Thirsty?

As the weather starts getting warmer, having something cold and tasty to drink is on my mind a lot.  After taking my dog for a walk, playing with my son at the park, or working in the yard, I am thirsty for something cold.  The water that comes out of the tap is just not cold enough, so what is a girl to do?

When we are thirsty, water really is the perfect choice.  It keeps us hydrated and healthy, it has no calories, and it is inexpensive.  Here is a comparison of some drinks I found (costs are from Central Iowa, April 2012):

Beverage Calories Per 8 ounces Grams of Sugar per 8 ounces Cost Per Gallon
Tap Water 0 0 $0.00435
Bottled Water 0 0 $1.57
Sugar-Free Drink Mix 2 0 $2.59
Sports Drink 50 14 $4.19
Regular Soda 100 27 $4.44
Diet Soda 0 0 $4.44
Bottled Tea 0-90 0-23 $8.32
Energy Drink 0-140 0-31 $13.48
Orange Juice 110 24 $7.61
100% Fruit Juice 120 29 $7.64
Lemonade (from mix) 60 16 $1.50
Juice Boxes 90 21 $4.80
Reduced Fat Chocolate Milk 180 24 $4.17

If plain water is not for you, here are a few ideas to try:

  • Freeze juice in ice cube trays and cool down your glass of water with flavored ice cubes.
  • Put cut up fruit in a pitcher of water in the refrigerator – the flavor of the fruit will flavor the water.  Oranges, lemons, limes, kiwi and berries work really well for this.
  • Put water in a special cup or water bottle and store it in the refrigerator so it is easy to grab in a hurry.  Sometimes water tastes great plain when it is in a special cup.
  • Add low-calorie drink mixes (such as Crystal Light) to your water.

Check out choosemyplate.gov this May through August to see what the USDA is doing to promote drinking water instead of sugary drinks.

Justine Hoover, MS, RD, LD

Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover

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

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Holiday Fruit Salad

This month we are featuring the Holiday Fruit Salad recipe.  This salad is great anytime, and looks so good and tastes so fresh it is perfect for special meals.

Here are some tips if you would like to try it now to see if you want to include it for your holiday meals.

  • Use any canned, frozen, or fresh fruit.  When you combine different fruit colors and shapes I think the salad looks more interesting.
  • If you want to use fresh fruit, consider oranges, grapefruit, tangerines, pears, pomegranates, apples and papayas because they are plentiful or “in season” in the winter months and usually cost less.   (Bananas are also a good buy year round.)
  • The fruit can either be arranged on the plate with the sauce drizzled over the top, or for a faster version, just combine the cut up fruit with the cooled sauce and serve.
  • The juice in the recipe adds flavor and nutrients, but you can get by without it.
  • You can vary the color and flavor of the sauce by using different flavors of gelatin.  One package of gelatin mix makes enough for 2 salads. Store and label the leftover gelatin for the next time you want to dress up your fruit.

I like this recipe because it looks special, but does not add a lot of sugar and fat (i.e. calories) to the fruit.

I would love to know how it works for you.

Holiday Fruit Salad

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (1/2 small package) dry sugar-free favored gelatin (any favor/color)
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3/4 cup orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons lemon or lime juice (optional)
  • 1 or 2 packets non-caloric sweetener or 2 to 3 teaspoons sugar (optional)
  • 4 cups cut-up fruit (apple, orange, kiwi, banana)
  • Optional garnish: Pomegranate seeds

Instructions

  1. For sauce, stir cornstarch and gelatin together in a small saucepan. Add water and stir to dissolve. Add the orange juice and, if desired, the lemon or lime juice.
  2. Cook over medium heat until mixture begins to boil. Stir constantly to prevent sticking and burning.
  3. Gently boil for 1 minute. Cool completely. Stir in sweetener or sugar, if desired.
  4. Arrange fruit on plates and pour sauce on top. Or pour cooled sauce over cut-up fruit in a bowl and stir to coat.
  5. Chill until ready to serve.

Citrus fruits “in season” now!

Have you noticed that oranges are frequently on sale at this time of the year? That’s because oranges are “in season,” meaning this is the harvest time for citrus fruits. Right now they taste the best, and cost the least, compared to other times of the year. Other fruits that are “in season” now are grapefruits, apples, bananas, and grapes. Knowing this schedule and planning ahead a bit can be a big boon to your food budget.

But when you get to the store, you still have lots of choices. You need to use unit pricing to figure cost. To do this, you divide the cost by the unit. The unit for the oranges is either pounds, or the number or count. Here are some prices I found.

1

10 for $2.00

.20 each  ($2.00/10= $.20)

2

4# bag for $1.99

.17 each or .50 a pound. There are 3+ oranges in a pound. You really need to count the oranges, but at 3 oranges in 1 pound there would be 12 oranges in 4#, so the cost per orange is 17 cents.

3

3 oranges for $2

.66 each. These oranges were the same size as all the others. I couldn’t find any reason to pay 3 times more than the oranges in #1 that were 10 for $2.00.

4

10# bag for $4.99

.25 each or .50 cents a pound. These were bigger oranges and there were 20 oranges so this added to the cost per orange.

5

4 pounds for $2.49

12 oranges in 4 pounds, so .21 each or .62 a pound.

6

5# Clementines for $5.98

Clementines are about half the size of oranges. There are about 6 clementines in a pound. A 5# box would have around 30 which cost $1 a pound or .20 each.

Clementines are mandarin oranges. The exterior is a deep orange color with a smooth, glossy appearance. They separate easily into seven to fourteen segments and are very easy to peel, like a tangerine, but are almost always seedless. Clementines are also known as seedless tangerines. Cuties are a trademark of California mandarin oranges.

Unit pricing only reflects the cost, not the quality or taste. You might like the flavor of Clementines better than oranges, or your kids might be willing to peel and eat them for a snack. In my book, this would make them a good buy.

A publication from Texas A and M has details on Safe Handling of Fresh Oranges.

-pointers by Peggy

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