Orange pumpkins brighten up this Vienna, Austria street market!
What Can I Do with Pumpkins?
* Decorate your front door step with pumpkins throughout the fall
* Carve pumpkins into funny faces at Halloween
* Scoop out the pumpkin seeds and make oven-roasted pumpkin seeds that are a crisp and hearty snack
* Scoop out and cook the pumpkin flesh until soft, puree it and use in a muffin recipe or soup recipe
* Oven-bake a small pumpkin, whole, and then use the flesh as a side dish on your dinner plate or any way you wish
Make Pumpkin Your New Healthy Habit!
You will be doing yourself a big favor by adding pumpkin and its ‘fall squash cousins’ to your meals, shopping list and kitchen pantry – for top flavor, amazing good nutrition and colorful fun. Be sure to try the fresh pumpkins now and then later be sure to stock up on canned, solid pack pumpkin. It’s all good!
What will you cook with pumpkin this week?
Mushrooms come in many sizes & varieties so be sure to try them all!
Mushrooms & Pennsylvania
When I went to middle school, my family moved from Washington State to southeastern Pennsylvania. That was when I began learning about mushrooms. My mother got into the habit of giving a big basket of fresh mushrooms as a holiday or special occasion gift which might sound odd, unless you know Pennsylvania mushrooms!
Mushrooms 101: Nutrition & Health
Like so many veggies, mushrooms have a strong nutrition resume. Some of their top nutrients include selenium, copper and potassium along with fiber and health-enhancing phytochemicals. Mushrooms are low in calories and a good source of fiber, too.
Mushrooms 201: Selection and Storage
Taking time to select and store mushrooms correctly is a first step to enjoying this delicately-flavored veggie. As with all veggies, freshness is a top priority so pick out firm, evenly colored mushrooms without spots or slime. Also, store them for only a few days to preserve their quality.
Mushrooms 301: Cooking
Mushrooms are full of water like so many veggies and cooking them develops a mildly savory flavor. The best way to do this is to add either a small amount of vegetable oil or wine to your pan before sauteing the mushrooms. They will turn golden brown within a short time at medium-high heat. Mix together 2 or more varieties of mushrooms for a rich and satisfying meal. Cooked mushrooms work well added to red sauce over pasta or as a meatless burger with melted cheese, lettuce and tomato.
Get Started with Mushrooms in Your Kitchen
Mushrooms belong in everyone’s meal plans. Buy mushrooms fresh and try these ideas: slice them and eat raw over your salad; cook them whole in a little wine as your dinner side item; slice them and stir-fry with other veggies for your dinner entree. The time to get started is now!
What new mushroom recipe can you invent?
Toasting pecans for 3 min. at 300 degrees adds a huge flavor boost!
Are you Nuts for Nuts?
There are many good reasons to add nuts to your grocery shopping cart. For example:
Mixing toasted pecans, oatmeal and fresh berries is an awesome breakfast!
Nuts are Flavorful
Nuts are Versatile
Nuts are Nutritious
Are you Stuck in a Nut-Rut?
Different varieties of nuts are easy to find around the grocery store:
Produce Department: Nuts in the shell, some are unsalted
Baking Aisle: Nuts out of the shell in packages, most are unsalted
Peanut Butter & Jelly Aisle: Nut butters such as peanut butter, almond butter,
Are You Ready for a Nutty Recipe?
Try these Spiced Nuts!
Try Oatmeal with fresh berries and toasted nuts
Try Homemade Trail Mix with Nuts
Build a Healthier Kitchen for a Healthier Life!
Adding nuts to your shopping cart and your kitchen pantry is a smart idea for everyone, unless there are allergies in the family. When you buy nuts, think about other healthy pantry items, too. Join me on Facebook, subscribe to my E-newsletter and invest in my e-books for a healthier kitchen and a healthier life!
What is your favorite nut?
Versatility of Fresh Basil
One super-fresh flavor of summer is the herb, basil. I’ve grown it in a sunny place in my yard for probably 15 years, or more. It’s easy to grow, full of wonderful flavor and it keeps on growing-and-giving as you pick it throughout June, July, August and September. Here’s a fun look at how versatile fresh basil is.
3 Easy Basil Recipes
1. Watermelon with Fresh Basil: Cut fresh basil leaves into very thin slivers and sprinkle on top of cut-up, fresh watermelon.
2. Italian Panini Sandwich: Layer thin sliced prosciutto, Mozzarella cheese, tomato slices and fresh basil leaves onto a bakery roll, to make a sandwich. Warm and press in a panini press, waffle iron or skillet on the stove.
3. Fresh Basil Pesto: Combine these in a food processor (or very good quality blender) – 2 cups packed down fresh basil leaves, 4 cloves peeled and chopped garlic, 1/4 -1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, 1/4 cup walnuts, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt. Process until smooth. Mix prepared pesto with hot, cooked spaghetti. Or, spread it on your pizza or sandwich.
Get into Your Kitchen Now!
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What’s growing in your fresh herb garden this summer?
A stew made from 5 fresh ingredients adds homemade flavors to dinner!
Cooking with Eggplant
I’ve always thought eggplant has a kind of mystique surrounding it. Is it the deep purple color? Is it the name? Or, is it that many people are confused with how to cook eggplant? If you’re confused, then it’s time to get to the grocery store or local farm market, buy an eggplant and give it a try!
To Peel or Not to Peel
It’s not hard to prepare and cook eggplant. First, rinse eggplant well with cool water. The next step is to peel or not to peel it and either way works. Next, cut eggplant into chunks or rounds and cook it. Some chefs give eggplant a striped look by peeling it part-way. Here’s a fun video showing the stripes and a simple grilled eggplant recipe.
Easy Stewed Eggplant Recipe (ingredients in photo)
1. Wash and cut into chunks: 2 Japanese eggplants, 6-8 inches long (or 1 large globe-shaped eggplant); 2 green Bell peppers; 2 large or 3 medium tomatoes; 1 medium onion. Set aside.
2. In a stewing pot, add 1/2 tablespoon olive oil and heat to medium. Add 2-4 cloves garlic, minced. Cook 2-3 minutes.
3. Add prepared veggies from step #1 to pot and cover with lid. Cook 10-15 minutes, stirring a couple of times.
4. Add 1/2 cup tomato sauce or tomato puree to pot ingredients. Stir.
5. Cover pot with lid, reduce heat to low and cook stew for about 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.
6. Serve over cooked pasta and sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper.
Note: For more flavor, add chopped fresh herbs like basil, parsley, oregano, mint and/or thyme half way through.
Create a Healthy Kitchen, Starting Today!
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What light & healthy eggplant recipe will you try this summer?
Local, tree-ripened peaches can make your taste buds dance!
Caring for Fresh Peaches
It seems simple. Pick-your-own or buy fresh peaches and then eat them. But, wait – there’s more! By following these 3 steps, your summer peaches will reward you with more flavor, more sweetness and more enjoyment.
Step 1. At home, store peaches on the kitchen counter.
Step 2. Twice a day, check for ripeness by very gently squeezing the peach with your thumb and index finger.
Step 3. When peach is slightly soft to the touch and smells ‘peachy’, eat or store in the fridge (for up to one week.)
Peaches & Cinnamon in Meals and Snacks
Sprinkling cinnamon onto a fresh peach is something you must try! Here are 3 ways to make this winning combination add flavor and creativity to your meals and snacks.
1. Peaches & cinnamon over yogurt. Wash and cut up the peach, sprinkle it with cinnamon and stir up. Dish up some vanilla or honey yogurt and top with peaches.
2. Peaches & cinnamon over breakfast cereal. Wash and cut up the peach. Pour your bowl of cereal (go for high fiber varieties). Top with peaches and sprinkle with cinnamon.
3. Peaches & cinnamon on the grill. Wash and cut peach in half. Brush cut side very lightly with oil. Cook on the grill, cut side down, for 3-4 minutes. Sprinkle with cinnamon.
Take the Challenge
If you are not already eating at least 5 servings of fruits and/or vegetables every day, then it’s time for a change. Take the challenge by keeping track of your intake of fruits/veggies with the goal to consistently eat about 2-1/2 cups per day. For kids and everyone, here’s a fun tune as a good nutrition reminder!
What’s your favorite way to eat summer peaches?
Patty pan squash mixed with corn off-the-cob, onions and fresh herbs is a treat for the taste buds!
Mix it Up!
Are you are slipping into a rut using the same vegetables over and over and over? You’re not alone. Most of us put one of 3-5 different choices on the family table because we like them, our families will eat them and we believe in vegetables.
Climb out of that Rut!
It’s time to branch out and climb out of that rut with summer vegetable mixtures. The best part about mixing veggies together is that anything goes and all flavors blend. Not only that — the colors are brighter and the family perks up to eating superior nutrition.
Try One of These!
Here are a 3 summer veggie mixtures to try. They can be easily steamed on the stove top or in the microwave. Or, grill them on a special veggie grill pan or in a small aluminum foil ‘tent’ alongside the rest of the grill meal. Season lightly with olive oil.
1. Sliced zucchini and onions + red Bell pepper chunks
2. Green beans and chunks of tomatoes + chopped fresh garlic and basil
3. Corn off-the-cob, green Bell pepper chunks and onions + chopped parsley and thyme
Shop, Cook, Enjoy!
Now, gather your ideas, shop at the market and bring your family into-the-loop. Do it for the wonderful flavors and for the nutritional advantage that veggies offer all of us. Who can come up with a signature summer vegetable mixture to try at your meal table?
Cherokee purple tomatoes are unique and delicious, from my local Farmer's Market!
It’s Fun Trying Many Varieties of Tomatoes!
I used to think a homegrown, local tomato was heavenly — and, I still do! But, lately I’m getting more fun out of summer tomatoes by trying different varieties. The Cherokee Purple tomato, shown at left, is actually purple-ish on the outside and inside. Amish Paste is another to try as is Brandywine. I suggest your local Farmer’s Market if you are ready to have some fun with tomato varieties!
Making Easy Meals with Tomatoes!
1. Cold Tomato Sandwich Meal: Spread fresh sourdough or whole grain bread with light mayo or mustard. Cut a fresh, local tomato into thick slices and layer onto bread. Top tomatoes with minced, fresh herbs such as basil, oregano or mint. Make a meal by adding sliced cucumbers and a wedge of cantaloupe or watermelon.
2. Cold Pasta & Tomato Salad Meal: Mix together cooked pasta with chunks of fresh, local tomatoes. Use several kinds if you can. Add your signature ingredients such as olives, black beans or cheese. Dress simply with oil and vinegar, salt and pepper. Stir. Make a meal by adding warm corn tortillas wrapped around sliced avocado or salsa and a peach.
3. Cold Tomato Gazpacho Soup Meal: Here’s a tasty recipe for Tomato Gazpacho Soup. Make a meal by adding simple, grilled chicken or fish and fresh plum tart.
Make it Healthy and Tasty in Your Kitchen!
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Garlic, basil and tomatoes are a great start for healthful, Mediterranean flavors!
Flavors from the Mediterranean
Do you like the flavors of Italy? Do you like the flavors of Greece? Do you like the flavors of Turkey or Spain? All of these countries have coastlines on the Mediterranean Sea and, because of this, they share similar climates and some similar food ingredients and flavors.
Menu Planning from the Mediterranean
Whether or not you live near the Mediterranean Sea, you can enjoy eating a meal that is traditional to that area. It’s fun, too. Maybe you’ll want to plan a simple pasta dinner with red sauce made from garlic, basil and tomatoes. Or maybe you’ll plan a Turkish meal with beef or lamb shish kebab over rice. Both are delicious!
Celebrate Simple from the Mediterranean
Invest in yours and your family’s good health by celebrating simple, homemade cooking from the Mediterranean. Boiling pasta and making a simple sauce for dinner can be done with a little planning ahead, an easy recipe, and an efficient grocery shopping list. Grilling a shish kebab dinner can be done in similar steps. On the side of your plate, add a simple green vegetable and enjoy an orange, apricot or kiwi as a simple dessert.
Everyday Tools for Your Healthy Kitchen
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Getting out ingredients first makes cooking this Veg-Barley Soup quicker and easier.
5 Steps to Getting Organized & Making Homemade Soup
1. Select a soup recipe and read it all the way through. Add the ingredients you need to your shopping list. Shop for your ingredients.
2. Figure out the best time to make your soup. It may be early in the morning on Saturday before the kids wake up. Or, it may be immediately after dinner when the house is getting quiet for the evening.
3. Get all your ingredients ready before turning on the burner to cook. Take items out of the dry pantry, fridge, freezer. Wash, peel, chop veggies. Measure out soup stock.
4. Get out your soup pot. Any medium to large pot with a lid will work. Or, you can invest in a new one.
5. Follow your recipe, step-by-step, until all the ingredients are in the pot. Then, let your soup cook and enjoy the wonderful, homemade aroma in your kitchen.
3 Quick Meals with Homemade Soup
1. Soup + Pita Bread Toaster Pizza, sauce/cheese/diced ham + Cut-up Fruit
2. Soup + Crispy Cucumber Strips & Carrot Sticks with Hummus to Dip + Raisins-Almonds-Pretzel Trailmix
3. Soup + Grilled Cheese on Whole Wheat Bread, optional with tomato slices + Green Side Salad, light dressing
More Homemade Ideas for a Healthy Kitchen
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Bell peppers taste sweet when you cook them!
Making it Yourself
There are awesome advantages to cooking from simple and nutritious ingredients in your own kitchen. For example, the flavors are tasty, the nutrition reflects your ingredients and everyone appreciates a meal together. Here’s an easy recipe for you!
Peppers & Lean Beef Recipe
Ingredients: 1-1/2 lb round steak (beef or venison); 2 T. oil; 1 green pepper; 1 large can diced tomatoes; 1/4 cup soy sauce; 1/2 t. garlic powder; 1/2 t. black pepper; 1/2 t. ground ginger; 1 cup beef broth or water; 2 T. cornstarch
Directions: Trim fat from steak. Slice into thin, 2-3 inch strips. Wash green pepper, remove core and seeds, slice into thin, 2-3 inch strips. Add oil to a large, heated skillet over medium high heat. Add meat and cook, stirring, for 5-7 min. until medium-rare. Add green pepper and cook 3-4 min. longer, stirring. Reduce heat and add all remaining ingredients except broth (or water) and cornstarch. Simmer with a lid for 10 min. With a whisk, mix together broth (or water) and cornstarch well. Add to pepper & beef mixture, stirring to make a smooth sauce. Simmer 10 more minutes to thicken, stirring a few times.
A Balanced Meal: Serve Peppers & Lean Beef over cooked brown rice with a leafy green salad on the side and cut-up fruit for dessert.
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An apple a day is a smart nutrition decision!
The legend of Johnny Appleseed is fun to read about while munching on a favorite late-summer or early-fall season apple. Apples are full of flavor, fiber and crunch and they’re versatile in meals and snacks. Take a look at this handy Apple Buyer’s Guide to learn more about apple varieties and how to use them. Then, wander over to your kitchen and make an easy and tasty apple recipe!
Fresh Apple Salad – A sweet and crunchy side dish for any meal or serve it for dessert!
Ingredients: 3 medium apples; 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice; 3/4 cup lemon or lime yogurt; 1/4 cup plain nonfat yogurt; 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
How to Make: Wash apples. Remove core and seeds. Cut apples into bite-size pieces and place in a bowl. Squeeze lemon juice over apples. Stir. Add both yogurts to apples. Stir. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Makes 4 servings.
Nutrition per serving: 80 calories; 0 gm fat; 0 gm saturated fat; 0 trans fat; 0 mg cholesterol; 40 mg sodium; 19 gm carbohydrates; 3 gm fiber; 3 gm protein
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