Thursday, July 2, 2015

Recipe Spotlight: Confetti Apple Slaw


Are you looking for a healthy side dish to bring to a picnic this summer?  Then this Confetti Apple Slaw is the perfect dish for you.  Whether you are meeting friends for an outside gathering or sitting down at the table with your family, Confetti Apple Slaw is a healthy option everyone will love!

By using fruits, vegetables, and other simple ingredients, this recipe puts a healthy twist on an old classic.  Try out this recipe and add more fruits and vegetables to your meals!

Confetti Apple Slaw
Serves: 6

2 Tablespoons orange concentrate, defrosted
1 apple, washed, unpeeled, cored and diced
1/2 head cabbage, washed, cored and diced
1 small red onion, washed and finely chopped
1 red or green sweet bell pepper, washed, seeds removed and chopped
3 Tablespoons raisins
1 Tablespoon reduced-fat mayonnaise
1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

  1. In a large bowl, stir together juice concentrate and diced apple.
  2. Add cabbage, onion, pepper, and raisins.
  3. In a small bowl stir together mayonnaise, yogurt, mustard, paprika, and pepper to make dressing.
  4. Add vegetable mixture to dressing and mix well.  
  5. Cover tightly and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Gather all of your ingredients.

Wash and dice all fruits and vegetables.

In a large bowl, stir together juice concentrate and diced apple.

Add cabbage, onion, pepper, and raisins to apple mixture.

In a small bowl, stir together mayonnaise, yogurt,
mustard, paprika, and pepper to make dressing.

Add dressing to vegetable mixture and mix well. 
Cover tightly and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Simple Summertime Dinners

It's summertime and the livin' is the lyrics say.  With the hustle and bustle of summer activities, getting a healthy family dinner on the table sometimes is not that easy.  Beat the heat this summer and save time with these stress-free tips!

Make it Easy
Consider meals that do not take a lot of time to prepare.  Serve a protein with a vegetable and fruit for a healthy and light summer dinner. Prepare your meal outside on the grill where time can be saved on cooking and cleaning up.  Follow recipes like the Vegetable Variety Pack below.  Your children will enjoy helping you prepare meals!   Use your crock-pot or slow cooker for ease in preparing food.  This time saving device will have food ready at the end of the day with little clean up and added heat in your kitchen. 

Make it Fresh 
Hot days call for cool meals.  Use fresh fruits and vegetables in salads, sandwiches, chilled soups, and smoothies.  Visit your local farmers' market or your local grocery for fresh produce.  Invite your youngest family members to choose a new fruit or vegetable for the family to try.  This can be a fun experience for the whole family.

Make it Ahead
When grilling, roasting or using your crock-pot, prepare enough for a second meal to freeze.  This will allow you that "vacation day" from the kitchen. Try to do this as often as you can.  Almost any food can be frozen.  Label the food container with the name  of the food (example: Vegetable Variety Pack), date the container (example  June 29, 2015) and serving portion (example: serves 5).  Writing the name, date, and serving size will help you to use the food in a timely manner.

 Try this healthy veggie side dish this summer!

Vegetable Variety Pack
Serves:  5

2 small zucchini, washed and sliced
2 small yellow squash, washed and sliced
4 small potatoes, scrubbed, washed and sliced
1/2 onion, peeled and sliced
1/2 red or green bell pepper, washed, seeded and sliced
1/4 cup light Italian salad dressing

  1. Preheat oven or grill to 350 degrees.
  2. Stir vegetables and dressing together in a large bowl.
  3. Spread vegetables in the center of a sheet of aluminum foil.  Bring foil edges together and seal to make a packet.  Individuals packets may also be made.
  4. Bake for 20-30 minutes or cook on the grill until veggies are tender.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Learn, Play and Grow with the Summer Meals Program

Photo courtesy of Share our Strength

No need to worry about your kids missing lunch once school gets out.  The summer meals program helps bridge the gap in the summer when kids are not receiving school lunch.

WHAT:  The summer meals program, provides free, nutritious meals and snacks to all children. 

WHO:  All children 18 and younger.   Individuals with disabilities over the age of 18 are also eligible.

WHERE:  The summer meals program can be found at schools, community or recreation centers, summer camps, churches, or libraries.  To find a site near you click on the link and enter your zip code:  Maryland Summer Meals Search.

For more information on meal sites call:  National Hunger Hotline at 1-866-3-HUNGRY or 1-877-8-HAMBRE

The summer meals program is FREE and no paperwork is needed to get a meal.  Just come to the location listed during meal time and the kids will get  get a free breakfast, lunch, or snack.  The meals meet federal nutrition guidelines by providing fresh fruit, vegetables, and whole grains.  The healthy foods help children learn, play and grow over the summer.

To learn more about summer meals in Maryland, visit:

Photo courtesy of Share our Strength

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Favorite Fruits and Veggies to Buy at the Farmers' Market

Image courtesy of Maryland Farmers' Market Association

Farmers' markets are a great way to buy fresh fruits and vegetables.  The fruits and vegetables at a farmers' market are picked right from the plant and taken to the market.  The produce at the farmers' market is always in season.  You can be sure they will be fresh and delicious!  Since there are many fruits and vegetables to buy at the market, it can be hard to know which ones will be the best buy for you and your family.  Here are five favorite foods to buy at the farmers' market.

There are many shapes and sizes of tomatoes.  All of them can be used in a lot of meals.  Tomatoes from local farms taste better because they are fresh.  Tomatoes also have antioxidants to keep you healthy.  Pair them with zucchini and have a healthy side dish.  Check out the Zucchini and Tomatoes recipe from a previous blog post!

Strawberries and blueberries are a great summer treat!  They are better to buy at the farmers' market because they are in season and can be grown in Maryland.  Berries have many vitamins and minerals that are good for you, too!  Make them part of your breakfast with a Red Berry Parfait!

At the grocery store you will most likely find orange carrots.  At the farmers' market, they come in many different colors and sizes.  Carrots also make the perfect on-the-go snack!  Add carrots to your "Garden on a Plate", which is a great recipe that kids can help to make. 

Onions can be used in hot meals or raw on a salad.  Onions are great to use to add flavor to your meals. There are a variety of onions with different flavors, shapes, and colors.  Try grilling them to bring out the flavors!

Zucchini is in-season and tastes best in the summer.   It can be used in hot dishes or eaten raw.  Zucchini can be put into salads, soups, and stir-fries.  This is an easy way to add veggies to your meal. 

Ask a farmer if you do not know which fruits or vegetables will be best for you.  Farmers know a lot about the fruits and vegetables they grow and sell, so think of them as the produce experts.  Farmers' markets are a great way to try new fruits and vegetables too.  Next time you are at your local farmers' market, pick something up you have not had before!

To find the local farmers' market near you, visit the Maryland Farmers' Market page.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Zucchini in Maryland: A Great Summer Veggie!

Summer in Maryland is zucchini season.  From July through September, zucchini starts showing up at the farmers' market and (if you are lucky) in your neighbor's garden!  Zucchini is close in shape and color to a cucumber.  It can be eaten raw, stir-fried, roasted, and grilled.  The mild flavor also makes zucchini a delicious seasonal treat.

What is Zucchini?
Zucchini is a summer squash.  It belongs to the same family as other summer squashes such as yellow squash, crooked neck squash, and straightneck squash.  These squashes are different from winter squashes because summer squash only grow once the dirt is warm and they don't last long in storage.

Zucchini is actually best when it is still immature.  If you wait too late or let it grow too big, the rind is not tender and edible.  Small zucchini are the most delicious choice.

Try to use your zucchini up shortly after you pick or get it.  Zucchini will only keep fresh for 5 to 14 days in cool (32-50 degrees F) temperatures.  Zucchini is a good source of vitamin C, manganese, potassium, and vitamin B6.  It is also very low in calories.

How to prepare and use:  Wash, trim ends, and cut into pieces.  Eat raw,  bake, sauté, broil or grill.

Try this Zucchini and Tomato recipe for a taste of some of summer's favorite vegetables.

Zucchini and Tomatoes
Serves 4

2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup onion, chopped
2 tomatoes, washed and diced, or one 16-ounce can of diced tomatoes, drained
1 garlic clove, chopped
2 medium zucchini, washed and deiced
1 teaspoon sugar
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Heat oil in a sauce pan over medium heat.
  2. Add onion and garlic.  Cook until tender, about 5 to 7 minutes.
  3. Add zucchini, tomatoes, sugar, and pepper
  4. Cover pan and reduce heat.
  5. Cook until vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Keeping Kids Active During the This Summer

As the flowers bloom and the days grow longer, children begin to count the days until summer and the end of the school year.  Parents begin to think about how to keep their children busy, active, and healthy during the school-free months.   There are plenty of ways to keep your children busy and active this summer!

Below you will find some ideas about how to help meet the goal of 60 minutes of physical activity every day.  The best part about being active is that it adds up even if they are active 10 minutes at a time.
  • Walk around the neighborhood each morning.  It is a little cooler in the mornings and will make the walk more enjoyable when it's not so hot.
  • Hula-hoop, hopscotch, jump rope, or a bike ride around the block.  Use the evenings to get your child outside and let them play games with neighbors or family members.
  • Visit a local park or hiking trail.  Pack some picnic foods (such as fresh fruits, veggies, whole grain crackers, and nuts or trail mix)  and make a day out of your adventure.  Children will love to explore nature and while being active.
  • Family dance parties are perfect on rainy days.  Turn on the music and take turns making up moves!  Enjoy the laughter and family time.
  • Have the children help in the garden.  Gardening counts as physical activity too!  Letting them help in the garden will teach them how plants grow.  Children are more likely to try fruits and veggies that they help to grow.
Make sure that everyone drinks plenty of water. It's important to drink a lot of water even before you feel thirsty.

For more ideas on how to keep your children active, visit the Let's Move website.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Memorial Day Grilling Food Safely

Memorial Day seems to be the unofficial start to grilling season!  Whether it is meat and poultry or fruit and vegetables, below are some grilling tips to keep you and your family safe.

  • Keep plenty of utensils and plates on hand when grilling.  Do not use the same plate and utensil for raw and cooked meat and poultry.  Use a new plate when taking food off the grill to serve.
  • Find a source of clean water.  If you are eating away from home, make sure that there is clean water to use.  If not, take clean water for grilling and cleaning with you.  Pack clean cloths and moist towels to clean surfaces and hands.
  • Wash your fruits and vegetables.  Keep fruits and veggies separate from raw meat and poultry.  Keep foods in an insulated cooler to keep them from going bad.
  • Don't Wash Your Chicken.  Washing chicken before it is cooked can get bacteria in the sink and on the counter.  Take chicken out of the package and put directly on the grill or in the pan to cook. 

  • Use a food thermometer to make sure foods reach a safe internal temperature.  Food may look, smell, and feel "done" but may not be safe to eat.

  • Before grilling -- keep food items such as meat and poultry refrigerated until ready to grill. Grab ice to pack your food if you are shopping on your way to the cookout.
  • Cooler -- pack with ice and ice packs to keep the food cool while traveling.
  • Cooler storage -- keep coolers out of direct sunlight.
  • Leftovers -- refrigerate leftovers right after you finish eating.  Throw out any food left out more than 2 hours (or 1 hour if temperatures are above 90 degrees).
  • Marinating -- food that is marinated should be placed back in the refrigerator for safe storage.
  • Before grilling -- if the marinade will be a sauce for the cooked foods, set some aside before putting raw meat and poultry in the marinade.
  • Use two coolers -- Keep meat and poultry separate from drinks, fruits, veggies, and salads.  Take two coolers to keep your food safe!