This month at Spend Smart. Eat Smart., we have been talking a lot about beans. We love beans because they are packed with nutrition and they are inexpensive. Today I am going to share with you some of my favorite bean recipes from our website. Try one out this week, I am sure you will enjoy it!
Many of these recipes call for canned beans that have been drained and rinsed. You can substitute 1-2 cups cooked, dried beans. It is easy to cook an entire bag of dried beans and then freeze them in one or two cup serving sizes to use when you need them.
There are many benefits to eating beans. They are high in fiber, protein, iron, folate, and potassium. In addition, they are inexpensive so easy on the budget. There’s just one little problem…they can cause intestinal gas. And how embarrassing is that! The good news is there are ways to help reduce the amount of intestinal gas caused by eating beans.
- Add beans to the diet slowly over a period of several weeks. This allows your body to adjust to the added fiber provided by the beans. Once you are eating beans on a regular basis, intestinal gas will be less of problem.
- Chew beans well to help digest them.
- Drink plenty of water and other fluids to help your body handle the extra fiber in beans.
- When preparing dry beans, use the hot (short) soak method of soaking beans. This method reduces many gas-producing substances in beans. Always discard soaking water and rinse beans with fresh water after soaking.
As a dietitian and a mom, beans check all of my boxes. They are very nutritious, they’re inexpensive and they work well in dishes my family enjoys. Keep the tips above in mind and toss some beans in your grocery cart today.
The new Dietary Guidelines for Americans encourage us to eat a variety of protein foods including seafood, meat, eggs, nuts, seeds and legumes. You might wonder, ‘where in the grocery store would I find the legumes?’
These are actually common foods that you are probably already familiar with. Legumes include beans like kidney beans, lima beans, or pinto beans. They also include peas, lentils and chickpeas.
It is a good idea to eat both animal and plant based proteins. Legumes are nutritious, low cost plant-based protein food. They are typically high in protein and fiber and they’re simple to cook. If your family isn’t sure about trying legumes, you can mix them with meat in dishes they like. This is a good way to stretch your dollar while introducing new foods gradually. Check out the slow cooker pork chili below, it’s a winner!
Here are some of my favorite Spend Smart. Eat Smart. recipes that call for legumes:
Fiesta Skillet Dinner
Slow Cooker Pork Chili
Butternut Squash Enchiladas
You may have heard on the news that we should be concerned about mercury in fish. Nearly all fish contain traces of mercury. Mercury is found naturally in aquatic environments. It is absorbed by fish and can accumulate in their bodies, especially in larger fish and fish that live longer. Too much mercury can be harmful for humans, especially for an unborn baby or a growing, developing child. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommend that pregnant women, women who may become pregnant, nursing mothers, and children avoid certain types of fish high in mercury and limit weekly seafood consumption to less than 12 ounces. Most Americans consume well below this guideline.
Many commonly eaten fish like shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, pollock and catfish are low in mercury.
Large fish that tend to be higher in mercury include: shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish.
You can eat fish and avoid dangerous amounts of mercury by choosing from the lower mercury options. If you would like to learn more about healthy seafood choices, visit the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Fish and Shellfish website.
Written by: Frances Armstead, dietetic intern and Christine Hradek
Fish is a nutrient-rich, high-quality protein that provides many health benefits. Most fish can be classified into two major categories, oily or “fatty” fish and non-fatty fish. In this case, “fatty” should not worry you. Fatty fish are very healthy to eat.
Fatty fish contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are very important for growth, development, and brain function. Omega-3’s also may help prevent chronic disease. Some examples of fatty fish include tuna, salmon, trout, sardines, and mackerel.
Non-fatty fish are typically white-fleshed fish. White fish still contain some healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Some examples of white fish include tilapia, cod, and haddock.
For those of us living in the center of the United States, access to fresh fish is pretty limited and when it is available, it is very expensive. Taking advantage of frozen fish options can make eating seafood more affordable, and in many cases, frozen fish can be just as delicious as the catch of the day. Here are some of our favorite fish recipes from Spend Smart. Eat Smart.
Written by: Frances Armstead, dietetic intern and Christine Hradek
We have blogged on the Salty Six before, but since so many of our readers are interested in reducing their blood pressure, we decided it was worth another post!
Many people think that reducing sodium means putting down the salt shaker. There is some truth to this. However, most of the sodium we eat doesn’t come from salt we add at home, but rather from sodium added to packaged foods and restaurant dishes.
The American Heart Association created the Salty Six list to educate Americans about the foods that tend to hide an unexpected amount of sodium. These foods aren’t always particularly ‘salty’ in taste, but they pack a sodium punch!
If some of your favorite foods are on this list, there are a few things you can do:
- Check Nutrition Facts labels, you may find that some brands don’t add as much sodium as others.
- Look for reduced sodium or no salt added varieties.
- Enjoy the foods you love, just eat them less often.
Remember the Salty Six next time you make your grocery list and check those Nutrition Facts labels while you’re shopping!
Are you curious what New Year’s goal a dietitian might set? Well, it may surprise you but my goal is to increase my vegetable intake by eating more vegetables for snacks. I eat vegetables daily, but mostly at lunch and supper. However, I don’t always get in the 2 ½ cups I need each day. The snacks I bring to work most often are fruit or whole grain crackers. These are perfectly healthy snacks that I will continue to eat but I will also swap out one a few times each week for vegetables. My SMART goal for 2016 is, ‘I will eat 1 cup of vegetables as a snack 3 times per week’. If you would like a reminder of what a SMART goal is, visit last week’s blog.
Here is a list of some of the vegetables I plan to eat as snacks:
- Baby carrots with hummus dip (try our After School Hummus)
- Celery with peanut butter
- Broccoli and cauliflower with a bit of Ranch dressing
- Cherry tomatoes
- Leftover roasted vegetables (Easy Roasted Veggies)
Some people might be surprised that I plan to eat Ranch dressing with my vegetables. However, I’m much more likely to eat them if I have a dip to go with them. And a couple of tablespoons of dip is not going to add so much fat or sodium that it outweighs the benefit of eating the vegetables.
To help me reach my goal, I plan to use our Veggie Tasting Party recipe and prep my vegetables at the start of each week so they are ready to go when I need them.
Now to eat my baby carrots and hummus dip……
It’s that time of year when my son asks me to buy pomegranates when he sees them in the grocery store because he so enjoys eating pomegranate seeds. I think it might have something to do with whacking the fruit to get the seeds to fall out. My 2-year old daughter is now a fan of them also. They are quite tasty and fun to eat… if only the seeds were easier to get to! Here is a video that shows how to get them out without making a mess!
These days I’m also filling my grocery cart with clementines, oranges, and kiwi fruit. They are in season now, so their price is low and they taste great. While these fruits are in season during the winter, some fruits and vegetables are in season year round. These include bananas, apples, carrots, celery, onions, and potatoes. These fruits and vegetables can be found at reasonable prices and with good flavor all year long. When you want or need a fruit or vegetable that is not in season, consider canned or frozen versions for a better buy. Choose fruits canned in their own juice or water and vegetables canned without salt.
For more ideas on purchasing fruits and vegetables, check out our “How-To” videos.
It is hunting season, so venison is a source of protein that is both inexpensive and easy to find. Unfortunately, many people do not know how to cook with venison, so it goes to waste. Venison is similar in structure and taste to beef and pork, so it can be substituted for beef or pork in most recipes. If you have it, try one of our Spend Smart.Eat Smart. recipes (Skillet Lasagna or Meatloaf) with ground venison instead of ground beef.
Here are some interesting facts on venison (source: The New Food Lover’s Companion):
- People often think of deer when it comes to venison, but venison actually refers to meat from deer, elk, moose, reindeer, caribou, and antelope.
- The quality of venison depends on many factors including the age of the animal (younger animals are more tender), what the animal eats, the time of year (fall is best), and the skill with which the animal was field dressed and transported.
- Cuts of venison are similar to cuts of pork and beef when it comes to tenderness and cooking methods. However, venison is somewhat less tender than beef or pork because the animal gets more exercise and, thus, has less fat and more muscle. For more information on cooking methods, check out this poster from Penn State University Extension on the cuts and cooking methods for venison.
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!