Posts Tagged ‘recipes’

As the weather cools down the type of meals we often cook in slow cookers start to sound wonderful. Think warm, hearty, time saving, and one-dish meals. Slow cookers can help you to save both money and time – and maybe even your sanity. Instead of walking in the door at the end of the day to “What’s for dinner?” you can hear “Wow! That smells good. I’m going to wash up for dinner.” Because slow cookers use a low temperature to cook foods over a longer than usual time, there are a few safety and preparation tips to keep in mind:

  • As always, start with clean hands and a clean surface as you prep your meal.
  • To avoid sticking and provide a speedy clean-up, spray the inside of the crock with non-stick spray before adding ingredients.
  • Thaw frozen meats before adding to the crock either in the microwave or refrigerator.
  • If you decide to cut up foods ahead of time, store meats and vegetables separate before placing them in the pot to avoid growth of bacteria.
  • To shorten the time that foods are in the danger zone, between 40 and 140 degrees, either pre-heat the cooker or use the high setting for the first hour. I often add one of my liquid ingredients and turn my pot on high as I prep the other ingredients to add.
  • Surprisingly vegetables cook slower than meats, so add them first. slow cooker
  • Newer research states that larger cuts of meat can be now cooked in a slow cooker, but check manufacturer directions to see how many pounds your machine will hold safely. Check large cuts of meat with a meat thermometer to ensure safe temperature, 165 degrees for poultry and ground meats; and 145 to 160 degrees for beef, pork and lamb.
  • When cooking meats and poultry water, broth, or vegetable juices should almost cover the meat. This liquid provides more even heat transfer and creates the steam to ensure safe cooking.
  • While it is tempting, do not over-fill slow cookers. A pot one-half to two-thirds full is a full pot for cooking.
  • Do not remove the lid unnecessarily. When you lift the lid the inside temperature drops and can add 30 minutes or more to the cooking time.
  • After serving foods do not leave them to cool down in the crock. Store slow cooker foods safely as other left-overs – separate into shallow containers within short time and store in refrigerator or freezer. Left-overs should be reheated to 165 degrees before eating.

Are you looking for a low cost slow cooker meal idea? Try one from our Ohio State University Extension, Wayne County http://go.osu.edu/slowcooker. What is your favorite slow cooker recipe? I love my mother’s baked beans, white chicken chili, and anything for a tail-gate. Comment on your favorite.


USDA, Food Safety and Inspection Service, “Slow Cookers and Food Safety”, http://www.fsis.usda.gov.

University of Minnesota Extension, “Slow Cookers and Food Safety”, http://www.extension.umn.edu/food/food-safety/preserving/safe-meals/slow-cooker-safety/.

Writer: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Ross County.

Reviewer: Tammy Jones, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Pike County.

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While vegetarians go “meatless” every day, there is a growing movement across the country and even the world for the rest of us to do “Meatless Monday’s” once a week. Following this trend can help your health and your bank account too. Meals without meat aren’t a new thing; families were encouraged to take a meatless day during World War II to spread the food around to soldiers and allies in other countries.

The benefits of going meatless today include:

  • Reducing your risk of cancer – There are numerous studies that link consumption of red or processed meats to colon cancer, while studies also show that a diet rich in vegetables and fruits may decrease the risk of certain cancers.
  • Reducing risk of heart disease and stroke – By reducing consumption of the saturated fats in red meats you may also protect yourself again cardiovascular disease and stroke. At the same time an increase in whole grains, vegetables including beans, and fruit provide protective factors against the same health conditions.
  • Preventing obesity – Diets high in vegetables and fruits are higher in fiber, which will make you feel full quicker and typically contain fewer calories.
  • Spreading your food budget further – Most vegetables, beans, grains, and eggs can be used in recipes for less money than meats (red or white). Saving that money for a few months may give you the money for a family fun day, new games for family night, or just reduce your budget when finances are tight.

If you are looking for meatless recipes try:

A new favorite meatless recipe for me is Veggie Taco’s. Replace the ground meat in your taco with a peeled and chopped carrot and sweet potato (to speed up the process after chopping, microwave a few minutes with ¼ cup of water). Add a can of diced tomatoes and rinsed black beans to your seasonings and mix all ingredients in a skillet. Bring to a simmering bowl and heat for about 10 minutes to thicken. Top a whole grain taco shell with your meatless taco mixture, and chopped lettuce, tomato, and cheese. Trust me; you won’t miss the meat at all. Good additions are chopped peppers and a small chopped zucchini too.

Writer: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Ross County.

Reviewer: Donna Green, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Erie County.

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So what’s the secret potion behind these magical beans? Protein of course! Protein is a hot topic in today’s society and you see promotions of different protein powders and nutrition bars everywhere. Personally, I know of many people who have fallen into this trap of trying different protein powders to add to their “protein shake” in the morning to get that quick fix of protein. However, they are spending so much money on these quick-fix protein sources and need to find another way to incorporate protein into their diet. Beyond these protein powders and bars, most people go for the typical meat, fish and poultry when it comes to a reliable protein source, but don’t forget to give plant-based protein credit!

DWDHeartyBeanSoup (1)

Beans are packed with a bunch of different nutrients that are beneficial to your health. Beyond protein they are a great source of fiber, folate, magnesium and potassium. In regards to fiber, beans are packed with soluble fiber. Soluble fiber attracts water and slows down digestion and emptying of your stomach. This delay in emptying of your stomach makes you feel fuller for a longer period of time, which could be a great tactic for controlling your weight. About 5-10 grams of soluble fiber can decrease your LDL cholesterol by 5%, with beans containing about 0.6 to 2.4 grams of soluble fiber per half a cup.   This makes eating beans a great way to help with decreasing cardiovascular disease and inflammation.

Now let’s talk about beans and its protein content. One serving of beans is ½ cup of cooked beans, which provides roughly 7-8 grams of protein! Protein causes satiety, or fullness, so with the combination of soluble fiber and protein beans can be a great way to keep you feeling fuller for a longer period of time. Like stated before, this can help keep your diet and weight on track.

Most Americans consume canned beans, but dried beans are also a great way to incorporate more beans in your diet. Dried beans are underutilized in America and on any given day less than 8% of Americans report consuming beans .The problem many people face with dried beans is how to cook them. Canned beans are easy and convenient yet dried beans can come off as intimidating and time consuming. The truth is that they aren’t that hard to figure out once you know how! Soaking your beans is what takes the most time but you actually don’t have to do much to soak them…it’s just a waiting game. There are many different methods that can be used when cooking dried beans such as traditional, hot and microwave soaked methods. One method that is most convenient is the quick soak method:

  1. Rinse: to ensure proper cleanliness of your beans it is important to wash them off before consuming them.
  2. Place beans in a large pot and add 10 cups of water for every 2 cups of beans.
  3. Bring to a boil and let boil 2-3 minutes.
  4. Dried beans, discard soak water and rinse with cold water.

How easy is that?! Once you figure out which method works best for you, you can incorporate beans in your diet. Dried beans make a mass amount of product and can last you for a long time. If I over-committed on my bean abilities and made too much I freeze the remaining beans and just quickly heat them up! A 1-lb. bag of dried beans usually costs around $1.49 and can make around 13 servings of beans! What a great, and cheap, way to incorporate more protein into your diet!

Check out the US DryBean Council website for many recipes to try using beans!

Written by: Courtney N. Klebe Dietetic Intern, Bowling Green State Univeristy and Susan Zies, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Wood County

Reviewed by: Michelle Treber, LD, MA, Extenstion Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Pickaway County


  1. Messina V. Nutritional and health benefits of dried beans. Am J Clin Nutr 2014; 100: 437S-42S.

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Drinking a smoothie is an easy way to sneak in a serving or two of fruits and veggies towards your daily goal. A smoothie is great for breakfast, on the go meal, or a snack. Here’s how to blend a fruit- and veggie-packed smoothie that’s nutritious, satisfying and energizing.


  1. Choose a Base Start with a liquid base such as low-fat milk, soymilk, or nonfat Greek yogurt that delivers protein, vitamins, and minerals with a sensible amount of calories. If using juice, choose 100% grape, orange, apple, or cranberry varieties and try adding just a splash of it to a milk base so you don’t miss out on the protein. Remember juice adds extra sugar and calories so watch portion sizes.
  2. Add Fruit When adding fruit, most fresh, frozen and canned fruits shine in smoothies. For calorie control and to cap added sugar, choose plain, unsweetened frozen fruit and drain canned fruit packed in water or light syrup to reduce excess sugar. Slicing bananas and freezing them works really well.
  3. Yes…you can add veggies! Even vegetables can be added to smoothies. Just remember to use mild-tasting veggies so their flavor doesn’t overpower the other ingredients. If using a standard blender, you may need to chop them very finely or add a little water to help the blending process. Cucumbers, spinach, kale, and beets are popular options.
  4. Nutrient Boosters Super-charge your smoothie with flavorful and nutrient-packed blend-ins such as flaxseed, chia seeds, quick oats, spices (cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger), unsweetened cocoa powder, or powdered peanut butter.
  5. Less is More Remember to keep smoothie ingredients simple and take a ‘less is more’ approach. The more ingredients in a smoothie, the more calories it contains.

Kale Smoothie with Pineapple and Banana

1/2 cup coconut milk, skim milk, soymilk, nonfat Greek yogurt, or almond milk

2 cups stemmed and chopped kale or spinach

1 1/2 cups chopped pineapple (about 1/4 medium pineapple)

1 ripe banana, chopped

Water for desired consistency

  1. Combine the coconut milk, ½ cup water, the kale, pineapple, and banana in a blender and puree until smooth, about 1 minute, adding more water to reach the desired consistency.
  2. You can add a few almonds for extra protein if you would like!

For a great beet smoothie click here https://foodhero.org/recipes/un-beet-able-berry-smoothie.

Written by:  Melissa Welker M.Ed., B.S., Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Fulton County, Maumee Valley EERA, welker.87@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Donna Green, Family & Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Erie County, Erie Basin EERA, green.308@osu.edu





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Does your family go through boxes and boxes of store-bought snacks faster than you can replenish them? Do you feel like you’re spending a majority of your grocery budget on sugar-filled, processed snacks that don’t seem to last more than a few days at your house? There is an answer to this madness. Make your own snacks!

You might be thinking, “I don’t have time for that!” and while that may be true, you’d be surprised how much time you’d actually be saving. Yes, making your own snacks involves some planning and prepping. However, this planning and prepping stage might not involve the lengthy process of taking a trip to the grocery store. You can make various snacks for you, your kids, and whoever else may be at your house from foods you likely already have on hand. For example, you could try the Homemade Peanut Butter Granola Bars shown below. In addition, recipes like these make large enough batches to provide snacks lasting up to two weeks if stored properly. Many store bought boxes of granola bars provide only 5 servings, so why not whip up homemade bars that yield about 24 servings per batch.

Find a recipe for snacks that fits your own personal schedule. On a time crunch this week? Throw together a big batch of trail mix using those nuts you bought in bulk that have been taking up space in your cupboard. Add in cereal, raisins, seeds, or chocolate chips and seal in an air-tight container. Scoop into sandwich-sized bags for an easy, balanced, and healthful snack for any time or place.

Buying ingredients in bulk at your favorite grocery store can help make an abundance of different snacks that add variety to your daily routine. Stock up on versatile foods like oats and nuts and you’d be surprised at your options for snacks and meals as well as how much more full your wallet feels. The recipe below, found on the What’s Cooking? USDA Mixing Bowl website provides a snack that costs $0.30 per serving. No, that’s not a typo; $0.30 per serving. These homemade granola bars yield 24 servings making the total cost of the recipe about $7.15 according to USDA. You could get about 2 boxes, or 10 servings, of your average granola bars for that price.

Health bonus: Snacks like these provide more than just dollars in your pocket and variety to your pantry. The nutrition in homemade snacks like these is worth more than all of the previous reasons combined. The carbohydrate and protein provided in healthful, homemade snacks will offer the energy you need along with satisfaction until your next meal. On the plus side, you know exactly what ingredients are going into your snacks without paying for processed sugars and ingredients you can’t pronounce.


Homemade Peanut Butter Granola Bars

From “What’s Cooking? USDA Mixing Bowl

Makes: 24 servings

Total Cost: $7.15

Serving Cost: $0.30


  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 3 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup carrot (grated)
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Peel and grate the carrots.
  3. Put the honey and peanut butter in a large saucepan. Cook on low heat until melted. Remove pan from the heat.
  4. Add oatmeal, raisins, carrots, and coconut to the saucepan. Stir well, and let it cool until you can safely touch it with your hands.
  5. Press the mix firmly into the bottom of the pan.
  6. Bake for 25 minutes.
  7. Cool and cut into 24 bars.

Authors: Susan Zies, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Wood County, and Allision Doriot , Dietetic Intern with Wood County Extension.

Reviewer: Cheryl Barber Spires, RD, LD, SNAP-Ed Program Specialist, West Region, Ohio State University Extension, spires.53@osu.edu

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Smoothies continue to be a popular treat at restaurants; although special equipment is promoted to make them it is not necessary. While we think of them as a tasty way to increase our dairy and fruit consumption, they can also be a wonderful way to slide in a few vegetables. Yes, I said “vegetables”!

The perk with smoothies is you can add things that people may not usually think they like – yogurt or kale – and your children (or picky spouse or co-worker) won’t even know they are there. Vegetables that work well in smoothies are spinach, kale, steamed broccoli, romaine lettuce, cucumber, peeled avocado, and carrots. Using low fat dairy, skim milk and lite yogurt, a smoothie can provide calcium and protein in addition to the vitamins and fiber in vegetables and fruits.

Smoothie Tips:

  • While special smoothie machines aren’t necessary, a blender with a tight fitting lid is a must.green smoothie
  • To prevent damage to your blender, always use 1 cup of liquid, either skim or almond milk, or fruit juice.
  • Add a 6 ounce container of light yogurt, vanilla blends well with any combination, but all types work.
  • Choose your washed and chopped vegetable from the list above and add ½ to 1 cup. Remove stems from leafy veggies and add up to 2 cups.
  • Add 1 to 1 ½ cups assorted fruits like – bananas, strawberries, blueberries, grapes, pears, pineapple, peaches, or kiwi. To prepare fruit – wash and chop into smaller pieces for even blending. Freezing fruit ahead will give an icy consistency without the work on your blender of breaking up ice.
  • If you want to add ice – limit the amount to 4 cubes or no more than ½ cup.
  • Blend until smooth without over-blending. Vanilla extract and a dusting of cinnamon or nutmeg can be a tasty addition.

To make a green monster smoothie blend: kale, grapes, yogurt, skim milk, and bananas.

Smoothies can be a fun snack for families to make together, just supervise blending and limit servings to about 1 cup.


University of Maryland Extension, http://extension.umd.edu/sites/default/files/_docs/Green%20Smoothie.pdf.

Michigan State University Extension, http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/smoothies_a_healthy_alternative .

Writer: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ross County.

Reviewer: Pat Brinkman, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Fayette County.

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When choosing foods we eat, the texture, moistness, taste, color, nutrient content, and cost are all important. It can be easy to determine if we want to buy foods based off the food label, but what about home cooked foods- especially if we are the culpable chef? Can I decrease the amount of sugar without jeopardizing the signature sweet taste? What happens if I replace the oil with yogurt? The cooking fun starts with the wiggle room every recipe allows for healthy ingredient swaps, or modified amounts of familiar add-ins.

The Ohio State University Extension office supplies a factsheet on this very topic. In it contains ingredients to use instead of the unhealthy versions, along with ways to reduce sodium, fat, and sugar, and how to increase fiber, provided by this link: http://go.osu.edu/factsheet. For example, sugar is important in recipes to increase tenderness, color and taste but it still can be reduced without a noticeable defect. Being creative with what to add to the recipe can also be fun. Adding spices, for example, can reduce the need for salt and add more flavors.

The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension diet, formally known as the DASH diet, is the National Heart, Lung, and Blood institute’s plan for decreasing blood pressure by the foods we eat. They posted a recipe that combines the low-sodium foods of the DASH diet along with the beauty of swapping higher fat foods (like mayo) with yogurt. The recipe also uses spices and herbs to generate flavor loss from higher fat ingredients.

Yogurt Salad Dressing
8 oz plain yogurt, fat-free
1/4 cup mayonnaise, low-fat
2 Tbsp chives, dried
2 Tbsp dill, dried
2 Tbsp lemon juice
Mix all ingredients in bowl and refrigerate.
Makes 5 servings
Serving Size: 2 Tbsp

Written by Rachel Tobe,B.S. Dietetics Food and Nutrition, Intern with Wood County Family and Consumer Sciences

Reviewer : Susan Zies, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Wood County, Erie Basin EERA, zies.1@osu.edu

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