Gifts from the Kitchen

November 23rd, 2015

With the holidays quickly approaching I’ve been making a list of who I need gifts for. I have to admit, some years I’m the person who is getting a gift right before I need it. However, this year I’m planning ahead because I’m excited to give my family and friends our Healthy and Homemade cookbook. On my dad’s side of the family we do a gift exchange among the adults. This year, I plan to take the Healthy and Homemade cookbook and tuck a grocery store gift card inside for the gift exchange.

I also like to give gifts of food! For my neighbors I like to bake breads to share with them.  This year I’m planning to make them our Banana Oatmeal Bread or our No Knead Whole Wheat Bread. Prepared foods that can be frozen also make great gifts, especially for those who don’t like to cook or aren’t able to. They can heat up the food and have a homemade dish in no time. Some good recipes for this are Make Ahead Breakfast Burritos or Skillet Lasagna.

Share the gift of good food that’s good for you!

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Jody Gatewood is a Registered Dietitian who loves to bake

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Keep your Thanksgiving Dinner out of the Garbage

November 16th, 2015

ThinkstockPhotos-99120786Thanksgiving will soon be upon us! This holiday causes me to reflect and be thankful for what I have. It also gets me thinking about what I take for granted on a daily basis that others would be grateful to have. One example of this is food. I have enough food, and sometimes too much, which can cause me to waste it at times.

The average daily food waste in the United States in 2010 was 1.18 pounds of food per person. This leaves us plenty of room for improvement! I am going to approach Thanksgiving being mindful of how much food my family is preparing. I also plan to use this holiday as an opportunity to reduce the amount of food we are wasting by following the tips below.

My four tips to reduce food waste at Thanksgiving:

1. Consider purchasing a turkey breast rather than an entire turkey. The turkey breast can be cooked in a shorter amount of time, is easier to cut and prepare, and results in fewer leftovers.

2. Keep your sides simple – less is more. Focus on two or three great side dishes rather than the “full spread”. This will save you time and  stress. Three of my favorite side dishes from Spend Smart. Eat Smart.:

•  Zesty Whole Grain Salad:
  Easy Roasted Veggies:
•  No Knead Whole Wheat Bread:

3. Pack up leftovers to eat later. For safety, leftovers should be chilled to below 40 degrees within two hours of when they finish cooking. If your family will eat the leftovers within four days, store them in the refrigerator. If you will not, freeze them. Click here for ideas for using that leftover turkey, pumpkin and chopped veggies.

4. Donate to those in need: Find your local food bank, and donate excess or unused food to those in need. Or even better yet, consider donating a few dollars to your local food bank or pantry.

Have a happy, healthy Thanksgiving and enjoy doing more with less!

Rachel Wall is a registered dietitian and Iowa native who enjoys family, friends, food, and the Cyclones!

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Healthy and Homemade Meals Calendar – Final Quantity Available Now

November 9th, 2015

2016 Chalkboard CoverHow would you like to start each month of 2016 with a tasty new recipe to try?

Whether you’re just learning your way around the kitchen or you’re an experienced cook looking for some fresh recipes, the Healthy and Homemade Meals Calendar is for you!

Each month features an easy, healthy, low-cost recipe as part of a full meal modeled after MyPlate. Here is a taste of some of our featured recipes:

  • Stuffed Peppers
  • Pineapple Snack Cakes
  • Lentil Tacos
  • Simple Apple Dessert
  • Baked Oatmeal Muffins

The recipes and fitness tips in the calendar make it a helpful tool for those hoping to establish healthy habits in the new year and it makes a great holiday gift.

You can purchase the calendar in English or Spanish for just $3.00 from the Extension Online Store. Supplies are limited, so order yours today!

Here’s to a healthy year in 2016!

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Christine Hradek is a Nutrition and Wellness Specialist and Adventurous Cook

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Mini Berry Pie

November 2nd, 2015

mini-berry-pieOne of my family’s favorite foods is berries. I can set a bowl filled with berries on the table and in the next instant they are gone. This time of year, we do not have access to the fresh berries they love, so I often buy frozen berries at the grocery store.

My children will just eat frozen berries right out of the bag, but my husband would rather have them as part of a recipe. So, I usually make a compromise – if my children help me make a recipe with the frozen berries, we will set some of the frozen berries off to the side for them to eat as a treat after they are done helping. Our recipe of the month for November is Mini Berry Pie and this is the perfect recipe for my children to help with and get their treat at the end.

Here are some ways that children can help with Mini Berry Pies:

  • Spray tortillas with cooking spray,
  • Stir cinnamon sugar mixture and sprinkle it on the tortillas,
  • Fit the tortillas into the muffin tins,
  • Add berries, sugar, and cornstarch to the saucepan (mom does the cooking),
  • Older children can pour the berry filling into the tortilla bowls.

I enjoy having my children help out in the kitchen because it teaches them about the food they are eating, makes them more likely to taste the food, and teaches them basic cooking and safety skills.  For more about including children in the kitchen, check out this video and this handout.



Mini Berry Pie

Serving Size: 1 shell with 1/4 cup fillingmini-berry-pie-label
Serves: 5
Cost Per Serving: $0.83
Pie Crust
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 5 whole wheat tortillas (6″)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Pie Filling
  • 1 bag (16 ounces) frozen mixed berries (2 ½ cups)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Spray a muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray.
  3. Lay tortillas flat. Spray one side of each tortilla with cooking spray.
  4. Combine sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle mixture on the tortillas.
  5. Place the tortillas in the muffin tin. Fit them into the muffin bowls. The cinnamon and sugar will be on the inside of the bowls. Bake the tortillas for 13 to 15 minutes. They will be light brown and crisp.
  6. Put berries in a medium saucepan over low heat.
  7. Stir sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Add mixture to thawed berries.
  8. Cook over medium heat. Mixture will start to get thick and bubble. Cook 1 minute more. Remove from heat.
  9. Put 1/4 cup berry filling into each tortilla bowl.
  • Mini pies have a great fresh taste in the middle of winter.
  • Make tortilla bowls ahead of time. Store in an airtight container. Do not add filling until serving.
  • Add a spoonful of yogurt to the top of the filling.

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What Are ‘Ancient Grains’?

October 26th, 2015

quinoa seed grainsThere is no official definition of ‘ancient grains’. However, the Whole Grains Council defines ancient grains loosely as grains that are largely unchanged over the last several hundred years. Therefore, modern wheat, which has been bred and changed over time, is not an ancient grain. Grains like quinoa, amaranth, Kamut®, spelt, farro, millet, and teff would be considered ancient grains.

Here is some information about 3 of the more common ancient grains:

Quinoa: A versatile grain that cooks quickly and is good in soups, salads, and baked goods. Quinoa is a small round grain that is similar in appearance to sesame seeds. It is also high in protein.

Kamut®: It is a large, oversized grain that is two to three times bigger than wheat. It has a rich, buttery flavor and is easily digested.

Farro: This grain is popular in Italy. It is a dark, earthy grain that is often used in salads and risottos.

Ancient grains are certainly healthier than refined grain products like white bread or refined crackers. However, healthy whole grains do not need to be exotic. Common foods like brown rice, whole grain pasta, oatmeal, popcorn, and whole wheat bread offer many health benefits and often at lower prices. To get the different nutrients each grain has to offer and balance cost, eat a variety of grain foods.

Try an ‘ancient grain’ like quinoa or Kamut® in our Zesty Whole Grain Salad.

Jodi Signature

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How to Cut Cauliflower

October 19th, 2015

cauliflower whole slicedCauliflower is a loved vegetable in my home, especially by my daughter and I. We could eat it every day! There are many benefits to choosing cauliflower at the grocery store:

  • It yields a lot: one head of cauliflower cut up can yield six cups, or more, of florets. It is an easy way to get my family the vegetables they need.
  • It is nutritious: cauliflower is rich in vitamin C. This time of year we do not have access to a lot of citrus fruits, which we typically think of as the best way to get vitamin C. So, we can get our vitamin C from cauliflower.
  • It can be eaten several different ways: raw, steamed, or roasted. Raw cauliflower is great to dip in hummus, vegetable dip, or salad dressing. Roasting cauliflower brings out its sweetness – watch this video for an easy way to roast vegetables.

The one thing I do not like about cauliflower is cutting it up. It is hard to cut up and it leaves a big mess. Here is the method I have started using to cut up my cauliflower in an effort to have bite-sized pieces without the big mess:

  1. Wash the cauliflower under running water using a scrub brush to remove any visible dirt. Pat dry with paper towels or a clean dish towel.
  2. Place cauliflower on a large cutting board. Pull off or cut off the leaves. Use a sharp knife to cut around the center stem.
  3. Break off the larger florets, then break off as many bite sized florets as possible.
  4. For the remaining florets, cut into bite sized pieces. This is where it gets messy, so I try to contain the mess by working with small pieces and putting them directly into a container.
  5. Use immediately or store in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

I hope you enjoy the next cauliflower you get from the store.


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Knives 101

October 12th, 2015

Chef mincing bell peppers with knife

A sharp kitchen knife is a good investment. Good knives make cooking easier and most importantly, sharp knives are safer than dull ones. A sharp knife is going to do what you expect it to do. It will slide smoothly through foods and not slip or get caught. When knives slip, that’s when cuts tend to happen.

You do not have to spend a lot of money to get a sharp knife. If you purchase a knife at a discount store for five or ten dollars it will likely stay sharp for six months to a year. At this price point, you would likely replace the knife when it got dull. If you are looking to spend a little more money for a heavier duty knife in the fifteen to thirty dollar range, you can also purchase a knife sharpener for around $20. With regular sharpening every few months, you can keep a knife in good condition for many years.

Sharpness isn’t the only concern when dealing with knives. There are a few safety principles that every cook should know to stay safe around knives.

S – Securely hold your knife. Grip the top of the blade firmly between your thumb and forefinger. Cut things on a flat surface like a cutting board. Do not cut things while you hold them in your hand.

A – Anchor all cutting boards to ensure they don’t slip. If your cutting board easily slides on the counter, put a damp cloth underneath it, this will help it grip.

F – Fingertips should be curled back. Hold foods with fingertips tucked under away from the knife.

E – Eyes on the knife! When using a knife, try to avoid distractions and keep your eyes on what you’re doing. It is also a good idea to keep knives where they are clearly visible, for example, do not put a knife in a sink full of dirty dishes where someone may not know it is there.

T – Take your time. Don’t rush with a knife.

Y – Yield to falling knives. If a knife slips out of your hand or falls from the counter, let it drop. Do not attempt to catch it. This is why it is a good idea to wear closed toe shoes in the kitchen.

There is no reason to fear knives or cooking. Knife safety is as simple as following a few basic rules.

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Credit: Utah State University Extension Tips for Teaching Knife Skills

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Butternut Squash Enchiladas

October 5th, 2015

butternut-squash-enchiladasButternut squash is one of my favorite things to grow in my garden. I love the flavor, texture, and smell of a bowl of steaming hot squash. Unfortunately, I was not able to grow butternut squash in my garden this year, but I know I can find an abundance of it (at a good price) at the Farmers Market and grocery store this time of year.

The tricky thing about butternut squash is preparing it. It is hard to cut and even harder to peel. It took me many, many, many tries to finally find the best way for me to prepare it. To find out the easiest way to prepare butternut squash, watch this video with Danielle, one of our student staff members.

If you do not like squash served plain, try our recipe of the month for October – Butternut Squash Enchiladas. This recipe takes typical enchiladas and boosts their nutrition by adding cooked, cubed butternut squash to the filling. These enchiladas are an easy and tasty way to get the vitamin A and fiber our bodies need.




Butternut Squash Enchiladas

Serving Size: 1 enchilada
Serves: 8
Ingredients: Butternut Squash Enchiladas-web
  • 2 1/2 cups butternut squash (or other winter squash), cooked
  • 1 can (15 ounces)  black beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1/2 cup onions, diced (1/2 medium onion)
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped or 3 tablespoons dried cilantro
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 cup  2% fat cheese, shredded (like cheddar or Mexican blend), divided
  • 8 tortillas (6″)
  • 1  cup salsa or 1 can (10 ounces) red or green enchilada sauce
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  1. Preheat oven to 375 ºF.
  2. Mix the squash, beans, onion, cilantro, garlic powder, and cumin in a bowl.
  3. Mix 3/4 cup of the cheese into the squash mixture.
  4. Put a 1/2 cup strip of filling on each tortilla. Roll the tortilla around the filling. Put the tortilla into a greased 9″ x13 ” baking dish with the seam down.
  5. Cover the tortillas with the salsa or enchilada sauce. Put the rest of the cheese (1/4 cup) on the salsa or sauce.
  6. Bake for 25 minutes.
  7. Serve each enchilada with 1 tablespoon of Greek yogurt.

  • Use a medium butternut squash (2 to 3 pounds) to make about 2 cups of diced squash.
  • Use spices like onion powder, chili powder, or cayenne pepper instead of the cumin or garlic powder.
  • Put 2 to 3 tortillas at a time in the microwave. Heat for 10 seconds so they do not tear.

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Chicken Stock – An Easy Kitchen DIY!

September 28th, 2015

I am a soup lover from way back. I eat it most days in the winter and it is one of my favorite things to cook when the weather gets chilly. Homemade soup is often much healthier than soup from a can and it tastes so much better. Even though I love to make soup, it took me years to get up the guts to try making my own stock. It seemed like the people who I saw doing it were chefs on TV and that’s just not me.

I jumped the hurdle and did it myself and was pleased to find that it really is easy and the stock tastes much richer than what I was buying at the grocery store. Here is a link to a general guide on making your own stock. The guide involves making a few choices, here are the exact steps I took. My apologies for the extra-long blog, but I thought you all would want the details!

1. Put bone-in chicken pieces in the bottom of a large pot. I used a mix of thighs and breasts because that’s what I had. I used about two pounds or so. You can use bones from roasted chicken instead of chicken pieces, but since I wanted the chicken meat, I went ahead and used pieces. chicken in pot
 2. Add a few carrots, a few ribs of celery, a garlic bulb cut in half the long way and two large onions (I used three because mine were tiny). You can add other root vegetables like turnips or parsnips if you have them. This is a great use up for veggies that may be getting close to spoiling. Just clean the veggies, there is no need to cut them up, they’re going to get strained out anyway.  veggies in pot
3. Fill the pot with water so the vegetables are covered.
 4. Top off with herbs and spices. I chose the following:

  • 2t dried parsley
  • 2t black pepper
  • 5 bay leaves
  • 15 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 5 sprigs fresh rosemary
 herbs 1
 *Note: fresh herbs are not necessary, dried versions of these herbs would have been fine too. I just happened to have them growing in a pot on my back patio. If you choose dried, use two teaspoons thyme and 1 teaspoon rosemary. You’ll see I didn’t include salt. This is because the recipes I use this stock for will call for salt and I can add it at that time. I can keep the sodium in my recipes down if I don’t salt it twice.
5. Pop a lid on the pot, bring it to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and let it go for about two hours. In the meantime, enjoy the awesome aroma!  lid on pot
6. Once the stock is finished cooking, fish out the chicken pieces using a pair of tongs and set them aside to cool. Once cool, remove the skin and bones and refrigerate the chicken for your next recipe.  chicken chopped
7. Once the stock has cooled a bit, place a large strainer over an even larger bowl and pour the stock through the strainer. The big pieces of vegetables will get caught in the strainer and they can be discarded. You’ll be left with beautiful golden stock. Having a helper for this step is a good idea. My apologies for no picture of this step, I got a bit distracted with trying not to burn myself!
8. At this point, you’ll want to refrigerate or freeze your stock. Once it is cold, the fat from the chicken will harden and you can spoon it right off.  fat on top
9. You’re ready to use your homemade stock for soups, steaming vegetables, cooking rice or thinning sauces.  strained stock

Let’s be honest, it took a while to make my own stock, but most of the time I was able to do things around the house. I didn’t need to tend the stock for the full two hours and my homemade stock is healthy, delicious and inexpensive. I made six quarts of stock for about $10. The stock at my grocery store costs about $2.50 per quart, so six quarts would cost about $15. It feels good to know I can do it myself. I hope you’ll give it a try!

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Baking Bread like Grandma

September 21st, 2015

NoKneadBreadI come from a family of cooks. I started cooking at a young age and continue to enjoy it today. A favorite memory I have is learning to make homemade whole wheat bread from my grandma. I remember her teaching me to knead the bread and then being patient to let it rise before cooking it. As a 4-Her I made my grandma’s bread for the county fair and got a purple ribbon. It went onto the state fair where it got a blue ribbon.

These days when I make bread, I like to use our No Knead Whole Wheat Bread. I don’t have to knead it like I did my grandma’s bread, but I do still have to be patient to let it rise! The bread doesn’t take long to mix up and you can do other things while it rises and bakes. My family enjoys it fresh from the oven with a little butter and my son really likes it toasted with peanut butter. It is also great for sandwiches. I’ve made the dough into dinner rolls for a family holiday and they were well liked.

As the weather starts to cool off, warm up your kitchen by making this bread. It freezes well so you can make two loaves and put one in airtight packaging in the freezer for later. Bread should not be stored in the refrigerator because it draws moisture out of the bread, making it go stale sooner.  Watch our ‘How to’ video on storing bread.

Jodi Signature

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