much as possible (it’s been tough this winter with our 70-plus inches of snow).
Now for a quick glance into Janice & Liz’s life.
What is the one thing you look forward to everyday?
Liz: Remember the old Folgers coffee jingle, “The best part of wakin’ up, is Folgers in your cup?” It reminds me of the best part of my day: my morning, homemade latte! After a few sips, I’m ready to tackle school lunches for my boys, making them a hearty breakfast, and then doing all the dishes!
Janice: I look forward to yoga, long (or short) walks, and working out. I’d like to say that this happens every day, but there are some days that are so jam-packed with an endless to-do list that exercise takes a back seat. I’m working on that …
If you had a “free day” with no commitments or obligations, what would you do with it?
Liz: Weather permitting, I’d head to the beach (with lots of sunscreen in hand), take a long walk and then enjoy a leisurely lunch at a water-front restaurant that features local, sustainable cuisine.
Janice: I would meet up with friends and family for a day of hiking followed by cooking a fabulous meal together. Then, I’d curl up on the couch with a stack of food magazines and flip through them while watching the food network.
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Liz: I love the Napa Valley. The weather is perfect – not too cold and not too hot – and I love being surrounded by farms, food, and fellow foodies.
Janice: If I were to live somewhere other than the Boston area (and after this winter that’s not such a bad idea!) I might choose Portland, Oregon. My sister lives there, and I love the area’s focus on the outdoors – hiking and biking — the farmers’ markets, and the laid-back lifestyle.
What is your favorite activity with kids?
Liz: We love to ski as a family. My husband, Tim, learned to ski growing up in Europe (lucky guy), and I taught my boys, Josh and Simon, how to ski when they were in elementary school. Now, they’re all better than I am, but we still enjoy skiing together.
Janice: My parents have a lake house in New Hampshire where my family has enjoyed endless fun over the years. A typical day on the lake includes hiking, swimming, kayaking, and cooking something on the grill (I love the local corn). In the evenings, we play cards or board games. It’s always nice to be “off the grid.”
What do you like most about cooking?
Liz: First and foremost, I must admit that I do NOT enjoy grocery shopping. But once I’m home with my ingredients, I love to cook. The best part for me is coming up with recipes my family will enjoy. The other night, I took a recipe for “creamy” cauliflower soup (from America’s Test Kitchen), made some healthy tweaks, and then served it to my family. They LOVED the soup, and I will definitely make it again. I really enjoy giving recipes my own Meal Makeover Mom spin.
Janice: I love working without a recipe and creating a meal based on what’s in my fridge. Sometimes it’s a real challenge, but I love throwing things together and coming up with something that my family will eat happily. I’m a big entertainer, so you’ll often find me in the kitchen on weekends whipping up crowd-pleasing recipes!
What is your favorite recipe?
Liz: I don’t have a favorite recipe. It really depends on the time of year and my mood. Right now, I’m on a slow cooker jag and have been making the Mile-High Spinach Lasagna from No Whine with Dinner. My family enjoys it, and it’s so easy to make.
Janice: My favorite recipe at the moment is the Cowboy Chili with Sweet Potatoes and Corn from No Whine with Dinner. Both of my daughters, Carolyn and Leah, as well as my husband, Don, love it. With cornbread and a salad on the side, it’s comfort food at its best!
Some of Kolcraft’s favorite recipes from the Meal Makeover Moms:
What is your favorite recipe from Meal Makeover Moms? We promise you will love this site as much as we did.