Healthy Eats and Repeat Highlighting Food, Recipes, and Ideas for a Healthy Lifestyle Sun, 15 May 2005 13:02:08 -0500 Savory Spice: Ginger Wed, 14 Feb 2018 09:00:00 +0000 Ginger ale. Gingerbread. Ginger tea. Have you guessed the topic of this post yet?

Knobby and finger-like, fresh ginger, or ginger root, is a flavorful addition to cooking and beverages. It can be used in a variety of different recipes. Ginger in stir-fry is one of my favorite ways to use it.  Such a light, fresh taste.


A teaspoon of fresh ginger, like many herbs and spices, is not a significant source of calories, fat, protein, or carbohydrates. That teaspoon contains very small amounts of some vitamins and minerals, like niacin (a B vitamin) and potassium, so it is not a main source of those nutrients.  But it does pack a flavorful punch to recipes.

  • Buy: When buying fresh ginger, look for pieces with the light brown skin intake. The root should be smooth, not wrinkled, soft, or dried out.

  • Price: Fresh ginger is usually sold per pound, so pick small pieces if your recipe only needs a small amount. If fresh is too expensive or not available, dried ground ginger is another option.  See Equivalent below to compare using fresh to dried.
  • Store: Store fresh ginger in the refrigerator in a storage bag or container for a couple weeks. Throw away if you notice mold growing on the ginger.

To freeze, peel the skin off the ginger root. Keep in larger pieces and wrap tightly in foil or in a freezer bag with as much of the air removed as possible. Or peel and grate ginger; freeze in small piles, such as on a baking sheet or in an ice-cube tray. Once frozen, move to a freezer bag.

  • Prepare: Peel skin off ginger. Due to its odd angles, it may be easier to use a small knife rather than a vegetable peeler. Cut into desired sized pieces or grate into even smaller pieces.
  • Equivalent: 1 Tbsp fresh grated ginger = 1/8 tsp dried ground ginger

Papaya Ginger Smoothie (Serves 4)

½ cup carrot mango juice
½ cup evaporated skim milk
1 ½ cups frozen ripe papaya cubes
1 small ripe banana, sliced
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
2 limes, juiced

1. Combine all ingredients in a blender and puree until creamy and smooth. Enjoy immediately.
2. Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for 24 hours, or freeze into ice pops for long-term storage.
Nutritional analysis per serving: 80 calories, 0g fat, 60mg sodium, 18g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 3g protein

Recipe from Jenna Smith, Nutrition and Wellness Educator, University of Illinois Extension

Ginger Agriculture

UI Extension Horticulture Educator, Chris Enroth, shared this trivia:

"Though it is a tropical crop, ginger cannot tolerate soil temperatures above 90 degrees, and will perish if soil temperatures drop below 50 degrees. Maintaining a moderate soil temperature is important for ginger's development."

And watch how ginger is being grown in Virginia.

References: ]]>
Little Grains: Brown Rice Wed, 17 Jan 2018 09:00:00 +0000 While very mild in flavor, rice is one of my favorite grains. It makes a great base for stir-fries, adds bulk to soup, and takes on fun flavors with any seasoning you add. (I sometimes mix peanut butter into cooked rice for a quick side dish.)


A 1/4 cup of dry brown rice (which cooks up to around 3/4 cup) contains around 170 calories, 35g carbohydrates, 1g fiber, 3g protein, and contains other vitamins and minerals, including folate and magnesium. Brown rice contains a small amount of fat and sodium.

  • Buy: Regular, Instant, Parboiled?

Regular brown rice is the grain after the hull or husk has been removed. The rice tends to stick together when cooked.

Instant brown rice is regular brown rice that has been pre-cooked and dried. Thus, it takes little time to reheat, compared to cooking regular brown rice.

You might find parboiled brown rice in some stores. It is made by steaming and drying the rice. Once cooked, the rice is firm and less sticky than regular brown rice, and each grain stays separate from each other.

  • Price: Because makers of instant and parboiled brown rice do some work before it gets to you, the customer, these rices tend to be more expensive than regular brown rice. Buying single-cup or microwavable packets of rice are also high in price for the amount you get. Decide what fits in your budget and your plans for cooking.
  • Store: Store uncooked rice at room temperature in a cool, dark place. Rice can be stored in the refrigerator if desired. Since brown rice does have a small amount of fat, the rice may become rancid if not used after a long time.
  • Prepare: Packages of rice will provide cooking directions. Utah State University Extension has instructions on oven baked brown rice. I like to cook my regular brown rice like pasta, with lots of water. I find the rice is less likely to stick to the pot. Once cooked, refrigerate leftover rice within 2 hours.
  • Eat: Rice is commonly eaten as a side dish with a meal. Try making and refrigerating extra rice for fried rice or rice salads. Share how you like to cook with rice in the comments.


Chicken Fajitas with Rice and Beans (Serves 6)

If you like spicier fajitas, add additional spices such as chili powder, cumin, black peppers, and cayenne pepper.

2 lbs chicken breast, cut into strips
2 large bell peppers (any color), cut into strips
2 medium onions, cut into strips
1 cup jarred salsa, divided
1 15-oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup brown rice (regular, instant, or parboiled)

1. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook chicken until browned on the outside, stirring frequently. Add bell pepper slices, onion slices, and 3/4 cup of salsa to chicken. Stir to mix vegetables into meat. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally until vegetables are tender, around 10 minutes.
2. In a medium pot, add black beans, remaining 1/4 cup of salsa, and water. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Mixture will thicken as water evaporates; add more water as needed.
3. In another medium pot, cook rice according to directions.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 370 calories, 5g fat, 590mg sodium, 39g carbohydrate, 8g fiber, 41g protein

Sweet Spice: Cinnamon Wed, 13 Dec 2017 09:00:00 +0000 In winter, I notice the smells of cinnamon: hot chocolate, spiced sweet potatoes and winter squash, apple and pumpkin pies, cinnamon rolls, gingerbread, chai tea, and more. As a major staple to an herb and spice collection, let's talk about this sweet spice.


Spices, including cinnamon, contain insignificant amounts of fat, carbohydrates, or protein for the small amounts we use in recipes. So, they are not a main source of calories or nutrients. Be aware if you buy pre-blended cinnamon-sugar, there are calories and carbohydrates in the blend.


Part of an educator's role in Extension is answering client questions. Around cinnamon, clients occasionally ask for clarification about something they heard or read:  can cinnamon be used to lower blood sugar in someone with diabetes? The "Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes- 2018" explains there is insufficient evidence to support use of herbal supplements, including cinnamon, for diabetes treatment. For now, stick to sprinkling your recipes with cinnamon.

On the Shelf

  • Buying and Price: Cinnamon is available ground or as sticks, with ground cinnamon tending to be lower in price than cinnamon sticks. Since cinnamon is grown in different countries from different tree species, its country of origin can determine the price tag and flavor. Choose a cinnamon that matches your recipe, your budget, and your taste buds. (For more about varieties of cinnamon, read Just When You Thought Cinnamon Was Treated Alike from North Carolina Cooperative Extension).
  • Store: Store cinnamon at room temperature away from heat and moisture. Ground cinnamon may hold flavor for several years, and cinnamon sticks may keep for up to 5 years. While spices do not spoil or "go bad," once they lose their smell, they will not add the desired flavor to your recipes. If there is no strong "cinnamon" smell, it is time to replace it.
  • Prepare: Packaged cinnamon is ready to use in your recipe whenever you need it.
  • Eat: Enjoy cinnamon is a variety of sweet dishes, but also try cinnamon in savory dishes like curry or marinades.


Cinnamon Quick Bread (Serves 24)

Sweet treats can be part of a healthful diet.  Remember to choose small pieces of sweets, and eat other healthful foods, like fruits and vegetables too.

1 cup whole-wheat flour (or all-purpose flour)
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 cup low-fat buttermilk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9x5x3-inch loaf pan.
2. In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt until combined.
3. In a small bowl, combine buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla until smooth. Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture. Beat with an electric mixer for 3 minutes.
4. In a small bowl combine 1 1/2 Tbsp sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon.
5. Add a third of batter to bottom of loaf pan. Sprinkle a third of cinnamon-sugar evenly over filling. Repeat with remaining batter and cinnamon-sugar.
6. With a knife or thin spatula, lightly swirl batter to give a marbled effect.
7. Bake for 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool in pan 10 minutes and remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 100 calories, 3g fat, 180mg sodium, 16g carbohydrate, 0g fiber, 2g protein

Shopping for a Bagel Wed, 08 Nov 2017 09:00:00 +0000 Bagels are one of my favorite bread-style foods. I enjoy their chewiness, which is different from the easy bite of a slice of sandwich bread. With many flavors and just as many topping and filling options, bagels are a versatile food for meals and snacks across the day. All those options also make bagels worth a nutrition discussion.


An average whole-wheat bagel contains around 200 calories, 50g carbohydrates, 4g fiber, 8g protein, 350mg sodium, and contains other vitamins and minerals, including folate and magnesium. Bagels typically contain very little fat.

  • Buy:
  • With Whole Grains. Look for bagels made with 100% whole grains, such as whole wheat. Gluten-free bagels often use a blend of brown rice, tapioca, oats, and/or potato, which tends to lower the amount of fiber in the bagel.
  • By Size. As a whole bagel is a lot of calories and carbohydrates for a meal or snack, consider eating half a bagel. Or see if your store has mini bagels or bagel thins, which often come in whole-wheat too. On average, the calories and carbohydrates are cut in half.
  • By Type. A main feature of whole-wheat bagels is the added fiber. However, if blueberry bagels – which are commonly made with refined flours and less fiber – are your favorite, for example, no need to deny them. Add them to your cart occasionally, and make the intention to eat them with high-fiber foods, such as a side of strawberries or a mixed-green salad.

  • Bagel Chips? Many brands of bagel chips are made with refined grains, cooked with added fat, and may be flavored, all of which means less fiber and more calories and salt. Similar to that blueberry bagel, eat bagel chips occasionally and pair with other high-fiber and lower-sodium foods, like unsalted nuts.

  • Healthy Toppings. Cream cheese is a popular spread for bagels. Peanut butter is one of my favorites. To limit calories, use a small amount of spread. To add heart-healthy fats, choose nut-butters and avocado over dairy-based spreads more often.

  • Price: Bagel prices will vary by store and region, but often the cost between refined grain (ie. plain bagels) and flavored bagels is the same as whole-wheat bagels. Specialty bagels, like gluten-free, tend to be more expensive.
  • Store: If the bagels you bought were refrigerated, store them at home also in the refrigerator. At room temperature, bagels may last a few days before molding. For longer storage, refrigerator or freeze. Toasting a refrigerated or frozen bagel will have better quality than heating in the microwave.

Tip: Separate each bagel in half before freezing. The whole bagel may be hard to separate once frozen.

  • Prepare: Use bagels directly from bag, cold, toasted, or however you prefer.
  • Eat: The ways to eat a bagel are endless, but popular picks are egg sandwiches, pizza bagels, and with a hefty helping of cream cheese or peanut butter. Share what you like in the comments.


Bagel Pizza (Serves 1)

Try this quick bagel pizza from North Dakota State University Extension Service. For fewer calories, try this recipe with a mini bagel or bagel thin.

1 wheat bagel

2 Tbsp spaghetti sauce
1/4 cup shredded cheese
1. Cut the bagel in half. Spread each half with 1 tablespoon spaghetti sauce. Top with cheese.
2. Microwave on high, uncovered one to 1½ minutes or until cheese is melted.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 310 calories, 12g fat, 42g carbohydrates, 390mg sodium

Applesauce: Make it, Bake it, Eat it Wed, 11 Oct 2017 09:00:00 +0000 I remember applesauce and cinnamon as an end to many childhood meals and in my lunchbox for school. As an adult, I find it a quick-to-eat fruit and tend to cook more with applesauce. (Enjoy the brownie recipe with applesauce at the end of this post.)


A half cup of unsweetened applesauce contains around 50 calories, 15g carbohydrates, and 1g fiber, and contains vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C and potassium. Applesauce contain very little fat, sodium, and protein.

  • Buy: Look for unsweetened applesauce, which has no added sweeteners.

If buying one of the many flavored applesauces – strawberry, mango, etc. – look for those with fruit puree in them. Some brands use sweeteners and colors to mimic flavors without using fruit.

If buying cinnamon-added applesauce, consider buying unsweetened applesauce and adding your own cinnamon. Many brands have added sugar or syrups in addition to the cinnamon, which add calories without nutrients like vitamins or minerals.

  • Price: Applesauce is an inexpensive fruit. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, plain applesauce averages $0.58 per cup of fruit. Flavored and sweetened applesauces tend to cost more.
  • Store: Store unopened applesauce at room temperature or in the refrigerator. Once opened, refrigerate and use within a week or two. Also consider freezing leftover applesauce for use later on.
  • Prepare: Use applesauce directly from the can or jar.
    • Homemade: If you want to make your own applesauce – stovetop, slow cooker, and microwave variations – find different recipes through Cooperative Extensions around the country. And see References below for links to slow cooker and microwave applesauce recipes.
    • Canning: Follow directions for making and canning applesauce at home from the National Center for Home Food Preservation.
    • Baking: To bake with applesauce, substitute half of the fat in your recipe for applesauce. For example, if you have 1 cup of butter or oil, use 1/2 cup of the fat and 1/2 cup applesauce.
  • Eat: Have applesauce as a fruit side dish, added in baking, and to savory dishes like pork.


Brownies (Serves 12)

Just a spoon and a pot is all that is needed to make this stovetop brownie recipe.

1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 (4-oz) single-serve cup or 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup cocoa powder
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup whole-wheat flour
1/4 tsp baking soda

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. In a medium pot over low heat, melt butter, applesauce, and cocoa. Stir until mixture is smooth. Remove from heat.
3. Add sugar and eggs. Mix well with a spoon.
4. Stir in flours and baking soda until just moistened.
5. Pour into a greased 8 x 8-inch pan and bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center is clean.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 130 calories, 5g fat, 40mg sodium, 21g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 3g protein

Coloring with Chili Powder Wed, 13 Sep 2017 09:00:00 +0000 I noticed a while back that my bottle of chili powder had an ingredient list. I never thought about chili powder being a blend of spices, but there it was for me to read. Many commercial blends of chili powder contain ground dry chiles, salt, garlic, and other spices like paprika, cumin, cayenne, oregano, etc.


Spices contain insignificant amounts of fat, carbohydrates, or protein for the small amounts we use in recipes, so they are not an appreciable source of calories.

With chili powder blends that have salt added, sodium is worth considering. The USDA's Nutrient Reference states 1 Tbsp of chili powder to have 230mg sodium. Even dividing this among a 4-serving recipes – around 58mg sodium – it is not a lot of sodium. However, look at your recipes to notice how much you use – in addition to added salt and other ingredients high in sodium.

  • Buy: Look for chili powder in sealed containers or bags.
  • Price: Store-brand and off-label brands tend to be cheaper than name-brand spices. If the taste and flavor in one brand does not appeal, try another brand.
  • Store: Chili powder – and other spices – are best stored in dark, dry, and cool places in sealable jars or bottles. Spices in bags will retain quality better if moved into a sealable container. Check each year that chili powder still has a strong smell. If not, it is time to throw out.
  • Prepare: Chili powder is already prepared and ready to use. If you want to make your own, try the recipe in this post, or find another you prefer.
  • Eat: In dishes you want to add a lightly spicy and warm flavor, chili powder is a good choice. Chili powder is common in savory dishes, but you may also find it in sweet recipes like brownies.


There is no single chili powder recipe. Try this one, adjust as desired, and make the blend your own!

Chili Powder Blend (makes 1/4 cup)

Experiment with drying or blending hot (spicy) chiles into powder. Ancho (dried poblano peppers), chipotle chiles (dried jalapeño peppers), and dried arbol chili peppers are common in chili powder blends.

2 Tbsp ground chiles (try a mix of dried ground chiles like ancho, chipotle, arbol, etc.)
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1. In a small bowl, mix all spices and herbs together. Move into a sealable container, store at room temperature in a dark, dry area. Use within 6 months.

Tummies Full of Peaches Wed, 16 Aug 2017 09:00:00 +0000 Nutrition

One medium peach contains around 60 calories, 15g carbohydrates, and 2g fiber, and contains vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, folate, and potassium. Peaches contain very little fat, sodium, and protein.

  • Buy: Look for fresh peaches that are firm and round. Avoid peaches with wrinkled or soft spots, which indicates over-ripeness.

For canned and plastic-packed cups of peaches, look for those canned in 100% juice rather than syrup. Note that "lite" peaches may have alternative sweeteners added, if that is a concern for you.

For frozen peaches, buy those without added sugar.

  • Price: According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, fresh peaches average about $1.60 per pound. Around 3 medium peaches will equal a pound, so each peach would be around $0.50.
  • Store: Store fresh peaches at room temperature. When peaches give gently to pressure, eat them soon or refrigerate for a few days.
  • Prepare: Wash peaches before eating. Remember there is a pit inside each peach. Some peaches twist off of their pits easily ("freestone"), while others tend to cling to the pit ("clingstone"). Cut around the pit on clingstone peaches as best you can.

As peaches ripen, their skin may start to wrinkle. This is not a problem of safety, but rather of quality. If it is bothersome, peel the skin off. For peaches that are mealy when ripened, try in a smoothie or muffin recipe. For peaches that never seem to ripen, try cooking in a dish like cobbler.  Or try your hand at home canning of peach halves, with instructions from the National Center for Home Food Preservation.

  • Eat: Enjoy peaches raw as a snack, pureed into dishes like smoothies, on salads, and in hot and cold desserts.


This recipe is a great mix of most food groups, and is a quick meal. For more about MyPlate, visit

MyPlate Summer Bowl (Serves 1)

Such a quick meal for a hot summer day.

1/4 cup quinoa (or other small grain like rice, couscous, etc.)
4 oz can lower-sodium cubed chicken or tuna, drained
1 fresh peach, cubed
1 cup salad greens (spinach, spring mix, etc.)
1 tsp balsamic vinegar or lemon juice
1 Tbsp chopped walnuts

1. Cook quinoa or grain according to package directions. Drain any remaining liquid.
2. To a bowl, add cooked quinoa, chicken, peach, and salad greens.
3. Sprinkle with vinegar or lemon juice, and top with walnuts.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 420 calories, 13g fat, 300mg sodium, 45g carbohydrate, 6g fiber, 33g protein