gooey portobello mushrooms


Serves 4, but this recipe can and should be doubled. These heavenly fungi will be devoured before the cheese stops bubbling.

4 large portobello mushrooms

1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

2 packed cups chopped rainbow chard, stems and ribs removed

2 cloves fresh minced garlic

1 cup plain cooked quinoa

1/2 cup low fat cottage cheese

3/4 cup shredded part skim mozzarella cheese

1 teaspoon dried oregano

fresh ground pepper

Preheat oven to 450.

Line a good quality baking sheet (I use Doughmakers brand) with parchment and spread a very thin layer of olive oil on the parchment to prevent mushrooms from sticking.

Gently wash mushrooms and pat dry. Scoop out the insides, including the stem, by scraping with a spoon.

On medium-low sauté chard, garlic, oregano and a dash of pepper in olive oil for about 2 minutes.

Add cottage cheese and stir until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 4 minutes.

Add quinoa, stir. Add 1/2 cup of shredded cheese, stir and remove from heat.

Stuff the mushrooms with the mixture.

Use remaining shredded cheese for sprinkling on top of each mushroom.

Bake mushrooms for 10 minutes.

Remove from oven and soak up the liquid from the baking sheet with a paper towel.

Return to the oven and bake 5 minutes more.

Garnish with fresh parsley


is it too late?

I was at a lecture about parenting. The speaker informs us that the most essential time to teach children about love and compassion is from birth until 2 years old. EEEEK. Despite knowing that other professionals rule differently, the trepidation begins as I wonder… did I do enough? what if I’m too late? But with any life-skill, even if the window is partially closed, it’s not shut. It may take a smidgen longer, but skills can still be learned, and learned well.

Never fear. Humans have this thing called ability to change. Here’s how:

1. First decide which food or meal issues you wish to address. ie. no more skipping dinner only to have a “starving” tummy right before bedtime, which, by the way, usually leads to a decreased appetite for breakfast, so there goes the snowball

2. Work on one issue at a time and write it down on the fridge ie. kids eat dinner at dinnertime, not right before bed

3. Make a plan of what will be changed (either on your own or contact me). ie. no copious amounts of snacks preceding dinnertime and reminders to kids that there is no food right before bed (aka so eat your dinner lassies)

4. Have a family meeting

  • Let everyone in on the new plan: why the change and how the change, and any feedback (keep in mind that feedback is just that. Feedback. Not daddy changes his mind completely just because Jane and Michael don’t like the plan)
  • Get a list. Which fruits, veggies, protein and complex carbs are the favourites, which are they willing to try, and which are unpopular. Serve items from each list everyday. Youngsters occasionally need to be confronted with dislikes; be it food, people, or activities. How else are they going to become resilient grownups who can adapt to change?

5. FOLLOW THROUGH. This might be the most essential ingredient of all. When your resolve wavers, read #2 and make a list of the benefits of this change and why you chose it in the first place

6. Give your kiddies lots of hugs and kisses

clever distractors

You could hear a pin drop. The budding pianist on the stage is about to play. There’s no guarantee that your preschooler will keep his promise not to make a peep. A few undisturbed minutes go by and you think you’re in the clear…but alas he starts squirming and whispers “when can we go hoooooome?” You panic and desperately look through your purse for anything to keep him quiet.

I’ve been there.

Having three potential noise-makers of my own, I know that temptation: food = quiet. But eating when we’re bored isn’t a healthy habit to develop at a young age (or any age, really). Leaving the house with an arsenal of (inedible) distractors can be all you need. Here are some ideas:

  • Board books with peekaboo flaps or touch & feel books (paper books may be too noisy)
  • Toy cars or trucks
  • Small bag of Lego
  • Colouring pages
  • Small stuffed animal
  • Small photo album
  • Letter tracing for preschoolers
  • Educational phone apps (ie tetris)
  • A doll with lots of clothes for changing
  • Play-Doh
  • Mini puzzles
  • Prepare: Tell your preschooler that you expect her to remain quiet and that you’ll bring some toys along
  • Appreciate: Say thank you, even if your little one lasted for shorter than you’d hoped
  • Be strong. Unless it’s been a while since the last meal, try to avoid giving food to prevent boredom. If it’s getting close to mealtime, say that. Hearing the words “we should be finished in 15 minutes and then it’s lunchtime” can often motivate a child to hang in there for a little while longer.

i’ll have the kid’s meal

What do you picture when you hear “the kid’s meal”? Why do many restaurants (and parents), assume that little ones will only eat if hot dogs, mac and cheese, fries and chicken fingers are doled out?

I went to Banff on an all-inclusive trip in 2009, and was amazed that at each meal, upon noticing my 2 year old, my waiter proudly recited the kids menu. I think, “why the heck would I give him chicken nuggets when he can have grilled salmon, roast duck or tomato-basil soup? (After all, who knows the next time I’ll have a chance to give roast duck to my 2-year old. Or come to think of it, when I’ll eat it myself). Foods from the “kid’s menu” have measly amounts of nutrition and are packed with calories.

It’s tempting to lean on the kid’s menu.

But I’m proposing we redefine the kid’s meal: whatever mom is eating but smaller.

Be persistant: remind your buttercup that she isn’t so special that she gets different food than everyone else (but in a loving way, of course) and encourage your child to taste everything on the plate.

This might take getting used to (by everyone), but persistence and encouragement will help children develop a diverse taste for nutritious food- tastes that will last a lifetime.