mama jess good meals: sharing our family dinner – new monthly blog with YOU (featured readers)!

Posted by on Dec 13, 2013 in blog, good meals, recipes


Hello friends,


The Mama Jess Team is very excited to bring you a new monthly blog feature: Good Meals: Sharing Our Family Dinners. We are putting an emphasis on veggies (like always!) and eating together as a family. In this day and age it seems the family dinner time together is happening less and less. We are all so busy but I think it’s time to campaign to get back together once a week at least – let’s start there and build on it. We recently posted this to our Facebook:

We only have 940 Saturdays with our children from their birth till they are 18 (presumably leaving the nest). So do the math – if you brought your family together for a meal once a week that’s only 940 times. I want MORE! More time together! More family meals around our dining room table.

Our team recommitting to that family meal time and we hope to inspire you. To help we are launching this awesome monthly blog. It will be filled with tips, recipes, pictures of REAL families like yours and mine eating together. We are going to lead the way and show you a couple family meal nights but then we are going to open it up to readers and make it a ‘contest’. There are no winners or losers here –but we will feature your recipe (hopefully packed with veggies & Mama Jess Organic Pasta Sauce?!) in our blog that month. We will give you a gift pack including: gift card for groceries & some free sauce from Mama Jess. Details below.


To kick this off – our own Mama Jess contributor, Kelly Van Stone, is sharing a family meal she created.



We will start taking submissions January 1, 2014.  Submissions must be emailed to with the Subject: GOOD MEALS/Last Name

They must include:

–        photo of meal or entrée

–        recipe

–        meal must include mama jess as an ingredient in the main dish, side dish or as a condiment/topping

–        name and location of entrant

–        permission to use all of the above in Mama Jess Blog


–        $25 dollar Visa gift card

–        3 jars of mama jess organic pasta sauce

We will contact you to confirm you are the guest blogger in the Good Meals Blog. At that time we will interview you and then share the proposed blog piece for your approval. Prizes will be mailed when Blog runs. Please contact us at with any questions.


We look forward to sharing some Good Meals with you and your family.


Eat your veggies,


Mama Jess



Meet Kelly from Minnesota. She happens to be a Mama Jess Team member but she’s also a mom that shares our passion for family meal time.

Kelly sat down with us and gave us some of her inside tips on making mealtime a priority and healthy.

  • For me, sitting down as a family for dinner is a regular daily event.  There may be a night or two when we sit down earlier than normal due to an activity or eat quickly to get out the door on time, but we always sit down together.  It is important family time and because we do it every night, it is expected so it is not up for debate with the kids.  It gives us time to be grateful together and talk about our days. Dinner prep is an excellent avenue for talking about the food that we eat, how it nourishes our bodies and about health and nutrition.  Not to mention, developing the lifelong skill of cooking! The girls don’t always volunteer in the kitchen at meal time, but in the very least, they see their parent  modeling that behavior on a daily basis.  They learn that cooking and eating healthfully is important.
  • One tip for getting the kids in the kitchen for me is setting the kitchen up for them in advance.  I know that my youngest likes to use a chair at the counter, as she is still a bit short to work on that surface.  So I put the chair out before she even comes to help.  I also have a fun red ‘kids knife’ that she likes to use.  It is serrated and not as sharp as the adult version so we are both comfortable with her using it and she likes having her own special knife.  My oldest daughter has a favorite cutting board that is shaped like an apple.  If I put it out on the counter she is much more likely to help with the chopping.  I always delegate any mixing to the kids.  It is something that they love to do and it gives them great satisfaction in doing it!  I also have them practice reading the recipes out loud and reading labels.  Not only do they get extra reading in, but they are learning how to follow a recipe and how to read a nutrition label.
  • One healthy eating tip that works for our family is to introduce a new food with a food that they love.  My youngest daughter is not a fan of having her foods mixed together but I know that she loves Mama Jess sauces.  So for the vegetable lasagna, I knew that she would not appreciate all of the wonderful vegetables in the dish, but I told her that it was made with Mama Jess sauce and she happily tried it.  I also added an extra sprinkle of parmesan cheese on her serving as it is a favorite of hers.  The same goes for allowing a not so healthy choice and pairing it with a healthy add it.  For example, dipping garlic bread,which my girls love, in tomato sauce.  The bread itself doesn’t have much nutritional value, but when you dip in it the sauce, you get good nutrition with it.  This tip works for snacking as well.  It is fine to eat a tortilla chip or pretzel, but it is served with hummus or salsa to get the good stuff into their bodies too. It is a bit of a compromise, something they like, with a food that I know is good for them.
Kelly’s recipe for Vegetable Lasagna:
Vegetable Lasagna
6 whole wheat lasagna noodles (I like to use Hodgson Mill whole grain pastas.  There is only one ingredient….100% Durum Whole Wheat Flour which includes the wheat germ and bran fiber)
1 zucchini and 1 yellow squash, quartered lengthwise and sliced
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 medium chopped onion
2 cups sliced baby bella mushrooms
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/4 cup fresh basil, snipped
1/4 cup fresh italian parsley, snipped
1 cup ricotta cheese
3 tablespoons parmesan cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 jar of Mama Jess Pasta Sauce (I used Bean Good but any kind will work)
Cook the lasagna noodles according to the directions and drain.  In a large skillet, saute the garlic, onion.and mushrooms in the olive oil over medium high heat about 5 minutes or until tender.  Remove from heat and set aside.  Mix the ricotta, snipped parsley, parmesean cheese and pepper in a small bowl.
Assemble the layer in a deep baking dish, starting with a thin layer of sauce on the bottom and three lasagna noodles across.  Spread the cheese mixture over the noodles and top with half of the sauted vegetables and half of the basil..  Follow that with the pasta sauce and half of the mozzarella cheese.  Repeat the layer.
Bake uncovered in a preheated 375 degree oven.  Bake for approximately 45 minutes or until hot and bubbly and the cheese is slightly browned.  Allow the lasagna to stand for 5-10 minutes prior to serving.