It is July and it is hot! This is the perfect time for our July recipe of the month – Frozen Pudding
Sandwiches. These treats are sure to cool you down on a hot summer day.
Frozen Pudding Sandwiches are like ice cream sandwiches only made with pudding. You simply stir an
instant pudding mix with milk and peanut butter to make a thick, creamy filling that goes in between
two graham cracker squares. Freeze them for about three hours and then they are good to go. They
make a great snack or dessert on a hot day (or any day).
I have made this recipe with both chocolate and vanilla pudding mixes and people like them either way.
However, peanut butter lovers often prefer the vanilla pudding mix and chocolate lovers prefer the
chocolate pudding mix. Also, if you would like to make these, but peanut allergy is a concern, you can
substitute sunbutter or another nut butter.
We are starting to get a few days of beautiful weather here in Iowa and for me that means firing up the grill! I love to cook food on my grill and one of my favorites is salmon. I have heard from several friends that they are unsure about cooking fish at home and sometimes they are concerned about food safety and seafood. Today I have rounded up some top safety tips related to seafood to help you feel confident cooking fish at home.
- Choose fish that has been kept at a safe temperature. In Iowa, that often means that fish is frozen when we buy it. Frozen fish is often very high quality and some fish in the fresh case at my store was previously frozen. Fish should smell mild. Flesh should be firm and eyes should be clear on whole fish. When buying frozen fish, choose packages that are free of frost.
- Wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling raw fish and keep raw fish separate from ready-to-eat foods. Clean surfaces and kitchen tools that touched raw fish with hot soapy water.
- If you plan to eat your fish within two days, you can store it in the refrigerator. If it will be longer before you eat it, store it in the freezer. You can defrost fish in the microwave, but for the best results, thaw fish in the refrigerator overnight.
- Cook fish to 145 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Cooked fish is safe at room temperature for up to two hours unless the temperature is above 90 degrees Fahrenheit. On very hot days, refrigerate fish within one hour.
- If you enjoy fishing, put fish you plan to eat in a cooler of ice immediately.
The Food and Drug Administration has a helpful website related to keeping seafood safe. I hope these tips help you feel confident cooking seafood at home. Next week Justine will share some information related to serving seafood to children. Please share your favorite seafood dishes on our social media!
I am going to focus today on canned and frozen fruits and vegetables. I buy these at every trip to the grocery store because:
- They are quick and easy to prepare. I can open a can, drain, heat (for vegetables), and serve. Or, I can thaw and serve frozen fruits and vegetables.
- My family loves them. I am lucky because my family will eat up canned and frozen fruits and vegetables every time I serve them.
- They are nutritious. They have vitamins, minerals, and fiber. I try to buy canned fruits packed in juice and unsweetened frozen fruit to reduce added sugars. I also rinse canned vegetables and buy frozen vegetables without sauces to reduce added sodium.
So, how do I use unit pricing to get the best buy on these fruits and vegetables? I divide the price by the ounce weight of the package. Here are some recent prices I found at a local grocery store.
$0.07 per ounce
$0.15 per ounce
$0.07 per ounce
$0.15 per ounce
$0.06 per ounce
$0.07 per ounce
$0.05 per ounce
$0.06 per ounce
All of these items are inexpensive per ounce, but canned costs a little less than frozen. Prices will vary from week to week and sometimes I need canned or frozen for a particular recipe, so my grocery cart looks different each week. We have had fun with unit pricing and we hope you have too. Let us know about your adventures with unit pricing!
As a dietitian I’m often asked which is better, fresh, canned, or frozen vegetables? My response is they all have benefits and can all fit into a healthy eating plan.
You want to buy fresh vegetables when they are in season. They cost less and are likely to be at their peak flavor. However, when not in season, frozen or canned versions are often a smarter buy. For example, buy fresh sweet corn in the summer but frozen or canned corn during other months.
Commercially frozen vegetables are frozen within hours of picking. Therefore, their flavor is retained and nutrient loss is reduced. Buy plain frozen vegetables instead of those with special sauces or seasonings, which can add calories, fat and sodium, as well as cost.
Canned vegetables tend to be the least expensive. And if you don’t end up using them, they won’t go bad quickly. When buying canned vegetables, buy those that have reduced or no sodium. Or drain and rinse regular canned vegetables to reduce the sodium.
When deciding whether to buy fresh, canned or frozen vegetables, here are a few questions to ask yourself:
- Which kind of vegetable is most appropriate for your needs? If you are making a soup or stew, canned tomatoes might make more sense than fresh.
- How much waste is there? If you are buying fresh carrots or broccoli, consider that you’ll pay for the entire weight, but you’ll throw away the stems/peels. You’ll need to have a plan to eat fresh vegetables before they spoil while frozen and canned vegetables can be stored for longer periods of time.
- How much time will it save overall? Don’t just consider the cooking time but preparation and clean up as well. If your schedule for the week is busy, you might decide to use frozen or canned vegetables if they will save you time.
When I step up to the meat counter at the grocery store, I get a little nervous. There are dozens of choices, a wide range of prices, and a smiling person waiting patiently on the other side of the counter. I do my best to come into this situation prepared, but it can still be nerve wracking. This week and next week, I am going to write a little bit about how I make decisions about what to buy at the meat counter when I go grocery shopping.
Here are some of the things I do before visiting the meat counter:
- Check out what I have on hand. I like to see what I have on hand and then decide what meat I can buy to go along with it. Right now, I have a lot of potatoes from my family’s garden, so I would like to get some meat that I can put on the grill along with the potatoes.
- Check the grocery ads. I like to see what is available at a reasonable price before I go to the store. It does not mean I am locked into buying what is in the ads, but it does give me an idea of what meat might fit into my budget.
- Check my freezer space. I like to freeze meat when I can get it at a good price. The grocery store where I shop occasionally sells ground beef and chicken hindquarters in large quantities. These are meats my family eats a lot of, so, if I have the freezer space, I will buy the larger quantities at the discounted price and then freeze them in smaller portions for another week. Some grocery stores also sell meat bundles – these may be a good deal if you have the freezer space (and the money) available.
- Check my schedule. I like to take time to cook a great meal for my family, but time is not always on my side. The meat I purchase has to fit into my family’s schedule for the week. If it is going to be a busy week, I usually look for a whole chicken or a roast that I can cook on the weekend and then use the leftovers to make quick meals the rest of the week. If we have more time, I will plan to grill or try a new recipe.
Shopping at the meat counter can be intimidating, but planning ahead can help a lot. If you have suggestions for planning ahead that I missed here, please let me know in the comments.