Healthy Eats and Repeat Highlighting Food, Recipes, and Ideas for a Healthy Lifestyle Sun, 15 May 2005 13:02:08 -0500 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

Grab That Grapefruit Wed, 12 Dec 2018 09:00:00 +0000 Have you noticed?  Winter tends to bring citrus fruits into season! While oranges are everywhere, don't forget about other citrus, including grapefruit.


Half a medium fresh grapefruit contains around 50 calories, 13g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, and vitamins and minerals including vitamin C, folate, potassium, and magnesium. Due to the pigment, red and pink grapefruit have vitamin A, while white grapefruit will have very little. Grapefruit is not a significant source of fat, protein, or sodium.

  • Buy:
  • Fresh: Look for fresh grapefruit that is firm to the touch without soft spots or discolored skin. Choose fruit that feels heavy.  Between red, pink, and white grapefruits, you might find a slight flavor difference.  Buy what you enjoy - and will eat!
  • Juiced: Buy 100% grapefruit juice, rather than juice cocktails or juice drinks with only some grapefruit juice.
  • Canned: Choose canned grapefruit or fruit cups in 100% juice or light syrup.
  • Price: According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, fresh grapefruit costs $1.01 per pound on average. Juice is around $0.42 per cup on average. Grapefruit, particularly in season, can be economical.
  • Store: Store whole, fresh grapefruit in the refrigerator, unwashed. Storing at room temperature is an option too; be aware room temperature shortens its shelf life. Bottles of juice – once opened – should be refrigerated. Extra grapefruit from cans should be put into glass or plastic containers and refrigerated.
  • Prepare: Fresh grapefruit should be washed before cutting or peeling. Some like to cut grapefruit in half and scoop out the fruit. Others like to peel grapefruit like an orange and eat the sections.  Whatever you like to do, or as directed by your recipe.
  • Eat: Grapefruit is common as a fruit side or mixed into fruit salad. Try it over salad greens or this Grapefruit and Avocado Salad from Utah State University Extension.

  • Food-Drug Interaction: Compounds called furocoumarins in grapefruit and its juice may change how drugs work or are metabolized. Read the materials that come with your medications to check, or ask your pharmacist.


Frozen or Canned?: Green Beans Wed, 14 Nov 2018 09:00:00 +0000 So many blog posts! So many foods highlighted! I was surprised to see I had not talked about green beans, a classic veggie!


One cup of cooked green beans contains around 45 calories, 10g carbohydrates, 4g fiber, 2g protein, and contains vitamins and minerals including vitamin A, vitamin K, folate, and potassium. Green beans are not a significant source of fat or sodium.

  • Form: Find green beans fresh, frozen, and canned. Some stores might have dehydrated green beans for snacking. Each has its differences in taste and texture, but have similar nutrition.  From classes I have taught, most people like fresh beans.  The debate is over frozen vs. canned.  What is your favorite?
  • Buy:
    • Look for fresh green beans that are firm, small, and a deep green color. Avoid fresh green beans with wrinkles, soft areas, or brown spots (this might be rust, a type of fungus). Large beans tend to be tough and less tender than smaller beans.
    • For frozen green beans, look for bags without salt or sauces. For canned, look for reduced-sodium cans.
  • Price: Price will vary by season and package (fresh, frozen, canned). Choose a style that fits your cooking plans and budget.
  • Store: Keep frozen green beans frozen until ready to use, and keep cans in dark, cool pantries or cabinets. Fresh beans can be kept in the refrigerator in a loosely closed bag for up to a week.
  • Prepare: Follow directions on the package for cooking frozen and canned green beans. For fresh, wash beans and use a knife or your fingers to remove both ends. Cut into smaller pieces, if desired, and add to your recipe.
  • Eat: Green beans are a great veggie side dish on their own, and pair well with other ingredients. Try them in soups, casseroles, stir-fries, and more!


Green Bean Casserole (Serves 12)

Coming into the holiday season, enjoy this simple and healthier casserole!
1 can (10 3/4 oz.) condensed cream of mushroom soup, reduced in fat and sodium
3/4 cup skim milk
1 tsp onion powder
24-ounces frozen cut green beans, cooked
2/3 cup French fried onions, divided
1/4 tsp salt or to taste
1/4 tsp black pepper or to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350°F and prepare a 1 ½ quart casserole dish with nonstick spray.
2. Mix together soup, milk, onion powder, green beans, salt, pepper, and 1/3 cup onions in casserole dish.
3. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Top with remaining 1/3 cup of onions and bake additional 5 minutes or until onions are golden and crisped.

Nutrition Information per serving: 70 calories, 2g total fat, (0g unsaturated fat), 160mg sodium, 8g carbohydrates, 2g dietary fiber, 2g protein

Recipe by: Leia Flure, former Nutrition and Wellness Educator, University of Illinois Extension
Blog: Moderation Maven, Recipe Rescue: Green Bean Casserole

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