Make Some New Traditions This Thanksgiving…

21 11 2017

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I enjoy looking for NEW traditions when it comes to recipes for the holidays. Green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, broccoli casserole, mashed potato casserole….yeah, I need a break from the “casserole” section of the cookbook! While I love our traditional family recipes (it would not be Thanksgiving without my mom’s stuffing!), I also enjoy trying new foods and preparing them in different ways. I guess it’s the “foodie” in me! I have been on the look out for some great fall recipes to spruce up your Thanksgiving table this year, and I think you’re gonna like them! I have personally made all of these dishes and found them to be healthy, flavorful, and totally delicious. They are a great way to change up your Thanksgiving menu, or at least add some really tasty vegetables to your plate!

Slow Cooker Butternut Squash Soup: Literally one of the easiest soups I have ever made! This comes from Gimme Some Oven. Simply add the ingredients to the crock pot and 4 hours later, you have soup! Having an immersion blender is key….this little gadget makes blending in the crock pot a breeze (I use this to blend up my apples for apple butter too). It is super handy, small and inexpensive. Get one!


Kale Salad with Pumpkin Vinaigrette: They key to eating kale in a salad is massaging it with a little olive oil! Who knew you had to massage kale? The real deal of this recipe is the pumpkin vinaigrette. Literally one of the best dressings I have ever made! You could simply make the dressing and add it to any salad. This recipe comes from Parents Magazine. Feel free to substitute goat cheese for Feta if you have it on hand…it’s fabulous!

Stuffed Acorn Squash: This is something I had never made before. This squash is stuffed with a cranberry apple dressing that is to die for! I actually substituted sweet Italian turkey sausage for the pork sausage and it turned out great. This is so satisfying it could be used as a main dish if you like. Want it to be vegetarian? Omit the sausage or use vegan sausage. This recipe comes from Happily Unprocessed.



Wild Rice, Pear & Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Walnuts: Registered dietitian, Sally Kuzemchak of Real Mom Nutrition, does it again! I just love her recipes. They are simple, family friendly, and nutritious! I literally made this one night after working all day, and paired it with some all natural Al Fresco sweet apple chicken sausage for some extra protein. This dish was such a wide variety of flavors. Very pleasing to the palate! Give it a try…

Balsamic Green Beans: One of my tried and true recipes from Southern Living Magazine. This beats mushy canned green beans, hands down! The balsamic vinegar with a hint of  brown sugar really kick this up to the next level…—southern-living.html

So where did I get the motivation to try some of these new things? Well, the Shaw family joined a CSA (community supported agriculture) program through a local farm this year (Harmony Farm), and we were able to get our hands on lots of fresh produce! We got a wide assortment of local, seasonal produce weekly, which gave us a break from buying it at the store. My sister-in-law even referred to it as having Christmas every week! Recently, our haul included some beautiful acorn squash, kale, butternut squash, and green beans. Having great ingredients on hand always inspires me!

So from our family to yours, have a bountiful and blessed Thanksgiving holiday!


Cathy Shaw, RDN, LD is a registered and licensed dietitian for the WV PEIA Weight Management Program, and loves to be wild and wonderful in West Virginia…

Cathy head shot


Do You “Break” the Fast?

9 02 2017


Have you heard the saying, “eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper”?  If you haven’t, maybe you’ve heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day…but why?


Breakfast provides the body and brain with fuel after an overnight fast.  Without fuel, you are essentially running on empty.  Think of it this way.  You wake up in the morning and need to drive your car to get to work.  Your gas tank is empty.  How far are you going to get?  The same goes for our bodies.  Without providing our bodies the proper energy needed to jump start our day, we won’t get far.  In fact, research shows that breakfast improves memory, concentration, and focus throughout the day.


Breakfast is also an opportunity to feed your body good energy and sources of calcium, iron, B vitamins, protein, and fiber.  Research shows that if these nutrients are missed at breakfast, we’re less likely to meet our need for these on that day.  People who skip breakfast are also more likely to grab a mid-morning snack that’s high in fat and added sugar.


Kick-starting your morning with a meal can be good for the waistline too.  Research shows that people who eat breakfast are less likely to be overweight than those who do not eat breakfast.  Better yet, breakfast has also been shown to decrease the risk for hypertension, heart disease, and diabetes.


Follow these tips to get the most bang for your buck in breakfast:


  1. Don’t skimp on the protein. Protein increases satiety and may result in less total calories eaten in a day.  Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, cow’s milk, soy milk, eggs, oats, and quinoa are excellent sources of protein!


  1. Add fiber. High fiber foods takes a long time to digest, keeping you fuller for a longer period of time.  Aim to choose a food that has at least 3 g of fiber per serving.  Foods high in fiber include fruits, vegetables, and whole grains such as whole grain bread, bran cereal, oatmeal, unsweetened granola, and shredded wheat.


  1. Try to eat within the first hour of waking up. No appetite?  Try drinking a liquid breakfast such as a homemade smoothie or instant breakfast beverage that has less than 10 g of sugar per serving.


Feeling like there’s no time to eat breakfast in the morning?

We often put effort into packing a nutritious lunch or preparing a healthy dinner yet somehow we tend to let breakfast slip through the cracks.  The good news is breakfast doesn’t have to be an elaborate meal that we sit down to eat.  It can be a meal that we eat on the go or even at the office.  So if you find that your mornings are a rat race just to get out the door and get to work on time, know that there are ways to fit breakfast into your busy schedule.


Grab N’ Go Ideas:

  • Peanut butter and banana sandwich + fruit + milk
  • Whole grain bagel with egg and avocado + milk
  • Greek yogurt + fruit
  • Cottage cheese + fruit
  • Smoothie made with Greek yogurt, banana, berries, and low-fat milk
  • Hardboiled egg + fruit + milk
  • Oatmeal mixed with milk and topped with fresh fruit and nuts



Honey Lime Quinoa Fruit Salad by The Recipe Critic


Blueberry Bliss Breakfast Bars by Inspired Edibles


Sunbutter (or Peanut Butter), Banana, and Chia Seed Toast by Skinny Fork


Author of the blog today is Cassie Raugh, a Dietetic Intern with WVU Hospitals, Inc. working with Cathy Shaw RDN, LD of the PEIA Weight Management Program


Back to School Meal Planning Blues? Never fear, We Are Here!

26 08 2016

Back to school means back to reality for every teacher, child and parent. The days become Cathy head shotpacked with bus schedules, homework, and after school sports. Our lives have changed a bit this year with our oldest going off to college. Now I don’t have to prepare his meals, I just worry about what he is choosing to eat away from home! I found myself in my kitchen last night doing another evening of meal prep for this week thinking, “Yep, school starts tomorrow! The fun has just begun!” This week has brought the challenge of my crazy “back to school” life front and center! I have had to change my meal planning routine to accommodate the needs of my family, and making sure everyone has nourishing, tasty meals that fit our schedule is a big part of the challenge.

Planning healthy meals and snacks for three people seems a little less daunting since we no longer have to worry about 2 children playing sports, but it can still be like choreographing a Broadway show. My daughter has thankfully learned how to pack her own lunch, so that helps a lot. She is very active in sports,  so packs healthy, energizing snacks as well. Depending on work and evening events, my husband and I figure out some way get a healthy meal on the table, or pack food to take with us to sporting events. Among all of this, he and I pack our own lunches and snacks for our work day, and squeeze in some exercise for ourselves.

It sounds like a big job, but being organized and planning ahead can take the pressure off having to make spontaneous and often unwise decisions. Relying on fast food and take out can be unhealthy and expensive. So instead, have a solid plan of quick and easy healthy meals and snacks ready to tackle the week.

6 Tips to Tackle Your Week:

  • Check your family’s schedule! Start with plotting where family members need to be and when, so that you can decide how to tackle meals and snacks for the week. Think about how many meals you need to plan for, and how much time you will have each day. Are you a working parent? Do your children have after school activities? Do you travel for work? All of these factor in.
  • Plan the basics:

Breakfast: Many people eat the same breakfast most days of the week. Are the choices you are making healthy ones? What small change could you make to improve them? Make sure you plan to keep breakfast staples on hand at all times. Are you in a hurry? Try prepping grab and go items like a peanut butter and banana sandwich on whole wheat, or a make ahead smoothie in a to-go cup.

Lunch: If you work, do you pack a lunch or succumb to take out because you didn’t have time to pack? Do your kids or spouse need to pack? Plan to keep lunch staples on hand, or to take leftovers from dinner. That is a great way to use up the healthy foods you have taken the time to make. When packing lunches, do it the night before to save you from the morning rush. If you are taking leftovers, put them into to-go containers as you are putting foods away to save time.

Snacks: Plan ahead for healthy snacks for your kids AND yourself. In a slump at 4pm and starving when you get home? A healthy snack with some protein and carbohydrate can bridge the gap. Kids will always need after school, pre-game/pre-practice snacks, so plan what you need to keep on hand (think apples and peanut butter, string cheese and whole grain crackers, low sugar whole grain cereal and low fat milk or yogurt, etc.)

Dinner: Keep a running list of family staple recipes. Store them however you like, but keep the ones you are using for the week at arms-length (Pinterest is a great way to search, organize and access recipes). Are they made from healthy ingredients, or are there easy ways to make 1 or 2 of them more nutritious this week? Try to choose a new recipe at least every couple of weeks to keep variety in your diet. Pick recipes with ingredients that may overlap to keep your shopping list concise. Don’t let recipes overwhelm you with too many ingredients. Plan on making enough to have some leftovers for lunch, or to create another meal. For example, prepare extra chicken and vegetables that can be used for a stir fry or soup on another night! Use My Plate to help you focus on planning a balanced meal. Can you check off at least 4 food groups for your meal? Using the premise that half of your plate should be vegetables and fruit will start you off on the right foot.

  • Check your pantry! Keeping a well-stocked pantry is key to successful meal planning for busy families. Get some great ideas here for some basic kitchen staples and kid friendly pantry items: The Good Pantry  A Kid Friendly Pantry Make sure you have what you need for meals and snacks you have planned. What you don’t have on hand, write on your grocery list for the week. Remember to write down the quantities of things you need, otherwise you may come up empty handed. Also, keep a running list of things you need during the week, so you don’t forget anything when you go to the store.
  • Time to shop! Plan adequate time to shop for what you need. Shop from your list to keep impulse spending down. If there are specialty items you need, make sure your grocer carries them, or you may need to find a substitute.
  • Prep it up! It always helps to prep up some of your foods ahead of time to make things flow smoothly during the week. Check your meal plan and figure out what you are going to need for the at least next few days. Some great ways to get started….

*Wash and chop/cut veggies and fruit for recipes and snacks as needed

*Precook meat for things like tacos, casseroles and soups, and drain and rinse beans.      These can be used any meal.

*Get out food prep items you might need like the slow cooker, pots/pans the night before.

  • Get cooking! If you have planned things out pretty well, evening meal prep should be a breeze! Use some great tools to your advantage like the crock pot, pressure cooker, grill, and microwave. Remember to keep it simple, healthy and tasty, and the stress of meal prep will be kept to a minimum

To hit the ground running start out with some healthy breakfast ideas for busy mornings! Check out the great ideas here from

Want to pack your own 5 Star lunch box? Get some great tips here: also has some great tips for planning healthy family dinners! Check out these ideas, and this great summer recipe!

Mexican Zucchini Burrito Boats: