Bonus: Janice Newell Bissex and Liz Weiss – Meal Makeover Moms


Jonathan: Hey, everyone, Jonathan Bailor here with another bonus Smarter Science of Slim podcast. Really excited about today’s show, know we’re going to have some great energy, some great information and some great practicality because we have with us none other than the Meal Makeover Moms, Janice Newell Bissex and Liz Weiss, also the authors of No Whine With Dinner, a wonderfully titled books. Also the host of the Cooking with the Moms podcast and soon to be the providers of the Meal Makeovers App. Janice and Liz, welcome to the show.

Janice: Thanks, Jonathan.

Liz: Thanks for having us.

Jonathan: Janice and Liz, just to get started I really want to dig into your story because I think a lot of our listener – and the thing that attracted to me, I tried to read your work in first place, was your story and your just overall approach. What got you to where you are today from a nutrition, cooking, and practicality perspective?

Liz: Well, we’re known as the Meal Makeover Moms and we’re registered dietitians. For years, we were hearing from fellow moms on the playground about their struggles feeding their kids a healthy diet and this was around early – what year was this, Janice? 2000 or so.

Janice: 2000.

Liz: When our kids were on the younger side. When you hang out on the playground, people find that you’re a dietitian, you become very popular and they want to know how to like it out of chicken nugget rut or the mac and cheese rut. Janice and I as dietitian friends just got to talking and we said “We need to do a cookbook and we need to start giving moms guidance on how to feed their kids a healthy diet that they’re still going to be happy eating.” Picky eaters, great eaters, you name it, we just want to give them good nutrition.

Jonathan: I love it. I love it. Well, I could imagine that for me in my experience as well, this is such empowering moms. I found is just such an important component because more often than not, the mother is really the health CEO of the household. She is the one who oftentimes may even not pay attention to her health because she is so concerned with everyone else’s health so really making sure that she is equipped with the most practical and most proper information around diet and nutrition can really change lives, can it not?

Janice: Definitely. That’s very important and you also need to give moms the tools, not just the knowledge of “Okay, these foods are healthy.” but you need to give them recipes. This is how you can get dinner on the table in 20 minutes so that it’s not overwhelming for them so that’s what we try to do as we developed recipes. We try to think “Okay, nobody wants to spend…” Well, very few people want to spend two hours preparing dinner every night so we try to streamline things and make it easy for moms.

Jonathan: Janice and Liz, what have you found to be really the keys to enabling an individuals, especially moms, to both from a cost and a time perspective provide those meals? Are there some key principles you follow? How would you guide mothers on a general level?

Liz: One of the things we like to talk moms about is convenience foods but choosing them wisely and I’ll give you just a few examples. You can go into the grocery store and you can buy a can of beans for a dollar or less and there’s so much you can do with beans that bring great nutrition to the family dinner table and it’s inexpensive and it’s good. It’s very nutritious. You can buy other convenience foods…

Janice: Cheese.

Liz: Yeah, cheeses that are already shredded for you and if there are on sale, even better so these are all little shortcuts. Salsa, I was just at Trader Joe’s the other day and I had an awesome fire-roasted, low sodium salsa that is just out of this world. A lot of salsas are salty. A lot of convenience foods can be salty. You got to read labels but there are so many convenience foods that can get you at the dinner table quickly without breaking the bank. I don’t know to many people can make salsa from scratch but you certainly could do it if you wanted to, but if you need that quick convenience, it’s out there. You just have to be a little bit of a supermarket sleuth to find the best products possible.

Jonathan: I love the idea because I think so often people equate healthy eating with it’s automatically are going to be more expensive and it’s automatically going to be more difficult, but what you said which is spot on is if you’re given the correct tools, you can have convenience foods, it’s just a different kind of convenience food. An example, one thing I’ve really been enjoying recently is hard-boiled eggs. You boil a bunch of eggs over the weekend and you’re hungry, there’s an egg. You maybe even pre-peel them while you’re watching television or something. Then, you just reach in when you have that food available to you ready. You cook in balk, if you got some frozen vegetables. It’s just as easy to grab a boiled egg as it is as to grab a bag of potato chips, is it not?

Janice: That is definitely true. Jonathan, do you boil your eggs or do you bake them?

Jonathan: I’ve never actually baked an egg. How do I do that?

Janice: I tried that this weekend for the first time because a fellow RD said that she bakes her eggs and you just got a 12 cup muffin tin and you put an egg in each one, put it in the oven 325, I think it was for 20 minutes. Maybe, it was 25. My daughter ate one after she went running on Saturday and she said “Easy to peel, really nice.”

Liz: Oh, good.

Janice: In fact, that’s what we’re going to have for lunch today. We’re going to have egg salad, made with those hard cooked eggs.

Liz: In fact, it’s funny you mentioned the hard boiled eggs because I was just going to say to Janice today “Hey, we should do a blog post on how to hard cooked eggs.” because you could bake them or you could do at stove top and if you cook them too long, you get these nasty green ring around the yolk. It’s not pretty to look at. If you have a kid who might be in the picky side, you certainly don’t want that green ring.

When we make egg salad we use expeller pressed canola-based mayonnaise. We added a shredded carrot to it to boost the fiber and the Vitamin A. You can even take an all-natural bacon, cook that up. You can make a bacon in the oven, too. Drain the fat away and chop up just a slice or two and all of the sudden, you got this really kind of interesting egg salad. You can add bell pepper that you chop off, so there’s so many ways to take that hard-cooked egg and turn it into a family meal that everybody is going to love. I did do egg salad the other day for the kids and they not had have it in a while. They said, “Wow, this is unbelievable.”

Jonathan: I love it. Two tips that I recently discovered which have really helped with – well, I’ve never done the baking but I’ve done the boiling. I’m curious your thoughts on this. One has to do with making the peeling easier because that’s really what’s stop me for the longest time but I found that if you add, I think it’s either baking powder or baking soda – I just used whichever we have in the cupboard – into the pot while you’re boiling them that does something with the alkalinity of the water such that the peel just comes off in one big chunk, for lack of better terms.

Liz: Wow. Well, I’ve not tried that but if you take them from the boiling water or the oven and cool them quickly that helps also. Put them in a bowl with ice water.

Jonathan: Oh, very, very cool so that and the baking soda, and also one of the thing I’ve enjoyed recently is I eat them and you could call this ‘a lazy person’s egg salad’. I can eat them just with cottage cheese. Adding the cottage cheese. Maybe, I have a bite of cottage cheese and a bite of the egg, for some reason when they combine or you just mash them up in a bowl together, it doesn’t look particularly appealing but it sure does taste good.

Janice: Don’t serve it to your guests but it’s fine when you’re alone.

Liz: Dinner party fair.

Janice: The other two great things to have with hard-cooked eggs would be hummus, which is made from chickpeas or avocado with this, one of our favorite foods. My kids don’t love avocado just straight up but they adore guacamole. If you’re wanting to cook with your kids and get them excited about healthy eating, it’s a very simple thing to do with kids where they mash the avocado. You could add some finely diced tomato, some lime juice, some gorgeous chop fresh cilantro and add a little red onion and salt pepper, and you got this great snack for kids.

You could take carrot sticks or bell pepper strips and dip it in that guacamole. Avocados are a great source of heart-healthy mono and saturated fat and a zillion other nutrients so that’s a good one to do when you want to get kids excited about cooking and nutrition.

Jonathan: I love that and the combination there of the high-quality protein from the egg and the high quality fat as well as the fiber from the avocado that’s something that could be a snack but that’s going to be so filling that it’s almost a meal.

Liz: Right.

Janice: Then, you can grill some chicken if you want even more protein. We can go on and on. Now, it’s making me dream of my CSA that I’m going to have this summer, Community Supported Agriculture, and all the gorgeous fresh produce that you get every week in your basket that you just have to get a little creative with.

Jonathan: I love avocados, also. I love you take on this Liz and Janice because I think it’s a great example and I’ll give another one in a moment of, what I like to call ‘fibrous fats’. When you can find the naturally occurring fats that are also rich in fiber, to me that’s a one-two punch that’s hard to beat. Avocados are a great example. Also, cocoa, pure un-Dutch cocoa is an incredibly fiber rich fat and it seems when you find fiber and fat in a natural package together, you’re also getting an amazing amount of nutrients there. Have you also had an experience?

Janice: I did. Those are two of our favorite foods. We love chocolate. We love cocoa. Yeah, I think it’s great. It’s that sort of nutrient-density concept that when you have a food, you want to make sure that you’re getting a lot of good things in one package. Avocados and eggs and cocoa, a lot of those foods meet that bell.

Liz: It’s making me think about our black bean brownies, our gluten-free black bean brownies where you’re pulsing together eggs and black beans and we’ve got cocoa powder in there. There’s a little bit of sugar. It’s a hard to do brownies without that but if you’re looking for a healthier dessert, we’ve use red beans in brownies before and it’s just a nice way to get more fiber, more protein. You don’t have to add that two sticks of butter.

Janice: I grew up eating brownies. My mom made the best brownies in the world.

Liz: Of course, they were the best brownies. They were sticks upon sticks of butter. No, I do try to avoid that and going for those better for you fats. You can even use avocado. People use that in desserts, too as a fat replacer, if you will.

Janice: We do a lot of ground nuts in our desserts. I like chunky nuts but a lot of times kids don’t. They don’t like to bite into big chunk of a nut so we finally chopped them and add that to a lot of our dessert or baked goods. That’s the healthy fat.

Liz: You can use chopped nuts as a coating, if you were going to coat say chicken and you’re going to make a homemade chicken parmesan. We’ve used ground flax seed as a coating. We’ve used chopped nuts. You could use parmesan cheese, so there’s great ways to boost even the coating on a chicken parmesan. Well we’re using chopped nuts.

Janice: What about our walnut crusted salmon recipe, that’s also good way to get. That’s double punch of omega-3 fats.

Jonathan: This is just getting out of hand here. I have to go pause this podcast and just raid my refrigerator here.

Liz: Jonathan, you’re saying “Wait a minute. Forget the cottage cheese, I’m going for the salmon.”

Jonathan: No, I love salmon. I eat salmon almost daily. I live out here in Seattle so our salmon is quite delicious but Janice and Liz, one thing that I wanted to dig into was for some of these fats like avocado, we already made some great example, what are some ways for cocoa? Often, it’s not immediately obvious how we can incorporate cocoa into our diet without the immediate “Well, just eat another Hershey’s bar.” Okay, wait, wait. That’s not what we’re after. What are some SANE and low sugar ways we can incorporate more cocoa into our diet?

Janice: I’m dreaming right now of a smoothie made with low-fat milk, whether you’re a soy milk or cow’s milk or an almond milk. Low fat milk or full fat if that’s the direction you’re going in, some peanut butter, some cocoa powder, some banana, that would be a really yummy smoothie where you could incorporate some of that cocoa powder. The chocolaty hit. I like it.

Jonathan: For me personally, the intentional incorporation of cocoa into my diet was such an important breakthrough because I have a profound sweet tooth. My whole family does and it’s not because I eat sugar and that triggers this cycle. I actually don’t eat any sugar almost in any form. Of course, there’s going to be some incidental sugar in vegetables but it’s just something in my brain constantly crave, not constantly but occasionally crave sweets, but when I eat cocoa that actually triggers the dopamine response which I believe the sweeteners normally would and I’m good. I didn’t have to take in any sugar to get that enjoyment that I typically would need sugar for.

Janice: Have you ever used cocoa, Jonathan to make sort of a mole sauce with some chilies? Have you ever done that?

Jonathan: Well, this reminds my podcast co-host Carrie Brown, who’s a former pastry chef, she described the way I cook as more of assembly so anything that requires more than take A,B and C and combine them in a bowl, I have not done sadly, but that sounds delicious. I had mole sauce. I love it.

Liz: Okay, he’s like “I’m going to Mexico for that thing.”

Jonathan: No, how would one do that? I also have a Vitamix blender and if that would help, I would use that as well.

Liz: Oh, wow.

Janice: You can do in your Vitamix. I haven’t done this but you could pulverized together pecans and ice and that would make a pecan ice cream, and then you can add some cocoa powder to that to give it a little chocolaty hint, and that would be delicious.

Jonathan: I like that.

Janice: Let’s make a flight to Seattle, Jonathan. [Inaudible 14:49].

Jonathan: I would love [crosstalk 14:50]. You have the open invitation. We will video record the whole thing and it will be wonderful.

Janice: I’ll be out there in June. Maybe, I’ll take you up on that.

Jonathan: Oh, please. I’ve actually written down a note to follow up with you after we finish recording.

Janice: [indiscernible 15:04].

Jonathan: Speaking of the Vitamix and ice cream, that’s actually something I want to dig in to more because I’ve been doing some experimentation there. I haven’t perfected it yet but I’ve been shocked, and again this is probably not going to taste good to most people. I have been eating a little bit differently for so long that my taste have changed pretty substantially, but I do something as simple, and I’m hoping you could maybe make this even more delicious here on the spot, as taking pure un-Dutch cocoa powder, put it in the Vitamix with some guar gum to thicken and some Xylitol to sweeten and I just add some water.

Then, I blend that up until it’s all mixed up and then I just throw a bunch of ice in there, and maybe some cinnamon. For me personally, it creates this delicious chocolate sorbet. Some other individuals may like it a little bit sweeter but I’m to the point where just so little sweetness actually seems a lot of sweetness for me but what else can we do in that space?

Liz: I’m feeling the nut love there, a little some walnuts or pecans might be nice.

Janice: Right.

Liz: I don’t know when you’re doing the fruit thing.

Janice: Some mango or add a little bit of frozen mango.

Liz: Or blueberry or banana.

Jonathan: You can even add maybe a strawberry. Things like the chocolate covered strawberry kind of vibe.

Liz: I like raspberry with chocolate, that’s a nice combo but blueberry and chocolate surprisingly – you’d be surprised. That’s a really nice combo.

Janice: Yeah, that’s my daughter’s favorite. She likes blueberries smoothies. We add a little cocoa, a little frozen blueberries and she loves that. A little peanut butter, too. She just wants peanut butter in all of her smoothies.

Jonathan: Tell me what you think about this. Could you essentially with some experimentation take any smoothie, not any, but most smoothie recipes, just drop the water content a little bit and if you have a Vitamix, they give you this little plunger which you can kind of enable the Vitamix to blend things which may not normally blend because you got to kind of push them down into blade. Make sure you have the proper tools before you do this. Don’t use you hand to push them down in the blade, but it seems if you got the smoothie recipe, in short you have a sorbet/ice cream recipe, you just need to reduce the amount of liquid.

Liz: Oh, absolutely.

Janice: Yeah.

Liz: It’s more like slushy if you add a little less liquid.

Jonathan: Yup, yup. To be clear folks, it’s going to be a little bit more like a soft serve ice cream. I would imagine for the listeners don’t expect it to be like a traditional carton ice cream but we all like soft serve ice cream so if we can make that healthy and delicious, that’s good, too.

Janice: Sure.

Liz: That’s right.

Janice: You’re golden, you’re in good shape here.

Jonathan: I appreciate that. I appreciate that but I want to get back Liz and Janice to our idea of cost and convenience because we didn’t really touch too much on the cost aspect but it seems there is this dogma, which is just mathematically not true. We can do healthy shopping and we can blog post about it and we can show. “Look, this cost just as much if not less.” Then, if I bought a bunch of packaged stuff, how do you help individuals with eating healthfully but not breaking the bank?

Janice: There are lot of strategies. Number one, I personally look at the circulars, the sales circulars for supermarket to see what’s on sale that week and I’ll stock up on things that are on sale, canned beans, things like that for my pantry and plan my menu around what’s on sale. You can buy in bulk. People need to remember that if you’re cooking at home, you’re saving money. Eating out even a couple of times a week really adds a lot to your overall food cost so if you bring it home, you use real foods and you will end up saving money, even though you might say “Oh, well, this is a little bit more expensive because it’s an organic spinach or whatever and it’s an extra dollar.”

If you look at it closely, you can buy carrots for 99 cents for a pound of carrots. There are all sorts of good items in the fruit and vegetable department. I buy my meats when they’re on sale so if there are boneless skinless chicken thighs on sale, I’ll say “Oh, let’s do that recipe from our book using the thighs. We have a pulled pork primavera recipe on our book. A slow cooker is another easy way to get dinner on the table if you’re short on time. You just put stuff in the morning whether it’s a beef stew or we have pulled pork where we put some onions, a shredded carrot, maybe some finely minced red bell pepper and a little barbeque sauce, and you just let it sit all day. You pull it apart in some beautiful pulled pork.

Liz: The other thing, too when you’re using the slow cooker, if you don’t know what Janice said in terms of saving money is that the slow cooker is low and slow cooking, which means you can take a tough, inexpensive cut off meat, say a brisket and cook it for eight hours on low and it breaks down the connective tissue in the meat and that’s why it’s a cheaper cut because it’s a tough cut, but now it’s going to be melt-in-your-mouth butter by the end of the day because you cooked it so low and so slow. You can save a lot of money using your slow cooker or by braising meat stove top or in the oven and you can go for those cheaper cuts.

Jonathan: Well, that really is a one-two punch there, Janice and Liz. Not only are you saving money, not only is it delicious but sticking with the low cooking temperatures, not too geek out too much but that’s going to drop the amount of advanced glycation end products or things of which when you cook food…

Liz: There we go.

Jonathan: …At very high heats. You can sometimes do two bad things to it but when you did it slow cooking you’re also going to get an additional benefit, right?

Janice: Right.

Liz: Yeah, absolutely. You’re going to get nutritional benefit in a slow cooker. You can add lots of vegetables in a slow cooker and likes vegetables. Even if you’re doing a beef stew, Janice had eluded, you could right at the end of it. You can add some frozen petite peas that you thaw out. I love keeping the freezer stocked with organic vegetables and my kids love frozen peas and corn and spinach so you can stock up on those, and like Janice said, if they’re on sale or you find a coupon somewhere.

The other way to save money at the market is to go for the generic brands, the in-store brands. You might for example get – I’m just trying to think of an in-store brand of a salsa. We were talking about salsa before. It might be a really national brand, it’s just private labeled at the supermarket, and you can save that way as well. Just read labels and get the best one out there.

Jonathan: The slow cooking, for me personally, I also really love. Not only is it set to save money, save your health but also it’s the ability to cook in bulk which I think is such a profound win in general. Anytime I personally cook, I’m curious your take on this, I cook for now and I cook for the freezer. Literally, if I’m going to spend time cooking, you better believe that I’m going to get at least two meals, if not dramatically more. What’s cool about this is if you want you are often end up only cooking everyday other day or every three days because when you do cook, you got this back log of stuff in your freezer and then you can just bring it back and it’s glorious.

Janice: Right. Liz sometimes teases me and says that I’m the queen of vat cooking. Again, if I’m going to cook, I’m going to make a big quantity, partly because I have a lot of friends that stop by for dinner and I entertain a lot but partly, because I do want to put it in the freezer so on those nights that you don’t have time and you come home and it’s five or six o’clock at night, you can just look at the freezer and pull something out.

Liz: Right. It’s making me think of this minestrone soup that we have in our cookbook, No Whine With Dinner. It’s a favorite with my kids and it calls for cannellini beans and sautéed zucchini and carrots and onions. It’s just gorgeous. You could easily double that kind of a recipe and freeze it or just have it the next night or put it in your kid’s lunch box in a thermos the next day and so instead of making all that effort just for one meal, you’ve got two meals. The key is to label and put the date on. When you put things in the freezer, Jonathan as we know, three years later, this bizarre, freezer-burned item out of there and you’re like “What is that?” so label, because you’ll lose money if you start losing control of what’s in your freezer.

Jonathan: Janice and Liz, I will echo that with a quick anecdote and also a tip. The tip is going to be if possible get clear storage containers so that you can actually see what’s in the storage container that really helps and then, if you don’t do that, you may have something like the following happens. We are very, let’s say cost-sensitive here. I’m very, very conservative with how I spend money and we reuse cottage cheese containers. We get to shop at Costco and we get this big cottage cheese containers and they’re wonderful containers. I save them and I use them as you would use any sort of Tupperware container.

The problem though is that I have so many now and I use them almost exclusively. I do all these cooking on the weekends and I just put everything in cottage cheese containers and I open the fridge. Three weeks ago or so, my wife was “Jonathan, where is the ‘X’.” whatever. I was “Honey, it’s in the cottage cheese container.” She open the fridge and she was “So you could have said it’s in the fridge because I have no idea,” then we have to open 20 cottage cheese containers.” Yeah, labeling and clear containers definitely helps.

Janice: Yeah, definitely.

Liz: You have to buy Sharpie for Christmas. I want a sharpie, honey.

Jonathan: Oh, I love it. You mentioned something earlier, Janice and Liz about saving money just by cooking at home. Another great distinction here which is I often think that sometimes we don’t consciously recognize how – this is going to sound funny, but how valuable saving money is. Let me give a quick example. If cooking at home allows you to save $400 a week on food, which is not – if you’re buying in Starbucks and you’re buying all these other packaged processed foods and eating out, that’s pretty conservative especially if you’re feeding a family.

If you save $400 a week and that takes you, let’s say four hours worth of cooking, you’re essentially getting paid $130 an hour to cook because you have to remember one, you’re avoiding $400. To make $400, you actually need to make $600 because there’s taxes so if you avoid spending you’re avoiding spending money after taxes so you automatically got to tack on additional 30 percent. Then, just divide the money that you save by the hours you spent and you essentially got paid $130 an hour to cook. That’s a pretty darn good hourly rate. I’ll take that.

Janice: I like that.

Liz: Were you a finance major in college?

Jonathan: No, I was actually an economics major so yes.

Liz: Alright.

Janice: I love it.

Liz: No, it is amazing how much money you can save and the other thing when you’re cooking at home is that even though you might think “Oh gee, I had to go buy all these food and it’s expensive.” We just already talked about how you save money. We proved you save money but you also are now buying better nutrition and so all these foods you purchased are nutrient-dense so every time you take a bite, you’ve taken a bite, it cost money for that food but now you have all these nutrients per bite. If you’re just eating empty calorie foods, processed foods, convenience fast-food, you’re not getting a lot of nutrients per bite so you might pay a few pennies less but what are you getting?

When you are feeding your family and you really laying the foundations of good nutrition for your kids and you’re role modeling all these good eating habits, now’s the time. We always tell parents this to establish those good eating habits so that your kids will start craving all the good for you foods. I remember one night making dinner, I was rushing around and my son Simon said to me, “Mom, can I like to have vegetable here?” Because there was nothing green on his plate. I think I might have had edamame or something down there. He was not thinking. Well, that’s green actually but he wanted something salady or bright colored. You want them to crave it. That’s the beauty of establishing those good eating habits early on.

Jonathan: I’m going to geek out. You mock the economics here but so now I’m going to do it despite – just kidding. I hear of what you are describing is a positive externality of cooking at home as well, which is you get all this other side benefits like you’re setting a good example for the kids, you’re getting them involve in the kitchen, you’re teaching them things they could leverage for the rest of their life and to further geek out, you’re avoiding things that I don’t think any of us would actually ever cook with.

Let’s take safflower oil, for example. Something that just didn’t exist in the human diet up until recently and has increased in its consumption about a hundred thousand percent over the past hundred years. None of us go to the store and buy that and cooked with it, but if you go to a restaurant, they do because it’s a very inexpensive and you buy in gallon drums and it’s very, very bad for health. You’re also going to avoid these synthetic things. You would never put them in food but when you eat out, they absolutely do.

Liz: What about the sodium? When you eat out, you have no control over how much sodium that chef or cook is adding in the back kitchen and I will tell you it is so much higher than what you would do at home. I know a lot of consumers do try at home to cut back on sodium so they add less salt to their cooking and they’re using more herbs and spices, and they’re getting creative. If you go out to eat or you rely on packaged foods, that’s when it starts to add up and you really need sodium in our diet, sure, but we don’t need gobs of it. We eat in at home and so many great benefits, not to mention, it’s a little quieter. You go to a restaurant and have conversation with your kids, it’s so chaotic so it’s nice to sit around the table and have those conversations.

Janice: One more thing, we talked about the cost of eating out or eating at home but when you took the long term cost with regard to your health, that’s another thing that you have to factor in to. If you’re eating at home and cooking with real food, you will have better health down the line. You won’t spend so much money at the doctor’s office.

Jonathan: That’s exactly right. That’s exactly right. When we talk about eating at home, that seems that is one of many gradual steps we could take and I think that concept of gradual steps is so important, so what I’m wondering Janice and Liz is I think often times especially if we’re busy, busy parents, this concept of where I’m at now and then I just need to go to healthy eating and there’s this chasm in between and I don’t even try, what are some gradual steps? Step one, step two, step three. Do this first and really don’t worry about this at the beginning, but gradually what would you recommend there?

Liz: I would say start slowly. It’s funny because we had a mom who send us a message on Facebook just yesterday and she said, – this is opposite from what we usually hear. – “My son is losing weight. He’s a teenager and he’s just not eating enough, and we just grab fast-food and we’re on the go.” Clearly, while most people are gaining weight this child is losing weight. I said, “If you want to start making positive changes, do it slowly and start with every week menu planning. Sit with your son. Go to our website MealMakeoverMoms.com and go to our recipe index and you and your son sit and look through the index and pick out a breakfast, a lunch and a dinner recipe to try that week. Something that appeals to both of you.”

“Make that recipe together. Give it try and then you’re one step closer to better nutrition. You’ve taken that baby step and you might like the recipe, you might not. You might add it to your regular repertoire moving forward but do it slowly so find good websites, a website you trust. Hopefully the pretty pictures of those recipes so you could see how to present it to your family.” As Janice would sort of eluding to before, go with the real foods. I know you’re obviously all over that, Jonathan. Get away from the packaged stuff. If you go for it, go for it. Choose wisely but make the changes slowly and think real food, think fresh.

Janice: If a family is eating a really what we would all probably say as not a healthy diet then take them gradually. If they’re drinking soda, for example, just by taking the soda out of the diet as a first step or if you’re drinking soda everyday maybe have it once a week to start, and then gradually get it out of the diet. Just taking a couple of steps every week as Liz said and just “Okay, this week we’re going to add this to our diet and we’re going to get rid of this from our diet.” Then, just gradually see the improvement in what you’re eating and see the good results.

Jonathan: I think that is such profound advice. It’s this per week maybe pick, like you said, one recipe. It’s also fun, you get to spend more time with the kids. Pick one recipe, pick one substitution and literally, that’s all you do that week. You have to because what we want you to do is we want you to start having those small victories. As to start having, you start to gain momentum and when you start to gain momentum, you start to gain momentum. It’s just like if you want to run a marathon, you wouldn’t want to go outside and try to run 26 miles on day one.

Janice: Great analogy.

Jonathan: Run a little bit more. Run a little bit more. The good news, though, is that you’ll look back after a year and you’ve made 52 of these little changes and you’ll be “Oh my goodness.” You won’t even believe where you’re at, but if you try to go there too quickly, that’s the easiest way to derail yourself.

Liz: Oh, it’s so true. I was just thinking when my son, my younger son was in kindergarten, he had this friend who the mom is “My son is so picky. He’s the pickiest eater. He won’t eat vegetables.” so of course, I’m like “I’m getting my hands on this kid.” Comes over for the play date and I’m giving the kids lunch. Simon and I were eating at edamame so I took the edamame in the pod. I boiled them for a few minutes and then I drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and a little bit of kosher salt. Simon and I were popping those edamame beans out and eating edamame and his little buddy was “What are you eating?” I said, “Oh gee, well I don’t really have enough to share but I guess I’ll share with you.” so I started sharing with him and this child – he doesn’t really is eating a vegetable.

He loves these edamame and then his mom emailed me. She said, “Josh wanted me to go buy this food that you gave him to me. He doesn’t even known how to say it.” I said it’s edamame. From there, this child started to expand his horizons because he had that little success and realized “Hey, I do like a green vegetable. Aha.” You have to just take the plunge and be playful. Have fun with it. If you get too strict and say “You must eat this.” then, of course, you’re going to get push back. Have fun with it, make a game of it and the kids will eventually get used to it and they’ll love it.

Jonathan: Janice and Liz, I love it. You mentioned something there in one of your tips which was you find a website, sit down per week and I would give one additional piece of advice there. It is look for websites like Janice and Liz’s website MealMakeoverMoms.com that have one key characteristics and that is there is a vibe of love in the website because there are so many recipes, quote unquote recipes on the internet which are not actually… I would be surprised if they were actually ever cooked by the person posting them.

Go to a website such as Meal Makeover Moms and find individuals such as Janice and Liz who clearly care about what they’re doing, that clearly have a deeper mission around what they’re doing and clearly have a holistic approach to this. They’re not just cranking out recipes, they’re cranking out experiences and health. Find those resources and leverage those because if you pick the wrong recipes and you try this and you’re “Well, this is a hopeless effort, I failed.” No, you likely didn’t fail. It was likely a bad recipe.

Liz: We do test our recipes over and over. Sometimes, to the point where we’re pulling our hair out. Well, we wear hairnets in the kitchen, of course but we are dietitians after all but we do test a lot because we don’t like to be criticized, Jonathan. That’s our worst fear in life if somebody will send us an email and say “Hey, it’s hideous. That didn’t work.” We test it out on the kids. We have four kids between us. I have two boys. She has two girls. We do put a lot of TLC into each recipe because we want families to be successful and to say “Good nutrition, that’s what it’s all about.”

Jonathan: That’s absolutely right. Folks, if you like what you hear, which I can’t imagine you not because Janice and Liz are just spectacular individuals here, please go check out MealMakeoverMoms.com. Also, check out their blog there. Just an amazing amount of free content and then, of course, be kind. Support what they’re doing. Grab a copy of No Whine With Dinner. It’s a wonderful resource. Check out their Cooking with the Moms podcast, while you’re up on iTunes getting your Smarter Science of Slim fix and also be on the lookout for their new Meal Makeover app which I can imagine is going to be awesome.

Liz: It’s going to be chopped full of great recipes and when you’re in the supermarket and you’re thinking “Oh my gosh. Pork is on sale. Didn’t Janice and Liz mentioned that pork primavera in the slow cooker? Oh, here it is on my app” and then, you’re good to go.

Jonathan: I love it. I love it. Well, Janice and Liz, thank you so much for sharing. We talked about nutrient-dense food, this was a freaking nutrient-dense podcast. I got to listen to this a couple of times to extract all of the tidbits of wisdom that you shared so I really appreciate it. We really appreciate your insights on the show and certainly hope that we can have you back.

Liz: Thank you.

Janice: Thanks, Jonathan.

Jonathan: Thank you, Janice and Liz. Everyone who’s listening I hope you enjoy the show as much as I did and remember this week and every week after, you can eat more and exercise less as long as you do that smarter. Talk with soon.

This week we have the pleasure of hearing from The Meal Makeover Moms Janice Newell Bissex and Liz Weiss. Janice and Liz host the Cooking with the Mom’s podcast, wrote No Whine with Dinner and The Moms’ Guide to Meal Makeovers, and are here to help us help our families eat smarter!

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