Veggie Vibes

Welcome to Part 2 of the MyPlate series! We talked about what MyPlate is and now we are going to take a closer look at each section with some fun games and contests.

First off we have fruits and veggies. Remember when mom said to eat your veggies? We need to not only eat them, but we need to eat half a plate worth of them! So why is that?

fruit-diet

Benefits of Fruits and Vegetables:

  • Full of fiber→ helps keep your belly healthy
  • Loaded with vitamins and minerals → helps with muscle building, vision, bone building, building immune systems (AKA preventing your body from getting that annoying cold)
  • Phytochemicals → help keep your heart healthy, fights off ‘bad’ cells (free radicals), improves vision, and prevents your body from developing certain chronic diseases in the future (Alzheimers, Heart disease, Cancer, Stroke, and the list goes on).
  • When prepared right, they can have some of the best flavors
  • Colorful combinations make dishes more appealing

 

Fruits and vegetables don’t have to be boring. Check out these fun creations for ideas on how to brighten up your plate:

 

Send your own food art creation to  foodsense@usu.edu for a chance to win a fun kitchen gadget and have your food art displayed! Judging will take place on July 22nd so you have one month!

Happy Creating!

The Best Spinach You Never Tasted

You’ve probably heard how healthy dark green vegetables are. This is because most dark leafy greens have a lot of Vitamins A, C, E, K, and folate. These are all important to keep our body working at its best. Instead of only eating them alone, it helps to think of creative ways to fit them into our meals. This week’s recipe is one of the simplest ways to eat more spinach, and to add it to a meal without even tasting it. Who’s ready for Eggs Gone Green??

First, what you’ll need:

  • eggs
  • spinach
  • green bell pepper
  • green onions
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • oil cooking spray

IMG_1469Keep in mind that the only ingredients you need to have are eggs and spinach, but this combinations is what we have found to taste the best.

First, chop your bell pepper and green onions into small pieces.

img_1478.jpgNext, crack as many eggs as you would like to cook in a blender. Then add spinach. We have found that 1/8 cup of tightly packed spinach for every 2 eggs is a good amount. This means…

2 eggs = 1/8 tightly packed spinach

4 eggs = 1/4 tightly packed spinach

8 eggs = 1/2 tightly packed spinach

You don’t need to measure spinach if you don’t want to, but too much spinach could change the texture.

Blend until chunks of spinach are smaller than grains of rice. This should only be about 5 seconds, or 5 pulses.

IMG_1472.jpgCreate Tip: Place the eggs closer to the blender blade and spinach further away. This will help it to blend faster.

Next, coat a frying pan with oil cooking spray, then heat over medium heat. Once the pan is warm, add the bell peppers.

IMG_1483

Stir the bell peppers with a wooden spoon until they are soft and starting to turn brown. Then, add your blended spinach and eggs. Right after pouring in the egg mixture, add a little bit of salt and pepper. Stir slowly until eggs until they are no longer runny.

Create tip: Turn heat on low when cooking scrambled eggs. It will make them less rubbery and more fluffy!

img_1490.jpg

Plate your eggs, then garnish with green onions. To garnish means to decorate a food dish with a topping that can contribute to the taste and look of the dish.

IMG_1491

These eggs have flavor on their own (especially with bell peppers and green onions) but feel free to try your favorite dipping sauces. Possible options include:

  • Salsa
  • Green salsa verde sauce
  • Ketchup
  • 1/2 ketchup, 1/2 hot sauce mixed together (pictured below)

IMG_1502

After about only 10 minutes of prep and cooking, you’re ready to crEATe!

To simply this meal in one simple line, here it is: Blend eggs and spinach together and cook in a oiled frying pan. Enjoy your Eggs Gone Green, a simple combination that is full of nutrients, inexpensive to make, and tastes good too.

Happy Creating!

– Kids Create Team

The Perfect Plate is MyPlate!

Last week we talked about how to ‘Fight BAC’, and this week we got a taste of the Mediterranean Burrito!

Today let’s talk about the best way to fill up your plate. The USDA put out a great picture diagram to help you remember what needs to go into each meal:

Screen Shot 2017-06-15 at 3.01.15 PM.png

Let’s start with my two all time favorite groups. Fruit and Veggies!

FruitsVegetablesFruits and Veggies, my friends, are AMAZING. Here are a couple reasons why:

  • They make your dish more exciting with colors
  • They have the vitamins and minerals that your body needs to grow and stay healthy
  • There are always multiple ways to prepare each fruit and vegetable
  • They are full of fiber which can keep you belly full and healthy
  • They are great for mealtime, snack time, AND dessert time

Tip: At the beginning of the week fill 5 sandwich bags with veggies and fruits such as carrots, cucumbers, grapes, apples, etc. for an easy snack to grab after school.

ProteinScreen Shot 2017-06-15 at 3.02.20 PM

On the bottom right of the plate you will notice the purple section that says “protein”. Protein is important for your body because it helps repair and build up your muscles. Protein will break down in your digestive tract and give your body energy over a longer period of time, so having a little bit of protein with each meal (or in a snack) will keep your tummy full for longer.

Another great thing about protein is that it comes in many different forms. The goal is to choose ‘lean’ protein options such as beans, nuts, eggs, chicken, turkey, fish, and more!

Tip: Add nuts to a salad or parfait for a boost of protein after exercising.

Grains

Screen Shot 2017-06-15 at 3.02.11 PM

Next on the MyPlate diagram is ‘Grains’. Grains can be found in breads, cold and hot cereals, and more. The goal is to make half your grains whole. Look for labels that say ‘whole wheat”, or “whole grain”.

Tip: Next time you are at the grocery store, check out the different breads or grain bins and try to spot out 4 foods with whole grains.

Dairy

Screen Shot 2017-06-15 at 3.02.29 PMLastly, we come to our side of dairy. Dairy is a great way to get in extra minerals, protein, and other nutrients in one tasty bite! Dairy is anything that comes from milk including cheese, yogurt, and cottage cheese. A glass of milk with dinner, or yogurt with fruit for breakfast are both great ways to get in your dairy each day.

Tip: When choosing out dairy products look at the ingredient label and find the products with lower amounts of sugar. Usually flavored products are high in sugar and take away some nutritional value.

Think you have the facts down? Test your knowledge with this crossword puzzle:

Screen Shot 2017-06-15 at 3.12.30 PMPrintable Version

Having trouble remembering the details? Listen to this tune for some more MyPlate fun:

Alive with Five mp3

 

In summary, you can make the ultimate plate with this equation:

Load ½ the plate with fruits and vegetables

+

Add a lean protein

+

Make ½ the grains whole

+

Have a side of dairy

 

Print this checklist to help you keep track of your MyPlate ‘Wins’: MyPlate Daily Checklist

Some days we might not have the ultimate plate at every meal, but if you are running low on one part, just have a snack to make it up. For example: No vegetables at breakfast? Grab a bag of carrots, cucumbers, and bell peppers for an extra boost during snack time! 

Happy MyPlate Creating!

 

 

 

 

 

The Mediterranean Burrito

Many of you have had a classic bean and cheese burrito originating from Mexico. All the fillings wrapped up snug in a tortilla, it is always a favorite. Today’s recipe is the burrito with a Mediterranean twist. Mediterranean means coming from the area surrounding the Mediterranean Sea, such as southern France, Italy, and Greece.

Screen Shot 2017-06-13 at 10.37.29 PMThis a perfect summer meal to prepare either together as a family, or by yourself. There is no cooking, only some vegetable chopping.

IMG_1434

Let’s start with ingredients to gather. Most of these are common foods, but you may need to put a few things on your parents’ grocery list for next time they go to the store.

IMG_1345You will need:

  • Plain Greek yogurt
  • Feta cheese
  • Spices (Use what you have, but these work best)
    • Oregano
    • Ground coriander
    • Cayenne pepper
    • Onion Powder
    • Garlic Powder
  • Whole wheat tortillas
  • Vegetables (Use your favorites, this is what we used)
    • Spinach
    • Carrot
    • Tomato
    • Cucumber
    • Red onion
  • A can of garbanzo beans (also called chickpeas)

IMG_1351First we are going to make the creamy, cheesy spread that gives the veggies all of their flavor. To do this, mix together 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt, 1/4 cup feta cheese, and 1/4 teaspoon of each spice. Create tip: This recipe makes enough spread for 4 burritos. Ask your parents if you need help changing the recipe to make more or less at a time.

Next, chop up your vegetables. In our case, the carrot, tomato, cucumber, and red onion. We peeled our large carrot with a peeler, and used the shavings. it makes for a nice thin crunch! Create Tip: When choosing vegetables, pick a lot of different colors. Different colors mean different nutrients that help your body to keep doing its best.

IMG_1374

Now it’s time to start filling the burrito. Smear the feta spread across the middle of your tortilla, then pile on the vegetables!

Top the vegetables with some garbanzo beans. These beans and the Greek yogurt are the main sources of protein of the meal, which makes this meal filling even without meat. By now you should have a crisp colorful mountain of flavor on your tortilla.

img_1387.jpg

And now, a short lesson on burrito folding. Take the short ends of the tortilla, and fold them in. Tuck one long end across and around the toppings, then continue folding to wrap the deliciousness safely in its whole grain packet.

Next up, crEATe!

Here is the recipe all in one place to look back on, but as always, get creative. Feel free to try out different spice and vegetable combinations, and let us know how it goes by commenting on this post. Happy Creating!

– Kids Create Team

THE MEDITERRANEAN BURRITO

Fight “BAC”!

Have you ever dreamed of becoming a master chef? Or of being that one friend that everyone can’t stop talking about how AMAZING your food is? Or have you simply just wanted to make something better than a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for a snack after school?

Cooking Girl

Well look no further, you have come to the right place! Each week we will have new recipes and tips that will not only help you become a culinary genius, but will also give you tools to stay energized, healthy and having fun.

As you follow these posts and develop your cooking skills , there is one obstacle that you will face that could ruin all the fun… and that is……… bacteria!Unknown

If you are not safe with your food, these nasty little guys could make your food taste funny, they could make you EXTREMELY sick, and ultimately, your cooking party gets ruined. So fight that bacteria. Fight ‘BAC’!

images

Here are some ways to Fight ‘Bac’:

  • CLEAN
    • Bacteria will spread quickly if everything isn’t kept clean. Start off by wiping down counters and washing hands for at least 20 seconds, and then make sure all your fruits and vegetable are washed and scrubbed well before preparing your cuisine
  • SEPARATE
    • Never let foods cross contaminate! Use different knives and cutting boards for vegetables and meat.
  • COOK
    • Bacteria is pretty durable, so if you don’t cook foods such as eggs and meat to the right temperature, you could let some bacteria spread! Use a thermometer when cooking foods like chicken, beef, fish, and pork, to make sure you get your food hot enough.danger-zone-lg
  • CHILL
    • The favorite temperature zone for bacteria is between 40 F, and 140 F, so it is important to chill food quickly. After you are done eating, cover it and put it in a refrigerator right away. Food should never be out of the fridge for more than 2 hours.

 

Clean-Separate-Cook-Chill-Card

Nice! Now that you are brushed up on some food safety tips, click on the link and see how well you can ‘Fight BAC’ and then check your answers!

How well can YOU ‘Fight BAC’?

Answer Sheet

Great Job! You are ready to fend off those fun-killing bacteria! Make sure to print up THIS checklist and hang it on your fridge to remind you about Fighting BAC!

For some extra fun, check out the free ‘Perfect Picnic’ iPhone app. Its a fun interactive game that lets you plan the perfect picnic party while avoiding those pesky bacteria that cause food poisoning!

Fight BAC
Perfect Picnic App

 

Nutty Crunch Fruit Dip

 

Today’s recipe is quick, crunchy, and delicious! Keep reading for a simple creation that can be used as a colorful breakfast, or filling summer snack.

IMG_1203

You will need four ingredients…

IMG_12101. NUTS. Any nuts will do, our favorites are almonds and walnuts. Nuts are packed with protein, which means they keep you feeling full and ready to take on whatever summer fun comes your way.

IMG_12202. YOGURT. We suggest Greek yogurt, which has about twice the amount of protein as normal yogurt. Again, making sure this snack fills your tummy all the way up! Plain or vanilla yogurt are the flavors we chose.

IMG_12243. NUT BUTTER. Peanut butter is what you probably already have in your kitchen, which is great! Create Tip: Try finding a natural peanut butter, where the only ingredient listed on the back of the jar is “peanuts”. If you feel like being creative, try this dip with almond butter.

4. FRUIT. Pick your favorite fruits to dip! We used apples, oranges, and bananas, because they are usually the cheapest. It won’t be hard to convince your parents to buy these. They are healthy and inexpensive.

Now that you have your four ingredients ready, let’s create!

  1. MIX one or two big spoonfuls of peanut butter (about 1/8 cup) into a single-serving container of Greek yogurt.

2. CHOP nuts into small chunks.

IMG_12533. SPRINKLE chopped nuts onto yogurt and nut butter mixture.

IMG_12664. SLICE up all of your fruit.

IMG_12705. crEATe!

IMG_1254

Keep things exciting and try something new every time you make this. Different fruits, yogurt flavors, and nuts can all make something deliciously unique. Happy Creating!

– Kids Create Team

Pop on over!

How many of you like to experiment? I tried a bunch of experiments with popping popcorn in an electric skillet and it was pretty cool. And it works very well for the most part :).

VOL_4160
I made a couple different kinds of popcorn in different ways…
VOL_4140
I tried different varieties of popcorn as well as different methods of cooking the popcorn in the electric skillet. I used coconut oil, butter, vegetable oil, and nothing (just a dry pan).
VOL_4146
I heated the skillet to 400 and then added the oil (or whatever one I used) and then the popcorn.
VOL_4129
 I then put the lid on and left it a little bit ajar. And then let it pop for a few minutes until most of the kernels are popped.
VOL_4143
Turn off the skillet and take of the lid carefully…you still may get some stray popcorn flying so take it off at your own risk 🙂
VOL_4153
I like a little butter and salt on my popcorn and so now it a great time to make a pond in the middle of your popcorn mountain and melt the butter.
VOL_4155
Stir well and sprinkle with a little salt if desired.
VOL_4189
In my experiment, I found that the vegetable oil or coconut oil works best for popping popcorn.  The dry pan takes quite a bit longer to pop and didn’t seem quite as fluffy but it still works. And the butter burned so don’t do that one. The yellow popcorn was the fluffiest but that might be because it was probably the freshest…
VOL_4131
This is the burned butter popcorn. It still tasted okay but not recommended. Melt the butter AFTER the popcorn is popped!
VOL_4150
Try lots of different seasonings and flavors 🙂
VOL_4180
That was so easy that you could have a neighborhood popcorn party! And popcorn is a whole grain so that counts as a bonus! 

A Cheesy, Gooey, Yummy Mess!

How many of you love lasagna? How many of you hate waiting for an hour for it to bake? Well wait haters, today is your lucky day. Lasagna just got a whole lot easier and quicker! You are gonna love this one!

VOL_4118

EASY SKILLET LASAGNA

1 pound ground beef

½  onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup) or 1 Tbsp. dried onion

3 cups (24 ounces) spaghetti or pasta sauce

½  teaspoon garlic powder

1 ½ cup water

8 ounces egg noodles

Sliced mushrooms, fresh or canned, drained (optional)

1 container (24 ounces) low fat cottage cheese

1 ½  cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

Cook ground beef in a large skillet or electric fry pan. Stir to prevent sticking. When ground beef has turned brown, remove grease. If there is not a lot, I use a paper towel to wipe excess grease out. Be very careful since it is very hot! Add mushrooms and cook for two minutes.

Add spaghetti sauce, garlic powder, onion, and water to skillet. Bring to a boil. Add uncooked noodles. Stir and cover with lid. Turn down the heat to 300 and cook 5 minutes.

Spoon cottage cheese over the top. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Put the lid on and let it heat another 5 to 10 minutes until heated through and noodles are tender. For a pretty appearance do not stir the dish once cheese has melted. Season with salt and pepper.

VOL_4089
Get ingredients together. Read the recipe carefully as I forgot to put water in the picture.
VOL_4094
Brown your beef and drain or “towel” the grease. If you use fresh onion, cook it with the meat.
VOL_4095
Add the Vitamin D–mushrooms are the best natural food source of vitamin D 🙂
VOL_4096
Add the other ingredients except noodles, cottage cheese and cheese. Bring to a boil.
VOL_4097
Add the noodles to the boiling sauce. Egg noodles work by far the best since they have a shorter cooking time.
VOL_4098
Reduce heat to 300 and simmer for 5 minutes with the lid on.
VOL_4099
Add cottage cheese…
VOL_4101
And the cheese…
VOL_4104
Cover and cook for 5 more minutes…
VOL_4107
And you have a beautiful, delicious lasagna mess in minutes!

For printable recipe, please click here Easy Skillet Lasagna

Oh. My. Goodness!

I am so excited to share this recipe with you! I had never made English muffins before and now I will never buy them again! Not even kidding. This is awesome and you can do lots of fun things with English muffins once you have them made. So let’s get started…

VOL_4057

ENGLISH MUFFINS

1½ tablespoons yeast
2 cups very warm water
½ cup butter, melted
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
5½ to 6 cups flour (white whole wheat, unbleached, or a combination of both)
cornmeal

In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the water.  Add melted butter, salt, and sugar. Mix well.   Stir in 3 cups of flour.  Continue to stir in flour, ½ cup at a time, until a soft dough forms.  Knead briefly on a floured surface.  (No need to work the dough hard like bread dough.  Just make sure it’s not sticky.  It will be soft.)

Roll dough out to about ¼ inch thick.  Cut into 4 inch rounds.  (I use a large plastic cup.)  Place rounds on a cornmeal sprinkled surface.  Sprinkle additional cornmeal on top.  Cover rounds with a towel and let rise 30 minutes. Pre-heat skillet to 300 degrees. Cook on  ungreased, pre-heated skillet, about 7-10 minutes on each side.

Allow to cool.  Split to toast.  Makes about 15 muffins.

*** Don’t let the skillet get too hot.  Muffins need to cook at least 7 minutes on each side so that they don’t end up doughy in the middle.

VOL_4025
Get your ingredients…
VOL_4028
Stir yeast in water to dissolve it. Then stir in the rest of ingredients to make a soft dough…
VOL_4031
This is what the dough looks like…
VOL_4035
This is about how thick you should roll out the dough…
VOL_4037
I used a cup to cut mine. But you should try a cookie cutter for fun shapes—why didn’t I think of that sooner???
VOL_4040
Cover and let raise for 30 minutes or so…
VOL_4044
Cook on ungreased, preheated skillet…
VOL_4071
Cook at 300 degrees for 7 to 10 minutes per side until nice and browned…
VOL_4054
Slice and eat! So good with strawberry peach jam…
VOL_4079
Or made into mini-pizzas! Or…whatever you make with them.

For printable recipe, please click here  English Muffins

 

Skillet Zucchini Bread

So I had my post all ready today and my hubby sends me an email informing that it is NATIONAL ZUCCHINI BREAD DAY! How did I miss that one? I mean anyone who is anyone knows it it national zucchini bread day, right? I am sure that I am probably the only person who didn’t realize what day it was. So my dilemma is this: Do I stick with the skillet recipe theme I had planned or do I honor the zucchini appropriately? Hmmmm….maybe I could combine the two? Yep, that’s what I did. I am rather impressed with myself. Here goes:

VOL_4019

SKILLET ZUCCHINI BREAD

1 cake mix

¼ cup brown sugar

3 eggs

2 Tablespoons butter, melted

1 Teaspoon vanilla

1 medium zucchini, shredded (about 2 cups)

Mini chocolate chips (optional)

Press aluminum foil into electric skillet. Remove the foil and set heat on  skillet to 265 degrees with lid on. Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl. When batter is ready (it will be thick), place foil back in skillet and spray with non stick spray. Spread batter onto foil as best you can. Be careful not to burn yourself on edge of skillet! Cover with the lids slightly ajar so moisture can escape. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove lid and cook another 5 minutes to let some of the moisture evaporate.

Use different flavors of cake mix for fun variety!

VOL_3996
Mold tin foil into your electric skillet BEFORE you heat it up. I used the heavy duty extra wide but if you need to stack it, that is fine.
VOL_3997
Remove foil and turn the temperature to 265 degrees with the lid on.
VOL_4001
Gather your ingredients. Note: You will only need one zucchini for the recipe, unless it is very small zucchini.
VOL_4003
Mix ingredients together. Batter will be very thick.
VOL_4004
Uncover skillet, put tin foil liner back in and spray with non-stick spray. Be careful putting the foil back in as the skillet will be hot.
VOL_4006
Spread the batter the best you can. As you can see, I didn’t get it all the way to the sides but that’s okay–it will spread as it bakes.
VOL_4007
Put the cover on but leave it slightly ajar so steam can escape.
VOL_4008
Bake for 45 minutes…
VOL_4009
You will be able to remove the bread easily from the skillet by picking up the sides of the foil.
VOL_4019
Enjoy! I can’t believe that it actually worked…;)

For printable recipe, click here Skillet Zucchini Bread