All Posts by MOMables - Laura


The Farmers Market: Mom’s Secret Weapon

Do you utilize the local farmer’s market?

A couple of weeks ago, this was a rare sighting; my two kids, peacefully helping me in the kitchen. Lunchtime, let alone dinner time was more of a battle ground than a Norman Rockwell picturesque moment.

It was usually loud, chaotic, full of, “I’m NOT eating that!” or “I don’t want to help you!” Now, I am not saying that my kids are selfish monsters, but at times and especially at mealtimes, they can be.  What changed? Me.

I got fed up with all the negativity around our kitchen at mealtime and looked my screaming monsters darling babies in the eyes and said, “Well maybe mommy would make all the yummy things you like if you helped her every now and then.

I don’t know why or how, but they understood me completely. Now mealtime is full of, “I help you mommy? We make noo-noos?” [Barrett speak for noodles]

It was hard at first, but my secret weapon? My local Farmer’s Market.

Enter the local Farmer’s Market and life got a whole lot easier. This not only has helped educated my children about food and its origins, but it has become our Sunday family tradition and I couldn’t be happier about it.

The kids and I began just walking around the Farmer’s Market to check out all the local goodies, but slowly, with more visits, they began to run up to counters with their eyes lit up, “What’s this mommy?” asked Brayden pointing to an eggplant. “PURPLE!” blurts out Barrett, “My favorite color!

BAM! Eggplant was then introduced to my children. Seriously, I would have NEVER thought to buy an eggplant. 1: I can’t remember the last time I had an eggplant; 2: I have no idea how to cook an eggplant; and 3: what kid on earth is going to openly ask for it? However, purple food was an easy sell to Miss B, even when she didn’t like the taste all that much; she got really excited about trying it and having purple food for dinner.

This was when I experienced, firsthand, the power of making our children apart of meal planning and mealtime. They were excited, intrigued by the things they were seeing; the colors, the different textures, the sizes, the everything!

They were hooked and so was I.

I then began to ask for the kids’ advice and input when preparing their meals; “What do you think we should have with our chicken tonight? We need a vegetable. Did you see any vegetables at the Farmer’s Market?” The fact that I, the big mama, was asking for their help inspired and empowered them. They feel special and important when we, as parents ask for their input. The proof is all over their faces.

Does this mean that all my meals are now blissfully domestic? No, I wish, but it has made my nights a lot easier.

Lunchtime was just as difficult.

I would pick them up from preschool and see that they barely touched their lunches, even if it was the lame standard of pb&j. On days I don’t have my act together and forget to prepare ahead with MOMables, I turn to them and ask them what they would like for lunch. “We need a fruit and a veggie in our lunches today, can you help me pick?” The conversation opens up and again, makes their little minds think about what we saw last weekend at the Farmer’s Market.

I know it sounds simple and some of you are probably thinking, “DUH!”, as you read this, but this is huge for our family. I have a tendency to try to “do-it-all” and shush away the kids so I can just get it done, but that doesn’t work well on many levels. Take a calming breath and inviting the kids into the kitchen has been one of the greatest things I have ever done. It makes mealtime fun, a teaching moment, and empowers my little people.

I have even researched other local Farmer’s Markets that run not only on the weekends as a way to keep the kid’s engaged with our weekend tradition if we can’t make it on Sunday. Grocery stores are just as good, and we hit up Whole Food’s on a weekly basis, but I have a special place in my heart for local Farmer’s Markets. It is the easiest way to help educate the kids on where our food comes from and why. This lesson can get lost immediately when you walk into a grocery store that offers no seasons.


How do you get your children to engage with your mealtime choices and preparation?

Do you explore your local farmer’s markets in the same way my family does?

What have you learned from asking your children their input on mealtime choices and preparation?

Any tips you would like to share?

* For more information on local Farmer’s Markets in your area please visit: LOCAL HARVEST

1 Busy MOMs Lasagna via

Busy MOMs Lasagna

Need a comforting food that is fit for the busy family?

Busy MOMs Lasagna via

I’m all about comfort food: wholesome, quick, easy, and convenient food. When it comes to dinner, I don’t have life as organized as I’d like; especially mid-week, when deadlines begin to pile up and activities are plentiful.

While you may think, I’ll just pop a frozen lasagna pan in the oven, and it will be ready for dinner, ask yourself this: How many times have you realized that it’s 5:45 and that lasagna pan will take more than an hour in the oven? While a traditional version of lasagna is made in a pan, this alternative will make you rethink how “complicated” you view the lasagna-making process.

The solution for busy parents is lasagna in a bowl. Inspired by this photo I stumbled upon on Pinterest from Framed Cooks, the recipe is my own.  You want to add meat, chicken, or veggies? Go ahead; add those too.

This is a basic guide to modifying your favorite lasagna and a fantastic way to put dinner together from fridge leftovers by using a few simple pantry staples. Best of all: My kids LOVE this in a thermos for lunch! You’ve been warned—make extra.

Related: Top 5 Thermos Containers We’ve Tested

Busy MOMs Lasagna – MOMables

Busy MOMs Lasagna via
  • Author:
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 10 mins
  • Total Time: 25 mins
  • Yield: 4
  • Cuisine: Dinner


  • 8 lasagna noodles, broken in half
  • 12 ounces baby spinach
  • 1 1/4 cups ricotta cheese
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 cups marinara sauce
  • Grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese


  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and add a tablespoon of salt. Add the lasagna noodles, and cook according to the package instructions. When tender, remove and drain.
  2. While you’re waiting for the water to boil, chop the spinach.
  3. In a bowl, mix the spinach, ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, garlic powder, onion powder, and oregano.
  4. Heat the mixture in a small pot over low heat for about 2 to 3 minutes.
  5. In a separate pot, warm the marinara sauce.
  6. Time to assemble! Line up four soup bowls, and ladle some marinara sauce into each bowl (about ¼ cup)
  7. Top the marinara sauce with two noodles. Scoop ¼ of the cheese/spinach mixture on top of the two noodles.
  8. Top again with the two final noodles, the remaining sauce, and some shredded mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.



Picky Eater Solutions

Regardless of how long it may seem that your child has been lingering in the world of “picky eaters,” it will get better. As adults, we have eating preferences, but I’ve never met an adult who only ate mac and cheese. Dinnertime used to be my most dreaded time of the day; simply because I felt I had become a short-order cook. Everyone ate something different, and a 30-minute meal took nearly an hour to prepare to accommodate all five of us. Today, I’m going to give you some practical tips that have worked for my family and many others. Regardless of what type of picky eater you have (texture, color, or flat-out refuses to try anything new), you must remember to not give up and that consistency is key. Now, if we could all get a note like this one!

  1. Feed your child when he is hungry. If you want to shoot for a 6 o’clock dinner time, don’t give your child a “light snack” at 4:30 pm. My grandmother always said that kids eat when they are hungry, and if they know a light snack is coming to hold them over, the likelihood of them eating dinner (especially something that may not be their favorite) is slim to none. My kids get a light snack when I pick them up from school and nothing else until dinnertime. I have found this to work over time, and they eventually learned to not ask for a snack at 5:15 pm. It’s important to mention that your kids will give you hunger queues, such as lingering around the kitchen, asking for snacks, or getting very whiny.
  2. Stick to a routine. I hear many parents complain about their evenings being activity filled, and dinnertime is chaotic and never at the same time. My answer: You either tackle your activities or your picky eater. A mom can only do so many things at one time. It’s that simple. Evening activities are non-negotiable at my house; it’s family dinner and evening routine. While I respect my friends who have all sorts of sport practices because that’s what they are choosing to do, I remind them that dragging the 3-year-old to everything and expecting to help her “get less picky” just won’t work. You have to choose your battles.
  3. Be patient with new foods. You serve your child something that looks great and tastes really good, but he refuses to eat it. Or, it could be a small side of corn you are introducing. Still no luck. Should you serve it again? Yes. Keep at it. One day, he may try it and like it. Sometimes, you might only get two bites, and they decide that they’ve had enough. That’s okay too. Praise, praise, praise. Two is better than zero.
  4. Make it fun. Serve broccoli or other veggies with a favorite dip or sauce (for my daughter, it’s ketchup or ranch). Some days, she eats one bite; other days, the carrots are gone. At least she tried.
  5. Give them options, but not too many. “Tonight we have broccoli or green peas. Which one are you going to eat?” This way, your child has some control over their environment (a big part of why kids are picky eaters), and they are eating something good for them the same time. My daughter does not eat fruit (seriously), so I either sneak it in or say that today’s snack is a smoothie. What color would she like her smoothie to be?
  6. Recruit their help. Getting kids involved doesn’t always mean in the kitchen. At the grocery, divide up the fruits and vegetables, and tell them that they each get to pick one fruit, one vegetable. They chose it, so there is not excuse not to eat it! My friend is lucky enough to not bring her kids to the store, so she has made up note cards of fruits and veggies, and each child selects one of each before she leaves. She adds their selection to the list.
  7. Start out slowly. My son has an issue with textures and won’t eat eggs (in any shape or form), so I make him French toast on our breakfast-for-dinner nights. Yesterday, he took TWO bites of scrambled eggs, then he had enough. I told him he did a great job with the two bites, and I moved on to something else.
  8. Make some adjustments. Monday, we all had red beans and rice for dinner. Again, I pulled out my handy chopper, and it became red bean dip. I sprinkled some cheese and served it with a couple of chips. They nearly ate the whole plate. As red beans and rice? No luck. With chili, it started out as chili dip; now it’s served from the pot.
  9. Set boundaries and food rules. Children are expert manipulators. For the longest time, they whined and cried for my husband to feed them, sit between them—you name it, they tried to pull it off. With me? No luck. I often start dinner before my husband gets home from work and have them sit with a treat while we eat. This way, they are still in the family “dinnertime” routine, but I can actually enjoy my food warm because I’m no longer feeding, cleaning up after, or encouraging my child to eat. We set a three-bite rule before they can say “no” to an item. Oftentimes, they have devoured the entire plate.
  10. Stay positive. This last one is perhaps the most difficult for a busy parent. At the end of the day, we oftentimes feel spent and running on reserve power. My friend Michelle says “nothing a glass of vino can’t handle.” I love that attitude. It reminds me that much of good parenting is about being encouraging, nurturing, and being flexible. You can do it!

If you missed part 1 (A texture problem) click here, if you missed part 2 (A color issue) click here! If you are ready to move on to part 4 (Action plan) click here!

photo source

For whiter teeth check out Sexy Smile Kit.


Easy Broccoli Pesto

Do you have a hard time getting your kids to eat broccoli? Those days are over, my friend. This easy brocoli pesto has all the delicious flavor of pesto but is made with broccoli!

easy broccoli pesto - delicious and it's a win win recipe!This easy broccoli pesto tastes just like traditional pesto but with a sneaky side of veggies.

My kids don’t mind the taste of pesto—often hidden within tomato sauce or under pizza toppings—but they do not like broccoli. “I don’t like those trees” is what my almost 4-year-old son says each times he sees it.

My solution to feed them this vitamin- and mineral-packed vegetable? Pesto sauce!

The taste is delicious, gives great leftovers, and it goes great with just about anything!

Related: Top 5 Lunchboxes We’ve Tested

MOMables Easy Broccoli Pesto {nut free}

  • Author:
  • Cuisine: Lunch


  • 1 cup broccoli florets, steamed but still crunchy
  • 1 large handful fresh basil
  • 1 small clove garlic
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup olive oil, plus more if needed


  1. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse all dry ingredients until they are finely chopped.
  2. In between pulses, slowly pour the olive oil in a thin stream.
  3. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and add more if it needs it to achieve a pesto-like consistency. Makes about 1 1/2 cups of pesto.


Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Freeze for up to 3 months.
If your child does not eat pesto, mix 2 teaspoons of pesto with 1 to 2 tablespoons cream cheese or ricotta cheese. This helps your child be introduced to pesto without it being so strong a flavor. It makes a creamy pesto sauce. If you have an ultra-picky kid who does not eat “green,” try adding 1 tablespoon tomato sauce to mask the color.


Pictured here is broccoli pesto pasta with Parmesan crusted grilled chicken.



4 Picky Eaters

Picky Eaters: A Color Issue

This is part II of our Picky Eaters series.  If you missed part I, you can find it here.

Picky Eaters via MOMables.comThe dilemma: Your child eats one or two food colors for an extended period of time. Typically, this includes only beige or white, creamy yellow or orange. Your child’s eating habits center around bread, cheese, pasta, milk, rice, potatoes, and not much else (aside from a few other items your child has deemed to be “safe” to eat).

The MOM nutritional concerns: You are wondering if your child is getting enough vitamins, minerals, fiber, and all the essential nutrients associated with fruits and vegetables. Not to mention, you know all these refined grains and starches are not considered nutritious long-term.

The MOM thoughts: You are tired of “fighting” about food. Meals take a long time to be eaten, and you try really hard to not lose your patience. It’s the end of the day, and you are tired and decide to give in. You figure this picky-eating habit is temporary, and your child will outgrow it.

The problem: You have become a short-order cook. Temporary is becoming what seems like permanent, and you are beginning to feel frustrated. You dread making homemade meals because of the amount of work or planning you have to do. You are also beginning to feel bad, as a parent, that you are not providing your child with the nutrition he should be getting. Deep down, you know that the gummy vitamins are not cutting it.

The result: You only buy foods that your child eats and have stopped fighting it. Occasionally, you consult with your friends to find ways to get your child to eat different foods, but you never try something long enough for it to actually work. You are back to square one.

Let me assure you that if you have a child who seems to be stuck in eating the same items day after day, week after week, you are not alone. The term for what you are going through is called “neophobia”: the fear of trying anything new, including new foods. You might have had an infant who loved food from that 1-year mark, and all of a sudden decided that “no” was his favorite word (around the age of 2). What can you do to help your child get in more nutrition? A few things, actually. Steps that require some work; but consistency is key.

What you can do:

  • If your child eats white rice, white pasta, and white bread but not the whole-wheat version, you can try introducing the whole-wheat kind by mixing up the two a little bit at a time.  Example: For a 1/4-cup serving of white rice or pasta, substitute 1 to 2 tablespoons of the whole-wheat alternative. For white bread, you can either begin to make white bread at home (where you can add flax and other nutrients without your child noticing, or slowly begin to buy the white-wheat kind, then honey wheat, and eventually, whole-wheat. My friend Mary used to make sandwiches with the top side white bread, and the bottom honey wheat. Try pureeing cauliflower in mashed potatoes. While cauliflower doesn’t have huge nutritional benefits, it does have fiber.
  • You have a mac n’ cheese kid who could survive on the blue box forever (I have one of those). The trick is to slowly make the “blue” box creamier, to where you could make your own version of creamy mac n’ cheese. Let’s face it, nothing tastes like the packet in the blue box. However, there are simple things you can do to add nutrition to the blue box. Steam and puree/blend/mash 1/4 to 1/2 cup of orange squash or carrots. Add these to the blue box. Need step-by-step instructions? Take a look here.
  • Peer pressure: Nothing like a little friendly competition to get your child to eat. Invite a friend who eats “x” for dinner every day for a week. By day four or five, your child might just see that it’s “normal” to eat certain foods.
  • Mirror: If you expect your child to eat broccoli, but you never have it on your plate, it’s not going to happen. You must show them how delicious something is by actually eating it yourself.
  • In tomato sauce, you can hide just about anything that’s good for them. Add cooked vegetables and blend away. Make sure you don’t add too much, or you’ll make the sauce a very unappealing brown color.
  • Does your child eat pesto? Make broccoli pesto!
  • Don’t go overboard. Offer just a little of something with color. Parents often make the mistake of filling the plate with too many items your child is weary of. Pair a “safe” food with a new one.
  • Serve new things in a small dish so it doesn’t seem like a big quantity.
  • Sneak vegetables into brownies. SERIOUSLY. You can try out my sneaky brownies here. They are made with spinach and blueberries.
  • Are your kids color picky but LOVE waffles? We serve rainbow waffles at my house. Purple have blueberries, pink have beets, orange are made with pumpkin, green have spinach, yellow ones have mangoes.
  • Get a color chart like the one from Today I Ate a Rainbow. Play a game with your child to see how many things they can eat of different colors each day, and reward, praise, and praise some more.

Above all, don’t get discouraged. It will take some time and effort. If you are anything like me, you’ve lost your patience a few times. Don’t worry. It’s a slow process but one that is rewarding when small milestones are achieved.

If you missed the first part of the mini series, click here to go to part 1 (A texture problem)! If you are ready to move on to part 3 (Overcoming the picky-eater stage), click here!

My daughter eating celery; because her best friend told her it was crunchy and delicious.