Oatmeal for Breakfast – A New Way!

Banana Oatmeal Bread WebIn the winter months, I crave a hot bowl of oatmeal for breakfast. I love to sprinkle the top with cinnamon sugar, chopped nuts, and sliced bananas. But in the summer, I rarely want a hot breakfast. I like to have something on hand that the children and I can eat quickly so we can get outside and enjoy the day before it gets too hot.

If I have the oven going for supper, I will make up a quick bread or some muffins for breakfast the next morning. This saves on energy costs because I only have to heat the oven up once and I get two meals (or four meals if I plan for leftovers). I feel like it also saves me time because it frees up my mornings to enjoy some time with my children.

Our Banana Oatmeal Bread is a great way to combine my love of oatmeal with my desire for a quick and easy breakfast. The oatmeal in this recipe is a whole grain, which provides fiber to our bodies. Eating enough fiber can help us feel full, ease constipation, and prevent diseases such as heart disease and some cancers. That is a pretty impressive list! I hope you try out this recipe for breakfast this summer.

Enjoy!

Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover

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

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How to Make Fruit Crisp

Raise your hand if you like the ‘crisp’ part of apple crisp. If you could see me, I’m raising my hand! Honestly, I really just like apple crisp all around.

You can also make Fruit Crisp with canned fruit, like canned peaches. Fruit Crisp is an easy dessert to make, is easy on the budget, and it tastes delicious. So it is a good idea for a family reunion or barbeque with friends this summer.

Our Fruit Crisp recipe makes enough for eight people but you could easily double the ingredients to make a larger amount if needed. Watch our How to Make Fruit Crisp video to see just how easy it is to make!

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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Peanut Butter Balls For the Win!

Peanut Butter Balls It is 3:18pm on a Monday afternoon as I write this blog. How do you usually feel around 3:00 in the afternoon? If you’re anything like me, you get a little sleepy and a little hungry – or maybe a lot hungry!

This week’s blog is all about a go-to snack that can rescue you on a busy weekday afternoon when you just need a pick-me-up. Peanut Butter Balls are a sweet, chewy snack that can help you tackle the day.

As you might guess, they contain peanut butter, yum! They also contain two surprising ingredients. The first is dry oatmeal. The oatmeal binds this recipe together and provides whole grain carbohydrate for energy and fiber. You may be shocked to learn that these little snacks also get a protein boost from mashed beans in addition to the peanut butter. Weird, I know! Trust me, they’re delicious and you would never know the beans are in there once they’re dressed up with some peanut butter and honey.

I hope you’ll take my word for it and give these little treats a try. You can whip up a whole batch at once and keep them in the freezer for a quick snack anytime. Perhaps best of all, two Peanut Butter Balls cost just $0.15 to make. I challenge you to find a granola bar or trail mix for that price!

Enjoy!
Christine

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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Chewy Granola Bars

chewy granola bars Our June recipe of the month is quick, easy, and delicious – Chewy Granola Bars. For a long time, I wanted to make homemade granola bars, but I never got around to it. When I was given the idea for this recipe, I knew it was time to try it for myself. It turns out that it is very easy and it tastes great too.

These granola bars are great for a snack for children or adults and here is why:

  • The oatmeal is a whole grain, which gives the body both carbohydrates and fiber. So, it gives you energy and makes you feel full. Whole grains have many other benefits for our bodies – we will look into these more as we work our way through a whole grain series on the blog this month.
  • The peanut butter adds protein and fat, which can help tide you over until the next meal.
  • The syrup used to sweeten the granola bars adds a delicious maple flavor.
  • These granola bars only cost 8 cents each! That is a small fraction of the cost of a pre-packaged granola bar.

I hope you enjoy making (and eating) your own Chewy Granola Bars this week!

 

 

Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover

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

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All about Peppers

Peppers are one of my favorite veggies. During the winter, I buy them at the grocery store most weeks. During the summer, I love to grow them myself. They are rich in vitamin C, low in calories and add lots of flavor to whatever I am cooking.

You can grow peppers in pots or in the ground. If you choose to use a pot, you’ll want it to be at least two gallons in size for a single pepper plant and you may want to use a dowel or stake to support your plant as it grows.

Keep in mind that most peppers start green and some varieties ripen to be yellow, orange, red or purple. The Iowa State University gardening experts have a publication that will help you pick the pepper type that is best for you. Peppers that are not green tend to be much more expensive. You can save a lot of money by growing peppers yourself, but be prepared that peppers that are not green will need more time on the plant to change colors, which means you may lose more to rot, pests or weather damage.

I hope you will give a pepper plant a try this summer. If you would like some tips on cutting up whole peppers, we have a video to get you started.

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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Growing Herbs

Flat parsley growing in rows in the garden bed

In the spirit of gardening, today I am going to continue our series and talk about growing herbs. Growing herbs at home can save you money because buying fresh and dried herbs at the store can add up quickly. Growing herbs is something that started as a fluke for me and has turned into a passion.

I bought a sad looking oregano plant at a sale the first year we were in our home. I planted it just outside the kitchen window in a dry, empty patch of dirt where nothing grew. Now, ten years later, that oregano plant is still alive and thriving. Over the years we have added and removed herbs from my little herb garden. This year we will have oregano and chives (which come back every year) and basil, dill, and parsley (which my son and his grandpa started from seeds).

A little herb garden is so much fun for children. I love to watch my children plant and care for the herbs, smell them, taste them, and add them to recipes. If you do not have space for an herb garden, consider planting an herb container. Place it near your kitchen so you have easy access when you need to add flavor to a recipe.

A great thing about herbs is that they are low maintenance. Plant them, or place containers, in a sunny spot because herbs love sun. Make sure your soil, or your container, drains water well because herbs do not like to sit in wet soil. Water them when the soil is dry to the touch.

Best of luck with your herb garden!

Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover

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

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Let’s Grow Tomatoes!

Cherry tomatoesLast week Christine shared about how she grows greens in containers on her patio. This week I am going to share about my gardening experiences with tomatoes. My family and I have a pretty large garden in our back yard. We usually fill about half of it with tomato plants because we love to eat them fresh and make them into tomato juice to enjoy all year long.

This “Tomatoes” growing guide is a great read if you are interested in trying some tomatoes in your garden this year or if you would like to improve the health and yield of your tomato plants. Here are some practical tips I have picked up as I have experimented with growing tomatoes in my own garden:

  • Choose the right varieties of tomatoes for my garden. This one takes a little trial and error. I have found that Better Boy and Super Sweet 100 tomatoes grow best in my garden.
  • Plant tomatoes between May 15th and June 1st. After May 15th, I should be able to avoid frost killing my plants. If I get my plants in before June 1st, I can enjoy a longer growing season and a higher yield.
  • Use tomato cages. Large, tall tomato cages allow the plants to grow big, healthy, and strong. They are also easier to manage than tomatoes that are staked up or tomatoes that are allowed to grow along the ground.

Thankfully, you do not need a large garden to enjoy growing fresh tomatoes at home.  Depending on the plant size, tomatoes can be grown in 2-4 gallon containers. The Container Vegetable Gardening guide gives ideas for the variety of tomato that would be best for your home.

I hope you can get outside and enjoy gardening this year!

Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover

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

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Lettuce Start Gardening!

Silly title -I know – but Spring has sprung here in Iowa and I am so excited to start growing some food on my back patio. Getting my herbs and vegetables planted is such a fun way to celebrate the warmer weather. Fresh veggies from the garden taste so good and growing your own food saves serious money.

I do not have space to plant a garden in the ground, so I use planters and pots on my patio. It is amazing how much food you can grow in a tiny space. There will be a point this summer when I can barely keep up with it!

Salad greens grow very well in containers. Here are some steps to get you started!

  1. Review the Iowa State University Container Vegetable Gardening Guide. It has all of the basics to help you get started.
  2. Choose a large pot (1 gallon minimum) with drainage holes.
  3. Put a layer of rocks or gravel in the bottom and then fill with potting soil.
  4. Use your finger to create a trench about one inch deep and sprinkle seeds about every inch in the trench. Repeat this process with an additional row or two leaving 4 inches between rows.
  5. Put your pot where bunnies and deer cannot get it. They love lettuce and they will eat it!
  6. Water the soil (not the leaves) as often as necessary to keep it moist. It does not need to be soaking wet, but should not get completely dry either. I typically water my vegetable containers every 1-2 days during the heat of the summer.
  7. After about three weeks, you will have leaves to harvest. Clip the leaves, leaving the plant base behind. The plant will grow more leaves!

This month our blogs are all about growing your own fruits and vegetables. We hope you’ll find some good ideas whether you’re just starting out or a certified green thumb. Please comment on our Facebook page or tweet us and let us know your favorite things to grow!

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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Orange Dressing

Our May recipe of the month is sure to get you in the mood for spring produce if you are not already.   A salad of spring greens (spinach, leaf lettuce, or Swiss chard), chopped spring vegetables (broccoli or snow peas), and chopped spring fruit (strawberries or pineapple) tastes delicious with our homemade Orange Dressing.

Our homemade Orange Dressing is made of ingredients that are easily found in most kitchens.  This recipe needs only four ingredients – orange juice, vinegar, sugar, and oil.  Pour them into a container with a tight fitting lid and shake until the ingredients are combined.  Then use this tasty dressing to top a salad made with your favorite springtime produce.

Enjoy!

Orange Dressing with Fruit and Greens

Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover

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

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Spring Produce

Each spring I love watching the plants pop up out of the ground.  Some days I feel like I can see the plants growing in my yard.  Now that we are in April, more and more fresh spring produce is popping up in the stores and in gardens.

Buying fruits and vegetables that are in season gets you the tastiest produce for the least cost.  Here are some fruits and vegetables that are in season in the spring:

  • Asparagus – snap off the woody ends and grill, steam, or roast.
  • Broccoli – cut into florets and eat raw, steam, or roast.
  • Rhubarb – eat only the reddish stalk; find out more on the AnswerLine Blog.
  • Snow peas – eat raw or add to stir-fry.
  • Spinach – eat in a salad, top off a sandwich, or add to a smoothie.
  • Strawberries – eat on their own or as a topping to your favorite dessert.

I hope you get to enjoy some fresh spring produce this week!

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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