When it is smoothie night at my house, my children get so excited. Mostly because they love smoothies, but also because they love to help make smoothies. If you are trying to get your children involved in the kitchen, our February recipe of the month – Berry and Greens Smoothie – is a great place to start.
My oldest children are 6 and 4, so I let them peel and cut up the bananas and measure and add everything into the blender. My son enjoys turning the blender on and off, while my daughter hides in her bedroom when it is blender time (it is too loud for her). An older child would be able to prepare this recipe on their own with a little help from an adult to gather the ingredients, double check amounts, and keep an eye on blender safety.
In addition to being a great way to involve children in the kitchen, this smoothie recipe has many benefits:
- It includes three food groups (fruit, vegetables, and dairy) in one glass, so it is packed with nutrition.
- It makes a perfect snack or it can go along with any meal.
- It freezes easily, so you can have smoothies available in your freezer for a quick breakfast. Find out more here.
- It tastes delicious and can be made any time of the year because the ingredients are always available in the grocery store.
- It looks beautiful because of the rich, dark colors added by the berries.
Please try our Berry and Greens Smoothie today.
Over the past several months the Spend Smart. Eat Smart. team has been working behind the scenes to update and improve our website. Our goal was to make the site more modern, simpler to navigate and functional on all of your devices. We are proud to share that our new website is live and ready for your use.
The new mobile-friendly website is home to:
- More than 150 recipes that are delicious, inexpensive and easy to prepare
- How-to videos featuring recipes, kitchen organization tips and basic food prep techniques
- Strategies for saving money in each part of the grocery store
- Meal planning templates and resources
The web address has changed to spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu. Attempts to access the site at its old address will automatically redirect to the new site.
Join in on the fun with tasty eating and savvy shopping – visit Spend Smart. Eat Smart. today!
Thanksgiving is coming up soon and we want our November recipe of the month to make your Thanksgiving menu. Traditional Thanksgiving stuffing can be high in calories and sodium and low on vitamins and minerals. Our Stuffing with Vegetables flips that around for a side dish that is lower in calories and sodium and filled with vegetables that provide vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
A bag of frozen vegetables is combined with margarine, a low sodium stuffing mix, low-sodium chicken broth, and garlic powder. Microwave the mixture for 10 minutes and you have a perfect Thanksgiving side dish. Adding vegetables to the stuffing mix adds more than just nutrients. The vegetables also add flavor and bright colors that will complement the other foods on your Thanksgiving plate.
I hope you enjoy this recipe and have a Happy Thanksgiving!
You know the saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” It’s not hard to enjoy a nice crisp, juicy apple this time of year when apples are in season and there are so many options to choose from. However, if you’d like to jazz up your apples a bit, here are some of our favorite apple recipes from Spend Smart. Eat Smart.
Hurry Up Baked Apples
Crunchy Apple Roll-Up
Check out the blog from last week to help you decide which apples to use for each recipe.
Our recipe this month is Not Your Average Steak Sandwich. I am a huge fan of steak, but the steak is not the star of this recipe. To make this sandwich above average it is topped with sautéed onions and fresh spinach. The onions add delicious flavor and aroma to the sandwiches while the spinach adds refreshing crunch and nutrition.
Keep in mind that beef prices fluctuate, so, if steak is not in your price range right now, hold on to this recipe until you find a good deal. If you find a good price on steak while the weather is nice, grill the steak for these sandwiches. However, if you do not have a grill or if it is too cold outside, the steak can be sliced and fried in the same pan used to sauté the onions.
Not Your Average Steak Sandwich
Serving Size: 1 sandwich
Cost Per Serving: $1.87
- 1 medium onion, cut into slices or rings
- 2 1/2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 pound lean steak, sliced into strips
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1 1/4 cups spinach
- 5 whole wheat hamburger buns
- Heat a small pan to medium. Spray with nonstick cooking spray. Add onions and sprinkle with sugar. Cook for 5–7 minutes or until golden brown, stirring occasionally. Remove onions from pan. Cover with foil to keep warm.
- Put the steak in the pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook the steak on both sides until heated through to 145°F.
- Assemble the sandwich:
- Place 1/4 cup spinach on one side of the hamburger bun.
- Place 1/5 of the steak on top of the spinach.
- Place 1/4 cup caramelized onions on top of the steak.
- Top with other half of bun.
- When it is nice outside, grill the steaks instead of frying.
- Toast the buns right before putting the sandwiches together.
- Use the leftover spinach to make a Whole Meal Salad for lunch the next day.
- Add cheese to make it like a Philly cheesesteak sandwich.
Today I would like to introduce you to one of my favorite Spend Smart. Eat Smart recipes – Zesty Whole Grain Salad. A student shared the inspiration for this recipe with me, and, once I tasted it, I was hooked. I ate it for lunch nearly every day for weeks.
This salad makes a perfect lunch, and this is why:
- It tastes great with the sweet and tangy homemade salad dressing.
- The fiber, protein, and fat will fill you up and keep you full.
- It is easy to pack into smaller containers for lunches on the go.
- You get fruit, vegetables, protein, and whole grains in one bowl.
- It simplifies lunch planning for the week because it makes a lot and it stores well in the refrigerator. So you and your family can eat it for three or four days.
Zesty Whole Grain Salad
Serving Size: 6 | Serves: 1 1/2 cups | Cost Per Serving: $1.43
- 2 cups cooked whole grain (brown rice, kamut™, quinoa)
- 2 tablespoons oil (canola or vegetable)
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 apples, chopped
- 1/2 cup chopped nuts (pecans, walnuts)
- 1/2 cup dried fruit (cranberries, cherries, raisins)
- 1 bunch kale or 10-ounce package spinach (about 6 cups), torn into bite-sized pieces
- Cook whole grain according to package directions. Cool.
- In a large bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, honey, salt, and pepper.
- Stir apples, nuts, dried fruit, and whole grain into dressing.
- Toss greens with other ingredients.
- Substitute 2 cups of chopped fruit (strawberries, grapes, oranges) for the apples.
- Do not give honey and nuts to infants under one year of age.
At the grocery store where I shop, they often have canned pineapple on special. It is usually a great deal on a great tasting and nutritious fruit. My family loves canned pineapple as a side dish for any meal, so I buy it often. My husband and son even like to drain the juice off and save it to drink later. Our April recipe is a new way to use canned pineapple – as a snack cake.
A 20 ounce can of crushed pineapple is drained and patted dry then mixed with typical muffin ingredients and baked to make Pineapple Snack Cakes. These snack cakes are versatile and can be used as a snack, side dish, or dessert. Next time you find a deal on crushed pineapple, try out this Pineapple Snack Cake recipe!
Pineapple Snack Cakes
Serving Size: 1 muffin
- 1 can (20 ounces) crushed pineapple in 100% juice
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 3/4 cup all purpose white flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 3 tablespoons oil (canola or vegetable)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 eggs
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a muffin tin with liners or spray with cooking spray.
- Drain juice from the pineapple into a cup or bowl. Save the juice for step 4. Dab pineapple with a paper towel to dry.
- Whisk whole wheat flour, all purpose white flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl.
- Beat sugar, oil, vanilla, and 1/4 cup of the saved pineapple juice until combined. Beat in eggs. Stir in the crushed pineapple.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Stir until just combined. Divide the batter into the muffin tins.
- Bake until the snack cakes are golden and a tester inserted into the center of a snack cake comes out clean, about 18–20 minutes.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
- Pineapple Snack Cakes are great as a side dish to any meal or as a snack.
- Use pineapple tidbits or chunks instead of crushed pineapple. Drain well and finely chop.
- Sprinkle 1/2 cup of coconut or walnuts on top of each snack cake before baking.
- Save extra pineapple juice to add to a salad dressing, fruit salad, or smoothie.
My husband gets excited this time of year for fish sandwiches. He loves that he can get a deal on fish sandwiches at one of his favorite fast food restaurants. A few years ago, I decided to try to make a homemade fish sandwich that would be heathier, less expensive, and tastier than his fast food favorite.
The recipe I came up with is our March recipe of the month. You simply coat fish in a mixture of cornmeal and seasonings and lightly pan fry it in a small amount of oil. Top with your favorite sandwich toppings and enjoy! At 300 calories and 10 grams of fat (the fast food version is 390 calories and 19 grams of fat) and less than a dollar a sandwich, I know that I succeeded in making a healthier and less expensive sandwich. I think this sandwich is tastier than the fast food version, but I suspect that my husband still likes the deep fat fried version better. I hope that after trying this recipe, you will agree with me!
Serving Size: 4
- 2 tablespoons oil (canola or vegetable)
- 1/4 cup cornmeal
- 4 frozen filets (about 3 ounces each) of white fish (tilapia), thawed
- 4 hamburger buns
- Optional sandwich toppings: sliced onions and tomatoes, leaf lettuce, light ranch dressing or tartar sauce
- Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat until hot. Spread the cornmeal on a plate and press the fish into the cornmeal to coat on all sides.
- Fry the fish in the hot oil until the cornmeal is lightly browned. This will take about 2–3 minutes on each side. Fish is done when the internal temperature reaches 145˚F or it flakes easily with a fork.
- Move the fish from the frying pan to a plate lined with paper towels. Pat the fish dry with more paper towels.
- Assemble sandwiches with your favorite toppings.
- Thaw fish in the refrigerator overnight.
- For more flavor, mix 1 teaspoon seasoning with cornmeal before coating fish. Seasoning might be lemon pepper, pepper, garlic powder, or chili powder.
- Make homemade tartar sauce. Stir light mayo or salad dressing with pickle relish.
It is time for a confession. Until we started testing this new recipe for stuffed peppers, I had never made a vegetable stuffed with anything. It always seemed too fancy to me and it looked like a lot of work. After testing this recipe quite a few times, I realized that it is not a lot of work to make stuffed peppers, it is actually pretty easy. It also tastes great and looks really nice, so maybe I was right on the fancy part.
My favorite thing about this recipe is that the filling can be made in advance. To make the filling, cook ground sausage or beef; then add seasoning, sauce, rice, and cheese. This filling can then go right into pepper halves to bake or it can be saved for another time. You can save the filling in the refrigerator for up to four days. You can save it in the freezer for up to three months. The best thing about making the filling ahead of time is that you can make as many, or as few, stuffed peppers as you need. For example, if you have a family of four, you could make four stuffed peppers right away and then save the filling for the other four for another day.
I hope you will not wait long to try out our Stuffed Pepper recipe.
Serving Size: 1 stuffed pepper half
- 1/2 pound ground Italian sausage, turkey sausage, or beef
- 1 onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
- 1 can (15 ounces) spaghetti sauce
- 3 cups cooked brown rice
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (divided)
- 4 green or red peppers (softball size)
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Sauté sausage and onion in a large skillet over medium heat until browned and cooked to 155°F. Pour off any fat.
- Stir in oregano, spaghetti sauce, rice, and 1/2 cup cheese.
- Wash peppers, cut in half lengthwise, and remove seeds. Arrange in a 9×13-inch baking dish.
- Spoon sausage mixture into the peppers, mounding on the top.
- Cover with foil. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup cheese on top. Continue to cook another 10 minutes.
- Do not pour fat down the drain. Pour fat from sausage into a bowl. Place bowl in refrigerator until hard and then spoon into the trash.
- To make smaller meals, freeze filling in three or four portions. When ready to eat, thaw a portion and bake in two or three pepper halves.
I always look forward to fall, it is my favorite season. I enjoy watching the harvest come in and I like that the weather cools down. I also enjoy putting my soup recipes back into my menu rotation. Our recipe of the month for September is Vegetable Pasta Soup.
Here are the reasons I love to include soup in the menu rotation for the cooler months:
- It is loaded with vegetables. Many people do not eat enough vegetables, and eating a bowl of soup is an easy way to get the vegetables we need.
- It freezes well. I value recipes that freeze well because they make future meal prep so much easier. I freeze individual servings for lunches and I freeze larger batches for a quick evening or weekend meal.
- It is versatile. I do not need to make this recipe the same way twice, so no one gets bored with the same old thing. The vegetables and seasonings can be changed and adjusted based on what I have on hand and what is on sale at the grocery store. And, if I want to add protein to this soup, I simply need to add in a can of beans or some leftover chopped meat. A note of caution if you do change things up with this recipe, watch it closely because you may need to add water.
Try our Vegetable Pasta Soup – it may just make its way in to your menu plans for the cool fall and cold winter ahead.
Vegetable Pasta Soup
Serving Size: 1 1/2 cups | Serves: 8
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 4 cups chopped or sliced vegetables (like onions, carrots, and zucchini)
- 1 can (14 1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes with green chilies
- 1 can (14 1/2 ounces) low sodium vegetable or chicken broth
- 2 cups water
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning or dried basil
- 2 cups small whole wheat pasta (shell or macaroni)
- 6 cups fresh spinach leaves (about 1/2 pound), thoroughly washed (or kale, collard greens, or 10 ounces of frozen spinach)
- Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until hot. Add onions and carrots. Cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are softened. This should take about 3 minutes.
- Stir in zucchini and canned tomatoes. Cook 3 to 4 minutes.
- Stir in the broth, water, salt, and Italian seasoning or dried basil. Bring to a boil.
- Stir in the pasta and spinach. Return to a boil.
- Cook until the pasta is tender, using the time on the package for a guide.
Notes: Prewashed or ready to eat spinach does not have to be washed. Use plain diced tomatoes for less spiciness.
- Soup freezes well.
- Use washed and diced garden tomatoes and homemade broth if they are available. Keep cut tomatoes cold until you need them.
- Wash fresh vegetables under running water before preparing.