Family Mealtime FUN + Free printable games

Did you know? Family mealtime has HUGE benefits for our family! Get your kids involved at every age, just check out the graph below for ideas on how they can help you get dinner on the table.
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Family mealtime month isn’t complete without our famous bingo game! Print this out and have each family member take a turn crossing off each task you do as a family. Once you get a bingo reward yourself with more family time (bowling anyone??).
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3 FREE Recipes – Taco Salad, Teriyaki Tofu Stir Fry & Healthy Homemade Bread

Do you ever get in a recipe-rut? You make the same recipes over and over again then your family gets tired of them? Spice things up with my 3 favorite recipes that are EASY and hardly take any time at all to make. Click on each of the graphics below for printable versions.

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Peanut Butter

Let’s talk about motivation + My favorite post-workout snack!

One question I get asked a lot is where my motivation to exercise come from. I get confused by the question because I grew up being very active and continued that lifestyle once I got into college and even after graduation. I am not very tall, nor very coordinated so I chose running as my sport for my middle school and high school (plus, no one gets cut from the Cross Country or Track team🙂 ). It was the perfect sport for me because even though it technically was a team sport, I could still compete against myself each race. I loved running so much that I kept it up all through my 5 years of college, running a few half and full marathons. I figured I would always love running for the rest of my life because it had been my PASSION for so long. But one day I woke up and started to dread my morning runs. I noticed that I didn’t enjoy it as much I had before. But, I kept going, I wanted to stay active and running was the only way I knew how.

I finally tried something new…

After I realized that running was no longer fun or exciting to me I decided to try something new. Though it took me over 6 months to actually try anything. These were a few of my thoughts at this time =

  • “I should try doing yoga. No, I’m not very flexible.”
  • “Maybe swimming? But I haven’t swam in years, I would need to take lessons (swimming lessons as an adult did not sound fun to me at the time).”
  • “Weight lifting? Ha! I had never even been in a gym except to run on the treadmills, plus I didn’t want to get ‘bulky’.”
  • “I should buy a bike to ride around town except I’m a poor college student and I can’t afford that right now.”

Little did I know, these were all EXCUSES! I’m still not very flexible but I LOVE yoga because it has helped me be more mindful of my body. I ended up taking swimming lessons – yes, as an adult! It was an awesome experience and not as embarrassing (or difficult) as I thought. I even took up weightlifting (after watching MANY how-to videos). I think I was the only person in the gym that actually used the small 3 lb. weights. And slowly, over time, I noticed improvements! It’s been a slow process but incredible to accomplish things like being able to do a pull up (that took me over 1 year to nail down) or being able to do 20 consecutive push-ups. And no, I never got ‘bulky’ either. I also got to ride a bike! It turned out, the university I was attending offered a FREE bike rental to all students that I never knew about!

Find something you LOVE!

Going back to the topic of motivation, it’s not all about doing something you absolutely hate for 30-60 minutes 3-5 times each week. Find what you ENJOY and start there! I never thought I’d ever go on walks (I was a devout RUNNER only) but now I find that I love going on a short morning walk before I go to work. Motivation to exercise is so much easier to have when you love what you’re doing. Find something you love and go from there. Do you love your kids? You can do playground workouts with them or even exercise with them at home! Do you never have enough time to get everything done? Go on a walk during a conference or work phone call. A lot of gyms or studios allow you to come and try out their facilities sometimes up to a week for free. Take advantage of that! You can see if it’s worth spending money on.

Finding the motivation to exercise is a lot easier when you’re doing an activity you love with people you love. Find what works for you, it’s going to be different for everyone. Try something new today and do it because you LOVE it!

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Let’s talk about this Peanut Butter Yogurt Dip. It is an incredibly easy and yummy post-exercising snack. With only 3 ingredients, it’s hard to mess up. It’s a perfect snack for the kids too because they love dipping fruit in it. Try it today!

Peanut Butter Yogurt Dip

Ingredients

  • 1 (6 oz.) container plain Greek yogurt
  • 3 Tbsp peanut butter (creamy or crunchy)
  • 3 tsp honey

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, combine all of the ingredients. Stir until combined and smooth.
  2. Serve with fruit.

 

 

Tayla Lambright

Certified Nutrition Education Assistant

WHAT TO PACKIN YOUR KIDS' SCHOOLLUNCH-

What to pack your kids for school lunch + a FREE printable handout

It’s that time of year again – our kids are headed back to school! I was a brown bag lunch type of girl and would only eat what my mom packed me for lunch everyday. My mom was extremely patient with me and agreed to pack me a lunch each day with one promise – I was responsible for helping her assemble it (until later when I eventually packed it on my own). This was huge for my mom because I was a very picky eater. If I helped her put together my lunch then I was 1000% more likely to actually eat it while at school. It only took a few times for me to pack my lunch before I could do it all by myself. I had to get it “mom approved” each day, but it saved her the hassle and helped me become more responsible.

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Ham & cheese sandwich on 100% whole wheat bread, green peppers (and hummus), orange slices, and almonds.

There are a few extra things you can buy to vamp up your school lunches. Things like plastic re-usable lunch boxes to help keep the food in individual containers. Or ice packs to keep the food cold until noon. You can also try these thermoses if you’d like to send hot items. They really do an awesome job at keeping the food piping hot!

The hardest thing about packing school lunches each day is that it can get pretty boring for your kids if they get the same thing each day. I’ve compiled a few of my favorite lunch options you can send with your kids. Just click on the graphic below for a printable version and start creating your own school lunch combinations that are sure to please!

SCHOOL LUNCH CREATIONS

 

Looking for lunch box meals? Head over to Eat Well Utah for some unique school lunch combination ideas – everything from kid-approved Kabobs to Pinwheel wraps!

 

What lunches are you sending with your kids this school year?

 

Tayla Lambright

Certified Nutrition Education Assistant

The best dip for veggies – Spinach Feta Hummus

“Vegetables are good for you!” We’ve heard it time and time again, “eat more vegetables so you don’t get cancer”, “eat more vegetables so you don’t gain weight”, “eat more vegetables so you get superpowers!”. Okay, that last one may be a stretch, but with all the “superfoods” out there, it’s hard to know what the truth is! If I eat 100 kale leaves every day am I guaranteed to never get sick again? Probably not. Here’s 3 simple reasons why vegetables are so awesome for us:

  1. Low calorie, low sodium, low fat –  They’re very low in everything we don’t want a lot of! You can lose weight and decrease your likelihood of developing a chronic disease by eating vegetables.
  2. F is for Fiber – You’ll be able to feel full longer, who doesn’t want that? You’ll also stay regulated better – aka no more constipation or diarrhea.
  3. Essential Nutrients – Instead of listing all the vitamins and minerals in vegetables I’ll just tell you this: vegetables are PACKED with essential nutrients that are needed for our growth and development everyday! You will feel the difference in your mood, energy levels, and ability to concentrate  when you add vegetables into your diet.

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The easiest way to eat more vegetables – 

This Spinach Feta Hummus is INCREDIBLE and easily my favorite hummus recipe to date. Since it contains spinach you can dip other vegetables in it and feel good about dipping vegetables in more vegetables! You honestly can’t taste the spinach, just the nutty and feta cheese goodness. It turns out to be a bright green color that your kids will love. This recipe is husband and kid approved at my house. Try it today, you won’t be disappointed!

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Spinach Feta Hummus

Ingredients

  • 1 (15 oz) can chickpeas, drained & rinsed
  • 4 Cup spinach
  • 2 Tbsp tahini sauce or peanut butter
  • 3 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 Cup olive oil
  • 1 large clove garlic, chopped
  • 1/8 t red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled

Directions

  1. Add all ingredients, besides feta cheese, to a blender or food processor. Blend for 2-3 minutes, or until smooth. Stir in feta. Serve chilled with crackers, pita, or fresh vegetables.

 

 

Tayla Lambright

Certified Nutrition Education Assistant

 

 

 

 

 

Peach Salad (1)

Peach Salad with Homemade Vinaigrette

Happy Monday everyone! The recipe I’m sharing with you is a personal favorite because my hometown is famous for their peaches! Growing up I always looked forward to this time of year because that’s when our peaches started to get big, juicy, and ready to eat! Typically I think of peaches as more of a dessert food – like my mom’s amazing peach cobbler. So I started looking for ways I can add them into my usual lunch and dinner recipes. I overheard a friend talking about adding fruit to her salad and I didn’t believe her (I always think of salads as a more vegetable-type food). I decided to take her advice and go for it. I love salads and am always looking for more ways I can spice them up. This salad is a perfect treat for when you want something light and refreshing but also filling enough to keep you full all afternoon long.  This salad seriously tastes like one from a restaurant, it also looks pretty too!

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The best part about this salad has to be the homemade vinaigrette. I typically go for store-bought salad dressings because I never seem to have enough time to make my own. But this homemade vinaigrette is sooo easy, it took me less than 3 minutes to make. I decided to make it because all the ingredients were things I already had in my pantry! I loved it so much I don’t think I can ever go back to store-bought dressing!

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This salad is a favorite at my house because it allows for mixing and matching of your ingredients. If you’re like us, you know that each family member is unique and prefers different combinations of flavors and textures. I like to leave all the ingredients in small bowls then let each family member “build their own salad” at dinnertime. This helps to give kids the freedom to choose what they want to top their salad with. It also allows me to leave out the things I’d rather not have too (no thank you, onion breath). The recipe is below, but feel free to make it your own! Take out any ingredient you don’t like or add things you already have on hand. It takes a lot to mess this recipe up – trust me!

Peach Salad with Homemade Vinaigrette

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. cooked chicken, cubed
  • 10 oz. salad greens, spinach, or kale
  • 1 lb. peaches, sliced
  • 2 ears of corn (or about 1 cup)
  • 1/2 C chopped pecans
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced thin

Homemade Vinaigrette

  • 1/3 C olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • Salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions

  1. Combine all the salad ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together vinaigrette ingredients until combined. Store in fridge until ready to use. Pour vinaigrette over salad just before serving.

 

Tayla Lambright

Certified Nutrition Education Assistant

August Menu Planning + 8 Recipes!

Welcome to August! The summer is just flying by here in Cache Valley! We have been busy teaching FREE classes and being a part of the Cache Valley Gardner’s Market each Saturday. Food $ense offers free classes all throughout Utah! To find classes near you, click HERE. If you want to receive all of the recipes we feature at the Gardner’s Market, follow us on Facebook! We post quick and easy recipes every Monday!

Now, onto my favorite topic: Menu Planning! I decided to share with you my menu plan for this week. It includes each meal I’ll eat plus snacks. Planning menus ahead of time can seem overwhelming but honestly practice makes perfect. So get practicing! I typically start with planning dinner and go from there. Dinner leftovers are great for lunch or breakfast the next day.

I’ll only mention one more thing about menu planning – it saves me sooo much time! Instead of constantly being stressed about what I’ll feed my family, I just take 30 minutes on Saturday morning to plan out our meals for the week. Only 30 minutes! From there I go grocery shopping and prep as much as I can (i.e. cook the rice, cut up the veggies, you get the idea). If I plan ahead on Saturdays then I can usually get dinner on the table every day in under 30 minutes (but usually faster)!

Recipes are included below. Click on the pictures if you want a printable version.

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What’s your favorite go-to recipe?

 

Tayla Lambright

Certified Nutrition Education Assistant

LINKSWE

Links We Love // April Edition

Welcome to April’s edition of the links we love! These are some of my favorite links from around the web that I’ve stumbled upon. Here, you’ll find out that just 1 minute of exercise is effective and how a couple ate out of dumpsters for 6 months! Enjoy!

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  1. How Many Calories Do You Actually Have to Burn to Lose One Pound? – The old philosophy that 3,500 calories burn 1 pound of fat may not be accurate for each person. A good reminder that calories aren’t the only thing that may attribute to weight gain or loss.
  2. Obese People Outnumber Underweight People for First Time in Human History -Obesity is a growing epidemic in the United States, this eye opening article shares just how much heavier we’ve gotten over the decades.
  3. Here’s What Happened When a couple only ate food from dumpsters for 6 months – When 40% of our food gets wasted, it’s no shocker that this couple could survive six whole months without needing to go to the grocery store (or at least go INTO the grocery store…). Sounds a little gross but it’s amazing to see just how much food we throw away – is it really necessary to waste so much??
  4. Obese people can maintain stable weight loss – I hear it time and time again, it can be easy to lose weight initially but nearly impossible to KEEP it off. Fear not! Over time, weight loss can be sustained. This article explains just how that is accomplished, it may not be as complicated as you thought!
  5. You’re never too old to start exercising! – Who says you have to be a certain age to start exercising? Tamae Watanabe climbed Mount Everest at age 73! There are amazing benefits that can come from exercising – regardless of what age you are.
  6. 1 minute of all out exercise may be better than 45 minutes of moderate exertion – That’s right, just one minute of exercise can be beneficial! This is great for us that feel like we never have enough time to do long workouts at the gym.
  7. Overnight Oats from EatWellUtah.org – If you haven’t tried Overnight Oats before then you need to try this recipe ASAP! It’s the perfect breakfast, snack, or even treat for any time of the day.

 

How are you going to waste less food this week? This post is a great resource for what you can do now to help reduce hunger in Utah and America.

Any ideas for your next 1 minute workout? I’m headed to do 1 minute of burpees!

 

Tayla Lambright

Certified Nutrition Educator Assistant

The Facts About Food Labels / 3 Tips + Recipe

Fun with.jpgHappy Tuesday everyone! I can’t believe it but last week I spent almost 10 extra minutes at the grocery store trying to determine which can of soup I should buy my sick friend. Option A had a TON of sodium but option B had an ingredient list a mile long – half of the ingredients I couldn’t even pronounce. I wanted to buy the healthiest option (obviously,  my friend was already sick) but the labeling on both of the products seemed to confuse me even more the longer I looked at them.

Do you ever get frustrated at the grocery store trying to determine if a food product is healthy or not? With so many additives and preservatives in foods these days it can be hard to know what to look for and what to avoid (what the heck is butylated hydroxytoluene anyway??). MyPlate is a great resource for learning about the nutrition facts label, you can find that here.

Here at Food $ense we like to remember these 3 things when looking at food labels:

  1. Check the ingredient list FIRST: Even if it says “fat free” there can still be trace amounts up  0.5 grams per serving. That may not seem like much but it can sure add up if you eat multiple servings.
  2. 5 or less is best: A good rule of thumb is to buy food products that have 5 ingredients or less. Look for ingredients you can pronounce and try to avoid the ones you can’t.
  3. When in doubt, go for the foods with no label: Fruits and vegetables don’t have nutrition facts labels because they don’t need them! Luckily, fresh produce is the real deal because there’s nothing added in and there’s always  just one ingredient – itself! If you keep getting bogged down by trying to decipher food labels then try buying more foods without them to save you time and worry.

 

If you’re unsure that a packaged food is healthy of not you can can trying making your own “copy-cat” version at home! Instead of chancing it with my friend’s soup I ended up making my own Chicken Noodle Soup for her. It had ingredients I could pronouce, no preservatives, and no confusing labels to decipher. I’ve shared it here because not only was it super easy to make but  I’m convinced it also tasted WAY better than the canned version.Chicken Noodle Soup.png

What helps you when reading food labels?

 

Tayla Lambright

Certified Nutrition Educator Assistant

 

Chinese Cabbage Salad

The perfect crunchy salad. . . colorful cabbage and crisp carrots are dressed in a ginger dressing and topped with peanuts, green onions, and sesame seeds. Shredded chicken adds protein and makes this salad an easy grab n’ go lunch option.

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I love giant salads and this one is a nice switch from the usual lettuce or spinach. The cabbage is much heartier than other salad bases, which is an awesome thing when cooking for small families. This salad gets even better with time. I would suggest making this for a weekend dinner and then packaging tupperware containers to take for lunch throughout the rest of the week. Talk about an easy peasy meal!

Let’s get started. . .

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This salad calls for some really simple and inexpensive ingredients. Start by shredding 1 1/2 cups of red cabbage and 4 cups of green cabbage. Place the cabbage in a large bowl and add 1 cup of shredded carrots, 1/2 cup sliced green onions, and 2 cups of shredded chicken.

Shredded chicken is super simple to make. Either simmer a couple of chicken breasts until cooked through and able to shred or stick a couple of chicken breasts in the slow cooker and cover with low-sodium chicken stock or water. Cook on high for 4 hours and then shred with a fork. I personally like making shredded chicken in the crockpot. I find that it has more flavor, is more tender, and I can make quite a bit and use it for other recipes throughout the week. Either method works well though!

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It’s now time to whip up a simple ginger dressing. In a small bowl, combine 3 tablespoons soy sauce, 3 tablespoons rice vinegar, 1 teaspoon sesame oil, 1 teaspoon sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoon grated ginger, 1 clove minced garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Pour this dressing over the salad. Feel free to add any additional toppings. I chose to add a handful of peanuts and a sprinkle of black sesame seeds. Give the salad a quick mix and enjoy this fresh and crunchy combo!

Chinese Cabbage Salad

Ingredients

Salad

  • 1 1/2 C red cabbage, shredded
  • 4 C green cabbage, shredded
  • 1 C carrot, shredded
  • 1/2 C green onions, sliced
  • 2 C shredded chicken

Vinaigrette

  • 3 T soy sauce
  • 3 T rice vinegar
  • 1 T sesame oil
  • 1 t sugar
  • 1 1/2 t ginger, grated
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 t pepper

Optional Toppings

  • Crunchy noodles
  • Peanuts
  • Sesame seeds

Directions

  1. Place salad ingredients together in a large bowl.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together vinaigrette ingredients. Drizzle over salad and toss to coat.
  3. Add toppings (optional). Serve immediately.

 

Chelsea Norman

Certified Nutrition Education Assistant

 

sneakysugars

Sneaky Sugars: Limiting Added Sugars in Your Diet

Added sugars are found in so many of our favorite foods- even foods we believe are nutritious. Let’s take a little bit of time today to learn the different ways sugars are added to our foods and why it is important to limit these sneaky sugars.

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What are added sugars?

Added sugars are simply just any sugar or syrup that has been added to a food or drink during processing. When we talk about added sugars, we aren’t taking about the sugars that are naturally found in foods like fruit and dairy products. Added sugars are typically seen in a few food products including soda, sports drinks, cookies, pastries, ice cream, and pies. They can also be added into some foods we think of as healthy like salad dressing, condiments, yogurt, cereal, oatmeal, and granola bars. It kind of seems that added sugars are everywhere!

The new 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggests limiting added sugars to just 10% of calories each day. This is not a lot of added sugar if you think about it. On a 2000 calorie diet, this would be 50 grams of sugar per day or roughly the amount found in a 21oz bottle of Coke.

Why should I limit added sugars?

Most of us are eating too much added sugar! Sugar is just empty calories- meaning that it provides us with a lot of extra calories and no nutritional value. A lot of new research is being done on the harmful effects of too much sugar in our diet. Eating too many added sugars may lead to overweight or obesity, which can then increase our risk of many different chronic diseases like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, or stroke.

How do I know if there are added sugars in a product?

Sometimes it can be tricky to tell if there are added sugars in a product. These tips might help you crack the sugar code.

Start by looking at the nutrition facts label and the ingredients list on packaged foods. The nutrition facts label will tell you how many grams of sugar are in the product and the ingredient list will let you know if the sugars are natural or added.

A lot of foods contain both natural sugars (which are okay for us to consume) and added sugars (the sugar we want to limit!).  Right now, the nutrition facts label doesn’t separate natural sugars from added sugars, so a little math is involved. A product like flavored Greek yogurt is a good example of a food that contains natural sugars from the milk and added sugars from the flavor. To determine how many grams of added sugar are in the product, compare the flavored version to a plain version.

Below are photos of two nutrition facts labels. The one of the left is for a container of Plain Greek Yogurt and the container on the right is Flavored Greek Yogurt. As you can see, there are 6 grams of sugar in the Plain Greek Yogurt. These are the sugars that are naturally found in the yogurt. In the Flavored Greek Yogurt, there are 19 grams of sugar. Subtract 6 grams of natural sugar and you are left with 13 grams of added sugar.

As a reference, there are about 20 grams of added sugar in a candy bar, so this flavored yogurt packs a punch in the added sugar department. It might be wise to buy plain yogurt and add your own sweetener.

 

flavored greek yogurt
Flavored Greek Yogurt
plain greek yogurt
Plain Greek Yogurt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next way we can determine if a product contains added sugar is to look at the ingredients list! Be careful though because sugar can be snuck into products using over 50 different names. Here are a few other names for sugar that you might find in an ingredient list.

  • anhydrous dextrose
  • brown sugar
  • confectioner’s powdered sugar
  • corn syrup
  • corn syrup solids
  • dextrose
  • fructose
  • high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
  • honey
  • invert sugar
  • lactose
  • malt syrup
  • maltose
  • maple syrup
  • molasses
  • nectars (e.g., peach nectar, pear nectar)
  • pancake syrup
  • raw sugar
  • sucrose
  • sugar
  • white granulated sugar

Food manufacturers think they can trick us into thinking that there aren’t added sugars in a product by using these alternative names. All of the words on the list are just other names for sugar and are broken down in our bodies in pretty much the same way.

On last tip on ingredient lists! Ingredients are listed by weight, so ingredients toward the top of the list make up a majority of the product. If sugar is one of the first 5 ingredients, there is quite a bit of added sugar. Try looking for an alternate product with less added sugar!

Below is one of my favorite healthy dessert or snack recipes to make. It contains no added sugars and can be whipped up in just a few minutes. I keep frozen bananas and strawberries on hand in case I am in the mood for something naturally sweet and fruity!

Banana Strawberry Ice Cream

Chelsea Norman

Certified Nutrition Education Assistant

heart shape by various vegetables and fruits

Plant Powered

There seems to be more information than ever on the importance of incorporating plant foods into our diet. If you are looking to transition to a more plant-based lifestyle, here are some great tips and tidbits to remember for maximum nutrition.

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What is Plant Based Eating?

Plant based eating is simply eating more whole, plant foods like fruits, veggies, and whole grains while minimizing the consumption of animal products and refined grains. MyPlate is a great way to begin incorporating more plant-based foods into your daily life.

Just remember to fill half of your plate with fruits and veggies, 1/4 of your plate with whole grains, and 1/4 of your plate with a lean protein (this can a plant-based protein like beans, lentils, tofu, or peanut butter). Add a glass of low-fat dairy to round out your MyPlate meal.

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Think About These Tips- 

If you choose to adopt a more plant-based lifestyle, remember that there are a few nutrients that you should keep in mind and ensure you are getting enough of.

  1. Protein- most meat eaters don’t have to worry about getting enough protein in their diet. If you aren’t eating meat, build your meals around plant-based protein sources to ensure you are meeting your protein needs. Great sources of plant-based protein include lentils, whole-grains like quinoa, beans, nuts, seeds, soy beans, tofu. If you aren’t strictly vegetarian include other protein sources like eggs, fish, shellfish, and dairy products for added protein.
  2. Calcium- by reducing the amount of dairy that is consumed, you are missing out on essential nutrients like calcium. Calcium helps to build strong bones and teeth. It is also involved in muscle contractions. Aim to get enough of this mineral through calcium-fortified orange juice, soy milk, and breakfast cereals. Dark, leafy greens are also an excellent source of calcium as well as other nutrients, so load your plate with these veggies!
  3. Iron- this mineral is so important for transporting oxygen in our blood. Iron is typically found in animal products, so be sure you are getting enough by filling your plate with some of these other foods. Beans and lentils, iron fortified breakfast cereal, and spinach are rich in this vital mineral.
  4. Vitamin B12 and Zinc- these nutrients are mostly obtained by eating red meat. Load up on beans, dairy products, and fortified breakfast cereals to meet your requirements.

Here are a few of our favorite plant-based meals to add to your recipe box! Give them a try or create your own.

 

Southwestern Quinoa SaladSkillet Penne with VeggiesVegetarian ChiliBlack Bean and Sweet Potato Stew.png

Chelsea Norman

Certified Nutrition Education Assistant

 

 

Peanut butter banana smoothie

Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie and Peanut Butter Granola

Is there any better combination than peanut butter and banana? This smoothie is thick, creamy and absolutely delicious. We are kicking up the peanut butter flavor with a sprinkle of Peanut Butter Granola on top. This crunchy granola is packed with healthy fats and protein to keep you full and satisfied until lunch.

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Start this smoothie with 1 cup of ice. Add 1 banana, 1/2 cup of milk, 1/4 cup of plain Greek yogurt, 1 Tablespoon of peanut butter, and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract. Because my blender doesn’t do well with ice, I put about 1/2 cup of ice in my smoothie and used a frozen banana. It turned out creamy and smooth!

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Isn’t this granola pretty? My two requirements for great granola are that it breaks into giant clusters and that it tastes great! This granola meets both requirements. Combine peanut butter, honey, vanilla, coconut oil, and salt in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 30 second increments until smooth. Add in 3 cups of oats and 1 cup of chopped nuts. I also added in 1/2 cup of unsweetened coconut flakes for a little extra flavor, and it was so yummy! If you decide to add in the extra nuts and coconut flakes, you may need a little extra peanut butter mixture, so add an extra tablespoon of peanut butter or coconut oil and a little honey. DSC_4909

Spread the granola mixture on a baking sheet into an even layer and bake at 325 degrees for 15-20 minutes. I baked my granola for 15 minutes and it was perfect!

The secret to big, clustery granola is not stirring the granola while baking it. After it is all baked, DO NOT touch it! Let it cool completely before breaking it up. This is how you get beautiful clusters. Can you tell I am passionate about my granola?

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This smoothie makes the perfect on-the-run breakfast idea, delicious snack, or healthy dessert! You can find the recipe for the smoothie and granola below. Click on ‘print’ for a printable version.

Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie

  • Servings: 1 smoothie
  • Time: less than 5 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 1 banana
  • 1 C ice cubes
  • 1/2 C milk
  • 1/4 C plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 T peanut butter
  • 1/2 T vanilla

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Add additional liquid until desired consistency is reached.
  2. Serve immediately.

Peanut Butter Granola

Ingredients

  • 1/3 C peanut butter
  • 1/4 C honey
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 2 T coconut oil
  • 1 t salt
  • 3 C oats
  • 1 C chopped nuts (optional)
  • 1/2 C unsweetened coconut flakes

Directions

  1. Combine peanut butter, honey, vanilla, coconut oil, and salt in a bowl. Microwave for 30 second increments until smooth. Add oats and nuts to and mix until well coated.
  2. Pour granola onto a greased baking sheet and bake at 325 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Let cool before serving.
  3. Store in an air-tight container.

 

Enjoy!

Chelsea Norman

Certified Nutrition Education Assistant

 

simple sauces

Meals in Minutes: Quick Sauces for Winning on Weeknights

After a busy day, you arrive home hangry and more than ready for dinner. The last thing you feel like doing is taking the next hour to prep, chop, season, and whip up a dinner for yourself. Lucky for you, you remember reading about simple sauces that can be paired with basic ingredients to put dinner on the table in no time at all. Keep these ideas in the back of your mind along with a well-stocked pantry to make weeknights a win!

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africanbeanstew

African Bean Stew

Happy Meatless Monday! Today, we are cooking up a batch of hearty African Bean Stew. This vegetarian dish combines sweet potatoes and chickpeas with delicious flavor from curry powder, soy sauce, and peanut butter. The best part is that this recipe can be cooked up in just 30 minutes. You will love making this filling and nutritious stew for dinner!

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sweetpotatomuffins

5 Ingredient Flour-less Sweet Potato Muffins

Hi there and happy late Monday! I hope your week has gotten off to a great start. To make this day even better, I am bringing you a perfectly delicious sweet treat that bakes up in no time. Today, we are whipping up a batch of flour-less sweet potato muffins. These muffins are one of my absolutely favorite muffin recipes, so I am excited to share this with you. This recipe calls for just 5 simple ingredients and is nutritious enough to eat for breakfast!

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Back 2 BASICS-jan

8 Simple Swaps for a Healthier Life

Living a healthy lifestyle can easily become overwhelming. Every day, we read articles telling us what we should and shouldn’t eat and how we can get in on the latest fitness craze. I just love Michael Pollen’s philosophy,  “EAT FOOD. NOT TOO MUCH. MOSTLY PLANTS.” It should be this simple! In this post, we will be talking about easy changes you can make to live a healthier life. Taking small steps and choosing your health everyday adds up to big differences!

Radishes

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menuplancover-jan

January Menu Planning

Happy new year! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season spent with loved ones. There is something about the start of a new year that I just love – it is a chance for a fresh start and a time to set new goals. I hope that whatever you would like to accomplish in 2016, Table For One can help encourage and equip you with helpful information. Let’s get 2016 kicked off with a fresh menu plan for the week ahead.

Baby greens and tomatoes

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Barbecue with delicious grilled meat on grill BBQ

Guest Post: Grilling with Tayla Lambright

Today’s guest post is written by Tayla Lambright, the Cache County Food $ense supervisor. She will be talking about summer food safety. Enjoy!

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This time of year is a perfect time to bring out your grills and have a barbecue! It’s also a great time to brush up on safe food practices when we’re cooking outside. It’s important to keep our food safe so we don’t get anyone sick from a food-borne illness. Each year, one in SIX Americans get sick from food borne illnesses and 128,000 of them require hospitalization. Food-borne illnesses are tough on our bodies. They induce nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, cramps, a fever, and have an array of other unpleasant side effects. That doesn’t sound like a fun way to spend your vacation!

Follow these tips and you will decrease the likelihood of getting you or anyone you serve sick=

  1. Keep everything clean –

Especially when you’re not in your home kitchen, it’s important to keep everything from your hands, cutting boards, utensils, and produce clean. Try to wash and sanitize everything before leaving the house and rinse it off under warm water again before cooking. It’s recommended that we wash our hands for 20 seconds with soap under warm running water. Don’t want to count to 20? – then just sing the alphabet song to make sure you’ve washed long enough.

  1. Separate –

Avoid cross contamination by using different cutting boards for raw meat and fresh produce. Avoiding cross contamination also includes your hands and any other utensil that may come in contact with the raw meat – make sure to wash it thoroughly before touching anything that will be served fresh.

  1. Cook to safe temperatures –

This is especially important when cooking meat to make sure it has been heated to a high enough temperature to kill the harmful bacteria. Don’t forget to check the internal temperatures in the thickest part of the meat after cooking. This ensures that the entire cut was cooked to a safe temperature.

Here are a couple temperatures to remember :

USDA Temps

  1. When in doubt – throw it out!

Avoid leaving food out for longer than 1 hour outside and 2 hours inside. Leaving it out in the heat will increase the likelihood of it developing harmful toxins that produce food-borne illnesses. It is always better to be safe than sorry!

During these last few months of warm weather enjoy safe barbecues and outdoor meals. Here are some of my favorite grilled fruit and vegetable recipes.  Click the recipe cards for a printable version.

Grilled or Broiled Pineapple Zucchini Corn Salad

Tayla Lambright

Certified Nutrition Education Assistant 
Food $ense Supervisor
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Blueberry Smoothie with Honey Pecan Granola

Thick, creamy, and cold. This smoothie is the perfect summer treat or breakfast eat. Top it with crunchy granola, grab a spoon, and eat up!

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Today, we are talking smoothies! During the summer months, smoothies make the perfect go-to meal. They are quick and easy, keep your kitchen cool, and can be packed with healthy ingredients like fruits, veggies, whole grains, and protein. They also make just the right amount when cooking for one or two. My favorite smoothie combines blueberries, pineapple, and yogurt into a thick and tasty drink.


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The base of this smoothie consists of frozen blueberries and pineapple chunks. Blueberries are in season right now, so buy a bunch and freeze some for future smoothie making!

Begin this recipe by combining 1 cup of frozen blueberries, 1/2 cup frozen pineapple chunks, 1 cup of Light Vanilla Soy Milk (or any other milk), 1 tablespoon frozen lemonade concentrate, and 1/2 cup of vanilla yogurt in a blender. The recipe card says that honey can be added, but I think this recipe is perfectly sweet without. Blend ingredients together until thick and smooth.

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I wanted to add some healthy whole grains to my breakfast smoothie, so I whipped up a batch of Honey Pecan Granola. This granola recipe is made with ingredients that you most likely have on hand like rolled oats, chopped nuts, and honey. Make a big batch and store it in the freezer so that it lasts longer. Try it on top of smoothies, yogurt parfaits, in a trail mix, or with milk as cereal.


If you don’t have everything to make this Blueberry Smoothie, that’s okay! At Food $ense, we like to show you ways that you can make meals, like this smoothie, with the ingredients you already have. Look at the template below for the steps that you can take to customize a smoothie of your own.

Create a Smoothie

Here are the two recipe cards. Click on the photos for a printable version. Enjoy!

Blueberry Smoothie Honey Pecan Granola

Comment below with your favorite smoothie ingredients!

Chelsea Norman

Certified Nutrition Education Assistant

Mixed rice in a bowl. Close-up.

Going Grain

Grains are one of the 5 food groups found on MyPlate. They are an important part of a healthy diet and provide our bodies with the energy and nutrients we need to thrive. Let’s take a deeper look into the grains group today!

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Grains-What Are They?

Grains are common foods that we typically include in most of our meals. Examples include cereals, breads, pastas, rice, popcorn, and products made with flour. Grains are broken into two groups- refined grains and whole grains.

Refined Grains

These grains have been through a process called milling. This process removes the bran and the germ of the grain. This gives the grain a white color and smoother texture. Examples of refined grains include white flour, white bread, some cereals, and white rice.

Whole GrainsBreakfast Cereal 2

Whole grains have not been through the milling process and still have the bran and germ intact. The bran and germ
provide a lot of nutrients that make our whole grains so healthy including fiber and B-vitamins. Brown rice, 100% whole-wheat bread, whole-wheat flour, and rolled oats are examples of whole grains.


Increasing Whole Grains

MyPlate recommends that we try and make half of our grains “whole grains”! Here are some tips for including more whole grains in your day.

Breakfast:

  • Try oatmeal with fresh fruit
  • Swap white bread for 100% whole-wheat bread topped with peanut butter
  • Make a breakfast burrito using a whole-wheat tortilla
  • Substitute whole-wheat flour instead of all-purpose flour in pancakes
  • Search the shelves for whole grain cereals. Most cereals are made with whole grains today!

Lunch/Dinner:

  • Make your sandwich on 100% whole-wheat bread
  • Make a small bowl of pasta using whole-wheat noodles
  • Top brown rice with black beans, salsa, and cheese
  • Pack a stir fry with leftover veggies, chicken, and quinoa
  • Serve salads with homemade whole-wheat croutons
  • Make enchiladas with whole-wheat tortillas
  • Include brown rice or whole grain noodles in casseroles and soups

Snacks:

  • Snack on air-popped popcorn. Just don’t overdo the salt and butter.
  • Make a whole grain trail mix. Include whole wheat cereals, popcorn, nuts, and dried fruit.
  • Make a yogurt parfait with homemade granola and fresh fruit
  • Try your hand at homemade granola bars!

Meal Prep:

  • Whip up a batch of homemade granola or homemade granola bars to grab for quick snacks all week
  • Prep whole grain trail mix with whole grain cereals, popcorn, nuts, and dried fruit. Package it into single portions to take with lunch.
  • Make extra brown rice, quinoa, or whole wheat noodles to keep on hand for easy leftovers. Brown rice and quinoa can also be frozen in one or two serving freezer bags. Just thaw when you are ready to use.
  • Prepare instant oatmeal packs. This link shows you how: http://www.theyummylife.com/Instant_Oatmeal_Packets

I love this fruit and quinoa salad recipe. It is light, refreshing, and perfect for summer. This recipe would make a great side dish to serve with grilled chicken! Click on the recipe below for a printable version. Enjoy!

FruitandQuinoaSalad

Chelsea Norman

Certified Nutrition Education Assistant

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Banana Oatmeal Trail Mix Cookies

These trail mix cookies take no time to whip up and are perfect for breakfasts and snacks on the go. Ingredients like banana, pecans, and cranberries are used to satisfy your sweet tooth while providing healthy energy for your busy life.

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Cookies are a regular treat in many homes. While they taste great, they may not always provide the best nutrition for our bodies. Most cookies are loaded with white flour, sugar, butter, and oil. We can easily make a healthier cookie by replacing those ingredients with simple foods you already have at home.

Sweet Swaps:

  • Substitute banana for butter or oil. This switch will cut calories and the banana provides additional vitamins and minerals.
  • Swap white flour for oatmeal. Oats are a whole grain and contain more fiber than white flour. This fiber keeps our bowels healthy and helps us feel full for longer.
  • Cut down on added sugar by sweetening your cookies with cinnamon, vanilla, applesauce, and banana. These ingredients give cookies a sweet flavor without all that sugar.
  • Choose healthier goodies like pecans, sunflower seeds, and cranberries over chocolate chips. The nuts provide healthy fats that our body needs.

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Begin these cookies by gathering up your ingredients. You will need 3 mashed bananas, 1/3 cup applesauce, 2 cups uncooked, quick cooking oats, 1/4 cup skim milk, 1 tsp vanilla, 1 Tbsp cinnamon, and 1 Tbsp sugar. This is the base for the cookies. You can then choose whatever add-ins you would like. I chose to make these cookies with craisins, pecans, and sunflower seeds.

Add-Ins:

  • Almonds
  • Raisins
  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries
  • Peanut Butter
  • Chocolate Chips
  • Coconut Flakes
  • Almond Extract

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Use a fork to mash your bananas until they are smooth. Add remaining ingredients and stir until a dough forms. This dough will be slightly sticky.

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Roll cookie dough into balls and place on a greased baking sheet. Feel free to try the cookie dough- it’s eggless! Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes on 350 degrees F. My oven seems to cook very quickly, so it took me just about 10 minutes.

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Place cookies on a baking rack to cool before enjoying! These make such a great breakfast and easy snack on the go. The cookies can be kept in the fridge for 2-3 days or frozen in a freezer bag. I typically freeze the cookies so that I always have them on hand. Let your cookie sit at room temperature for a couple of minutes before eating.

Here is the recipe! Click on the image for a printable version.

Trail Mix Cookies

Chelsea Norman

Certified Nutrition Education Assistant

Berry Kabobs

4th of July Menu Planning

Happy 4th of July weekend! We are getting the festivities kicked off with a menu plan perfect for a backyard BBQ, picnic, or dinner for 2.

Backyard BBQ

Holidays have a way of throwing off our weekly menu plans. I always seem to forget to add those extra ingredients to my shopping list. This means I have to go back to the store which can make for an expensive week. I have put together an easy 4th of July menu plan that isn’t going to break the budget. Choose a few of these recipes below to cook up for your extra special holiday weekend.


 Main Dishes:

Chicken is a budget-friendly meat for your 4th of July BBQ. If you have a  grill available, try making kabobs. They are fun and festive. Get creative by adding your favorite fruits and veggies. Below is a recipe for pineapple chicken kabobs. This recipe is so easy to throw together and would be perfect with a few simple side dishes. If you don’t have a grill handy, try making BBQ chicken stuffed sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes are nutrient rich and are perfect when cooking for one or two. Just roast ro microwave a couple of potatoes and stuff them with delicious BBQ chicken. Yum!

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Ari’s Menu- BBQ Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
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Julie’s Eats and Treats- Pineapple Chicken Kabobs

Side Dishes:

Pick a couple of side dishes to round out your meal. I thought these side dishes were super fun and festive!

American-Flag-Veggie-Tray-Dill-Dip
Living Locurto- American Flag Veggie Tray with Dill Dip
Two Peas and Their Pod- Strawberry Jicama Salad
Two Peas and Their Pod- Strawberry Jicama Salad

MangoRhubarbSalsa

BlackBeanSalsa


Desserts:

Make a healthy patriotic dessert by using a mix of red, white, and blue fruit. Here are a few to try.

BerryCrisp BerryFruitSalad RhubarbStrawberryCrumble

Berry Kabobs
Family Circle- Berry Kabobs
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Very Culinary- Red, White, and Blue Smoothie
Heather's French Press- Triple Berry Banana Bread
Heather’s French Press- Triple Berry Banana Bread