By Sarah Allen, Nutrition Program Student Assistant
One of the joys of summer is grilling. One thing that we may not think about is the nutrition of the condiments that we use for grilled foods. I looked at five condiments from my local grocery store and compared them. Take a look at what I found:
|Total Fat, g
|Carbohydrates (sugar), g
|Vitamin A % DV**
|Vitamin C % DV**
|Calcium % DV**
|Iron % DV**
*N/A: not mentioned on the nutrition label
**DV: Daily Value – calculated based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your needs may vary.
Most of these condiments are tasty, but it is important to keep in mind that they are:
- High in sodium—this can cause high blood pressure
- Have little to no protein
- Have little to no vitamins and minerals
- Have empty calories—this means calories that do not provide much nutrition
The serving size in the chart is what is listed on the label. If more than that is used, that would mean the sodium would be even higher. In general, we should eat less than 2,300 mg of sodium per day. If you or your kids are like me when I was a kid, you may dunk everything in ketchup, ranch dressing, or barbecue sauce.
Consider using a small amount of these condiments and adding vegetables to your favorite foods to add more flavor (and color)! For example, add leafy lettuce, tomato and onion to your hamburger or chicken sandwich. Be sure to look for next week’s blog post about the cost of these condiments and some healthier ways to use them!
A few weekends ago when my kids stayed with their grandma, they went grocery shopping for food to eat while at her house. When she asked them if they liked watermelon, they enthusiastically told her yes but that they don’t get it very often because their dad doesn’t like it. Poor dad got the blame. They do get it fairly regularly when it is in season, but I have to admit, sometimes when I don’t buy it is because I’m not in the mood to cut it up. However, since we created our How to Prepare Melon video that we shared in the blog last week, I’m ready to cut-up the watermelon for the kids to enjoy!
I’m also starting to get better at choosing a good melon. I’ve chosen a couple of tasty ones recently and I use the suggestions in our Produce Basics tips on melons.
I’m also working watermelon into some recipes. When I bought a watermelon a couple of weeks ago, I made our Fruit Slush recipe. It was very refreshing served with crushed ice and my seven-year-old son even liked it. You should give it a try!
Our July recipe of the month is Sausage and Vegetable Skillet. This is a delicious way to use all of your fresh summer vegetables. Whether you get your vegetables from the grocery store, produce stand, farmers market, or garden they will taste great in this recipe. Some summer vegetables that would work well in this recipe are tomatoes, zucchini, corn, and peppers.
Start by cooking brown rice according to the package directions. While that is going, you can cook your sausage. After the sausage is cooked, set it aside on a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Then the vegetables! Cut them up into bite sized pieces and sauté them until they are tender. Add in the rice, sausage, and some cheese and you have a meal.
My family likes to eat this skillet as is, but I like to take it up a notch. I cut the top off a couple of tomatoes, scoop out the seeds, and re-fill the tomato with the cooked skillet ingredients. Then I bake it in the oven for 10 minutes for a delicious stuffed tomato.
In 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.
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!
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.
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.
Orange Dressing with Fruit and Greens
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!
The Spend Smart. Eat Smart. recipe of the month for April is Baked Fish and Chips. There are many reasons that I love this recipe. Here are a few:
- It is lower in calories and fat than fish and chips from a restaurant.
- Fast food fish and chips – 720 calories, 35 grams fat
- Baked Fish and Chips – 410 calories, 7 grams fat
- It is less expensive than fish and chips from a restaurant.
- Fast food fish and chips – $5.99 per serving
- Baked Fish and Chips – $1.24 per serving
- It works with any kind of fish you have on hand or that you like.
- It is delicious – my family eats every last bite of this meal when I make it.
If, like me, you like tartar sauce with your fish, but do not want to buy an entire bottle – you can make your own. Just mix two tablespoons of mayonnaise with two tablespoons of pickle relish. You can adjust the amounts of mayo and relish to your tastes.
I hope you enjoy our April recipe – Baked Fish and Chips!
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.