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Halloween Tricks and Treats

By: Morgan V. Robbins, RD, LD, at Lexington Medical Center

Halloween is just around the corner, and while it tends to be filled with tricks and quite a few treats, life is all about balance. Here are a few healthy tips so the scale doesn’t get too scary.
-Want a healthier option for trick-or-treaters? Try offering animal crackers, pretzels, cereal bars, or stickers for a healthier alternative to candy.
-Attending a Halloween party? Be sure to get some sort of exercise in the day of the party.
-Don’t skip meals! Skipping meals can lead to over indulging later in the day; eat a good meal two to three hours before the party.
-Think balance- enjoy your favorite Halloween treat in moderation! Have a small handful of candy corn, not the entire bag.

Here are two healthier recipes to bring to this years Halloween festivities:

Bananas
Peanut Butter Banana Eyeballs
Ingredients:
Keebler® Townhouse Wheat Crackers
1 banana, sliced
Mini Chocolate Chips
Honey
Peanut Butter
Directions:
1. Spread peanut butter onto entire cracker
2. Spread honey over peanut butter
3. Please slice of banana in the center of the cracker
4. Place mini chocolate chip (point down) into center of banana to serve as pupil

* Use things like Nutella, cream cheese, jelly, apples, cinnamon, fruit loops and marshmallows for other varieties of eyeballs.

Pumpkin
Pumpkin Veggie Tray
Ingredients:
A large serving tray
1 large bag of baby carrots
1 cucumber
1 head of broccoli 1 carton veggie dip
Three Ramekins or small bowls

Directions:
1. Create an outline for your pumpkin by laying some of the carrots out in an oblong circle. Once the carrot outline is set, fill in the circle with the rest of the carrots.
2. Remove enough of the carrots to create a cucumber-filled smile, set the carrots you removed on top of the other carrots within your pumpkin
3. Place halved cucumber slices in the space you created for your carrot pumpkin’s smile
4. Fill your ramekins with the veggie dip and place them where you want the pumpkin’s eyes and nose to be
5. Slice off the stem of the broccoli head. Place the broccoli at the top of your pumpkin

Resources: tastaeofhome.com, snackpicks.com

Pumpkins: Not Just for Jack O’ Lanterns

By Susan K Wilkerson, RD, LD at Lexington Medical Center

Jackolantern
As I see it, there are three kinds of pumpkins: one type is good for carving, another for baking and the other is grown to win the largest pumpkin at the State Fair. The Atlantic Giant Pumpkin is the type you see at the fairs and festivals. The world record is 2,009 pounds set in 2012. It would be a little tough to eat or carve.

The word, pumpkin is derived from the Greek word “pepon” which means “large melon”. Melons and pumpkins have very similar health benefits. Pumpkins are a good source of Lutein for eye health and Beta Carotene which generates Vitamin A in the body. The phytochemicals found in pumpkins – trigonelline and nicotinic acid – may have a favorable affect on insulin and glucose levels in diabetes. The seeds are a good source of protein, magnesium, copper and zinc.

Baking pumpkins are much smaller and have smooth lighter skin. Pumpkins are very versatile in cooking. Most parts of the pumpkin plant are edible; the fleshy shell, the seeds, the leaves and even the flowers. Pumpkins can be baked, boiled, steamed, and roasted. They are mostly eaten mashed in soups, casseroles and pies.

Pumpkins
Here are tips on how to prepare a pumpkin for cooking—
•First scrub the outside of the pumpkin with a vegetable brush.
•Cut the pumpkin in half and use a spoon to scrape out the fibers and the seeds. A serrated grapefruit spoon works great for this. Save the seeds for roasting with a little sea salt.
•Cut the pumpkin halves into smaller pieces and place them skin side up in a shallow baking dish.
•Add water to just cover the bottom of the dish and cover tightly with aluminum foil.
•Bake in a 325ºF oven until the pumpkin is fork tender. The time will vary depending on the size of your pieces.
•Cool and either cut off the peel or scoop out the flesh.

Here’s a recipe to start your day off with a good nutritional kick:

Pumpkin Pancakes
Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 egg
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons vinegar
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions:
In a bowl, mix together the milk, pumpkin, egg, oil and vinegar. Combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, allspice, cinnamon, ginger and salt in a separate bowl. Stir into the pumpkin mixture just enough to combine.

Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake. Brown on both sides and serve hot.

Sources: Wikipedia, WebMD, Old Farmer’s Almanac, allrecipes.com

Strawberries

Screen Shot 2013-06-07 at 10.48.30 AM

Susan K Wilkerson, RD, LD
Clinical Nutrition

Strawberries are in season – red, ripe and delicious! You no longer have to buy the tasteless ones from far away lands.

Strawberries are very low in Saturated Fat, Cholesterol and Sodium. They are also a good source of Folate and Potassium, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin C and Manganese. A large portion of the calories in this food come from natural sugar, but they have less than 50 calories a serving (about 1 cup). So if you pick your own, you have all ready burned off the calories. I look at it as the good in the strawberry heavily out ways the sugar content. So eat up before they go out of season and you have to resort to tasteless ones.

I have been picking strawberries for the last several years with my little one. It has been and annual event for our family. We pick several times throughout the season and pick a few gallons each time. I simply wash the ones we are not going to eat within the next week. Dry the berries on a large towel and place them on cookie sheets with the caps removed (the green tops). I place them in the freezer until they are frozen and then quickly place them in gallon size freezer bags and return to the freezer. We eat them throughout the year in smoothies, on ice cream and on cereal.

Fruit Smoothie
3- 5 medium frozen strawberries
½ cup frozen blueberries
½ banana
½ cup low fat vanilla yogurt
About ½ cup skim milk (more or less to adjust the consistency)

Add all ingredients in a large cup. And use a hand blender or food processor to blend and enjoy.