Subject: Dr. Jorgenson shares her tips on raising kids to be healthy eaters, Part 2 of 2

These are recipes Dr. Jorgenson shared, from the last blog post. Enjoy! Thank you, Michelle!

Peanut Miso Sauce

peanut miso sauce2/3 C water

2/3 C peanut butter

3T miso

1/4 C lime juice

2 T nama shoyu or Bragg’s

2 T olive oil

1 T garlic, minced

1 T ginger, grated


Blend all together and serve as a sauce

asian nut sauceAsian Nut Sauce

1 C almonds (soaked if you have the time) – or- 3/4 C almond butter

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 C olive oil

1/2 C tamari or regular soy sauce

1/3 – 1/2 C agave

1 T chili garlic sauce (optional if want some spice)

Blend everything together until smooth in a high power blender.  Serve with spring rolls, over top rice, as a dip for veggies, etc.  Will store for 1 week in the fridge.


I developed this recipe that may not be perfect from a health standpoint because you are using cans, but from a busy-working-mom standpoint, it couldn’t get more perfect!  You can use leftovers the next day as a topping for baked potatoes.

1 quart canned tomatoes or two cans diced tomatoes

1 can (15 oz) chili beans

1 can (15 oz) garbanzo beans, drained

1 can (15 oz) pinto beans, drained

1 can (15 oz) black beans, drained

1 can (4 oz) chopped green chilies

1 Tb chili powder

Combine all ingredients in crock pot, cook for several hours. Serve with tortilla chips, lettuce, tomatoes and olives on top.

Lentil Soup

1 onion, chopped

1/4 C olive oil

lentils 22 carrots, diced

2 stalks celery, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 t oregano

1 bay leaf

1 t basil

1 14.5 oz can crushed tomatoes

2 C dry lentils

8 C water

1/2 C spinach

2 T vinegar

Unrefined salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Heat oil in large pot and saute all veggies until tender.  Adds spices.  Cook for 2 minutes.  Stir in lentils, water and tomatoes.  Bring to boil and reduce heat and simmer for about an hour (or can put in a crock pot on low and cook 6-8 hours.)  When ready to serve add spinach, vinegar and salt and pepper to taste.  Serves 6.

vegetarian taco soupTaco Soup

2 cups total diced onions, carrots, celery (or whatever you have)

1 can (15 oz.) pinto beans, drained

1 can (15 oz.) black beans, drained

1 can (15 oz.) corn, drained

1 can (15 oz.) Mexican style stewed tomatoes

1 can (15 oz.) diced tomatoes

1 can (4 oz.) diced green chilies

1 can (4 oz.) black olives, sliced

3 cups of vegetable broth (sometimes I add more if I want it to be more “soupy” than “stewy” )

1 T chili powder

1 t cumin

1 t salt

1 t garlic powder

Add all of the ingredients in a slow cooker and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours or simmer over low heat for 1 hour in a pot on the stove.  Serve with corn chips, cilantro, dressing, etc.

Dr. Jorgenson shares her tips on raising kids to be healthy eaters, part 1 of 2

Michelle Jorganson
Dr. Michelle Jorgenson and family.

Dr. Michelle Jorgenson, a dentist in Highland, Utah, is one of our three winners of the “How to Teach Kids to Eat Right” contest. Her comments here, and the recipes in my next blog, will be featured in my upcoming book, How to Eat Right In the Real World.

I’ll share the inspirational story later, of how Michelle adopted her sickly son Luke at 2 ½ years old and shifted him from chicken nuggets to her whole-foods, plant-based diet, where he is now thriving at 7 years old and loves greens and vegetables and most everything she serves! Here are Michelle’s thoughts on how you raise healthy eaters, enjoy!

First question I always ask parents and kids is, “Do you think there are any kids in China that don’t like Chinese food?”  The answer is no!  Kids eat what you feed them. Maybe not the first time, but if that’s all they get, they will eat almost anything. [Note from Robyn: Research says it takes 10 exposures to a new healthy food, for a child to embrace it.]

I think there is an order to things:

1. You decide why you want to change what your family eats.  Make sure you really believe it, because they will ask, and test, and push you, and you will cave to the pressure, if you’re not strong and committed!

small=big2. You decide where you want to start.  Rome wasn’t built in a day, and you can’t change your family’s diet in a day either. Decide what will make the biggest splash with the smallest change. Maybe it’s getting rid of white sugar, maybe it’s putting a big bowl of fruit on the counter all the time, maybe it’s a green smoothie in the morning! Do a step at a time.

3. Don’t make the change a democratic process. This is how you are doing it now. No debate, no confusion. Remove all of the thing you are changing. I know it hurts to give away or throw away food, but if it’s there, you are showing that you really aren’t that committed after all. Your family will sense this weakness, and pounce!

4. Give a reward for making the change.  I know this sounds awful, but they don’t understand the health reward they will get. You do, as an adult who has a well developed sense of “delay of gratification,” but the kids aren’t the ones wanting to make the change. Give them something they can see or feel or hope for. A fun outing as a family, dinner at a favorite restaurant, a small reward (toy, etc.).  Set a time limit and make it conditional: you eat this for 30 days without complaining and we get to go to the movies, you choose the movie.

real food tasts good5. Expect setbacks. You will have times that are tough and you will want to give up.  Plan for it, and plan how you are going to handle it when it hits. Give yourself a break now and then and you will be stronger for it.

6. Make things that taste good. I’ve made “healthy” things that taste terrible. I don’t even want to eat them, so why should they? But healthy doesn’t have to taste bad, and I think that is a myth a lot of people believe. Make good food. Make it with real food, not things in boxes. It tastes better, is much less expensive, and your family will actually ask for it again!

Some of our favorite, easy meals:

•           Fried rice. Use leftover brown rice and any veggies you have.  Add a couple of eggs and season with nama shoyu or Bragg’s. Serve with a side of cucumbers or a green salad and you have a meal. 30 minutes start to finish.

•           Mexican roll-ups. You can use a tortilla or lettuce or cabbage for the wrap.  Again, use rice and any veggies on hand, add salsa, corn and black beans. Fruit salad could finish out the meal.

•           Hawaiian haystacks. Put brown rice on the bottom, and any veggies or crunchy things you have on hand, to put on top. Coconut and pineapple are yummy. Scramble an egg or add some beans for protein. Make a peanut miso sauce to serve over top. [This and other recipes Dr. Jorgenson references are at the end of her explanation. She notes that she uses short-grain brown rice for Mexican or American food, and long-grain jasmine rice for Asian and Indian cooking. She uses a rice cooker, but you can also wash brown rice well, and cook 1 part rice to 2 parts water, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes.]

•           Miso soup. Make a simple kombu broth, then add whatever you want. Veggies, tofu, rice noodles, wakame (seaweed). When all cooked, whisk in miso to taste, but don’t boil, just warm. Eat with a side of edamame and this can be a meal. [Usually rice noodles, found in the gluten free section or in Asian markets, are made from refined white rice. But you can find brown rice noodles at health food stores.]

noodles and veggies•           Spring rolls. Use a spiralizer and cut up a bunch of veggies: zucchini, beets, carrots, jicama, turnip, etc.  Roll up the veggies along with some rice noodles, lettuce, herbs (mint or basil), whatever you have. Eat with Asian Nut Sauce made by blending almonds (or almond butter), tamari and agave, maybe a little ginger. Add fruit for a meal.

•           One dish pasta. Sautee veggies (onion, garlic, carrots, zucchini, tomato, etc) in a large wok-style pan. Boil rice noodles in another pan. When noodles are about 2 minutes from being done, add them to the veggies, along with enough of the cooking water so they are saucy. Continue cooking together until noodles are done. Top with spicy pumpkin seeds or a little parmesan. Great with flax crackers and a green salad.

Family-Nutrition-button•           Crockpot soups. Make a veggie and bean soup the night before or the morning before you want the meal.  It cooks all day while you are gone. Some easy ones: taco soup with black beans and corn and tomatoes, lentil soup with carrots and tomatoes and lentils, easy chili with three different cans of beans, green chilis, tomatoes and chili powder. Serve with tortilla chips and fruit.

7. Involve your family in planning, shopping for and making the food!  If your daughter makes the salad, she’s much more likely to actually eat it.  Your goal is to make Healthy Adults, not Healthy Kids. What?! It doesn’t do any good if they stop eating the way you’ve taught when they leave your home. You need to be teaching skills that will serve them well while they are in your home, and especially after they have left your home. They need to know how to throw a quick dinner together, how to shop, and how to plan inexpensive, healthy meals on their own. Otherwise, vending machine and McDs, here they come.

My next blog entry will share all the recipes Dr. Jorgenson refers to in her comments!

Shanda Blake raises 7 kids to be healthy eaters, Part 2 of 2

Last time I shared the thoughts of Shanda Blake, as she’s in the trenches raising a very large family eating whole foods. These are some of Shanda’s children’s favorite recipes she wanted to share with you.


apple butter15 small apples (a mixture of varieties)

2 cups raw coconut sugar

2 t. cinnamon

1/2 t. cloves

1/2 t. nutmeg

1/4 t. sea salt

1/4 cup water

Core and slice apples and put in a crock pot. Add all other ingredients to the crock pot and cook on low for about 9 hours or until apples are tender. Stir and let cool (you can blend it in a blender if you want a finer texture). Put in jars or containers leaving ½” head space and freeze. Will keep in freezer up to 1 year.

Makes a wonderful spread, dip or topping…and it makes your house smell amazing!



1 C. almonds

1 C. cashews

1 C. flax seeds

3 T. agave

1T. water

½ t. vanilla extract

Blend almonds, cashews and flax seeds to powder. Transfer to bowl and add agave, water and vanilla. Stir and pour in to a oiled 9×9 in. square pan. Press down evenly to form a crust.


2 mangoes, peeled and chopped

Juice of 2 lemons

¼ C. coconut oil

¼ C. agave

1 banana

½ C. shredded coconut

Combine in the blender: cut up mangoes, juice of lemons, coconut oil, banana and agave. Blend until smooth, then stir in the coconut. Pour onto crust. Freeze until set, about 4 hrs.Cut into squares and enjoy!

raw almond joy LITTLE ALMOND JOYS

½ C. almonds blended into powder

¼ C. coconut oil

3T. raw honey

½ t. vanilla

1 T. cocoa powder (non-alkalized)

¾ C. shredded coconut

12 almonds


Blend almonds to powder. Pour into a bowl and set aside. Mix by hand in another bowl softened coconut oil, honey, vanilla and cocoa powder. Stir in shredded coconut.  Form mixture into balls and place 1 whole almond inside each one. Next, roll the balls in the almond powder. Refrigerate until firm or freeze for another day.

Makes about 12


This is one of my favorite treats to eat after the kids go to bed. But sometimes, one of my 7 kids might need to talk or just need some Mommy time all to herself. We make this treat and go sit on our front porch swing to eat it while we talk.

raw apple crisp1 apple cut into bite size pieces

1/4 cup pecans

1/2 cup oats

1/4 cup raisins

1/4 cup coconut oil

2 teaspoons honey

1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

pinch of ground cloves

Cut and place apples in small bowl. Mix the rest of the ingredients together and pour over apple pieces and enjoy.

Shanda Blake raises 7 kids to be healthy eaters, Part 1 of 2

whole grain pancakesAnother of our three winners in the “How do You Raise Healthy Eaters?” contest, this is from Shanda Blake of  Saratoga Springs, Utah, a busy mom of 7 kids, ages 1 to 15!


I started with breakfast: how can I make breakfast healthier?

I bought a grain grinder and started making my own flours. Grains are so much cheaper, fresher, and healthier than buying flour from the store. Then, I started making my own pancakes, muffins, and waffles using all healthy ingredients. I always double or triple the batch and freeze the rest so the kids can pull them out for quick breakfasts or after-school snacks later. We always have some fruit that’s in season (because it’s cheapest in season), lying around the kitchen for toppings. I love making “apple butter” (see recipe in the next post) and freezing it to use as a topping as well.


Lunches were harder, since we’re always in a hurry. We were a mac-n-cheese, ramen-noodle lunch family before. Now, I know better and can’t stand the stuff. We now love all kinds of healthy “fast foods,” and we’ve discovered healthy whole foods that are even quicker to make.

ants on a log
“Ants on a Log”

Ants on a log. My kids never get tired of this one. Celery,”good” peanut butter, and raisins on top. If you’re feeling adventurous, use “red ants” (dried cranberries).

Wraps. Lettuce wraps or whole-grain tortillas. The possibilities are endless, and a lot of toppings can be pre-cut when you have more time. Put white beans (or any kind, like black, pinto, or kidney) in containers in the fridge so they’re ready to go when you need them for snack and lunches, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers (red, green, and yellow), lettuce etc. I don’t ever pre-make them. I just set everything out and let the kids build their own.

Smoothies. Smoothies are a great on-the-go lunch. Add chia seeds, or nuts, or plant-based protein powder, and the extra protein will keep kids full longer.


I don’t love titles like vegan or vegetarian. Once you start adding a title to what you eat, you have to follow all kinds of rules. I don’t like rules.  We are a “real foods” family, if I were to ever give us a title. Instead, I like to give my kids the tools they need to thrive and survive in real-world situations.

Have quick teaching moments–and I mean quick, so they don’t get bored. Like, I’ll say to my kids when we’re eating a salad with spinach in it, “Did you know there is more calcium in spinach for strong bones than in a glass of milk?”

What they understand is that spinach is healthier than milk, if they want strong bones. I don’t have to give a long lecture/rant on how milk is bad. I just let them know that spinach is better. In the real world, they will encounter some meat, they will have a little butter, and sugary treats will be offered to them.

If you have ingrained in your children, “We are vegan,” before they can make their own choice about that, when they hang out with their friends or are out in the world, two things could happen that aren’t good. One, they may rebel and eat everything they have been taught not to eat. Or two, they may freak out and say there is nothing here I can eat, make all kinds of commotion, and annoy everyone being high maintenance.

I want to teach my kids to just make good choices. What are the healthiest options there? Can you eat before you go? If there are sweets, can you just choose one? I always tell my kids, “Just use good judgment; if you can’t, then I will have to help you.”

I always get the younger ones coming back to me with a small handful of something, asking, “Is this good judgment, Mommy?” When they are in charge, they will almost always take less of a sweet treat or a less-healthy choice. I am giving them the tools to have a healthy lifestyle even after they leave the nest.

shanda blake 2
3-year-old Brock picking melons from the backyard garden.

We love to eat a variety of things at dinner. Again, it’s all about choices. I think it’s a great teaching opportunity when we all sit down together and eat a meal. It also gives kids an opportunity to watch Mom and Dad eat. Teaching by example is the very best way.

Dinner for us is a good quality fish or chicken, whole grain pasta/with a healthy sauce, or whole grains like quinoa and brown rice. Big giant salads are fun to do with lots of stuff in them or on the side to build your own.  The rest of the meal is fruits and veggies for toppings or side dishes

The more choices kids have, the more they feel in control and enjoy eating healthier. For example, if you say, “We’re having broccoli tonight, that’s your only choice, eat your vegetables!”doesn’t give them a lot on options especially if they don’t like broccoli. You can smell a fight coming on, with that one, from a mile away.

Last night for dinner our menu was wild-caught salmon, homemade whole grain muffins (can be pre-frozen from when you make your bigger batches), zucchini sautéed in olive oil, cut up tomatoes and cucumbers all from the garden, and a watermelon.  I told the kids to choose at least two sides and we had no arguments, most of them took more. They all found something they liked.

shanda blake
Daughter Alyssa picking apples.

The photos are of Shanda’s 14-year old daughter, Alyssa, picking apples in a tree, and 3-year old Brock picking honeydew melons. When they got sick of eating the melons, Shanda pureed them, froze them in ice-cube trays, and put the “melon cubes” in gallon freezer bags for later use in green smoothies. [Note from Robyn: great idea! And, the seeds in a melon are edible and very nutritious, so puree those, too!]

Shanda does “embarrassing” things like stop her car to ask a person with a fruit tree whose fruit is dropping to the ground, if she can come and pick it. Even apples that haven’t been sprayed can be cut open, and the good parts pureed for fruit leather. This keeps costs low due to having a freezer full of whole foods at all times. In this way, she befriended an 87-year old lady, who is healthy and spunky and always making something homemade with fruits and veggies. This relationship and mentor-ship has blessed Shanda’s family’s life. She asked the elderly lady what her secret is to health. The lady said she eats a clove of garlic every day and works in her garden!

Shanda concluded, in what she wrote me:

I try to learn something new every day about healthy eating so I can be a better mama. I don’t make a “big deal” about it. It’s just the way we live. I want my house to be a happy place to eat. I love raising healthy kids, and I love making healthy food! Just pick a place to start, and go from there!

Comment from Robyn: Shanda’s positive energy is likely part of why she’s succeeding at raising healthy kids. I love the idea of not making a huge big deal about everything. Just do it. Quietly. Rants and raves are embarrassing to kids, and example and consistency are what sends roots deep anyway. Also, her Apple Butter is similar to what I use as a topping on pancakes and waffles, especially Pumpkin Waffles in Ch. 10 of 12 Steps to Whole Foods. (I make it raw, without coconut sugar, though, and put a little maple syrup in it.) This keeps you from putting lots of a concentrated sweetener on your pancakes!

My next post will share some of Shanda’s kids’ favorite healthy recipes.

Thanks for feeding me spinach, Mom.

Emma and RobynI’m having a rough month emotionally. Completely coincidentally, my three oldest kids left home within a few weeks of each other. (This photo is the morning my daughter moved into the dorms.) I find tears welling up in my eyes for no real reason, lately, missing my kids and feeling nostalgic. We also sold our home and are renting it for the rest of the year before we move. So much change!

It’s just me and 13-year old Tennyson now. My older friends tell me to relax—the kids come back, they say. (They come back maybe too much, they say.)

But Tennyson, youngest in a large family, and I are a little…..unmoored.

Why is there so much FOOD in the fridge? I don’t know how to buy or cook for two.

Tennyson crawls in my king-sized bed at night. He does his homework next to me in my home office. Where the heck IS everybody, we both are thinking.

Then I have this text exchange with Emma yesterday, who is safely ensconced in her dorm room at college, which she is LOVING.

Em:  Mom, funny story. I have this friend—she’s totally skinny, cheerleader, but she was eating a salad in the cafeteria today and said, “This lettuce is so cool, what IS IT?” And I told her, “Uhhh, really? It’s SPINACH.” She freaked out and called her mom and said, “MOM! I JUST ATE RAW SPINACH!”

Me: Hahaha!

“Thanks for feeding me spinach.”

Em: I can’t imagine how she’s gone 18 years without tasting spinach or even knowing what it looks like.

Me: Amazing.

Em: Mom, thanks for feeding me spinach.


OMG. I can die happy now. She wrote that, and I had the sappiest grin on my face for hours. Thinking back on all the tantrums and hard times being the Bad Guy. My oldest son, who is 20, told his siblings right before he moved into an apartment with his friends, “I totally get it why Mom cracked down on me every year about my grades. She is the only reason I graduated high school. Now I am so grateful.”

Stuff like this is coming out of my two oldest kids’ mouths on a regular basis these days.

sad 2I got teary on the way to play tennis this morning, thinking again about that text from Emma. I arrived at my tennis practice to play against an opponent with a 32 oz. Diet Mountain Dew, who says her first Mountain Dew starts at 7 a.m. every morning. She’s totally skinny, too. That doesn’t really tell the whole story, does it? What if I’d modeled and provided that diet to my kids, with all the strikes mine had against them when they were born? I get chills thinking about it. Because at my lectures, I meet people ALL THE TIME who fed their kids the S.A.D. even though the kids were born sick—because they didn’t know any better. And I hear their stories of reaping the whirlwind.

Tennyson came home from school later that same day:

Ten:  Mom, teachers always like me. Except, I have this one teacher who DOESN’T. I saw him drinking a green smoothie, so I went up to him and said, “My mom is GreenSmoothieGirl.”

Me, laughing:  Yeah? And how’d that go for you?

Ten:  He just looked at me. Then he said, “No. Your name isn’t Openshaw. That’s her name.”

Me:  And you told him your parents are divorced?

Ten:  Yeah. So the teacher dragged me over to his desk. was in his bookmarks. He started watching your youtube videos, with me in them. He’d look at the screen, at me, back at the screen, back at me. Till he figured out—it’s really me in those videos!

delay gratification ticketMe, still laughing:  Then what?

Ten:  He likes me now! It’s awesome!

Bonding over green smoothies. There are worse kinds of brown-nosing, right?

What is the moral of this story? Parents, have some delay of gratification, and stick to values that matter to you. You’re going to get A LOT COOLER LATER. Eating healthy in 2013 is a lot cooler now than it used to be!

Can Easter be Sugar-Free?

Sugar Free Easter Baskets for my Kids

hug me don't eat meAs it turns out, you CAN do Easter without sugar.

I love to make my kids baskets of gifts on Valentine’s Day and Easter. There are plastic eggs in these baskets, which I filled with treats, but no candy with refined sugar or corn syrup. I get them in bulk at the health food store: carob raisins and nuts etc.

I fill baskets with lip gloss, socks and underwear, movies, toys, mugs and other festive little gifts. My kids don’t expect sugar in their baskets.

I once did what everyone else did, before I knew better–but kids can and do survive the shift to a healthier life.

I love you, Cade, Emma, Libby and Tenn! Enough to get creative with the holidays.

Happy Easter to you. He is Risen!