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Flavors of Fall Zipped up in a Bag

pumpkin puddingWhen my girls were young we often made Pumpkin Pudding for a fall dinner dessert. Pudding is inexpensive and also light and not overly filling. The Pumpkin Pudding recipe includes a full can of pumpkin, so you are also getting the added fiber and Vitamin A pumpkin is known for. With the pumpkin pie spice seasoning added, it tastes like pumpkin pie!

For a fun activity with young children, try making Pumpkin Pudding in a zip top bag!

  1. Add the pudding mix and seasoning into a one-gallon zip top bag.
  2. Then add the pumpkin and milk and close the top.
  3. Be sure to get bags with a good seal. Freezer bags work well for this activity.
  4. Pass the bag to the children so they can knead and mix the ingredients together by squeezing the bag with their hands. They will enjoy the fun of watching the ingredients blend together and become thicker as the pudding sets up.
  5. When it’s mixed and thickened, cut a small hole in one corner of the bag and squeeze the pudding into bowls.

Written by Jill Weber, Human Sciences Specialist-Nutrition and Wellness

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.

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Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins

Do you remember last week when I suggested you grate up a zucchini? This is why – our September recipe of the month is Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins and they are delicious! If you have not yet seen our video on preparing zucchini, check it out for some quick hints on grating a zucchini. You do not even need to peel it first!

I like to make these muffins for my children to eat before heading off to school in the morning and here is why:

  • They are made with whole wheat flour, so the fiber will keep their tummies full and the carbohydrates will give their bodies and brains the energy they need to get going in the morning.
  • They are made with both fruits (banana and applesauce) and a vegetable (zucchini). Split between 12 muffins, it may not be a lot of fruits and vegetables, but at least we are getting the day off to a better start than if we had eaten no fruits and vegetables at all.
  • They freeze well. This means I can make a double batch of muffins when I have the time and then freeze the rest for a day when I do not have much time to prepare breakfast.  Store these muffins in freezer bags for up to three months. Thaw by wrapping a muffin in a damp paper towel and re-heating in the microwave on the defrost setting until heated through.

My children like me to make these muffins because, of course, chocolate chips! There is only ¼ cup chocolate chips in the entire recipe, but it is enough to get my children excited about these muffins.

Enjoy!

Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover

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

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Top your Toast

Sandwiches with peanut butter and fruits isolated on white background.

It’s September and that means back to school. It can be hard to come up with new healthy options but we have some ideas for you! Whole wheat toast is hearty and healthy and it can be turned into a filling snack or breakfast with some fun toppings. Remember whole grain products pack a nutrient punch and keep you feeling fuller longer, check your label for 100% whole wheat or 100% whole grain.

Play around with our system below to make tasty toasts part of a fun back to school routine.

Step 1

Step 2

Step 3

Step 4

Step 5

Toast a piece of 100%
whole wheat bread

Add a spread

  • Peanut butter
  • Mashed avocado
  • Hummus
  • Cream cheese

Add a fruit or veggie

  • Sliced apple
  • Strawberries
  • Banana
  • Raspberries
  • Sliced tomato
  • Sliced cucumber
  • Sliced bell pepper

Make it your own!

  • Cinnamon
  • Chopped nuts
  • Hot sauce
  • Herbs
  • Cooked egg
  • Seeds

Dive in

Yum!

Here are some of our favorite toast combos.

  • Peanut butter, sliced strawberries and chopped peanuts
  • Mashed avocado, cooked egg, dash of hot sauce
  • Cream cheese, sliced cucumber and sliced tomato
  • Hummus, sliced bell pepper and a bit of cilantro

Happy Snacking!
Kelly Verburgt and Christine Hradek

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.

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Peanut Butter Balls For the Win!

Peanut Butter Balls It is 3:18pm on a Monday afternoon as I write this blog. How do you usually feel around 3:00 in the afternoon? If you’re anything like me, you get a little sleepy and a little hungry – or maybe a lot hungry!

This week’s blog is all about a go-to snack that can rescue you on a busy weekday afternoon when you just need a pick-me-up. Peanut Butter Balls are a sweet, chewy snack that can help you tackle the day.

As you might guess, they contain peanut butter, yum! They also contain two surprising ingredients. The first is dry oatmeal. The oatmeal binds this recipe together and provides whole grain carbohydrate for energy and fiber. You may be shocked to learn that these little snacks also get a protein boost from mashed beans in addition to the peanut butter. Weird, I know! Trust me, they’re delicious and you would never know the beans are in there once they’re dressed up with some peanut butter and honey.

I hope you’ll take my word for it and give these little treats a try. You can whip up a whole batch at once and keep them in the freezer for a quick snack anytime. Perhaps best of all, two Peanut Butter Balls cost just $0.15 to make. I challenge you to find a granola bar or trail mix for that price!

Enjoy!
Christine

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.

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Chewy Granola Bars

chewy granola bars Our June recipe of the month is quick, easy, and delicious – Chewy Granola Bars. For a long time, I wanted to make homemade granola bars, but I never got around to it. When I was given the idea for this recipe, I knew it was time to try it for myself. It turns out that it is very easy and it tastes great too.

These granola bars are great for a snack for children or adults and here is why:

  • The oatmeal is a whole grain, which gives the body both carbohydrates and fiber. So, it gives you energy and makes you feel full. Whole grains have many other benefits for our bodies – we will look into these more as we work our way through a whole grain series on the blog this month.
  • The peanut butter adds protein and fat, which can help tide you over until the next meal.
  • The syrup used to sweeten the granola bars adds a delicious maple flavor.
  • These granola bars only cost 8 cents each! That is a small fraction of the cost of a pre-packaged granola bar.

I hope you enjoy making (and eating) your own Chewy Granola Bars this week!

 

 

Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover

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

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Pineapple Snack Cakes

pineapple snack-webAt 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 muffinpineapple snack label-web
Serves: 12
Cost Per Serving: $0.14
Ingredients: 
  • 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
Instructions: 
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a muffin tin with liners or spray with cooking spray.
  2. Drain juice from the pineapple into a cup or bowl. Save the juice for step 4. Dab pineapple with a paper towel to dry.
  3. Whisk whole wheat flour, all purpose white flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl.
  4. Beat sugar, oil, vanilla, and 1/4 cup of the saved pineapple juice until combined. Beat in eggs. Stir in the crushed pineapple.
  5. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Stir until just combined. Divide the batter into the muffin tins.
  6. 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.
  7. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Tips: 
  • 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.
Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover

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

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Mini Berry Pie

mini-berry-pieOne of my family’s favorite foods is berries. I can set a bowl filled with berries on the table and in the next instant they are gone. This time of year, we do not have access to the fresh berries they love, so I often buy frozen berries at the grocery store.

My children will just eat frozen berries right out of the bag, but my husband would rather have them as part of a recipe. So, I usually make a compromise – if my children help me make a recipe with the frozen berries, we will set some of the frozen berries off to the side for them to eat as a treat after they are done helping. Our recipe of the month for November is Mini Berry Pie and this is the perfect recipe for my children to help with and get their treat at the end.

Here are some ways that children can help with Mini Berry Pies:

  • Spray tortillas with cooking spray,
  • Stir cinnamon sugar mixture and sprinkle it on the tortillas,
  • Fit the tortillas into the muffin tins,
  • Add berries, sugar, and cornstarch to the saucepan (mom does the cooking),
  • Older children can pour the berry filling into the tortilla bowls.

I enjoy having my children help out in the kitchen because it teaches them about the food they are eating, makes them more likely to taste the food, and teaches them basic cooking and safety skills.  For more about including children in the kitchen, check out this video and this handout.

Mini Berry Pie

Serving Size: 1 shell with 1/4 cup fillingmini-berry-pie-label
Serves: 5
Cost Per Serving: $0.83
Ingredients: 
Pie Crust
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 5 whole wheat tortillas (6″)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Pie Filling
  • 1 bag (16 ounces) frozen mixed berries (2 ½ cups)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
Instructions: 
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Spray a muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray.
  3. Lay tortillas flat. Spray one side of each tortilla with cooking spray.
  4. Combine sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle mixture on the tortillas.
  5. Place the tortillas in the muffin tin. Fit them into the muffin bowls. The cinnamon and sugar will be on the inside of the bowls. Bake the tortillas for 13 to 15 minutes. They will be light brown and crisp.
  6. Put berries in a medium saucepan over low heat.
  7. Stir sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Add mixture to thawed berries.
  8. Cook over medium heat. Mixture will start to get thick and bubble. Cook 1 minute more. Remove from heat.
  9. Put 1/4 cup berry filling into each tortilla bowl.
Tips: 
  • Mini pies have a great fresh taste in the middle of winter.
  • Make tortilla bowls ahead of time. Store in an airtight container. Do not add filling until serving.
  • Add a spoonful of yogurt to the top of the filling.
Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover

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

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MmmmGood Fruit Pizza

photo

Recently my four-year old son and I made MmmmGood Fruit Pizza for snack time. Fruit pizza tastes good any time of the year, but we especially like to make it in the summertime when we can use fruits that are in season. This time we chose to use fresh blueberries and raspberries along with some canned pineapple and mandarin oranges.

Now that school is out and kids are home for the summer, fruit pizza is a healthy and tasty snack that everyone loves. Instead of making one large crust, consider making individual sized crusts and let each person make their own mini fruit pizza. I did this with my son’s preschool class and they enjoyed getting to spread the yogurt ‘sauce’ on and choosing which fruits to use on their pizza. Since some kids are picky about fruit, letting them choose which fruits to use and eating it on ‘pizza’ may be just the trick to get them to eat more fruit.

Kids love pizza so you know this pizza is worth making when my son says, “This pizza is the goodest pizza I’ve ever had.”

Jodi Signature

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.

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Time for a Picnic, Try Pita Pockets

This month’s featured recipe is Peanut Butter Pita Pockets.

This is a great food to take to the park, on a bike ride or just for a backyard picnic.  The pita pockets are great for holding in sweet juicy fruit, but whole wheat bread could be substituted to save a trip to the store or a few pennies.

This very simple recipe will be best with ripe fruit.   Fruit is plentiful in the market right now, but it is not all ripe.  Apricots, bananas, cantaloupe, kiwi, mangoes, nectarines, peaches, pears, plantains and plums continue to ripen at room temperature after they’re picked. To speed their ripening, put them in a loosely closed brown paper bag. Plastic bags don’t work for ripening. Once fully ripened, fruits may be stored in the refrigerator to lengthen their storage time.  Though the outside skin of a refrigerated banana will turn dark brown, the inside will remain light-colored.

Consider teaching your kids or grandkids to make this recipes.  Let them choose a new fruit to try.

Peanut Butter Pita Pockets

Ingredients

  • 2 apples, pears, bananas, peaches, or mangoes
  • 2 medium whole wheat pita pockets
  • 1/4 cup chunky peanut butter

Instructions

  1. Wash and slice fruit.
  2. Cut pitas in half to make 4 pockets.
  3. Warm each pita half in the microwave for about 10 seconds to make them more flexible.
  4. Carefully open each pocket and spread about 1 tablespoon of peanut butter on the inside walls of each pita half. You may need to warm the peanut butter in the microwave for a few seconds, especially if it has been in the refrigerator.
  5. Fill each pocket with sliced fruit. Serve at room temperature.

Gourmet Salsa is a hit!

My entire family enjoys snacking on baked taco chips and salsa for an easy snack. We usually just eat tomato salsa that I buy at the store until our home grown tomatoes are ready from the garden. But, for something a little different, I tried adding some plain yogurt to it along with some fat free sour cream. It was a big hit with my son and husband – the yogurt was cool but there was still the spiciness of the salsa for a great flavor combination. It couldn’t be any easier to make – equal parts of salsa, fat free sour cream and nonfat plain yogurt. Just a 2 tablespoon serving yields 2% of the daily value for calcium and it only costs $ .15 a serving. I also liked the fact that it tasted great with vegetables. There was just enough spice to make you keep eating and that IS what I need – ideas to keep me eating more nutrient rich vegetables. At only 25 calories for a 2 tablespoon serving of this South of the Border Dip, you can enjoy this guilt free, inexpensive snack.

-contributed by Jan Temple