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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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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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Blackened Tuna Patties

blackened-tuna-pattiesThere are some weeks when I get to shopping day and I realize that it is not going to happen. Maybe someone is sick, maybe we are snowed in, or maybe I am just too tired. The reason does not matter because the result is the same – I have to make lunch for my two children and I plus supper for all four of us with what is left in the pantry and the refrigerator.

On days like these I depend on recipes like our blackened tuna patties because they are made with ingredients that I keep stocked in my pantry and refrigerator. These staples are always available in my kitchen – tuna, salad dressing, garlic powder, eggs, and bread crumbs. Having the fresh vegetables may be tricky, but I usually come up with something. Once I used some leftover shredded cabbage and it worked great.

To make the tuna patties stir the ingredients together, shape them into four patties, and cook in a skillet heated to medium for about three minutes on each side. My children like to eat these plain with fruit and veggies on the side, my husband likes them as a sandwich, and I prefer them with a salad or coleslaw. Please try out this recipe and enjoy!

Blackened Tuna Patties

Serving Size: 1 patty
Serves: 4
Cost Per Serving: $0.51
Ingredients: 
  • 1 can (5 ounces) tuna, packed in water (drained)
  • 1/4 cup diced onion
  • 1/3 cup shredded or diced vegetables (like carrots, celery, peppers, or zucchini)
  • 2 tablespoons light salad dressing (like ranch)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1/3 cup plain bread crumbs
  • Nonstick cooking spray
Instructions:
  1. Stir tuna, onion, vegetables, dressing, and garlic powder in a bowl. Mix in the beaten egg.
  2. Stir the bread crumbs into the mixture. Let the mixture rest for 5 minutes.
  3. Wash hands. Form the mixture into 4 patties. Each patty should be about 1/3 inch thick and 3 inches wide. Wash hands.
  4. Heat a skillet to medium. Spray the pan with nonstick cooking spray when it is hot. Cook the patties for 2-3 minutes. Turn patties over and cook for 2-3 minutes more. Cook until patties are browned and 145 degrees Fahrenheit inside.*
* Testing Meat
To test thin items—such as hamburger or fish patties, steaks, chops or chicken breast – Insert an instant read thermometer from the side so 2 to 3 inches of the stem is in the center of the food and away from fat or bone.
Justine
Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover

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

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Slow Cooker Pork Chili

slow-cooker-pork-chiliHappy New Year from the SpendSmart.EatSmart team!

We would like to start 2015 off with a new chili recipe for you. If you are like me, you have your own special way of making chili and you do not want to make any changes. When I first saw this recipe, I agreed to try it, but at the same time I told myself that I would make this new chili only once and then I would go back to my usual recipe. I was wrong! Since first trying Slow Cooker Pork Chili over a year ago, I have made my old recipe only once.

Here are some reasons why this chili has become my new favorite:

  • It uses pork. My grocery bill has been increasing, so I try to save money any way that I can. Recently, the grocery store where I shop had pork shoulder for $2.99 per pound. A similar cut of beef cost $4.49 per pound.
  • It makes enough pork for two recipes. You cook the pork in the slow cooker and use half of it for the chili and save the other half for our February recipe (or for another batch of Slow Cooker Pork Chili).
  • It is made in my slow cooker. I have a toddler and a preschooler – this means the hour before supper time can get a little crazy. If I have something ready to go in the slow cooker, it cuts down on the stress of making supper. Find out more about making meals in a slow cooker by clicking on our video or tip sheet.
  • It uses ingredients I typically have on hand – green pepper, onion, salsa, beans, and tomatoes. This saves me time and money because I do not have to go to the grocery store and search for and buy an ingredient I will only use once.
  • It tastes great! Serve it with some milk and fruit and you have an easy and great tasting meal.

Resolutions don’t have to be about giving something up, resolve to have some fun in the kitchen and try this new healthy recipe!

-Justine

 

Slow Cooker Pork Chili                

Serves: 6 | Serving Size: 1 ¼ cups | Cost Per Serving: $1.52

slow-cooker-pork-chili-labelIngredients:

  • 2 pounds boneless pork butt, roast, or shoulder
  • 1 cup bell pepper, diced (1 medium pepper)
  • 1 cup onion, diced (1 medium onion)
  • 1 1/2 cups salsa
  • 1 can (15 ounces) low-sodium pinto beans
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) low-sodium diced tomatoes

Directions:

  1. Trim visible fat from the pork. Cut into 2 inch chunks. Place in slow cooker.
  2. Add pepper, onion, and salsa.
  3. Cook on a low setting for 6 hours or a high setting for 3 hours.
  4. Pull the meat apart into shreds with a fork. (You should have about 4 cups.)
  5. Put half (2 cups) of the shredded pork in the refrigerator or freezer. (We’ll post a pork sandwiches recipe in February that will call for shredded pork!).  Freeze pork if it will not be used within 4 days.
  6. Return the rest of the pork to the slow cooker. Add pinto beans and diced tomatoes.
  7. Cook another 30 minutes until hot.

Tips:

  • Pork chops, boneless pork rib, or pork loin can be used. They will be more expensive but have less fat.
  • Trim fat from pork with a clean knife on a clean cutting board.
  • This recipe freezes well.
  •  Other beans can be used.
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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Last Minute Gifts

granola jarIf you find yourself racing to find a last-minute gift, look no further! Here is a collection of Spend Smart. Eat Smart. recipes that make great low-cost gifts.

  1. Oatmeal Pancakes – Simply combine the dry pancake mix and oatmeal in a plastic bag or jar and attach a label with the cooking directions.
  2. Chocolate Surprise Cupcakes – Bake a batch and separate them into plastic bags or containers with festive ribbons or tags.
  3. Whole Grain Cereal Treats – These are a twist on everyone’s favorite. Add some sprinkles or top with a bit of colored sugar for a festive look.
  4. Crispy Granola – You can make a big batch of this granola and put it in small jars or bags to share with friends.

People love to receive recipes so make a point of attaching the recipe for each of the “gifts” you give. A healthy and homemade gift is a great way to show you care!

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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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Holiday Entertaining- Snacks and Desserts

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

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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Scrambled Egg Muffins

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.

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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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Tackling Thanksgiving Leftovers with Flair

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!

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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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Pre-Made vs Homemade Lunch-Sweet and Sour Rice

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!

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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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Eating protein foods on a budget

protein foods blogMy total is what?!? There has been a lot of sticker shock at the grocery store lately. Food prices in general have increased in the last couple of years, but meat prices have gotten a lot of attention lately. Foods from the Protein Foods Group are important sources of protein, iron, vitamins B and E, zinc and magnesium. Therefore, it’s necessary to determine how to fit them into your diet but stay within your food budget.

Here are four tips for including protein foods in your diet and staying within your budget:

  1. Use www.choosemyplate.gov to determine how much food you need from the Protein Foods Group. The amount needed for the average person is 5-6 ounces. If you’re eating meat, this is just about the size of two decks of cards. Most Americans consume much more than this. By not eating larger portions than you need, you can stay within your food budget.
  2.  Choose both animal and plant-based sources of protein. As seen by this chart, the cost of a serving of protein varies by type. Some protein foods like hot dogs are inexpensive, but also higher in fat and sodium than other protein foods. By including a variety of protein sources in your diet, you can enjoy the kinds of protein you prefer but balance the cost. Be sure to consider nutritional value along with cost when choosing what sources of protein to eat.
  3. Watch for sales at the grocery store. When meat your family enjoys is on sale, buy extra and put in your freezer for use at a later time.
  4. Choose recipes that help stretch protein foods. For more expensive sources of protein, use them in recipes that make them go further. Soups, casseroles, stir-fry, and salads combine meat and poultry with beans, grains, vegetables, and dairy to make more servings.

Common sources of protein foods that I eat include ground beef, chicken breast, eggs, beans, peanut butter, and nuts. Here are some of the dishes I like to prepare with protein foods:

Ground Beef

Tacos
Spaghetti
Skillet lasagna
Homemade pizza
Chili

Chicken Breast

Mexican Chicken Soup
Quick Pad Thai
Chicken Fajitas
Chicken Enchiladas

Eggs

Scrambled Egg Muffins
Breakfast Burritos
Egg Sandwich

Beans

Mexican Chicken Soup
Chili
Make Ahead Mexican Rollups

According to MyPlate, I need 6 ounces of protein foods per day. If I eat an egg and cheese on an English muffin for breakfast, 2 servings (2 cups) of Mexican Chicken Soup for lunch, and a serving of Skillet Lasagna for supper, I will eat the 6 ounces of protein foods recommended for me. There will also be enough Mexican Chicken Soup and Skillet Lasagna for my family to eat and we will still have leftovers for another day.

Protein foods are necessary for good health. With some planning and some go-to recipes, you can eat your favorite protein foods and stick to your budget. Do you have a favorite trick for making meat go further? Share it on the Spend Smart. Eat Smart Facebook page.

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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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