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Flavors of Fall Zipped up in a Bag

pumpkin puddingWhen my girls were young we often made Pumpkin Pudding for a fall dinner dessert. Pudding is inexpensive and also light and not overly filling. The Pumpkin Pudding recipe includes a full can of pumpkin, so you are also getting the added fiber and Vitamin A pumpkin is known for. With the pumpkin pie spice seasoning added, it tastes like pumpkin pie!

For a fun activity with young children, try making Pumpkin Pudding in a zip top bag!

  1. Add the pudding mix and seasoning into a one-gallon zip top bag.
  2. Then add the pumpkin and milk and close the top.
  3. Be sure to get bags with a good seal. Freezer bags work well for this activity.
  4. Pass the bag to the children so they can knead and mix the ingredients together by squeezing the bag with their hands. They will enjoy the fun of watching the ingredients blend together and become thicker as the pudding sets up.
  5. When it’s mixed and thickened, cut a small hole in one corner of the bag and squeeze the pudding into bowls.

Written by Jill Weber, Human Sciences Specialist-Nutrition and Wellness

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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Chocolate Surprise Cupcakes

I bet you’re wondering what the big surprise is in our Chocolate Surprise Chocolate surprise cupcakeCupcakes, right? Drum roll, please. It’s a can of pumpkin and apple juice. Instead of adding oil to the cake mix, we use pumpkin and apple juice. The pumpkin increases the nutritional content by adding a good dose of vitamin A but it does not make the cupcakes taste like pumpkin. Sneaky, huh?

Last week my co-worker Holly shared our recipe for Pumpkin Apple Cake. Our Chocolate Surprise Cupcakes are a variation of that using a chocolate cake mix. One cake mix makes 24 cupcakes so if they won’t be eaten within four days, they freeze well in a freezer bag or other airtight container. These would be good for a birthday, bake sale, or when you just need a little chocolate!

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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Let ‘em eat cake!!

Today’s post is from guest blogger, Holly Van Heel, a Human Sciences Specialist in Nutrition and Wellness at Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

Tpumpkin apple cakehere is nothing better than a homemade cake with frosting and sometimes you get hungry for one. But I’m never enthused about gathering all the ingredients out of the cupboard, measuring, and dirtying a bunch of dishes.

Someone in my office suggested I try the Spend Smart. Eat Smart. Pumpkin Apple Cake recipe they use. I liked it right away as it uses a cake mix and just 4 other ingredients. Only two of the ingredients need to be measured!  I quickly mixed it up (cake mix, 3 eggs, 1 can pumpkin, apple juice and a little cinnamon), baked it in a bundt pan, took it to work, and shared it with my colleagues. They were surprised to learn the deliciously moist cake they were raving about had no oil or other fat added and was providing 60% of their vitamin A needs. As a bonus, when this cake bakes and cools, it makes its own light, sweet glaze.

It just supports my theory; there is nothing better than a homemade cake with frosting (or light glaze) to satisfy one’s dessert craving.

Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover

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

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Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins

Do you remember last week when I suggested you grate up a zucchini? This is why – our September recipe of the month is Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins and they are delicious! If you have not yet seen our video on preparing zucchini, check it out for some quick hints on grating a zucchini. You do not even need to peel it first!

I like to make these muffins for my children to eat before heading off to school in the morning and here is why:

  • They are made with whole wheat flour, so the fiber will keep their tummies full and the carbohydrates will give their bodies and brains the energy they need to get going in the morning.
  • They are made with both fruits (banana and applesauce) and a vegetable (zucchini). Split between 12 muffins, it may not be a lot of fruits and vegetables, but at least we are getting the day off to a better start than if we had eaten no fruits and vegetables at all.
  • They freeze well. This means I can make a double batch of muffins when I have the time and then freeze the rest for a day when I do not have much time to prepare breakfast.  Store these muffins in freezer bags for up to three months. Thaw by wrapping a muffin in a damp paper towel and re-heating in the microwave on the defrost setting until heated through.

My children like me to make these muffins because, of course, chocolate chips! There is only ¼ cup chocolate chips in the entire recipe, but it is enough to get my children excited about these muffins.

Enjoy!

Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover

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

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Top your Toast

Sandwiches with peanut butter and fruits isolated on white background.

It’s September and that means back to school. It can be hard to come up with new healthy options but we have some ideas for you! Whole wheat toast is hearty and healthy and it can be turned into a filling snack or breakfast with some fun toppings. Remember whole grain products pack a nutrient punch and keep you feeling fuller longer, check your label for 100% whole wheat or 100% whole grain.

Play around with our system below to make tasty toasts part of a fun back to school routine.

Step 1

Step 2

Step 3

Step 4

Step 5

Toast a piece of 100%
whole wheat bread

Add a spread

  • Peanut butter
  • Mashed avocado
  • Hummus
  • Cream cheese

Add a fruit or veggie

  • Sliced apple
  • Strawberries
  • Banana
  • Raspberries
  • Sliced tomato
  • Sliced cucumber
  • Sliced bell pepper

Make it your own!

  • Cinnamon
  • Chopped nuts
  • Hot sauce
  • Herbs
  • Cooked egg
  • Seeds

Dive in

Yum!

Here are some of our favorite toast combos.

  • Peanut butter, sliced strawberries and chopped peanuts
  • Mashed avocado, cooked egg, dash of hot sauce
  • Cream cheese, sliced cucumber and sliced tomato
  • Hummus, sliced bell pepper and a bit of cilantro

Happy Snacking!
Kelly Verburgt and Christine Hradek

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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Salad…it’s not just a side dish

Chicken Club Salad The topic for the blog today is about having salads for a meal when it is hot. When we planned our blog topics a few weeks ago, we were anticipating we would be experiencing hot weather here in Iowa and across much of the US at this time. However, I have to smile because we are currently experiencing below average temperatures here in the Midwest, in the upper 70’ s and lower 80’s. It’s beautiful! It’s still a great time to enjoy a salad as a meal with all the great produce that is in season and be able to spend more time outdoors.

To make a salad a meal, I would recommend including a source of protein, such as some meat, poultry, beans, or eggs. The protein makes the salad more filling. A couple of weeks ago Justine shared the recipe for our Chicken BLT Salads. Some other salads that would be great as a meal are Whole Meal Salad, Chicken Club Salad, or Confetti Rice and Bean Salad. Pair the salads with a whole grain roll or some fruit and a cup of milk for a balanced meal.

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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Summer Bounty Salad

We have a new video for you! It is Summer Bounty Salad – a recipe that is easy, delicious, and perfect for this time of year. I do not want to spoil the video for you, so I am not going to tell you how to make this recipe. However, I suggest you go find your favorite summer vegetables and your favorite salad dressing because you are going to want them for this recipe.

Enjoy!

 

 

Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover

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

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Chicken BLT Salads

Chicken BLT Salads Meal My parents are professional tomato growers. They started out small when I was young with about six plants. Now they have dozens of plants of many different varieties. Regardless of how many tomato plants they have, one thing remains the same – bacon, lettuce, and tomato (BLT) sandwiches. We feast on them along with any other fresh produce we can find (usually corn on the cob, green beans, and cucumbers).

Our recipe of the month for August is a spin on the traditional BLT sandwich – Chicken BLT Salads. Top fresh greens with cooked chicken and bacon and diced tomatoes. Then drizzle with your favorite salad dressing. I would even go a step further and add any other fresh produce you have. I think this salad would be great with carrots, corn cut from the cob, cucumbers, green beans, and onions. Give these salads a try while all this amazing produce is in season.

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 Cut a Melon

Have you ever come home from the grocery store, set a great looking melon on the counter, and then wondered what to do now? Well, I have.

Cutting a melon can seem like an overwhelming task. We tried out some different ways to cut a melon and put our favorites in a How to Prepare Melon video. These methods will work for most varieties of melon (cantaloupe, honeydew, watermelon). Take a look and let us know what you think.

Most of all, enjoy the taste of fresh melon while we have it!

 

Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover

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

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Sausage and Vegetable Skillet

Sausage and Vegetable SkilletOur 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.

Enjoy!

Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover

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

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