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.

 

 

It’s Not Easy Eating Green!

March 1, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

eating green cover image

I may not be Irish, but I sure like to get my green on and join in the St. Patrick’s Day shenanigans. Isn’t everyone just a wee bit Irish on St. Paddy’s Day? When our girls were little, we’d decorate shamrocks and color rainbows. We’d play “search for the gold” around the house, looking for little treats some mischievous leprechauns left behind. Together, we’d prepare green snacks and Irish-inspired dinners.

Funny thing is, I somehow managed to find a way to use this holiday to introduce green vegetables to our daughters. They were more receptive when broccoli was a part of a theme or peas were considered “lucky.” It’s not always easy eating green, so why not take advantage of St. Patrick’s Day to sneak some spinach in to your lads and lasses?

Paddy’s Shamrock Muffins are a fun way to eat green this St. Patrick’s Day! A kid favorite, these easy-to-make spinach muffins are a fantastic way to use up the fresh spinach in your crisper drawer. Make them as mini-muffins for a fun toddler snack or regular-sized for the grown-ups in your house.

green blog photo 2

Paddy’s Shamrock Muffins

  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce (NuVal 99)
  • 1 large egg (NuVal 56)
  • 2 Tablespoons skim milk   (NuVal 100)
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract   (not scored)
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh spinach (NuVal 100)
  • 1/3 cup sugar   (NuVal 1)
  • 2 Tablespoons canola oil   (NuVal 32)
  • 1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour   (NuVal 94)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder (not scored)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda (not scored)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (not scored)

green blog photo 3

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. Put the first seven ingredients (applesauce, egg, milk, vanilla, spinach, sugar and oil) in a blender or food processor and blend or process. This breaks the spinach up into tiny pieces, unrecognizable to even the pickiest of toddlers. Pour the mixture into a large mixing bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt).
  4. Add the wet spinach mixture to the dry ingredients.
  5. Using a spoon, gently mix ingredients until combined.
  6. Scoop the batter into greased muffins tins. This recipe will make approximately 9 large muffins or 24 mini-muffins.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-17 minutes for regular-sized muffins or 10-12 minutes for mini-muffins.
  8. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack. Enjoy!

More Ways to Get Your Green On

Add a bit o’ fun to dinner and surprise your little leprechauns with a totally green meal.

  • Green veggie platter and cucumber yogurt dip
  • Green apple slices, kiwi slices and green grapes
  • Pesto Pasta – Just toss their favorite noodles with some store-bought pesto (remember to check the NuVal scores to trade-up for the most nutritious noodles and pesto options)
  • Lime-infused water – keep your beverage simple, fresh and (of course) green

How do you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with your kids? Do you serve green eggs and ham for breakfast? Do you wear green? Do playful leprechauns sneak into your house? Whether you’re 100% Irish or Irish-at-heart like me, I’d love to learn how you get your green on!

Today and always, I wish you good luck and good cheer.

Kelly

Kelly RadiThis is a guest post 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!

Kelly’s Gone Banana’s!

February 16, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Let’s start today’s blog with some banana trivia! Did you know?

  • The scientific name for banana is musa sapientum, which means “fruit of the wise men.”
  • There is a museum in Auburn, Washington, dedicated to bananas—called the Washington Banana Museum.
  • The banana plant reaches its full height of 15 to 30 feet in about one year.
  • A man in India once ate 81 bananas in 30 minutes.
  • If you peel a banana from the bottom up you won’t get the stringy things. In case you’re curious, those stringy things are called phloem (pronounced FLOM).
  • The average American eats 27 pounds of bananas each year!

kelly's gone bananas

While I’ve never tracked the pounds of bananas I eat in a year, I’m guessing I might be right up there in consumption. I like them on Cheerios, on yogurt and even on ice cream (banana split, anyone?). A plain banana is a convenient mid-morning snack when my tummy starts rumbling. Plus, they come in their own “wrapper” which makes them lunch box-ready.

Bananas are filled with potassium, fiber and vitamin B6. They score a whopping 100 on the NuVal scale. The natural sweetness of ripe bananas make them a smart substitute for sugars in many baking recipes. Try them in hearty whole wheat banana pancakes or cookies.

Peek Into My Blender

I can’t talk about bananas without mentioning smoothies. In my opinion, bananas add a creamy texture to smoothies that can’t be beat. We make a lot of smoothies at our house. Yes, our blender works overtime! Often we have them for an on-the-run breakfast. Sometimes we split them into smaller portions and enjoy smoothies as a nutritious dessert. Below is a simple smoothie recipe for you to share with your family. It combines the creamy sweetness of bananas with the tangy goodness of strawberries. Wholesome rolled oats pack in more nutritional power for a keep-you-satisfied feeling. And the best part…they taste terrific!

banana smoothie 2

———————————————————————————

Strawberry-Banana-Oat Power Smoothie

  • 10-12 fresh or frozen strawberries (NuVal 100)
  • 1 banana (NuVal 100)
  • 2 T old-fashioned rolled oats (NuVal 93)
  • 3/4 cup skim milk (NuVal 100)
  • or almond milk (NuVal score varies)
  • 1/2 cup ice

Place all of the ingredients in a blender and process for approximately 30 seconds until smooth.

————————————————————————————

Banana Ripening & Storage Tips

  • Store your bananas on the counter for up to seven days. Most people like their bananas when the peel is yellow or yellow with a few brown flecks.
  • If the bananas you buy are too green, you can put them in a brown paper bag with an apple or tomato overnight to speed up the ripening process.
  • If your bananas get too ripe before you can eat them, don’t throw them away. Peel them and place in a plastic bag in the freezer to use later for smoothies or baking.

 

Have You Gone Bananas, Too?

How do you like to eat bananas? Does your toddler like them sliced and frozen as a snack? Or in fruit kabobs? LINK TO http://www.blendcentralmn.org/time-pressed-tuesday-quick-and-easy-grinch-kabobs/ Do you have a favorite banana bread recipe? Please share your ideas with us by posting a comment below. We’d love to hear from you.

 

Until next time, eat well!

Kelly

Chocolate, Glitter, and a Sweetheart Dinner

January 19, 2016 by · 3 Comments 

Ok, I’ll admit it. I’m a romantic. I get giddy over hearts and fancy chocolates. Pink glitter is my favorite color. Did someone say roses?

I am a huge fan of Valentine’s Day. Apparently, I love LOVE. When we got married, we’d celebrate V-Day with dinner reservations at a nice restaurant. But then something happened. We had kids. Like many other new parents, we were forced to revise our romantic expectations as our family grew. Instead of hiring a sitter on Valentine’s night, we decided to stay home and celebrate with our daughters. That’s how our annual ‘Radi Family Sweetheart Dinners’ began.

Click here to read my previous blog about our early Sweetheart Dinners!

1

In the early years, we celebrated with spaghetti, chocolate cake, and gobs of glitter. The girls and I would spend the entire day preparing for the event—cutting out construction paper hearts and setting the table with fancy china and crystal goblets. Now, with older kids and busier schedules, we spend a little less time decorating and a little more time enjoying the food and our precious time together.

I’m happy our Sweetheart Dinner tradition continues. We celebrated a couple weeks early this year because Brooke will be out of the country on a study abroad experience on Valentine’s Day and we didn’t want to break the tradition. After 19 years, our girls still help plan the menu and dessert is, of course, always chocolate. But now, instead of spaghetti, they get a little more innovative. This year, Karen requested baked tilapia and Brooke chose chocolate mousse for dessert. Whether your kids are tots or teens like mine, this menu is a wonderful way to bring both fish and vegetables to your table. They won’t even miss the spaghetti.

2016 Sweetheart Dinner Menu

  • Easy Baked Tilapia
  • Sweet Potato Bites
  • Oven Roasted Broccoli
  • Mousse Au Chocolate

This menu is so easy and quick to prepare. And it tastes amazing! We worked together as a family to prepare the meal and, aside from the mousse, the rest of it was ready in less than 30 minutes. You don’t have to wait until Valentine’s Day to try it for yourself. With the quick prep time, this meal could be a nutritious dinner any night of the year.

main course

Easy Baked Tilapia

I’m not kidding when I say “easy.” I think we Midwesterners sometimes shy away from preparing fish, thinking it is too much work or that we can’t get good fish here. This recipe will change your mind! We picked up some beautiful, fresh tilapia fillets (NuVal 88) from our Coborn’s meat counter. To prepare them, I lined a rimmed baking sheet with foil to make for easier clean-up. I sprayed it with Pam cooking spray to keep the fish from sticking. I placed the fillets on the pan and sprinkled them with seasoned salt, freshly-ground black pepper, and thyme. Then, I drizzled them with olive oil. They baked at 425 degrees for 15 minutes and came out perfectly flaky and flavorful.

Sweet Potato Bites

Sweet potatoes are not only good, they are good for you. Earning a NuVal score of 100, the sweet potato  is a superfood! This super-easy recipe is a favorite of our girls. They like to make a huge batch so they have leftovers to nibble on the next day. To prepare this dish, wash and pat dry 2-3 (or more!) sweet potatoes and cut them into small cubes. No need to peel the skin first. Place the cubes on a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle them with olive oil and sprinkle with a little seasoned salt and pepper. Toss to evenly coat. Bake for 15-20 minutes at 425 degrees, turning half way though baking time. They will come out slightly browned on the outside and soft on the inside.

Oven Roasted Broccoli

Often, when we’re in a hurry, we microwave-steam broccoli. But roasting broccoli in the oven gives it a depth of flavor that a microwave cannot produce. And oven roasting broccoli also helps maintain its crunchy texture. It’s worth the extra effort, in my opinion. To prepare, wash and cut up your broccoli florets (NuVal 100). Place on a rimmed baking sheet. Toss with olive oil and a little salt and pepper. Bake at 425 for 5-8 minutes. If desired, top with grated parmesan cheese.

Mousse Au Chocolate

I received this decadent chocolate mousse recipe from my friend Catherine Katz (wife of NuVal founder Dr. David Katz). For our Sweetheart Dinner, we served it in individual glass dessert cups with a dusting of powdered sugar and topped with raspberries. Please note it does need to be prepared a couple of hours in advance to allow it time to set. This luscious, classic dessert was a Sweetheart Dinner hit at our house! My sweethearts are already asking when I will make it again.

dessertdessert 2

Share Your Love!

How does your family celebrate Valentine’s Day? Do you give chocolates or roses? Conversation hearts or dinner out? Do you make homemade cards? Are you ga-ga for glitter? Please share your ideas in the comment section below? I’d love to hear from you.

Until next time, I hope you have a wonderful day celebrating LOVE with the people you love.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Kelly

Kelly RadiThis is a guest post 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!

 

C is for Cookie…

June 2, 2015 by · 1 Comment 

Peek Into Kelly's Kitchen Cookies
Oops! I missed a holiday. Did you know that May 4th was National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day? Me either. I started thinking about cookies as a possible blog topic last night after Laura, my daughter’s friend, brought over a bag of scrumptious, homemade monster cookies. Crisp on the outside and chewy in the middle, they were sweet, chocolatey, peanutty perfection.

My mom made monster cookies when I was growing up. As a Sesame Street-watching child of the 70s, I used to think they were named this because of everybody’s favorite furry, blue, cookie-gobbling friend, Cookie Monster. I later learned the name was because of the monster-sized recipe. One batch made lots and lots of cookies.

I know this blog is usually geared toward nutritious foods and some of you are probably thinking I went off the deep end by entertaining the “C” word. But, let’s face it. Sometimes a person (or monster) just wants to eat a cookie.

I was raised on homemade cookies, therefore am not a big fan of most store-bought varieties (with the exception of the occasional Oreo). But, not everybody has the time or inclination to mix up a homemade batch, so I decided to do a little cookie research. I drove to my Coborn’s store to see how store-bought cookies fared on the NuVal Nutritional Scoring System.

As expected, they didn’t do so well. I anticipated the scores to be fairly low, but they were really, REALLY low. I saw lots of 1’s, 2’s, 3’s and got excited when I saw a 16. In looking at various nutritional labels, I recognized ingredients like sugar and flour, but also saw many I couldn’t even pronounce. In some of them, I caught code words for trans fats, which clearly drive the scores down. I’m grateful I have NuVal to translate all of the data on the nutritional labels into a simple number from 1-100 so, no matter what type of food I’m shopping for, I can make an educated buying decision.

C is for Cookies

In this case, my “research” confirmed my personal preference for home-baked cookies. When I am the baker, I can select more wholesome ingredients and pronounce what goes into the batch. In the case of monster cookies, yes, they have sugar and butter and chocolate chips (they ARE cookies after all). But, I can substitute some whole wheat flour or oatmeal for white flour and trade up with dark chocolate chips and higher-scoring nut butter. And somehow the addition of oatmeal (NuVal 93) makes me feel better about eating them. I think baking cookies can be therapeutic and one of life’s simpler pleasures. Plus, few things smell as wonderful as a batch of cookies baking in the oven. Mmmmm.

I have one more morsel of information to share. June 12 is National Peanut Butter Cookie Day! I’d hate to miss this one. Let’s celebrate! What a perfect opportunity to trade-up some of your ingredients and try a new cookie recipe. Since there’s peanut butter in the recipe, I think Monster Cookies would be a fantastic way to celebrate the occasion. This recipe has been cut back in quantity (from the original HUGE monster-sized batch) to make it more manageable.

Monster Cookies

  • 3 eggs, beaten slightly
  • 1 1/8 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 Tablespoons baking soda
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups peanut butter (or another nut butter)
  • 4 1/2 cups oatmeal (plain old-fashioned oats)
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 cup mini M&Ms

Mix in order given. Drop by spoonfuls on to cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 7-8 minutes, removing from oven just as edges begin to darken but before they look done. Allow them to remain on the cookie sheet for 3-5 minutes before removing and cooling completely on a wire rack.

Enjoy!
Kelly

Kelly RadiThis is a guest post 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.

Next Page »