With the weather warming up here in the Midwest, gardens are being planted and farmers markets will open soon. I’m looking forward to getting my hands on fresh fruits and vegetables that will be in season. Strawberries and watermelon just say ‘summer’ to me! Adults and children need 1 ½ to 2 cups of fruit per day for good health. In my family we usually eat fruit for breakfast or for snacks. There are some recipes on Spend Smart. Eat Smart. that make eating fruit really fun for kids including Fruit Slush, Frozen Fruit Cups, or Fruit Kabobs & Yogurt. These recipes are flexible and can be made with different combinations of fruit depending on what you like and what you have on hand.
Last week I wrote about making breakfast foods for supper. I ended up making the French Toast one night and it was a hit with my family, especially my 2-year-old daughter. We have a number of breakfast recipes on our website that could be enjoyed at breakfast, lunch or supper. I’m not much of a cereal eater but I really like the Crispy Granola. You can make it to your liking by adding different kinds of nuts and dried fruit. Breakfast Splits are a fun one for kids or to have when guests are over. You can set out bananas, different flavors of yogurt, different cereals, chopped fruit and nuts and each person can make their own splits. And my favorite breakfast recipe is our Make Ahead Breakfast Burritos. I make a batch to put in the freezer. Then I can grab one out and quickly heat it in the microwave to enjoy on busy mornings. You can also find me enjoying one at supper some nights when I’m not up to cooking!
Recently my husband got groceries and came home with a carton of 18 eggs. I usually only buy a dozen eggs so I asked him if he had something planned for all the eggs. He didn’t so I started thinking of how I was going to use them. I know it’s only 6 more eggs but it seemed like a lot of eggs to use! After eggs are purchased, they can be stored in their original carton in the refrigerator for 3-5 weeks. Usually the “sell-by” date on the carton will expire during that storage period, but the eggs will remain safe to use. I could make hard-cooked eggs or egg salad, but I’ve had my fill of those for a while after all the hard-cooked eggs at Easter! What came to mind next was to make breakfast for supper. Scrambled Egg Muffins, Easy Quiche, or French Toast are all tasty ways to use up the eggs and change up what we have for supper. And my kids like smoothies so I could serve Fruit Smoothie to get in a serving or two of fruit. No sleeping in past this breakfast!
Chicken noodle soup is a go to meal for me when anyone in my family is not feeling well. I make it often in the fall, winter, and spring and even occasionally in the summer. Our January recipe of the month is Our Favorite Chicken Noodle Soup – a great soup for cold and flu season.
Even though it sounds too good to be true, chicken noodle soup can actually help you get well faster when you are suffering from the head and chest congestion that comes with cold and flu season. The hot broth can clear congestion and ease a sore throat; it also provides the fluids that our bodies need more of when we are sick. The chicken provides protein, which our immune system needs to fight off the germs. And the vegetables and whole grain noodles provide vitamins and minerals that boost our immune systems.
So, keep this soup at the ready to help your family fight off colds and flu this winter. It freezes well, so put some in freezer containers just in case there is a time you are not feeling well enough to cook.
Our Favorite Chicken Noodle Soup
- 2 chicken leg quarters
- 6 cups water
- 1 tablespoon dried parsley
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup chopped celery (about 1 rib)
- 1/2 cup chopped onion (about 1/2 onion)
- 2 cups sliced carrots (about 4 carrots)
- 2 cups whole grain wide egg noodles (2.5 ounces)
- Put chicken and water in a large stock pot. Bring water to a simmer (slow boil). Cook until chicken reaches 165°F (10-15 minutes).
- While chicken is cooking, clean and chop vegetables.
- Take chicken out of water with tongs or fork. Cool in refrigerator about 5 to 10 minutes.
- Add parsley, Italian seasoning, pepper, salt, celery, onion, and carrots to the pot of hot water.
- Once chicken is cool enough to handle, remove bones and skin from chicken and discard. Cut meat into bite-sized pieces and add to the pot of hot water. Bring to a boil.
- When water is boiling, add noodles. Cook according to package directions or about 5 minutes.
- Any chicken part may be used for this recipe. If using boneless, skinless chicken breasts, use only 3/4 pound.
- Soup freezes well. Make ahead and freeze for a cold or sick day.
- Other seasoning may be used instead of the parsley and Italian seasoning.
- If you like, remove chicken skin before cooking. This will decrease fat and calories slightly.
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.
This time of year I know that I need to eat fewer treats and a lot more vegetables. I have a sweet tooth plus pregnancy cravings for chocolate, so it takes a lot of willpower for me to avoid the dessert table at holiday meals and parties. I can easily fill up on sweets so that I am not hungry for the nutritious foods that my baby and I need. One solution to my problem is our recipe of the month for December, Broccoli Salad.
This Broccoli Salad recipe satisfies my sweet tooth with the combination of a lightly sweet dressing and dried fruit. On top of that, it gets me the nutrition packed broccoli that I need. I get the sweetness I want and the vegetables I need in one simple recipe!
Here are some other great things about this recipe that cannot be ignored:
- It stores well in an airtight container the refrigerator. For some, it may even taste better after a day or two because the flavors have a chance to mingle.
- It is a quick and easy dish to take along to holiday meals or parties.
- It can easily be packed in small containers to put in lunch bags for a side dish.
- It is inexpensive and it will cost even less this spring when broccoli is in season.
Try out our Broccoli Salad to add vegetables to your meals this holiday season.
- 1 bunch broccoli
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon mustard
- 1/3 cup light mayonnaise or salad dressing
- 3 tablespoons cider or white vinegar
- 1/2 cup red onion, diced (1/2 medium onion)
- 1/2 cup raisins
- Cut 1/2″ off bottom of the broccoli stem and discard. Peel the outer layer of the stem. Chop the tender inner portion of the broccoli and florets.
- Mix sugar, salt, mustard, and mayonnaise together in a large bowl. Add vinegar and stir with a wire whisk or fork.
- Add the broccoli, red onion, and raisins.
- Stir until mixture is coated with dressing. Serve salad immediately or store in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator. Store salad for up to 4 days.
- Choose broccoli with green (not yellow) stems and florets.
- A bunch of broccoli usually has 2 to 3 stalks and weighs about 1 1/2 pounds. It should make 6 to 7 cups of chopped stems and florets.
- You may use sweet white or yellow onions instead of red.
- Wash broccoli and onion under running water.
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!
Thanksgiving 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: http://www.extension.iastate.edu/foodsavings/recipes/zesty-whole-grain-salad
• Easy Roasted Veggies: http://www.extension.iastate.edu/foodsavings/recipes/easy-roasted-veggies
• No Knead Whole Wheat Bread: http://www.extension.iastate.edu/foodsavings/recipes/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!
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!
Butternut 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
- 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
- Preheat oven to 375 ºF.
- Mix the squash, beans, onion, cilantro, garlic powder, and cumin in a bowl.
- Mix 3/4 cup of the cheese into the squash mixture.
- 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.
- Cover the tortillas with the salsa or enchilada sauce. Put the rest of the cheese (1/4 cup) on the salsa or sauce.
- Bake for 25 minutes.
- Serve each enchilada with 1 tablespoon of Greek yogurt.
- Watch How to Prepare Winter Squash.
- 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.