Healthy Eats and Repeat Highlighting Food, Recipes, and Ideas for a Healthy Lifestyle Sun, 15 May 2005 13:02:08 -0500 Silken Tofu Sun, 17 Mar 2019 09:00:00 +0000 For all the soybeans grown in Illinois, the Illinois Soybean Association notes, "Animal ag is the No. 1 customer for soybeans. Of the soybean meal fed in Illinois, pigs consume 74%, poultry 13%, and beef and dairy cattle 12%."

Soy foods, like tofu, soy nuts, and edamame, are also uses for soybeans. Simply, tofu is coagulated soy milk, similar to how dairy milk is coagulated to make cheese. America's Test Kitchen has a short video showing how to make tofu.

For this blog, I want to focus on silken tofu, a custard-like, soft tofu that works well in recipes from smoothies to creamy soups to custard-like foods, including cheesecake and mousse.


A half cup (of half-inch cubes) of silken tofu contains around 75 calories, 9g protein, 5g fat, 2g carbohydrates, and <1g fiber. Tofu contain vitamins and minerals, including folate, vitamin K, calcium, and magnesium. Calcium-based salts are often part of the process of coagulating soy milk into a solid mass of tofu, making tofu a source of calcium. Tofu is not a significant source of sodium.

  • Buy: Silken tofu is likely available packed in water in a refrigerator case. Your store might also carry shelf-stable tofu.
  • Price: Price will vary by brand and store. If multiple brands are available, pick one that fits your tastes and budget.
  • Store: Store unopened silken tofu in the refrigerator. Once opened, drain water and use tofu in your recipe. For any unused tofu, add to a container with fresh water, cover, and refrigerate. Remember to change the water every day, for up to 5 days.
  • Prepare: Silken tofu can be used directly out of the package.
  • Baking Substitution: In baked goods, try 1/4 cup of silken tofu (pureed smooth) in place of 1 egg.
  • Eat: Silken tofu has many recipe options. Try the strawberry-banana smoothie recipe at the end of this post. Try it in Creamy Pumpkin Curry Soup from NDSU Extension or in this Instant Chocolate Mousse recipe from University of Illinois Extension.


Strawberry-Banana Smoothie (Serves 1)

1/2 cup sliced strawberries (fresh or frozen) (approx. 5 strawberries)
Half a peeled banana, sliced (approx. 5 banana coins)
One quarter (of a 14- to 16-ounce container) of plain, silken tofu

1. Add strawberries, bananas, and tofu to a blender. Blend 1-2 minutes, or until mixture is smooth.

Note: For a thinner smoothie, add up to 1/4 cup of soy milk or dairy milk.

Nutrition Information per serving (calculated without adding milk): 130 calories, 4 total fat, (4g unsaturated fat), 0mg sodium, 21g carbohydrates, 3g dietary fiber, 7g protein

Blog Special: Facebook LIVE on Heart Health Wed, 13 Mar 2019 09:00:00 +0000 Facebook LIVE. Part 3 will talk about heart health. If you miss the live event, watch the recording, and check back on this blog post for updates from viewer questions.
There are 2 main discussions about food and heart health: fat and sodium.

Tip 1: Reduce sodium. There are so many lower-sodium products available now. You have to keep your eye out.

The American Heart Association lists its top 3 high-sodium foods as:

  1. Breads and rolls. Yeast breads are not salty tasting necessarily, but sodium is needed to make these foods.
  2. Second is pizza. Pizza has a bread-based crust, along with cheese, which is a high sodium food. Plus, if you like cured meats, like ham or pepperoni, this adds sodium too.
  3. Number three on the list is sandwiches. We are back to bread again on a sandwich. Plus the filling of a sandwich, which might be cured deli meat, cheese, or condiments like mustard and mayo.

Tip 2: Choose healthier fats. Research shows that some fats help reduce blood cholesterol, making those fats more heart-healthy. These types of fats are called "unsaturated" fats. Generally, they are liquid at room temperature. These would include liquid oils. In foods, we find unsaturated or "liquid" fats in foods like fatty fish like salmon, avocado, and nuts and seeds and nut butters. Tell us some of your favorite ways to eat unsaturated fats in the comments.

To learn more about National Nutrition Month, hosted by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics,

Blog Special: Facebook LIVE on Meal Makeovers Wed, 06 Mar 2019 10:00:00 +0000 It's March! And it's National Nutrition Month!  To celebrate, join us at noon CST for mini discussions throughout the month on Facebook LIVE. Part 2 will talk about using the MyPlate as a meal planning model and 4 ways to make your meals healthier.  If you miss the live event, watch the recording, and check back on this blog post for updates from viewer questions.

Tips for Meal Makeovers
  • Tip 1: Mix up food groups at meals and snacks. Try to eat 3-5 food groups at meals, and if you eat snacks, pick from 1-2 food groups. Remember to mix those up throughout the day. If you do not have a fruit at your morning meal, eat a fruit as a snack or at a meal later in the day.
  • Tip 2: Eat all forms of fruits and veggies. This includes fresh, canned, frozen, and dried. Fresh is great when it is in season. Canned and frozen are budget-friendly, and since they are packed close to the field where they are picked, retain their vitamins and minerals. Dried is a great travel food. Tell us in the comments what canned, frozen, or dried foods you like to keep in your kitchen!
  • Tip 3: Swap in whole-grains at least 50% of the time. Whole grains add more fiber than their refined grain counterparts do. Try brown rice instead of white rice. Quinoa and oatmeal are already whole-grains. Look for the words "whole grain" on mixed products, like breads and crackers.
  • Tip 4: Mix in plant-based proteins sometimes. Plate-based proteins include foods like nuts and seed, soy products like tofu, and beans. Plant-based proteins often have less fat than animal proteins. They also add extra fiber to your day. You might try peanut butter on your toast sometimes, instead of cream cheese. Or make a soup recipe that has both animal and plant proteins, like white chicken chili.

To learn more about National Nutrition Month, hosted by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics,

Blog Special: Facebook LIVE on Reducing Food Waste Fri, 01 Mar 2019 09:00:00 +0000 It's March! And it's National Nutrition Month!  To celebrate, join us at noon CST for mini discussions throughout the month on Facebook LIVE.  Part 1 will talk about an emerging area of nutrition: food waste.  The USDA estimates Americans waste between 30%-40% of food.
If you miss the live event, watch the recording, and check back on this blog post for updates from viewer questions.

Tips to Reduce Food Waste
  1. Chop and freeze extra veggies. Celery is one of those veggies I buy and never use all of it. I like cutting up all the stalks and moving into freezer bags. This way I have chopped celery to cook in recipes. I like this for onions too. Some veggies need to be blanched and cooled before freezing. For more on which veggies benefit, visit the National Center for Home Food Preservation.
  2. Review food package dates. Most food package dates are about quality, meaning how long the food stays at its best flavor and freshness. "Best by" or "Best used by" are examples of quality. So you can eat those foods for a brief time after that date passes.  If you notice off smells or tastes or mold, toss those foods out.
  3. Pre-cut veggies and store unwashed. I like pre-cutting unwashed veggies and storing in closed containers in my refrigerator. I find keeping some veggies in their original packaging leads to soft spots or mold. But moving them - unwashed - into containers adds to their shelf-life. And since they are pre-cut, I can cook them even faster. Cauliflower and asparagus are ones I find hold up well.
  4. Compost scraps or freeze for broth or stock. Vegetable scraps, like onion skins or carrot peels, can be saved for making broth or stock. Put in a bag and freeze, adding to it as needed. Or look at composting.  We'll have some great tips on the LIVE stream.

Have questions or comments?  Leave them below!

To learn more about National Nutrition Month, hosted by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics,

Pomegranate Party! Wed, 13 Feb 2019 09:00:00 +0000 Pomegranates are simple looking on the outside, and offer an unexpected surprise inside. If you have never opened one, I encourage you to take a look.


A half cup of pomegranate arils – the seed and juice sacs – contains around 70 calories, 16g carbohydrates, 3g fiber, and 1g each of fat and protein. They also contain vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, folate, and vitamin K. Pomegranate is not a significant source of sodium.

  • Buy: Your store might have whole pomegranates, containers of arils, or juice.
    • Look for whole pomegranates that are firm to the touch, and do not have mold or soft spots.
    • If you buy the arils pre-packaged, check the use-by or best-by date before purchasing.
    • For pomegranate juice, look for 100% juice rather than fruit juice cocktail or juice drinks. Some varieties may be a blend of pomegranate and other juices; still look for 100% juice.
  • Price: Price will vary by season and the form of pomegranate you buy. Choose a style that fits your budget.
  • Store:
    • Store whole pomegranates at either room temperature or in the refrigerator. Once peeled, put the arils in a container with a lid and refrigerate.  Eat within 7 days.
    • If buying arils already separated from the pomegranate, keep those refrigerated too.
    • If juice is already refrigerated, keep it refrigerated. For shelf-stable bottles of juice, refrigerate once the bottle is opened.
  • Prepare: Watch our video on peeling apart a pomegranate. It's easier than you might think.
  • Eat: Pomegranate arils are great on their own. Yes, you can eat the seed; it's crunchy.  Also try them added to a salad, pureed in the smoothie, or included in fruit salsa!


Orange and Pomegranate Salad (Serves 8)

This is such a simple salad with lots of flavors and textures.

1 medium orange
1/4 cup pomegranate arils
5-oz container spring greens, or other lettuce

1. Wash orange. Peel and divide into segments. If desired, cut segments in half.
2. To a large plate or bowl, add lettuce. Top with orange slices and pomegranate arils.
3. Serve with desired dressing.

Nutrition Information per serving (without dressing): 15 calories, 0 total fat, (0g unsaturated fat), 15mg sodium, 4g carbohydrates, 1g dietary fiber, 1g protein

Blog Special: Food Science and Avocados Mon, 21 Jan 2019 09:00:00 +0000 For a refresher about the nutritional value of avocado, ways to store it, and more, check out this past post, Hidden Inside:  An Avocado.

Back in my college classes, we students had opportunities to be food scientists and modify recipes.  Since we were also nutrition and dietetic students, we were told to focus these modifications on ways to add nutrition, such as adding fiber, or improve the nutritional profile, such as lower sodium.

Have you heard about replacing half of the fat in your cake recipe with applesauce before?  That's one popular example of food science in action.  And it lowers the amount of fat in the recipe, without significantly changing the taste, texture, or quality of the cake.  That's the goal - change it, but make sure anyone eating it does not notice the change.

Another modification for baking is using avocado!  The California Avocado Commission states that mashed avocado can replace butter or shortening in baked goods cup for cup.  So 1 cup of butter can be replaced with 1 cup of mashed avocado.

So, getting into food scientist-mode, I decided to replace the butter from my go-to brownie recipe with avocado.  To see the original brownie recipe, go to the Applesauce:  Make It, Bake It, Eat It post.

While the recipe is below, I think you want to know how it tasted or smelled or looked before you make it!
  • Taste: To me, it tasted just like a yummy, chocolate brownie.  So gooey!
  • Smell: During baking, the brownie batter did smell like hot avocado.  (Go figure!)  It was an unusual smell, but not a bad one.  Once the brownies cooled, I did not notice that smell anymore; just chocolate.
  • Look: There are many brownie recipes that all look a little different.  This is no exception.  The original recipe has a drier, almost crackly top.  The modified recipe had a wetter-looking surface.
  • Nutrition: Since both avocado and butter are fat, the nutritional value of the recipe did not change much.  So why would I replace butter with avocado?  Avocados have mostly unsaturated or "liquid" fats, compared to butter that has saturated or "solid" fats.  Eating a diet with more unsaturated fats benefits heart health, such as improving blood cholesterol numbers.
Avocado Brownies (Serves 12)

1 medium avocado
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. Wash avocado.  Run a knife around the pit, twist each side in opposite directions until they separate.  Remove pit carefully.  Scoop out avocado flesh into a medium bowl.  Mash with a fork, potato masher, or food processor until smooth.
3. Stir in applesauce, cocoa powder, sugar, and eggs.  Mix until smooth.
4. Stir in flours and baking soda until just moistened.
5. Pour into a greased 8 x 8-inch pan and bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center is clean.  (Toothpick may have a few chocolaty crumbs sticking to it, but is still cooked.)

Nutritional analysis per serving: 120 calories, 4g fat (1g saturated fat), 40mg sodium, 22g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 3g protein

Original recipe | Nutritional analysis per serving: 130 calories, 5g fat (3g saturated fat), 40mg sodium, 21g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 3g protein

Shake On the Spice: Red Pepper Flakes Wed, 16 Jan 2019 09:00:00 +0000 Any fans of spicy foods? January 16 is National Hot and Spicy Food Day.

Red pepper flakes – or crushed red pepper – are a great way to add spice and heat to recipes. Red pepper flakes are dried hot peppers that are crushed into small pieces and served along with the seeds.


Red pepper flakes are very spicy, so the amount typically eaten is small. There are not significant calories, carbohydrates, fat, protein, or vitamins or minerals in a few shakes of red pepper flakes.

  • Buy: Many brands of red pepper flakes come in small plastic or glass jars in the spice aisle of your store, and may also be available in bulk sizes. Like other spices, look for containers with a "use by" date as far off as possible.
  • Do-It-Yourself: We made our own red pepper flakes! Read our sister blog – Know How, Know More – to see how we did it - and how you can too!
  • Price: Price will vary by brand and package size. Choose a style that fits your budget.
  • Store: Store spices, including red pepper flakes, in dark, cool areas to maintain better quality. While dried spices do not spoil, they do lose flavor and potency over time. Smell spices every 6 months, and throw out those that lack their signature aroma.
  • Prepare: Other than measuring what you want for your recipe, red pepper flakes are ready to use!
  • Eat: Pizza is a popular use of red pepper flakes. Try them in soups, marinades, vegetable side dishes, and other savory recipes.


Slow Cooker Sausage and Barley Gumbo (Serves 4)

While not a classic gumbo, starch in the barley creates a thick sauce!

12-ounces sweet or mild fresh pork sausage
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
3 medium stalks celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
8-ounces no-salt-added tomato sauce
8-ounces fat-free, reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup uncooked pearl barley
1 tsp dried oregano or Italian spice
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

1. In a skillet, crumble and cook sausage until brown. Drain fat.
2. Add cooked sausage and remaining ingredients to a 3- or 4-quart slow cooker. Stir to combine. If mixture looks dry, add 1/4 cup of water or broth.
3. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Nutrition Information per serving: 320 calories, 20 total fat, (14g unsaturated fat), 740mg sodium, 20g carbohydrates, 4g dietary fiber, 17g protein

Recipe adapted from: Diabetes Self Management