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.

Veggie of the Week [Peek Into Kelly’s Kitchen]

July 19, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

canva asparagus

Today, I’m going to talk about a kid-friendly vegetable you may not have considered in the past. Let me give you some clues!

  • It’s shaped like a pencil
  • It comes in three colors: green, purple and white.
  • It’s versatile and super-easy to prepare.
  • It can be finger food.
  • You can find it at markets right now.
  • Any guesses?

If you guessed asparagus, you are right!!

In researching this blog post, I learned something new. Asparagus comes in three sizes: pencil-thin, medium and jumbo. I just assumed the thin ones were “babies” and picked early. I was wrong. I learned that a thin asparagus spear does not actually grow into a thick one. They’re different types. While they’re all good to eat, the thinner ones work best in stir fries and sautéing and the thicker ones work best roasted or grilled. The medium ones work with most cooking methods.

Speaking of cooking methods, asparagus is amazingly versatile: it can be steamed, simmered, roasted, battered, grilled, sautéed or wok-fried. At our house, we like to roast or grill our asparagus.IMG_4005

Shopping for Asparagus

Fresh is best! Look for spears that are brightly colored and have compact, tightly closed tips. Spears that look dry have lost their flavor. Check the root ends and select ones that are still green—not brown and dried out.

Storage

Store your asparagus in your crisper drawer, wrapped in a damp paper towel and then in a plastic bag, no longer than three days. Or you can store asparagus upright in the refrigerator in a container with an inch of water.

Cleaning and Preparation

When you’re ready to cook your asparagus, rinse spears off under cold water and blot dry with a clean towel. Then, snap or cut off the woody asparagus bottoms. Depending on your spears, it could be the bottom inch or two.

Roasted Asparagus—A quick and easy dish

Roasting asparagus allows for a slight caramelizing of the vegetables skin, which brings out incredible flavor. Its also a fast way to get delicious asparagus on the table with very little work.

Heres a simple method for roasting that just requires olive oil, salt and pepper, and a little grated parmesan.

Ingredients
  • 1 bunch asparagus spears, washed and trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (I just eyeball it when I drizzle)
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
Directions

Preheat oven to 425.

For easier clean-up, I like to line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.

Place the asparagus onto the baking sheet and drizzle with the olive oil. Toss to coat the spears, then sprinkle with Parmesan cheese (optional), salt, and pepper. Arrange them in a single layer. Bake in the preheated oven until firm-tender—about 8-10 minutes—depending on thickness. They should be slightly brown and sizzling. Do not overcook. You want them slightly crisp inside.

That’s it! Let them cool slightly and enjoy as a sensational side dish or finger-food snack. To turn roasted asparagus into a decadent main entree, just top with an over-easy egg and some seasoned bread crumbs (as seen in the photo). Mmmm! So good.IMG_4009

Click here for anther family favorite asparagus recipe—Brooke’s Shrimp and Asparagus Pasta—that combines asparagus with another kid favorite…noodles!

If you’ve never tried asparagus, please do so today. Bring your kids into the kitchen to assist. They can help wash the spears and break off the woody stems. They can drizzle olive oil and sprinkle with seasonings. By participating in preparation, they’ll be more likely to eat and enjoy their vegetables.

Wishing you all good times together in your kitchens,

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.

Father’s Day/Chicken Marinade Recipe [Peek into Kelly’s Kitchen]

June 7, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Celebrate Dad with Great Grilling

It’s grilling season at the Radi house. This time of year, we cook on our grill several evenings each week. There’s nothing like the robust flavors a grill adds to make a meal satisfy the tastebuds! My husband is the grilling guru in our family and, while he enjoys cooking up a juicy brat, he isn’t afraid to get a little creative with the grilling menu. Some typical grilled meals for us include: shrimp skewers, chicken breasts, burgers, fajitas, pizzas and even vegetables like asparagus or grilled squash.

With Father’s Day just around the corner, here’s a tried-and-true grilled chicken breast recipe you can share with dear old dad to celebrate his day—along with 5 expert tips for great grilling. So, while Dad relaxes, go fire up your grill and let’s get started…

Kelly’s Mouthwatering Chicken Marinade

1 cup dry white wine  (cheap wine is just fine)
1/2 cup olive oil or peanut oil
1/2 cup soy sauce or Bragg liquid aminos 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. ground ginger or 1 tsp. grated ginger root
1/2 cup chopped onion or 1 tbsp. dried minced onion
fresh or dried herbs, optional  (tarragon works well in this recipe)

IMG_3902
Chicken breasts, as many as you want to prepare (you can leave them whole or cube them for kabobs)

For easiest clean-up, combine the marinade ingredients in a gallon-sized plastic food storage bag. Add the chicken (breasts or cubes) and marinade in the refrigerator for several hours. You want the flavor to have time to infuse into the meat.

Preheat your grill. Remove meat from the marinade and pat dry on paper towels. If making kabobs, thread on skewers. Cook over medium-high heat, turning once. Resist the urge to continuously move the chicken around while it cooks—nobody wants a dried out piece of chicken. It will stay juicier and cook more evenly if you only turn it over once midway through the grilling process.

Remove when chicken is brown on the outside and no longer pink inside. Cooking time depends on the thickness of the cut and whether using whole breasts or kabob cubes. Usually, chicken breasts take a few minutes per side. Test doneness by making a small cut into the thickest part to make sure it’s no longer pink inside. You can also use a meat thermometer to verify your chicken has reached a safe internal temperature of 170° F for breasts.

Serve whole or slice them up for sandwiches. We cut up the leftovers and toss them with fresh greens and homemade vinaigrette to make spectacular summer salads.
IMG_3907

Did you know?

Marinating does more than infuse food with flavor.  According to the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR), marinating can also inhibit the formation of potentially carcinogenic HCAs (heterocyclic amines).  Marinating for at least 30 min with a mixture of vinegar or lemon juice and herbs seems to be key.

5 Tips for Great Grilling

1. Get It Hot!
Preheat your grill 15 to 20 minutes before you start cooking to make sure it reaches the right temperature (and to kill any bacteria).

2. Brush It Off
It’s easier to remove debris when the grill is hot, so after preheating, use a long-handled wire grill brush on your grill rack to clean off charred debris from prior meals.

3. Oil It Up
Lean meats may stick when placed directly on the rack. Oil your hot grill rack with a vegetable oil-soaked paper towel—hold it with tongs and rub it over the rack. (Never use cooking spray on a hot grill.)

4. Tame The Flames
To reduce flare-ups, select lean cuts of meat, trim excess fat and remove poultry skin. Keep a squirt bottle of water handy to douse flames if they still happen.

5. Keep Safety First
Food safety is a must, so keep these rules from the USDA in mind: avoid cross-contamination by using separate cutting boards, utensils and platters for raw and cooked foods; refrigerate foods while marinating; and never baste with the marinating liquid. (Set some marinade aside just for basting)

Wishing all dads (especially mine) a healthy and happy Father’s Day!
 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.

 

Mini Egg Frittatas [Peek Into Kelly’s Kitchen]

April 19, 2016 by · 1 Comment 

“Wasn’t her last blog about eggs? Is Kelly losing it?”

If you’re a regular Peek Into Kelly’s Kitchen blog reader, you might be asking yourself these questions. Yes, my previous post was on eggs, specifically the basics of preparing eggs and their nutritional and economical benefits. If you missed that blog, you can click here to get up to speed. Today’s post is essentially EGGS, PART 2. And as for the second question, I’m not losing it. I just happen to really like eggs and wanted to share this super-simple mini egg frittata recipe with you. It’s so easy to make and is a recipe you can involve your kids in preparing. What kid doesn’t love to crack eggs? Or be on the business end of a whisk? If they’re old enough, they can even help you dice up the veggies. Meal time can be family fun time!

The other perk to this recipe is the frittatas can be made ahead of time and kept in the fridge or freezer until you want to eat them. I’m all for preparing foods in advance to help make the healthy choice the easy choice. And these tasty mini frittatas do exactly that. They make a hearty breakfast—perfect for busy school day mornings—or a grab ’n go lunch. Round out your meal with some whole grain toast and some berries or fruit.

A clean out your fridge kind of meal

Mini egg frittatas are a fantastic way to use up the leftover veggies hiding in the back of your crisper drawer.  In this recipe, we used bell pepper and fresh spinach. I like the “confetti” color the red pepper adds, but any vegetables will do. Asparagus, mushrooms, zucchini, onions—sky’s the limit when it comes to veggies! With most of them scoring high (as in at or near 100) on the NuVal scale, you can feel even better about feeding these frittatas to your family. We also used leftover ham from Easter dinner, but you can use diced deli ham or leave the meat out altogether for a meatless option. I like to top them off with a little sprinkle of cheese. Again, use what you have in your refrigerator—any kind will do.

frittatas cover shot

Mini Egg Frittatas

  • 6 eggs (NuVal 56)
  • 1/4 cup skim milk  (NuVal 100)
  • non-stick cooking spray or canola oil (NuVal 32)
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup diced vegetables (most are NuVal 100!)
  • 1/2 cup diced ham or deli meat—optional (NuVal score varies)
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese (NuVal score range 20-25)

frittatas 1

Directions
  1. Grease a muffin tin with canola oil or non-stick spray and preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Whisk eggs and mil together in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Place your choice of veggies, meat and cheese in bottom of greased muffin tin.
  4. Fill muffin cups 3/4 full with egg mixture and bake for 20-25 minutes at 375 until centers are set and no longer runny.
  5. Let cool slightly before serving.

frittatas 4 frittatas 5frittatas 8

**Extras may be stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to a month. To reheat, microwave thawed mini frittatas (covered) on high for 45-60 seconds until hot.

What’s trending at the Radi house?

Clementines. We’ve been eating them like crazy! And I just learned they’re only “in season” through April, so stock up now while you still can. If you want to learn more about these little orange bites of sunshine, click HERE.

Until next time, I hope you enjoy spending time in the kitchen with those you love!

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!

[Time Pressed Tuesday] A Week of Meal Prep!

January 26, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Back in October, we did a post on meal prep and how you can incorporate some practices into your routine to help make weeknights in the kitchen a little less stressful. After a few of you, our favorite readers, reached out, we realized there is interest in learning a bit more, and we at BLEND are happy to oblige! We took to consulting with our registered dietitians regarding balancing meals, approving recipes, and ensuring that the foods we present to our readers are taste tested and BLEND approved! Join us in a week of healthy eating and learning to maximize ingredients and your family dollar as well!

We have put together four meals with this plan, allowing one week-night for leftovers to deal with busy schedules and provide a little break.

meal prep

Recipes:

  1. Monday: Ground Turkey with Potatoes and Spring Peas
  2. Tuesday: Crockpot Enchilada Soup
  3. Wednesday: Leftovers
  4. Thursday: Crockpot Italian Stuffed Peppers
  5. Friday: Chicken Tacos
Weekly Ingredient List:
  1. 2 small to medium sized onion
  2. 1 red pepper
  3. 1 bay leaf
  4. 5 green peppers
  5. 1 large jalapeno
  6. 4 scallions
  7. 8 cloves garlic
  8. 1 medium sized potato
  9. 3 pounds lean ground turkey
  10. 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  11. 6 14.5 ounce cans low or no sodium peeled, diced tomatoes
  12. 1/2 cup instant brown rice
  13. 2 14.5 ounce cans low or no sodium crushed tomatoes (or 4-5 medium sized tomatoes)
  14. 2 10oz can diced green chiles
  15. 1 small bag of frozen peas
  16. 16 oz. low sodium chicken broth
  17. 1 can whole kernel corn
  18. 1 can low sodium black beans
  19. 1 can reduced sodium enchilada sauce
  20. 1 packet reduced sodium taco seasoning
  21. Mozzarella Cheese
  22. 1 bag of lettuce
  23. Whole wheat tortillas

Feel free to round off these meals with healthy sides, such as a dish of fresh cut fruit, or side salads with a balsamic dressing or a bit of oil and vinegar. For fruit, simply wash and chop all of your favorites during your Sunday meal prep, and store in one large container for convenience throughout the week! You can also pre wash and cut any ingredients you would like for salads, leaving out extras such as boiled egg, croutons, or meats, only adding those and dressing at serving time, if desired.

Sunday Prep!

  • Peel and place garlic cloves in a food processor, and pulse until minced texture is reached. You can also mince the garlic by hand.
  • Chop your scallions.
  • Dice your onion. Store one half in airtight container. Refrigerator.
  • Place 3 cloves of garlic, the scallions, and the bay leaf in an airtight container for Monday’s meal. Refrigerate.
  • Dice the red pepper.
  • Dice your jalapeno. Store in airtight container with red pepper and other half of diced onion in refrigerator.
  • If you are using fresh tomatoes instead of canned (which will further reduce sodium!), dice your tomatoes and store in an airtight container. Refrigerate.
  • Peel and chop the potato into one inch cubes. Place in storage container with water and a bit of lemon juice to keep fresh longer.
  • Brown turkey with remaining five cloves of garlic, remaining one diced onion, a bit of salt, pepper, and cumin.
  • Separate turkey into two airtight containers, one with 2 pounds and the other with one pound. Refrigerate.
  • Clean and trim your chicken breasts. Separate in half. Store first half in an airtight container and refrigerate.
  • Chop the other half of chicken, and seasoning with pepper and cayenne, saute with a bit of olive oil, pepper, and salt if desired.

Monday:

  1. Combine 2 pounds of ground turkey, the potato, 3 cloves of the minced garlic, scallions, one can of diced red tomatoes, 1 cup of frozen peas, an 8oz can of tomato sauce, 3/4 cups of water, bay leaf, 1/2 tsp. of cumin, and salt to taste.
  2. Stir the mixture, cover, and let simmer for approximately 25 minutes, or until the potatoes are cooked through.
  3. Serve and enjoy!

Tuesday:

  1. In crockpot, combine the one pound of raw, whole chicken breast, chicken broth, 2 cups water, two cans of green chiles, one can of diced tomatoes, one can of corn, and one can of black beans. Let cook on low for 6 hours.
  2. Pull out chicken breasts once they are cooked through and shred. Return to crockpot.
  3. Serve, garnishing with plain green yogurt in lieu of sour cream and reduced fat cheddar cheese!

Wednesday:

  1. Serve up leftovers from either Monday or Tuesday!

Thursday:

  1. Wash and dry green peppers.
  2. Cut off the tops and remove the seeds and membranes. Place the peppers upright in crockpot.
  3. Add remaining 1 pound of ground turkey to a skillet. Heat just until fragrant, and then combine 2 cans of crushed tomatoes, 1/2 tsp. dried basil and 1/2 tsp. dried parsley.
  4. Combine meat/sauce mixture with the uncooked rice.
  5. Add mixture to each pepper, filling just below the tops.
  6. Place tops back onto peppers and cook on LOW for 6-8 hours.
  7. Ten minutes before serving, remove the pepper lids and sprinkle mozzarella cheese on top.
  8. Serve with a side salad, if you would like!

Friday:

  1. Heat remaining one half of chicken, adding water and reduced sodium taco seasoning as desired.
  2. Serve in whole wheat tortillas with reduced fat cheddar cheese, plain greek yogurt, diced tomatoes, lettuce, and enjoy!

Meal prep really can simplify your time spent in the kitchen on weeknights, and is a great way to not only provide your family with healthy, balanced meals, but also help you introduce variety and new entrees into your weekly menu!

Are there any meal prep tips that you have to share? The BLEND staff would love to hear your thoughts and personal experiences! We love welcoming you into our kitchen, and would love to peek into what others are stirring up, as well!

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.

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