Tasty Summer Treat

With temperatures outside steadily rising, my family and I love to finish the day with a cold summer treat. As a parent, any dessert that I can make that incorporates fruit and doesn’t contain a lot of extra sugar is a win!

A favorite treat at our house is Magical Fruit Salad. I love how versatile this recipe is- you can use whatever fruit and pudding mix you have on hand to make some yummy combinations! I have made this recipe with a mix of berries, diced oranges, and peaches. If you don’t have any fresh fruit on hand you can also use canned or frozen. A personal favorite at our house is a spinoff of a banana split. I use banana or chocolate pudding mix with diced strawberries, banana chunks, and pitted cherries. Experimenting with different combinations of pudding and fruit has been a great way for our 21-month old to try new fruit.

Magical Fruit Salad is a fun alternative to ice cream and popsicles, especially when you are looking for a cold treat to beat the summer heat. This recipe is quick and can be ready to eat within minutes of mixing your ingredients. I like to divide the recipe batch into mini mason jars and place in the fridge for a few hours before serving. This is by far my family’s perfect summer treat!

Cheers to trying Magical Fruit Salad this week!

Katy Moscoso

Katy Moscoso

Katy Moscoso is a Program Specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. As a new mom she is always on the lookout for easy, healthy recipes to prepare for her family.

More Posts

Chopped!

Last July I wrote a blog about challenging myself to eat vegetables at breakfast to help me get more veggies in my day. I have to admit, I’ve not done very well at keeping up with that challenge. However, I’m still being mindful of how I can eat more vegetables throughout the day and during meal time. One item I have started buying at the grocery store is chopped salad kits that seem to be the current trend. Even though there have been salad kits around for quite a while, I have never gotten into the habit of buying them. I gave the chopped salad kits a try and it turns out I really like them! Here are a few reasons why:

  1. The different kits include nutrient dense leafy greens like red and green cabbage, kale, Brussel sprouts, romaine and green leaf lettuce. A lot of them also include green onion and carrots.
  2. There are many different flavors to choose from. So far I’ve enjoyed Chipotle and Cheddar, BBQ Ranch, Pomegranate, and Thai. 
  3. I can enjoy the salads without having to buy a bunch of different ingredients in full-size packages. This can help reduce food waste because we easily eat all of the salad before it goes bad. Sometimes if we have a larger amount of leafy greens, some go bad before we get to them.
  4. They are easy to mix together and add as a side dish to a meal.
  5. And maybe the biggest reason I like them is because my 10 year old son, who doesn’t like many vegetables, will eat them!

As much as I like them, there are a few things that I see as downsides.

  1. They can be expensive. At regular price they can cost between $3.50 and 4.00. And this is for national or store brands. Each bag has about 3 ½ 1 cup servings. Therefore, I buy them when they are on sale. Recently, a national brand was on sale at one of the stores I shop at for $1.88 so I bought 3 of them. My co—worker mentioned that she has gotten them for $1.00 when they are almost to their ‘best if used by’ date. 
  2. There are three different plastic bags with ingredients. There is the large bag with the salad and then two smaller bags; one with the dressing and one with the toppings. Therefore, I try to reduce my use of plastic bags by bringing reusable grocery shopping bags and a reusable produce bag. 

If you have a goal of eating more vegetables, you might try one of the chopped salad kits as a side dish at an upcoming meal. If you would rather make your own salad, we have many recipes on our website.

plate of Salad isolated on white
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.

More Posts

Salad…it’s not just a side dish

Chicken Club Salad 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.

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.

More Posts

Summer Bounty Salad

We have a new video for you! It is Summer Bounty Salad – a recipe that is easy, delicious, and perfect for this time of year. I do not want to spoil the video for you, so I am not going to tell you how to make this recipe. However, I suggest you go find your favorite summer vegetables and your favorite salad dressing because you are going to want them for this recipe.

Enjoy!

 

 

Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover

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

More Posts - Website

Chicken BLT Salads

Chicken BLT Salads Meal My parents are professional tomato growers. They started out small when I was young with about six plants. Now they have dozens of plants of many different varieties. Regardless of how many tomato plants they have, one thing remains the same – bacon, lettuce, and tomato (BLT) sandwiches. We feast on them along with any other fresh produce we can find (usually corn on the cob, green beans, and cucumbers).

Our recipe of the month for August is a spin on the traditional BLT sandwich – Chicken BLT Salads. Top fresh greens with cooked chicken and bacon and diced tomatoes. Then drizzle with your favorite salad dressing. I would even go a step further and add any other fresh produce you have. I think this salad would be great with carrots, corn cut from the cob, cucumbers, green beans, and onions. Give these salads a try while all this amazing produce is in season.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover

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

More Posts - Website

Orange Dressing

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.

Enjoy!

Orange Dressing with Fruit and Greens

Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover

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

More Posts - Website

Zesty Whole Grain Salad

zesty_whole_grain_saladwpToday 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
zesty-whole-grain-salad-label-webServing Size: 6  |  Serves: 1 1/2 cups  |  Cost Per Serving: $1.43
Ingredients:

  • 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

Instructions:

  1. Cook whole grain according to package directions. Cool.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, honey, salt, and pepper.
  3. Stir apples, nuts, dried fruit, and whole grain into dressing.
  4. Toss greens with other ingredients.

Tips:

  • 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.

Enjoy!

Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover

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

More Posts - Website

Build a Better Salad

WholeMealSaladHow many of you are like me and are trying to start some healthy habits in the new year? Whether you’re trying to save money or eat better, packing a healthy lunch can help you do both! Salad is a common go-to option for people trying to eat better, but not all salads are created equal. Here is a quick guide to simplify packing salads for lunch.

  1. Include protein in your salad. Choose proteins like a hard-boiled egg, beans, chicken or canned tuna. The protein will help you stay full throughout the afternoon. This is a great use for leftover ingredients from dinner.
  2. Be careful about your dressing choice. Salad dressing can be expensive and high in fat, calories and sodium. Keep dressing portions small (approximately 1 tablespoon). One way to save money and be certain about the ingredients in your dressing is to make your own. Let our video on homemade dressing or this helpful handout be your guide!
  3. Choose toppings you enjoy, but avoid common pitfalls. Many restaurant salads are topped with lots of high-calorie ingredients like bacon and cheese. It is ok to eat these tasty ingredients from time to time, but they can quickly turn your healthy homemade salad into a meal that is high in fat and calories. Instead, choose lots of veggies to top your salad. In the winter, choose those that taste good all year round like carrots, peppers, celery, green onions and even defrosted, frozen peas.
  4. Prepare your salads ahead of time. We all know what it is like to run out of time on busy mornings. Sturdy greens like spinach hold up well for a few days in the fridge. You can also chop your veggies like peppers, carrots, celery and onions ahead of time. I avoid watery veggies like cucumbers when I am prepping salads ahead because they tend to get a bit soggy after a day or so. Also, wait to put the dressing on your salad until right before you eat it.

If you would like some more ideas about healthy salads, check out the Whole Meal Salad recipe template on our website.

Here’s to a happy and healthy new year for all of our Spend Smart. Eat Smart. readers!

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.

More Posts

Crisp Fruit Salad

Fresh Fruit SaladThis recipe is so easy it is almost embarrassing, but it tastes so good we had to include it. The dressing is what makes this a hit. Adding just a little mayonnaise to the yogurt really ups the flavor. The lemon juice prevents the apples and pears from turning dark.

Like most of our recipes you can vary this one to suit your family. Some ideas include:

• Use dried cranberries or cherries instead of raisins.
• Add 1/2 cup celery, chopped (about 1 stalk).
• Add 1/4 cup walnuts or almonds, chopped.
• For a main dish salad, add chicken chunks, canned tuna, or salmon.
• Try with lemon, plain, or plain Greek yogurt

Crisp Fruit Salad

Serving Size: 3/4 cup | Serves: 6 (makes about 4 1/2 cups) | Cost Per Serving: $.64

Ingredients:Fresh Fruit Crisp Label

  • 1 red apple
  • 1 pear
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 cup seedless grapes, halved
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 container (6 ounces) low fat, sugar free vanilla yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons low fat mayonnaise-type salad dressing

Instructions: 

  1. Wash fruit under cool running water.
  2. Chop apple and pear (leave skin on). Add to large serving bowl and toss with lemon juice.
  3. Add grapes and raisins to bowl.
  4. Combine yogurt and salad dressing in a small bowl and spread over fruit.
  5. Stir to combine. Refrigerate. Best eaten the day it is prepared.

Peggy Signature

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.

More Posts

Homemade Salad Dressing … Easy as 1, 2, 3

salad bowlHomemade salad dressing adds wonderful flavor to salads of all kinds – lettuce, fruit, and pasta salads. You can even add dressing to roasted veggies to add extra flavor. The thing I like best about homemade salad dressing is that it can be made quickly and easily by keeping some basic ingredients in your pantry – vinegar and oil plus whatever add-ins taste great to you, such as herbs, spices, mustard, fruit juice, sugar, salt, pepper.

Here are three easy steps to making a homemade salad dressing:

1.  Measure your ingredients. Measure into a screw top container or a mixing bowl. Start with three parts oil to one part acid (vinegar or citrus juice) and a small amount of seasoning – you can always add more acid and seasoning later.

  • If you are interested in some homemade salad dressing recipes, check out our homemade salad dressing video, our salad dressing handout, and this newsletter that has a helpful salad dressing chart.

2. Mix your ingredients. If using a screw top container, secure the lid tightly and shake until combined. If using a mixing bowl, mix ingredients together vigorously using a fork or whisk.

3. Eat your salad. Pour your dressing onto your salad and eat it up. Homemade salad dressing will make your vegetables, fruits, and whole grains taste great.

In addition to the ease of making homemade salad dressing, I like the cost. I use canola oil in my salad dressings, which makes the cost about half of a store-bought salad dressing.  Since citrus fruit has been cheap this winter, I have been saving even more money by using the juice from an orange in place of some of the vinegar. When I make my own dressing, I can try new things like this in small amounts without buying a whole bottle of premade dressing.

Look through your pantry and see what you have to make a homemade salad dressing today!

Justine

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.

More Posts

Join Our Mailing List

Enter your email address:

Categories

Recent Posts

Posts from the Past