Tag Archives: vegetables

Happy National Nutrition Month

It’s finally March which means it is National Nutrition Month. Double hooray because it also means we are closer to spring. The theme for National Nutrition Month this year is Eat Right Bite by Bite.

Logo_NNM20_FINAL

That’s easy to say, but is it easy to practice? It takes a little thought and planning, but it can be pretty easy. Healthy food also doesn’t have to be time consuming. I am a big fan of Gretchen Rubin’s books and podcast. She suggests that you time activities, especially if it is something you don’t like to do. Then you know exactly how long it takes. I like to apply this practice to making a healthful breakfast or lunch. It can seem really overwhelming and like it would take too much time. But when I stop and actually do it, it only takes a few minutes.

Today’s example is a spin on avocado toast. I’m calling it omelet avocado toast as it has some of my favorite omelet ingredients. To really speed this up, you can cook up lots of veggies one day and store them in the fridge for subsequent mornings. Then you just need to heat them up with your eggs. The more variety of colors of vegetables the better! You can cook your eggs however you’d like. I’m on a poached egg kick, but this is great with scrambled or fried eggs as well. Enjoy!

Omelet Avocado Toast (Serves 1)

Omelet Avocado Toast

1 slice whole wheat bread, toasted
½ avocado, mashed
¼ green bell pepper, diced
¼ cup sliced mushrooms
½ tomato, sliced
2 tablespoons chopped zucchini
1 egg

1. Heat a small pan over medium heat. Spray with cooking spray. Lightly cook pepper, mushrooms, zucchini, and tomato until desired softness (usually about 5-7 minutes).

2. Cook eggs as desired.

3. Top toast with avocado, vegetables, and egg.

Nutritional Information:

Calories: 325
Protein: 13 g
Fat: 21 g
Saturated Fat: 4 g
Cholesterol: 186 mg
Carbohydrates: 25 g
Fiber: 10 g
Sodium: 223 mg

Recipe notes: As I mentioned above, you could easily make a large batch of veggies one day. Then heat them up with eggs to make toast, an actual omelet, scramble, or whatever variation you like to keep it interesting. Mix up the veggies to what you like.

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Chinese New Year – 3 recipes

This coming Saturday (January 25th) is Chinese New Year.  I love celebrating holidays like this in even a small way with my family.  Food is a great way to introduce our families to other cultures.  It gives our children even a small insight into how people might live differently than us.  They have different food, clothes, holidays, traditions, etc.  This variety is what makes life and the world interesting.

Today I have 3 recipes that make for a fun asian inspired dinner.  Sweet and sour is my kids’ favorite thing.  So I knew I needed to find a way to make this at home.  They don’t eat most of the vegetables when we get sweet and sour from a restaurant, so I put a spin on broccoli that I knew they would like.  If you are doing keto or lo carb, this zoodle lo mein is a really quick and tasty option.  Enjoy!

Sweet and Sour Chicken (serves 4)

Sweet and Sour Chicken with Soy Ginger Broccoli

1 tablespoon canola oil
2 chicken breasts, chopped into bite size pieces
6 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 (20 ounce) can pineapple chunks in juice, 6 tablespoons of juice saved
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon cornstarch
red food coloring, optional

1. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken pieces. Cook until cooked through (about 5-7 minutes, depending on the size of your pieces).

2. While chicken cooks, mix remaining ingredients minus pineapple chunks together well. Whisk to remove clumps of cornstarch. Add red food coloring if desired to get that traditional bright red color.

3. When chicken is done, stir in pineapple. Reduce heat to medium. Cook for 1-2 minutes, just to heat through. Add sauce mixture. Cook, stirring until desired thickness, 2-3 minutes. Serve immediately.

Nutrition information:

Calories: 296
Protein: 31 g
Fat: 7 g
Saturated fat: 1 g
Cholesterol: 100 mg
Carbohydrates: 25 g
Fiber: 1 g
Sodium: 180 mg

Source: adapted from America’s Test Kitchen

Soy Ginger Broccoli (serves 4)

1 teaspoon olive oil
2 heads of broccoli, chopped into florets (about 4 cups)
1 clove garlic, minced
1-2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce

1. Heat olive oil in medium skillet over medium high heat.

2. Add broccoli. Cook stirring frequently, for 2-3 minutes. Add garlic and ginger. Cook stirring frequently for 1 more minute.

3. Stir in soy sauce. Remove from heat and serve immediately.

Source: own recipe

Nutrition information:

Calories: 45
Protein: 3 g
Fat: 1 g
Saturated fat: less than 1 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Carbohydrates: 7 g
Fiber: 2 g
Sodium: 158 mg

Zoodle Lo Mein (serves 4)

Zoodle Lo Mein

3 zucchini
½ tablespoon canola oil
½ onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup chopped cauliflower
½ cup water
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce

1. Create “zoodles” with a spiralizer.

2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add onion through cauliflower. Saute about 5 minutes. Add water, cover, and cook until water is evaporated and vegetables are tender.

3. Add zoodles. Saute 2-3 minutes until all ingredients combined.

4. Add hoisin sauce and soy sauce. Stir to coat and cook until heated through. Serve immediately.

Recipe notes: You need medium-large zucchini. You are better off with more zucchini than less, so err on the side of more if your zucchini are smallish. You can make zucchini ribbons with a veggie peeler if you don’t have a spiralizer. They might take a minute or two longer to cook. Lo mein is great for cleaning out the fridge of vegetable odds and ends, Sub in 2-3 cups of whatever you like for the carrots and cauliflower. If the hoisin has too much carbs for your diet, you could do all low sodium soy sauce instead.

Nutrition information:

Calories: 90
Protein: 4 g
Fat: 3 g
Saturated fat: less than 1 g
Cholesterol: less than 1 g
Carbohydrates: 15 g
Fiber: 3 g
Sodium: 428 mg

Source: own recipe

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Creamy Orzo with Bacon and Peas

Getting back into a groove after the holidays can be rough. I know I’ve felt a little off my game. And with it getting dark so early and quickly, it seems like it magically is dinner time RIGHT NOW every night. Any one else?

I’ve resorted a lot to quick meals. This one is nice because it is enough like macaroni and cheese that my kids will eat it; has bacon so my husband likes it; and has vegetables and is delicious so I like it. Wins all around. And it cooks in 1 pan. So easy clean up. Enjoy!

Creamy Orzo with Bacon and Peas (Serves 4)

Creamy Orzo with Bacon and Peas

4 ounces bacon, chopped
1 small onion, diced
2 cups orzo
3 ¼ cups water
1 cup chopped tomato
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
2 eggs
1 cup parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon pesto

1. Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat until mostly browned. Add in onion. Sauté 2-3 minutes.

2. Add in orzo; cook until toasted. Add water. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until water is almost absorbed.

3. Stir in tomatoes and peas; cook 2-3 minutes.

4. In a small bowl, whisk eggs and parmesan together.

5. Turn off heat. Stir egg/parmesan mixture and pesto into pasta until well combined and creamy. Serve warm.

Recipe notes: I turn off the heat but then keep it on the burner to make sure the eggs actually cook. You could also cook it on low. You just want the eggs to cook slowly or you’ll have scrambled eggs.

Nutritional Information (amount per serving):

Calories: 366
Protein: 18 g
Fat: 23 g
Saturated Fat: 9 g
Cholesterol: 133 mg
Carbohydrates: 22 g
Fiber: 3 g
Sodium: 708 mg

Source: lightly adapted from Giada de Laurentis

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Find something healthy AND delicious!

One meal I really try to be conscious about what I’m eating is lunch. For me, lunch is an easy meal to just eat junk or graze through random leftovers. It is also an easy meal for me to get some servings of vegetables in, if I make a conscious effort.

I’ve found lots of easy ways of putting veggies in my lunch.

-Having carrot and celery sticks for dipping in peanut butter or ranch ready to go.
-Throwing leftovers on top of a bed of greens for a salad.
-Microwaving some spinach down and mixing that into whatever else I’m eating.
-Mixing some microwaved frozen mixed veggies into my noodles or soup.

However, over time, I’ve realized something very important. It has to taste good! If it doesn’t, I won’t eat it. Today, I mixed a random assortment of stuff from my fridge onto some lettuce. I was trying to clean out my fridge, so it was an odd mix. Usually that works out ok. Today, not so much. And guess what? I ate about half and threw the rest away.

My point is: don’t buy a bunch of food you don’t like just because it is healthy. Find the “healthy” foods (fruits, veggies, whole grains) that you enjoy and focus on those. Eating healthy should still be delicious and enjoyable!

Happy eating!

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An interesting listen

My apologies for my 2 week+ hiatus. I was traveling Thanksgiving week, and the week after was oddly a train wreck at my house. I hope you had a holiday that was delicious. Mine was.

Freakonomics published an extremely interesting podcast about food a few weeks ago. I highly recommend you listen to it if you get the chance. Or the transcript is also available at the link above. I will only share two of my favorite highlights here.

The first guest recently published a huge cookbook, The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science. I really liked his last statement on the show:

“Well, I’m one of these people who really thinks that it’s all about moderation. And from the way my book is written, you might think that I eat steak and potatoes every night, but the reality is actually really far from that. So, if I’m going to eat a hamburger, I want that to be the best damn hamburger I can make, right? So that’s where this idea that I’m going to try to perfect these foods, these comfort classics that people love — that you shouldn’t necessarily eat every day, but when you make them you want them to be really great. So, on a day-to-day basis, my wife and I stay mostly vegetarian; we eat a lot of fish, a lot of seafood. We both exercise. So, you know, food can be delicious, but it should also be sustaining at the end, and your health is not really worth that extra serving of burgers or extra serving of creamy potato casserole.”

Sums up so much of my philosophy in a really great way. You don’t have to give up the foods you love entirely. But when you do eat them, eat a good version to make it worth it.

The second guest talked more about nutrition. Jo Robinson is an investigative journalist that focuses on nutrition. As a side note, I find it very frustrating that many people get more of their nutrition advice from journalists, such as Robinson or Michael Pollan, than from dietitians.

However, I did agree with some of what she had to say. She especially highlighted the interesting fact that raw vegetables are not always better for you than cooked vegetables. She also mentioned that steaming vegetables in the microwave is a great way to cook vegetables and preserve their nutrients. Both of these are true and great tidbits to remember.

I hope you have a great, healthy week!

Have any nutrition questions? Need help with meal planning or a special dietary need? Send your questions to me at kimberlykmarsh(at)gmail(dot)com, and I will answer them in upcoming posts!

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Crockpot Vegetable Pot Pie

Pot pie is not the recipe you expect to appear on a food blog right before Memorial Day. It should be burgers, fries, summery salads, fruity desserts, etc. But I’m sitting in my slippers and wearing a sweatshirt in my chilly house, since I refuse to turn on the heater this late in May. From my friends’ posts on Facebook, many others have a weekend ahead lacking in sunshine and summer.

While I fully intend to do my cookout on Monday (rain or shine), until then, I’m basking in some warm, hearty comfort food. This pot pie is on my list. I made this for company recently, and there were no leftovers with smiles all around on how delicious it was. Honestly, I think I even liked this better than most chicken pot pies I’ve had. So many more flavors with all the different vegetables. Enjoy!

Crockpot Vegetable Pot Pie (Serves 6-8)

Crockpot Vegetable Pot Pie

Filling:
1 ½ tablespoons + 2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
2 cups diced baking potato
1 ½ cup diced carrot
1 ½ cup diced parsnip
1 cup chopped celery
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 (8-ounce) packages white mushrooms, sliced
1 large zucchini, sliced in half moons
2 garlic cloves, minced
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 ½ tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups skim milk
¾ cup low sodium broth (chicken or vegetable)
2 cups frozen green peas
1 ½ tablespoons chopped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme

Biscuit topping:
1 ⅔ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 ½ tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup low-fat buttermilk

Preparation

1. Spray a crockpot with cooking spray.

2. Heat a large nonstick skillet with 1 teaspoon of oil over medium-high heat. Add potato, carrot, parsnips, and celery. Sauté 5 minutes. Transfer to slow cooker. Add 1 teaspoon of oil to pan and return to heat. When oil is heated, add onion, mushrooms, and zucchini. Saute until beginning to soften, about 3-5 minutes. Add garlic, and cook 1 minute more. Add to crockpot. Add salt and pepper to vegetable mixture, stirring to combine.

3. Heat remaining 1 ½ tablespoons oil in pan over medium-high heat. Add 2 ½ tablespoons flour and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly with a whisk. Gradually whisk in milk and broth. Cook 3-5 minutes or until thick and bubbly, stirring constantly. Pour sauce into slow cooker. Add peas and thyme. Stir contents of crockpot to combine.

4. Cover crockpot and cook on low for 3 ½ hours.

5. When vegetable mixture is almost done, make biscuit topping, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and black pepper in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in cheese. Add buttermilk, stirring just until moist.

6. Increase heat to high. Drop biscuits onto filling in 8 equal mounds. Cover and cook on HIGH for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until biscuits are done. Uncover and let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 365
Protein: 13 g
Fat: 13 g
Saturated Fat: 6 g
Cholesterol: 25 mg
Carbohydrates: 50 g
Fiber: 7 g
Sodium: 555 mg

Recipe Notes: I normally don’t like recipes that require any cooking before you put things in the crockpot. But it is nice to get a little bit of color on the veggies first. I’m sure it would still turn out if you skipped that step. Feel free to adjust the vegetable amounts or types. I was probably a little under on the mushrooms – a few were bad in my packages and my husband doesn’t love them anyway – and a little over on the potatoes, carrots, and parsnips. I never have buttermilk; I just make it with skim milk and lemon juice.

Source: slightly adapted from Cooking Light

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Minimizing food waste

Perfection is in taste, not appearance

I admit to not being the most “green” person. While I try to recycle and take other small steps to be environmentally friendly, it isn’t my highest priority. However, I recently saw some alarming statistics: about 40% of all food produced in the Unites States is thrown away and that the average American throws out 20% of their vegetables and 15% of their fruit. Unlike the two articles reporting these, my first thought wasn’t related to how much that adds to the landfills and greenhouse gas production.

My first thought was in the wasted money. Much of that discarded produce was purchased and then thrown away without eating it, often due to spoilage. If you think you can’t afford fruits and vegetables, you definitely can’t afford to just throw them away. I hate when something spoils before I use it, because all I see is money going into the trash can. Here are some tips to reduce how much produce you throw away:

1. Take inventory at home before you go to the store. This reduces double-buying an item.

2. Make a detailed list and stick to it. Know how much you need of a particular item so you don’t overbuy. For example, I needed tomatoes this last week for a few recipes. I forgot to right down how many I needed, so I purchased several extra tomatoes that I need to quickly find a use for. Also, don’t buy an item just because it is on sale. I often get excited to see berries or melons on sale, but if you don’t have a plan for how it will get eaten, it will just go bad.

3. Rotate your produce. Make sure if you buy new items, they go behind or below the older ones already at home. That way the produce most likely to spoil is getting used first.

4. Store your produce wisely. Here is a handy graphic with some great tips on where to store different types of produce as well as foods to keep separated. Another great tip: separate your bananas when you get home. They will ripen more slowly this way.

While I have admitted to not be very “green”, I do agree with the article talking about the ugly vegetables. Don’t be afraid of a vegetable just because it doesn’t look perfect. Remember, you don’t look perfect either, but the vegetable is willing to take a chance on you. Happy eating!

Have any nutrition questions? Need help with meal planning or a special dietary need? Send your questions to me at kimberlykmarsh(at)gmail(dot)com, and I will answer them in upcoming posts!

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