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Butternut Squash Enchiladas

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
Instructions: 
  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.
Tips: 

  • 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.
Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover is a Registered Dietitian and mom who loves to cook for her family.

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Baking Bread like Grandma

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.

Jody Gatewood

Jody Gatewood

Jody Gatewood is a Registered Dietitian who enjoys spending time in the kitchen baking and preparing meals for her family. She does lots of meal planning to stay organized and feed her family nutritious meals.

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Healthy and Homemade Cookbook – Available Now!

cookbook-coverThe Spend Smart. Eat Smart. Team at Iowa State University has been working throughout the past year to produce the newest edition of the Healthy and Homemade Cookbook. The seventy recipes in this collection are tasty, easy and low-cost!

From main dishes and sides to salads, snacks and desserts, this cookbook has everything you need to make healthy cooking easy and fun. It’s like having the best recipes from Spend Smart. Eat Smart. tucked in your kitchen drawer. You can purchase an English or Spanish language copy of the cookbook for just five dollars from the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Online Store.

Happy cooking!

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Christine Hradek

Christine Hradek

Christine Hradek is a State Nutrition Specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. She coordinates ISU’s programs which help families with low income make healthy choices with limited food budgets. Christine loves helping families learn to prepare healthy foods, have fun in the kitchen and save money. In her spare time, Christine enjoys cooking, entertaining and cheering on her favorite college football teams with her family and friends.

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Vegetable Pasta Soup

vegetable-pasta-soupI always look forward to fall, it is my favorite season. I enjoy watching the harvest come in and I like that the weather cools down. I also enjoy putting my soup recipes back into my menu rotation. Our recipe of the month for September is Vegetable Pasta Soup.

Here are the reasons I love to include soup in the menu rotation for the cooler months:

  • It is loaded with vegetables. Many people do not eat enough vegetables, and eating a bowl of soup is an easy way to get the vegetables we need.
  • It freezes well. I value recipes that freeze well because they make future meal prep so much easier. I freeze individual servings for lunches and I freeze larger batches for a quick evening or weekend meal.
  • It is versatile. I do not need to make this recipe the same way twice, so no one gets bored with the same old thing. The vegetables and seasonings can be changed and adjusted based on what I have on hand and what is on sale at the grocery store. And, if I want to add protein to this soup, I simply need to add in a can of beans or some leftover chopped meat. A note of caution if you do change things up with this recipe, watch it closely because you may need to add water.

Try our Vegetable Pasta Soup – it may just make its way in to your menu plans for the cool fall and cold winter ahead.

Enjoy!
Justine

Vegetable Pasta Soup

Serving Size: 1 1/2 cups | Serves: 8vegetable-pasta-soup-label

Ingredients: 
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 4 cups chopped or sliced vegetables (like onions, carrots, and zucchini)
  • 1 can (14 1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes with green chilies
  • 1 can (14 1/2 ounces) low sodium vegetable or chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning or dried basil
  • 2 cups small whole wheat pasta (shell or macaroni)
  • 6 cups fresh spinach leaves (about 1/2 pound), thoroughly washed (or kale, collard greens, or 10 ounces of frozen spinach)
Instructions: 
  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until hot. Add onions and carrots. Cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are softened. This should take about 3 minutes.
  2. Stir in zucchini and canned tomatoes. Cook 3 to 4 minutes.
  3. Stir in the broth, water, salt, and Italian seasoning or dried basil. Bring to a boil.
  4. Stir in the pasta and spinach. Return to a boil.
  5. Cook until the pasta is tender, using the time on the package for a guide.
Notes: Prewashed or ready to eat spinach does not have to be washed. Use plain diced tomatoes for less spiciness.
Tips: 
  • Soup freezes well.
  • Use washed and diced garden tomatoes and homemade broth if they are available. Keep cut tomatoes cold until you need them.
  • Wash fresh vegetables under running water before preparing.
Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover is a Registered Dietitian and mom who loves to cook for her family.

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The Down Low on Kids and Constipation

When I was asked to write a blog for back to school the first topic that came into my mind was kids and constipation. It is often a topic no one wants to bring up, but once someone does, everyone wants to talk about it!

Constipation is a challenge we face on a regular basis with our youngest daughter. Honestly if she had a choice she would never go! This fall she starts kindergarten and I worry the holding will get worse as she may have limited access to the bathroom or simply be too afraid or shy to use it.

We have met with her pediatrician on several occasions to address this issue and to rule out any underlying health conditions. We have learned she needs to consume more fiber-rich foods, drink plenty of water, participate in daily physical activity, and the most challenging one for her….take time to go.

Fiber Foods and H2O

Many “kid foods”, such as chicken nuggets, pizza, crackers, etc. lack fiber. A low fiber diet often results in firm, painful to push out, stool. Foods that are naturally rich in fiber tend to keep stool soft. Whole grains, nuts and seeds, beans, fruits and vegetables can help. And don’t forget water! Water is very important to keep the stool moving through the system. We try to start her day off with fruit as part of her breakfast and incorporate additional fruits and vegetables at dinner and at snack. Her school does allow students to have water bottles, so we plan to send one every day.

fiber blog chart

Get Moving in More Ways than One!

kids playing outdoors park runningPhysical activity can encourage bowel movement. Organized sports or dance classes are great forms of physical activity, but we have learned it’s best not to be overscheduled. These types of activities mean less time at home, which sometimes can lead to less time to go to the bathroom. We encourage physical activity throughout the day like walking to school, playing outside, or taking the dog for a walk after dinner. Incorporating short amounts of physical activity throughout the day can go a long way.

Taking Time to Go

Many times children may ignore the urge to go because they don’t want to take a break from what they are doing. The longer they hold it the harder the stool may become. It is important to get on a schedule of taking time to go around the same time each day. We have her sit on the toilet for about 10 minutes each evening, reading a book, coloring, etc. We do this even if she says she doesn’t have to go. More often than not, she goes. It has now become part of her daily routine, just like eating breakfast, brushing her teeth, going to school, etc.

Constipation is common among children. Good nutrition, physical activity, and making bathroom breaks part of their daily routine can go a long way to help keep your children healthy and comfortable. If you are concerned about your child’s constipation, contact your pediatrician.

Carrie Scheidel, MPH
Iowa Department of Education

Jody Gatewood, MS, RD, LD
Registered Dietitian, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach

Christine Hradek

Christine Hradek

Christine Hradek is a State Nutrition Specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. She coordinates ISU’s programs which help families with low income make healthy choices with limited food budgets. Christine loves helping families learn to prepare healthy foods, have fun in the kitchen and save money. In her spare time, Christine enjoys cooking, entertaining and cheering on her favorite college football teams with her family and friends.

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Hitting the Road!

packed lunch healthySummer is the perfect time to load up the car for a getaway with the family. Regardless of the destination, you’ll need to eat along the way. The highways are lined with fast food restaurants and gas stations, but that’s about it. Not only are the options at these places high in calories and low in nutrients… they can get expensive too!

At the Drive-Thru:

Fast food restaurants may seem like the inexpensive choice at first. But when the whole family is hungry, it can get pricey. Check out what you could end up spending on one trip through the drive-thru.

  • 1 Bacon Cheeseburger Meal (fries and drink included) – $6.49
  • 1 Fried Chicken Sandwich Meal (fries and drink included) – $6.19
  • 2 Kids Meals- $3.19 each
  • Total = $19.06 plus tax

In addition to the cost, meals at fast food places are packed with sodium, fat, and calories. One sandwich can have over 500 calories and 1000 milligrams of sodium and a medium fountain drink can contain a quarter of a cup of sugar.

At the Gas Station:

Gas stations and convenience stores may be quick and easy, but it will be hard to find healthy options.

  • 2 bags of chips – $1.99 each
  • 2 candy bars – $1.39 each
  • 2 sodas – $1.79 each
  • 2 bottles of juice -$1.99 each
  • Total = $14.32 plus tax

You could spend almost $20 for food that isn’t very filling. It won’t be long before hungry stomachs have you pulling over at another exit.

Even if you find healthy options on the road, you can count on spending more than if you bring food from home. A banana at a gas station costs about $1.00, you could bring 4 bananas from home for the same price.

From Your Cooler:

Take control of your road trip! Fill up a cooler with snacks before you leave. You can choose healthy options, and you’ll save money that you can use for other fun adventures on your trip. Check out this meal:

  • 4 turkey sandwiches on whole wheat bread – $5.44
  • 2 apples- $1.58
  • 2 bananas- $0.38
  • 4 low fat cheese sticks- $1.42
  • 1 package of baby carrots- $1.28
  • Ice water in reusable bottles – FREE
  • Total = $10.10

Just like that, you’ve made a meal that keeps everyone full and happy for half the price. You can rest easy on your trip knowing that your family got the nutrition they needed. Now, bring on the open road!

Maddie
ISU Student

Christine Hradek

Christine Hradek

Christine Hradek is a State Nutrition Specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. She coordinates ISU’s programs which help families with low income make healthy choices with limited food budgets. Christine loves helping families learn to prepare healthy foods, have fun in the kitchen and save money. In her spare time, Christine enjoys cooking, entertaining and cheering on her favorite college football teams with her family and friends.

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Make Ahead Breakfast Burritos

breakfast-burritosWhen breakfast time rolls around each morning, I am very hungry. This is a good thing because it is certain that I will eat the most important meal of the day. The problem is that my husband and children are not big breakfast eaters – they are satisfied with milk, fruit, and cereal or toast. That is just not enough for me, especially now that I am expecting child #3.

To solve my problem, I looked to our August recipe – Make Ahead Breakfast Burritos. I make a batch of the burritos, freeze them, and then grab one out of the freezer and reheat when I need it. These are perfect for me on the mornings when I need more to eat than the rest of my family. On top of that, these burritos are full of the nutrients I need to keep myself and my baby healthy. I get fiber, vitamins, and minerals from the vegetables and whole wheat tortillas, protein from the eggs, and calcium from the cheese.

Even if you are not a big breakfast eater, this recipe is still great because it cuts down on breakfast prep and clean up time. Busy fall schedules are going to be starting up again, so this recipe gives you a quick, yet filling, breakfast before you head off to work or school for the day. I think I am going to make another batch of these soon, so they are in the freezer when “back to school” time rolls around.

Enjoy!
Justine

Make Ahead Breakfast Burritos

Serving Size: 1 burrito | Serves: 8
Make Ahead Breakfast Burritos-webIngredients: 
  •  Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 cup potatoes, diced (1 medium potato)
  • 1/2 cup onions, diced (1/2 medium onion)
  • 1 cup bell peppers, diced (1 medium pepper)
  • 8 eggs, beaten
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 cup 2% fat cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 8 flour tortillas (8″)
Instructions: 
  1. Spray a large skillet with cooking spray. Cook the potatoes for 6-10 minutes over medium heat.
  2. Add onions and peppers to the potatoes. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes until the potatoes are browned.
  3. Add beaten eggs to the vegetable mixture. Cook for 4-5 minutes over medium heat. Stir off and on until there is no liquid.
  4. Stir in the garlic powder and pepper.
  5. Roll up each burrito. Use 2 tablespoons of cheese and 1/2 cup of the egg mixture. Serve or freeze.
  6. You can freeze the burritos. Wrap each burrito tightly in plastic wrap. Freeze in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Seal wrapped burritos in a freezer bag when they are frozen.
To reheat the frozen burritos. Remove the plastic wrap. Wrap burrito in a damp paper towel. Set microwave on medium power. Heat burrito for 3-4 minutes.
Tips:
  •  Wash hands after handling raw eggs and before making burritos.
  • Wash vegetables under running water.
  • Add hot peppers, salsa, or cayenne pepper for a spicier burrito.
Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover is a Registered Dietitian and mom who loves to cook for her family.

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Peanut Butter Balls

peanut-butter-ballsMy children are at an age when they need to eat two snacks every day. Just last week I skipped the morning snack one day because we went to the library and on a bike ride. By lunch time both of them were laying on the couch crying. I made a quick lunch, got them fed, and all was good again, but it reminded me how important snack time is for young children. Their bodies are growing, but their stomachs are still small, so they need their food spaced evenly throughout the day.

If you are looking for a new snack for your family, try out our July recipe – Peanut Butter Balls. They have peanut butter, beans, and oatmeal – all of which will give you energy and fill you up until your next meal. After I make this recipe, I lay the peanut butter balls out on a cookie sheet and freeze them for about an hour. Once they are frozen, I put them in a freezer bag and store them in the freezer. When snack time comes around, I grab two out of the freezer for each person, let them thaw for a few minutes, and then we enjoy them.

I hope you enjoy this Peanut Butter Ball recipe too!

-Justine

Peanut Butter Balls

Serving Size: 2 balls | Serves: 25
Ingredients: 
  • 1 can (15 ounces) great northern beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cups peanut butter
  • 1 1/2 cups quick cooking oatspeanut-butter-ball-label
Instructions: 
  1. Mash the great northern beans with a fork in a bowl until smooth.
  2. Add the honey and vanilla. Stir.
  3. Add peanut butter. Stir until blended.
  4. Stir in the oatmeal.
  5. Wash hands. Use a tablespoon to scoop up some of the peanut butter mixture. Shape the mixture into balls (makes 50 balls).
  6. Store leftover balls in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Tips: 
  •  This recipe is not for children under age 1 because it contains honey and peanut butter.
  • You can use a blender or food processor to mix ingredients before shaping into balls.
  • You can store peanut butter balls in the freezer. Lay them out on a cookie sheet, freeze, and then store in a freezer bag. Thaw for 5 minutes before serving.
  • Make fruit kebabs using a toothpick or kebab stick. Add washed fresh fruit pieces that will not brown such as kiwi slices, grapes, pineapple, strawberries, blueberries, and orange slices.
Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover is a Registered Dietitian and mom who loves to cook for her family.

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Homemade Popsicles

If you are looking for a delicious, yet healthy dessert for your Fourth of July celebration, try homemade popsicles. My family enjoys popsicles this time of year (or any other time of year for that matter).

I am excited to share our tasty apricot pop recipe! Simply pour a can of apricots (drained) and two cartons of vanilla yogurt into a blender. Blend the mixture together and then pour into popsicle molds or into paper cups with wooden sticks.

For festive, patriotic pops, you can switch up the color by replacing the apricots with another fruit:

  • Red: 2 cups strawberries, finely chopped
  • White: 2 medium bananas, finely chopped
  • Blue: 2 cups blueberries

Just like with the apricot pops, combine the fruit and the yogurt in the blender and blend until smooth then pour into popsicle molds. If you do not have a blender that is no problem, simply stir the fruit and yogurt together and pour into the molds – the color and texture will be different, but the flavor will still be great.

Have a happy Fourth of July!

-Justine

Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover is a Registered Dietitian and mom who loves to cook for her family.

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Snacks for the Pool

Summer is in full swing and my children love spending time at the swimming pool. My son really likes getting a treat at the pool snack bar. I let him get a treat every once in a while but I balance that by bringing our own snacks the other times. Depending on how often you go to the pool, the cost of getting treats can add up. And the options are not always very healthy. My son and daughter really need an afternoon snack, but if they are swimming actively in the hot sun, I don’t want to give them heavy foods. Here are some snacks I like to take from home.

  1. Frozen fruit-For a sweet treat, freeze grapes, blueberries, or individual containers of unsweetened applesauce. Put in a cooler or an insulated bag and let thaw slightly while playing in the water.
  1. Whole grain crackers-These are a good option in place of chips and can provide more fiber.
  1. String cheese-Along with the whole grain crackers, enjoy some string cheese for added calcium. Keep them cold in an insulated bag or cooler with an ice pack.
  1. Trail Mix-This is a breeze to make. Here are a couple of options Popcorn Trail Mix and Take-along Trail Mix. For children under age 3, it is best to make without peanuts and dried fruit to reduce choking.
  1. Muffins-Make a batch of muffins and freeze them. Then thaw out when you need a quick snack. With strawberries that are in season, try these Super Strawberry Oatmeal Muffins. Put these in an insulated bag or cooler with an ice pack to keep them from getting too hot and sticky at the pool.
  1. To stay hydrated, fill reusable water bottles with water and ice cubes made out of 100% juice. (Check out the June 8 blog for more tips on hydration.)

Enjoy your time at the pool this summer!

Jodi Signature

Jody Gatewood

Jody Gatewood

Jody Gatewood is a Registered Dietitian who enjoys spending time in the kitchen baking and preparing meals for her family. She does lots of meal planning to stay organized and feed her family nutritious meals.

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