09 Jul Inside the Fridge welcomes Meal Makeover Mom Liz Weiss
Liz Weiss is registered dietitian, mother of two, and co-founder of MealMakeoverMoms.com. Liz, and fellow dietitian, Janice Newell Bissex, are known as The Meal Makeover Moms, and together they write the award-winning food and nutrition blog, Meal Makeover Moms’ Kitchen and host the iTunes radio podcast, Cooking with the Moms. Liz is on a mission to help busy families—especially those with picky eaters!—eat a nutrient-rich diet and she does that by taking favorite family recipes and giving them a healthy, kid-friendly makeover. Liz also writes and hosts Meal Makeovers, a cooking video series which appears in over 30,000 doctors offices nationwide on the CNN Accent Health channel. You can follow Liz and Meal Makeover Moms on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.
Where do you shop for food?
I shop all over the place. My main go-to supermarket is Whole Foods, but I also frequent Trader Joe’s, Stop & Shop, Wilson Farm (they’ve been in my town of Lexington, MA since 1884), and in the summer and fall, I never miss my local farmers’ market on Tuesdays.
Do you love food shopping or dread it?
I wouldn’t say I love it or dread it but in all honesty, it’s not my favorite thing in the world to do. That said, any time I can shop at a local farm or farmers’ market, I get pretty excited. There’s nothing better than buying organic produce in season, which my family appreciates. I spend time on Nantucket in the summers, and there are two farms out there that I adore: Bartlett’s Farm and Pumpkin Pond Farm.
What is the single most important thing on your mind when you are shopping for food?
When I shop, I think about healthy meals for my family.
How often do you shop?
I shop all the time. I was not born with the organized gene.
How many do you shop for? Ages?
I shop for myself as well as my husband and two children. Josh is 19 years old—he’s in college and is now home for the summer—and Simon is 15. With two teenage boys at home, I go through a lot of food (and milk) each week.
How do you plan your weekly meals? Create a spreadsheet of fly by the seat of your pants?
I do both. I use the Supermarket Shopping List and 7-Day Meal Planner on MealMakeoverMoms.com, so on Sundays when I do my big shop, I have a sense for the meals I’ll be cooking that week. But as the week progresses, I often find myself flying by the seat of my pants. Both strategies work just fine for me!
What is the most coveted food in the fridge right now for each member of the household? Why?
Let’s start with my youngest son, Simon. He loves smoothies so the foods he gravitates to right now are 100% fruit juices, vanilla Greek yogurt (we’re not particular about whether it’s full fat or low fat), and frozen fruit. He’s especially partial to my Mom’s Mango Smoothie recipe. Josh is a busy young adult who is always on the move. Between work, the gym, taking a summer class, and hanging out with friends, he can’t live without one of the world’s easiest to prepare foods: eggs. He makes a mean omelet every morning. As for my husband, he’s not a happy camper in the morning until he’s had a glass of OJ and a bowl of whole grain cereal topped with berries, and I’m especially fond of any fresh vegetable that I can slice up, season with olive oil and salt and pepper, and cook on the outdoor grill.
Do you believe in leftovers?
I can’t live without leftovers. As a busy mom, I like making a meal one day and then having leftovers for lunch or dinner the next. Leftovers are a life saver.
What convenience product can you not live without?
The convenience of frozen fruits and vegetables appeals to my busy schedule. Frozen fruit makes its way into smoothies, everyone loves edamame as a side dish with dinner, and I often find myself turning to things like frozen corn kernels and spinach as fillings for quesadillas. My husband is a vegetarian, so canned beans are one of my favorite pantry staples.
What cooking utensil/piece of equipment/appliance do you live for?
In the winter, I find myself turning to my slow cooker for recipes like Sweet & Hearty Beef Stew and Pulled Pork, and my large Dutch oven is perfect for warming soups. My family’s favorite is a recipe from my second cookbook for Piping Hot Peanut Butter Soup. This time of year, the blender gets a lot of use as does my trusty cutting board. It’s all about the veggies right now.
When you hear the word “homemade” what is the first thing that comes to mind?
What food/s are important when recalling food memories?
When I was a kid, I loved sweets. In summer, I dreamt of s’mores … and I still love them to this day. In fact, my co-blogger, Janice and I just created a s’mores makeover using peanut butter, bananas, and blueberries versus the usual marshmallows and chocolate bars.
How have your cooking/shopping habits changed over the last 10 years?
I’ve always been a fan of a whole foods-based diet and was never fond of the highly processed, fat-free food movement. Now that locally-sourced produce is more available than ever, I find myself moving more and more in that direction. I’ve started to experiment with a wider variety of whole grains—things like farro, quinoa, and freekeh—and have enjoyed coming up with new recipes featuring these ancient grains.
What was the last meal you cooked from scratch?
I cook from scratch a lot. Last night for example, I sautéed up a bag of baby spinach and added it to cooked penne pasta along with pasta sauce, fresh mozzarella cheese, and fresh basil. One recent memorable meal was for Asian Lettuce Wraps from the new Dinnertime Survival Guide cookbook by Sally Kuzamchak, RD.
If one person could cook for you tonight, who would it be?
That’s easy: Yotam Ottolenghi. He’s a chef based in the UK and has written several cookbooks including Jerusalem and Plenty. His style of cooking embraces fresh, flavorful ingredients, and everything I’ve made from his books has turned out great. My kids are adventurous eaters, so Ottolenghi’s recipes are a fantastic fit for us. Recently, I made his Barley Risotto with Marinated Feta and Lamb Meatballs with Fava Beans and Lemon (I subbed in edamame for the fava). I’d love to meet Ottolenghi one day.
What words of wisdom or advice do you have for other folks who are doing their best every day to fill the fridge?
I’m all about taking the recipes families love and making them a little bit better. As one of The Meal Makeover Moms, it’s my mission to help families improve their diets. To that end, I encourage moms and dads and caregivers to tweak their favorite recipes to make them healthier. If you love meatballs, go ahead and eat them, but consider adding some shredded carrot for extra nutrition, switching to lean ground beef or turkey, and serving on whole wheat spaghetti for more fiber. It’s all about eating what you love and pleasing picky palates!
What are you working on these days that you’d like to tell us about?
My coauthor and I recently released a mobile recipe app called, Meal Makeovers. You can learn all about it in the iTunes store. We add new recipes to it every week and are excited that families everywhere can now access our recipes when they’re on the go. We are also writing for a new WIC publication called, Live Well Digest. The articles and recipes we contribute are aimed at helping lower-income moms feed their families an affordable, delicious, and nutritious diet.
Thank you Liz!
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