by Kim Beavers, MS, RD, LD, CDE

I used to think that I had the creativity of a rock and then I started cooking for myself. Eventually, I realized that I frequently altered recipes and often changed them into completely new recipes, which indeed is a form of creativity. Fast forward 20 plus years and my daughter also prefers not to follow a recipe, which unfortunately results in a lot of inedible mess making. Admittedly, I have not been stellar at encouraging this form of creativity, especially since I am usually the clean-up crew. In an effort to practice what I preach, my perspective has changed from squelching kitchen creativity to embracing and gently redirecting the whole creative process.

Allowing children time in the kitchen is not just helping them develop  a life skill, but also predictive of future health and wellness. Cooking skills correlate positively with weekly vegetable consumption, avoids the frequency of convenience food consumption and allows children to make healthier food choices.  With the goal of both future health and less mess,  it is important to embrace kitchen creativity with kids in a meaningful and edible way. The pasta salad included in this article is a perfect recipe to “not follow”. There are many ways to change it and still end up with something creative AND edible. Here are some ideas to get you started.

• Change up the vegetables, think lightly steamed asparagus or green beans in place of the zucchini—delicious.

• Or try roasting the veggies or grilling them first

• Simplify this recipe by using store bought balsamic (recommend Newman’s Own®)

• Alter the dressing altogether

o try tossing with olive oil, and sprinkle a packet of powdered ranch on top and toss again

• Change the pasta shape

Edamame Pasta Salad

This pasta salad has a rainbow of colors and will be a welcome addition to any summer time feast.

1 ½ cups (6 ounces) gemelli pasta (twisted pasta)

16 ounces (3 cups) shelled edamame

2/3 cup red onion, chopped

1 small zucchini chopped

1 small yellow squash, chopped

½ medium red bell pepper chopped

2 medium tomatoes, chopped

3 Tbs. balsamic vinegar

2 tsp. lemon juice

2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil

¾ tsp. dried dill weed

½ tsp. oregano leaves

1 tsp. Greek seasoning

Black pepper to taste

Garnish with chopped parsley

Cook the pasta according to package directions (omitting the salt and oil).  During the last 5 minutes of cooking add the shelled edamame to the pasta pot and bring back to a boil for 5 minutes.  Drain pasta mixture, and rinse with cool water.  Combine pasta in a large bowl with remaining vegetables (red onion through tomatoes). 

In a separate bowl whisk together the dressing ingredients (balsamic vinegar through black pepper).  Pour dressing over pasta mixture and toss to coat.  Sprinkle with parsley as a garnish. Chill for 1 to 2 hours before serving (Toss before serving to re-coat the salad with dressing, as it sinks to the bottom a bit).

Yield: 10 servings (serving size: 1 cup)

Nutrient Breakdown:  Calories 170, Fat 5g (0g saturated, 2gmono), Cholesterol 0mg, Sodium 260mg, Carbohydrate 22g, Fiber 4g, Protein 8g, Potassium 460mg

Diabetes Exchange Values: 1 Starch, 1 Vegetable, 1 lean meat

Kim Beavers is a Registered Dietitian and Diabetes Educator for University Health Care System. She lives in North Augusta with her husband and two children and she is the co-host of the culinary nutrition segment Eating Well with Kim, which airs at noon Monday, Wednesday and Friday on WRDW. To be notified of new recipes join Kim’s facebook fan page at To search for specific recipes go to You can also watch the segments at


This article appears in the July 2017 issue of Augusta Family Magazine.
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