If you just love blueberries, like I do, then consider yourself lucky. No matter what you call them, these little blue dynamos are showing up at the top of lists of the healthiest foods we can eat…even as dessert!
Blueberry Crisp Recipe
A dessert rich with healthy fruit and not too much added sugar!
Kids can help by washing the fruit, measuring the ingredients and crumbling the topping, with supervision.
Makes 6 servings
4 cups Blueberries, fresh or frozen
1 Tablespoon Lemon or lime juice, the amount of juice in ½ lemon or lime
1/4 cup Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
2 Tablespoons Butter, unsalted, or buttery spread with 0 trans fat
1/4 cup Whole wheat flour
1/4 cup Oatmeal, old fashioned or quick (not instant)
1/4 cup Brown sugar, packed
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly spray a 9 x 9 inch baking pan with vegetable oil spray.
Place fruit into the pan.
Squeeze lemon or lime juice evenly over fruit.
Sprinkle sugar and cinnamon evenly over the top of fruit.
Mix topping ingredients with a fork, pastry blender or very clean hands until crumbly. Sprinkle topping evenly over fruit.
Bake 25-30 minutes until the fruit is tender. Do not overcook or the fruit will become mushy.
Ready to roast: sweet potatoes, parsnips, red and green Bell peppers and red onions.
Color and Good Nutrition
Need some help getting out of a hum-drum eating rut? The easiest way is to gather a rainbow of colorful foods at the grocery store. Not only do colors please the eyes but they pack in powerful nutrition.
When I think of an artist’s palette, I really get going on combinations for my meal plate – what about you? A snack of blueberries and yogurt is a good start. A lunch salad with a variety of shades of green lettuces, shredded purple cabbage and tomatoes is beautiful, too. Or imagine this…a dinner stir-fry with sugar snap peas, mushrooms, carrots and red Bell pepper strips. Truly, a feast for the eyes and the body.
Simple and Nutritious
Simple and colorful meals are a smart way to make healthy eating a priority for you and your family. For everyday tips, tiny recipes and inspiration about healthier nutrition, join me on Facebook or check out my e-book bundle of Tasty Menus and Recipes.
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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Dark pink flowers mean ‘appreciate’, ‘gratitude’, ‘thank you!’
Fun at the Supermarket!
For years now, I’ve enjoyed helping everyday people better understand how to gather a healthy shopping basket at their favorite supermarket. If you’ve never walked through your store with a registered dietitian (RD), then perhaps it can be your New Year’s Resolution for 2012. For both the RD and you, there will be eye-opening discoveries at nearly every turn of the aisle. For you, there will be healthier groceries for a healthier kitchen!
For your trust and loyalty in reading my blog week-after-week, or once-in-a-while, I thank you very much! The most popular topics this year have been meal planning on a budget, exciting kids about eating healthier, identifying and cooking all kinds of fruits and vegetables, and the ins-and-outs of smart choices at the supermarket. I am looking for new topics to cover in my blog in 2012 and would love to hear from you. Again, thank you from Cindy and Market Basket Nutrition!
The color green comes to mind when I think about salad. What about you? Do you start a salad with Romaine, spinach or leaf lettuce? Do you use shredded green cabbage? Typically, crispy greens are at the center of my tossed salad, so I was surprised by this All American Salad recipe. Who knew there could be such an interesting variety of colors, textures and flavors?
Exploring the Possibilities
Salads are easy to put together in the kitchen. Kids, teens and adults can put their own ‘spin’ on their salad creations. And, if eaten the next day, salads are tasty leftovers. Keep an open mind when you’re preparing a salad because sometimes the most weird combinations are the most successful – for good nutrition, fresh flavors and eye appeal.
Salad Combinations to Try
1. Shredded carrots with raisins, shredded almonds, fresh chopped parsley and a splash of vinaigrette dressing.
2. Cooked and cut-up potatoes, chopped celery, chopped red Bell pepper, chopped fresh dill and a creamy yogurt dressing.
3. Sliced fennel, chopped sweet onions, chopped fresh basil (or dried Italian herbs) and a fresh lemon + olive oil dressing.
Help for a Healthier Kitchen
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Jackie wants to be a strawberry because it’s her favorite fruit and so sweet. Jake wants to be cherries because they grow in a bunch and he likes hanging around with his friends. Rocco wants to be mixed vegetables so he can talk different languages with the other vegetables, and he doesn’t want to be eaten. Who knew kids could take on the personalities of fruits and veggies so creatively? Amazing!
Getting Kids Excited about Eating Right
Next time you’re in the grocery store, try asking your child(ren) which fruit or vegetable she/he/they would like to be and why? You’ll be surprised to hear the answers, and you might be surprised at their excitement, too. Young minds are open to just about anything – even making healthier choices for the family grocery cart. There’s no better place to start than with fruits and veggies.
Getting the Entire Family On-Board
Eating meals together as a family is an awesome way to connect with those you care about most. Dinner conversation can be fun and funny for everyone and it can help kids excel in school. Try these questions for some lively times:
Which vegetable would you like to eat for breakfast and why?
What fruit makes the biggest crunch when you eat it?
If you could be any fruit or vegetable, what would you be and why?
Tips to Help You Create a Healthier Kitchen and Family
To stay in-the-loop for tasty and nutritious tips about meal planning, grocery shopping and simple home cooking, take a minute to LIKE my facebook page at Market Basket Nutrition and join the conversation. What’s in it for you? Everyday, easy
I have become a believer in colorful peppers this summer-into-fall. Not only are they a feast for the eyes, but they also add a sweet, rich flavor to your kitchen recipes. In the last month, I’ve chopped up colorful peppers for cold salads, cooked them in a stew, sauteed them for a side item, and made them into black bean chili. Beautiful, versatile, nutritious, delicious is what you can discover with peppers!
Making Fall Chili with Peppers
Making chili starts with a favorite recipe and there are plenty of them in cookbooks, online and in your family collection. Also, chili can be made with lean ground beef or lean round steak as a starter. Or, chili can be made vegetarian-style. Colorful peppers will enhance every chili recipe, so simply wash them, remove seeds and cut into small strips or random chunks. Then, toss the peppers into your chili as it simmers on the stove or in the crock pot. You’ll be amazed at the wonderful aroma in your kitchen and the burst of new flavor in your chili. Enjoy!
Creating a Healthier Kitchen
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You can’t beat the apple for crunch, rich flavor and ‘sweet’ nutrition. Eat apples often and learn how to choose and store them to preserve their top-notch nutrition. During the Fall, you will experience the very freshest flavors if you buy locally grown apples and try a new variety for fun!
Apples Satisfy All Age Groups
No matter what your age, apples satisfy. Kids love them sliced, diced and whole – as long as their front teeth are in tact. Adolescents and teens enjoy them plain and with a caramel dip. Adults and seniors learn to choose a sweet or tart, firm or soft variety as their favorite.
Apples Work in Meals and Snacks
Add apples to breakfast, lunch or dinner for a nutritious fruit that the entire family adores. Cut them up in a mixed fruit salad, slice them and sprinkle with a dash of cinnamon, or make a lightly sweetened apple crisp for dessert. At snack time, spread peanut or sunflower butter onto an apple or dip slices into vanilla yogurt. Whatever your choice, make apples welcome at your meal table for great flavor, comfort and good health!
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
Easy menus and recipes are healthy and do-able! Check out my affordable e-books for homemade flavors you and your family will love!
Can you believe that 1/3 of all Americans skip breakfast? Are you one of them? Are your kids? If breakfast is a hard meal to ‘muster’ in your household then listen up for some nutritious and delicious options. Because…breakfast is a most important meal of the day!
Thinking out of the (cereal) box is a good starting point for breakfast. There are many, many options and no rules about what to put on your plate. Maybe traditional morning foods don’t excite your taste buds and that’s OK. Choose what’s appealing with good nutrition to power you, and yours, every morning.
Breakfast Combinations to Try
1. Black beans with ready-to-serve brown rice + sliced tomato and/or avocado + fresh peach + 1% milk
2. Ready-to-serve brown rice + scrambled or fried egg + fresh apple + 1% milk
3. Walnuts and diced peach or nectarine + low fat yogurt + ‘light’ or homemade granola + tea/coffee
4. Hard boiled egg + black beans + cabbage-tomato salad + 1% milk
5. Cottage cheese + pineapple tidbits + crunchy granola bar + 1% milk or yogurt
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Tomatoes hit the spot in July! There are more than 100 varieties to learn about, and to grow yourself. No matter which variety you try, you’ll notice a rich flavor plus a nutritional prize of vitamins A and C along with fiber and very few calories. Just for fun, play the guessing game below and Name That Tomato!
Name the 5 tomato varieties.
Think of 3 ways to add tomatoes to a meal or snack.
Here are the 5 tomato variety names, out of order: Celebrity/Early Girl; Green Zebra; Sunkist; Curly Red; Sungold Cherry
Time to Name That Tomato (front to back):
1. Curly Red 2. Green Zebra, right 3. Sungold Cherry, left 4. Sunkist 5. Celebrity/Early Girl
Tomatoes in Meals & Snacks:
1. Add sliced tomatoes to your breakfast omelet or lunch wrap sandwich.
2. Nibble on sweet cherry tomatoes for a morning or afternoon snack.
3. Stuff a whole, cored tomato with tuna or chicken salad for dinner.
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It is an awesome time of year to go shopping for local, seasonal fruits and veggies. You can find them at your local farm market, roadside stand or supermarket. Stock up now while the summer harvest is ‘rolling in’ and you’ll be glad you did.
What to Do with Summer’s Bounty!
Shopping for healthy summer produce is one thing and figuring out what to do with it once you get home is another. Buy too much? Lacking inspiration to get into the kitchen and cook? Confused how to use it all up? Here’s some help.
Summer Ideas for Your Healthy Kitchen!
Corn on the cob – Rip off the husk and silk first. Option 1: Wrap in aluminum foil and roast on the grill for 7-10 min. turning twice. Option 2: Wrap in waxed paper and cook in microwave. Option 3: Carefully cut raw kernels off the cob using a sharp knife and cutting board. Cook in microwave with 1/2 inch water, a pinch of sugar and ground cumin.
Eggplant, zucchini, yellow summer squash – Wash and remove ends. Slice lengthwise into 1/4 inch thickness. Sprinkle with about 2 tablespoons olive oil and Italian herbs of choice. Grill about 6-8 min, turning twice.
Tomatoes – Wash, remove core and discard it. Option 1: Slice into 1/4 inch thickness. Layer with chickpea hummus and top with chopped fresh parsley. Option 2: Chop into bite-size pieces. Drizzle the top with a little olive oil and fresh lemon juice, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Option 3: Chop and add lots of them to your favorite pasta salad.
Fresh peaches – Wash, remove seed and discard it. Option 1: Slice into small wedges, sprinkle with ground cinnamon and a pinch of sugar. Option 2: Chop and mix into your chicken or turkey salad. Option 3: Chop and mix with vanilla yogurt.
Ongoing Ideas for Your Healthy Kitchen!
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Do you set expectations for meals and snacks that are too high? Does your grocery cart overflow with foods that are perishable and/or require a lot of fancy preparation? Too often, do you end up throwing away half your perishables and not making that special recipe, wasting food and money?
Get Simple. Eat Well. Save Money.
1. Focus your menu. Build a week’s menu around 5 simple foods like cantaloupe, sugar snap peas, cucumbers, skinless chicken thighs and instant brown rice. Remember, grocery shopping can be fun!
2. Plan to eat well. Make whole chicken thighs on the grill with a pinch of mixed dried herbs and garlic powder. Or, stir them in a skillet with the fresh peas, a splash of soy sauce and a few drops of sesame oil. Get the rice cooking so that it will be done on time. Cut up the cuke and drizzle it with oil and vinegar.
3. Save money. Plan very carefully before buying perishables like meat, chicken, fish, milk, fruits and vegetables. Write down when and how you will use them up – before they spoil. Thin out other foods you keep in the kitchen. Buy simple foods and store brands every shopping trip.
Get this — Our bodies are about 75% water. Our brains are about 75% water. And, we lose a significant amount of water every day under normal circumstances and good health. How can we replace these liquids? – by choosing hydrating drinks. How can we maintain our well-being? — by choosing hydrating drinks.
What drinks are hydrating?
Water is a top choice as a hydrating drink. Beyond the water faucet or fountain, consider these from the grocery store: 1% or fat free milk, decaffeinated tea or coffee, 100% fruit juice and water – bottled with or without bubbles of carbonation.
What drinks are not hydrating?
Typically, drinks with caffeine or alcohol are considered dehydrating, rather than hydrating. These include regular coffee and tea, hot chocolate, chocolate milk, beer, wine and hard liquor.
How many hydrating drinks are needed?
Most of us think it’s a good idea to drink 8 cups, 64 fluid ounces, of liquids every day. To benefit your body’s hydration, this amount is a good start. If you are very physically active or live in a warm climate, though, you need even more. Try this hydration calculator to figure out your personal needs.
Here’s a hydrating drink recipe!
Cindy’s Healthy Softdrink is made by mixing together 1/2 cup of 100% purple grape juice + 1/2 cup plain seltzer water or club soda + a twist of lemon or lime. Refreshing, tasty and hydrating!
An easy and tasty way to jazz-up your simple, home recipes may be as close as your own backyard, or a sunny window sill. These are ideal places to start an herb garden either from seed or from inexpensive plants you buy at the local garden center. With a little care and a half-day or more dose of sunshine, everyone can grow herbs.
3 Ways to Use Herbs (see photo)
Thyme, front left, adds flavor to soup, lean meat or a cold bean salad. Pull its tiny leaves off the stem and mince them.
Dill, rear left, adds freshness to cold shrimp salad, an omelet or vinaigrette-dressed potato salad. Chop the feathery herb.
Sage, middle right, goes well with poultry or a quiche. Add it in a small amount because of the strong flavor.
It is a challenge for most of us to choose nutritious foods day-after-day. Time gets in the way ~ planning, or lack of it, gets in the way ~ life gets in the way.
There are excellent reasons to make nutrition a top priority for you and your busy family. Good health depends on it ~ feeling great depends on it ~ enjoying life depends on it.
A Call to Action…
It’s Nutrition Month and everyone can benefit from making healthy choices in the grocery store and on their meal plate. Make it a family project to write a menu plan, organize that shopping list, create a tasty recipe and put a colorful meal on the family table. You’ll be so glad you did!
It’s time to get it together and eat meals with the family. Think of the fun…the homemade flavors…the time for relaxing. Not only that, but there is solid evidence that families who eat together are eating more nutritiously. And, kids in these families are learning all kinds of positive behaviors — everything from getting better grades in school to respecting the cook and the Earth in their daily lives.
Cookbooks Give You a Plan
Don’t be without a trusted cookbook when you are making your family dinner plan. Two favorite cookbooks of mine are written by my friend, Aviva Goldfarb, and are pictured at the right. I recommend both.
Tips for Successful Family Dinners
A few of Aviva’s tips are these:
1. Take the time to plan dinners for the week before you go to the supermarket.
2. Keep a grocery list somewhere in the kitchen where everyone can reach it so anytime a family member finishes an item they can add it to the list.
3. Keep meals simple and healthy, especially for weeknights when time is very tight. Save more complicated recipes for the weekend or when the kids are grown!
4. Make family dinners a habit and make sure all family members contribute by helping to cook, set the table, plan the menu and/or clean up.
Now, please leave a comment with a tip or two from your experiences at the family meal table!
Thomas Jefferson once said, “The olive tree is surely the richest gift of Heaven…” I couldn’t agree with him more. There are some very basic foods that can help you create a healthier kitchen, one of which is olive oil. Its superior flavor and health benefits make olive oil a vital part of my every day kitchen and, perhaps, it belongs in your healthy kitchen, too.
The Flavor of Olive Oil
The process of making virgin olive oil is fascinating. The flavor of olive oil invigorates cooked veggies when you add a drizzle just before serving . The flavor of olive oil finishes a soup or stew when you add a drizzle just before serving. The flavor of olive oil boosts a savory grain, such as rice, barley or quinoa when you add a drizzle just before serving.
The Health Benefits of Olive Oil
The Mediterranean Diet places olive oil at the center of a healthful life and using it every day in place of solid fat is a smart habit. Scientific research shows us that olive oil contributes to a healthier heart, blood pressure, blood fats, joint health, and it slows the aging process. So, what are you waiting for? Get on-board and make olive oil part of your healthy kitchen. You’ll be glad you did!