Around Our Family Table

Around Our Family Table

By: Ashley Kibutha, Supermarket Registered Dietitian & Mother of Two

At our house life is crazy as is the case in many of your households. We now have 2 kiddos, a 3-year-old and a 3-month-old, plus I work a full-time job and my husband works a full time and a part time job! We love to stay active in the community and be social with lots of friends and family.

As a dietitian, I strive to serve healthy meals for dinner (at least most of the time). Of course, there will be a random night here or there where we have pizza and wings but that is not the norm – everything in moderation and proper balance! So how do I do this? First of all, every Sunday I create a menu for the week and go grocery shopping for just those items. I look in our cupboards to see what we have available to serve as components to a meal so nothing will go out dated.

For example, I see spaghetti noodles in the pantry – great! That means spaghetti is the entre for one night and that’s a rather simple meal to make, so I will put that on for Monday in case it’s a hard transition to work from the weekend. Then I always think about the rest of the components of the meal using MyPlate… do I have all the food groups? Fruit, veggie, whole grain, protein and diary… So, for spaghetti I will have:

  • whole grain pasta
  • lean beef for the protein
  • Dietitian’s Choice tomato sauce (such as our Four Brother’s brand)

Then I will add extra veggies like:

  • frozen spinach
  • sautéed onions (already diced from the Chop Shoppe at my Coborn’s store)
  • minced garlic (in the jar, pre-done of course)
  • squeezable cilantro so I don’t have to cut it (always makes such a mess!)
  • precut mushrooms in the package
  • diced tomatoes in the can (no salt added)

Then we always have a side salad using pre-chopped lettuce from the bag – how easy is that!? I always like to add:

  • nuts
  • craisins (50% less sugar)
  • Bolthouse Farms dressing

For dessert, I will have a fresh berry blend over a Dietitian’s Choice Greek yogurt to get in the rest of the MyPlate components. There you have it! Simple and easy, I try to cut corners and save time by getting prechopped and canned items.

Another huge piece of family meals is that you need to make cooking time part of family time. I love multitasking this way because I am spending time with the kids and my husband as well as making a nutritious dinner. I always feel a sense of accomplishment plus I feel like a good mom and wife. I know I am also helping to meet my goals of returning to that pre-pregnancy weight. 

You are probably thinking where are these kids that sound so peaceful and perfect?! Don’t worry, it can be chaotic at our house too! A baby and a toddler – need I say more? We involve our toddler in many of the meal prep activities. He gets his step stool and watches us chop up items or prep the food. He has a cute little plastic toy knife, cutting board and veggies and likes to be a part of the meal prep by mimicking us and “chopping” up his toy veggies! Then we let him do age appropriate tasks to help us, i.e adding the vegetables in the pan, mixing, and pouring in the noodles. [See the backside of our Picky Eaters Handout for how kids can get involved in the kitchen.]

If he’s having a bad day or a melt down then we put on music and let him dance and play in the kitchen with his toys, or color or do play playdoh at the table so he is still a part of this and we can have family time. My husband or I are with the baby, depending on who is cooking. I am still breastfeeding so I breastfeed in the living room while my husband cooks and observes our toddler, keeping him engaged. We have a small house so we are able to hold a conversation while he is cooking in the kitchen and I feed the baby in the living room.

Yes, it may take longer to cook if our toddler is helping but remember you are prepping a healthy meal and having family time all at the same time! Yes, your toddler is probably starving after daycare and so are you, so you can have an appetizer of veggies with hummus or a piece of fruit. When dinner is ready we all sit down and enjoy our family dinner including the baby. We set him in a bouncer near us so he is a part of it all too! If it’s an exceptionally good day we even get to sneak in a glass of wine while the dinner is cooking while playing a memory game with our toddler!

So, think of cooking as time together with the whole family – rather than a mundane chore. Keep it exciting with new meal ideas and recipes! We have lots of great Dietitian’s Choice recipes right here on CelebrateMORE… so make sure to check those out to help make your family meals nutritious as well as time well spent with the whole family. 

Peace and wellness,
Ashley, RD, LD 

Three Quick Meal Featuring Johnsonville Flame Grilled Chicken - Family, Friends & Food with Jayne


I think I spend most of my time in a grocery store but I’m thinking that is a good thing surrounded by all the fresh meat, seafood, vegetables and other goodies. I was shopping the other day and when I was in the Meat Department I discovered a new item that I just have to share with you.  It is called Johnsonville Flame Grilled Chicken Breasts.   Continue reading

3 Simek’s Mini Sausage Meatball Meals

3 Simek's Mini Sausage Meatballs

Ready for three delicious AND easy Simek’s Mini Sausage Meatball Recipes that you’ll love? Read on to find out what we have in store for you!

Mini Meatball Omelets

Mini Meatball Omelets

Mini Meatball Omelets
  • 8 Eggs
  • 1/4 Cup Milk
  • 1/4 Cup Water
  • 1/2 Cup Red Bell Pepper, diced
  • 1/2 Cup Green Bell Pepper, diced
  • 2 Green Onions, diced
  • 36 Simeks Mini Sausage Meatballs
  • 12 Round Potato Shaped Fries or Tater Tots (Smash them to fit in the bottom of the muffin tin)
  • 1 Cup Shredded Monterrey Jack Cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Place potato smile or tater tots into bottom of each muffin tin.
  3. Bake for 10 min.
  4. Remove from oven and lower temp to 350 degrees.
  5. Whisk together eggs, milk and water.
  6. Set aside.
  7. Top your potatoes with 3 Simeks mini sausage meatballs, chopped bell peppers and diced onions.
  8. You may also substitute other ingredients in place of the bell peppers and onions ie-mushrooms, spinach, jalapenos, tomatoes, etc.
  9. Pour egg mixture over ingredients, filling each muffin tin to the top.
  10. Sprinkle cheese on top of each muffin tin.
  11. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until cooked through.
  12. Serve hot or you may cool them and freeze them for an easy on the go breakfast later.
  13. Wrap individually in plastic wrap then place in a gallon freezer bag.
  14. Remove and microwave until heated through.

Not Cho’ Average Meatballs


Not Cho’ Average Meatballs
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4
  • 1 Package Mini Sausage Meatballs
  • 1 Bag Tortilla Chips
  • 1 Cup Shredded Cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 325°F.
  2. Spread tortilla chips in an even layer on a baking sheet.
  3. Distribute frozen meatballs on top of tortilla chips.
  4. Sprinkle shredded cheese on top of chips and meatballs.
  5. Bake in oven until the meatballs are thoroughly heated and the cheese is melted, approximately 10 to 15 minutes.
Optional toppings: diced fresh tomatoes, salsa, guacamole, sour cream, jalapeños, black olives, refried beans, nacho cheese sauce.

Mini Meatball Pesto Pizza


Mini Meatball Pesto Pizza
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4
  • 1 Package Mini Meatballs
  • 1 (12-inch) Pre-baked Flatbread Pizza Crust
  • 1/2 Cup Pesto
  • 1/2 Cup Ricotta Cheese
  • 1/2 Cup Roasted Peppers, sliced
  • Kosher Salt and Black Pepper, to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 475° F.
  2. Spread crust with pesto and top with ricotta, roasted peppers and frozen meatballs.
  3. Season with 1/2 teaspoon each salt and black pepper.
  4. Bake according to the instructions on the pizza crust package.
This recipe can be modified using various types of pizza crusts and toppings, including sun-dried tomatoes, fresh tomatoes, olives, fresh basil, mozzarella, feta, etc.

Enjoy these delicious Mini Meatball Recipes!