Happy All Day Long // Tips for Healthy Summertime Snacks

Who’s stomach grumbles after lunch, but before it’s time for dinner? Or just before bedtime? I know mine does! Sometimes a snack is just what the doctor ordered.

Snacks are small portions of food, just enough to keep your stomach happy until it’s time for your next meal. Snacks that include FIBER and PROTEIN are the best at keeping you full and satisfied.

So, fiber, what is it anyways?

Fiber is found in…the skins of fruits and vegetables, whole-grains and cereals, and nuts and legumes. Your body does not digest fiber, but fiber plays an important role in your digestive health. It also helps clean-out “the bad-guy” cholesterol in your gut. Here are a couple examples of fiber-rich foods. Which are your favorite?

Protein is another important part of your snack. Protein molecules are like the doctors and construction workers in your body – they help build and repair damaged tissues and keep your body strong and healthy. What protein foods are your favorite?

When you eat a meal with fiber or protein, it stays in your stomach for a longer period of time, helping your body digest the food you’ve eaten slowly. This gives you lasting energy!

Building healthy snacks is easy! Pick at least one food from the pictures above and think of something it would taste good with. Let’s use peanut butter as an example. What snacks can we create with peanut butter? Here are three ideas we came up with.

  • Peanut butter + celery
  • Peanut butter + banana
  • Peanut butter + pretzels/crackers

Let us know what snack creations you come up with, and try some of our own!

Broccoli, Grapes, Craisins, Oh My! // Summertime Salads

Did you know a “salad” doesn’t need lettuce or spinach? The word “salad” really just means a dish that mixes different kinds of vegetables and fruit. Salads are full of flavor and fun to eat! Let’s check out this sweet broccoli grape salad…perfect for summertime!

First, gather your ingredients: sugar, vinegar, plain Greek yogurt, almonds (if desired), dried cranberries or raisins, broccoli, onion, and grapes!

Next, chop the broccoli, grapes, onion, and almonds into small bite-sized chunks.

Next, in a small bowl, mix together the yogurt, sugar, and vinegar.

Combine all ingredients together until the yogurt mixture has covered all of the broccoli and grapes. Simple as that, you’ve got yourself some broccoli grape salad!

Happy creating!

“Mom, Can I Get Some More?!” // Healthy BBQ Sides

Who loves barbecues? Who loves all the different kinds of food at barbecues? Have you ran out of room for all the food you want to try?

I know I have!

Making healthy choices can be difficult at these kinds of parties. But with a few simple tips, you’ll have no problem at all.

  • Tip #1 – Take what you love, leave what you like! It’s important to allow ourselves to eat our favorite foods, even if they aren’t the best choice. Pick one dessert you know you’ll love, and leave the rest for another time.
  • Tip #2 – Fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables. Enjoy the fresh crunch of cucumbers, carrots, corn on the cob, and juicy watermelon!
  • Tip #3 – Stop eating when you’re full! It’s easy to accidentally grab more food than you are hungry for. Listen to your tummy when it tells you it’s done.
  • Tip #4 – Bring a healthy side to share with your friends and family! Try one of our recipes below.

Enjoy!

Happy 4th!! // Patriotic Toast

Having a good breakfast is the best way to fuel your fun for the 4th of July! These slices of Patriotic Toast provide you with whole-grains, protein, and fruit. Let’s get started!

Start with a few basic ingredients – bread, peanut butter, blueberries, bananas, and strawberries.

Slice the strawberries into small strips. Follow the steps above for easy slicing!

  • Step 1: Wash the berries.
  • Step 2: Slice the tops off the berries.
  • Step 3: Slice the strawberries in half.
  • Step 4: Lay the strawberry halves face down. Thinly slice the strawberries into small strips.

Slice the bananas in the same way you sliced the strawberries.

  • Step 1: Start with 1/2 banana.
  • Step 2: Slice in half.
  • Step 3: Lay each half face down and thinly slice the bananas into small strips.

Now you’re ready to build your very own patriotic toast!

Spread 1 tbsp. of peanut butter on toasted whole-wheat bread.

Top your peanut butter toast with fruit in the shape of a flag. Start with the blueberries, creating a small square in the top left-hand corner. Next add red and white stripes by alternating strawberry and banana slices. Enjoy!

Patriotic Party // Watermelon Skewers

It’s July and that means we get to celebrate AMERICA! Many families have traditions for the 4th of July. Some people run races, play games outside with their families, have barbecues, or watch fireworks! What are your favorite traditions?

These watermelon skewers are a perfect way to honor America at your family party! You’ll love the refreshing taste of the watermelon and blueberries after playing in the sun.

Here’s what you need: watermelon, blueberries, and some skewers.

  • Step 1: Cut the watermelon in half.
  • Step 2: Take one watermelon half and place it face down on your cutting board. Cut it in half again.
  • Step 3: Slice one of the watermelon halves into large sheets.
  • Step 4: With a knife, trace the shape of a star.
  • Step 5: Pull the star out of the watermelon.

Next, decorate your skewer with blueberries and star-shaped watermelon! We thought it was fun to do a line of blueberries topped with one watermelon star. What pattern will you choose?

Happy creating!!

Dip it, Dunk it, Eat it! // Cool Cucumber Dip

One of my favorite ways to eat raw vegetables is dunked in a flavorful dip! Making your own dip is easy and fun….let’s get started!

First, gather your ingredients. You’ll need garlic, dill, salt, lemon juice, and plain non-fat Greek yogurt. Using non-fat yogurt instead of mayonnaise makes this dip a healthier choice than what you’ll find at the store.

Dump all the ingredients in a bowl or liquid measuring cup.

Stir to combine, and you’re practically finished! The only thing left to do is to slice the cucumber.

Feel free to cut your cucumber however you like, but here are some step-by-step instructions for slicing cucumber spears.

  • Step 1: Using a vegetable peeler, peel stripes on your cucumber.
  • Step 2: Cut both ends off your cucumber.
  • Step 3: Slice the cucumber in half both ways – first the long way, and then the short way.
  • Step 4: Slice each cucumber section in half and….
  • Step 5: Slice each cucumber section in half again! You should have 16 spears total.

Dunk spears into your prepared dip. Try dipping other vegetables too – like carrots, radishes, or celery!

Enjoy!

Storing Fruits and Veggies // Ripe Produce Recipe Roundup

There are few things worse than biting into an old piece of fruit! Sometimes the fruit or vegetable will look ‘ok’ from the outside, but end up being mushy or brown on the inside. When we store fruits and vegetables properly, fruits and vegetables stay fresh for longer periods of time.

We like putting our fruits and vegetables into 5 groups when talking about storing tips. For example all fruits in Group 1 (apples, apricots, peaches, pears, etc.) can be stored either inside or outside of the refrigerator, but will last longer if placed in the refrigerator.

Learn more tips by looking at our handout below!

Even when we store our fruits and vegetables as best as we can, sometimes they still go bad. If you notice your fruit or vegetable turning soft and mushy, try some of these clever ideas.

Beet Chips

Dried chips! Beets, potatoes, squash, and eggplant are great candidates for a baked oven “chip.” We love Beet Chips.

Pasta sauce! Jazz up your tomato sauce with sliced mushrooms, spinach shreds, sliced tomatoes, and so much more. Top on Spaghetti Squash or pasta of choice.

Muffins, waffles, and pancakes! Fix your sweet tooth with a hint of fruit in your favorite baked goods. Here’s a recipe for Banana Bread Waffles.

Apricot Fruit Leather

Dried fruit leather! Making your own fruit leather is quite simple – it just takes some patience while the leather dries in the oven! You can make this recipe with a variety of fruits – apples, strawberries, peaches, apricots, pears, etc. Check out our recipe for Apricot Fruit Leather here.

Happy creating!

Freezing Fruits and Veggies // Broccoli Pesto Pasta

Did you know frozen fruits and vegetables are just as healthy as fresh fruits and vegetables? They can taste just as good too!

Freezing fruits and vegetables allows you to enjoy fresh produce all year long, even when they aren’t in season. It’s smart to save excess produce from the farmers market, garden, or store in your freezer.

The trick to freezing fruits and vegetables is blanching. Blanching is a simple process that helps fruits and vegetables stay fresh for longer periods of time. This video gives a quick demonstration of the blanching process.

Different fruits and vegetables require different amounts of cooking time. Use this handout as a guide to know how long each fruit or vegetable should be placed in the boiling water.

Broccoli is a great vegetable to use – fresh or frozen! We made some Broccoli Pesto Pasta using frozen broccoli. This was one of my favorite recipes as a kid – even though the sauce is green, its very tasty and doesn’t take long to make!

We’ll need pasta, broccoli, Parmesan cheese, garlic, vinegar, olive oil, and a bouillon cube.

After cooking the broccoli, place all ingredients in a blender or food processor and pulse until smooth.

And presto! You have pasta sauce for dinner. Add to a plate of cooked pasta. Top with Parmesan, grilled chicken, or lean ground beef.

Enjoy!!

Kids Can Cook! // Get the Whole Family Involved

Cooking by yourself is FUN, but cooking with your family is a BLAST. Everyone can do something to help!

Use the chart below to find out what you and your siblings can do to help in the kitchen:

When planning your meals, think about using some of these family friendly recipes where everyone can play a role in the cooking process!

You Are What You Beet // Pink Risotto

When you visit the farmers’ market this month, you’ll likely see large bunches of beets with bright pink stalks and giant leaves! Beets are a great source of folate, potassium, fiber, and vitamin C.

Beets get their vibrant pink/red color from an antioxidant called “betalain.” Betalains help protect good cells in your body that keep you healthy! To learn more about beets, read this unbeetable post from last summer.

One of my favorite ways to eat beets is in risotto – a creamy, cheesy rice dish you’re sure to like. Because of the betalains in the beets, beet risotto turns a bright pink! How fun is that?

You’ll need a few simple ingredients to make this risotto. Brown rice, low-fat mozzarella cheese, bouillon cube, onion, beets, and chickpeas (optional).

  • Step 1: Even though the large stalks of beets are beautiful, all we need are the bulbs at the bottom. Cut the tops off and save to use in a different recipe.
  • Step 2: Peel the skin off the beets using a vegetable peeler.
  • Step 3: Slice and dice the beets into small cubes.
  • Step 4: Slice and dice onion into small pieces.
  • Step 5: In a large fry pan, cook the beets and onions over medium heat until they are soft and tender. Then add the rice.
  • Step 6: Slowly add water to the pan. You’ll add about 1/2 cup of water at a time. Stir the water, rice, and vegetables until the rice looks dry. Continue stirring and adding water until the rice is soft and tender (about 30-60 minutes).
  • Step 7: Add mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Stir into risotto until the cheese is melted.
  • Step 8: Mix in chickpeas to the risotto mixture.

Now it’s time to enjoy your masterpiece!

Happy creating!