Holiday Entertaining- Snacks and Desserts

December 15th, 2014

pumpkinpuddingThe temperatures are dropping, and the holiday season is right around the corner. The holidays are a great time to celebrate and enjoy the company of family and friends. The month is filled with parties and good cheer – and plenty of food! Here are some ideas to keep the holidays delicious without throwing nutrition to the wind.

Flavored popcorn

Popcorn is a perfect healthy whole grain snack to have around when entertaining, but plain popcorn doesn’t always get my mouth watering. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to spruce up an old favorite! Check out all these twists. I recommend Vanilla Corn and Nut Corn (Yum!).

Rhonda’s Deviled Eggs

Deviled eggs are one of my favorite snacks to munch on this time of year. They’re easy and relatively inexpensive to make, and they are a fun dish to bring to a holiday potluck. Packed with plenty of protein, an egg is filling enough to keep you from raiding the cookie table all night.

Pumpkin Pudding

There’s nothing wrong with a sweet little treat after dinner, but traditional holiday pies are often packed with sugar and extra calories. This pumpkin pudding is a healthy alternative that doesn’t sacrifice great flavor. It just might become your family’s new favorite!

Maddie

ISU Dietetics Student

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Scrambled Egg Muffins

December 8th, 2014

Scrambled Egg MuffinsI often have overnight company around the holidays and many times I am looking for tasty, simple dishes I can serve hot from the oven with toast, fruit and milk. Scrambled egg muffins work for guests and they are very versatile. I have used a lot of different veggies such as mushrooms, tomatoes, and spinach.  I have even added ham or Canadian bacon.  If you’re in a real hurry, you can skip the muffin pan all together and make it in a 8 x 8-inch pan. It will take about 20 minutes in an 8 x 8 pan. To be sure, bake to an internal temperature of 160 degrees.

Other tips for this recipe include:

  • Diced means to cut into small pieces (1/4 inch or less).
  • Vegetables can be chopped up the night before and stored in the refrigerator to make the recipe even faster.
  • Serve extra leftover egg muffins chopped up in tortillas or with a green salad and roll for another meal.

 Scrambled Egg Muffins

Serving Size: 1 muffin | Serves: 6 | Cost Per Serving: $.59

scrambled egg muffin labelIngredients: 

  • 2 cups washed vegetables, diced (broccoli, red or green bell peppers, onion)
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup low fat cheddar cheese, shredded

Instructions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray muffin tin with nonstick spray.
  2. Add chopped veggies to the muffin tin.
  3. Beat eggs in a bowl. Stir in salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
  4. Pour eggs into the muffin tin and bake 20-25 minutes. To add cheese, remove the tin from the oven during the last 3 minutes of baking. Sprinkle the cheese on top of the muffins and return the tin to the oven.
  5. Bake until the temperature reaches 160°F or a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.

Peggy Signature

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Preparing your Kitchen for Holiday Entertaining

December 1st, 2014

Holiday place settingIt’s the time of year when many of us have family visiting and special get-togethers that involve food. You can save a lot of money by having holiday parties at home rather than in a restaurant and it is usually more fun too. I have friends coming for dinner this month as well as a neighborhood cookie swap at my house.

These are all fun things to do, but I’ll have a lot more fun if I get organized and I know that my kitchen is ready for the extra “traffic”. Here are some things that I do to make sure my kitchen is organized for holiday entertaining.

  1. I go through my seasonings and spices to make sure I know what I have so that I don’t end up buying unnecessary duplicates.
  2. I look carefully at what is in my freezer and make a point of getting things used up to clear out space.
  3. I go through the bottles and jars in my fridge and make sure everything is in date. If it is expired I throw it out.
  4. I review the recipes that I want to make and create a meal plan as well as a grocery list. This will keep me from being tempted by all of the tasty things at the grocery store that I really don’t need. As I’m doing this, I think about what I’ll ask guests to bring if they offer to provide a dish.
  5. Parties can mean some extra sweets and rich holiday recipes so I balance those extra calories by eating really well when it’s not party day. I stock up on easy-to-eat fruits and veggies that I can keep in the fridge for a quick snack or side dish.

I hope these tips help make your holiday entertaining stress free and please share your ideas with us on Spend Smart. Eat Smart’s. Facebook page!

s Signature-1

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Tackling Thanksgiving Leftovers with Flair

November 24th, 2014

turkey stuffing dinner supper mealThe fall and winter holidays are my absolute favorite! I love it when we start to get a chill in the air and look ahead to holiday cooking. This week is filled with anticipation of turkey, sweet potatoes, stuffing and pumpkin pie. Yum!

But what happens on Friday? There are always so many leftovers from Thanksgiving and you can only eat so many turkey sandwiches. Here are some Spend Smart. Eat Smart. recipes that don’t taste anything like Thanksgiving but get those leftovers used up.

Chicken Club Salad Use turkey instead of the chicken in this recipe for a light and refreshing meal. You can also use up those leftover veggies from your relish tray!
Quick Pad Thai The Asian flavors in this dish will be a nice change of pace after all that holiday food. Use turkey instead of chicken and fresh veggies if you have them.
Chocolate Surprise Cupcakes Did you buy one too many cans of pumpkin? This recipe is delicious and takes no time at all to make. These are perfect if you have someone in your house who doesn’t like pumpkin because they just taste like chocolate.

 

Enjoy the holiday and share your Thanksgiving photos with us on Facebook!

s Signature-1

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What? The Turkey is still Frozen?!?

November 17th, 2014

AnswerLineSquare-littleWhether you’re trying to thaw your turkey or figure out if it’s done, AnswerLine is here for you!

As Thanksgiving approaches, the AnswerLine staff discussed some of our top food safety tips for Thanksgiving. Here are some ideas to help you have a safe Thanksgiving.

  1. Remember to put food away right after dinner. Leftovers should not remain at room temperature for longer than 2 hours. The clock starts to tick when you sit down to eat, so get the leftovers put away as soon as possible.
  2. If you need to prepare food ahead, consider preparing and freezing the food or measuring out ingredients that can be mixed together at the last minute. It is not a good idea to partially cook a dish one day and finish cooking the next day.
  3. If you really must stuff your turkey, remember to make the stuffing and place it inside the turkey just before putting the turkey in the oven. Resist the impulse to overstuff the turkey, just stuff it loosely so the inside of the turkey cooks correctly. Plan to use a food thermometer to check the temperature of the stuffing before taking the turkey out of the oven. The stuffing and turkey should each reach 165°F when it is ready.
  4. Leftovers should be used within 4 days. If you think you will not be able to eat all the leftovers within that time, freeze the extra food. Plan to package it in smaller packages so that you can enjoy an entire package at a meal. But, if you do have leftover leftovers, they can be safely refrozen as long as they have been handled safely. This video is funny and helpful!

  1. If you plan to make soup or some other large quantity of food from you leftovers, cool them quickly by setting the pan into a sink full of cold or ice water. Stir until the food cools. Then package in small, thin containers for rapid freezing.

If you have any questions, please call us at AnswerLine. We are available 9-noon and 1-4 Monday through Friday. In Iowa, call 1-800-262-3804; Minnesota, call 1-800-854-1678; South Dakota, call1-888-393-6336 or 515-296-5883 from anywhere else. If the lines are busy you can also email us answer@iastate.edu. We love to talk with folks about Thanksgiving or answer questions about anything else around the home.

Visit us on Facebook!

Liz, Beth, and Jill
the AnswerLine staff

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Fuel Your Body with the Right Snack

November 10th, 2014

hummus veggies snacksLiving on a college student’s budget is difficult and planning meals ahead of time is not easy with so much of my time going to work and school. When I have lots of school work to do, I usually eat more snacks than meals. I am prepared for those busy weeks! I have stocked my apartment with a supply of nutritious snacks that I can easily grab and enjoy throughout the day. The right snacks give me the energy I need to get me through my busy schedule and keep me feeling good all day long.

This past summer I did a pricing project as part of my work on the Spend Smart. Eat Smart. team. I compared the prices of healthy fruits and vegetables to the prices of less nutritious but more traditional snack foods. As you might expect, sugary fruit snacks, cookies, and chips were often less expensive when compared to, whole wheat crackers, cheese sticks, and fresh fruits. But, when I stepped back to think about what I was getting for my money I realized that the healthier foods were actually a greater value!  I need the protein, vitamins, and minerals that they provide. The other snacks were really inexpensive, but also didn’t really contain the things I need to stay alert and keep my energy up.

For example, I could purchase whole grain crackers and peanut butter for $0.44 per serving. I could purchase chocolate chip cookies for $0.16 per serving, but I would miss out on the whole grain, protein, and fiber that keeps me full. The cookies would cost me less, but it seems to be a case of “you get what you pay for!”  When I see a week coming up on my schedule with lots of exams or projects due, I will stock up on snack foods that include whole grain, protein, vitamins, minerals and fiber. I will also try to make sure each of my snacks includes two food groups. Here are some ideas to get your healthy snack stash started!

  • Bananas and peanut butter
  • Cheese slices and whole grain crackers
  • Sliced Turkey and pretzels
  • Carrots and hummus
  • Yogurt with fruit
  • Apple slices and string cheese

 
Taylor

ISU Dietetics Student

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No Knead Whole Wheat Bread

November 3rd, 2014

no knead breadAt last, a recipe for whole wheat bread that does not have to be kneaded. This bread is delicious, easy, and less expensive than whole wheat bread you buy at the store. Just don’t expect it to rise as high as other yeast breads with white enriched flour.

Here are a few tips for making bread:

  • Heat cold milk in microwave for 45-60 seconds for lukewarm temperature. Test a drop on the inside of your wrist. It should feel very warm but not hot.
  • Keep whole wheat flour in the refrigerator or freezer for storage. Bring flour to room temperature to make bread.
  • Instant yeast is also called fast rising, rapid rise, quick rise, and bread machine yeast.
  • 1 packet of yeast = 2 1/4 teaspoons

No Knead Whole Wheat Bread

Serving Size: 1 slice | Serves: 16 | Cost Per Serving: $.12

Ingredients: no knead bread label

  • 1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) nonfat milk, lukewarm (100-110°F)
  • 1/4 cup (2 ounces) orange or apple juice
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 packet instant yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose white flour

Instructions:

  1. Grease the sides and bottom of an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan with nonstick spray.
  2. Combine the lukewarm nonfat milk, juice, and honey in a large bowl.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients. Beat vigorously for 3 minutes. Dough will be very thick. Scoop the dough into prepared pan. Cover the pan with a clean towel. Let the dough rise in a warm place for 45-75 minutes, until almost double. Time varies according to room temperature.
  4. When dough is almost doubled, preheat oven to 350°F.
  5. Remove towel and bake bread for about 30 minutes. Dough will pull away from sides of pan when bread is done. Let bread cool 30 minutes before slicing.

Options:

  • Make 2 smaller loaves using half sized loaf pans. Bake for 23-27 minutes.
  • Make herb dinner rolls. Mix 4 teaspoons of dried herbs such as oregano, parsley, basil, rosemary, or thyme into the batter. Use muffin tins and bake 15 minutes.
  • Make 100% whole wheat bread. Use 3 cups whole wheat flour instead of white and wheat flour and 3 tablespoons molasses instead of honey.

Peggy Signature

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Pre-Made vs Homemade Dinner

October 27th, 2014

Skillet dinnerReady to go dinner in a box! The convenience is certainly tempting, but what is the trade-off?

At my grocery store I can purchase a pre-made meal kit for about $2.39. It calls for 1 pound of ground beef and that costs $3.99. That brings the total cost to $6.38 for 5 servings or $1.28 per one-cup serving. Not bad!

But wait…

I’m left with a meal that doesn’t include any vegetables, fruit or whole grain and very little dairy! I guess it wasn’t such a great value after all.

One of my favorite Spend Smart. Eat Smart. recipes is Skillet Lasagna. It is also a one skillet meal and it delivers the same creamy goodness as the boxed meal for less money. It is also much healthier using whole grain pasta, spinach and low-fat cheeses. Even better, it’s less expensive at just $1.16 per one-cup serving.

Here is how the two compare:

homemadepremadedinner

The choice seems pretty clear to me! I would gladly invest a little more effort for a much healthier meal. Plus, the Skillet Lasagna makes enough for me to have leftovers for my lunches throughout the week.

If your family really loves boxed meals, think about how you can make them a little healthier by adding veggies like broccoli, spinach or chopped tomatoes.

If you try our Skillet Lasagna, let us know what you think on the Spend Smart. Eat Smart Facebook page!

s Signature-1

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Pre-Made vs Homemade Lunch-Sweet and Sour Rice

October 20th, 2014

sweet and sour riceWhen it comes to eating lunch at work, I have a few options:

  1. Take my lunch.
  2. Go out to eat.
  3. Raid the vending machine. (note: this never turns out well!)

Of these choices, my preference is to take my lunch to work because I save money and know that I’m getting the nutrition I need. Most often what I take for lunch is leftovers. When I don’t have anything to take for lunch, I do occasionally eat out but that can get expensive and the portions are usually more than I need.

I’ve tried those frozen meals for one. I don’t know about you, but those just don’t fill me up! I end up looking for chocolate by 2:00. Not only are they kind of skimpy for my liking, but they also tend to be high in sodium.

I decided I could make something similar to those frozen meals to have on hand that would provide me with better nutrition and fill me up for less money. Looking at our Spend Smart. Eat Smart. recipes I chose to make Sweet and Sour Rice. Rice dishes tend to freeze well and this recipe is easy to make.

The recipe makes 5 servings that I easily packed into freezer-safe containers and froze until I needed something quick to grab and take for lunch. I put a container in the refrigerator at work the morning I planned to eat it for lunch so it could thaw some before I reheated it. The cost per serving (2/3 cup rice and 1 ¼ cup topping) of the Sweet and Sour Rice is $1.39, less than a frozen meal. Here is how they compare:

sweetandsourrice Chart

The homemade sweet and sour rice takes more time, there’s no denying that. But I am left with food for the whole week that I feel really good about eating. For me, 25 minutes is not a big commitment to know that I have healthy lunches all week. The homemade Sweet and Sour Rice has 50 more calories and 2.5 grams more fat but the amounts are right on target for me to have for lunch. In addition, with the higher fiber and protein in the homemade meal, it is more filling. After eating the homemade Sweet and Sour Rice, I will be less likely to look for a sweet or salty snack in the afternoon. One big plus for the Sweet and Sour Rice dish is that I can use whatever veggies I want. This is a great use-up for veggies that might otherwise not get eaten.

Do you have a favorite dish you love to eat leftover for lunch? Share it with us on the Spend Smart. Eat Smart. Facebook page!

Jodi Signature

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Premade Versus Homemade Breakfast – Smoothies

October 13th, 2014

Fruit SmoothieMy husband has a 30 minute drive to work each morning. That means he needs to leave our home by 6:30 am so he can be to (or at least near) his desk by 7 am. He is also not a morning person, so sitting down and eating breakfast before he leaves is not an option.

Most of the time he grabs some dry cereal and munches on it throughout the morning at his desk. This is easy, inexpensive, and a healthy choice. However, I have learned that if we do not start our morning off with a fruit, vegetable, or both, my family is not likely to get all of the fruits and vegetables we need in a day. So, we have started adding smoothies to his morning routine a couple of times a week.

There are many restaurants and shops near his workplace, so he could easily stop and pick one up. These smoothies taste great, but they are expensive at $3 to $4 each. They also tend to be larger than what he can drink for breakfast, so some of it gets wasted. We can make smoothies at home that taste great and cost about $1 per smoothie. With the cost savings, we prefer to make our own smoothies. On top of that, by making smoothies at home we can make sure we are getting the fruits and vegetables we need with about half the calories of a smoothie from a restaurant.

We usually make a large batch of smoothies one night a week (about eight smoothies in a batch). I have some glass jars that hold 8 ounces and some plastic bottles that hold 10 ounces. I pour the smoothies into the jars or bottles, pop the lid on, and freeze. The smoothies need about 12 hours to thaw, so I put a smoothie into the refrigerator while I am working on supper the night before. In the morning he can pull it out of the refrigerator, shake it up to mix everything around, and it is ready to go.

Smoothie Chart

The best thing about smoothies is that you do not need a recipe. I usually use yogurt or milk, frozen berries, bananas, and fresh spinach or kale. If you prefer to follow a recipe, we have several options:  Fruit Smoothies, Fruitastic Summer Smoothie Blast, and Orange Smoothie.  Whether you follow a recipe or make up your own, try a smoothie for breakfast this week! Watch our video below How to Make a Fruit Smoothie!

Justine

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