Our October recipe of the month is Sweet Pork Stir Fry. To be honest with you, my children are pretty picky when it comes to stir fry. There is only one stir fry recipe I make that they really like. This is one that they tend to pick around and eat only their favorite pieces.
When this recipe was in the testing phase, I had to make it often to get it just right. Since it was not my children’s favorite, I made it for my mother-in-law and father-in-law. It was such a hit with them that my mother-in-law called me a few days later asking for the recipe because she wanted to make it for her own in-laws! That was almost two years ago, and they are still making this recipe regularly.
What I really like about my in-laws using this recipe regularly is that they have made this recipe their own. They try different vegetables depending on what sounds good to them – carrots, celery, onions, mushrooms, and asparagus. They will change out the meat depending on what is on sale at the grocery store or even skip on the meat to make a vegetarian meal. They will also switch the noodles out for brown rice sometimes.
This past winter they invited me over to share a meal and they made this recipe for me. This recipe has been one that we have enjoyed together and I hope you can enjoy it with friends and family too!
Welcome to the third part of our blog series about on-line grocery shopping. If you did not see the first two parts of this series, here are the links to the overview and the pros of on-line grocery shopping. Today we are going to look at, what I think, are the cons to on-line grocery shopping.
The first challenge that I have with on-line grocery shopping is the PRODUCE.
- I like to look around the produce section to see what looks best and is the best value. I cannot do this when looking at the pictures of the produce on-line.
- Someone else chooses your produce for you, so you may not get what you would usually choose for yourself. However, I have received good quality produce in my experiences so far.
The second challenge that I have with on-line grocery shopping is LEAVING AN ITEM OFF.
- It usually happens that I forget to buy something or that an item is unavailable. This leaves me in a bind when I am trying to make a meal later in the week. I either have to make a special trip to the store or use what I have on hand to make a substitution.
- When this happens, I cannot do on-line shopping for the single item because they have a minimum order cost ($30 at one store and $100 at the other). However, at one of the stores you can pay a fee if your order is under the minimum cost.
The third challenge that I have with on-line grocery shopping is PERSONAL.
- I am a food person, so I like to look around at all the different foods in the store. I do not get this chance with on-line shopping.
- I like to take my children to the store so they can learn about shopping and choosing foods.
- I cannot use re-usable bags with on-line grocery shopping.
I feel like I have balanced these challenges well with alternating on-line and in-store grocery shopping. I think the pros of on-line grocery shopping outweigh the cons and I plan to continue with on-line grocery shopping.
Welcome to the second part of our blog series about on-line grocery shopping. I hope you enjoyed our overview last week. This week I would like to tell you about all of the things I think are great about on-line grocery shopping.
The first thing that I like about on-line grocery shopping is the TIME SAVINGS.
- It only takes me about 30 minutes to select the foods I want and set up my pickup/delivery time.
- I do not need to fight the crowd in the store or in the parking lot.
- I do not have to take my children into the store.
- The grocery store staff load up my car or help me carry my groceries into my house.
The second thing I like about on-line grocery shopping is the MONEY SAVINGS.
- It is easy to stick to my budget because I can see the total price increasing as I add foods to my cart.
- I can easily add or take away food items as needed to fit my budget and my needs.
- There is no temptation to buy the extra things displayed around the store, so I avoid impulse buys.
- I have all of the information on the website to determine unit prices and compare products easily.
The third thing I like about on-line grocery shopping is the KINDNESS of the staff.
- I have had great experiences with the grocery store staff being very kind and helpful.
- The staff do a great job of explaining any substitutions that were made.
- The staff make a point of keeping fragile foods (bread, eggs) safe.
Overall, I think that on-line grocery shopping is a great experience and it is very helpful, especially when I do not have a lot of time. I would recommend on-line grocery shopping to anyone who wants to try it.
Have you tried on-line grocery shopping yet? If not, tune into our blog for the next three weeks as we look at what on-line grocery shopping is and the pros and cons of on-line grocery shopping. If you have, send us a comment over the next three weeks and let us know about your experiences. Today I am going to give you an overview of on-line grocery shopping as I have experienced it.
Who: Justine Hoover. I plan meals and buy food for a family of five including my husband, an eight year old son, a six year old daughter, a two year old son, and myself.
What: On-line grocery shopping. I plan my meals and make my grocery list as usual. Then I log in to my account on the store website, choose my groceries, pay, and set up a time to get my groceries.
When: Every other week. I actually go grocery shopping once per week, but I have been alternating on-line grocery shopping with going to the store to shop. I do this because I like to shop at different grocery stores and two of my favorite stores do not have on-line shopping. I also like to take my children shopping with me sometimes so they can learn how to grocery shop.
Where: Two stores. There are two grocery stores in the community where I live that offer on-line grocery shopping. Both stores have grocery pickup – I drive my van up to a designated parking space, notify the store that I have arrived (either by calling or through an app), and then they load my groceries into my van. One of the stores has grocery delivery – they bring the groceries directly to my home.
Why: Three reasons. I decided to start on-line grocery shopping for many reasons, but here are the top three.
- Convenience – it is so easy to order groceries from my home and either have them delivered to my door or loaded into my van.
- Cost control – I can stick to my grocery budget much more easily because the website tracks my costs as I add items to my cart, and shopping on-line cuts down on impulse buys.
- Children – I had three children home with me all day, every day this past summer. I usually enjoy taking them shopping with me, but we decided there were other things we wanted to do with our time this past summer.
So far, these have been my experiences with on-line grocery shopping. Overall, they have been very good and I am excited to share the details with you. Join me for the next two weeks as I look more deeply into the pros and cons of on-line grocery shopping for my family.
Our September recipe of the month is Blueberry Pancakes. Pancakes are a favorite meal in our family. We eat them for supper just as often as we eat them for breakfast. I even made pancakes for supper for my husband the evening I was in labor with our oldest!
Since we like pancakes so well, I try to change up the types of pancakes we eat. That is where these blueberry pancakes come in. The batter for these pancakes is a traditional whole wheat pancake batter. Before cooking, gently fold the blueberries into the batter.
If you find cooking pancakes challenging, I have a few tips for you.
- Pre-heat the Pan: It is important to make sure that the pan is heated up before starting to cook the pancakes. You can use a water test to make sure your pan is hot enough. Use your fingers to sprinkle some water on the pan. If the water sizzles, your pan is pre-heated.
- Patience: Be patient with your pancakes and do not flip them over until the tops are bubbly. This will ensure that your pancakes flip easily and get cooked all the way through.
- Practice: Cooking times and temperatures for pancakes depend on your stove and your pan. With practice, you will find the right cooking times and temperatures for you.
Written by Kathryn Standing
Student Assistant, ISU Dietetics
Summer in Iowa always makes me think of trucks selling produce by the side of the road. They showcase fresh corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, cantaloupe, strawberries, and more. The grocery store produce department seems to be much more colorful, as a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables are in season. I never have a hard time finding vegetables and fruits that look appetizing in the summertime. An added benefit to loading up on vegetables and fruit in the summer: their water content.
It is recommended to consume the equivalent of 9-16 (8 ounce) glasses of water a day (depending on age, gender, and activity level) to stay hydrated. This can come from both beverages and foods. Fruits and vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet providing fiber, vitamins and minerals. Fruits and vegetables are also high in water content. This means eating a lot of fruits and vegetables reduces the amount you need to drink from water and other beverages. Food on average contributes 20% of your hydration needs. Most foods have some water content and therefore contribute slightly to your daily hydration needs. Other foods, such as oatmeal and soup, contain a lot of water and are good sources of hydration. Below is a list of some fruits and vegetables with high water content. While other produce provides hydration, these are some of the most common.
|| Serving Size
||Amount of water as percentage of food weight
| Lettuce, green leaf, shredded
|| 1 cup
| Celery, raw
|| 1 medium stalk
| Tomato, raw
|| 1/2 cup
| Grapefruit, white
|| ½ medium
| Watermelon chunks
|| 1 cup
| Broccoli, raw, chopped
|| ½ cup
| Carrot, raw, strips
|| ½ cup
| Apple, with skin
|| 1 medium
Source: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Complete Food and Nutrition Guide, 5th Edition
It’s a good idea to eat water-rich foods and drink fluids at every meal to help you to stay hydrated.
Written by Kathryn Standing
Student Assistant, ISU Dietetics
Welcome to Iowa in August! It’s hot! This time of year, we always go to the Iowa State Fair.
It is easy to over-do it on treats, but I can never resist sharing some funnel cake and lemonade with my family. It can get really hot walking around in the sun. I always make sure we have plenty of sunscreen and water. The recommendation is to drink close to 12 cups of water per day for women and 16 for men. When eating a balanced diet, 20% of you water comes from your food. This means women should drink 9 cups per day and men should drink 12. You need to drink more water when you’re doing activities outside in hot temperatures- such as walking around the Iowa State Fair. You should also try to drink extra in the winter (when there is less moisture in the air), during illness and during exercise.
Try to drink water every 15-20 min when exercising, don’t wait until you are thirsty! When you are thirsty, your body is already dehydrated. If working really hard or doing exercise lasting more than a couple hours, sports drinks could be helpful to replace water and electrolytes. If you are just doing moderate exercise, sports drinks are not necessary.
Other beverages count toward your daily requirement as well. If not drinking water, drink unsweetened drinks such as 100% fruit juice and milk. Coffee and unsweetened tea count too, though caffeine is mildly dehydrating and should be enjoyed in moderation. Best bet is to stick to water as much as possible. It is a good habit to carry a water bottle when you’re on the go and drink a glass with every meal.
In just over a week, my kids will be back in school and my son will start fall soccer. I love that when playing soccer my eight year-old son gets to run around being active. On the other hand, I feel that the snacks that are given to the players after their games could be improved. Often times my son gets a small bottle of sports drink along with donuts or some kind of packaged snack cakes. Even though my son runs when playing soccer, the game is only one hour and he rotates out with other players. Therefore, he isn’t playing for the full hour. Sports drinks are meant to replace sodium and potassium that is lost in sweat when being continuously active for an hour or more or when it is especially hot outside. Otherwise, water works well to keep kids hydrated. We enjoy donuts and other treats occasionally but to teach kids how to better fuel their bodies for activity, here are some other ideas for snacks after a game:
If you sign-up to take snacks for after a game this fall, I’d encourage you to consider taking one of these. You might be surprised at how much the kids enjoy them!
Cranberry Almond Wrap is our August recipe of the month. I like this type of recipe in the summer because it is quick and cool.
In the summer, quick and cool recipes are frequently used in our home. We love spending time outdoors in the summer, so taking time to prepare meals gets cut way back in order to get the most of our outside time. We are almost always hot when we come inside, so a hot meal does not appeal to any of us. My older two children often tell me that they do not want any hot food.
This recipe can be made ahead of time by stirring chicken (that has been cooked and shredded), sliced almonds, diced celery, dried cranberries, and mayo in a bowl and covering it and storing it in the refrigerator until meal time. When it is time to eat, spread the mixture on a tortilla, lettuce leaf, or slice of bread and enjoy! For the chicken, I recommend cooking extra when you have the grill fired up or the oven on. You can store cooked chicken in the refrigerator for up to four days or in the freezer for up to three months.
This month I challenged myself to investigate the pros and cons of individually packaged products. I see everything from pet food to cut veggies to medicine in individually-sized packages these days. Here is what I found as I looked at price, convenience, waste and some other factors related to individually-packaged foods.
- Price: My hunch was that the individual packages would cost more than buying larger containers. Interestingly, this is not always true. For example, I found animal crackers and graham crackers that had the same unit price whether I bought one large box or individual snack packs. Other items like salad dressing and baby carrots were up to 50% more expensive in the individual packages. If you would like to compare prices easily, try out the Unit Price Calculator in our Spend Smart. Eat Smart. App
- Convenience: The little packages are certainly handy. You can grab them for your lunch or a snack on the run with no trouble at all. It is also nice that individually packaged foods stay sealed in their package until you are ready to eat them, which reduces the likelihood of the food losing quality or going stale. Additionally, if you need to bring snacks to a children’s event, you can’t beat them for easy serving to many little hands.
- Waste: Individual packages often mean extra packaging and increased waste. I found this to be true and much of the additional packaging was not the type of plastic that my city will accept for recycling. This bothers me since one of my new year’s resolutions was to reduce the amount of single-use plastic I throw out.
- Some additional considerations: Small packages can help with portion control, which is a nice advantage. However, it is worth noting that some individual packages are larger than a single serving from the larger package. For example, the salad dressing I mentioned above came in little cups that were equivalent to 1 ½ servings from the full-size bottle. In that case, they may contribute to you eating more than you would have otherwise.
Overall, I think I will stick with buying most products in full-size packages. I will try to steal some of the convenience and portion control of the little packages by putting items for snacks and lunches in small reusable containers to start the week. Do you have any foods that you prefer in single-serve packages? Share with us on Facebook or Twitter!