Craving Comfort Foods

Casserole with meat and potatoes

In the fall, we crave warm, hearty foods like cheesy casseroles and hearty soups. Often, though, these “comfort foods” are high in fat, sodium, and calories.

The next time you make your favorite “comfort foods,” try these tips to make them healthier and even more enjoyable:

  • Add extra vegetables of all types—dark green; red and orange; beans, peas, and lentils; starchy; and other vegetables—without added sauces, fats, or salt. Double the vegetables in a soup or casserole recipe to add extra vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
  • Switch up your grains, making at least half of your grains whole grain. Like rice? Try replacing white rice with brown rice in your recipe. This month’s recipe uses brown rice.
  • Choose reduced-fat dairy foods, including fat-free or low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese, in casseroles and cream soups. Reduced-fat cheeses, for example, have less fat but just as much favor and melt just like full-fat cheese.
  • Use lean protein foods, including lean meats, poultry, and eggs; seafood; beans, peas, and lentils; and nuts, seeds, and soy products. Cooking on a budget? Canned meats are just as nutritious, cheaper, and easier to use in casseroles.

Source: Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025, bit.ly/3kf72S4.

Vegetable Safety Tips

Vegetables are part of a healthy diet. However, they can also be a source of bacteria that can cause foodborne illness. Use these food safety tips to protect yourself and your family.

Washing carrots in sink
  1. Always wash hands with soap and water before you start to prepare vegetables.
  2. Use clean equipment, including cutting board and knives.
  3. Wash all produce even if the skin will be peeled. If a produce item is labeled ready to eat, washing is not recommended and could increase risk of illness.
  4. Wash produce under running water. A scrub brush can help in cleaning produce. Soap and vegetable rinses are not necessary. If soaking is required to loosen dirt, make sure to finish by rinsing under cool or warm running water.
  5. Store any washed produce in the refrigerator.

Source: Fresh Vegetable Guide, store.extension.iastate.edu/product/12599

Scrambled Egg Muffins

Serving Size: 1 muffn | Serves: 6

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups vegetables (washed and diced)
  • (broccoli, red or green peppers, onion) • 6 eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup low fat cheddar cheese, shredded

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350oF. Spray muffin tin with nonstick spray.
  2. Add chopped vegetables to muffin tin.
  3. Beat eggs in a bowl. Stir in salt, ground black pepper, and garlic powder.
  4. Pour eggs into the muffin tin and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the tin from the oven during the last 3 minutes of baking. Sprinkle the cheese on top of the muffins and return the tin to the oven.
  5. Bake until the temperature reaches 160oF or a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.

Tips:
Use other vegetables such as mushrooms, tomato, or spinach instead of broccoli and peppers. Diced means to cut into small pieces (1/4 inch or less).

Nutrition information per serving:
110 calories, 6g total fat, 2.5g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 190mg cholesterol, 200mg sodium, 4g total carbohydrate, 1g fber, 2g sugar, 8g protein

This information is courtesy of ISU Extension and Outreach’s Spend Smart. Eat Smart. website. For more information, recipes, and videos, visit Spend Smart. Eat Smart., spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu.

Scrub by Scrub: The Importance of Washing Your Produce

Strainer of asparagus

As we transition from winter to spring, many fruits and vegetables—like asparagus and strawberries—start to be in season! It is very important to remember to wash fresh produce prior to eating in order to remove any harmful bacteria like E. coli or listeria. The next time you reach for a fruit or vegetable, use these strategies to ensure it’s clean and fresh:

  • Wash your produce immediately before eating. Washing some produce—like berries—before storing actually hastens spoilage.
  • Wash all produce in cold water; do not use detergents or soap to clean the outside of your fruit.
  • Try using a vegetable brush for fruits and vegetables that have a thick skin.
  • Produce that has tiny nooks and crannies—like cauliflower and broccoli—should be soaked in cold, clean water for one to two minutes.
  • You don’t need to rewash products that are labeled “ready to eat” or “triple washed.”

For visual demonstrations of other ways to select, store, and prepare food, check out the Spend Smart. Eat Smart. website (spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu/videos).

Veggie Bean Wrap

Veggie bean wrap

Serving Size: 1 prepared wrap | Serves: 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 green or red bell peppers (seeded and chopped)
  • 1 onion (peeled and sliced)
  • 1 can (15 ounce) black beans (no salt added) (drained and rinsed)
  • 2 mangos, chopped
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 avocado (peeled and diced)
  • 4 whole wheat tortillas (10 inch)

Instructions:

  1. Use a nonstick pan over medium heat. Sauté bell peppers and onion for 5 minutes. Add beans and stir well. Reduce heat to low. Simmer about 5 minutes.
  2. Stir mangos and lime juice in a small bowl. Add cilantro and avocado. Reserve half the mixture for topping.
  3. Fill warmed tortillas. Use 1/4 bean mixture and 1/4 mango mixture.
  4. Fold over ends of the tortilla. Roll up to make wraps. Top wraps with the rest of the mango mixture.

Nutrition information per serving:

464 calories, 12g total fat, 2g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 250mg sodium, 76g total carbohydrate, 19g fiber, 0g added sugar,
17g protein

Adapted from MyPlate Kitchen, www.choosemyplate.gov/recipes/supplemental-nutrition-assistance-program-snap/veggie-bean-wrap

Summer Bounty Salad

Summer Bounty Salad

Serving Size: 1 cup | Serves: 8

Ingredients:

  • 7 cups vegetables (zucchini, broccoli, carrots, radishes, green onions), chopped
  • 1 pepper (green, red, or yellow) sliced (1 to 1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 tomatoes (red, yellow, or mixed)
  • 2/3 cup light or fat free salad dressing

Instructions:

  1. Wash and prepare the vegetables. (Cut the carrots, zucchini, radishes, green onions, and pepper in slices. Make the broccoli and cauliflower into florets. Slice or chop tomatoes.)
  2. Combine all vegetables and salad dressing in a bowl, stirring to coat vegetables with dressing.
  3. Cover and refrigerate 1 to 3 hours to blend flavors. Store any leftovers in refrigerator and use within 3 days.

 

Nutrition information per serving:

60 calories, 2.5 g total fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 220 mg sodium, 10 g total carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, 5 g sugar, 2 g protein

This recipe is courtesy of ISU Extension and Outreach’s Spend Smart. Eat Smart. website. For more information, recipes, and videos, visit spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu.

June is Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month

Asparagus, lettuce, radishes, rhubarb, spinach, and strawberries are just a few of the fresh fruits and vegetables available in June! They provide a range of colors to eat and enjoy. It’s important to get a colorful variety of fruits and vegetables into your diet every day.

Colorful fruits and vegetables provide a wide range of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals. Phytochemicals are compounds in food that your body uses to maintain good health and energy levels, protect against the effects of aging, and reduce the risk of some types of cancer and heart disease.

Phytochemicals may be considered just as important as protein, carbohydrates, fats, minerals, and vitamins. Many of the phytochemicals and other compounds that make fruits and vegetables good for us also give them their color. It’s important to eat the rainbow of colors every day to get the full health-promoting benefits of fruits and vegetables.

Fruits and vegetables

When planning meals, try to use colorful fruits and vegetables. Usually the darker the color, the higher the amounts of phytochemicals. When introducing children to a new fruit or vegetable, consider designating a color for each day or week.

Produce Basics—Spend Smart. Eat Smart.

vegetables

Preparing fresh produce can be easy when you have the information you need and a few skills. The Produce Basics information found on the Spend Smart. Eat Smart. website and app describe how to store, clean, and prepare various fruits and vegetables. Check out this link: spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu/cook/produce-basics/. Search for Spend Smart. Eat Smart. at your app store and download the free app today!

 

Vegetable Soup with Kale and Lentils

Serving Size: 1 1/2 cups | Serves: 6

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons oil (canola or vegetable)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1 medium carrot (sliced 1/8 inch thick)
  • 2 teaspoons garlic (peeled and minced; 3 cloves) or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup dry yellow or brown lentils
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil or Italian seasoning
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) no sodium added diced tomatoes or 2 chopped tomatoes
  • 1 bunch kale (about 7 ounces)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat.
  2. Add onion, carrot, and garlic. Cook 5 minutes.
  3. Add water to veggies in pot. Heat to boiling.
  4. Rinse lentils in colander with water. Add lentils to pot and simmer for 20 minutes. Do not drain.
  5. Add chicken broth, dried basil or Italian seasoning, and tomatoes. Cover and cook for 5–10 minutes.
  6. Rinse kale leaves; cut out the main stems and discard. Cut leaves into 1” pieces.
  7. Stir kale, salt, and pepper into lentil mixture. Return to boiling. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 3 minutes.

 

Nutrition information per serving: 200 calories, 5g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 170mg sodium, 29g total carbohydrate, 12g fiber, 4g sugar, 11g protein

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

Create a Rainbow on Your Plate

Rainbow of vegetables and fruitsWhen it comes to fruits and vegetables, eating a variety of colors—red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, and white—provides the best mix of nutrients for your body, not to mention being more pleasing to the eye. Recommendations regarding how much people need depend on age, gender, and amount of physical activity. To learn more about your daily recommendations, visit www.choosemyplate.gov/MyPlate. Most Americans need to increase the amount of fruits and vegetables eaten every day. Remember, all product forms count—fresh, canned, frozen, dried, and 100% juice. By eating more fruits and vegetables, your risk of chronic disease is reduced.

Tips to increase fruits and vegetables in your diet:

  • Prepare fruits and vegetables as soon as you get them so they are ready to eat. Consider dividing into individual  servings so they are easy to grab and go.
  • Have veggies and low-fat dip for a snack.
  • Add vegetables to casseroles, stews, and soups.
  • Choose fruit for dessert.
  • Add veggies to sandwiches.
  • Enjoy a fruit smoothie for breakfast or as a snack.

For more tips, visit SpendSmart.
Source: Fruits and Veggies – More Matters

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