Last week Justine introduced you to the new feature on our website called Pantry Picks and shared some ways to use whole wheat bread. I am excited about this new collection of resources because it highlights how we can make the best use of ingredients that are inexpensive, long-lasting and really easy to prepare. This week I’m highlighting our Pantry Pick on whole wheat tortillas.
We use a fair amount of tortillas in my house. We like Mexican flavored foods so I make a number of meals using whole wheat tortillas. And if I need a quick lunch or supper for my kids, they often choose a simple cheese quesadilla. My son prefers a white flour tortilla for his quesadilla but will eat the whole wheat tortillas for other meals.
Here are a few ways to use whole wheat tortillas:
This week try a new recipe using whole wheat tortillas!
Back in 2013, I wrote a blog comparing the cost and nutrition of different vegetable oils. That blog was recently shared by a national outlet and it received a lot of attention. As a result, we got a lot of questions related to what type of fat or oil is best to use so we thought it was time to write another blog on that topic.
When talking about fats and oils, it helps to define each term. Solid fats are fats that are solid at room temperature like butter or lard. Solid fats mainly come from animal foods. Oils are fats that are liquid at room temperature, like canola or olive oil. Oils come from many different plants and from fish. However, coconut, palm, and palm kernel oils (tropical oils) are solid at room temperature because they have high amounts of saturated fatty acids. Therefore, they are classified as a solid fat rather than as an oil.
All fats and oils are a mixture of saturated fatty acids and unsaturated fatty acids (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated). Solid fats contain more saturated fats and/or trans fats than oils. Saturated fats and trans fats tend to raise LDL cholesterol levels in the blood, which in turn increases the risk of heart disease. Here is a chart that shows the different amounts of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids in different types of solid fats and oils.
*Information from the USDA National Nutrient Database https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/search/list?home=true
There has been some research lately that has led some people to believe that saturated fats aren’t as harmful as once thought. Along with that, coconut oil is widely promoted as having many health benefits. However, in July 2017 the American Heart Association issued an advisory recommending against using coconut oil. Analysis of more than 100 published research studies reaffirmed that saturated fats raise LDL cholesterol. In addition, seven controlled trials showed that coconut oil raised LDL levels.
To learn how much oil is recommended for you, visit https://www.choosemyplate.gov/oils. Currently, most Americans eat more solid fat than recommended while consuming fewer oils than recommended. Therefore, the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend shifting from solid fats to oils. This includes using oils (except tropical oils like coconut oil) in place of solid fats when cooking. And to increase the intake of foods that naturally contain oils, such as seafood and nuts, in place of some meat and poultry. This week for an evening meal you might consider making the Broiled Salmon Justine shared at the beginning of the month!
A few weeks ago, I mentioned that I rarely ate fish growing up. However, fish is a favorite of my children. We usually eat it for dinner once a week.
You may be wondering if I am worried about my children being exposed to mercury in the fish I feed them. The answer is no because I choose fish that the EPA and FDA have designated safe to eat including cod, pollock, salmon, and tilapia. This chart has great advice on the appropriate types and amounts of fish for children and pregnant women. It is safe for children ages 2 years and older to eat one or two servings of fish per week. Eating fish may even have lifelong health benefits. These include brain function and prevention of chronic disease.
Adding fish, or any food, to the menu at home can be tricky. Family members of all ages may not be comfortable with new foods. Here are some of the things I try:
- Stick with it for the long haul. The more they see the food, the more likely they are to try it (and like it). It may take weeks, months, or years, but they will eventually try it.
- Serve it with other things they like. Favorite side dishes can make a new food more appealing. * Serve it as part of a mixed dish. Our Fish and Noodle Skillet is a great way to include fish with other tasty foods your family members may like.
Try adding fish to your weekly menu. Let us know how it goes!
Last week our blog was all about buying yogurt. This week we have a tasty recipe using yogurt as the main ingredient – Vegetable Dip. This recipe is very helpful at my house because my youngest son will not eat vegetables unless he has something to dip them in. I like this recipe better than ranch dressing or store bought dip because the yogurt adds some nutrition to those vegetables that he would not get otherwise.
This recipe is so easy – all you have to do is combine plain yogurt with some seasonings. Make sure that you let this dip rest in the refrigerator overnight. This rest time gives the flavors from the seasonings time to mingle together. The hardest part of this recipe is slicing the vegetables to dip in it!
Find the full recipe here.
Last week, I shared our homemade taco seasoning mix. This week, I would like to share our homemade dried onion soup mix. This dried onion soup mix is useful in seasoning soups, dips, and meats. To make this mix, stir together dried minced onion, sodium free beef bouillon granules, onion powder, and sugar and store in an airtight container for up to six months.
This mix makes the equivalent of three packages of store bought dried onion soup mix. This homemade mix is more expensive than the store bought version. Homemade costs $3.72 for the equivalent of three packages and the store bought is $0.72 for two packages. However, the extra cost is more than balanced out by the savings in sodium. The homemade version has 15 mg of sodium in 1/3 cup (about the same as one store bought package) while the store bought version has 4,560 mg of sodium in one package, which is 570 mg of sodium per serving.
The savings in sodium in this mix is important because reducing sodium consumption has health impacts. Find more information about the connection between sodium and high blood pressure here and sodium for children here.
Try our homemade Dried Onion Soup Mix in our Slow Cooker Roast or any other recipe that calls for dried onion soup mix.
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!
Our June recipe of the month, Black Bean Burgers, is sure to surprise you. My children love these burgers and eat them just the same as they would a burger made with ground meat.
I make these burgers for my family again and again, and here is why:
- They are inexpensive – using beans as a substitute for ground meat saves us money.
- They are quick in a pinch – on nights when we are busy or time gets away from me, I can make these burgers in about 15 minutes. I try to keep a can of black beans in my pantry for times like this.
- They are easy – mash the ingredients together with a fork, form them into patties, and cook them in a skillet.
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.
Our May recipe of the month is sure to get you in the mood for spring produce if you are not already. A salad of spring greens (spinach, leaf lettuce, or Swiss chard), chopped spring vegetables (broccoli or snow peas), and chopped spring fruit (strawberries or pineapple) tastes delicious with our homemade Orange Dressing.
Our homemade Orange Dressing is made of ingredients that are easily found in most kitchens. This recipe needs only four ingredients – orange juice, vinegar, sugar, and oil. Pour them into a container with a tight fitting lid and shake until the ingredients are combined. Then use this tasty dressing to top a salad made with your favorite springtime produce.
Orange Dressing with Fruit and Greens
Yes, we do! Spend Smart. Eat Smart. is now available as an app. The brand new, free mobile app puts healthy eating and cost saving tools in the palm of your hand at the grocery store. These new tools on the app make it easier to eat healthy and stick to your budget.
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