All About Black Beans [Peek Into Kelly’s Kitchen]

August 16, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Black Beans canvaTrivia Tuesday—Kelly’s Q & A

Q: What kid-friendly food is tiny, black and packed with protein, fiber and antioxidants?

A: Black beans!

Now you might be asking yourself, “Did Kelly really just call black beans kid-friendly? Is she serious?”

To answer your questions, yes and YES. Please let me explain…

Benefits of Beans

Not only are black beans a great plant-based source of low-calorie lean protein. They’re also rich in fiber, minerals and antioxidants, which offer many health benefits. Often less than a dollar a can, they’re an affordable way to feed a growing family. And yes, I’m serious. Kids WILL eat them!

All it takes is a little creative cooking. And, of course, your desire to feed your family foods that will fuel them and boost their overall health.  By introducing nutrient-dense foods like black beans when kids are young, you’re setting them up to make better food choices as they grow. If your child has a hard time eating meats, black beans are a great source of iron! They’ll learn to appreciate a broader menu of colors and textures and tastes. As Dr. Katz says, teach your children early to “love foods that love you back.”

5 Ways to Add Black Beans to Your Diet

To get you started, I’ve compiled a list of 5 ways to add these nutritional gems to your family menu. Click on the links for tried-and-true, family-friendly recipes.Taco1

  1. Mix beans in with the meat in tacos or burritos. Or sprinkle them on fajitas.
  2. Stir beans into soups and stews—a great way to pump up the nutritional value of your chili!
  3. Toss them in salads. Black beans add color, flavor and fiber to every bite.
  4. Serve as a side dish. Warm up a can of rinsed and drained beans with a little olive oil, garlic and cumin.
  5. Add them to salsa. Simply stir in a can of rinsed and drained black beans to your favorite jar of store-bought salsa.

Kelly Can’t Get Enough Salsa!

I have something to admit….I’m on quite a salsa kick this summer. It’s been my go-to snack at the lake and our dinner of choice when I don’t feel like cooking. There’s just something about the stuff! In my last Peek Into Kelly’s Kitchen blog, I featured a fresh salsa recipe that also works great with the addition of a can of black beans.  In this post, I’d like to introduce you to a tropical variation on salsa. It’s got that awesome blend of savory and sweet that I adore. I hope you enjoy it!chili7[1]

Easy Black Bean & Mango Salsa

1 can Black Beans, drained and rinsed
1 ripe Mango, chopped
1 1/2 cups frozen corn, thawed
1/2 cup red bell pepper, chopped
1/3 cup red onion, chopped
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup lime juice
1/2 cup Italian dressing

Combine all ingredients. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour. Serve with tortilla chips or as a topping for fajitas or quesadillas.

Canned or Dried

Black beans come dried or in cans. Both are nutritious. If you choose the convenient canned ones, please make sure to check out the NuVal scores. You’ll notice a range, usually caused by the sodium (salt) content. Shoot for the no salt added (NuVal 100!) or reduced salt. When you open the can, drain and then rinse the beans in a colander under cold running water for a couple of minutes, which can reduce the sodium further.

Serve Beans Today!

Introduce black beans to your kids and broaden their palates while fueling their bodies. Please give one or more of these recipes a spot in your family meal rotation. Then leave a comment or share a photo of your family’s favorite bean dishes. We’d love to see your kids eating beans!

Until next time, eat well.

Kelly

P.S. Come back and visit Peek Into Kelly’s Kitchen in September for another kid-friendly bean recipe. Hint: It’s perfect for a fiesta!

Kelly-Radi-232x300 This is a guest blog written by Kelly Radi,

Passionate about food and nutrition, Kelly is a freelance writer, NuVal expert, former BLEND employee, and current BLEND advocate.  A wife and mother of 2 teenagers, Kelly lives in Sartell where she is often spotted at Coborn’s scouring the shelves in search of the best NuVal scores. She enjoys cooking, playing tennis, and sitting down with a good book. She can be reached at radi.to.write@gmail.com. 

The opinions expressed in this blog are the opinions of the writer and not the opinions of NuVal LLC, Coborn’s, Inc., BLEND, and the CentraCare Health Foundation.  Read more “Peek Into Kelly’s Kitchen blogs here.

Fresh Salsa- Pico de Gallo [Peek Into Kelly’s Kitchen]

August 2, 2016 by · 1 Comment 

Fresh salsa blog coverWhen I think of fresh summertime snacking, I immediately want something savory and crisp, juicy and fresh. It takes one look at my tiny garden brimming with tomatoes to know the answer to my snack time cravings. Fresh salsa is the ticket!

I received a delicious fresh salsa recipe from my friend Candice several years ago. It has become our family go-to for savory summer snacking. On occasional lazy summer evenings, chips and salsa make up our entire meal! The fresh flavors of cilantro, tomato, jalapeño, onion and cumin along with the crispy chips are oh-so-satisfying. Just remember to compare NuVal scores when shopping for chips—the higher the score, the better the nutritional content.

You can adjust any of the ingredients in this recipe to suit your taste buds. Like more kick? Then use the entire jalapeno. Just don’t skimp on the vinegar or seasonings. Because without a burst of acidity and heat, you’re just eating chipped tomatoes. Not that we mind tomatoes. After all, they score a perfect 100 on the NuVal scale! Check out our BLEND Pinterest page for some more delectable and healthy ways to enjoy the season’s tomato harvest. Or click HERE to find out how to prepare my all-time favorite tomato recipe: Caprese Salad.

Did you know?

The Spanish name for pico de gallo means ‘rooster’s beak”. It originally referred to a salad of jicama, peanuts, oranges, and onions. But today, pico de gallo is the familiar cilantro-flecked combination of chopped tomato, onion, and spicy peppers we’ve all come to know and enjoy.

Hot Hot Hot!

Chile peppers, such as jalapeños and habaneros, contain oils that can burn your skin and eyes. Avoid direct contact with them as much as possible. When working with fresh peppers, wear rubber gloves or cover your hands with small plastic bags. If your bare hands do touch them, wash well with soap and hot water. And whatever you do, don’t touch your eyes! If you happen to get some of the oils in your eyes, flush them with cool water.fresh salsa pic

Candice’s Fresh Salsa

3-4 large, firm tomatoes
3 green onions, chopped
1/2-1 jalapeño, seeded and diced
1 T. vinegar
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. salt
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped

In a colander, place chopped tomatoes and allow to drain well. While tomatoes are draining, place the other ingredients in a large bowl. Add drained tomatoes and toss gently to combine. Serve immediately with crispy tortilla chips.

If you desire, add a can of rinsed, drained black beans for some more nutritional punch. Or stir in some lime juice and mashed avocado to turn your salsa into amazing fresh guacamole.

Wishing you a happy, healthy summer!

Kelly

Kelly-Radi-232x300 This is a guest blog written by Kelly Radi,

Passionate about food and nutrition, Kelly is a freelance writer, NuVal expert, former BLEND employee, and current BLEND advocate.  A wife and mother of 2 teenagers, Kelly lives in Sartell where she is often spotted at Coborn’s scouring the shelves in search of the best NuVal scores. She enjoys cooking, playing tennis, and sitting down with a good book. She can be reached at radi.to.write@gmail.com. 

The opinions expressed in this blog are the opinions of the writer and not the opinions of NuVal LLC, Coborn’s, Inc., BLEND, and the CentraCare Health Foundation.  Read more “Peek Into Kelly’s Kitchen blogs here.

Funky Monkey Yogurt Bites [Peek Into Kelly’s Kitchen]

June 27, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Funky Monkey Yogurt Bites

Get Funky…Cook with your Kids!

Grab your kids, wash your hands and get ready for a little kitchen F-U-N. Today we’re going to get funky! This easy, 3-ingredient recipe is a fantastic way to get kids—even the little ones—involved in the kitchen.

You heard me right. Only 3 ingredients. A banana, yogurt and a few chocolate chips are all you’ll need. Who doesn’t love the sweet and creamy combo of bananas and chocolate? Your little monkeys will! If you don’t have young ones at home, you may want to wrangle up a few 5-year-olds so you have and excuse to make these tasty tidbits. Or bribe your teenager like I do. Whatever works. No judgement here.

When selecting yogurt for your Funky Monkey Yogurt Bites, be sure to check out the NuVal scores. The scores for yogurt range from the 20s for some really sugary flavored ones to the upper 90s for some plain Greek yogurt options. In this recipe, you can choose flavored or plain, whatever kind you prefer. NuVal makes it easy to compare brands and overall nutrition. We chose a plain Greek yogurt with a NuVal score of 99 because it’s my daughter’s favorite kind and because Greek yogurt is an excellent source of calcium, protein, and vitamin D. And kids need calcium for strong bones and protein for their growth and development.

To prepare these tasty treats, you’ll need some paper muffin liners or silicone muffin cups. You can use mini or regular sized ones—this recipe is not fussy. It makes approximately 12 large or 24 mini treats, depending on how full your “culinary team” fills them. Have a plate, a fork or potato masher, a bowl and a spoon handy. And, of course, crank up some funky music! Enjoy your kids and make a few memories while you’re at it. There’s nothing like dancing in the kitchen for a good time.

Funky Monkey Yogurt Bites

Great to munch on straight out of the freezer as a healthy snack, breakfast or dessert.

IMG_3982

Ingredients:

1 large ripe banana (NuVal 100)

1/2 cup yogurt of your choice  (NuVal score varies)

mini dark chocolate chips, optional (NuVal 12)

  1. Place silicone muffin cups on a tray or line muffin tins with paper liners (about 12 large or 24 mini).
  2. Peel the banana and place it on a plate. Mash up with a fork (or potato masher) until most of the lumps are gone.
  3. Put the mashed banana into a bowl and add the yogurt. Stir together until combined well.
  4. Spoon the mixture into each muffin cup. Top with some mini chocolate chips, if desired.
  5. Place the muffin cups in the freezer for 2-3 hours. Once frozen through, remove from the paper liners and serve (or place in plastic containers and pop back in the freezer to eat later).

Feel free to double or triple the batch so you’ve always got a healthy, kid-friendly snack ready when the neighbor kids come to play.

Eat well!

Kelly

ThisKelly-Radi-232x300 is a guest blog written by Kelly Radi. 

Passionate about food and nutrition, Kelly is a freelance writer, NuVal expert, former BLEND employee, and current BLEND advocate.  A wife and mother of 2 teenagers, Kelly lives in Sartell where she is often spotted at Coborn’s scouring the shelves in search of the best NuVal scores. She enjoys cooking, playing tennis, and sitting down with a good book. She can be reached at radi.to.write@gmail.com. 

The opinions expressed in this blog are the opinions of the writer and not the opinions of NuVal LLC, Coborn’s, Inc., BLEND, and the CentraCare Health Foundation.  Read more “Peek Into Kelly’s Kitchen blogs here.

 

 

[Time Pressed Tuesday] Five Minutes to a Festive Valentine’s Snack!

February 9, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

I am all about celebrating the holidays. You can take an ordinary day and make it so special by taking a few extra minutes to spruce things up. Now that the holiday season has come and gone, winter can feel a bit ‘blah’. That is one reason that I love Valentine’s Day! While it may be a Hallmark holiday, I don’t know how you can go wrong with pink, glitter, and the extra reminder to let those around you know that they are loved!

Of course, Valentine’s Day is also a holiday involving lots of candy, extravagant meals, and EXTRA LARGE boxes of chocolate. While I love chocolate as much as the rest of the world, I also limit my indulgences and make things like chocolate roses and boxes of sweethearts a special treat, rather than a regular occurrence. Just because you don’t give into a sugar craving does not mean that you can’t celebrate the day of love, though!

Heart Shaped Cutouts

Cookie cutters come in a variety of sizes, and they can be used for much more than just cookies! Slice a cucumber into coins, cut strawberries in half, and use the cutter to bring a lot of fun with little work! This can be done with just about any fruit or vegetable, including tomatoes, squash, watermelon, cantaloupe, or honeydew melons. Do a bit of food prep on the weekend when you have more time to get all of your cleaning and slicing of these fruits and veggies done. Then, when you get home from work and school during the week, whip out some mini cookie cutters and turn simple sliced veggies into fun, exciting Valentine’s treats!

We whipped up this fun snack after my little guy’s afternoon nap, and opted for cucumbers, strawberries, red peppers, and mangoes.

strawberries and cucumbers preslice

strawberries and mangoes cucumbers and peppers cucumbers and peppers 2 valentines fruit cup jackson fruit cup jackson fruit cup 3

Fruit Notes

It can be fun to slip a little note into your child’s lunchbox, so they know that you are thinking of them throughout the day. Why not spice things up a bit, though, and move that message from the napkin to the meal! Cutie oranges, bananas, and anything with a removable peel can be a super fun way to send a valentine’s message to the ‘Cuties’ in your life! Or, if you are willing to take things up a notch, invest in edible food markers (found at craft stores and other major retailers) and write on any fruit your heart desires!

bananas and oranges oranges and bananas 3

These Valentine’s snacks are simple, easy, and can be accomplished in a matter of minutes! It doesn’t take hours and lots of prep to bring festivity to a holiday. A few minutes is all it takes to bring a little bit of love and nutrition to the V-Day table!

time pressed tuesdayTime Pressed Tuesday is a blog series focused on finding new ways to make healthy choices while overcoming the every day struggles and busy schedules of family life. Check back frequently for ideas on how to make healthy choices happen, no matter how busy your day may be!

Stang_Mackensey-5531Mackensey Stang is a program specialist with BLEND.

Her primary roles include managing Safe Routes to School and the Fit Kids Club Series, and collaborating with local schools and communities to further the mission and objectives of BLEND.

Salsa: Don’t Skip the Dip

May 27, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Bowl of salsa

As May quickly comes to an end – let’s celebrate the last couple of days with some SALSA!  No, not the dance – the sauce or dip that we like to eat with chips or spoon over salads.  May is Salsa Month and what better way to welcome the sunshine and outdoor dining than with a bowl of fresh salsa.

Cool with a bit of heat, here’s a quick and easy salsa recipe your family will love and we know you will, too!  It’s full of NuVal high-scoring ingredients.

Fresh Garden Salsa

4 large tomatoes, diced (NuVal 100)
1/2 large onion, minced (NuVal100)
3 cloves garlic, chopped (NuVal 100)
2/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro (NuVal 95)
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced (NuVal 100)
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (NuVal 94)
Salt to taste

Directions

In a small mixing bowl, combine tomatoes, onion, garlic, cilantro and lime juice. Add jalapenos 2 teaspoons at a time, tasting after each addition to see how hot the salsa has become. Jalapeno peppers vary in heat, so it is important to taste the salsa to ensure you do not make it too hot to handle.

Salt to taste. Enjoy with raw carrots, celery and cucumbers (NuVal 100) or low-fat, whole wheat pita chips (look for a NuVal 35 or higher score). Salsa can also be used to top salad, beef, pork, chicken and fish.

Besides making a great dip – salsa is good for you!  Capsaicin is the chemical that naturally heats up peppers and any recipe that uses them – like spicy salsa. Capsaicin aids digestion and, ironically, fights ulcers. That’s one more reason to eat more homemade salsa.

Enjoy!

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