Healthy Eats and Repeat Highlighting Food, Recipes, and Ideas for a Healthy Lifestyle Sun, 15 May 2005 13:02:08 -0500 Summer Sauces: BBQ Wed, 09 May 2018 09:00:00 +0000 It's nearly summer! The weather is better for cooking outside. What is your preferred seasoning for the grill: rubs, marinades, or sauces? Today, I want to explore barbecue (BBQ) sauces.


There are so many variations of BBQ sauce, which means the nutrition information will vary by brand and recipe. For this example, I used the standard reference BBQ sauce from the National Nutrient Database from the USDA.

Two tablespoons of BBQ sauce have around 60 calories, 14g carbohydrates, and 350mg sodium. BBQ sauce is not a significant source of fiber, fat, or protein, and contains only small amounts of different vitamins and minerals.

  • Buy: Sodium and added sugar are often high in commercial BBQ sauces. When buying, see if reduced-sodium bottles are available. If not, compare between bottles to find one with the least sodium. There are sugar-free BBQ sauces, many of which contain a sugar substitute. Reading the ingredient list will help you know which one.

  • Price: BBQ sauce prices will vary by brand and size of bottle. Choose a brand that fits your budget and personal tastes.
  • Store: Store unopened bottles of BBQ sauce at room temperature in a dark, cool place. Unopened bottles can also be stored in the refrigerator. Once opened, store the bottle in the refrigerator and use for up to 9 months. The brand of sauce may have a recommended shelf-life date on the package you can follow.
  • Prepare: Commercial BBQ sauces can be used from the bottle without other preparation. To make and can your own BBQ sauce, use instructions from the National Center for Home Food Preservation: Barbeque Sauce.
  • Eat: From your grill to sandwiches to appetizers, BBQ sauce pairs well with a number of savory recipes!
Low-Sodium BBQ Sauce (Makes 1-1/2 cups, Serves 12)

Looking for a barbeque sauce without all the sodium? It may taste different what the higher-sodium varieties, but give your taste buds time to adjust.

1/2 cup no-added salt ketchup
1/2 cup no-added salt tomato sauce
3 Tbsp brown sugar
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup molasses
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon dried mustard
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

1. Mix all ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Refrigerate any sauce not being immediately used.

Nutrition Facts per 2 Tbsp serving: 60 calories, 0g fat, 10mg sodium, 14g carbohydrate, 0g fiber, 0g protein

Source: Food and Nutrition Services at Memorial Medical Center, Springfield, 2015


Classic Food: Tomato Juice Wed, 11 Apr 2018 00:00:00 +0000 Do you enjoy drinking your vegetables? And no, I am not referring to green smoothies. Today's post is on tomato juice. Let's save green smoothies and vegetable juice – a blend of veggies – for another day.


An 8-oz cup of tomato juice has around 40 calories, 9g carbohydrates, 1g fiber, 2g protein, and a variety of vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A and C and potassium. Tomato juice is not a significant source of fat.

A raw tomato contains some sodium. So even unsalted tomato juice has some sodium, around 25mg sodium per 8-oz cup. An 8-oz cup of commercially-made tomato juice with salt as an ingredient has around 600mg sodium. Sodium does not add calories to a food, so the calories in the juice will be the same.

  • Buy: Choose reduced-sodium or low-sodium tomato juice to limit added sodium in the diet.

Tomato juice is usually available in a shelf-stable bottle. Look for bottles with a "use by" date as far out as possible. "Use by" dates are a measure of quality. If the store has a sale on tomato juice bottles close to the "use by" date, still consider buying it. Once the "use by" date passes, the juice may not taste as fresh as before the date, but should still be safe to drink as long as the bottle is otherwise sealed and was not damaged or held unsafely.

  • Price: Tomato juice prices will vary by brand, size of bottle, and any additional ingredients, such as in spicy or hot styles of tomato juice. Choose a brand that fits your budget and personal tastes.
  • Store: Store unopened bottles of tomato juice at room temperature in a dark, cool place. Unopened bottles can also be stored in the refrigerator.

Once opened, store the bottle in the refrigerator and use within 1 week. The brand of tomato juice may have a recommended shelf-life date on the package you can follow.

To freeze tomato juice, pour juice into plastic freezer containers and leave a half inch to a full inch of headspace; juice will expand as it freezes. Use within a few days of being defrosted.

  • Prepare: Commercial tomato juice can be used from the bottle without other preparation.  To make your own tomato juice, the National Center for Home Food Preservation has instructions:  Canning Tomato Juice and Freezing Tomato Juice.
  • Eat: From drinking a glass to cooking with tomato juice, enjoy a versatile food!


Slow Cooker Chili (Serves 4)

Consider cutting up the veggies, draining the beans, and browning the meat the night before to speed up assembly in the morning.  Store them in separate containers in the refrigerator.

1 lb 93% lean ground turkey
16 oz tomato juice (low-sodium if available)
1 15-oz can red beans, rinsed and drained (low-sodium if available)
8-oz tap water
1 medium onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced (or 1/4 tsp garlic powder)
2 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano

1. In a skillet over medium heat, cook turkey until browned, breaking into small pieces. Drain fat from meat.
2. Add cooked turkey and remaining ingredients to a 3-quart or 4-quart slow cooker. Stir to combine. If chili looks dry, add more water just until mixture is covered.
3. Cover slow cooker with lid. Cook on LOW for 8-12 hours or on HIGH for 4-5 hours.

Nutritional analysis per serving (no sodium reduction): 320 calories, 4g fat, 710mg sodium, 29g carbohydrate, 7g fiber, 43g protein

Nutritional analysis per serving (with low-sodium ingredients): 290 calories, 4g fat, 380mg sodium, 24g carbohydrate, 7g fiber, 40g protein]]>
Rarin' for a Raisin Wed, 14 Mar 2018 09:00:00 +0000 Ants on a log. Carrot-raisin salad. Oatmeal-raisin cookies. Trail mix. Do you have a couple ways you like to eat raisins?

In a simple breakdown, the majority of both golden raisins and dark raisins start as green or yellow varieties of grapes.

  • Golden raisins stay light in color due to added sulfur dioxide that prevents browning.
  • Dark raisins brown during the dehydration process.
  • Zante currants are raisins made from a variety of small, dark-skinned grape. They are different from currants. Read more about currants from University of Minnesota Extension.


A quarter cup of raisins has around 120 calories, 30g carbohydrates, 4g fiber, 1g protein, and a variety of vitamins and minerals, including B vitamins, potassium, and magnesium. Raisins are not a significant source of fat or sodium.

  • Buy: Fresh raisins should be plump and moist. If you shake a container and hear the raisins rattling around, they may be dried out even more than typical. They are still safe to eat, but the extra dry raisins may not be as enjoyable to eat.

Flavored raisins - like chocolate- or yogurt-covered - have added sugar and fat due to the coating.  Choosing plain raisins is a healthier choice than coated varieties.

In shopping for foods you might see raisin juice concentrate or raisin paste on the ingredient list. These raisin products are used commonly in baked goods to reduce fat in the product, add sweetness and color, retain moisture, and enhance flavors.

  • Price: According to Fruit and Vegetable Prices from the USDA, raisins average $3.50 per pound, or $0.58 per cup. These are a very affordable way to add fruit to the diet.
  • Store: Raisins can be stored at room temperature in a cool, dry area. Store in a sealed container or bag to limit air that can cause extra drying. Refrigerating or even freezing can help extend the shelf life for longer.
  • Prepare: Raisins can be eaten straight from their container. In baked recipes – like bread or muffins – rehydrating raisins before adding to the batter can keep raisins moist for longer. To do this, put raisins and a small amount of hot water in a bowl. Wait 5-10 minutes and drain off any extra water.
  • Eat: Raisins pair well with sweet and savory dishes. Try a new raisin recipe this month!


Raisin Power Poppers

Raisin Power Poppers (Serves 40)

Try this recipe from North Dakota State University Extension Service.

2 c. old-fashioned oats
1 c. creamy peanut butter (or another sunflower or other nut butter)
½ c. honey
¼ tsp. vanilla extract
¾ c. raisins (chopped in half or thirds)
¼ c. chia seeds (can substitute ground flaxseed)
1. Mix all ingredients in a medium- to large-size mixing bowl. Chill ingredients in refrigerator for one hour.
2. Roll into tight balls (a little smaller than a golf ball, about a tablespoon in size).
3. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator up to seven days.

Nutritional analysis per 1 popper: 90 calories, 4g fat, 50mg sodium, 11g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 3g protein

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