What to do with Dried Beans?

I recently bought a bag of dried beans on clearance at the grocery store.  I usually buy canned beans, but it was too good of a deal to pass up.  The problem was that I didn’t know how to prepare them! Years ago, I tried to cook dried beans and they ended up crunchy and undercooked.

I discovered a recipe to prepare dried beans using my slow cooker.  The slow cooker cooked the beans overnight! It was so easy. I froze the beans in containers so I have cooked beans ready to use whenever I need them.

Beans are a great way to add protein to meals and save money on groceries. Beans give you long-lasting energy and help you feel full for a long time.  Here are some of my family’s favorite ways to eat beans:

  1. We top salads with beans. Try black or pinto beans for a taco salad or navy or kidney beans for a Mediterranean salad.
  2. We make dips with beans.  Adding beans to dips makes a quick snack full of protein!  Our favorites are Hummus, Black Bean Salsa, and Cowboy Caviar.
  • We add beans to pasta dishes.  A quick dinner my family loves is a box of cooked whole wheat pasta, a jar of pesto (found in the grocery aisle near spaghetti sauce), and a few cups of garbanzo beans.  We mix it all together and it’s ready in 30 minutes.  We serve it with a garden salad or steamed green beans or broccoli.
  • We add black beans or pinto beans to eggs and wrap in a tortilla for a Southwest breakfast burrito!  Try this recipe for a fun weekend breakfast!
  • We make soups with beans.  Soups are a great way to use up a lot of beans.  We like Vegetarian Chili and Minestrone Soup.

Katie Sorrell is a Registered Dietitian who likes to try new recipes. She meal plans and shops at the grocery store on the weekend for the upcoming week.

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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Cooking with Lentils

Last week Brianna wrote about our Garlic and Herb Lentils recipe. If you get a bag of dried lentils to try that recipe, you might be wondering what else you can cook with lentils to use them up. Here are some other ways to add them to your meals:

  1. Use them in our Lentil Tacos.
  2. Substitute cooked lentils for meat in chili, stews and stuffed pepper fillings.
  3. Make a pasta sauce thicker and heartier by adding cooked lentils.
  4. Add cooked lentils to rice, salad, or cooked whole grains to make a protein-rich main dish.
  5. Puree 1/2 cup cooked lentils with 2 tablespoons water. In recipes for baked goods like brownies and muffins, substitute half of the fat with 1/2 cup pureed lentils.

My husband and I really like the lentil tacos. And I’ve made muffins with lentils in them that my son and I liked. I think next I will try adding them to rice or a salad and see if my family enjoys them that way. Lentils are inexpensive, nutritious, and can be used in many ways so I encourage you to pick up a bag and try them out!


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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Garlic and Herb Lentils

Personally, I had never cooked with lentils before trying this recipe. Lentils always had a way about them that was kind of scary. Not quite a bean, but not a pea either. What are these things? Well, I am here to tell you that what was once scary is now a household favorite.

After doing some research, I realized that lentils were full of great nutrients like protein, fiber, and iron, while very low in sodium and fat. They were also only 98 cents for a pound, which is a low price for nutrient-dense food.  I figured, why not give it a try? I used this recipe as a side to baked salmon and sauteed sweet peas, and my husband said it was one of his favorite meals.

It required very little prep time (only cutting the onion and rinsing the lentils), and it turned out very flavorful with the seasonings and chicken broth included. I served the meal with fresh lemons, and my husband used the juice to enhance the flavor even more.

So next time you look at a lentil, don’t be afraid. They are packed with nutritious qualities, fit in your budget, and taste great.

Find the full recipe here: https://spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu/recipe/garlic-and-herb-lentils/

Hello! I am Brianna Montross, currently a graduate student and dietetic intern at Iowa State University. Some of my favorite things to do are write poetry, run, and find new ways to incorporate veggies in my cooking.

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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Cooking for Fewer During the Holidays

I love to cook, especially around the holidays! There is something nostalgic about bringing out the box of old recipe cards that are covered in stains and mark-ups from family members altering recipes throughout the years. Cooking holiday meals is a way that I show those around me that I love them, and this has been something that I have had to get more creative with during the past year.

Holidays looked a lot different for many of us in 2020 and this year is off to a similar start. Smaller, more intimate gatherings are still recommended, leading to a slightly different mindset when planning those traditional holiday meals. Check out my list of holiday cooking alterations below to cook for a smaller crowd this holiday season.

  1. Halve your recipes– Over the years I have found that the family favorite recipes that my grandma, mom and aunts used for holiday cooking were meant to feed a village! By cutting those recipes in half, I can spend more money on other ingredients for additional recipes and am not stuck with mountains of leftovers.
  2. Pick recipes that can be used for future meals– Cooking for smaller numbers of family this past year required me to get creative. I love the idea of having versatile ingredients and leftovers that can be used for other meals. Easy Roasted Veggies are a fan favorite at my house any time of the year and the leftover veggies can be used in other recipes like Vegetable Frittata and Vegetable Quesadillas. Ham is a traditional Easter food in my family which leads to a lot of leftovers. I love using leftover ham in soups and quiches. A few of our favorite recipes to use ham are Turkey Vegetable Quiche and Split Pea Soup.
  3. Share the cooking with others– A lot of our neighbors used to travel for the holidays but with the pandemic we have found that everyone is cooking for fewer people or cooking for the first time in several years! I love having meal swaps with my neighbors and the same can be said during the holidays. You may find a new family favorite this way!
  4. Find fun ways to eat your meal with those you love– Not only is cooking for a holiday different during a pandemic, but you are also limited to who you can have in your home to celebrate. Hop on Facetime or a Zoom call with loved ones and coordinate your mealtimes to eat with each other. It is a fun way to talk about the foods you have prepared, and you can still celebrate the holidays with those you love!

Find creative ways to celebrate with those around you to keep the holiday season fun and memorable. Cheers to good health in 2021!

Katy Moscoso

Katy Moscoso

Katy Moscoso is a Program Specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. As a new mom she is always on the lookout for easy, healthy recipes to prepare for her family.

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Activity Snacks

Have you ever heard of activity snacks? These are like food snacks, but in physical activity form! Sometimes I dread going to start a workout- whether that be at the gym or at home, I do not want to put in a chunk of time to move. Days can become busy, but I often feel discouraged and defeated when I feel I did not get enough movement in. This is where activity snacks can fit in your everyday.

According to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, adults should move more and sit less getting in 150 to 300 minutes of physical activity each week. This is about 22 to 43 minutes of activity per day.

This can be a great goal to accomplish through activity snacks. This is when you dedicate 5 to 15 minutes 3 times a day to be active whether that be in your living room, at your desk, or in-between meetings. This totals 15 to 45 minutes of your day dedicated to movement without the burden of setting up a huge space of your time for the gym.

It is as simple as waking up and doing morning stretches, pushing through a chair workout over lunch hour, and going for an evening walk. Every little thing adds up to big numbers at the end of the day.

Check out some activity videos we have on our website for some easy activities to work into your day! All you need is your body and a chair- perfect for your busy life.

Ideas for movement:

Hello! I am Brianna Montross, currently a graduate student and dietetic intern at Iowa State University. Some of my favorite things to do are write poetry, run, and find new ways to incorporate veggies in my cooking.

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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ISU Extension and Outreach offers training for child care providers

For the first time, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans include recommendations by life stage, from birth through older adulthood. ISU Extension and Outreach is offering training for child care providers in Iowa that include the new recommendations for feeding infants and toddlers.

Read more at: https://www.extension.iastate.edu/news/new-dietary-guidelines-feeding-infants-and-toddlers

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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Perspective is Key

Energy is contagious! Have you ever been around a person who has nothing nice to say? How did that make you feel? If the answer is negative, then that makes sense. Out of a negative perspective, you can only see bad things. On the other hand, have you ever been around someone who is full of life and kindness? How did that make you feel? I have a feeling the answer is positive.

Sometimes I get in the slump of thinking, Why me? I had to prepare for my own wedding last July in the middle of a crisis, graduate from school with no ceremony, and had my honeymoon cancelled in December. I had bad day after bad day, and then I remembered- responding to my self-talk is how I set the tone for how I respond to everyone around me.

I understand- this past year has been anything but ordinary. Not only are we still in a pandemic, but there are lots of things to do like pay bills, make dinner, and honestly- just do life. We cannot change things around us like the pandemic, economy, or other people, but we can change our mindset toward situations that come about our day. Try to remember that only you are in control of how you view the world, and you can impact those around you. One simple mind-shift can create a positive atmosphere not only your family will like being around, but your brain as well.

4 easy tips for changing your perspective:

  • Take time to reflect on your blessings by keeping a journal and writing 3 blessings in your life every morning to start your day off in a positive tone.
  • For every 1 negative thing you say, practice saying 2 positive things about that topic.
  • Acknowledge your stress and listen to your body. It is important to take a break when your body needs it so you can be at your best mindset moving forward. Check out our Strength in Stress blog post on some ways to recognize stress.
  • Know how to recognize and respond to your negative self-talk. For more on how to do that within your family, check out The Science of Parenting. In their recent podcast, Talk it Up, Mackenzie and Lori break down self-talk as a parent.

Hello! I am Brianna Montross, currently a graduate student and dietetic intern at Iowa State University. Some of my favorite things to do are write poetry, run, and find new ways to incorporate veggies in my cooking.

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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Canned Beef

When I first heard of canned beef I really did not know what to think. There was a fat layer on the top when I opened the can and a lot of liquid, but the texture and smell of the meat were normal for beef. I ended up enjoying it and adding it to some of my recipes as an easy and money-saving alternative to cooking with fresh beef. You don’t have to jump on the canned-beef train, but I do want to show you why canned beef isn’t all that bad, and how you can use it in your kitchen.

Why does canned beef sound scary? Most likely it is because you just aren’t familiar with it. I bet you eat other sorts of canned beef without even realizing it:

  • Spaghetti-O’s with meatballs
  • Beef Ravioli
  • Beef and vegetable soup
  • Chili Mac

Now that we’ve got that covered, it doesn’t seem as scary- does it? With those meals, you pour the can into a pot, warm it up, and eat it. Canned beef is almost the same. Because the meat is already cooked, you just need to open the can, dispose of the fat layer, and drain the meat from the liquid. After that, you are good to go! Save time cooking some of your favorite dishes by starting with the pre-cooked meat.

Here are some Spend Smart. Eat Smart. recipes that call for ground beef:

Here are other suggestions to add it to dishes:

  • Beef Tacos
  • Casserole Dishes
  • Spaghetti Sauce
  • Soups

You can find canned beef in some of your local food pantries, Walmart, Fareway, and online at Amazon.

What are you waiting for? Go try it out!

Hello! I am Brianna Montross, currently a graduate student and dietetic intern at Iowa State University. Some of my favorite things to do are write poetry, run, and find new ways to incorporate veggies in my cooking.

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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Italian Chicken

Our March recipe of the month is Italian Chicken. This is a versatile recipe from beginning to end. You get to choose the number of servings, the cooking method, and how you will serve this recipe.

Before you start, decide how many people you will feed and how many meals you would like to make from the cooked chicken. You can adjust this recipe to make 2 to 8 servings. When you are writing your grocery list, adjust the amount of chicken you buy to meet your needs. One chicken breast half will usually yield about two servings. The size of chicken breasts vary, so make sure to check them closely before you buy them to make sure they are right for you. Keep the amount of tomatoes, artichoke hearts, and seasonings the same. If you use less chicken, you will just end up with more sauce and vegetables with each serving.

When cooking this recipe, you can use a slow cooker or a pressure cooker. Place all of the ingredients in the slow cooker or pressure cooker and then cook according to the manufacturer’s directions. For a slow cooker, cook on low for around 4 to 6 hours. For a pressure cooker, use a cook time of around 10 minutes and a natural release time of 10 minutes.  

You can serve this recipe several different ways. I have served this recipe on cooked rice and noodles. I have also served this recipe on toasted bread as a sandwich or on a bed of lettuce as a salad. Be creative!

Find the full recipe at: https://spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu/recipe/italian-chicken-slow-cooker-pressure-cooker/

Enjoy!

Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover

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

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New Videos for At-Home Workouts on Frigid Days

As I write this blog, snow is swirling in the air and it is cold outside. Like really cold. As much as my kids and I enjoy sledding and being active outdoors, it’s not possible right now, since it is recommended to limit your time outside. This also means my kids are having indoor recess at school which usually isn’t very active. Therefore, I’m thinking of different ways we can be active inside our house.

This past week we’ve been doing different workout videos after school. We’ve done a couple that they do in school. And I also introduced them to the new stretching and workout videos we have on Spend Smart. Eat Smart. We have four new videos: Chair workout, Upper Body Stretches, Cardio Pyramid Exercises, and Chair Stretches. My 11 year old son and I did the Cardio Pyramid together. He thought it was pretty fun watching mom on the video! The videos are short so they work well when you need to add a little movement to your day or when you are short on time. And you don’t need a lot of space to do them.

If, like my family, you need to find ways to be active indoors, check out the new videos and let us know what you think.

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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