Healthy, Recipes

A Veggie Muffin Recipe that Got Even Barb to Eat Beets

If I hide, you can't make me eat it.


Just. Can't. Eat. It.

Just. Can’t. Eat. It.

I am not at all someone who needs to be coaxed to eat vegetables. I might even be considered a FOV (Friend of Vegetables).

Asparagus? Awesome.

Sugar snap peas? So delicious.

Fresh tomatoes from the garden? Swoon.

But then there are beets. Just. Can’t. Eat. Them.

Hey, beets, what’s not to love about you? You are highly nutritious. You are a member of the chenopod family, which also includes chard, spinach, and quinoa. I love all of those foods. But not you.

And did I tell you are gorgeous, beets? With your ridiculously vibrant color. I want to love you. I do. I try from time to time, always hoping against hope that you will live up to your promise.

Ummm, no.

Ummm, no.

The best I could ever say is that you taste like sweet dirt. I’m sorry, that’s probably mean. But it’s true.

And yet, I kept trying to love you. Because you are good for me, and you are beautiful. And because you show up on the menus of restaurants I love. (Besides the recipe below, I have only ever been able to eat beets in the delicious salad called The Bizness – David’s Special at The Bronze Café.)

So it was a great and welcome surprise that beets can work very well in muffins. I have been a fan of hiding incorporating veggies for my kids, but this time, I did it for me. And…these muffins taste great. Both of my kids really liked them, as well.

The batter is a shocking pink, but the finished product is not. (Science-geek-moms, why is that?)

I did not use whole wheat flour, but I have had good luck with substituting half whole wheat flour for half white flour. So it’s worth a try, if you’d like to increase the fiber in these muffins.


If I hide, you can't make me eat it.

If I hide, you can’t make me eat it.




Beet-Carrot-Zucchini Muffins (adapted from The Kitchn)

Makes 10-12 muffins

1¼ cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon cinnamon
⅛ teaspoon salt
⅔ cup grated carrots
½ cup grated zucchini
½ cup finely grated beets
¼ cup raisins
⅔ cup maple syrup
⅓ cup cooking oil
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 400°. Grease muffin tins, or line with paper liners.

Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in a medium bowl. In another bowl, mix the grated vegetables.

In a large mixing bowl, beat maple syrup and oil until emulsified. Add eggs one at a time, beating until batter is smooth. Add flour mixture in three or four batches, mixing gently. Stir in the vegetables.

Pour batter into muffin tins. Bake approximately 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool slightly before removing

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The HPV Vaccination: Important Information About Protecting Your Family


I’d like to talk with you today about helping prevent cancer in our kids as they get older. But before we can talk about some of those cancers, we have to talk about sex – even if we don’t want to.  I mean, let’s face it; it isn’t always the most comfortable topic to even think about much less talk about.  Our society deems it okay for sexualized commercials, music and clothing to surround our kids; but our schools aren’t allowed to give them evidence-based, factual education that will help them make smart choices, nor are they allowed access to the tools needed to make those smart choices? We are sending our kids mixed messages. And they know it.

As Executive Director of Immunize Nevada, a statewide 501c3 non-profit, I was recently asked to give a TEDx talk about preventing cancer through the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination.  I didn’t want my own personal HPV story to be part of it. I didn’t want it broadcasted to the world. I definitely didn’t want to talk about sex. But as I thought about it and rehearsed, I realized that not telling my story — all of us parents not telling our stories — is one of the inherent problems with HPV vaccine uptake. It mirrors the way we approach anything related to sex here in the United States.

HPV is the most common sexually-transmitted infection in this country – so high that most parents today were probably infected at some point in their lives. You can’t get it if someone sneezes on you, and you can’t get it from eating contaminated food. You get it from skin to skin, sexual contact – something most of our children will do within their lifetime (even if they wait until marriage).

We need to be honest with ourselves and fellow moms about our own history with HPV, and we need to share our stories.

The conversation I had with my 12 year old son went something like this:

“You need to get a vaccine today.”

“What’s it for?”

“It prevents you from getting cancer.”

“What kind of cancer?”

“Remember in the school program when you talked about the diseases you can get from sex? Some of those diseases can cause cancer.”

“Yuk. I don’t want to get cancer.”

If you have a teen and you haven’t vaccinated them, ask yourself why. Are you concerned about safety? Or are you really concerned it’s giving them permission to have sex? Be honest with yourself about your concerns, and then get the facts. There are a lot of things we can’t control as our teens become young adults, but we can prevent them from getting HPV associated cancers.

I wanted to share with you some common questions I get asked by parents regarding the HPV Vaccine:

Who should get the vaccine?

Routine HPV vaccination is recommended for boys and girls at 11 or 12 years of age. Vaccination at age 11 or 12 years is most effective because it provides the highest protection when given before exposure to HPV occurs. Catch-up vaccination is recommended through age 26 for those who did not previously complete the series. HPV vaccines are given in a three dose series over a six-month period. HPV vaccines do not contain live viruses and only uses a tiny piece of the virus, meaning the vaccine cannot give you HPV or cause cancer.

Is the HPV vaccination safe? How effective is it?

HPV vaccines are continually monitored for their safety and effectiveness. Since the vaccine was first released in 2006, health care providers have given millions of doses across the globe and no serious safety concerns have been found. All vaccines used in the U.S. are required to go through extensive safety testing before they are released to use. HPV vaccines are very effective. If the HPV vaccine series is completed and administered in the correct intervals it can provide nearly 100% protection from certain HPV types. HPV vaccines offer a promising approach to preventing cancer.

What are the side effects?

Some mild side effects can occur. The most common reaction is a sore arm where the injection was given. Swelling and redness can also occur at the injection site. Some other side effects include dizziness, fainting, nausea, and headache.  Fainting is a common reaction for any adolescent vaccine. To reduce the risk of injury, an adolescent should sit or lie down for 10-15 minutes after the vaccine is administered.

The HPV vaccine is cancer prevention. It prevents cancers that mostly occur in adults – so when thinking about vaccinating our 11-12 year olds, it’s a hard concept to grasp.

Please check out this link for more information:  Mom-to-Mom, I encourage you to make an appointment today to speak with your healthcare provider about vaccinating your 11 or 12 year olds against HPV. It could help save their life.

~~~Connect with Immunize Nevada~~~

Immunize Nevada on Facebook   @ImmunizeNV     #HPVFreeNV


About the Author…Heidi Parker is Executive Director of Immunize Nevada

Heidi Parker, Executive Director of Immunize Nevada


As executive director of Immunize Nevada, Heidi Parker leads and engages a diverse coalition of staff, volunteers, member organizations and funders so they are passionate about vaccines and access to preventive health care across Nevada’s rural, urban and frontier communities. Bringing 19 years of experience in nonprofit program management, fundraising and marketing, she has dedicated her career to being able to affect her community in a positive way, whether working with Head Start families, victims of violence, college students or Nevadans needing immunizations.

Under her leadership, Immunize Nevada is deeply involved in community outreach, collaborative projects and fundraising efforts aimed at helping close the vaccination gap that Nevada faces. Heidi lost her best friend to Hepatitis when she was in elementary school and her great-grandfather died in the Influenza Pandemic of 1918. These personal and family losses drive her motivation to ensure that no one suffers from a vaccine-preventable disease, and that vaccines continue to have an influential voice.

Heidi has earned numerous awards for her commitment to community involvement, including the Reno Gazette Journal’s Twenty under 40 award and has presented at a variety of regional and national conferences, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Immunization Conference. Heidi is a 2nd generation DePaul Blue Demon and received her Master of Arts degree from Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville. She is also a recent graduate of Duke University’s Executive Nonprofit Leadership program.

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Journey to the Center of Parenthood – continued…

Click here to read the first part of the Journey…

babyimage_royaltyfree2A year after our miscarriage my husband and I were still trying to get pregnant in the “normal” way. I was glued to the calendar and knew the exact days I could become pregnant, but to be sure we decided to make love nightly.
Being physical with your partner is a beautiful expression of your emotional connection. It takes what the heart sings and makes it physical. However, when the physical act becomes a “chore” to be performed regardless of your level of desire, exhaustion, emotional distress or any other thing that may interfere, it is no longer an act of love, it’s a job.
As months pass without getting pregnant, the darker emotions take over. Anger, jealousy, envy and ultimately the hurt creep in and steal your heart. We knew people who could sneeze and get pregnant, people who had not one but multiple “woopsies” that resulted in beautiful children.
Also crashing down on us was the usual “when are you two going to have a baby?” from family and friends. Parents in particular can be an emotional land mine when navigating their well-meant queries about when we were going to make them grandparents. Piled on even thicker were the “well-wishers.” I dreaded hearing “just RELAX and it’ll happen.” Harder still, people around us were having babies like they were the new “it” item of the season. I was devastated; my husband remained strong.
I finally asked my physician to refer us to a fertility doctor. I was ashamed and embarrassed that I could not give my husband a baby. Hence began our foray into the world of fertility treatments.
babyimage_royaltyfree5First up was fertility testing to see what the actual problem was. I was tested, as was my husband, to which the doctor announced that my husband was an Olympian in the fertility department while my hormone levels were rapidly decreasing and due to extremely heavy menstrual cycles I was dangerously low on iron. I did not have any physical blockage but I was not ovulating on a regular basis.
After discussing the types of treatments available, we decided to start at the shallow end of the pool with IUI (intrauterine insemination) before doing IVF (in vitro fertilization) hence the shots began. I was doing a hormone shot every day before I did a “booster” shot to have my eggs drop. My husband had to give them semen and I had to give myself shots–shots that altered my mood, gave me bruises and made me irrationally think that I was a horrible person and was being punished. And the cost, the cost is astronomical. The doctor is thousands of dollars, up front thank you very much. The hormones are massively expensive and with the exception of the initial exams, NOTHING was covered by our insurance. We were solely responsible for any financial incurrence.
Much to our delight, I became pregnant with the first IUI treatment cycle. We decided to be reserved emotionally about the pregnancy as it may not end well. It didn’t. At my 8 week checkup the doctor let me know that the fetus had stopped developing and I was in a miscarriage situation. Once again, we were devastated. This time I decided to miscarry at home and not do a DNC. That was a huge mistake; I would never advise anyone to do this. I know some women don’t have a choice, but I did and for me it was a bad choice. The physical pain ended after 4 days but the emotional pain cut even deeper than the first time.
My husband and I made the decision to cease fertility treatments. Not only is it financially crippling, it takes an untold emotional price when it fails. Since I was adopted and my husband’s sister was adopted our next obvious choice was adoption.
beach-323454_1280 (1)We began the adoption process soon after our decision. The process is straight forward. The paper work is daunting, but it’s the emotions that are harder to navigate. We are now officially on the waiting list. It took us 2 years to fully work through the emotions, to work out the anger and disappoint and to get back into a healthy head space.
We are now waiting; we were warned by the adoption agency that this period of time would be the hardest of all, but at the end of the wait we would receive a brand new addition to our family. So now we wait, but with joy and anticipation. We gleefully look at baby furniture, baby clothes, recite baby names and contemplate what items we need initially and later.
Best of all, my husband and I no longer carry our emotional “baby” baggage and us making love?…It’s no longer a job.


Kathleen and David in utahAbout the author: Kathleen Littell spent 17 years working in massage therapy at Las Vegas resort spas as well as in management. After her massage career she moved into post-secondary education and mental health. Now Kathleen is a freelance writer and CEO of a company run side by side with her husband. Together they rescue animals, especially Beagles and look forward to the day they become parents. You can reach Kathleen at

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Journey to the Center of Parenthood


Having children should be the most natural act on the planet. The desire to co-create another human being can be deeply rooted within our psyche and one that is difficult to ignore.

I had always liked children, believed they should never be hurt or abused and raised by people who were doing their best. But, the desire to be a mom never really took hold for me, until I met my husband. When I met the man I would marry, I not only fell deeply in love with him, I wanted little humanoids with him.

6 months after we were married we decided it was time to get pregnant. I got off the pill and within the clinically specified 28 days, I was expecting. We were ecstatic. We purchased baby name books, books about expecting, and books about toddlers; calculated our due date, we even purchased a home kit to determine the sex of the baby, which told us we were having a boy. We were over the moon.

At my first doctor visit, we were to listen to the heartbeat. I don’t think I have ever been more excited, my husband had to work but I was more than OK going to the doctor visit by myself as he was going to join me on the visit where we got our first ultrasound. My doctor did the usual chit chat as she checked for the heartbeat. She became quiet, and I took that to mean she was analyzing what she was hearing. She had a slight frown upon her face when she told me she couldn’t find the heartbeat. I was stunned, how could that be? Maybe I had miscalculated the date of conception; maybe I needed to move into a different position, maybe, maybe… She offered to do an in-office ultrasound to confirm her suspicions. I laid there as she placed the cold lubricant upon my stomach and looked away from the screen as she did the viewing. After a few moments she concluded that the fetal pole had not developed and I was going to miscarry. I choked back tears as I thanked her.

Upon leaving the doctor’s office my husband arrived. He was so excited that he had left work and was going to surprise me there. I looked at him and my world caved in. He engulfed me within a giant bear hug as I sobbed.

We had discussed the topic of miscarriage in the weeks before we found out I was having one. We are both highly intellectual and have a firm grasp on biology and understood that sometimes a pregnancy ends in miscarriage due to whatever reasons. We were very philosophical about the possibility: we were older than most people having children, it was a first pregnancy, etc. None of that mattered as I scheduled my suction DNC. None of those discussions meant anything as I came home from the quick procedure that made the end of my pregnancy a certainty. None of it mattered. We were devastated and were at a loss on how to reconcile our emotions with the intelligent verbiage we so freely shared with each other.

There was no question we were going to try again as soon as possible, we were certain that this miscarriage was a one-time deal and had happened to make us stronger emotionally and prepare us for the challenges of being parents.

We were wrong…

Read Part II of Kathleen’s story with her wonderful husband by her side…


Kathleen and David in utahAbout the author: Kathleen Littell spent 17 years working in massage therapy at Las Vegas resort spas as well as in management. After her massage career she moved into post-secondary education and mental health. Now Kathleen is a freelance writer and CEO of a company run side by side with her husband. Together they rescue animals, especially Beagles and look forward to the day they become parents. You can reach Kathleen at

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March 24, 2015

He With the Fastest Watch Wins: Sibling Rivalry

My watch is faster than yours!

Dinner conversation tonight:

Liam: “We’re going to play Nerf darts tomorrow at Spring Valley Park.”
Daniel: “It’s called Buffalo Park.”
Liam [huffs]: “Get a map so I can prove him wrong!”

If your home is anything like mine, there’s some sibling rivalry going on. One-upmanship, competition, and even downright conflict happens on a regular basis. Despite the annoyance to me parents, sibling rivalry is normal.

(Note: physical fighting is not something to be condoned. Many parents view physical fighting between siblings as normal, but it teaches kids to solve problems with violence. Moreover, physical fighting between siblings, if often/severe enough, can even be sibling abuse. )

My watch is faster than yours!

My watch is faster than yours!

Sometimes the rivalry can be comical to parents, but it still presents a teachable moment. As preschoolers, our boys received wristwatches as a gift from their grandma. They loved the watches and felt very grown-up. One day at the kitchen table, there was this exchange:

Liam: “My watch says 2:32.”
Daniel [glancing at his watch, smugly]: “Well, my watch says 2:33.”

And the teachable moment was… I don’t exactly remember, because I was laughing too hard. I think it was about how not everything is a race.

Thankfully, most siblings grow out of their rivalry. Also, it is sometimes situation-specific. My boys are frequent rivals at home, but Daniel brags about Liam’s accomplishments when they’re at school.

Tips for calming down sibling rivalry

  • It takes two to tango, so to speak. Regardless of who started the argument (“He did!” “No, she did!”), both kids can receive a negative consequence for negative behavior. This teaches children that they can be in control of their reactions to other people.
  • The flip side of that is to catch your kids when they are cooperative with each other, and praise them. If you keep a sticker or reward chart, this could earn each child a sticker/point.
  • Model calm conflict resolution yourself. If you fly off the handle at little things, your children learn that’s how things are done. We all have some days when we are glad there are no reality TV cameras in our home – okay, I can only speak for myself – but overall, show your children that disagreements can be handled calmly.
  • If age-appropriate, let your children work the conflict out between themselves. Monitor for physical violence, however – or even mean-spirited language that crosses the line.
  • Understand child development. For example, a toddler who bites is not being mean or violent. At such a young age, she is unable to express her feelings, and biting is a symptom of feeling overwhelmed.


Sometimes, when there's a lull in the trash talk, this happens.

Sometimes, when there’s a lull in the trash talk, this happens.

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