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Melanie Plesko is our recipe artiste. She is a mom and registered dietitian, having completed her internship at Massachusetts General Hospital, and a certified personal chef, melding her know-how of healthy eating with a passion for cooking. Born in England, she recalls favorite meals such as garden fresh rhubarb made into a sweet tart with custard, and traditional English Sunday dinner: roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes, and mushy peas and carrots. 

Melanie's approach to healthful cooking is more than eyeing calories or fat grams; she sees cooking as a way to “bring nutrition to life” by enjoying the taste, look, and aroma of a delicious yet healthful dish. She loves to perfect homemade soups that simmer all day on the back burner, or whip up buttermilk pancakes topped with real maple syrup and berries on a Saturday morning. Here she shares some favorite creations.


Crunchy Chinese Salad

This is an easy kid-friendly recipe that's great for Chinese New Year. Making your own dressing with natural sweeteners like honey helps avoid the high fructose corn syrup found in many commercial salad dressings. Your kids will be introduced to different greens that are more nutrient dense than the usual iceberg lettuce. The nutritious almonds are a crunchy alternative to fried chinese noodles. 

Crunchy Chinese Salad (serves 4)

Salad Ingredients
4 cups shredded Napa cabbage (or green cabbage)
1 cup sliced bok choy

1 12 oz can Mandarin oranges (drained)
1/2 cup sliced almonds

1 t Chinese five spice powder
1 T soy sauce
2 T honey
1/8 cup orange juice (with heavy pulp)
3 T sesame oil
1 T rice vinegar


  1. Place shredded cabbage and bok choy in a large bowl.
  2. In a small bowl, make the dressing: Combine Chinese five spice powder, soy sauce, honey, orange juice, sesame oil, and rice vinegar. Whisk until oil is mixed in well.
  3. Pour dressing into salad and toss. Divide salad among four plates and top with mandarin oranges and sliced almonds.

Thai Chicken Burritos

Save money and make your own gourmet burritos! These are flavor-packed, nutrition-packed portable meals. Note that you can make extra and freeze them in Ziploc bags. To eat, defrost overnight and heat in microwave.



For Chicken

1 pound skinless boneless chicken breasts, cut into strips

1 T light brown sugar

2 1/2 T low-sodium soy sauce

2 t grated fresh ginger

1 t grated lime rind

1 garlic clove, minced


For Peanut Sauce

2 T light brown sugar

3 T low-sodium soy sauce

1 1/2 T fresh lime juice

4 T natural-style, creamy peanut butter

1/4 t crushed red pepper

1 garlic clove, minced

Thin out with water if necessary


For Filling

2 cups Jasmine rice, cooked

2 cups broccoli and carrots, blanched (cut into 1-inch pieces, drop into boiling water for about 3 minutes, then rinse in cold water)

4-6 large white flour tortillas




  1. To make chicken, combine all the ingredients in a large Ziploc bag and refrigerate for 30 minutes to let marinate. Spread out the chicken strips on a baking tray and bake uncovered at 375F for about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  2. To make peanut sauce, combine all ingredients in a bowl.
  3. To assemble burritos, divide filling into 4-6 servings. Pile rice, chicken, peanut sauce, and vegetables in a heap on one side of the tortilla; fold sides in and roll up.