Eat Well Blog
It’s that time of year again! The weather is cooling down, the leaves are falling, and the invitations for holiday parties and work dinners will soon be coming in. The simple days of bringing a side dish to the barbecue are fading away (is there anything easier than throwing together pasta salad or a fruit tray?). But don’t worry, that’s what we are here for. Your foodie friends who are obsessed with pinning “quick party dips” and “apps to impress” are here to help you weed through the recipes that take 20 ingredients and over an hour in the kitchen and find the perfect, simple, delicious treats to take to your events.
The recipe below for Roasted Tomato with Parmesan is sure to become a quick staple. You will be ready to go with just a few simple ingredients and 10 minutes in the oven!
- Cherry or grape tomatoes
- Fresh parsley, chopped
- Fresh Parmesan cheese, shredded
- Olive oil
- A dash of salt and pepper
Preheat your oven to 400F. While it’s heating, wash your tomatoes and place them into the appropriate size baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil lightly over the top of the tomatoes and toss them so that they are evenly coated then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spread out evenly on the sheet to ensure even baking then top with fresh parsley and Parmesan cheese. Place in the oven for 10-12 minutes until the tomatoes are soft. They should smell pretty fantastic, too!
These little broiled beauties are fantastic served with shaved Parmesan and crostinis! They pair very well with a number of white wines and the strong flavor of the Parmesan cheese can stand up to some of the drier varieties if you prefer those. You could also use this recipe to top a salad or smash the broiled tomatoes and serve over fresh pasta or on a pizza… Oh the endless possibilities in the kitchen!
by Rebekah Allen, Price Cutter Dietitian
It’s that time of year again; goblins, ghosts, princesses, and fairies will be showing up at doorsteps all over the neighborhood. Parents will be dragging home sugar-crazed children with pillow sacks and plastic pumpkins full of candy and other tooth-rotting sweets. While Halloween may only be one night of the year, the amount of candy we bring home can make it feel like a year-round event. Trick-or-treating is a fun activity for kiddos, there’s no argument there, but gorging ourselves on candy and sweets can quickly turn this holiday into a nightmare. Especially when the average American already consumes a shocking 21 teaspoons of sugar each day, an amount 3x the daily recommendation. Now, that’s an amount to scare even the boogeyman away! Consumption of added sugars from these sweet candy treats and treats alike, such as cookies, sweetened beverages, and ice cream, is linked to the ever-climbing rates of obesity and heart disease across the county. But don’t let this statistic spook you completely, there are ways to keep Halloween a treat without going overboard on the sugar. We can start by taking matters into our own hands and distribute healthy snacks to all trick-or-treaters alike. So, this year we’re rising up from our grave to help you brainstorm nutritious treat ideas that meet both food safety regulations and withhold the stamp of approval from nutrition experts. The following list of snacks is more nutritious than candy and could make you everyone’s favorite neighborhood party monster.
- Applesauce cups or squeezable fruit.
- Small bags of pretzels.
- Small bags of popcorn. These are gluten-free, whole grain, and allergy friendly! Look for plain popcorn without added butter and salt so parents can flavor them at home.
- Individual nuts or trail mix. Still sweet and salty but with healthy fats and fiber!
- Dark chocolate covered nuts. A taste of candy with added nutrients.
- Small bottles of water. Helps hydrate without all the extra sugar.
- Fruit cups. Find varieties in water or 100% fruit juice.
- Raisins. Yep, I went there. Kids actually like these!
- Whole grain Goldfish.
- Teddy Grahams. Still not ideal, but better than guzzling candy in our opinion.
- Chex Mix. Not an everyday food, but not laden with sugar either.
- Cheese sticks. Can easily go 1-2 hours without being refrigerated. Just keep on ice until they go home with the children. Can also be eaten right away to curb hunger and prevent a candy gorge.
- Small toys, such as playdough, small dolls, or coloring books with crayons, because who ever said you had to hand out food?
Understanding health claims and nutrition labels can be haunting when roaming through the aisles of Price Cutter, don’t get caught in the junk food web. To help you steer clear of these traps, we’ve created a list of items that are both a trick and a treat.
- Fruit snacks. Don’t let their shapes or all natural labels fool you, these are just candy gummies shaped like fruit.
- Juice boxes. While ½ cup of 100% juice is okay, some juice boxes have as much sugar as soda without the fiber from fruit.
- Granola bars. Most bars are really glorified candy bars.
- Muffins. Especially those prepackaged, are essentially cupcakes without the frosting.
- Soda and chips. Obvious junk food, but commonly seen as candy replacements during the trick-or-treat excursion.
by Jackie Kemnic and Kelli Steffensmeier, MSU Dietetic Interns
Prep time: 20 minutes
- 5 string cheese
- 15 small pretzel sticks
Start by cutting each of your cheese sticks into 3 even pieces. Then peel each of the pieces apart or cut with a knife near the bottom of the piece to look like the bottom of the broom. Gently press one pretzel stick into the top (uncut) portion of the cheese. Finish the project by tying a small chive around the top of the cheese. Serve and enjoy!
Recipe from: One Little Project at a Time…
Yield: 2 mummies per apple
Prep time: 10 minutes
- Apples, variety of choosing
- Chocolate chips
Start by washing the apples. Next, peel uneven strips of the skin off of the apple to make a mummy wrapping texture over the apple. Cut each apple in half and cut the seedy section out of the apple halves. If preparing mummies for later use, soak the apples in water with lemon juice for 30 minutes or choose an apple that stays fresh longer such as pink lady or honeycrisp. Finally add eyes to the mummies by pressing two chocolate chips pointy side down into each apple half. Serve and enjoy!
Recipe from: Two Healthy Kitchens
Halloween is coming quickly and I’ve got my little goblins nearly ready for the big day! We’ve been hunting for costumes, gluing on Dalmatian spots, and trying to the keep Power Ranger sword intact and out of the 3-year old’s hands before the big day arrives. I’ll be rushing from the office to the school for costume changes, parade and party, have a quick dinner before we regroup, and then head to Roundtree neighborhood for an epic night of trick-or-treating. Not to mention, I’m going to try to pull off a costume of my own. I’m exhausted just thinking about it!
This is always a tricky holiday when in the battle of the dietitian world versus real-world mom. In my schooling we were taught to work hard against restricting foods. With more restriction, one begins to put food onto a pedestal and that creates issues of its own. On the other hand, parents know that if candy is a total free-for-all then kids would be bouncing off the walls, have rotten teeth, and tummy aches galore.
Here are some quick tips for surviving the season if you have little ones:
- Those upcoming parties don’t need to be centered on foods that just include sugar. Think about foods that can fit your spooky theme that actually have some health benefits! Black Lentils, black beans (add some cumin – yum!), blackberries, raisins, dark purple grapes, mandarin oranges, baby carrots, sweet potatoes, orange bell peppers, or use a cookie cutter in the shape of a pumpkin to cut shapes out of cheese slices.
- I try to steer my little ones toward chewing gum (now that they’re old enough to not swallow it). I figure that if they’re chewing gum while looking at their loot then they’re less likely to eat more candy. Sneaky, I know.
- There are also other options for trick-or-treaters such as string cheese, small apples, fruit cups, or Cuties. Be sure to inspect your kiddo’s treats thoroughly to make sure everything is sealed and safe. You can also try some non-food items such as glow sticks, bubbles, fun pencils, or stickers.
There are so many easy, fun options out there for your little ones this season. Above all else, it’s important to have fun. People tell me I will miss these days, and in the midst of all the chaos, I don’t always believe them. But, I do believe we will have fun. ☺
by Jessica Miller, Price Cutter Dietitian
“No guts, no glory!” No doubt you’ve heard this old adage in reference to some life risk or opportunity, but have you ever taken it literally? Okay, so obviously somebody would be in a serious pickle without their literal guts. What I’m getting at is gut health; without a healthy digestive system, we suffer. Do you encounter stomach discomfort, irregular bowel movements (constipation/diarrhea), or sluggishness? This is a good indicator that you may have poor gut or digestive health.
What is “gut health”?
Gut health is simply another term for digestive health: whether we like it or not, each of us is home to several billion bacteria. Among this varied group of tiny neighbors, there is a constant battle between the bad bacteria (the ones that make you sick) and the good ones (that keep you from getting sick and promote greater health and well-being). Research suggests that eating a diet rich in “gut-friendly” foods may promote better digestion and gut health and may help keep you healthy and well. (See the recipes at the end of this post!) This is an area that is still being studied.
Probiotics vs. Prebiotics
Some important words to know when learning about gut health are probiotics and prebiotics. Probiotics are the live strains of good bacteria that promote all the health benefits I mentioned earlier. They go by names like Lactobacillus acidophilus or Bifidobacterium. These guys are found in foods such as kefir and yogurt. Kefir, a cousin to yogurt, is a tart and tangy milk drink loaded with live bacterial cultures. Our Health Market here at Price Cutter has a wide variety of flavors to choose from! It gives a whole new meaning to ‘tasting the rainbow’.
A good yogurt will list the types of active bacteria in the ingredients list. Greek God’s brand Greek Yogurt has seven different kinds of bacteria in it! Check it out in the dairy section of our health market.
On the other hand, prebiotics, like fiber, feed the good bacteria. Fiber is found in fruit, vegetables, legumes, and grains; it is not fully digested or absorbed like other nutrients. Instead, it finds its way into your colon where the good bacteria live and feed.
The super scientific formula below outlines this relationship:
More fiber = More food for the good guys = More good bacteria
Chia seeds are the poster child for fiber, they’re easy to add into smoothies, baked goods, even casseroles, and a little goes a long way. Diets low in fiber will not keep good bacteria alive, meaning that bad bacteria can move in and cause digestive problems and discomfort.
A Recipe for Good Gut Health
Now that you’re acquainted with your 30 billion neighbors, you’re probably wondering how to cook for them. As a registered dietitian in training, I am all about food first, so here is a quick and easy smoothie recipe to keep those gut bacteria thriving and happy.
Strawberry Banana Kefir Smoothie
- 1 container Greek fat-free strawberry yogurt (or any flavor)
- 1½ cups Kefir (strawberry, blueberry, plain, vanilla – you pick!)
- 1 cup frozen or fresh strawberries
- 1 medium banana
- 2 Tablespoons milled flaxseed
- Place ingredients in a blender. Cover and blend on high speed about 30 seconds or until smooth.
- Pour into 2 glasses and enjoy!
by Haley Brannan, MSU Dietetic Intern
What is your go-to snack? Is it something sweet? Something savory? Something filling? Something light? For as long as I can remember, crackers and cheese have been one of my favorite snacks. I love the crispiness of the cracker along with the richness of the cheese. Occasionally I will get adventurous and add some tomato, or perhaps avocado, but there is something perfect about a cracker and cheese. The problem with my favorite snack is that most crackers you find in stores are highly processed and full of preservatives and unhealthy fats. Studies show that processed foods and fats contribute to inflammation, which is shown to be a main contributor in the development of chronic diseases (think diabetes, heart failure, obesity, etc.).
That is why I am so excited to tell you about Mary’s Gone Crackers! This product also happens to be a Dietitian’s Choice item this month! Dietitian’s Choice items typically fit special dietary considerations or have outstanding nutritional value. Mary’s Gone Crackers fits both of these criteria as they are made from whole foods, are certified organic, and are naturally gluten free. They also provide 450mg of omega-3 fatty acids per one ounce serving! These are important aspects because a mostly whole food diet that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids has been shown to have an anti-inflammatory effect! Focusing on whole foods is extremely important, but I don’t want to give up my crackers! These crackers are made with whole grain brown rice, whole grain quinoa, brown flax seeds, brown sesame seeds, water, sea salt, and wheat-free tamari. My favorite way to enjoy these crackers is with a smear of goat cheese, but there are many creative ways to try them! Add tomato or figs to your goat cheese, or top your cracker with a few slices of avocado. Not only are these crackers a great source of whole grains, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, but they are a whole food product you can get behind. What are your favorite ways to eat a cracker?
by Marilyn Jones
An aspiring registered dietitian currently getting her Master’s in Nutrition Diagnostics at Cox College in Springfield, MO.