White Bean Dip

Our May recipe of the month is White Bean Dip. Last month, our recipe was Spicy Tuna Salad and, along with that recipe, I shared about using shelf stable sources of protein. I keep coming back to this topic as I see less meat available during my (on-line) grocery trips. 

As the weather warms up, my family likes to eat simple meals so we can get back outside and play. Our White Bean Dip served with crackers and vegetable slices makes a quick and tasty lunch alongside some slices of cheese and fruit.  Here are some other ideas for quick meals that use beans as a shelf stable protein:

The best thing about all of these recipes is that you can make them when you have a little free time and then they are ready to go whenever you need them. 

Enjoy!

white bean dip
Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover

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

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What’s Cooking at Christine’s House

On Monday, I shared my approach to planning meals. The strategy I use allows me to make good use of what I have and minimize trips out for groceries. I maintain a list of what I have on hand and I arrange it by food group so that I can make improvised meals and recipes by pulling from each part of the list. I also create some detail within the lists like separating out fresh vegetables from frozen or canned ones. This allows me to spot which items I should eat first to prevent waste.

Here are some examples of improvised meals I can create from my current list. 

  • I have spinach, various veggies and canned beans to make chopped salads for lunch.
  • I can make a Mediterranean-inspired chicken and rice bowl with grilled chicken, spinach, brown rice and feta cheese. 
  • I have tuna, celery, onions and whole wheat bread. Sounds like tuna salad to me!
  • I have fresh veggies, frozen peas and whole wheat pasta to make a tasty pasta primavera. 

My list also helps me think about what recipes I can prepare. I can see that I have all of the ingredients for Scrambled Egg Muffins. I like having these in my refrigerator right now so I can have a healthy breakfast instead of just snacking through the morning. I also have everything for Quick Pad Thai. This tasty meal comes together quickly and uses mostly staple ingredients. Cook Quick Pad Thai along with me!

Happy Cooking!
Christine

Quick Pad Thai

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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What is Justine Cooking?

On Monday, I shared how my family is working together on the planning and cooking of meals during this strange time. Today I would like to share with you some of the meals we are relying on right now. 

The most important factor for us in planning meals is making sure there will be leftovers. Since we are now feeding five people for lunch in addition to breakfast and supper, we are taking advantage of those leftovers.

Here are some Spend Smart. Eat Smart. recipes I am using:

  • Broiled Salmon – Leftover fish is versatile, it can be used in sandwiches, wraps, or a stir fry. 
  • Easy Roasted Veggies – I have been doubling roasted veggies because they taste so good when reheated and they are an easy vegetable to add to any meal.
  • Banana Oatmeal Bread – I have been making banana bread weekly. We can make it for supper with scrambled eggs one night and have the leftover bread for breakfast and snacks the next day.
  • Skillet Lasagna – We can eat from a pan of skillet lasagna for three meals, especially if we add a side salad and garlic bread. 
  • Vegetable Quesadillas – I usually make 6 to 8 of these at a time, they come together quickly and they reheat well.

I would love to hear what you are cooking right now!

Skillet Lasagna
Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover

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

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Cooperative Meal Planning

Meal planning and cooking have become a team effort at our house while we are social distancing. My husband and I are balancing work and teaching our three children from home. This usually means that one of us is working while the other is caring for the children. This also means that one of us is usually working right up until mealtime so the other person is responsible for meal prep. With this alternating schedule, we have had to work together to make sure our meals are planned. We have had fun creating meals by balancing his strength of getting meals on the table quickly and my strength of cooking from scratch.

I have been shopping for enough groceries to last us a little over two weeks at a time, so we have started sitting down together every few days to evaluate our meal plan. We double-check the pantry, refrigerator, and freezer to see what we still have on hand. Then we write down, on a sticky note, what meals will work well for the next few days. The person who is making the meal gets to pick from the list what they want to make.  

When it is my turn to cook, I have started taking votes from the children about which meal they want me to make. Usually someone is disappointed, but they know we can make their choice for the next meal. My children have also become more focused helpers in the kitchen. They do not have the typical distractions (friends, grandparents) that cause them to run off in the middle of helping. I enjoy having an extra set (or two) of hands in the kitchen with me.

While I look forward to the future when I can make weekly grocery trips and meal plans again, I hope my family can continue this cooperative style of planning and cooking that we have started.

Couple cooking
Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover

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

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All about Peppers

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.

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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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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Simple Apple Dessert

simple-apple-dessert-web“What’s for dessert?”  That is a question I hear a lot at my home.  Thankfully, my children are usually satisfied with a dish of fruit for their dessert. But, sometimes they want something special – something a little sweeter to top off their meal.  Our October recipe of the month, Simple Apple Dessert, makes that fruit special.

Simple Apple Dessert combines two of my children’s favorite foods, fruit and yogurt, into a tasty and quick dessert.  Simply microwave chopped apples with caramel syrup.  Top the cooked apples with yogurt and toasted nuts and you have a sweet way to top off your meal.

http://www.extension.iastate.edu/foodsavings/recipes/simple-apple-dessert

Enjoy!

Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover

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

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Confetti Rice and Bean Salad

Confetti Rice and Bean SaladHappy Labor Day from the Spend Smart. Eat Smart. team!  Our September recipe of the month is perfect for a Labor Day picnic – Confetti Rice and Bean Salad.

A delicious homemade lime salad dressing tops fresh tomatoes, carrots, and onions along with frozen corn and (as the name says) brown rice and beans.   This recipe makes a great side dish on its own or as a dip served with tortilla chips.  It can also be served as a main dish – wrapped in a tortilla or lettuce leaf.  No matter how you serve it, have fun with this recipe by using different types of beans and vegetables.

http://www.extension.iastate.edu/foodsavings/recipes/confetti-rice-and-bean-salad

Enjoy!

Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover

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

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Produce Basics

Produce Basics - PeppersHave you ever wondered how to peel a kiwi or how to prepare a fresh beet? Are you not sure how to store or prepare fresh produce from the farmers market or grocery store? We’re with you! It can be tricky to manage fresh fruits and vegetables that you’re not used to eating at home.

The Spend Smart. Eat Smart. team has put together a collection of Produce Basics handouts that describe how to wash, store and prepare common fruits and vegetables.

Whether you’re looking to clean your kale and collard greens or bake some sweet potato fries, Produce Basics can be your guide. Check out the collection today!

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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