The Scramblog

Making Healthy Family Dinners Happen with Less Time, Money and Stress.

The Power of Condiments

The Power of CondimentsYears ago, when I was completing my health coach training at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, one of the instructors suggested serving every meal with lots of condiments. The idea was that if you put lots of options out on the table, everyone could make the meal their own, tailoring it to fit their tastes. The concept appealed to me as I have always been a sucker for flavor boosters, but then I sort of forgot about it until a few years later when I was in the weeds trying to figure out how to support my picky eater. As I read books and articles and listened to webinars about feeding picky eaters, the message that I heard over and over again was to find ways to let the child have a sense of ownership and control over his or her food. I liked that idea so I decided to try putting condiments out at dinner as a way to help my picky eater take some control over his meal and make it his own. The change was miraculous! From the very first meal, my...

Pan-Browned Salmon Cakes

Ready in 20 minutes and healthy, these salmon cakes are a dream on those busy days when you have to get dinner on the table quickly. They are also a great way to introduce your kids to seafood as they are reminiscent of burgers (you can even serve them on buns to sweeten the deal). Watch Jessica make it on Facebook Live!Pan-Browned Salmon CakesPrep Time: 10 minutes, Cook Time: 10 Minutes, Makes 4 servings of 2 cakes each. 15 oz. canned salmon, drained2 eggs, beaten2 Tbsp. mayonnaise 2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard (use wheat/gluten-free, if needed) 1/4 cup bread crumbs or panko (use wheat/gluten-free, if needed) 4 scallions, dark and light green parts, thinly sliced (1/2 cup)3 Tbsp. canola or vegetable oil 1 lemon, cut into wedges, for serving
In a medium mixing bowl, using a fork, mix and mash all the ingredients except the oil and lemon until thoroughly combined. In a large preferably nonstick or cast iron skillet, heat the oil over medium heat....

Kitchen Organization for Efficient Cooking

One of the secrets to truly efficient, pleasurable cooking is a well-organized kitchen. A kitchen that is set up for success will help you not only to get meals prepared faster and with less stress, but it will also make cleaning up afterwards easier—and who doesn’t want that?!Kitchen Organization for Efficient CookingHere are some simple ways to make your kitchen work better for you:General Suggestions:
  • When possible, having your prep area and your cooking area side-by-side can be very helpful. This is because you will often be going back and forth between the two spots as you prepare a meal and many of the tools will overlap.
  • Keep lots of dishcloths on hand. These workhorses are great for cleaning up messes, using as pot holders, and stabilizing slippery cutting boards (dampen a dishcloth, fold it in half, and put it underneath your cutting board to stabilize your cutting surface).
  • Start out tidy. Each and every time you set out to cook a meal, start by...

Simple Ways to Make Healthier Eating Possible

For many of us, the new year is an opportunity for a restart. We make resolutions, set goals, pick a meaningful word for the year, or even if we don’t name the change out loud, we secretly tell ourselves that this year will be different. But what happens when the change stalls or the cleanse you were doing is over or you fall off of your diet or exercise wagon?

Hitting this wall often happens towards the end of January or the beginning of February—when our momentum has dissipated and real life has been in full swing for a while. It can be disheartening, but don’t let it get you down! First of all, you are not alone—many people are experiencing exactly the same thing right now. Secondly, big changes often come in fits and starts; it is how you handle those ebbs and flows that matters.

When I used to work as a health and cooking coach, I would often talk to my clients about the importance of baby steps. If instead of taking on a big issue all...

Rigatoni with Tomato-Artichoke Sauce

This basic recipe for a flavorful tomato sauce is a great recipe to play with based on your taste or refrigerator’s contents. Try adding chopped mushrooms, zucchini, walnuts, or whatever ingredients you have on hand.

Watch Jessica make it on Facebook Live!

Rigatoni with Tomato-Artichoke Sauce

Prep + Cook: 30 minutes, Makes 8 servings

16 oz. rigatoni noodles (use wheat/gluten-free, if needed)

2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1 yellow onion, chopped

1 Tbsp. minced garlic, (4 - 6 cloves)

6 oz. quartered and marinated artichoke hearts, with their liquid

28 oz. diced tomatoes, drained, or 7 - 8 fresh tomatoes, diced

1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped, or 2 tsp. dried

10 - 12 pitted Greek or Spanish olives, chopped (optional)

1/3 cup red wine, or use tomato juice or sauce mixed with 1 tsp. balsamic vinegar

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, for serving, or to taste

Cook the rigatoni...

Tuscan White Bean Soup with Sourdough Croutons

This is a mild, healthy, and satisfying soup. It’s great on its own, but is even better topped with fresh sourdough croutons and a little Parmesan cheese. For a meatier version, crumble cooked bacon or sausage into the soup. Watch Jessica make it on Facebook Live!Tuscan White Bean Soup with Sourdough CroutonsPrep + Cook: 30 Minutes, Makes 4 servings 3 - 4 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil 1 sweet yellow onion such as Vidalia or Walla Walla, chopped2 tsp. minced garlic, (about 4 cloves)29 - 30 oz. cannellini or white kidney beans, drained and rinsed2 cups reduced-sodium chicken or vegetable broth 1 loaf loaf sourdough bread (use wheat/gluten-free, if needed), (use 2 large slices for the croutons, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, and serve the rest of the bread on the side)1/4 tsp. kosher salt, sea salt, or other coarse salt 2 Tbsp. sherry, or 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar10 fresh basil leaves, finely chopped, or use 1/2 tsp. dried1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, for serving...

What to Do When your Kids Hate Dinner

I was recently talking to a new Scramble member who mentioned that one of the unexpected positive outcomes of joining was that she no longer felt stressed about whether or not her kids were going to like the food she served for dinner. When I probed a little more, it became clear that this wasn’t because they suddenly loved everything, but because by being offered a plan and cooking from that plan, it felt less like a rejection of her; it was less personal. This got me to thinking about how it can feel very personal when a kid, or anyone, doesn’t like or appreciate the food you prepared. It can really sting. So I wanted to share some of the ways I have found to shift this dynamic both for myself and my whole family.What to Do When your Kids Hate DinnerRudeness is not acceptable.When my youngest was about four, I instituted a new dinnertime rule: it was fine to not like the food, everyone has their own tastes, but it was not fine to be rude about it. As a family, we talked...

Costa Rican Black Beans and Rice

Costa Ricans eat a version of this dish, called Gallo Pinto (which translates as spotted rooster) with nearly every meal, but it’s especially typical to eat it for breakfast! It’s great comfort food for any season - the curry and lime give it a Caribbean flare (Costa Rica borders the Caribbean sea). For even more Caribbean flavor, cook the rice in half water and half coconut milk. Watch Jessica make it on Facebook Live!Costa Rican Black Beans and RicePrep + Cook Time: 25 minutes 1 cup white rice, or use quick-cooking brown rice2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil 1 green bell pepper, finely diced1 yellow onion, finely diced1 1/2 tsp. minced garlic, (about 3 cloves)1 tsp. ground cumin 1/2 tsp. curry powder 15 oz. reduced-sodium canned black beans, with their liquid2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce ( for a vegetarian and gluten-free alternative, use 6 drops hot sauce and 1/4 tsp. sugar per each Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce), or use Salsa Lizano, if...

Peanut Butter Surprise Cookies

The challenge from The Recipe Redux this month was to create a recipe with a “new” or new-to-you ingredient. I decided to push that definition a bit (yes, I cheated) and come up with a recipe that is composed of familiar ingredients but in an unexpected way. I can imagine you thinking, “how on earth are peanut butter cookies new or different?” Because these cookies include an ingredient you will not be expecting… chickpeas. These cookies are so good, people. So. Good. They are chewy and soft and super flavorful. Plus they are PACKED with protein from the chickpeas and peanut butter, so I would feel good about offering them for snacks or even breakfast, and who doesn’t want cookies for breakfast?!

Try The Scramble Meal Planning Service for free. Healthy 30 minute meals your entire family will love.

Peanut Butter Surprise CookiesPrep + Cook Time: 30 minutes, Makes 9 Servings, Serving Size: 2 cookies15 oz. canned chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and...

5 Easy Ways to Save on Groceries

As a general rule, I spend on the lower end of what is normal for a family of four when it comes to food (although this is rapidly changing as my boys get older!), but recently, I have been trying to cut costs down even more since my husband is currently furloughed from his job during this government shut down. Since I know many people are in a similar situation and/or are trying to get their spending under control in the new year, I thought I would share some of my tricks for saving money on food.5 Easy Ways to Save on Groceries1. Cook MoreThe more food you prepare at home, the more you save. Period. Eating out and depending on pre-prepared foods is always going to be more expensive, so try to commit to eating home cooked food at least two more times a week. That could mean bringing leftovers to work for lunch, getting take out less often, or even skipping the coffee shop and having breakfast at home.2. Eat Less MeatMeat is an important protein source for many...