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.

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.

Rainbow Rotini Pasta Salad [Peek Into Kelly’s Kitchen]

July 5, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Kelly's Rotini canva

Rainbow Rotini Pasta Salad

Noodles and kids. Kids and noodles. I wonder if there’s a more beloved food for kids than noodles. Served hot or cold, they’re a perennial kid favorite!

Today, I’d like to share a colorful, kid-friendly pasta salad that combines noodles with crunchy vegetables and a light dressing. If you’re looking for quick-and-easy, this is the salad for you! It makes a refreshing lunch on a hot day and travels well in a cooler. We often make it to take up to our cabin on weekends.

This fresh-tasting salad is also customizable to your taste. You get to pick your favorite seasonal veggies and add as many as you like. Knowing most vegetables score a NuVal 100, you can feel great about serving them to your kids. We prefer using carrots, cucumber and quartered cherry tomatoes in this recipe. Sometimes we add chopped yellow pepper or even chives from our garden. Feel free to use whatever veggies your family enjoys.

Usually I’m a fan of homemade dressings, but I promised you quick and easy. So this recipe calls for bottled Italian dressing. We found this Food Club Italian Dressing with a NuVal score of 9. Even though it isn’t a particularly high score (none of the salad dressings we found scored very high), you get a lot of flavor using a small amount.

As for the pasta, any kind will work, but rainbow rotini gives it gorgeous color and the rotini-shape holds the dressing well. We used Creamette Rainbow Rotini with a NuVal score of 65. When cooking pasta, be careful to NOT overcook it. Use plenty of water and bring to a boil before adding the pasta. Taste your pasta when it’s about 2 minutes shy of the recommended cooking time on the package. It should be al dente—which means it should still have a little bite to it. When you remove it from heat be sure to rinse under very cold water to stop the cooking process and cool down the noodles.

Rainbow Rotini Pasta Salad IngredientsPasta Salad 1

These measures are approximate and can be altered to taste.

-2/3 cup Italian dressing
-3 cups cleaned, chopped, raw vegetables (we used carrots, cucumbers and tomatoes—pick your favorites!)
-6 cups rainbow rotini

Cook pasta according to package instructions until al dente. Drain and rinse under cold water. Place in large bowl with chopped vegetables. Toss with salad dressing and chill before serving.

Note: You can always add more dressing later if the pasta absorbs it and the salad needs a little more moisture.

What are your kids’ (or grandkids’) favorite veggies? Do you plant a garden? Or take advantage of area farmers markets? Please leave a comment below to share their favorites and how you serve them. We can always use veg-spiration—yes, that’s inspiration for how to get kids to eat more vegetables. For more kid-friendly recipe ideas, visit the BLEND Pinterest page today!

Rotini Pasta salad pic
Wishing you a safe and 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.

 

[Time Pressed Tuesday] Healthy Snack Ideas for the 4th!

June 28, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Heatthy 4th of July Snacks (1)

 

Healthy Snack Ideas for the 4th of July!

The 4th of July is less than a week away! This is definitely one of my favorite holiday’s to celebrate. The 4th always reminds me of going to the cabin with the family, eating good food, and enjoying great company! If you are like me, you have a sweet tooth and it can be difficult to resist those delicious Fourth of July temptations.

If you have no idea what to eat for a healthy festive snack on the Fourth of July I have come up with a few healthy snack ideas! All of these are pretty quick and easy to make, and you only need a few ingredients.

4th of July Yogurt Parfait Ingredients!IMG_4993

– Old Home Greek Vanilla Yogurt (does not have to be Greek yogurt or name brand)
– Raspberries (NuVal 100)
– Strawberries (NuVal 100)
– Blueberries: (NuVal 100)
– Nature Valley Granola Oats and Honey (does not have to be brand name) (NuVal 24)

Of course to make this festive for the 4th of July I picked fruits to make the parfait that are red, white, and blue. Fruits such as strawberries, raspberries and blueberries are a fantastic choice! You could also use bananas for the color white or cut up apples. The great thing about preparing parfaits is you can put the ingredients in any order you want! I put the granola in on the bottom followed by strawberries, then the vanilla Greek Yogurt, then the blueberries on top. Another great thing about yogurt parfait is you do not have to measure out the ingredients! You can make it your own creation! As you can see by my pictures I made two different parfaits! This recipe is also a great choice for a healthy breakfast when you are on the go, as well as a great snack. Let me be honest here, I am not a big fan of Greek yogurt, but this Old Home Greek Vanilla yogurt that I used to make these parfaits is delicious! I defiantly recommend trying this yogurt, you will not regret it!

IMG_5011 (1)

IMG_5006

4th of July Fruit Salad Ingredients

-Any fruit of your liking that is festive for the Fourth!

The next Fourth of July snack I made was a fruit salad. This is super easy to make. Any fruits that are red, white, and blue will be perfect. I used raspberries, blueberries, and cut up two apples.

IMG_5022

Fun Fact!

You may be wondering how do you keep the apples from turning brown? Fill up a bowl with 2 cups of water. Add 2 Tbsp. of either lemon juice or pineapple juice (some flavor may linger so pick your favorite). The citric acid in the lemon or pineapple juice helps store the enzymes in the apple so it doesn’t turn brown as quickly. Soak the apples in this solution for 5-10 minutes before mixing into the fruit salad.

4th of July Infused WaterIMG_5016 (1)

-Fruit
-Water or Sparkling Water
-Ice Cubes

Infused water is so popular right now! You can use just about any kind of fruit. I tried something different and used strawberries and blueberries. You can fill your glass up with as much fruit as you want, I might of went a little fruit crazy on mine and may have added too much. You can use any kind of sparkling water or just plain water. The longer the fruit soaks in the water, the more intense the flavor. Just be sure to keep it cold! Try adding your fruits of choice to a pitcher of water and store in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours before serving. I think infused water is great beverage choice any day, it is so refreshing and easy to make. Fruit gives water that little extra taste!

Wishing everyone a happy and safe Fourth of July,

Thank you for reading,
Alison Dylla
Summer Intern at BLEND

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!

 

Alison Dylla pic 

This blog was written by our summer intern Alison Dylla,

 Alison is a Community Health Major at St. Cloud State University and will be graduating this year in December. She has a passion for healthy eating and working out. She loves helping people and making a difference in people’s lives. Alison’s main job at BLEND is working with the social media, such as blogging and updating our Facebook page, along with attending different events with BLEND in the St.Cloud area. She is enjoying her time here with BLEND and is so thankful to be a part of such a great program.

 

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