Tag Archives: nutrition

Chocolate Chip Yogurt Cookies

IMG_3060

This blog was created by guest blogger, Brittany Spieker, a dietetic student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Are you looking for a healthier cookie recipe that has a little more nutritional value than the “cookie cutter” cookies? Then Chocolate Chip Yogurt Cookies are for you!

This recipe contains yogurt to add extra protein, calcium, and moisture. Replacing part of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour increases nutrients such as fiber, B vitamins, Vitamin E, healthy fats, and several minerals.

Happy baking!

Chocolate Chip Yogurt Cookies

This one.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar (firmly packed)
1/2 cup margarine
1/2 cup yogurt (non-fat, plain)
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup flour (all-purpose)
1 cup flour (whole wheat)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup chocolate chips (miniature)

Instructions:

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees F.

This one.2. In a large bowl combine sugar, brown sugar, and margarine; beat until light and fluffy.

IMG_30213. Add yogurt and vanilla; blend well. Stir flour and baking soda; mix well. Stir in chocolate chips.

This one.4. Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls 2-inches apart onto un-greased cookie sheets. Bake at 375 degrees F for 8 to 10 minutes or until light and golden brown.

IMG_30395. Cool 1 minute from cookie sheets.

IMG_3059Enjoy!

Source: http://recipefinder.nal.usda.gov/recipes/chocolate-chip-yogurt-cookies

Quinoa Salad

Quinoa Salad

Apple Quinoa Salad

I was looking for an easy side dish recipe I could prepare ahead … and that was sorta unique. I asked my friend and registered dietitian, Janet Bissex, one of the Meal Makeover Moms, if she had a recipe I might share.

Janice suggested an Apple Quinoa Salad recipe. Quinoa is a South American plant that is grown for its seeds. Though not a true cereal grain by definition, quinoa is prepared and used in ways similar to grain. Quinoa provides all nine essential amino acids, making it a complete protein source. It is also gluten-free.

Merriam-Webster online dictionary gives two possible pronunciations for quinoa: (kēn-ˌwä) or (kē-ˈnō-ə). The way it is most commonly pronounced is the first example and sounds like KEEN-wah.

Apple Quinoa Salad is filled lots of good stuff — apples, walnuts, dried cranberries and cheese. Except for the quinoa and maple syrup, the ingredients were ones I already had in my house. (After checking the Cook’s Thesaurus website, I substituted honey for the two tablespoons of maple syrup. I wouldn’t have tried this substitution for a larger amount as maple syrup has a truly unique flavor.)

(TIP: Here’s an easy way to toast walnuts for this recipe from the California Walnut Board.)

quinoa-ingredients-blog

Apple Quinoa Salad ingredients

The thing I liked best about the recipe — it tastes good! My husband gives the salad a “thumbs up!”

ppt-thumbs-up

Apple Quinoa Salad gets a thumbs up from my husband!

Get the Recipe!

Download a copy of the Apple Quinoa Salad recipe from the Meal Makeover Moms (Janice Bissex and Liz Weiss) website. And, find four more recipes made with quinoa!

Quick Granola Bars

Finished product1

(This blog was created by guest blogger, Beth Menhusen, a dietetic student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Beth also has her own Blog, bethtalksnutrition.weebly.com)

Most of us know that it’s super easy to grab a packaged granola bar on our way out the door, but did you know that you can quickly make your own? This recipe is loaded with nutrients, is cheaper, and has fewer preservatives!

Ingredients: 

  • 1/2 cup grated carrot
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 3.5 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup coconut

Directions: 

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Peel and grate the carrots. For a little extra money, you could buy a bag of carrot shreds and make this process even faster.

Carrot Collage 2

3. Measure your peanut butter and honey and mix together in a large sauce pan. Cook on low heat until melted.

pb collage

4. Remove the pan from heat and turn off the burner.

5. Add oatmeal, raisins, carrots, and coconut to the saucepan. Stir well, and let it cool until you can safely touch it with your hands.

final collage

6. Put the mix into the baking and press firmly into the bottom.

pressed

7. Bake for 25 minutes and then cut into 24 square bars. If you want long rectangular bars like what you purchase at the store, then use a larger, thinner pan.

Recipe Source: Pennsylvania Nutrition Education Program, Pennsylvania Nutrition Education Network
Website Recipe, http://recipefinder.nal.usda.gov/recipes/granola-bars

Hear! Hear! for Fresh Herbs

Basil

Basil growing outside my front door … ahhh!

“An herb is the friend of  physicians and the praise of cooks.” ~Charlemagne

If you’d like to “garden” but feel you don’t have room, try planting herbs. They’re  like mini-vegetables, easily grown in a pot, and very forgiving if you occasionally neglect them.

Best yet, they add flavor and color to foods without adding sugar and fat calories or salt. Here’s a potato I “nuked” in the microwave and topped with yogurt, presented with and without chopped chives. That little sprinkle of green makes all the difference in appearance and flavor!

baked potato with and without chives

A sprinkling of herbs adds color and flavor.

Looking for a spot for growing herbs? They need at least 6 hours of direct sunlight daily. No place to plant? Put them in a pot.

Thyme growing in a pot

Thyme is a hardy perennial herb and looks beautiful grown in a pot.

Add a little extra color by combining herbs with a flower that requires the same amount of sunlight, type of soil, and watering schedule. Check with your local Cooperative Extension office or garden store for more information about plants that go together well in your area. Find your local Extension office at this link: http://www.csrees.usda.gov/Extension/

parsley and straw flowers

Italian (flat-leaf) parsley and straw flowers combined in a pot.

Cooking with Fresh Herbs

For best quality, fresh herbs can be stored in a perforated plastic bag in your refrigerator crisper drawer for about a week. Perforated plastic bags (bags with small holes in them) allow some air to move in and out of the bag yet retain most of the moisture in the bag. This helps prevent condensation within the bag and reduces shriveling. Either purchase perforated bags or follow these directions from University of Wisconsin Extension to make  a perforated bag:

“You can make holes using a standard paper punch or a sharp object such as a pen, pencil, or knife. Punch holes approximately every 6 inches through both sides of the bag. If using a knife to create the openings, make two cuts — in an ‘X’ shape — for each hole to ensure good air circulation.”

Wash herbs in a clean colander under running water, tossing them around so all surfaces are rinsed well. Consumer Reports recommends, “If greens are particularly dirty, loosen dirt and sand by swishing them in a clean bowl of water (not the sink), then rinsing.” I like to use the removable strainer basket from my salad spinner for washing herbs. And, then use the basket to spin my herbs dry in my salad spinner.

Wash herbs under running water

Wash herbs under running water just before using them.

Pat herbs dry with paper towels or use a salad spinner. Before buying a salad spinner, give it a spin at the store to test if it spins easily.

Drying herbs in a salad spinner

Drying herbs in a salad spinner.

A quick way to cut herbs is with a kitchen scissors. For some dishes, you can cut the herb directly over the food itself.

snipping chives

Snipping chives with a kitchen scissors.

Some general guidelines for cooking with fresh herbs are:

  •  Use three times as much as of a dried herb. For example, if a recipe called for 1 teaspoon of a dried herb, use about 3 teaspoons of a fresh herb. The drying process reduces the size of dried herbs, making their flavor more concentrated.
  • Add more delicate herbs a minute or two before the end of cooking or sprinkle on food just before it is served. Examples include basil, chives, dill leaves, parsley, and mint.
  • Less delicate herbs can be added about the last 20 minutes of cooking. Examples include oregano, rosemary, thyme, and sage.
Basil added to a cooked food

Add more delicate herbs, such as basil, a minute or two before the end of cooking or sprinkle on the food just before serving.

For many recipes, it’s not important to be exact with the amount of an herb. Just sprinkle in a little for color and flavor.  Popular herb and food combinations include:

  • Basil: A natural snipped in with tomatoes; terrific in fresh pesto; other possibilities include pasta sauce, peas, zucchini
  • Chives: Dips, potatoes, tomatoes
  • Mint: Carrots, fruit salads, parsley, peas, tabbouleh, tea
  • Oregano: Peppers, tomatoes
  • Parsley: The curly leaf is the most common, but the flat-leaf or Italian parsley is more strongly flavored and often preferred for cooking. Naturals for parsley include potato salad, tabbouleh, egg salad sandwiches
  • Rosemary: Chicken, fish, lamb, pork, roasted potatoes, soups, stews, tomatoes
  • Thyme: Eggs, lima beans, potatoes, poultry, summer squash, tomatoes
melon and mint

Add a pop of mint to dress up a fruit salad.

“If the day and the night are such that you greet them with joy, and life emits a fragrance like flowers and sweet-scented herbs, is more elastic, more starry, more immortal- that is your success.” ~Henry David Thoreau

sage and coneflowers

Sage and coneflowers grace the table at an outdoor meal.

(For a printer-friendly copy of this information, use the “Print & PDF” button in the “Share this” section below this post. You can choose to remove images and parts of the post and also determine print size.)

References

Storing Fruits and Vegetables from the Home Garden. Roper, T., Delahaut, K., and Ingham, B., University of Wisconsin Extension. Retrieved 8/5/2012 at http://learningstore.uwex.edu/assets/pdfs/A3823.pdf

ShopSmart Helps You Avoid Dangerous Food-Prep and Storage Mistakes. Consumer Reports. (6/12/2012) Retrieved 8/11/2012 at http://pressroom.consumerreports.org/pressroom/2012/06/my-entry-1.html

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Fresh Peaches – The Slice Is Right

“Life is better than death, I believe, if only because it is less boring and it has fresh peaches in it.” ~Alice Walker, author

It was love at first bite when I sampled the peaches at the farmers market.

After I brought them home, I started googling for peach recipes. Then … I thought, why try to improve on perfection. I simply peeled and sliced them. I added a little Fruit-Fresh (R) Produce Protector according to the directions on the container to keep them from browning. Mixing in a small amount of citrus juice (lemon juice, orange juice, etc.) would also help prevent browning.

Fresh sliced peaches – the slice is right!

Caring for Fresh Peaches

For the perfect peach:

  • Avoid buying green, brownish, or wrinkled peaches, or peaches that are very soft, or with large bruises or signs of decay. Hard, green peaches will never ripen properly.
  • Handle peaches gently to prevent bruising.
  • Determine if a peach is ripe by checking if it is firm but yields to gentle pressure and has a strong, sweet smell. A reddish “bloom” on the peach isn’t a sure sign the peach is ripe. Look for a deep yellow or creamy white under color.
  • Store peaches in a single layer at room temperature, out of sunlight.
  • Ripen peaches by putting them in a loosely closed paper bag at room temperature. Check daily. They should ripen in one to three days. Do NOT use plastic bags to ripen peaches.
  • Store ripe peaches in the refrigerator up to one week in a perforated plastic bag to prevent water from condensing on the inside of the bag and causing storage rot. The University of Wisconsin Extension gives the following directions for making your own perforated bags: “You can make holes using a standard paper punch or a sharp object such as a pen, pencil, or knife. Punch holes approximately every 6 inches through both sides of the bag. If using a knife to create the openings, make two cuts — in an ‘X’ shape — for each hole to ensure good air circulation.”
  • Wash peaches just before eating or cutting them. Washing peaches before storing may promote bacterial growth and speed up spoilage. Wash peaches under running water, rubbing the peach gently with your hands. Do not use use detergent as this may affect taste and safety.
  • Quickly skin several peaches by dipping a few peaches at a time in boiling water for 30 to 60 seconds. Plunge into cold water and slip off the skins.Use immediately or toss with citrus juice or use a commercial ascorbic acid mixture, such as Fruit-Fresh (R) Produce Protector. Place in a covered bowl in the refrigerator and use that day.

(For a printer-friendly copy of this information, use the “Print & PDF” button in the “Share this” section below this post. You can choose to remove images and parts of the post and also determine print size.)

References

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Sweet and Simple Sweet Corn

Fresh-from-the-field sweet corn purchased at Old Cheney Road Farmers Market, Lincoln, Nebraska.

Sweet corn time is one of my favorite times of the year. Just shuck, boil, and eat for one of the tastiest foods on the planet.

Some people who grow sweet corn start the water boiling before they pick the corn to capture the best of its sweet flavor! While we don’t have sweet corn growing in our back yard, buying it from our local farmers market is the next best thing.

If you can’t eat sweet corn immediately when you get home, store it in the refrigerator and eat it as soon as possible, preferably that day. If you wait too long, its sugar turns to starch and that special sweetness is gone.

If you must store sweet corn … refrigerate it, still in the husk, in a perforated plastic bag. To make your own perforated bag, just punch holes into a plastic bag with a sharp object … for example, use a small paring knife to carefully poke holes (about 20 holes per medium-size bag).

Boiling Corn on the Cob

Boiling sweet corn

I boil my corn in a pasta pot and use my strainer insert for easy removal. A long-handled tongs also works well.

Start a large pot of unsalted water boiling while you remove the husks and silk. Use enough water to cover the corn. Place the corn in the boiling water, cover, and return to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 3 – 5 minutes or until tender.

Testing corn tenderness with a sharp knife.

Testing corn tenderness by removing an ear and and poking it with a sharp knife.

How Sweet It Is!

Dinner on the deck along with something from the grill and a side salad was never sweeter … or simpler!

eating sweet corn

My husband and I enjoy brushing our sweet corn with a little olive oil. Perfect!

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Delight in the Refreshing Taste of Tabbouleh!

Cool off with Tabbouleh, made with cucumbers, mint, parsley, tomatoes, onions, lemon juice, olive oil and whole wheat bulgur.

According to Wikipedia, tabbouleh is a salad of Arab origin and is “traditionally made of bulgur, tomato, and finely chopped parsley and mint, often including onion and garlic, seasoned with olive oil, lemon juice and salt.”

Tabbouleh stores well and tastes as good or better the second day. Exact amounts of ingredients aren’t necessary … so don’t worry if you have slightly too much parsley, not enough cucumbers, an extra tablespoon or so of lemon juice and so on.

If you’ve never eaten bulgur, a form of dried cooked wheat made from whole wheat kernels that have been cracked into small pieces, tabbouleh is a delicious way to start. Bulgur is easy to prepare and can be refrigerated or frozen for later use. For more bulgur recipes, visit the Wheat Foods Council website at wheatfoods.org.

(For a printer-friendly copy of the following recipe, use the “Print & PDF”  button in the “Share this” section below the recipe.)

Ingredients:

  •  1 cup uncooked bulgur
  •  3/4 cup chopped cucumber
  •  3/4 cup chopped tomato
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 1/4 cup sliced green onions or 2 tablespoons finely chopped sweet onion
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice

Directions:

  1. Prepare bulgur according to package directions for starting with one cup of uncooked bulgur and the recommended amount of water for reconstituting this dry volume. The directions will tell you how long to let the bulgur set to absorb the water and become softer.
  2. After the bulgur is ready, mix together bulgur, cucumber, tomato, parsley, mint, onions, and garlic.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together olive oil and lemon juice. Combine with the other ingredients, mixing well.
  4. Refrigerate and let chill for 2 hours before serving for the flavors to meld.
  5. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, before serving.

Makes 6 servings

Alice’s tips:

  1. Before chopping parsley and mint, wash in a colander held under running water. Spin dry in a salad spinner or roll in paper towels to dry.
  2. Get more juice from the lemon by rolling it gently on a flat surface to loosen the membranes.

Enjoy the Flavor and Ease of Eating Fresh, Local Foods


First tomato of the season from my tomato plant. Delicious!

One of the fastest ways to “cook it quick” is to eat fresh, local foods in season. Flavor is at its peak and little or no additional “cooking” is needed. Often, all you need to do is: Slice! Eat! Enjoy!

Whether it comes from your garden, grocery store, or farmers market, it will be “simple”- ly good!

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