Healthier Summer Cookout

This weekend is Memorial Day and that means the official kick off to summer is here! That means lots of time outside, cooking out, playing in the pool and enjoying a bonfire in the evening. I love summer time and there is so many fun activities to do. I wish that I was a teacher and able to take off for the summer, but sadly that is not the case so instead I cram all the summer time activities into the weeknights and weekends.

I was on WTHR-13 this past week talking about healthier cook outs and some tips to help make sure you have a safe and healthy cook out/picnic this weekend and then throughout the summer. I thought it would be great to share some of these tips and recommendation with you all.


Creating a Safe and Healthy Cook Out

  1. Drink Wisely - During the summer, we enjoy nice cold beverages. It is important to be aware of what is in your favorite cool drink. If you drink alcohol there are calories in that beer (154 calories/can) or wine (125 calories/5oz) and if you prefer a mixed, sugary drink there are quite a few calories hidden in there as well (455 calories/8oz for a margarita). Work to minimize the number of calories you are getting from your drinks. Make sure that you are getting enough water. Your body is made up of 60% of water and staying hydrated during the summer time is extremely important. Carry a water bottle with you or have a container of water with you at your desk throughout the day.

  2. Pick Fresh Foods - The summer time is when most fruits/vegetables are in season. That means that you can purchase fresh produce at a much cheaper price compared with in the winter time. Stock up on these nutritiously dense fruits and vegetables throughout the summer. These produce items are also low in calories and high in vitamins/minerals which helps keep your body functioning well. You can get these fresh items from your local grocery store or Farmer’s Market. You can even grow them in your backyard. That is a great way to incorporate exercise, saving money and learning where your food comes from! Plus, grilling fruits and vegetables is a fun way to enjoy more of these items at your next cookout.

  3. Check Temperatures - Make sure that you have a thermometer for checking your meat that you are grilling. Under cooking meat and then keeping it in the temperature danger zone is one of the easiest ways to create a great environment for food borne illnesses. The temperature danger zone is between 40-140 degrees F. This is the ideal zone for bacteria to grow and multiple. That is why it is important to get your chicken up to 165 degrees F, ground beef up to 160 degrees F and pork up to 145 degrees F. After grilling meat, make sure that it is eaten quickly or only stays at room temperature for 2 hours. If you know you are going to be out at a campsite or a park, bring a cooler with ice to help cool food down and keep it cold (<40 degrees F) to prevent bacteria growth. Keep cold items out for 2 hours and or only 1 hour if it is >90 degrees F outside. Keeping food safe will help to make your cookout more enjoy and prevent anyone from getting sick.

  4. Enjoy Snack Foods in Moderation - It is easy to fill your plate with those delicious snack foods that we bring to cookouts – the chips, dip, cookies and mayo heavy side salads. These can be great traditional cook out foods, but just make sure that you are enjoying them in moderation, keeping them at safe temperatures and then fill up on plenty nutritious fruits and vegetables. We also tend to enjoy grilling processed meats at cookouts (hot dogs, brats or even frozen hamburgers). These can contain lots of added salt and preservatives. If you are trying to follow a heart healthy diet, make sure that you are aware of what is in these food items and limit your consumption of them. Pick 1 hot dog instead of two and then a small handful of chips and choose seconds of the fruits/vegetables.

Hopefully you all have a wonderful and safe Memorial Day weekend and enjoy the extra time with family and friends. If you are in Indianapolis and going to the race, have fun and hopefully it isn’t too wet for everyone.


Community Supporting Moms Pumping/Breast Feeding

I had the opportunity to meet the creator of the Pumpspotting App this last weekend - Amy Vanharen. This app is such a neat program that works to create a space for pumping/breast feeding mothers to come together. I was able to meet up with the Pumpspotting bus that is touring around the United States. It had come to Carmel, IN at Urban Chalkboard and it was so neat to get see what this company was working towards. Their mission is to make breast feeding and postpartum less isolating and more supportive at every stage of the journey.

Pumpspotting Tour Schedule - CLICK HERE

I honestly wasn’t super familiar with the Pumpspotting App, but I love the idea of having a space for women to support each other and help one another find good places to pump/breast feed their child(ren). If you haven’t seen the app before, definitely check it out.

This also made me think about the whole idea of “mom guilt” that can surround feeding your baby. So many mothers feel like there is a certain standard for the best way to feed your baby and have such emotional feelings about this topic. If you think about it, feeding your baby is one of the most basic and motherly instincts that you experience. Feeding your baby is challenging and whether you are formula feeding or using breast milk it is challenging to feed your baby around the clock. As a Registered Dietitian, I appreciate seeing the evidence and knowing what is scientifically proven when it comes to making nutrition choices a child. Using breast milk for babies is the most natural and the most ideal option for a term, healthy newborn. Formula is an amazing tool that has helped to provide well-rounded nutrition to those infants who need an alternative to breast milk. Working in a NICU, we use formula and additives all the time to help these small, preterm infants grow appropriately because they have increased energy needs. When it comes to feeding your baby, there are so many factors at play and each mom/baby are different and each pregnancy is different. Making that choice that is best for you and your baby is important.

Having a community to help support you as a mother is key. Whether is an app like Pumpspotting, a group like the CityMoms or close friends you trust. Parenting is hard and as a mother feeding your baby is tough. If you choose to breast feed, that can be extra challenging at times as well. I am so happy to see that there are moms out there working to build one another up and support each other! Here’s to you mama and all that hard work you put into caring for your child(ren).

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The Hardest Part of Running Your Own Nutrition Business

This blog post idea came to me while I was reading a Facebook post written by a mother asking about infant feeding advice. She was asking about a trendy formula item and asking for feedback about what she should do. Her child is an ex-premie with issues with reflux and has been exclusively breast fed. I had to replay and say something, because I couldn’t not offer a nugget of knowledge on this topic. But that leads me into one of the hardest things I have learned about owning my own nutrition business. She then appreciated my feedback and responded with more questions. That was great engagement, but the advice she was asking for “free nutrition advice” is how I make money for my business. That is my wheel house and I feel like I would do a disservice to myself and my profession. Plus, giving out nutrition advice online is dangerous in terms of a liability perspective.


I don’t sell a physical item. I provide people with knowledge on a complicated topic, nutrition. The interesting thing is that this complex topic involves food and the act of eating, which we all do multiple times a day. Everyone thinks they already know about food and they don’t need an expert on that topic. Unlike a physical therapist who is working with clients to help them move in a certain way to get stronger, my skills are providing information/knowledge with clients to help them overcome certain food-related issues.

It is incredibly hard to convenience people that is worth paying for nutrition advice. Sometimes I think it would be easier if I sold some product. Anyone will purchase a physical item from someone and then they to keep that item, but when you pay for nutrition counseling services you aren’t always getting a physical item. I’m empowering you with knowledge about a certain topic that you get to take with you and use from here on out. The thing I have found challenging is not just handing out nutrition advice for free. That information is my “income” for my business. If you want those recommendations, then you need to pay for that advice. Embracing that idea has been tough. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to help ALL the people and spread all my nutrition knowledge for free to everyone, but that isn’t helpful for me or my profession. You don’t see doctor’s prescriptions for people for free. That knowledge that they possess is their lively hood. The same holds true for Registered Dietitians. Our knowledge lies in knowing how food impacts your life and your well-being.

I don’t want this to come off in a negative way, but instead to help encourage and empower other Registered Dietitians to stand up for what they know and feel confident in asking people to pay for the information they request of you. You don’t have to feel pressured to just give away that knowledge for free.

Emptying Out Your Pantry

It has been a little while since I have posted about budgeting and saving money. I think the last post I did on that topic was back in July of 2018 - to see that post CLICK HERE. Since then we have been able to work towards growing our “rainy day” fund and trying not to dip into savings for any regular expenses. We did have some car repairs in the last half of 2018 for my 2008 Subaru Outback, which was stressful, but that was the major unexpected bill in 2018. We also were anticipating the arrival of baby #2 and trying to make sure we had money saved for those hospital bills. Having a baby is definitely expensive, but thankfully we changed to Chas’ insurance and that helped to decrease the total amount of the bill that we are responsible for after the delivery. We wanted to make sure we were prepared for those anticipated bills.

We started using an budgeting app on our phones - YNAB which stands for You Need A Budget, which is the truth. We needed a better way for us to own the purchases we were making and then work towards some financial goals that we have for ourselves. This app has been fantastic for us! It does cost money for the year, but I know we have saved that money we spent on the app in this first month of using it alone. Both Chas and myself are stubborn and determined so when it comes to seeing those budgeted numbers and trying to stick to them has kind of become a sort of game/challenge.

One of the areas of our budget is grocery items. This excludes any type of household items (cleaning supplies, paper towels, dish soap, etc) and then excludes alcohol as well. We use YNAB for the whole month of April and sure enough we ended up running close to out of budgeted money for food. It was our goal over that last week to eat the food that we had in our pantry, refrigerator and freezer. I am not sure if you have tried to eat ALL the food items that you have tucked away, but it can be a challenge. I managed to find the ramen noodles that were hidden in the way back of the pantry. We ate all the bread, even the heels and then to finish off the week we had waffles for dinner and finished the frozen breakfast sausage that was in the freezer. We cleaned out the refrigerator produce items and had some fruit left, but ate all the veggies but one head of iceberg lettuce. I found a container of maple syrup from a family member that was tucked away as well and we used that instead of purchasing more maple syrup. If you haven’t cleared out your pantry, refrigerator or freezer in awhile I encourage you to give it a try. Work to pull out items that have gotten shoved to the back, check expiration dates, throw out things that have gone bad and eat up some of those food items that you have forgotten you even had.

I found some statistics from The Swag and I just had to share them: Did you know American’s throw out $165 billion of food per year? 40% of food in America is wasted each year. Each year, every American throws out $2,200 worth of food and that is about 300 lbs of food.


Using up the food that your currently have in your pantry is a great way to to economically stick with a budget and to ultimately be a food steward of the things you have. We have so much food waste in America that is it important we all work to decrease how much food we throw out and never eat. So when it comes to saving money and decreasing food waste … clear out your pantry and use up food you have forgotten about and try to eat those items before purchasing more food.

Help, My Child is Vegetarian!

It can take you by surprise if you child comes to you and informs you that he/she have decided to become vegetarian. This can be shocking to a parent and very overwhelming. For families who eat a lot of meat this can be very challenging as well. Learning how to work through this dietary choice as a family is important. I have experienced this first hand in my own family and then also worked to counsel families who are going through this experience.

My younger sister decided to become vegetarian when she was in college. She made the choice to stop eating meat and if I remember correctly this happened in the summer immediately prior to a family vacation. It was challenging for my family, because my sister was also restricting her overall caloric intake and then struggling with disordered eating. My sister has continued to be vegetarian for several years, but has thankfully overcome disordered eating and still practices vegetarianism in a healthier way now. This was obviously challenging for family to navigate my sister’s dietary preferences with the rest of the family.

It is important to help remind the parents that their child is making a choice about their diet isn’t a personal reflection of them, but instead an expression of their child’s independence. Talking through why their child is choosing to avoid meat, where is the desire coming from and what prompted that change? How does it make the child feel? How can the parent work to support their child’s independence in a healthy way? If you child is choosing to be vegetarian that is great, but they need to be choosing healthy foods. Being vegetarian doesn’t mean they should be eating crackers all day with PB&J sandwiches for every meal. Being a healthy vegetarian means that they are consuming more fruits and vegetables and finding ways to increase their consumption of plant based proteins (beans, soy, hemp, etc). Also making their that the child’s choice to be vegetarian isn’t an excuse to calorie restrict. Sometimes disordered eating is masked by a dietary preference like avoiding meat, or cutting out a particular food group. That is unhealthy and not safe for a growing child. Working with a Registered Dietitian to help facilitate these discussions can be helpful. It is tough sometimes for a parent and child to have an open and productive discussion without a 3rd party to help mediate. It is easy for emotions to get in the way and then creative a stressful/hostile environment.

  1. Discuss this dietary change and what all surrounded this shift in eating. Having this open communication is key to embracing and working through this new behavior in a positive way. This can be where having another person, like a Registered Dietitian, can be helpful to lead this discussion and help both parties (child and the parent) share their feelings in a non-judgmental environment.

  2. Talk about what this means in terms of the family dynamics at meal time and in regards to food preparation. This is one of the biggest challenges. For most families, if one child is choosing a different diet/eating habits from the rest of the family that makes meals complicated and can add stress. Talking about how everyone in this family matters and there will need to be some compromise to make this work. There can’t be two separate meals each night for dinner and the vegetarian child can’t be eating “special” foods all the time that will make other siblings jealous. Coming up with recipes and meal ideas where the family can “build” their own dinner plate with meat and non-meat options can be one of the best ways to accommodate special requests. For example, if you are having hamburgers, then have meat burgers and veggie burgers available for the main entree. If you are having a grilled meat item, then make sure there is an acceptable non-meat option (grilled mushroom, tempeh or vegetables kabobs).

  3. Brain storm ways for the child to help take ownership over his/her meals (list making, shopping, cooking and cleaning up). Including your child in the meal planning and preparation process is a way to help them assuming responsibility for their meals. If your child is choosing to eat vegetarian then they can help come up with food items they would like include for meals/snacks that are healthy and don’t contain meat. They can also help prepare those items since they are part of the family. I believe that all children need to be involved with the food preparation and these skills help them grow up into independent people.

Talking with your child about healthy eating habits is important. Working to accommodate their dietary preferences/choices is important as well. If you child has chosen to be vegetarian, there has to be some reason behind that change. Maybe is stems from a discussion they had with their peers and it leaves them really be grossed out or concerns about processed meat items. Maybe they are trying to restrict calories and that is presentation of vegetarianism is just a symptom of a deeper issue. As the parent, talking with your child is key to better understand what they are thinking and working with them to make healthy decisions. If you have questions about working with your child and dealing with food choices/dietary changes, let me know and I would love to be able to work with you and your child.

ADHD and Nutrition Intake

I recently had the opportunity to work with a family whose son was diagnosed with ADHD and I started doing some more in depth research on nutritional intake. Just like with anyone, what you eat can have an impact on how you feel and how your body works. As the years have gone by there has gotten to be more research on the topic of nutritional intake and ADHD.


Sometimes children with ADHD are not always interested in eating enough food and sometimes medications they are put on cause a decrease in appetite. Making sure that children with ADHD are eating three meals a day with two snacks is important. So working to optimize the nutritional intake of the meals and snacks will help give you the biggest nutrition bang for your buck. Noting the timing of the medication and then when your child is the least hungry compared with being the most hungry. Trying to time nutrient dense meals/snacks around those optimal eating times can be helpful as well.

There are some key nutrients that have been shown to be low in children with ADHD. It is true that for all of us our food intake plays a big role on our behavior. Often children with ADHD had sub-optimal eating habits and parents tend to feed these children whatever foods they will accept and eat, because meal times are stressful. Learning more about what nutrients can be focused on and then working to offer these children well balanced meals and snacks can have a big impact on how that child feels, how they grow and how well their brain functions. The following is a list of nutrients that have been researched and shown to have some positive impact and correlations with improved ADHD symptoms.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

  • ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder and the thought is if we provide a fat supplement this will help with brain neurotransmission and help treat any behavioural dysfunction disorders. Your brain uses fat as fuel and making sure that you are choosing anti-inflammatory unsaturated fats and consuming enough of those has been shown to have a positive impact on behavior outcomes.

  • Food sources that contain high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids include: flaxseed, walnuts, chia seeds, cold water fish (salmon, mackerel and trout). Limit consumption of fish in young children to 2-3 servings per week.

  • What about a supplement? There is a product that has been researched and has a blend of Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), Docosahexaenoic acids (DHA) and Gamma linolenic acid (GLA) and children in this study took this supplement over 12 months and didn’t need to increase their medicine dose and reduced their ADHD symptoms. Equazen is available in pill or gummy form through Amazon.




Good For Your Greens

Spring is officially here and we have just wrapped up March and now it is April. That means that things will start to turn green soon and people will plant gardens and fresh produce will start to grow. I love it when seasons change and I especially love being able to enjoy fresh produce that I have grown or purchase from the Farmer’s Market. There are so many delicious fresh vegetables to enjoy and one of the first vegetable items that will be available is fresh lettuce.

Good for you greens.png

I am not sure how many of you have children, but it can be a struggle for parents to have their children eat vegetables, let alone green vegetables. Depending on the age of your child, it is normal for them to want to be independent and have their own opinions and often this comes out at the dinner table. I wanted to share with you some tips and tricks to help you get more green veggies into your meals and help your “picky child” eat those vegetables that you have prepared.

Green vegetables are good for you, but why? What makes green vegetables healthy? The color green is made from a compound colored chlorophyll and this pigment absorbs like and is critical to the process of photosynthesis within the plant. That process of photosynthesis is the plant’s way of taking sunlight and processing it into usable energy to grow. Without the chlorophyll, the plant couldn’t collect and process the sunlight.

So plants are green, because they contain chlorophyll, but is that what makes them healthy? Not necessarily, the main reason that green vegetables are healthy is that they contain other vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants that are used and metabolized by our bodies to fight off diseases and help us stay healthy and grow strong. The green color serves as a symbol that there are other vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants in that food item and it is good for us.

Ok, so green vegetables are healthy, but how do I get my picky child to try those foods? It can be tough to have a power struggle at the dinner table over vegetables. Honestly, that is not the ideal situation for yourself or your child. The time to start talking about and teaching about how good and healthy green vegetables are, is earlier. When you are grocery shopping, stop and look at all the green produce and talk about the different types of vegetables (lettuce, broccoli, brussel sprouts, asparagus, green beans, etc). Have your child help pick out a new vegetable to try and take it home. Then include your child in the preparation/cooking process for that food item. If your child choose broccoli, have them help you wash it, cut it up and then cook that vegetable. You can talk about the food item and discuss how it looks like tiny trees and how the top of the broccoli is bumpy and how the stalk is smooth. Then at dinner time have your child help serve the broccoli to everyone at the table (including themselves). Then at dinner, make sure that you eat the broccoli as well and talk about how good it tastes. Encourage your child to try 1 bite. Then praise them for helping to cook the food and taking a bite. Then leave it at that. This takes time and it is a process. Don’t feel like your child is going to eat all the broccoli right away, but keep offering that food item to them and keep including them in the cooking process. It is tough, but you are not in this alone and learning about how good for you green foods are is just the beginning of learning to explore and love food!

Check out the picture below with some other tips on dealing with picky eaters! If you have any other questions, feel free to reach out and I would love to work you and your children on trying new foods and making dinner time a more positive experience.

Good for You Greens.jpg

Spring Into A Healthier Version of You

I am excited for spring! It is officially spring now and that means that warmer weather is just around the corner. I wanted to take a moment about take this time to do some spring cleaning when it comes to your diet and taking care of yourself. I have to admit part of this is selfishly motivated, because after having a baby, being home on maternity leave and breast feeding I have been eating ALL the sweets and I need work to clean up my own diet and refocus.

It is about 3-4 months after the New Year and how are those resolutions going? This is often the time when those promises we made ourselves are thrown by the wayside and we have fallen back into old habits. What bad habits have you not shaken yet? What things do you want to focus on this spring?

Spring into a healthier version of you! (1).jpg

Tips to Clean Up Your Diet

  • Load up on veggies! Spring means time to plant a garden and hit up the Farmer’s Market. There will be a variety of cooler weather produce that is going to start to be available. Start working more vegetables into your diet to help give you more vitamins and minerals. This will help your body function better and help you feel better. Aim to work vegetables into lunch and dinner and if you are able even breakfast (this could be spinach in with your eggs, kale in your smoothie, tomatoes on your breakfast sandwich).

  • Plan out your meals. Taking time to write out a plan for meals for the week will help you to be healthier and stick with those healthier choices. Planning out your meals will save you money overall as well. It is also hard to binge eat on unhealthy food items, when you don’t purchase them. That is another benefit to planning your meals ahead of time and only purchasing what you have on your list. You will be forced to eat whatever you have in your pantry and hopefully those are healthier options.

  • Try some new recipes. We can all get stuck in our routine when it comes to cooking at home. The same food items over and over again. Take the time to find some new recipes and mix things up. You can take this opportunity to try new foods, prepare foods in a new way and get you excited to cook again. Of course, find a new recipe that is healthy and is something that adds variety to your diet as well.

  • Hold yourself accountable. When you share with someone your goals, you are more likely to actually stick with/accomplish that goal. If a friend or even people on social media to help keep you on track and help call you out if you are struggling and need some tough love. Having that support system is critical when it comes to cleaning up your dietary habits.

  • Take time for some self-care/love. This idea of self-care/self-love applies to your food you eat as well. Taking the time to put healthy foods into your mouth will make you feel better about yourself in the long run. Yes, there is instant gratification from that chocolate bar, but then you end up with more negative feelings and even a lack of confidence. The goal in the end is to love yourself more and give yourself some grace if things don’t go quite as planned in terms of your eating habits of exercise routine.

  • Load up on the water. It is always humorous to me when I read about “detox” diets, because your body doesn’t actually need any help detoxing, you have a liver that does that for you. But I think focusing on staying hydrated and consuming enough water will help your body to function to the best of its ability. Your body is 60% water and that means your cells and muscles will be able to function better when you are hydrated appropriately. So if you are concerned about “detoxing” your body … just take the time to drink plenty of water.

So if you, like me have been struggling with your healthy eating and exercise habits, then use this spring to jump back into some healthy routines. Take the time to look at what you are struggling with and write down 1-2 ways that you can feel better about yourself and prioritize your health/wellness.

Breast Feeding Baby #2

I started back to work this week and it has been crazy. It has been a good crazy. My little guy is 7 weeks old and I am back in the working routine. Well, attempting to get back in the swing of things. My wonderful mother is watching the baby at our house this week so that is easing the transition. Being a working mom and organizing the life of two children, one dog and a husband is quite the undertaking. When I head out in the morning I have so many bags … my work bag, my lunch bag, my pumping bag, William’s bag, William’s lunch bag and then starting next week Samuel’s food/bottle bag. I swear I move in and out of the house each morning and evening.

I thought it would be great to touch on breast feeding again. It has been a little while since I talked about breast feeding. I have decided to breast feed my second child. I breast feed my first through 18 months. It was at that point that I ended up being pregnant again and then my milk supply decreased and he wasn’t that interested in breast feeding any more. It was a smooth transition to stopping breast feeding and it was nice to not juggle breast feeding and being pregnant. I made the choice to breast feed my second child, because I feel like that is the best thing that I can do for my baby and I wanted to do that again. If you haven’t already, you should take a moment and read this first breast feeding blog post I did when I started breast feeding William - CLICK HERE.

With my first child, he was born at 40 weeks and 1 day and he immediately did great breast feeding. In fact he sucked so hard that I had to wonder if that super suck was even normal. I put him to breast every 2-3 hours and then when working I was pumping every 3 hours. I ended up with tons of breast milk and was able to donate a bunch of it - CLICK HERE for that story. So with my second child, I assumed it would be a similar experience. Well Samuel was born at 37 weeks exactly (that is 3 weeks and one day earlier than William). 37 weeks is technically term, but that makes a huge difference in terms of size of the baby and then the develop of the suck, swallow breath skill. Babies are able to start coordinating that skill of sucking, swallowing and breathing starting around 34 weeks gestation. I was able to put Samuel to breast within that first hour of life and he nursed and did a good job. Over the next few days we continued to work on breast feeding and he did well, but the force that he sucked was far less than with William. So I started pumping while in the hospital to help ensure that milk supply would become well established since Samuel’s suck was more immature compared with William’s. I immediately had lots of breast milk and I have continued to pump 1-2 times a day throughout my maternity leave. Again, I wanted to make sure I had plenty of breast milk to be able to feed him as he got stronger and was able to take more volume.

As many of your know, I work in a NICU and work with Moms who are exclusively pumping or starting to breast feed their preterm baby. I know have a much better understanding how important and challenging it is to balance pumping and then working on breast feeding. It takes time and patience, because obviously you want your baby to latch on and be able to feed perfectly, but lots of time it takes a lot of effort on the part of the mother to help get baby in the right position and then monitoring your let down to make sure that baby doesn’t cough/choke. That was another challenge with Samuel was he struggled for several weeks to learn how to mange my let down. It was forceful and being able to watch for that, unlatch him and then re-latch him after the let down dwindled down.

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Presenting at FNCE

Some of you, if you are Registered Dietitians, are familiar or at least heard of FNCE. The Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo that happens annually around the country. This is the big national convention for Registered Dietitians hosted by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. I have been able to attend FNCE twice, once as a dietetic intern in Boston, MA and then two years ago in Chicago, IL. It was a fantastic experience to be able to listen to speakers, see the amazing exhibit hall and then get to network with fellow RDs. Over the last 7 years of being a pediatric dietitian I have spoken with several other pediatric RDs about the lack of pediatric content at FNCE. There are obviously lots of topics that they are trying to cover and there are normally a few pediatric topics that are addressed, but not a ton. I wanted to make sure that pediatric nutrition continued to have a focus at FNCE and have some quality information to provide to other dieititians. Lots of RDs are being asked to cover NICU/pediatric units in hospitals and some times these RDs aren’t always the best equipped to know how to take cover of these complicated patients.


I decided to put together a presentation proposal for FNCE with a friend of mine in Louisville, Laura Serke. She is an amazing NICU RD in Louisville and also works as a lactation consultant. I thought it would be awesome to provide a presentation focused on how to handle human milk (or breast milk) in the hospital setting. This would centered around the NICU specifically, but we would also cover the pediatric side of it as well. RDs are often the ones that are asked to help provide guidance on how the transportation, storage and feeding of human milk is delivered to infant patients. Laura was in support of putting together this proposal and then with the help of Salisa Lewis as well (another amazing NICU RD with lots of experience) we finalized our proposal and submitted it back in November of 2018. We worked hard over the course of a couple of weeks to create and finalize this proposal and articulate our thoughts in a way that sounded professional and interesting. It is tough to put together an interesting and interactive presentation on human milk in a way that would get a large group of people excited about the topic! I think we did a great job though coming up with a catchy title and putting all those ideas on to paper.

Fast forward to this past week … we got word back that our proposal was accepted and we will be presenting our presentation at FNCE in Philadelphia, PA in October of 2019. If you are attending FNCE this fall make sure to mark your calendar for our session on October 27th at 10am! It will be a great presentation and worth getting up for! This is the best news that I could have gotten. I am wrapping up my maternity leave and kind of questioning leaving my baby to head back to work, but this was just the push I needed. I love what I do and love educating people about my job and supporting other RDs in that field of pediatric/NICU nutrition. It is tough being a mom, working full time, running a side business and at times I question if it is worth the stress to try to do all these things. Then moments like this where a crazy idea works out and becomes a reality and then I realize “yes” it is all worth it!

So stay tuned to hear about about that presentation and of course pictures and documentation of the event in October of this year!

Baby Busenburg #2 Birth Story

Our second child has a mind of his own and made his arrival 3 weeks before his due date. It was quite the eventful few days leading up to his birth, but in the end both of us ended up being doing well and not having major complications. We are so thankful that things were smoothly for his delivery and we all got to go home a day after his birth.

This second pregnancy for me was fairly straight forward. I have been thankful to have boring pregnancies. The most excitement that this little guy gave us was some premature atrial contractions (PACs) during the second trimester, but thankfully he seemed to grow out of those. His due date was 2/16/19, but he decided that 1/26/19 was a better day to arrive. In the two days leading up to that Saturday, I had contractions throughout both days. The night before he arrived I spent the whole night awake with contractions, but they didn’t increase in intensity, they just persisted throughout the night and then finally spaced out some during the next day. I had experienced this with my first pregnancy, but they stopped, these contractions continued and I figured at this rate, we were going to have this baby sooner rather than later. I went to the OB on Friday morning (1/25/19) and I was 3cm diluted and 80% effaced. I went to work on that day and spent the day, slowly walking around and then managing contractions throughout the entire day.

I had gotten our bags packed the night before, because I was awake, contracting and unable to sleep. That Friday night, I hung out with a friend, tried to relax and take it easy and then went to bed. I woke up around 1:50am with contractions that were stronger than the night before and they were consistently 5 minutes apart. After tracking them for 30 minutes, I woke up Chas, we grabbed our stuff, put William in the car and headed to the hospital. Thankfully Chas' parents had their phone nearby and we got in touch with them and they came over at 330am to stay with William. Chas dropped me off at the hospital, took William home and then came back to the hospital to be with me and help as we went through this labor process.

 Chas was amazing through the whole process! I have such an amazing partner and I am so thankful to have him by my side. He did a great job at organizing plans for William while we were in the hospital. William got to hang out with both set of grandparents and that was amazing.

After arriving at the hospital around 245am, I was taken up to a Labor and Delivery room and then continued with contractions. We had an amazing L&D nurse, Stephanie who was so helpful when the contractions got stronger. She helped to press on my back and provided counter pressure, which helped make the contractions more bearable. I got up to try to use the bathroom some time around 630am and that is when my bag of waters bulged and then things started to progress quickly. Our little one arrived after several good pushes at 650am. There was a little excitement just before he made his appearance … he had gotten stuck and they realized that he had a nuchal cord x2 (the umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck twice). They were able to reposition him slightly to get that cord from around his neck and then he came right out! The NICU team was called, because they weren’t quite sure why he was stuck and they came right away to check out the baby. His initial apgar measurement was 1, which is quite low and he was floppy, but thankfully he perked right up and then had apgar’s > 7 after that. He didn’t need any oxygen support and was doing well and I got to nurse him and hold him within that first hour.

We named him Samuel John Busenburg. He ended up weighing 5lbs and 13oz and was a small little guy compared with William, but that is what happens when you arrive 3 weeks early. The healthcare team at Women’s was amazing! From the security guy who took me up to triage, the OB resident who actually delivered Samuel, our L&D RN and Postpartum RNs (both named Stephanie) and all the staff were fantastic. Samuel gave us a little cause for concern prior to discharge, because he wasn’t pooping. After some rectal stimulation and a glycerin chip, he ended up passing meconium, which was slightly plugged. He has stopped pooping since!

I truly believe that God knew that Samuel needed to come early, because of his nuchal cord. If he had waited and grown more, he would have had a tougher time coming vaginally and who knows, I might have needed an emergency C-section. Thankfully everything worked out and we are so thankful for a healthy, strong baby boy who joined our family a few weeks early!


When You Go For It ... It Doesn't Always Work Out

I have shared over the years lots of encouraging words on this blog, lots of successes and positive things that have happened in my life and with my career. That is definitely exciting and I am so thankful for those positive parts of this journey, but I also wanted to share with you that things don’t always go according to your plan or what you imagine.

I have always been of the mindset to pursue every crazy dream that I have and to just say “YES!” and go for it. The worst that happens, is that you fail and that thing you wanted to do doesn’t happen. But putting yourself out there is important. It takes courage and guts to try something, knowing that you might fail. Well as you can probably guess … I ended up falling short and failing in something that I pursued recently. I decided to apply for a National position within the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. It was kind of on a whim. In fact, I had a co-worker ask me why I was applying and I said “because I can and I want to!” It was an opportunity that I went after and decided to go for!

I was honestly super surprised when I got the call saying that I was one of the finalists that was going to be put on the National Ballot. I didn’t really think I would actually get chosen. I was excited and then to learn that there was only two of us going for this Delegate-At-Large position, I was even more excited. I had this “good feeling” about this situation and that this had to work out! Well the election process came to an end and I got a call saying that I wasn’t selected. I had not received the most votes to win that position. I am not going to lie to you, I was disappointed. I had gotten my hopes up and felt like this crazy goal I had for myself was attainable and this was right time to do this! Well that wasn’t the case. That position wasn’t meant to be mine. The other girl that ran against me, will do an amazing job. She was very qualified and I hope that she enjoys and values that experience.

I wanted to share that this opportunity didn’t go in my favor this time. That is ok. Yes, I am disappointed, but at the same time, I am proud of myself. I went for something that I never dreamed I would do! I put myself out there (on a national level) and I am proud of pushing myself to apply and for making it to the ballot. Would I have done an amazing job if I had been elected … heck yeah, but this wasn’t my time and that wasn’t the position that I was suppose to be elected to. Am I going to let this most recent failure keep me from pushing myself and applying again in the future ? No! I am going to apply in the future for another position. I want to someday be elected to a position within the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics on the national level.

I don’t know how your week is going or if you have felt like a failure in a certain area of your life … I want to remind you that you never succeed with things you never try. Be proud of yourself and for putting your best foot forward and never stop pursuing your dreams!


Brain Boosting Lunches

I had the opportunity to teach another class at Mini Minds! I was so excited to have 4 families that signed up for the Brain Boosting Lunches workshop. I have wanted to put together a class where parents'/caregivers can attend with their child and both adults/children can participate, try new foods and learn something about food.

This has been a learning process to figure out the best way to put together a class that is worth the money, provides a unique experience and is also cost effective. The key has been to find the right price point. There isn’t another cooking/nutrition class in the Indianapolis area where parents and kids are together and get to work with a Registered Dietitian. This is a unique opportunity and I want to make sure that families know that this is available and find it worth their time! It can be challenging to put together a fun, learning filled opportunity for families. The workshop lasts 1.5 hours and costs ~$35. If you are interested in participating in the next one that I offer, let me know!

This most recent class was focused on creative ways to put together a healthy lunch for your child. Lots of parents pack lunches for their children and send them off to school. Some times it is easy to get stuck in a rut of making the same thing over and over again. Finding ways to break out of that boring routine and then making healthy meals for your child is important.

During the class we started off talking about the MyPlate model and the 5 different food groups. We talked about what foods would be in each food group and what foods the kids enjoyed or didn’t enjoy eating. I wanted to include some nutrition education so that when the kids see the MyPlate again in school, they are familiar with the concept and willing to have different food groups at each of their meals.

This workshop session occurred during lunch time and so of course all of the kids wanted to eat and make food! So we jumped right into making our lunches for the day. I provided a handout with information about the food groups and then lunch ideas including some recipes as well for the parents to take home with them! Below is the lunch that we made as a group. We did a special twist on a classic school lunch item - the lunch meat sandwich. I wanted to do something familiar that everyone would like, but have it presented in a different way. These sandwich pinwheels did just that! They worked out great and some of the kids tried some new foods, like tomatoes and hummus and others were interacting with a non-preferred food (like cutting it up) which was great. We paired the pinwheels with some fresh veggies - carrots and cucumbers with hummus as the dipping sauce. I had planned on doing a dried fruit with these as well - like raisins, but those weren’t available at the time so we stuck with the veggies and the pinwheels as our lunch for the day.

Healthy Lunches-2.jpg

Overall I think the families had a great time and were able to learn some things. I think this also provided a chance for the parents to interact and get to chat with one another. That can be nice to have some support from fellow parents when it comes with dealing with children. This was another successful workshop and I am excited to brain storm as other ideas for the upcoming 2019 year with Mini Minds and get some other dates on the calendar. If you have any creative ideas or have a topic that you would want to learn more about, leave that as a comment below and I would love your suggestions.


Your Vote Matters!

Are you a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND)? Have you voted in elections in the past? The answer to those questions should be YES! If you are a member of AND, but haven’t voted then this is your year to let your voice be heard. Just like with political elections, you have a right to let your opinion matter and to put that opinion out there. We are nearing election time for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, which will run February 1st-15th, 2019. That means you have about 2 weeks to click through and vote for the slate of candidates on a national, state and local level. In 2017, 12.8% of Indiana AND members voted in the national elections. That is above 10%, but not quite 20% of members. I think we can work to improve those numbers! If you are paying dues to AND then you take an active role in voting and choosing the leadership that assists with the goals/focus of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.


Are you wondering who all is on the national ballot? There are a list of candidates available now online and then biographical information available on the candidates as well. Each candidate has their biographical information available online and then also a video that they had to submit with the application. Take the time to read through these candidates and when you see an email in your inbox announcing the start of elections … take the time and cast your vote!

Are there state and local elections as well? There are elections for the Indiana Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics board and then also the local organizations, including the Central Indiana Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. These list of candidates will be sent out starting February 1st as well and so watch your email for those announcements and take the time to support and vote for these local RDNs who are volunteering their time to serve.

How long does it take? There will be three emails that you can anticipate receiving in regards to elections - one for the national election, one for the state election and one for the local election. It may sound like a lot, but it doesn’t take that long. It takes a few minutes to click through the list of candidates and make your selections. Keep an eye on your email and then work to get that ballot filled out as soon as possible!


Final Stretch of Pregnancy

It is crazy to think that I have 4 weeks left of being pregnant and then we will be meeting our newest family member. I am 36 weeks pregnant currently and we are totally in that home stretch. It has been amazing how quickly this pregnancy has gone by. Yes, that first trimester was rough at times and the days dragged by, but overall we have been so thankful for a healthy, easy, boring pregnancy. That is such a relief, because working in a NICU can easily leave you worried and totally anticipating the abnormal.

I feel like I did more blogging about my first pregnancy, but I also think it was really helpful to talk through that process and get to share what I was learning with you all. This time I feel like I was continuing on with my life and just happened to be pregnant. It was much less a big deal, but in a positive way. If you missed some of the posts you can catch up on Baby Busenburg #2s’s arrival by reading the following posts below.

Blogging about Baby Busenburg #2

Looking back over the last 8 months has made me appreciate my health, the health of our baby and having a wonderful family who love and support us. It was rough that first trimester to have a “surprise” and finding out we were expecting and working through those emotions. Then the nausea and fatigue is tough with a toddler running around. Thankfully those symptoms really only lasted through that first 12 weeks and then going into the second trimester I felt better and got my energy back. It was fun to be in that stage of pregnancy, because I didn’t feel super pregnant and was able to resume all my normal activities. I was so thankful for a smooth and boring second trimester. As we moved into that third trimester, I definitely started feeling more pregnant earlier. I have had some sciatica pain for awhile and just felt large and in charge for weeks. It has all been manageable, but I was eager to get back to some prenatal yoga in the last few weeks of this pregnancy. Now that we have the last month left, I know things will continue to be uncomfortable, but I know we are all eagerly anticipating the arrival of this wonderful second child and we can’t wait to meet him!

In these last final weeks of being a family of three + the dog … I really want to appreciate the time we have with just William and let him know how much he is loved. It is going to rock his world to become a big brother, but I think it will be a positive change. We do have plans to attend Daniel Tiger LIVE up at Elliot Hall in Lafayette and I think that will be a special thing to get to do with him. I also want to be able to include him with cooking and just get to soak up all that one on one time that we will have over the next 4 weeks.

There are lots of things that I want to work on finishing up before baby comes, including laundry and getting a spot in our room set up for the little guy. I also have lots of things with work that I want to try to wrap up before being away for about 7 weeks. I am also still doing work with Mini Minds on the side and I am actually planning on trying to use some of my maternity to getting somethings planned out for 2019 and growing that business further.


Picking Back Up with Prenatal Yoga

I did prenatal yoga every week with my first child. I loved it and there was as a studio not too far from my house with a St Vincent employee discount. It was a great set up and I was so thankful for an amazing teacher. It was such a wonderful experience. I really loved that commitment that I made to myself and William at the time. I wanted to continue that with my second pregnancy. It is different when it comes to finding time and money to do that activity with baby #2. Life is so crazy busy and with a toddler, I have had to make arrangements for William in the evenings so that I could attend a yoga class. That is one of the main reasons that I think make it so hard for moms with multiple children to be able to continue their prenatal yoga practice.

I have now reached my third trimester and I am at 35 weeks and we are about 5 weeks away from meeting Baby Busenburg #2. These last few weeks are definitely the most uncomfortable and I have been working to re-prioritize my yoga practice. It is worth it to have that 75 minutes a week to stretch, realign and re-center myself. I went to my first class back in awhile last week and it was amazing. I felt so much better after the class. I am so thankful for a husband who is willing to help me with William so that I can take that time and go to the yoga studio. I did my initial Prenatal Yoga post back in 2016, the last time I was pregnant. If you want to check it out - CLICK HERE and you can read through some great reasons for our prenatal yoga can prepare you for labor and delivery.

Even if you haven’t practiced yoga before and you are now pregnant, enrolling in a yoga class can be super helpful. There are so many benefits that prenatal yoga provides throughout each trimester of pregnancy.

First Trimester (for some more information - CLICK HERE)

  • It can be tough at times to want to get up and do anything. When you first find out you are pregnant often there is a lot of nausea, vomiting and just overall exhaustion.

  • If you are feeling poorly a nice, smooth motion can sometimes help you calm down and feel better. Doing something like prenatal yoga is a great way to help take your focus on your “bad feelings” and instead focus on your practice.

  • If you are exhausted feel free to take breaks and even modify positions as they feel good.

Second Trimester

  • This trimester is great because you start to feel better and tend to have more energy. This is the perfect time to work on some strength training during your yoga practice. Plus, at this time your belly isn’t that big yet so it is not uncomfortable to be in certain positions.

  • Some strength training exercises can involve squats to help your legs and pelvic floor. Doing stretching is also helpful to manage any hip pain and increase in the hormone release of relaxin. This strength training is helpful for labor.

Third Trimester

  • As you reach this trimester, mommy and baby are growing and this shifts your center of gravity. That can make things more uncomfortable.

  • Focusing on meditation and pain management is helpful when it comes to anticipating labor. Focusing on centering yourself is helpful as you work through that labor process.

  • More relaxin is released and again this causes mom to be more uncomfortable and doing stretches/some strength training to help with other movements and relieve some stress.

It can be tough to make time for prenatal yoga or really any yoga practice. It get more complicated when you have children to think about or other work responsibilities. I wanted to encourage you to take some time for yourself. It is worth the time and investment in helping you feel better. Make a short term goal for yourself and work towards that goal. If you are interested in trying to find some prenatal classes, check out the list of some locations around the Indianapolis area.  

Prenatalal Yoga Locations around Indianapolis



Freezer Meals for Maternity Leave

One goal that I have set for myself over the next month is to put together some freezer meals for my upcoming maternity. Baby Busenburg #2 is due on February 16th. That is quickly approaching. I have put together a “To Do List” of things that I want to try to get done over the next month. Needless to say there is a lot more on that list than I originally anticipated. Some of those things were anticipated, but others weren’t. I have been quite busy trying to work on somethings for RD Anna and my work at Mini Minds before I take some time off for my maternity leave. That has been taking up quite a bit of my free time.

But back to Baby Busenburg #2 and my maternity leave … I want to make sure that I have some freezer meals in our deep freeze for those 7 weeks that I will be off. I learned with my first son that after having a baby, going to the grocery and cooking become extra challenging. I know how much of a struggle that was for my first son and I can imagine that having two children will make things even more challenging.

Food Preparation for Maternity leave.jpg

I have decided to try to set myself and my family up for success and trying to put together meals that I can have in the freezer and use during that time off. Thankfully this time around we already have a deep freezer that is currently empty. It had been filled with breast milk from William, but it has sat empty for a little while now. Obviously it will start to get filled with breast milk again, but until then I am aiming to try to fill it up with food for us to eat starting in February.

My Freezer Meal Goals:

  • I want to aim to put together 6-10 meals that are in the freezer and ready to go for when Baby Busenburg #2 arrives.

  • I want these items to be a variety of food items (including different types of meat and vegetables).

  • If I knock out 10 recipes then I might try to work to make some sides and freeze those as well (for example - cornbread to go with chili, cinnamon rolls for breakfast, other rolls to go with soup, etc).

  • Most of the recipes listed below are main entrees that will then be paired with a vegetable or two that are fresh or roasted and that is easy enough to prepare while these items are cooking.

Recipe Ideas:

  1. Chili with meat and beans

  2. Meat Lasagna

  3. Roast with potatoes, carrots and onions

  4. Crockpot ham and potato soup

  5. Sticky Bourbon Chicken

  6. Chicken Tenders

  7. Cilantro Lime Chicken

  8. Chicken Enchiladas

  9. Honey, Soy Pork Tenderloin

  10. Broccoli Beef

Obviously these recipe ideas and freezer meals could be used for any occasion. You don’t need to be doing meal prep just for an upcoming maternity leave. Even if you put some of these food items in the freezer to have for a busy weekday meal or a weekend when you don’t want to cook, those are all great options.

The idea of having a baby is overwhelming enough, trying to be worried about cooking and cleaning is something that can wait for a little bit. That is what I hope to accomplish during my maternity, especially at the beginning. I want some time to just be ok with relaxing and getting to bond with this newest member of our family.

2018 Year End Review

It is crazy to think that 2018 has now come to an end and we are getting ready to embark on 2019. It has been such a great year filled with so many neat surprises and I am eager to look forward and see what 2019 holds for myself, for RD Anna and for my family.

Year in Review.jpg

Wrapping Up 2018 Goals

  • Weekly Blogging - Successfully accomplished. I was so excited to be able to write and share with you all 52 blog posts in the last year! Also posted daily nutrition information on the RD Anna Facebook page almost every day to share a variety of nutrition information with followers.

  • Media Contact for St Vincent - Successfully accomplished. I was able to do 6 TV media interviews and then 1 Newspaper interview as well over the last year in the greater Indianapolis area.

  • Writing a chapter for AND’s Nutrition Communication book - Successfully accomplished. This was such a neat project and an amazing process to be a part of. I am excited for the publication of this book in 2019 and to get to see the chapter that I helped to write!

  • Test Question Writing Committee for CSPCC (Certified Specialist in Pediatrics in Critical Care) - Successfully accomplished. This opportunity came my way unexpectedly, but was a neat process to be a part of and I learned so much about how standardized tests are created and written.

  • Wrote article for the Building Block Newsletter for the Pediatric Nutrition Practice Group on RDNs working to create separate breast milk and formula preparation areas. I was excited to get this draft sent off at the end of the fall and eager to make edits and have this article published in the spring of 2019.

Goals for 2019

  • Continue with weekly blogging. I have really enjoyed putting together various nutrition content for the blog and sharing that information with you all. If you have any ideas or suggestions, please feel free to Contact Me and let me know what you would like to learn more about!

  • Continue to serve as a media contact for St Vincent and do TV, Radio or Newspaper interviews as needed.

  • Continue to grow my contracting outpatient nutrition counseling business with Mini Minds in Carmel, IN. This undertaking has been quite the learning process. I am hoping to pick up more clients and do more outpatient counseling as the year goes on and continue to do some class education as well for families.

  • Work to complete additional hours towards a Lactation Counselor certification and renew the Certified Specialist in Pediatrics Exam. I am always working to learn more and advance my nutrition knowledge. I am hoping to continue to do this through completing the necessary coursework and obtain some additional certifications.

  • Run as a national candidate for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Ballot as a At Large House of Delegate in the category of 30 years and younger. I decided to give this a try and just go for it. Elections will be held at the beginning of February.

I always think that is fun to take a moment and look back over the last year and see some of those analytic data that I can get from running a website. It is so fun to see more people being exposed to the content that I provide and hopefully increasing that impact that I am able to have!

Blog Statistics

  • In the last year, RD Anna has had 2,025 page visits which is an increase of 26.2% from last year (that is any where from 121-218 page visits per month).

  • During the last year, 1,924 unique IP addresses were looking at my content, which is an increase of 35.9% from the year before.

  • The vast majority of readers are in the United States (84%), but there were about 3% from Canada and 1-1.5% from India and the Philippines.

  • When it came to popular content the most popular blog post was “Always Say Yes!” which had 166 page views, then the Pregnancy Glucose Test post that had 157 page views and in third was My Nutrition Journey which had 110 page views.

Thank you for taking the time to read and support this website, my blog and my business. I have appreciated all your comments, you taking the time to read what I write and give me your feedback. I really enjoy having this outlet and using this platform to help provide nutrition education to people around the world! I am so thankful for a wonderful 2018 and excited for more wonderful opportunities in 2019.

Wishing You a Very Merry Christmas!

It is hard to believe that today is Christmas Eve and tomorrow is Christmas Eve. 2018 is winding down and it has been such a crazy year. Thank you so much for all your support for RD Anna and for taking the time to read my blog posts. I have been enjoyed maintaining this blog and hopefully the information that is provided is interesting to you and helpful in your daily life.

As we wrap up 2018, I just wanted to thank you for all your support. I am excited to see what all transpires for 2019 for RD Anna. There are lots of exciting things that I am looking forward to this upcoming year. I will put together a 2018 Highlights blog post for you here at the end of the month and as we head into January 2019! But for now I want to wish you a very Merry Christmas and enjoy this special time of year with your wonderful family and friends!


Healthy Holiday Creations

I had my first cooking class last week at Mini Minds. Some of you may remember that I have been starting to do some contract work for Mini Minds and made RD Anna and LLC and working to launch my own business. We finally were able to get some families to sign up for this cooking workshop that was held on Saturday. We had 4 families that participated and it was a huge success. I am not just saying that, because I helped to lead the class, but I think everyone that came had a great time and learned some things. The highlight of the day was hearing from a mom afterwards that her daughter tried a new food, green pepper. The mother was telling me how picky her daughter was and at home it can be really tough to have her try new foods and she has a lot anxiety about that. That is totally common for lots of children and that is one of the reasons why I love doing group education, because in that setting it is easier to remove some of that anxiety and use positive peer pressure to help overcome a fear. That little girl was able to choose 1 new food to try and she chose of the green peppers. She tried them and she liked them! And then the cherry on top was that she also tried yellow peppers, because myself and another mother told her if she liked the green peppers, she would like the yellow peppers even more, because they are sweeter. She did and was so happy and proud of herself! Hearing things that like make me smile and have all the hard work that goes into putting on a cooking class worth it!


One of my goals with this class was to have an environment where the parent/caregiver is there with the child and they get to cook and make things together. We have one 5 1/2 year old, two 9 year olds and one 10 year old. All the kids were able to participate and do different tasks. It was so neat to watch them get to cook on their own. One child had never cut up a vegetable before. I worked with me and showed him how to cut up the green pepper and he totally did it! That is the overall goal that I wanted to accomplish … empower children to learn how to cook and enjoy it!

I had planned 5 different recipe items that we would make over the 1 1/2 hour class time. That ended up being overly ambitious, but I much rather have too much to do versus not enough. I saved the easiest snack/craft items for the last thing we did and I ended up doing those for the kids and they finished off the craft by drawing on it or cutting out a hat that we glued on.

I wanted to highlight some fun, kid friendly recipes that the whole family can help prepare. I was going to share with you one of my favorite recipes that we did. This one was a huge success and there is so much that you can do with this recipe to change it up and make it different, based on your own families preferences.



  • 1 Pizza dough tube (you can make your own or purchase premade pizza dough)

  • 1-2 cups pizza sauce

  • 1 cup Mozzarella cheese

  • ½ cup Feta cheese

  • 1 cup chopped, green peppers

  • ½ cup olives  

  • Handful of pepperonis

  • Top with parsley for additional flavor


  1. Roll out your pizza dough on a clean surface that is lightly covered in flour. Using a rolling pin.

  2. Use the cookie cutter to cut out shapes in the pizza dough. Brush with olive oil.

  3. Place on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper (to prevent sticking). Bake at 400 degrees F for 10 minutes until the pizza dough is lightly browned.

  4. Top with sauce and other toppings. Place back in the oven at 400 degrees for another 5-7 minutes, until cheese melts.

If you want more information about upcoming classes with Mini Minds …. let me know! We are going to do a session on snacks and then lunches in January. I was planning on a January 12th and 26th at 11am for those sessions.