Q&A with Estela Schnelle, Registered Dietitian, Blogger and Mom
Here at Pasta Fits, we love hearing different tips from families who have hectic schedules, but still manage to eat healthy. That’s why we are so excited to feature Estela Schnelle, who seems to have that balance mastered! As a mom of two girls and a registered dietitian, Estela is always looking for fun and unique ways to entertain her family with food that is both healthy and delicious. In addition to being a mom, Estela is the Official Dietitian for Produce for Kids and is the ingenious blogger behind The Weekly Bite. We asked Estela how she balances busy schedules with nutritious meals, how she turns cooking into a bonding experience, and asked her to share a favorite recipe with us!
1. As a registered dietitian, nutritionist and mother of two, do you have any tips on how you provide your family with tasty, healthy meals without spending hours by the stove?
The key is planning. I do my grocery shopping on the weekend, before I head to the store we talk about what we’d like to have to for dinner and lunches throughout the week. We always have a staple list of foods we buy, but for meals I like to get all the shopping for the week at once. We have such a busy schedule, so it’s easy to know what we will be having for dinner that night and helps relieve the stress that I already have the ingredients on hand. All it takes is just a few minutes out of your day to make weeknight meals a little less stressful.
2. On your blog, you’ve said that you enjoy cooking with your children, as you believe it is a bonding experience and fun for the whole family. What advice do you have for families who want to involve their child in the kitchen but are apprehensive for safety reasons?
Always judge your kid’s involvement with their age and skill level. My five-year-old can do a little more than my three-year-old. I have always taught them about the oven and staying away from “hot” things. Right now they like to mix and measure ingredients. It does take a little patience on my end, but I know in the end this is a huge learning experience for them. The more kids are involved in food prep, the more likely they are to eat it, or try a ‘new to them’ meal.
3. You’ve mentioned on your blog that you always keep pasta on hand and that it has become a staple in your busy house. We’ve found a lot of families agree! Why do you like to keep pasta in your pantry? Are there any other ingredients you keep on hand to cook with pasta in a pinch?
I always keep pasta as a staple in our panty. These are the “basics” that are included in my weekly grocery list. I like to vary the shapes and types of pasta. I always buy marinara sauce if I know I don’t have homemade pre-frozen. We grow a lot of basil during the summer months so we make sure to make a lot of pesto. If I remember to buy mini mozzarella balls I’ll combine it with orzo, shredded basil and a vinaigrette for a quick caprese dish. I also like to buy lean Italian turkey sausage and store it in the freezer if I’m in need to making a quick pasta dish. This goes well with just about any pasta dish.
4. We love your motto, “Eat when you’re hungry & Eat real food”. Can you explain a bit further what this means, & why it is important for a well-rounded diet?
We refer to this as ‘Tummy Hunger’ with our kid’s. I am a full believer of eating everything in moderation. I feel that eliminating food from your diet (unless for medical purposes) will only cause you to crave that food more. A lifestyle of eating when you are hungry and stopping when you are satisfied will help control your weight without depriving yourself of the foods you love. Listen for those hunger cues, whether it be a grumbling tummy or stomach pangs, that’s when it’s time to eat!
I love my One Pot Pasta Dish – One Pot Tomato Rosemary Linguine with Meatballs & Mozzerella. It’s the easiest meal. You throw all the ingredients (including the raw pasta) and 20 minutes later you have a full meal. Plus it’s delicious. It’s a favorite of my family’s!
Estela Schnelle is a Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist. She has a Masters in Nutrition Science from Texas Women’s University and has practiced in San Diego, California, Virginia and Washington D.C. She was formerly the Director of Clinical Nutrition at Georgetown University Medical Center and formerly the Director of Clinical Nutrition at Sibley Hospital. She is the editor of “The Weekly Bite” and is a Cool Food Panel blogger on behalf of NFRA (National Frozen & Refrigerated Foods Association), and the Official Dietitian for Produce for Kid’s.