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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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Sweet and Tangy Chicken Quesadillas

sweet_tangy_chicken_quesadillaswpHappy 4th of July from the Spend Smart. Eat Smart. team! Today we are celebrating with our recipe of the month – Sweet and Tangy Chicken Quesadillas.

I enjoy using sweet and savory flavors in a meal, but, I confess, I had never had fruit in a quesadilla until I tried this recipe. I was skeptical when I first made these quesadillas, but now I enjoy trying different fruit and vegetable combinations in my quesadillas. This recipe combines canned peaches, chicken cooked in the juice drained from the peaches, and cheese in a whole wheat tortilla to make a delicious quesadilla.

This recipe is easy to adapt to the foods you have on hand. I have substituted beans for the chicken to make a meatless meal and I have used canned pineapple when I was out of peaches. You can have fun making many tasty combinations.

chicken-quesadillas-webSweet and Tangy Chicken Quesadillas
Serving Size: 1 quesadilla | Serves: 4
Cost Per Serving: $1.04

Ingredients:

  • 1 can (15 ounces) peaches in 100% juice
  • 1 cup boneless, skinless chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 3/4 cup shredded cheese
  • 4 8-inch whole wheat tortillas

Optional: black beans, cilantro, corn, jalapeño pepper, onion, salsa, tomato

Instructions:

  1. Strain the juice from the peaches into a bowl. Cut peaches into small bite-sized pieces. Set the peaches aside.
  2. Heat a skillet to medium. Spray it with cooking spray. Add chicken and peach juice.
  3. Cook the chicken, stirring occasionally, until internal temperature reaches 165°F.  Remove chicken and peach juice from skillet.
  4. Put 1/4 of each ingredient (chicken mixture, peaches, cheese, and optional ingredients) on half of each tortilla.
  5. Fold the empty side of the tortilla over the cheese, chicken, and fruit like closing a book.
  6. Cook quesadillas in skillet until lightly browned on both sides. Make sure they are warmed through and cheese is melted.

Tip:

  • Substitute other fruit, such as pineapple or apricots.

Enjoy!

Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover

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

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Baking Bread like Grandma

NoKneadBreadI come from a family of cooks. I started cooking at a young age and continue to enjoy it today. A favorite memory I have is learning to make homemade whole wheat bread from my grandma. I remember her teaching me to knead the bread and then being patient to let it rise before cooking it. As a 4-Her I made my grandma’s bread for the county fair and got a purple ribbon. It went onto the state fair where it got a blue ribbon.

These days when I make bread, I like to use our No Knead Whole Wheat Bread. I don’t have to knead it like I did my grandma’s bread, but I do still have to be patient to let it rise! The bread doesn’t take long to mix up and you can do other things while it rises and bakes. My family enjoys it fresh from the oven with a little butter and my son really likes it toasted with peanut butter. It is also great for sandwiches. I’ve made the dough into dinner rolls for a family holiday and they were well liked.

As the weather starts to cool off, warm up your kitchen by making this bread. It freezes well so you can make two loaves and put one in airtight packaging in the freezer for later. Bread should not be stored in the refrigerator because it draws moisture out of the bread, making it go stale sooner.  Watch our ‘How to’ video on storing bread.

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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No Knead Whole Wheat Bread

no knead breadAt last, a recipe for whole wheat bread that does not have to be kneaded. This bread is delicious, easy, and less expensive than whole wheat bread you buy at the store. Just don’t expect it to rise as high as other yeast breads with white enriched flour.

Here are a few tips for making bread:

  • Heat cold milk in microwave for 45-60 seconds for lukewarm temperature. Test a drop on the inside of your wrist. It should feel very warm but not hot.
  • Keep whole wheat flour in the refrigerator or freezer for storage. Bring flour to room temperature to make bread.
  • Instant yeast is also called fast rising, rapid rise, quick rise, and bread machine yeast.
  • 1 packet of yeast = 2 1/4 teaspoons

No Knead Whole Wheat Bread

Serving Size: 1 slice | Serves: 16 | Cost Per Serving: $.12

Ingredients: no knead bread label

  • 1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) nonfat milk, lukewarm (100-110°F)
  • 1/4 cup (2 ounces) orange or apple juice
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 packet instant yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose white flour

Instructions:

  1. Grease the sides and bottom of an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan with nonstick spray.
  2. Combine the lukewarm nonfat milk, juice, and honey in a large bowl.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients. Beat vigorously for 3 minutes. Dough will be very thick. Scoop the dough into prepared pan. Cover the pan with a clean towel. Let the dough rise in a warm place for 45-75 minutes, until almost double. Time varies according to room temperature.
  4. When dough is almost doubled, preheat oven to 350°F.
  5. Remove towel and bake bread for about 30 minutes. Dough will pull away from sides of pan when bread is done. Let bread cool 30 minutes before slicing.

Options:

  • Make 2 smaller loaves using half sized loaf pans. Bake for 23-27 minutes.
  • Make herb dinner rolls. Mix 4 teaspoons of dried herbs such as oregano, parsley, basil, rosemary, or thyme into the batter. Use muffin tins and bake 15 minutes.
  • Make 100% whole wheat bread. Use 3 cups whole wheat flour instead of white and wheat flour and 3 tablespoons molasses instead of honey.

The Whole Grain Maze

Bread used to be made from either whole wheat or white flour; although, many times coloring was added to white flour to make it look darker (healthier) .  Now we have “whole white bread” and many claims on the label to wade through such as 5 grams fiber, 20 grams of whole grain and 40% fiber.  How do you know which is the best?  What’s a person to do if we want to make half of your grains whole as recommended?

Bread is made from flour that comes from grain kernels — usually wheat. A grain kernel has three parts: the bran, the endosperm, and the germ.

Whole grains contain all parts of the grain kernel. Refined grains, like the flour used to make white bread, have had the  bran (where most of the fiber is) and the germ (where most of the nutrients are) processed out.  This leaves only the starchy endosperm, which means you miss out on essential fatty acids, vitamin E, magnesium, and zinc.

Many flour and bread manufacturers enrich their bread by adding vitamins back in. But it’s still better to eat whole grains. View the farm to fork journey of bread processing.

The bottom line……..Check the list of ingredients
If the first ingredient listed contains the word “whole” (such as “whole wheat flour” or “whole oats”), it is likely that the product is predominantly whole grain. If there are two grain ingredients and only the second ingredient listed is a whole grain, the product may contain as little as 1% or as much as 49% whole grain (in other words, it could contain a little bit of whole grain, or nearly half).

Whole grain and fiber are not the same
Fiber varies from grain to grain, ranging from 3.5% in rice to over 15% in barley and bulgur. What’s more, high-fiber products sometimes contain bran or other added fiber without actually having much, if any, whole grain. Both fiber and whole grains have been shown to have health benefits. But they are not interchangeable. So checking the fiber on a label is not a very reliable way to guess whether a product is truly whole grain.

The Sandwich—Suitable for Royalty

Apparently, sandwiches were invented in the 18th century when the Earl of Sandwich asked for his meat to be served between slices of bread, to avoid interrupting a gambling game or getting his cards greasy. If the Earl were alive today he probably would have invented sandwiches so he could eat while driving, or to avoid getting his cell phone dirty!

I love sandwiches because they are so versatile and convenient. Sometimes I make sandwiches ahead and freeze them. It saves time and is a great way to use those bits of leftovers. 

Half of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich is a great snack for me. When I have a couple of slices of whole wheat bread at the end of the loaf, I spread a little peanut butter on both sides of the bread and put the jelly in the middle. This assembly method will help reduce sogginess.

Summer is coming! Consider adding frozen sandwiches to a cooler to keep everything colder longer.

University of Nebraska has a useful tip sheet for Freezing Sandwiches.

-pointers by Peggy