Mashed Cauliflower, Really?

Our featured recipe this month is Roasted Cauliflower. It is delightful and probably my favorite way to eat cauliflower. You can’t miss the buzz around cauliflower over the past couple of years. I have noticed many recipe sites and food bloggers using it to mimic other foods like pizza crust, rice or mashed potatoes. This intrigued me, so I decided to try out the cauliflower mashed potatoes myself.

I read a bunch of recipes online and most have very similar steps. I made mine in the microwave because I thought that would be the simplest. Here is what I did.

  1. I cut a small head of cauliflower into florets. You want the florets small so they soften quickly while cooking.I put the florets in a microwavable dish with a lid and added two cloves of chopped garlic and ¼ cup of water.
  2. I microwaved the dish for five minutes, stirred and then two minutes more until the cauliflower was soft.
  3. I used a potato masher to mash the cauliflower as much as I could.
  4. I added one tablespoon each of butter and light sour cream along with ¼ teaspoon each of salt and pepper.
  5. I was left with just shy of two cups of mashed cauliflower.

The verdict?

I feel I need to share that I have a deep love for mashed potatoes, so this cauliflower was going to have to be pretty fabulous to win me over. That being said, I would make this again and it is a quick and tasty way to eat cauliflower. It does not taste like mashed potatoes; it tastes like mashed cauliflower.

I have a few tips based on my experience.

  • I typically add milk to mashed potatoes. The cauliflower did not need any liquid added to it, so you can save your milk for dinking.
  • I used basic seasonings, fresh garlic, salt and pepper. You could easily substitute garlic powder or your favorite seasoning blend.
  • I was not able to get my cauliflower completely smooth with a potato masher. It tasted fine, but was somewhat fibrous. I gave it a buzz in the food processor and it became much smoother and much more like mashed potatoes. Here are two pictures that show the difference.

Food Processor

Hand Mashed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cauliflower is inexpensive and low in calories. It also contains vitamins C and K as well as folate. If cauliflower is new to your family, try it mashed and see what you think – just don’t tell them it’s mashed potatoes!

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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How to Drain Ground Beef

Growing up on a farm where we raised cattle, ground beef was often part of our meals. Today, I use ground beef about once a week in my family’s meals. Since meat is a more expensive item on my grocery list, I look for ways to help keep the cost down. One way to do this is to buy ground beef that has a higher fat content since it is cheaper. For example, currently at my grocery store 1 pound of 85% lean ground beef is $3.99 while 1 pound of 93% lean ground beef is $5.49. If I’m going to be browning the meat to use in a dish like tacos or spaghetti, I can drain the fat from the meat after I have browned it. That why I’m saving money but still keeping the fat down in my meals.

Watch our new video on How to Drain Ground Beef so you can save money and reduce the fat the next time you use ground beef.

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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Roasted Cauliflower

Our March recipe of the month is Roasted Cauliflower. Cauliflower is one of my favorite vegetables and my children love roasted vegetables, so this recipe goes over well at my house. The delicious roasted flavor of the cauliflower plus the texture from the breadcrumbs really makes this recipe a winner.

Here are some things to keep in mind when making this recipe:

  • Cut up the whole head of cauliflower at one time since it can be a big and messy job. You probably will not need all of the cauliflower for this recipe, but you can store the extra in small baggies or containers to pack in lunches.
  • Coat the cauliflower florets in the oil first and then add the seasonings and breadcrumbs to make sure that they stick well to the cauliflower.
  • Line your baking sheet with foil then spray with nonstick cooking spray to make clean up easy.

I hope you enjoy our Roasted Cauliflower!

 

Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover

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

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How Much Should My Child be Eating?

How much should my child be eating? This is a question that every parent asks themselves. Unfortunately, the answer is not simple. The answer depends on the age of the child, whether or not they are going through a growth spurt, the health status of the child, and other factors that we do not even understand.

When I am concerned about how well my children are eating, I go to sources I trust. First and foremost is their physician. She has followed them since they were born, so she knows them, she has tracked their growth, she has documented their health concerns over the years, and we trust her. If you have major concerns about your child’s growth or eating habits, go to a trusted health care provider first.

If you are simply curious about how much your child needs to be eating or if you want to make sure your child is on track, I have two other sources you can trust.

First is the Ellyn Satter Institute. On this website, you will find many resources on how to feed your child and how to make mealtime enjoyable for everyone in the family. There are even suggestions for children who are picky eaters. At our home, we follow the Division of Responsibility in Feeding and it has worked for us.

Second is Choose MyPlate. On this website, you will find many resources on what and how much to feed your child. This website focuses on choosing a variety of foods from the five food groups – fruits, vegetables, grains, protein, and dairy. A general guideline that I try to follow is choose foods from three food groups at breakfast, four food groups at lunch and supper, and one or two food groups at snack times. On this website, you can check out each food group for a suggested amount that your child needs from that group each day. You can also find this information on the Spend Smart. Eat Smart. website in the Aisle by Aisle section.

Feeding children can be a challenge, but remember you are not alone. There are good resources out there to help you.

Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover

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

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Recipes for Little Hands

There is no way around the fact that cooking with children can be a little messy. Crumbs and spills aside, cooking with children is a great way to spend quality time and teach important skills like measuring, counting, fractions and following directions. Not to mention the fact that children will be more likely to taste something they helped to make. Below is a recipe roundup of dishes that are fun to make and eat with kids.

  • Crunchy Apple Roll-up: This recipe is quick and easy to make for a simple snack or super-quick breakfast. Young children will learn how to measure ingredients, practice spreading peanut butter and older children can practice cutting the apple.
  • Scrambled Egg Muffins: These delicious little egg muffins help you start the day off right. Children can practice cracking eggs and whisking them with a fork, measuring ingredients and dividing them between the muffin cups.
  • Fruit Pizza: Fruit Pizza is perfect for a party or a special treat at home. The cookie crust will make your home smell delicious. Children can practice measuring and fractions with this recipe. Younger children can mix up the creamy sauce while older children can wash and cut fruit for the topping. We recorded a video showing this recipe being prepared with some little ones; we think you’ll enjoy it!
  • Pizza on a Potato: We all love to customize what we eat to suit our tastes. Pizza on a potato allows you and your children to be creative in the kitchen. You can choose your favorite pizza toppings and add them to a baked potato for a complete meal. They can help you plan the meal and make a shopping list and when the time comes to cook, they can chop, measure and add their favorite toppings.

I hope you and your little ones enjoy the recipes above and that you have fun making them together!

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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I don’t like that!

‘I don’t like that’ is heard more often than I’d like in my kitchen! Often my children tell me they don’t like what I’ve made for supper, even before they’ve tried it. It’s normal for young children to prefer foods they are familiar with and to have periods of time where they may only want to eat 1 or 2 different foods. However, there are ways you can help your child try new foods.

  1. Offer choices. Instead of asking, ‘Do you want broccoli for supper?” ask “Would you like broccoli or cauliflower for supper?”
  2. Name a food your child helps make. Make a big deal of serving “Paige’s Sweet Potatoes” or “Kenny’s Super Salad” for supper.
  3. Offer only one new food at a time. Serve something that you know your child likes along with the new food.
  4. Offer small portions of new foods. Let your child try small portions of new foods that you enjoy. Give them a small taste at first and be patient with them. The first few times the child might just smell the food, than they might lick the food. This helps the child become more familiar with the food. It may take up to a dozen tries for a child to accept a new food.
  5. Be a good role model. Try new foods yourself. Describe their taste, texture, and smell to your child.

To help children develop positive eating habits, offer the same foods for the whole family. It is okay for your child to eat more at some meals and less at others. Lastly, make eating family meals together fun. If meals are time for family arguments, your child may learn unhealthy attitudes towards food. Talk about fun activities family members did during the day. Or use our Mealtime Conversation Cards to get the conversation going.

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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Berry and Greens Smoothie

When it is smoothie night at my house, my children get so excited.  Mostly because they love smoothies, but also because they love to help make smoothies.  If you are trying to get your children involved in the kitchen, our February recipe of the month – Berry and Greens Smoothie – is a great place to start.

My oldest children are 6 and 4, so I let them peel and cut up the bananas and measure and add everything into the blender.  My son enjoys turning the blender on and off, while my daughter hides in her bedroom when it is blender time (it is too loud for her).  An older child would be able to prepare this recipe on their own with a little help from an adult to gather the ingredients, double check amounts, and keep an eye on blender safety.

In addition to being a great way to involve children in the kitchen, this smoothie recipe has many benefits:

  • It includes three food groups (fruit, vegetables, and dairy) in one glass, so it is packed with nutrition.
  • It makes a perfect snack or it can go along with any meal.
  • It freezes easily, so you can have smoothies available in your freezer for a quick breakfast. Find out more here.
  • It tastes delicious and can be made any time of the year because the ingredients are always available in the grocery store.
  • It looks beautiful because of the rich, dark colors added by the berries.

Please try our Berry and Greens Smoothie today.

Enjoy!

Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover

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

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Learn from our Mistakes

Most cooks have tried a recipe that did not turn out how they planned. Sometimes it’s a cake that collapses on the counter, other times it’s a roast that ended up raw in the middle. The best thing to do when this happens is to try to learn from the mistake, so it does not happen again. We have rounded up a few common mistakes people make with slow cookers to try to help you avoid them in your kitchen.

  1. Be sure your slow cooker is working properly. It is critical that your slow cooker get to the right temperature to avoid problems with food safety. If you’re like me, you may have your grandmother’s old slow cooker. The good news is – you can test it. Just fill your slow cooker halfway with water and turn it on. It needs to heat to at least 170 degrees within two hours. You can test it with a food thermometer. If after two hours, the water is cooler than 170 degrees, your slow cooker is likely not heating your food fast enough and should not be used.
  2. Prep ahead the smart way. It is helpful to prep ingredients ahead so you can drop them into your slow cooker in the morning. However, do not mix raw meat and other ingredients together in advance. The safest approach is to keep meat separate from other ingredients until you are ready to cook.
  3. Cook foods to their usual safe temperatures. This helpful guide shows safe temperatures for meat, poultry, casseroles and more. You can measure temperatures using a food thermometer. Once foods reach a safe temperature, you can hold them in the slow cooker at or above 140 degrees.

Follow these simple tips to make safe and tasty meals in your slow cooker. Happy slow cooking from the Spend Smart. Eat Smart. Team!

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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Slow Cooker – Converting Recipes

I love using my slow cooker for many reasons.  Right now, the main reason I love my slow cooker is the timing. There are usually two or three nights each week when someone in our family needs to be somewhere by 6 or 6:30. It is really hard for me to make a meal, feed everyone, and then get three children out the door on time.  These are the nights when I rely on my slow cooker.  I can do the prep for a meal the night before, load the slow cooker in the morning, and then have a great meal ready in the evening.

Over the years, I have gradually converted some of my family’s favorite stove top recipes into slow cooker recipes.  It can take some trial and error, especially with the cooking time, but it is worth it in the end.  Here are some pointers for converting your own recipes into slow cooker recipes:

  • Choose recipes that simmer on the stove top or roast in the oven.
  • Reduce the amount of liquid in the recipe by 1/3 to 1/2. You need to do this because the slow cooker creates its own liquid.
  • Adjust the cooking time. This website has a convenient conversion chart.

If you have questions or concerns about your slow cooker, contact AnswerLine.  They are a great resource for your home and family questions.

Good luck converting some of your favorites into slow cooker recipes!

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 Recipe Roundup

We love our slow cookers at Spend Smart. Eat Smart. It is such a delight to come home from a busy day to a home-cooked meal that is ready to eat. At our holiday potluck, three of us made slow cooker dishes!

Here are some of our favorite slow cooker recipes:

  • Chicken and Broth: This simple dish will leave you with delicious homemade chicken broth as well as cooked chicken to use in other dishes.
  • Slow Cooker Black Eyed Pea Soup: It’s our recipe of the month and it’s perfect for this time of year. It is a tasty option for a meatless meal.
  • Slow Cooker Pork Chili: This rich, flavorful chili will warm you up on the chilliest winter day. Best of all, the leftover pork from this recipe can be transformed into Shredded Pork Sandwiches. Nothing beats cooking once and eating twice!

I hope you give these recipes a try this winter. Next week Justine will share how you can get creative by converting recipes to work in a slow cooker.

Have a great 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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