You have to try this Fruit Pizza! It really is one of the biggest recipe hits we have created for our Healthy and Homemade Calendar. It is quick, easy, and uses common ingredients including whole grains (oatmeal). Plus it tastes and looks fabulous.
Since we introduced this recipe it has turned up at birthday parties, coffee breaks, receptions, kids cooking lessons, and picnics. Each time the flavor is a little different depending on the fruit and yogurt chosen. In the winter, there were more mandarin oranges, bananas and apples on the pizzas, now I see peaches, berries, and melon which are plentiful and in season.
Sometimes it is served in wedges; other times the crust is divided into 8 individual cookies so that each person can “decorate” their cookie with the fruit of their choice. Kids can help make the cookie and they love to decorate with their favorite fruits.
Another idea is to use the shape of the cookie or the fruit colors to tie into the theme of a party. Last year I made a football shaped cookie for a Super Bowl Party. Berries could support a patriotic 4th of July fruit pizza.
The last couple of weeks I have been studying the Mediterranean diet in Crete. This diet, which is named for the traditional cooking style of countries bordering the Mediterranean sea, is associated with lower rates of cardiovascular disease, cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease, and higher life expectancy. The locals brag that almost everyone in Crete has a relative that is over 100 years old (it seems like the older I get, the more important life expectancy is to me!).
Below are some observations from my days in Crete:
- I want to incorporate more vegetables in different ways into my diet. Especially recipes with the beets, zucchini, and eggplant we have growing in our garden.
- Breakfast in Crete was usually plain yogurt that you could spoon a little honey or jam (which they called spoon sweets) over, whole wheat bread, cheese, and hard boiled eggs. My yogurt and fruit breakfast is pretty similar.
- Seafood has heart –healthy omega 3 fatty acids. We had snails several times in Crete plus sardines and other seafood. I do not think fresh snails will be on my weekly menu, but some kind of seafood will be. This summer will be a great time to experiment with grilled fish.
- We had many vegetarian meals built around beans, whole grains, and vegetables with some great spices. I am growing some oregano, basil, and mint on my deck that should add great flavor to my new recipes.
- The focus of the Mediterranean diet is not on limiting total fat, but rather to discourage saturated fat and hydrogenated fat. I brought two bottles of olive oil home. I probably will never use as much olive oil in recipes as the Greek cooks did, but I will use it more liberally than I have. I will probably be more willing to drizzle oil over fresh tomatoes and cucumbers to make a simple salad. I am also looking for great tasting olives.
- Bread is eaten plain or dipped in olive oil, not eaten with butter or margarine which have saturated fats or trans fats. Most of the bread is whole grain. I will try my bread with olive oil.
- Dessert in Crete is usually fruit or yogurt drizzled with honey.
- Exercise is just part of living in Crete. There are fewer cars, the roads are narrow and the terrain hilly. Walking and bicycles seemed to be the norm for travel in the villages, with travel by bus or metro in the city, which means treks to and from the bus stops. I need to work on incorporating more exercise into my daily routine…like a walk at lunch, parking at the far end of the parking lot, etc.
If you would like to learn more about the Mediterranean Diet check out, Oldways, Health Through Heritage.
A food that seems to be gaining popularity is “energy bars.” I think of them as candy bars with good marketing. Is my bias showing?
Ok, I have to admit they are handy and can help you get nutrients … but only if the bar you are eating has the nutrients you need. Many of these “energy bars” have just as many or MORE calories than a candy bar. Plus many of them COST MORE as well.
A healthier and cheaper alternative is to choose foods like nuts, fruit, crackers, yogurt, and string cheese after a workout, for the middle of the morning or during an afternoon slump.
Becky Hand, RD, has a great article at Spark People called, Edible Energy Bars. She gives pointers for choosing energy bars whether you are eating them as meal replacements, afternoon snacks or workout fuel.
My entire family enjoys snacking on baked taco chips and salsa for an easy snack. We usually just eat tomato salsa that I buy at the store until our home grown tomatoes are ready from the garden. But, for something a little different, I tried adding some plain yogurt to it along with some fat free sour cream. It was a big hit with my son and husband – the yogurt was cool but there was still the spiciness of the salsa for a great flavor combination. It couldn’t be any easier to make – equal parts of salsa, fat free sour cream and nonfat plain yogurt. Just a 2 tablespoon serving yields 2% of the daily value for calcium and it only costs $ .15 a serving. I also liked the fact that it tasted great with vegetables. There was just enough spice to make you keep eating and that IS what I need – ideas to keep me eating more nutrient rich vegetables. At only 25 calories for a 2 tablespoon serving of this South of the Border Dip, you can enjoy this guilt free, inexpensive snack.
-contributed by Jan Temple
Do you regularly pack a lunch? It saves money, but until you make it part of your regular routine, it can be a hassle. My husband and I want the health and money saving benefits of taking lunch from home, but often are too unorganized, lazy, short on time, or whatever to consistently get something together either the night before or in the morning. Here’s what we’ve done:
My noon lunch is usually ‘super cheap’…and super easy. I always keep a variety of light yogurt and fresh fruit on hand. If there are no leftovers available, I can just grab a yogurt and 1 – 2 pieces of fruit and my lunch is ready. If I happen to have cut up veggies or whole wheat crackers on hand I may grab them, too. This lunch costs about $1. The down side is that for some people it would not be enough to eat…and I admit, some days I’m hungry at the end of the work day. If you want to watch calories and sugar intake you do have to be careful when buying yogurt. Look for the containers that are both low fat and low sugar, they will usually have 100 calories or less for a 6-ounce serving. (Check out our yogurt buying tips.)
Tell us about your ‘lunchtime solutions.’ How do you eat economically—yet healthy—for lunch?
-contributed by Renee
Sometimes it’s the way you present food that makes it special. Fruit Kabobs are an example. You could chop fruits up and stir the yogurt in, but it wouldn’t look this good.
Kids will love to make their own kabobs—let them choose the fruit, and maybe slip in something they haven’t tried. Check out the SpendSmart. Eat Smart. recipe page for the Fruit Kabob recipe and video demo. Let the kids watch, and after the fruits are cut into pieces, they can take over!
The cost for the fruit kabobs is $2.67 for 30. I wouldn’t buy the whipped topping for just 2 tablespoons, but if you have it on hand, it adds a little.
Fruit Kabobs for $2.67
1 red delicious apple: $0.30
2 kiwi: $0.67
10.6 ounce can chunk pineapple: $1.00
8 ounces low-fat fruit yogurt: $0.66
2 tablespoons fat-free whipped topping: $0.04
-pointers by Peggy
During the month of March, grocery stores may run really good sales on cabbage – whole heads as well as the bags of slaw. This is super news because such healthy foods aren’t always THIS cheap! Cabbage is a great source of vitamin C as well as fiber AND is low in calories – or at least is CAN be unless you go drowning it in mayo by making it into coleslaw. Here is a flavorful tip to try – use lemon or pina colada flavored yogurt for the dressing INSTEAD of mayo. It adds great flavor and a little bit of calcium to your diet. Rather than mixing up a big bowl, stir together what you can eat at one meal or snack. If you use fat free yogurt, you have a side dish that is very inexpensive AND easy on your waistline. To make it more fun, add some fruit and nuts (small amounts since they are higher in fat and more expensive). Here are some combinations I like:
- Diced apple, raisins and walnuts with vanilla yogurt
- Canned mandarin oranges and canned pineapple with sliced almonds and pina colada yogurt.
For a specific recipe, check out Tropical Cabbage Slaw.
-contributed by Jan Temple