Confetti Rice and Bean Salad

Serving Size: 3/4 cup | Serves: 6


  • 1 cup instant brown rice, uncooked
  • 1 cup tomatoes, chopped (1 medium)
  • 2 carrots (finely chopped or grated)
  • 2 tablespoons onion (finely chopped)
  • 1 cup corn kernels (frozen or fresh)
  • 1 can (15 ounces) black beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/4 cup oil (canola, vegetable, or olive)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper


  1. Cook rice according to package directions. Let cool.
  2. Wash and cut up tomatoes, carrots, and onion while rice is cooling and put into a large bowl.
  3. Add corn and drained and rinsed black beans to the bowl.
  4. Add cooled rice to the bowl.
  5. Whisk together lime juice, oil, salt, and ground black pepper in a small bowl. Pour over rice and veggie mixture. Stir gently to combine.
  6. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes before serving to let flavors mingle.

Nutrition information per serving: 260 calories, 11g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 310mg sodium, 36g total carbohydrate, 7g fiber, 3g sugar, 7g protein

Recipe courtesy of ISU Extension and Outreach’s Spend Smart. Eat Smart website. For more information, recipes, and videos, visit

Reduce Food Waste at Home

trash on fork





“Waste not, want not” is a saying used in tight times—a reminder that what we save today we will have tomorrow. That holds true for food as well as money. Food waste is a big problem in the United States. According to Feeding America, nearly half of the food grown, processed, and transported in the United States goes to waste. Much of this food waste (43%) comes from our homes. We can fix that!

Reduce food waste in planning, shopping, and cooking.Meal Planning Worksheet

  • Plan meals so you know what you need to buy. Check for foods that need to be used up and include them in your menus. Plan for ways to use the same dish twice—roast chicken for one meal and use cooked chicken in a salad the next day. Use the 5-Day Meal Planning Worksheet from Spend Smart. Eat Smart. to help you plan meals.
  • Buy only what you need and can use in a reasonable time. If you buy extra food that is on sale, ha
  • ve a plan for how you will use it or store it for future use.
  • Use the food you buy creatively. Have ripe fruit? Make a smoothie. Have bits and pieces of cut-up v
    egetables? Create a ready-for-soup container and add chopped broccoli stems, cauliflower pieces, and leftover cooked vegetables. Have leftover meat or beans? Add them to a rice or pasta dish or to soup.
  • Properly store foods to extend their shelf life. Store bread in the freezer that you won’t be using soon. Eggs will keep in the refrigerator for three weeks after their sell-by date.

Sources: Let’s Talk Trash and Reducing Food Waste at Home

Sheet Pan Meal Safety

Sheet pan mealSheet pan meals are a popular trend for those on a busy schedule. These meals often contain a protein source for the main dish and two vegetables for sides—cooked together on a single sheet pan in the oven. Cooking multiple menu items in one pan appeals to those looking for recipes that require little preparation and use minimal dishes. Sheet pan meals can be very convenient and nutritious. However, it is important to keep food safety in mind. Follow these tips for a safe sheet pan meal:

  • Wash the vegetables thoroughly before cooking. This can prevent the introduction of bacteria that can cause foodborne illness.
  • Use separate utensils and cutting boards for produce and raw meats.
  • Cook the protein source to the correct internal temperature:
    • Chicken—165oF
    • Beef (steaks, chops)—145oF
    • Pork—145oF
    • Seafood—145oF

Join in on the Fun by Biking

Family bikingEach year, Iowans celebrate RAGBRAI in July. Iowa cities and towns hold mini festivals for the bicycle riders—complete with food stands, entertainment, and displays of Iowa culture. However, the focus is still on the cyclists.

Live longer by bicycling. Getting 30 minutes of physical activity daily contributes to longevity. By making physical activity a regular habit, one can greatly reduce blood pressure, control blood sugar, improve cholesterol levels, and prevent sarcopenia (muscle wasting) in older age.

Bicycling is ideal for any fitness level, and there are different types of bikes to fit one’s style (road, mountain, and hybrid). Has it been several years since you enjoyed this activity? The American College of Sports Medicine provides recommendations for beginning a bicycling routine. You can also order a map of bike trails through the Iowa DOT.

Chicken Fajitas

Serving Size: 2/3 cup | Serves: 6


  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons oil (canola or vegetable)
  • 1 red bell pepper (thinly sliced)
  • 1 green bell pepper (thinly sliced)
  • 1 medium onion (thinly sliced)• 6 (8 inch) whole wheat tortillas
  • 6 ounces low fat cheddar cheese, shredded (optional)
  • 1 cup tomato, chopped (optional)
  • Cilantro, chopped (optional)
  • Jalapeño, sliced (optional)


  1. Freeze chicken 30 minutes until firm and easier to cut. Cut chicken into 1/4” strips. Place in a single layer on a plate.
  2. Wash hands, knife, and cutting board. Sprinkle both sides of strips with chili and garlic powder.
  3. Add oil to a 12-inch skillet. Heat to medium high. Add chicken strips. Cook about 3–5 minutes, stirring frequently.
  4. Add bell peppers and onion. Stir and cook until vegetables are tender and chicken is no longer pink. (Heat chicken to at least 165°F.)
  5. Scoop chicken mixture (2/3 cup each) onto tortillas. Top with your favorite toppings.
  6. Serve flat or rolled.

Nutrition information per serving (1 tortilla with 2/3 cup filling): 260 calories, 9g total fat, 2g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 50mg cholesterol, 410mg sodium, 4g dietary fiber, 27g carbohydrate, 2g sugar, 22g protein

Recipe courtesy of ISU Extension and Outreach’s Spend Smart. Eat Smart website. For more information, recipes, and videos, visit

Grilling What’s in Your Garden

Steak kabob

Summer is here, and it’s time to fire up the grill and enjoy fresh foods! Grilling is a healthy, quick, and easy way to
prepare meals. You can use little or no fat when grilling meats and vegetables, without sacrificing flavor. You can even reduce dirty dishes by grilling veggies in foil! Summer squash, like zucchini, tomatoes, corn, and peppers, are all typically ready to harvest in July—and are great on the grill. Here are some fun ways to grill healthy meals:

  • Grill a vegetable pizza (there are many recipes online).
  • Chop two or three veggies (summer squash, onion, tomato) and a lean meat into cubes, layer on a kabob, and grill.
  • For a grilled “stir-fry,” cut up chunks of onion, pepper, and lean beef. Toss together with low sodium soy sauce and spices such as garlic powder and ginger. Grill in foil pan and serve with brown rice.

Is There Treasure Hiding Near You?

Geocaching is an electronic treasure hunt. It is a great low-cost activity and can be fun year-round. It is easy to catch on to and caches are literally around the world—in two million places, to be exact.

To get started, set up a free account at, then download the free app to your smartphone or purchase a GPS unit. Search near you for a cache, use your app, or plug the coordinates into the GPS to start hunting.

Many geocaches are found in safe places like rest areas, parks, and cemeteries, or near landmarks. What you will find may be very small like a pill fob or larger like an ammo box. Some will be harder to find than others, but they are never buried. Inside will be a log to sign. There may also be “swag” like geodes, stickers, patches, pins, marbles, keychains, lanyards, and geocoins.

Here are some tips for successful geocaching:

  • Dress appropriately for the weather.
  • Let someone know where you are going or enjoy navigating with someone like a grandchild.
  • The caches are secret so don’t let passersby know what you are doing!
  • If you take something, you should leave something of equal or greater value.
  • Always return the cache to its hiding place.
  • Bring your own pen to sign the log, then enter your find at

Discover what is hiding near you today! How many will you find?

two people geocaching

Submitted by Sandra McKinnon, Human Sciences Extension and Outreach family finance specialist and geocacher since 2009.

Chili Popcorn

Serving Size: 1 cup | Serves: 4Popcorn


  • 4 cups popped corn
  • 1 tablespoon margarine, melted
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • Dash garlic powder


  1. Mix popcorn and margarine in a bowl.
  2. Mix seasonings thoroughly and sprinkle over popcorn. Mix well or shake in a clean bag.
  3. Serve immediately.

Nutrition information per serving: 60 calories, 4g total fat, 1g saturated fat, Xg trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 35mg sodium, 7g total carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 0g sugar, 1g protein

Source: USDA, Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), Eat Smart, Play Hard™

Hot Dogs and Food Safety

Hot dogs

The same general food safety guidelines apply to hot dogs as to all perishable foods: keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. When you buy hot dogs, refrigerate or freeze them promptly. Never leave hot dogs at room temperature for more than 2 hours or 1 hour if it is 90 degrees or higher.

Although hot dogs are fully cooked, those at higher risk for foodborne illness—including pregnant women, preschoolers, older adults, and anyone with a weakened immune system—should reheat hot dogs until steaming hot because of the risk of listeriosis. Listeria monocytogenes, the bacteria that causes listeriosis, may also be found in other foods like luncheon meat, cold cuts, soft cheese, and unpasteurized milk. Symptoms may include fever, chills, headaches, backache, upset stomach, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. It may also cause miscarriages. Call your health care provider if you have any of these symptoms. If you have Listeriosis, your provider can treat you.

Source: Food Safety and Inspection Service, USDA

Healthy Camping Foods

Summer is the time to get out the camping gear and head outdoors. In addition to the hot dogs and s’mores, consider packing some of the following choices to balance out meals and snacks.

  • Fruits and veggies. Sturdier fresh produce that holds up well includes apples, carrots, snap peas, and oranges. Dried fruit also makes a great snack.
  • Whole grains. Popcorn is a whole grain and is an easy snack to take along. For cereal bars, check the nutrition label and choose those made with whole grain and that have a lower sugar content.
  • Dairy. If you have adequate refrigeration, hard cheeses, cheese sticks, and yogurt tubes are much easier to pack than a carton of milk.

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