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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.

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Sausage and Vegetable Skillet

Sausage and Vegetable SkilletOur July recipe of the month is Sausage and Vegetable Skillet. This is a delicious way to use all of your fresh summer vegetables. Whether you get your vegetables from the grocery store, produce stand, farmers market, or garden they will taste great in this recipe. Some summer vegetables that would work well in this recipe are tomatoes, zucchini, corn, and peppers.

Start by cooking brown rice according to the package directions. While that is going, you can cook your sausage. After the sausage is cooked, set it aside on a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Then the vegetables! Cut them up into bite sized pieces and sauté them until they are tender. Add in the rice, sausage, and some cheese and you have a meal.

My family likes to eat this skillet as is, but I like to take it up a notch. I cut the top off a couple of tomatoes, scoop out the seeds, and re-fill the tomato with the cooked skillet ingredients. Then I bake it in the oven for 10 minutes for a delicious stuffed tomato.

Enjoy!

Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover

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

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All about Peppers

Peppers are one of my favorite veggies. During the winter, I buy them at the grocery store most weeks. During the summer, I love to grow them myself. They are rich in vitamin C, low in calories and add lots of flavor to whatever I am cooking.

You can grow peppers in pots or in the ground. If you choose to use a pot, you’ll want it to be at least two gallons in size for a single pepper plant and you may want to use a dowel or stake to support your plant as it grows.

Keep in mind that most peppers start green and some varieties ripen to be yellow, orange, red or purple. The Iowa State University gardening experts have a publication that will help you pick the pepper type that is best for you. Peppers that are not green tend to be much more expensive. You can save a lot of money by growing peppers yourself, but be prepared that peppers that are not green will need more time on the plant to change colors, which means you may lose more to rot, pests or weather damage.

I hope you will give a pepper plant a try this summer. If you would like some tips on cutting up whole peppers, we have a video to get you started.

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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Let’s Grow Tomatoes!

Cherry tomatoesLast week Christine shared about how she grows greens in containers on her patio. This week I am going to share about my gardening experiences with tomatoes. My family and I have a pretty large garden in our back yard. We usually fill about half of it with tomato plants because we love to eat them fresh and make them into tomato juice to enjoy all year long.

This “Tomatoes” growing guide is a great read if you are interested in trying some tomatoes in your garden this year or if you would like to improve the health and yield of your tomato plants. Here are some practical tips I have picked up as I have experimented with growing tomatoes in my own garden:

  • Choose the right varieties of tomatoes for my garden. This one takes a little trial and error. I have found that Better Boy and Super Sweet 100 tomatoes grow best in my garden.
  • Plant tomatoes between May 15th and June 1st. After May 15th, I should be able to avoid frost killing my plants. If I get my plants in before June 1st, I can enjoy a longer growing season and a higher yield.
  • Use tomato cages. Large, tall tomato cages allow the plants to grow big, healthy, and strong. They are also easier to manage than tomatoes that are staked up or tomatoes that are allowed to grow along the ground.

Thankfully, you do not need a large garden to enjoy growing fresh tomatoes at home.  Depending on the plant size, tomatoes can be grown in 2-4 gallon containers. The Container Vegetable Gardening guide gives ideas for the variety of tomato that would be best for your home.

I hope you can get outside and enjoy gardening this year!

Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover

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

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Spring Produce

Each spring I love watching the plants pop up out of the ground.  Some days I feel like I can see the plants growing in my yard.  Now that we are in April, more and more fresh spring produce is popping up in the stores and in gardens.

Buying fruits and vegetables that are in season gets you the tastiest produce for the least cost.  Here are some fruits and vegetables that are in season in the spring:

  • Asparagus – snap off the woody ends and grill, steam, or roast.
  • Broccoli – cut into florets and eat raw, steam, or roast.
  • Rhubarb – eat only the reddish stalk; find out more on the AnswerLine Blog.
  • Snow peas – eat raw or add to stir-fry.
  • Spinach – eat in a salad, top off a sandwich, or add to a smoothie.
  • Strawberries – eat on their own or as a topping to your favorite dessert.

I hope you get to enjoy some fresh spring produce this week!

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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How to Prepare Broccoli

Recently my son brought home a card from school to keep track of the fruits and veggies he eats. Our local hospital does a program at the elementary schools to encourage the kids to be active and eat fruits and vegetables. If the kids eat 50 fruits and vegetables by a certain date, they get a special token.

As I’ve mentioned before on the blog, my son does not eat many vegetables. Some raw carrots, some roasted sweet potatoes, and maybe some spinach leaves with a bit of ranch. However, maybe he’ll branch out a bit to get that special token!

One vegetable that I’m going to use in our meals the next few weeks is broccoli. It’s in season during the Spring so is a good time to buy it. I’m thinking I will serve it raw with hummus or a bit of ranch dressing. I may also serve it cooked as part of our Cheesy Pasta with Summer Veggies. Hopefully Parker will give it a try one of these ways and we can mark it on his chart!

You can save money by buying broccoli in whole heads rather than pre-cut pieces. If you’re not sure how to cut broccoli, watch our new video How to Prepare Broccoli.

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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Stuffing with Vegetables

stuffing-with-vegetables-webThanksgiving 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!

 

Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover

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

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Produce Basics

Produce Basics - PeppersHave you ever wondered how to peel a kiwi or how to prepare a fresh beet? Are you not sure how to store or prepare fresh produce from the farmers market or grocery store? We’re with you! It can be tricky to manage fresh fruits and vegetables that you’re not used to eating at home.

The Spend Smart. Eat Smart. team has put together a collection of Produce Basics handouts that describe how to wash, store and prepare common fruits and vegetables.

Whether you’re looking to clean your kale and collard greens or bake some sweet potato fries, Produce Basics can be your guide. Check out the collection today!

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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On the Counter or in the Fridge?

grocery-bag-and-producewpMy kids and I have been faithfully watering our tomato plant (we’re not getting much rain where we live!) and watching it grow this summer. We’re growing the plant in a large container and it’s the only produce we are growing this year, so we’re giving it extra good care. There are 3 green tomatoes on it so far, but lots of flowers so I think we could get quite a few tomatoes!

If you’re growing your own produce or shopping at a farmers market, it’s just about time for all that wonderful produce to be ready. It’s great to eat when it is so fresh, but when you aren’t able to eat it fast enough, it’s good to know how to properly store the produce so it lasts longer.

Here’s a quick look at how to store some types of produce:

Refrigerate:

Apples, berries, asparagus, green beans, broccoli, carrots, leafy greens, and anything that is cut up

Keep at Room Temperature:

Melons, tomatoes, squashes (store on the counter but away from direct sunlight)

Onions, potatoes, sweet potatoes (best if kept in a dark area such as a pantry)

Ripen on Counter then Refrigerate:

Nectarines, peaches, pears, plums

For more information on storing fruits and vegetables, watch our video on How to Store Fruits and Vegetables.

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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A Healthier Me in 2016: A Dietitian’s Goal

Are you curious what New Year’s goal a dietitian might set? Well, it may surprise you but my goal is to increase my vegetable intake by eating more vegetables for snacks. I eat vegetables daily, but mostly at lunch and supper. However, I don’t always get in the 2 ½ cups I need each day. The snacks I bring to work most often are fruit or whole grain crackers. These are perfectly healthy snacks that I will continue to eat but I will also swap out one a few times each week for vegetables. My SMART goal for 2016 is, ‘I will eat 1 cup of vegetables as a snack 3 times per week’. If you would like a reminder of what a SMART goal is, visit last week’s blog.

Here is a list of some of the vegetables I plan to eat as snacks:

  • Baby carrots with hummus dip (try our After School Hummus)
  • Celery with peanut butter
  • Broccoli and cauliflower with a bit of Ranch dressing
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Leftover roasted vegetables (Easy Roasted Veggies)

Some people might be surprised that I plan to eat Ranch dressing with my vegetables. However, I’m much more likely to eat them if I have a dip to go with them. And a couple of tablespoons of dip is not going to add so much fat or sodium that it outweighs the benefit of eating the vegetables.

To help me reach my goal, I plan to use our Veggie Tasting Party recipe and prep my vegetables at the start of each week so they are ready to go when I need them.

Now to eat my baby carrots and hummus dip……

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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