Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Whole Grain Wednesdays-Southwest Pasta

I don't know about you, but the pace of my life starts to pick-up come spring!  It seems as though the activities at my children's school increase as they try to get all of the concerts, plays, etc. done before the end of the school year.  Add to that several spring sports and the time to make dinner seems to shrink dramatically.

I want to share a whole grain recipe that I make quite frequently for dinner because it is so quick and easy.  This would also make a delicious lunch for your hungry children.

Southwest Pasta

1 pound dried whole grain pasta (I like to use wagon wheel or bow-tie pasta if you can find whole grain varieties)
2 cups mild salsa
4 ounce can chopped green chilies, drained
2 (15 ounce) cans of black beans, rinsed and drained (or use about 3 1/2 cups cooked black beans)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 bunch of green onions, chopped
1 cup shredded low-fat Cheddar or Monterey jack cheese

In a large pot, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain pasta and put it in a large bowl.

In a medium saucepan combine the salsa, green chilies and black beans and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally.

Add the salsa mixture to the pasta in the bowl.  Add the cilantro, green onions, and cheese.  Stir and serve warm,  or refrigerate until needed.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Whole Grain Pasta

Have you wanted to try whole grain pasta, but have been afraid that your children wouldn't like it?  Would you try it if you could get your money back if you didn't like it?  Well now you can!  Head over to the  Barilla website where they have a rebate form that you can send in if you try their whole grain pasta and don't like it.  They also have some coupons available on their Facebook page for savings on their products.   Many providers have shared with us that their children make the transition to whole grain pasta quite easily and don't even notice the change. 

Some other tips for introducing whole grain pastas to your kids include:
  • mixing the whole grain pasta with regular pasta and gradually adding more whole grain pasta
  • serving whole grain pasta with extra sauce if children find it dry
  • serving a variety of shapes of pasta

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Whole Grain Wednesdays-Teriyaki Quinoa

Happy Wednesday! :)  Have you tried quinoa yet?  If not, why not? 

I have shared quite a few quinoa recipes on this blog.  Quinoa is a delicious whole grain that has become quite easy to find.  In fact, quinoa can be purchased in most grocery stores now, so a special trip to the health food store is not required.  I like quinoa because it is a good source of protein and is packed with so many other nutrients.

I tried this recipe out on my family and they all loved it.  It is a great side dish to serve instead of rice if you are making a stir-fry!

Teriyaki Quinoa
1 cup dry quinoa
2 cups water
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated (or substitute 1/2 teaspoon dried)
3 Tablespoons low-sodium tamari  (or other soy sauce)
2 Tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons sesame oil

Rinse the quinoa in a strainer under cold water for about 2 minutes to remove the bitter coating.  Place the quinoa in a small saucepan and add the water.  Stir in the garlic.  Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer.  Cook, covered for 10-15 minutes or until the water is all absorbed and the quinoa is tender.  Take the pan off the heat and stir in the rest of the ingredients.  Cover and let sit for about 5 minutes.  Remove the cover and stir.

Crediting information:
Makes 12 servings.  Each serving creditable for 1 bread/bread alternate at any meal or snack for 3-5 year old children. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Whole Grain Wednesdays- Whole Wheat Convenience Mix

Happy Wednesday and welcome back to Whole Grain Wednesdays!   Today I have a link to a website to share with you.  The University of Maine Cooperative Extension has a nice group of convenience mixes that can help you save money and time.  I like to use convenience mixes because I can mix them up over the weekend and then it saves me time when I want to cook biscuits or bread later in the week.  But most of all, I appreciate knowing everything that goes into them. Some of the mixes in the store, such as biscuit mixes, have a lot of questionable ingredients and preservatives in them.

For example, Bisquick has partially hydrogenated oils in it which you probably know is another word for trans fat.  Since ideally our trans fat intake should be zero, this is not something that I would buy for my family.  Plus you will notice that there is not a whole grain to be found anywhere in this product.

So, if you are interested in making your own whole wheat convenience mix, here is the University of Maine website.  Hope you enjoy it!

Monday, January 2, 2012

SuperTracker Is Here

Happy New Year!  Do you have any resolutions for the new year?  If you, like many others, would like to improve your diet or get more exercise, a new online tool may be of interest to you!  You are probably aware that the the USDA introduced MyPlate last year to replace the old food guide pyramid.  Now they have developed a new website to go along with the new plate design.  This website is a lot of fun, and best of all it is free!   The new SuperTracker website allows users to:
  • Track the foods they eat and track their daily physical activity.
  • Get personalized recommendations for what and how much to eat, and how much physical activity they should aim for daily.
  • Customize features such as setting goals, virtual coaching, and weight tracking.
  • Get reports of their progress over time.
There is even a "Food-a-Pedia" that lets users compare the nutrients in two foods which is pretty neat. 

You can even support your family and friends by adding their individual profiles.  Check out the website and see what you think!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

What Determines Children's Eating Behavior?

As parents and caregivers, we all want the children in our lives to eat a nutritious diet so that they can be healthy and active children.  But we all know that getting children to eat a healthy diet can sometimes be a challenge!  I wanted to share with you an article that was recently published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.  The authors put together a review of the current data on determinants of children's eating habits.  They reported on strategies that worked, and those that had negative effects on healthy eating habits in children.

Here is what they found:
1)  Overcontrol, restriction, pressure to eat and the promise of rewards all have negative effects on children's food acceptance.
2)  Having at least one parent at the family meal is associated with children eating more fruits and vegetables.
3)  Severely restricting the diet of overweight children may cause that child to be more likely to overeat.
4)  The earlier a child is exposed to a wide variety of foods, the healthier their diet is as an adult.
5)  Having fruits and vegetables widely available in your home will increase your child's intake of these foods.
6)  In the same manner, the more "junk food" you have in your home, the more of it your child will consume.

As the authors of this paper put it: "Children like what they know and eat what they like".  In other words, children grow to like the foods that are made available to them on a regular basis and this shapes the types of foods they will prefer for the rest of their lives.

What we need to be asking ourselves about the food environment in our homes is:
  • Are we buying, preparing, and serving foods that we want our children to get in the habit of eating?  
  • Are we practicing the "Division of Responsibility" during our meal service and allowing our children to determine how much they want to eat or not eat, and not pressuring them to eat?       
  • Are we serving a wide variety of foods and introducing our children to many different healthy foods?
Something to think about as we head into a new year!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Whole Grain Wednesdays- Whole Grain Biscuit Mix

Happy Wednesday!   I made another biscuit recipe this week.  I know that I just shared another biscuit recipe with you, but I really like this one because it is a "mix" that you can store in the refrigerator and use as you need it.  I also like the fact that it has a variety of whole grains in it!  If you don't have spelt flour, and don't want to buy any, you can use additional whole wheat pastry flour in its place.

Biscuit Mix
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup spelt flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick oats)
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup nonfat powdered milk
2 Tablespoons baking powder
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
7 Tablespoons cold butter

In a large bowl mix the first 9 ingredients (all ingredients except butter).  Stir well.  Grate the butter into the bowl and toss with the flour mixture to coat.  Using your fingers, break the butter up into small pieces.  Store in plastic zip-top bags in the refrigerator until you are ready to make the biscuits.  (This makes enough for 5 batches of biscuits).

To make one batch of biscuits (about 5 biscuits):
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Mix one cup of the biscuit mix with 1/4 cup of water.  Stir with a fork until just combined.  Roll the dough out on a floured surface to about 3/4 inch thick.  Cut with biscuit cutter.  Combine the biscuit scraps and make more biscuits until you use all of the dough.  Transfer the biscuits to an ungreased baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes or until lightly browned. 

Crediting information:  One batch of biscuits makes 12 servings.  Each serving creditable for 1 bread/bread alternate at any meal or snack for 3-5 year old children.