Category: healthy eats
Thursday, January 23
Over the years I have been lucky enough to have several close friends who are Mexican and they have all introduced me to various wonderful foods. Those friends are all also really good at cooking beans. And, for whatever reason, no matter how many times they have told me how to cook beans and assured me that it’s easy, I had a mental block. Every time I would go to cook a bag of dried beans, I would freeze. Seriously, total mental block. I just could never remember exactly how to do it and felt dumb always asking “one more time” how to cook beans!
Well, I have finally broken down my bean barriers. One of my neighbors is Mexican and I finally just sucked up my pride and asked her (multiple times) how to cook dried beans. And then I actually did it. I cooked beans! And, surprise surprise, they were easy to make and mighty delicious!
For real, it’s easy. You’ll need to be home for a few hours to check on them occasionally while they cook, but that is seriously the hardest part of the recipe. I like to cook a big pot of beans at one time and then freeze the leftovers into 2-cup containers. The beans are easy to defrost and I love having them on hand. And they really do taste better than canned beans.How to Cook Dried BeansAuthor: Jane MaynardIngredients
- Bag of dried beans (Black, pinto, peruan, whatever variety you like! Peruan is the variety you see in these photos.)
- Big pot
- ¼ of an onion
- Ari (my neighbor) will sometimes soak the beans overnight, but it's not necessary. If you forget, no worries!
- Place the beans in a big pot (I use my french oven). Add water to cover the beans (if you soaked the beans prior, drain that water and add new water to the pot). Place ¼ of an onion (large pieces is fine) in the pot along with some salt (maybe about a teaspoon or so). Bring to a simmer over medium to medium-high heat, then cook over medium-low to medium heat for 2-3 hours (longer if you didn't soak the beans before hand). Stir the beans occasionally throughout the entire cooking process. You may need to add more water at some point if the water is running low but the beans are still not cooked through. The beans are done when they are soft and yummy!
- Remove the onion and add more salt if needed. If you want them to be more like refried beans, just mash them up a bit!
Thursday, January 16
This is one of those posts where half of you will say, “Uh, duh, Jane!” and the other half of you will say, “Duh! Why haven’t I thought of this before?” For those of you in category 1, just move on and have a lovely, iceberg lettuce-free day. For those of you in category 2, I’m glad I’m not alone. Okay, so, let’s move on with the issue at hand, shall we?
Iceberg lettuce. I pretty much hate it. I loved it as a kid and, with every year I walk on this earth, I like the stuff less and less. I think it tastes like water and it isn’t as nutrient rich as other lettuces and greens, so what’s the point? It’s only positive attribute is the texture. Sometimes you just need the extra crunch that iceberg lettuce can provide.
Well, yesterday, I was making myself a turkey sandwich on a roll leftover from our dinner of sausage subs. The roll reminded me of this place (Nielsen’s Frozen Custard in Utah) that makes a simple turkey sandwich that sometimes just hits the spot. I wanted to replicate the sandwich but needed iceberg lettuce, which I did not have because, well, I never buy it unless I have to. I did, however, have a head of romaine lettuce.
So, I grabbed my knife and sliced the romaine nice and skinny, just like I would have with iceberg. Sure, it’s not quite as crunchy as iceberg, but it has a good balance of leafy and crunchy to fit the bill. It worked like a charm on my sandwich. It would also be perfect on tacos and other foods where you often find iceberg lettuce lurking.
There you have it. Romaine is now my iceberg lettuce substitute. It’s healthier and tastes better. And it’s got a good bite. Life is good. Adios, iceberg. It’s been nice known’ ya.
Tuesday, December 10
This giveaway is now closed, but keep reading to learn about a cool website, my new yogurt maker, and the winner of the giveaway!
Gifts & Giveaways marches on! Today I’m sharing a whole website with you with all kinds of wonderful gift possibilities.
In all honesty I had never heard of Park and Main until about a month or so ago, but I am happy to have been introduced! Park and Main carries all kinds of wonderful products for the home and, I must admit, I’ve spent quite a bit of time (too much time?) window shopping on their site! Everything just looks so pretty and inviting!
Park and Main sent me a really fun product that they carry, the Dash Greek Yogurt Maker. (Ours is pink because, well, my little sous chef Anna wouldn’t have it any other way. They do carry a blue version as well.) We go through a lot of yogurt in our house. A LOT. I was really excited to try making my own yogurt and, surprisingly, my girls were just as excited! I know you can make yogurt without a specific machine, but without the machine, I never actually gave it a try. Plus I trust this process, there’s a built-in timer and straining basket, and they have a chart with the cooking times for all the different types of yogurts you can make. I also love that you can completely control the type of yogurt you make (low-fat, no-fat, soy-based, coconut milk-based, etc), you can make the yogurt more tart by cooking it longer, you know exactly what ingredients are going into your yogurt (so you control the sugar, can omit allergy ingredients, etc.), and you can control how thick you want your yogurt to be (you can make straight-up yogurt that is thinner or you can strain it to make Greek yogurt and, depending on how long you strain, you control the thickness). Basically you have SO MUCH CONTROL over your yogurt. It’s awesome!
The best part? The yogurt tastes wonderful! We ate our first batch this week and it is seriously soooo good. We just mix in a little jam and the yogurt is divine!
UPDATE 3/16/16: I love this little appliance and it works great, and I even made our own yogurt for quite a while. But I recently learned that a lot of pressure cookers/Instant Pots out there have a yogurt setting. If I were to do it over again, I would get the Instant Pot. Multitaskers are always a good idea.
Park and Main is giving away a Dash yogurt maker to one of you lucky people! Here is how to enter the giveaway (comments must be posted by Midnight PT on Monday, 12/16/13. Prize must be shipped to a U.S. address): Simply leave a comment, any comment, on this post! That’s it! But feel free to share your favorite find on the Park and Main website! Bonus entry: Like This Week for Dinner on Facebook and leave a separate comment telling me you did! (If you already follow, that counts!) Bonus entry: Follow me on Pinterest and leave a separate comment telling me you did! (If you already follow, that counts!) Bonus entry: Follow me on Twitter and leave a separate comment telling me you did! (If you already follow, that counts!) Bonus entry: Like Park and Main on Facebook and leave a separate comment telling me you did Bonus entry: Follow Park and Main on Twitter and leave a separate comment telling me you did Bonus entry: Follow Park and Main on Pinterest and leave a separate comment telling me you did
Be sure to check out the Park and Main website, especially as you are shopping for the holidays. They have pages for gifts under $25, gifts under $50, gifts under $100, and gifts over $100. They also sell the Breville Smart Oven, which is hands down my favorite kitchen appliance.
Good luck and happy shopping!
The randomly-selected winner was comment #218 Becca, who said, “I’ve made homemade yogurt before, but honestly, it’s quite a bit of work. I’d love a handy little machine like this one!” You’ll love the simplicity of this machine, Becca! Congrats!
Park and Main provided me with a yogurt maker for this post. All opinions are 100% my own, of course!
Posted by Jane Maynard at 2:40 pm 266 Comments
Categories: Giveaways, healthy eats, the goods Tags: gifts & giveaways, greek yogurt, home goods, homemade yogurt, kitchen equipment, kitchen gadgets, kitchen supplies, park and main |
Tuesday, November 12
A few weeks ago I went to a 1-day conference put on by Ladies Home Journal in New York. I learned some great stuff but, more importantly, I connected with people in person. That’s always the best part of an event! One of those people was Lisa Cain from Snack Girl. Lisa is great – I could talk to her for hours! Her blog is all about eating healthy food and she breaks down the nutritional content of all the recipes on her blog. Since you totally don’t get that from me, I thought it would be fun to share a bit of Lisa with you today with a guest post! Enjoy and be sure to check out her blog!
Snack Girl posted this chili recipe with pumpkin last year and people are still talking about it. Yes, it was a hit.
Why add pumpkin to your chili?
It’s cheap, easy, and has 763% of your daily value of vitamin A in one cup (and only 83 calories). You can sneak a bunch of nutrition into food by adding pumpkin.
After creating a no-bake pumpkin cookie and a pumpkin smoothie, I decided to try a savory dish. This chili recipe below is the healthiest chili (with meat) that I have ever made. It boasts 28% of your daily value of iron, 45% of your daily value of vitamin C, and 293% of your daily value of vitamin A per serving.
This is like a nutritional “rock star” chili. I used ground turkey breast because it is low in saturated fat, and beans, corn, and tomatoes to up the vegetable content.
I did think the flavor was nice, but missing the depth of a beef chili. I might sneak a wee bit of cheese on top of mine to make it taste a bit more luxurious. The pumpkin made it a great color and added a creaminess to the chili.
As we greet fall, it is time to stock up on cans of nutritious pumpkin.Pumpkin Chili Recipe from Snack GirlAuthor: Jane MaynardRecipe type: Main Dish, SoupServes: 6Ingredients
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil (such as canola, sunflower, etc.)
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 pound ground turkey breast meat
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 small can diced green chili peppers
- 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 cup corn kernels, frozen or fresh
- 1 28 ounce can tomatoes
- 1 can cooked pumpkin
- salt and pepper to taste
- In a large saucepan, heat oil and add onion. When onion has softened add turkey and cook until cooked through (should look white). Add the rest of the ingredients and taste to adjust seasonings. Simmer for 10 minutes and seve.
- For one serving = 268 calories, 4.7 g fat, 32 g carbohydrates, 8.7 g sugar, 26.3 g protein, 10.2 g fiber, 399 mg sodium, 6 Points+
- Points+ values are calculated by Snack Girl and are provided for information only.
Posted by Jane Maynard at 11:59 am 16 Comments
Categories: featured recipes, guest blogging, healthy eats, main dishes, Recipes Tags: chili recipes, guest blogger, guest post, healthy recipes, pumpkin recipes |
Tuesday, October 22
Today I have a super fast and easy dinner recipe for you that is also delicious and healthy. That’s the best kind of recipe, right?
But first, a confession. I love ramen noodle packs. You know, the 89-cent packages of ramen noodles paired with the sodium-rich broth that is oh-so-good. But…but. The sodium. Ah, the sodium. I haven’t bought ramen in years and years because of that darn sodium. Happily, today’s recipe will let us have our ramen and eat it, too!
You will need to buy one of those cheap-o packages of ramen for this recipe, but you’re going to throw the flavor packet in the trash where it belongs. Instead, we’ll use healthy, natural ingredients and just a bit of salt to create a yummy meal that’s perfect for kids, adults and college-kids alike!
This recipe is fast to prepare and should be eaten immediately, so plan accordingly!Easy Asian Chicken Noodle Soup (a.k.a. Homemade Ramen)Cook timeTotal timeAdapted from a recipe in America’s Test Kitchen Quick Family CookbookAuthor: Jane MaynardRecipe type: Main Dish, Soup, PoultryCuisine: AsianServes: 4Ingredients
- ½ tablespoon vegetable oil
- ½ pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded*
- 2 green onions, sliced thin with greens separated from whites
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 garlic clove, minced (I use my garlic press)
- 3½ cups low-sodium or sodium-free chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce, plus extra as needed (a commenter mentioned that soy sauce can be high in sodium, so if you really want to cut back, try using low-sodium soy sauce or reducing the amount used)
- 1 3-ounce package ramen noodles, flavor packet discarded
- 1½ cups shredded coleslaw mix (I used a coleslaw mix made only with green cabbage)
- 1½ cups fresh baby spinach, roughly chopped
- ½ tablespoon sesame oil, plus extra as needed
- salt and pepper
Notes*Cook the chicken however is easiest for you – grill, sauté, boil, whatever!3.2.2925
- Heat vegetable oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add chopped white green onions (reserving the greens for later), ginger and garlic and cook for about 1 minute.
- Stir in chicken broth and soy sauce and bring to a simmer (you’ll want to turn the heat up to get it boiling gently, then reduce the heat to medium or so to maintain the simmer).
- Stir in ramen noodles and coleslaw and cook for 4 minutes.
- Add chicken and spinach and cook for 1 minute.
- Stir in the rest of the green onions and sesame oil. Mix together, taste, then add salt, pepper, soy sauce and sesame oil to taste. Serve immediately.
Monday, August 5
I hate to use the words “Back to School” right now because it just reminds me that summer is ending in a few short weeks. But, alas, we are nearing that time of year and it’s time to get ready!
One of my least favorite things about the school year is packing lunches. For me the biggest challenges are providing variety as well as a balance of healthy food with what my kids will actually eat. It’s oh-so-fun! 😉
Attune Foods recently asked me to contribute to a Back to School Lunch Ideas E-Book, using either their Uncle Sam cereal, Erewhon cereal or grahams. Chocolate-covered raisins ended up being my inspiration and I came up with a recipe that Cate could not stop eating. This new wholesome treat will definitely be making an appearance in her lunchbox this coming school year!
Click here to download the free cookbook and see what recipe I created! Plus, you want to check out all the recipes as they were created by a group of food bloggers that I love!
Friday, July 19
A month or so ago, a company reached out to see if I could attend a fun event in Los Angeles, where I would have the chance to meet and interview Alison Sweeney. Because of the move I couldn’t go to the event. And then, the very day of that event, I received an email from the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council to see if I would like to interview (you guessed it) Alison Sweeney! For real, the gods want us to be besties. Hopefully Alison gets the memo, too!
Our family loves blueberries, especially Miss Cate, so I was more than happy to work with the Blueberry Council and ask Alison a few questions! July is National Blueberry Month. (I think we should all eat lots of muffins to celebrate.) The council and Alison Sweeney are spreading the word about how dynamic blueberries are and how they can add energy and flavor to our daily routine. To find out more about these Little Blue Dynamos, click here to visit their website!
As I was poking around the blueberry website myself, I came across a recipe for a Blueberry Breakfast Salad. I was intrigued by the idea of getting greens into our breakfast routine and clicked through. The recipe for the salad dressing caught my eye and I knew I had to give it a try. People, this dressing is SO GOOD. The salad was good, too – I loved the sweet crunch of granola mixed in. However, the dressing is the real find here. It is surprisingly savory, with just a hint of sweetness from the blueberries. Nate and I had several salads this week! (See recipe below!)
Back to my new best friend Alison. Here is our interview!
Jane: What is your favorite savory dish that uses blueberries?
Alison: Hands down – Blueberry Turkey Burgers! My kids love the tangy blueberry surprise, such a burst of flavor in the burger. Plus, you feel very “Master Chef” preparing them – blueberries are the secret ingredient!
Jane: How do you fit in exercise as a busy, working mom? (I know that question seems so cliché, but I really am so curious what your techniques are!)
Alison: You must make it a priority to take care of yourself. Put your workouts on the calendar to ensure you make time to work out. Sometimes I’ll have time for a quick run, other times I’ll be able to take a spin or yoga class. If I can’t work out, I make sure I adjust my nutrition accordingly.
Jane: Kids will be kids…how do make sure they eat their healthy foods? (Again, sort of cliché, but would love your insight!)
Alison: Getting my kids involved in the kitchen is really important to me because eating habits form at a young age. One of our favorite hot-summer-day activities is making smoothies. Not only are they nutritious, they’re also easy and fun. Here’s a quick and easy blueberry smoothie recipe we love.
Here are a few more tips from Alison about kid-friendly recipes (something I am always thinking about!):
Now, for real, go eat some muffins and put this recipe in your recipe box!Blueberry Breakfast SaladAuthor: Jane MaynardRecipe type: Side Dish, SaladIngredients
- Mixed, torn salad greens: 2 pounds
- Blueberry Vinaigrette: Recipe follows
- Fresh blueberries: 4 cups
- Fresh orange sections or canned mandarin oranges, drained: 4 cups
- Granola : 2 cups
3.2.2646Blueberry VinaigretteAuthor: Jane MaynardRecipe type: Salad DressingIngredients
- Toss salad greens with 1½ cups of the Blueberry Vinaigrette. Divide the dressed greens among eight large plates. Arrange ½ cup orange sections and ½ cup blueberries on top of each salad. Sprinkle each salad with ¼ cup granola. Drizzle remaining dressing on top and serve immediately.
- 1 cup olive oil
- 1 cup frozen blueberries, thawed
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons minced shallot
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon ground pepper
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- Add all ingredients to a blender or food processor and process until mixture is smooth. Chill at least 30 minutes to blend flavors. Makes 2 cups.
Please visit the Blueberry Council on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Pinterest for more inspiration and feel free to share how you plan to #BeDynamic this month!
Thank you to the Blueberry Council for sponsoring this post. I was compensated for my work but, as always, all opinions are my own.
Posted by Jane Maynard at 11:15 am 15 Comments
Categories: eat less meat, featured recipes, healthy eats, interviews, Recipes, side dishes, the goods Tags: blueberries, healthy eats, healthy food, salad, sponsored |
Wednesday, July 10
One of my favorite places on earth is the coast between Big Sur and Monterey. When we lived in the Bay Area, the Monterey/Carmel area was our go-to weekend getaway spot and we have many fond family memories from those trips. Both towns are quaint and fun, but the coastline is what we really love. It is, quite simply, breathtaking. About a month or so ago I was invited by the team at Dole Salads to visit beautiful Carmel and attend the Taste of Spain Salad Summit with a great group of bloggers. Of course I had to go!
The trip was really wonderful. I had the chance to connect and re-connect with some really lovely bloggers (see list here!), the Dole Salads team was wonderful to work with, and it was very interesting getting a peak into how Dole produces their food (more on that in a moment). Dole put us up at the Carmel Valley Ranch hotel (which was AMAZING) and fed us an abundance of Spanish-inspired food. It was heavenly!
As I often mention, I am constantly thinking about how food production and food consumption impact Mother Earth. My new year’s resolution each year is always focused on that theme. When I say I’m constantly thinking about environmental issues, I’m not exaggerating. It’s maybe kind of an obsession.
Over the years we’ve modified and cut back on our meat consumption in order to make a positive environmental impact. As a result, I’m always on board with getting people to eat more fruits and vegetables, no matter where the produce comes from. Produce always requires less water and energy for production than meat does, so by eating more of those foods we are automatically using less valuable resources.
But I am still also concerned about industrialized farming and the increased use of monoculture over the past few decades. The concern with monoculture is that by growing one particular crop over a large area, the plants are more susceptible to disease, which in turns necessitates the use of pesticides (bad for our bodies and the environment) or GMO plants (which are engineered to be resistent to bugs – the jury is still out on the impact of GMOs on our health and the environment).
Needless to say, I was very happy that Dole invited me on the trip and I couldn’t wait to see their farms and talk with them about how Dole produces food.
We started our day driving to the beautiful Salinas Valley, where more than 80% of our country’s salad greens are grown. First we met one of the Dole growers (a.k.a. farmers). He was kind, humble and obviously loved his job. This particular farmer was growing iceberg lettuce. We learned that the crops are constantly rotated and that any food left behind during harvest is tilled back into the soil. We also learned the Dole does not use GMO plants but that they do use some pesticides. When we talked with the farmer about this, he mentioned how he lives on the farm and is raising his children there, so obviously he uses as little as he possibly can. He also said that if there was more business/demand for organic, he would gladly switch to that type of farming. It was really great meeting and talking with him and seeing the passion he has for his job.
Once the lettuce is grown, Dole hires harvesters to pick the produce. The farmer actually has no part in the harvest of the food. His job is to grow the food and keep the soil healthy. We watched a crew of harvesters picking lettuce and sending it up the conveyer belt, to be delivered to the packaging plant nearby. There were tanks of chlorinated water nearby, which is sprayed on the lettuce was soon as it is harvested. (More on the chlorinated water in a moment!)
Once the lettuce reaches the packaging plant, it is washed several times (in chlorinated and non-chlorinated water), cut, and packaged in super duper high-tech packaging that is designed to keep the lettuce fresh.
My big takeaways were as follows:
- Safety is of the utmost importance to Dole. All along the process the food is kept safe with different rules and procedures, including hairnets for everyone at the farm!
- Freshness is right up there with safety. From the way the food is handled to the packaging, every effort is made to deliver tasty, good-looking food to the consumer.
- We asked specifically about the use of chlorinated water and were told that it is food-grade and used to keep the food safe. As a person who tries to eat produce as locally as possible and mostly organic, I must admit that the use of chlorinated water gave me pause. The thing is, there are a LOT of people to feed and we are demanding large amounts of the same types of foods, which necessitates these safety measures. I don’t think the chlorinated water used on this particular iceberg lettuce is necessarily hurting any of us on its own (and testing shows that it is safe), but I can’t help but wonder what the cumulative effect of all of the food we eat that is produced in this way has on our bodies and health, not to mention the environment. And I don’t know what the solution is. GMOs have not yet been proven to be harmful, but there are still big questions about their true impact. We know pesticides are no good, but if we aren’t using GMOs, we need the pesticides to produce large quantities of food. It really is a catch 22 and we just keep circling around and around. We need to feed people, that’s the bottom line. Right now, this is how it is done for the most part.
- Dole tries to grow food as locally as possible. Obviously pineapples can’t be grown everywhere, but when they can, Dole does grow food as close to the place where it will be bought as possible. Yes, it’s not true local farming, but it is a start and I appreciate a large corporation making that effort.
- Dole also produces organic products. Let’s demand more of it so we can start to shift how our food is produced! We hold the keys to change!
The trip provided a great deal of food for thought (pun intended!) for me. I’m really glad I had the chance to talk with Dole and see first-hand what they are all about. The company has a really positive vibe and I walked away from the weekend feeling good, even with the bigger questions about our food system bumping about my brain.
Thank you to Dole for inviting me to attend the Taste of Spain Salad Summit. I am so happy they included me on the trip! Now, everyone go eat some salad!
For Dole recipes and to enter the Taste of Spain giveaway (you could win a $40,000 trip to Spain!), please visit www.dolesalads.com.
Friday, July 5
I have another Earth Box update for you! We harvested our lettuce and carrots yesterday and I wanted to let you know how things came out.
Lettuce is PERFECT for growing in the Earth Box. The heads of romaine lettuce grew beautifully, were very healthy and easy to take care of as they grew. I would recommend planting 8 lettuces in each Earth Box, but staggering the plantings a week or two apart (maybe 2 planted each week for a month). By staggering the planting, you will be able to harvest the lettuce over time instead of all at once. That’s what we’re going to do next year!
Carrots are NOT perfect for growing in the Earth Box. Despite having at least a foot of depth for the carrots to grow, the carrots only grew a few inches long, if that! We think the roots must have sensors that report back to the carrot telling it to find somewhere else to grow. If this is the case, those sensors did a fantastic job. One of the carrots just kept twisting in on itself. You also can’t grow that many carrots in the Earth Box, so there isn’t much of a yield (16 total IF they all survive, and that’s if you just plant carrots in the box). All in all carrots were not worth the effort, at least when grown in the Earth Box.
The tomato plants are still going strong. They are fruiting and we are just waiting for the first ripe ones to appear!
Tuesday, July 2
I love the folks at the California Avocado Commission. And not just because they sent me a case of avocados today! They really are a great group of people representing a great product: California-grown avocados. In fact, a lot of those avocados are grown right here in San Diego!
The commission shared a fun fact with me last week: the Fourth of July is the highest consumption day for avocados in the US. I guess we all love guacamole on the Fourth! The great thing is avocados are actually in season right now, so our demand matches the time when they taste best!
To get us ready to eat our 96.4 million avocados this Thursday, I think an avocado Call for Recipes is in order!
I’ll kick us off with one of my most favorite dip recipes: Hummus Guacamole Dip with Black Beans. If you haven’t tried it yet, I’m sure you’re thinking it sounds weird. It is actually really delicious. Like, I can eat the whole bowl myself. It’s also very healthy!
Your turn! What are your favorite recipes using avocados? Please type up the recipe or share links to recipes in the comments. Anything goes as long as there are avocados involved!