Healthy Eats and Repeat Highlighting Food, Recipes, and Ideas for a Healthy Lifestyle Sun, 15 May 2005 13:02:08 -0500 Acorn (Squash) Are Not for Squirrels Wed, 17 Oct 2018 09:00:00 +0000 Know How, Know More" for recipes and information about the journey. Winter squash arrived in the last half of the CSA season, and we made some yummy recipes, including the one below.


Acorn squash are typically small, and if winter squash is new to you, they are a great one to try first. Plus they are packed with a variety of nutrients.

  • Buy: Choose whole acorn squashes that are firm and heavy for their size. Soft spots and bruising are signs that the squash may be starting to decay.
  • Price: Price is typically based on dollars per pound. So smaller squash will cost less.
  • Store: Store uncut squash at room temperature. Once cut and cooked, any leftover squash will need to be refrigerated or frozen.  Read instructions from the National Center for Home Food Preservation on how to freeze and can winter squash.
  • Prepare: There are many options for cooking squash, from microwaving to baking to pressure cooking and more. Watch our short Cooking with Winter Squash video to see some of these options in action. As most winter squashes have hard outer rinds, be careful when cutting with your knife.
  • Eat: Acorn squash is a mild tasting squash. Some ideas for using acorn squash include pureed soups, roasted squash, and baked goods. Don't forget to try roasting the seeds.


Acorn Squash and Apple Muffins (makes 12 muffins)

1 cup acorn squash puree
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup apple cider
1/4 cup oil
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
2 Tbsp brown sugar
2 large eggs
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease a 12-cup muffin tin.
2. Combine acorn squash puree, applesauce, apple cider, oil, sugars, and eggs in a large bowl until smooth.
3. Add flours, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg to a medium bowl. Stir to combine. Add to squash mixture, and stir just until ingredients are moistened. Lumps in batter are expected.
4. Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin tin. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
5. Cool for 10 minutes. Remove muffins to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Baked Acorn Squash Puree. Heat oven to 400°F. Wash one medium acorn squash. Cut in half, and scoop out seeds. Place on a baking sheet lined with foil, placing squash halves cut side down. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes or until a knife slides easily into squash. Let cool until easy to handle. Scoop out flesh. Puree in a food processor, or mash in a bowl with a fork or potato masher until smooth. Measure out 1 cup of puree.

Nutrition Information per 1 muffin: 140 calories, 6g total fat, (5g unsaturated fat), 85mg sodium, 19g carbohydrates, 2g dietary fiber, 3g protein

Vegetable Chips: More than Potatoes Wed, 12 Sep 2018 09:00:00 +0000 From grapes and cheese cubes to carrot sticks and dip, fruits and vegetables make for great snacks. Vegetable chips - dehydrated, blends, and potato – are popular. Let's look at how their nutrition stacks up.


There are so many brands of vegetable chips. To see the specifics for the brand you buy, be sure to read the nutrition label.

  • Types:
    • Dehydrated Chips: Beet chips and kale chips are examples of dehydrated chips. These veggies are sliced thin, if needed, and dehydrated to remove water. Commercial brands may sell them plain, salted, or with added flavors. The plain varieties are low in calories and sodium. Salted varieties, of course, have higher sodium. Flavored varieties may add sodium too.
      Veggie-Blend Chips: When I say chips, you might think round. There are also brands that make other shapes. These chips are usually a blend of dehydrated potatoes and/or potato starch and dehydrated veggies. Because of other ingredients, like oil, salt, and sugar, the fat, sodium, and carbohydrates are often high in these brands.
      Potato Chips: Beyond classic potato chips, sweet potato chips are gaining popularity. One benefit is sweet potato chips are often made from the whole potato. They are, however, often still fried like regular potato chips and thus are a higher calorie and higher fat snack.
  • Buy: Choose dehydrated chips more often than the veggie-blend chips or regular potato chips.
  • Price: Price will vary by type of chip and brand. Choose a style that fits in your budget, and that you and your family enjoy.
  • Store: Unless the package says differently, all types of veggie chips can be stored at room temperature.
  • Prepare: There is no need to prepare chips. Open the bag, pour out what you want, and eat. I say pour into a bag so you are aware of how much you are eating.
  • Eat: Chips are good plain. Or pair them with another foods for a bigger snack. Maybe beet chips and spiced yogurt or hummus. Or kale chips with ranch dressing.


Kale Chips (3-4 cups of chips)

1 large bunch fresh kale
1/4 cup olive oil
Optional seasonings: Salt and pepper, garlic powder and/or red pepper flakes

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Rinse kale and pat dry with a paper towel. Remove the stalks from the kale and discard. Tear the leaves slightly larger than chip-size pieces (they will shrink).
2. Place the kale into a bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Add the seasonings and toss to coat evenly.
3. Arrange the leaves on an aluminum foil lined baking sheet and place in oven for 10 to 15 minutes or until crisp. Remove immediately and place on paper towels to absorb excess oil. Cool slightly and serve.

Nutrition Information per 1/2 cup serving: 70 calories, 7g total fat, (1g unsaturated fat), 120mg sodium, 2g carbohydrates, 1g dietary fiber, 1g protein

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

Eggplant: Add it to Your Next Recipe Wed, 15 Aug 2018 09:00:00 +0000 Our sister blog "Know How, Know More" has been sharing stories of our CSA adventure this summer. CSA stands for "community supported agriculture," and we are having fun making recipes from our weekly box of local foods. We had some unusual foods, as well as found some fun ways to cook with familiar foods. Recently, we had eggplant in our box.


One cup of cubed eggplant contains around 20 calories, 5g carbohydrates, 3g fiber, and contains vitamins and minerals including vitamin K, folate, magnesium, and potassium. Eggplant is not a significant source of fat, protein, or sodium.

  • Types: The standard oval-shaped eggplant probably comes to mind. There are also smaller, thin Japanese eggplants, and even specialty eggplants in different colors and patterns.  For pictures of different types of eggplants, click on Conventional and Specialty Eggplant Varieties in Florida from University of Florida Extension.
  • Buy: Look for eggplants with a bright, smooth skin that are firm and heavy. Avoid those that are soft or mushy. Small eggplants will be more tender than larger ones.
  • Price: Price will vary by type of eggplant and size. Choose the amount you need for your recipe and that fits in your budget.
  • Store: Eggplant will last longer when stored in the refrigerator, unwashed and uncut.  While canning eggplant is not recommended, freezing and drying are options.  Read more about freezing and dehydration of eggplant from the National Center for Home Food Preservation.
  • Prepare: Wash eggplant and cut off the top and bottom ends. Both the skin and inside flesh are edible, although the skin on larger eggplants may be tough.
  • Eat: Eggplant has a mild flavor, and pairs well with many savory dishes. Eggplant is a great way to add extra vegetables without changing the flavor of a dish, such as soups, stews, or roasted vegetables like the Ratatouille recipe below.


Roasted Ratatouille (Serves 6)

There are several serving ideas for this recipe: as a side dish to meat, mix with beans for a protein-packed vegan option, served over pasta or quinoa. Try them all!

1 medium zucchini
1 medium eggplant
1 small onion
1 small bell pepper (any color)
4 mushrooms
1 large tomato (or 1 cup grape tomatoes)
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp oil
1 tsp each dried basil, thyme, rosemary
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Wash and dice all vegetables, except garlic, into 1/2-inch cubes.
2. In a large bowl, combine vegetables, oil, herbs, and black pepper. Spread into a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake for 45 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

Nutrition Information per serving: 110 calories, 7g total fat, (6g unsaturated fat), 5mg sodium, 10g carbohydrates, 0g added sugar, 4g dietary fiber, 2g protein

Blog Special: Honey Fri, 03 Aug 2018 09:00:00 +0000 Our office has a beehive! With our first harvest, we celebrated with recipes using our local honey!


A tablespoon of honey has around 65 calories and 17g carbohydrates. Honey is not a significant source of fat, protein, fiber, or sodium, and contains only very small amounts of some vitamins and minerals.

  • Buy: Depending on your store, both local and national brands of honey may be available. Buying honey that lists an apiary in your state or a city near you is a great way to support local agriculture.

  • Price: Price will vary by brand, type and form of honey, and the amount you buy. For more on types of honey, keep reading.
  • Store: Store honey at room temperature in a dark, cool place and cover with a lid. While honey stays safe to eat for a long time, for best quality, use within 2 years. Over time, honey will darken, lose flavor, and crystalize depending on storage, but it can still be safe to eat. Honey that has foam or smells like alcohol should be thrown out.
  • Prepare: Honey is ready to use right out of the container, although honey crystalizes over time. To melt crystals back into solution, add jar of honey to a container of warm water and stir until crystals dissolve.
  • Eat: Enjoy honey in baked goods, mixed into cereal, or other ways where you want a sweetener. Try the two recipes in this post, and watch the videos showing how to make each!

Types of Honey

Honey is available in a number of forms.

  • Comb Honey: honey inside the comb
  • Cut Comb Honey: liquid honey with chunks of the comb (also called liquid-cut comb combination)
  • Naturally Crystallized Honey: honey where part of the glucose sugars have been spontaneously crystallized
  • Whipped or Crèmed Honey: purposely crystalized honey that spreads like butter
  • Raw Honey: while not legally defined, the National Honey Board writes that "honey as it exists in the beehive or as obtained by extraction, settling or straining without adding heat" defines "raw" honey
  • Extracted or Filtered Honey: honey has been filtered to remove particles, pollen, and air bubbles. The filtering process keeps honey liquid for longer.

Eating, Baking, and Cooking

  • When adding honey as a sweetener – such as for tea, oatmeal, stir-fry sauce, or other foods – honey can easily replace granulated sugar in a 1:1 ratio.
  • To replace granulated sugar with honey in baked goods, make four modifications:
    • Use 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup of honey for 1 cup of sugar
    • Add 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda for each cup of honey used
    • Reduce liquid in the recipe by 1/4 cup for each cup of honey used
    • Reduce oven temperature by 25°F
  • For home canned goods with sugar, like jams and jellies, honey cannot be substituted for sugar. Instead, find tested recipes specifically developed for honey.


Do not feed honey to infants under 1 year old or feed them honey-based or honey-added foods, such as honey graham crackers. Clostridium botulinum is a bacterium common in soil that may contaminate honey. Healthy adults and kids have mature digestive tracks to prevent growth of this bacteria if found in honey, but infants do not and they may get sick.

Healthy Honey?

When comparing its nutritional makeup, honey is actually similar to other sweeteners. Download this infographic to compare.

Honey and other sweeteners, like granulated sugar or corn syrup, are considered added sugars. That is, they have calories and carbohydrates and essentially no other nutrients, like vitamins or minerals. When eating a generally healthy diet, even with a small amount of added sugar, a person still gets healthful nutrients to maintain and/or improve their body's health. But when a large amount of our daily food choices come from added sugars, we are missing out on many important nutrients.

The average American spends around 14% of their daily calories in added sugar. For someone who eats 1,500 calories per day, that is more than 200 calories in added sugar. Foods with added sugar can have a place in the diet, and the American Heart Association recommends no more than 9 teaspoons (or 3 tablespoons or 36g) added sugar for men and no more than 6 teaspoons (or 2 tablespoons or 25g) for women per day.

With new FDA legislation, added sugar is now being added to nutrition facts labels. Have you noticed it on labels yet? If not, take a look! And look at the added sugar amounts in the recipes in this post.


Honey Sesame Chicken (serves 6)

Try this over cooked brown rice or quinoa.

2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cubed into 1" pieces
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup less-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
1 Tbsp sesame or vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
6 cups of cut broccoli florets and stems
1/2 cup cold water
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 Tbsp sesame seeds, optional
1/2 cup green onions, optional
1. Add chicken to the bottom of the slow cooker.
2. In a bowl, mix honey, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, sesame oil, and garlic. Pour over chicken pieces, and gently stir until chicken is covered with sauce.
3. Cook on low setting for 4 hours.
4. At hour 3, carefully remove lid. Spread broccoli florets and stems evenly over chicken, and replace lid. Continue cooking 1 more hour.
5. Mix cold water with cornstarch in a medium bowl or measuring cup until combined.
6. Carefully remove lid from slow cooker. Pour cornstarch mixture evenly over chicken and broccoli, and stir. Replace lid. Cook another 15 minutes. Sauce will thicken.
7. Garnish with sesame seeds and green onions, if desired.

Nutritional analysis per serving (with 1 tsp sesame seeds and 1 tsp green onion): 380 calories, 8g total fat, 1030mg sodium, 39g carbohydrates, 23g added sugar, 2g dietary fiber, 39g protein

Adapted from recipe by Susan Glassman, UI Extension

Gingered Carrot Zucchini Bars (serves 16)

Use up summer produce with this bar. Add additional flour as needed if the batter seems thin.

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 large eggs, beaten
1-1/2 cups shredded carrot
1 cup shredded zucchini
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup honey

1. Combine flours, baking powder, baking soda, and ginger in a large bowl.
2. In another bowl, combine eggs, carrot, zucchini, brown sugar, walnuts, if desired, oil, and honey.
3. Add carrot mixture to flour mixture. Stir just until moistened.
4. Spread into an ungreased 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan.
5. Bake at 350°F for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center is clean.

Nutritional analysis per serving (with nuts): 190 calories, 10g total fat, 70mg sodium, 24g carbohydrates, 13g added sugar, 1g dietary fiber, 3g protein

Nutritional analysis per serving (without nuts): 170 calories, 8g total fat, 65mg sodium, 23g carbohydrates, 1g dietary fiber, 2g protein

Mustard Seed to Plate Wed, 11 Jul 2018 09:00:00 +0000 If you missed the ketchup post, it should pair well with this post on mustard.

Mustard is considered an oilseed crop, which the USDA notes as "grains that are also valuable for the oil content they produce." The main seed varieties are yellow (or white), brown (or black), or oriental mustard. Yellow mustard seeds are commonly used in prepared mustards, like the condiment many of us use on sandwiches. Brown and oriental mustard seeds are spicier than yellow mustard seeds and often used to add spice and flavor in cooked dishes.


A single teaspoon of mustard seeds contains around 10 calories, with small amounts of protein, fat, and carbohydrates. That teaspoon also contains small amounts of vitamins and minerals, including folate, phosphorus, potassium, and magnesium.

  • Buy: There are many types of prepared mustards – from yellow to Dijon to hot mustard and more. Your recipe may also use ground mustard or even the seeds. A typical yellow mustard contains mustard seeds, vinegar, salt, and spices like turmeric. Sodium content in a prepared mustard can be high, so take a look at the label before you buy.
  • Price: Price will vary by brand and amount you buy. It will also vary by what you buy: prepared mustard, mustard seeds, or ground mustard.
  • Store: Store seeds and ground mustard at room temperature. Like other spices, once the aroma goes away, the seeds or ground mustard need to be replaced. Prepared mustard is best stored in the refrigerate, and should be used within a year.
  • Prepare: Prepared mustard, seeds, and ground mustard are ready to use out of their container.  Maybe even try making your own prepared mustard at home.
  • Eat: Mustard lends a nice flavor to savory recipes, like the marinated tomato recipe below.


Marinated Tomatoes (Makes 6 (1 cup) servings)

Red wine vinegar pairs nicely with this recipe, but whatever flavored vinegar you have on hand will work too.

6 medium tomatoes, sliced (or 2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
3 Tbsp vinegar
1/2 Tbsp oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp brown sugar
1/4 tsp mustard
Freshly ground black pepper

1. Wash, core, and slice tomatoes; arrange on serving platter.
2. Sprinkle tomatoes with chopped cilantro, using scissors.
3. Combine remaining ingredients except pepper in small jar and shake well. Pour over tomatoes. Cover and chill a few hours.
4. Season with pepper just before serving.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 60 calories, 2g fat, 15mg sodium, 9g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 2g protein

Source: I on Diabetes, University of Illinois Extension

Tea: Bake, Drink, Savor Wed, 13 Jun 2018 09:00:00 +0000 While my first taste of tea was so bitter, I enjoy that bitterness now. And now that the weather is warm, I am transitioning from my morning hot tea to refrigerating it for iced tea at night. There are many varieties of tea, and I will focus on dry tea leaves today, with a tasty muffin recipe.


Tea leaves soaked in hot water produce brewed tea. Without added flavors or sweeteners, brewed tea contains no calories, and thus no fat, protein, or carbohydrates. Brewed tea has very small amounts of some vitamins and minerals, including B vitamins and potassium. Depending on your water source, the tea may contain small amounts of minerals found in the water, such as sodium. Teas contain non-nutrient compounds, including antioxidants, that much research suggests benefits health.

  • Buy: Dry tea can be purchased as loose-leave tea or in bags. Instant tea is also available. To use loose-leave tea, purchase a reusable tea infuser.

  • Price: Price will vary by brand, type of tea, and amount you buy. Look for tea with a flavor you like and that fits your budget.
  • Store: Store dry tea at room temperature in a dark, cool place. Seal the container of tea well to keep air out; this will maintain its flavor longer.
  • Prepare: While most teas will steep in hot water for a few minutes, follow the directions on the box or container of tea. Longer steeping can lead to more bitter compounds in the tea, and result in a less-desirable flavor.
  • Drink: Enjoy hot or cold tea, and even cook with tea, like the Black Tea Chai Muffins in this post!


Research suggests an upper limit of 400mg caffeine per day for healthy adults is safe. Lower amounts and even no caffeine at all are recommended for pregnant women, youth under age 18, and those with some health conditions.

For a comparison of caffeine in tea, and a few other common drinks, view this infographic. Information comes from the National Nutrient Database from the USDA. Removing caffeine from tea still leaves a very small amount of caffeine, thus why decaffeinated tea in the infographic shows some caffeine.

Decaffeination Process

There are several ways to remove caffeine from tea. Very simple descriptions are described here.

  • Tea leaves are combined with heated and pressurized carbon dioxide (CO2). Carbon dioxide bonds to caffeine. When CO2 is removed, it takes caffeine with it.
  • Water processing can also be used to remove caffeine in tea. Tea is soaked in hot water, and the brew is run through a carbon filter to remove caffeine.
  • Tea leaves can be soaked in methylene chloride, which bonds to caffeine. Some resources note safety concerns in using methylene chloride.
  • Ethyl acetate is used in the same process as methylene chloride to remove caffeine. The tea may have an undesirable taste in this method.

Types of Common Teas

Tea comes from leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. Variations in tea come from processing. Very simple explanations are described here.

  • White tea comes from immature leaves that are heated and dried.
  • Green tea are mature leaves that are heated and dried.
  • Oolong (Wulong) teas are "bruised" to allow oxidation, which produces darker leaves. These leaves are then heated and dried.
  • Black tea is fully oxidized and dried tea.


Black Tea Chai Muffins (Makes 12 muffins)

Baking with tea often involves steeping the tea in a liquid, like milk in this recipe.

1 cup skim milk
3 bags of black tea (or 1 1/2 Tbsp loose-leaf black tea)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup plain, nonfat yogurt (or plain, nonfat Greek yogurt)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 large egg
3/4 cup + 1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
3/4 cup + 1 Tbsp whole-wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp ground black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease or line a 12-cup muffin tin.
2. Pour milk into a 2-cup glass measuring cup. Microwave milk for 1 minute on high. Add tea bags (or loose-leaf tea in an infuser) and steep for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, remove tea bags (or loose-leaf tea).
3. In a medium bowl, combine sugar, yogurt, oil, and egg until smooth.
4. In a large bowl, stir together the all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, and spices until combined.
5. To flour mixture, add tea-infused milk and yogurt mixture. Stir just until combined. Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin tin.
6. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool muffins in pan for 10 minutes, and then remove to a cooling rack.

Nutrition Facts per 1 muffin: 170 calories, 5g fat, 50mg sodium, 27g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 4g protein

Blog Special: Summer Recipe Rehab – Part 3, Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake Fri, 25 May 2018 07:00:00 +0000 This recipe is credited to UI Extension nutrition and wellness educator, Jenna Smith.  Read her original post and recipe at Spring for Lemons. And many thanks to our intern, Terri Rupkey, for being the hand-model for the Summer Recipe Rehab recipes.

Dessert rarely gets a reputation for being healthier, but there are small swaps we can make in most recipes.  In this cheesecake recipe, there are swaps in both the crust and filling. While most crumbs are held together by butter, this recipe is bound with yogurt.  This lowers the fat and calories. The filling uses lower-fat cream cheese, plain yogurt, and egg whites, which lowers the fat and calories a lot from full-fat dairy and whole eggs.

See the video for the recipe online.

Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake (Serves 12)

With less added fat and extra vitamins from the blueberries, this cheesecake is a healthier dessert option. Our oven needed 45 minutes to fully bake the filling, so keep cooking until the center is firm.


1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs
3 Tablespoons nonfat plain yogurt

1. Preheat oven to 350ᵒF. In a medium bowl, mix together graham cracker crumbs and yogurt. Press into a greased 8x8-inch pan or 9-inch round pan. Bake for 5 minutes and let cool.


1 (8 oz.) package Neufchatel cheese (or 1/3 less fat cream cheese)
¾ cup nonfat plain yogurt
⅓ cup granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Zest of one small lemon
2 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup fresh blueberries
1. In a large bowl, beat Neufchatel cheese, yogurt and sugar. Add the lemon juice, zest, egg whites, vanilla, and flour and beat until fully combined. Fold in blueberries. Pour filling over the crust and return to oven. Bake at 350ᵒF for 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven, allow to cool and refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving.

Nutrition Facts per serving: 280 calories, 9g fat, 300mg sodium, 45g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 6g protein

Source: Jenna Smith, Nutrition & Wellness Educator, 2016