Are You Drinking Too Much During the Pandemic?

red wine being poured into a glassTell me if this sounds familiar. When the pandemic first began, you enjoyed an occasional glass of wine to ease the tension of long days spent at home. As the lockdown wore on, that infrequent glass of wine, or two, slowly turned into a daily occurrence to fend off the stress of social distancing. So, are you drinking too much during the pandemic?

tray of cocktails with striped straws

Women Are Drinking More Alcohol 

If the strain of COVID-19 is showing up in your drinking habits, you’re not alone. Research shows that since the start of the outbreak, American adults, especially women, are drinking more, and on more days. The study also uncovered a sharp, 41% increase in women’s binge-drinking, defined as downing at least four drinks within two hours.

Is the coronavirus pandemic to blame for women drinking more? One study found that women’s drinking was directly related to their concerns about COVID-19. However, the recent rise in women’s alcohol intake is part of an overall increase in drinking in recent years.

Let’s face it: 2020 has been particularly difficult. Many women are carrying a heavy load as they juggle working at home (or losing their job), schooling their children, and managing the household. Women may also be experiencing  financial stress and caring for elderly parents.

It’s easy to understand the attraction to alcohol as a way to forget about what’s going on in your house and in the world, if only temporarily.  Plus, it’s socially-acceptable to unwind with wine, beer, or cocktails. Yet, drinking as an emotional crutch tends to backfire. Once the initial buzz wears off, excessive alcohol intake is just part of an endless loop that makes fear, anxiety, and depression worse, not better.


Nearly 1 in 5 American adults say their mental health is worse than it was at this time last year.


How much alcohol is OK to drink for women? 

Mod­erate drinking, which is less than or equal to one drink a day for women (no more than two drinks a day for men), is OK for most adults. Some people should avoid alcohol, including pregnant women.

Heavy drinking is eight drinks or more weekly for women and 15 drinks or more for men. To determine how much alcohol you’re drinking, you need to know the definition of a “drink.”

In the U.S., a drink is defined as one of the following. Each of the these drink choices contains about the same amount of alcohol. Certain microbrews and some wines may have a higher alcohol content.

• 12 ounces of regular beer

• 5 ounces of wine

• 1½ ounces of 80-proof spirits, such as vodka, gin, or rum

If you’re in doubt about your alcohol intake, measure it. To help you stay within the moderation guidelines, don’t refill your glass until it’s empty.

 


Drinking from large glasses can lead to excess alcohol intake.


 

Why women should drink less alcohol during the coronavirus pandemic 

Drinking alcohol will not protect you against COVID-19 and it may make matters worse if you do get sick. Drinking affects your health in more ways than one, however. Here’s how alcohol can influence your wellbeing during the pandemic, and at other times.

• According to the World Health Organization, alcohol consumption, especially heavy use, weakens the immune system, reducing your ability to fight off bacteria and viruses, including coronavirus.

•Heavy drinking increases the risk of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), one of the most severe complications of COVID-19.

Alcohol is a depressant, and it can intensify the effects of medications that also slow down the central nervous system, such as antidepressants, pain killers, and sleep aids.  Over-the-counter medications and herbal supplements can become less effective, or more potent, when mixed with alcohol.

• Wine, beer, and cocktails offer little more than extra calories and may contribute to “quarantine” weight gain. Alcohol reduces your resolve to limit portions of fatty, high-calorie foods, such as ice cream, chips, and cookies, which may cause you to consume more calories than you need. Being overweight is a potential risk factor for infection by coronavirus.

• Alcohol interferes with deep, restful sleep, which is already a challenge for many women, especially those over 40. Sleep deprivation saps your energy, makes pandemic stress seem harder to deal with, and reduces resistance to infection.

• Drinking may result in memory loss and shrinkage of the brain.


Excessive drinking results in impaired judgement that could jeopardize decisions about your health during the pandemic.


How to drink less alcohol 

There’s no immediate end in sight to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, but it won’t go on forever.  Instead of drowning your sorrows, find coping mechanisms that involve less or no alcohol.

If you drink, keep your drinking to a minimum and avoid getting intoxicated. You may want to consider giving up alcohol completely. Quitting could be the path to feeling calm and peaceful, according to a new study.

Get regular physical activity, which strengthens the immune system while relieving stress. Walk, run or bike in nature whenever possible, even in the winter.  When you can’t get outside, search the internet for free exercise videos.

man and woman walking hand in hand down snowy path

Find some “me” time every day.  Take just 10 minutes here and there to be present.  Slow, deep breathing can calm the mind and soothe frazzled nerves. Here’s a free guided breathing exercise to try.

Ask for help from family and friends. Seek social support that’s safe and doesn’t focus on alcohol, like a Zoom mocktail party with friends on a regular basis.

Talk to your healthcare provider if you are having trouble in your relationships or in how you think and feel.  Or contact the National Drug and Alcohol Treatment Referral Routing Service at 1-800-662-HELP to get information about treatment programs in your local community and to speak with someone about alcohol problems.

Glass with red wine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gluten-Free Chickpea Blondies

 

Gluten-free chickpea blondie with chocolate chips and walnuts

Flourless, gluten-free chickpea blondies are chewy and delicious.

I love to bake, and I love chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans), so coming up with a chickpea blondie recipe was a no-brainer for me. After a few tries on my part, my family gave this version of Gluten-Free Chickpea Blondies the thumbs up. My taste-testers and I think the blondies are delicious, and I’m happy that a chickpea blondie is a relatively healthy dessert!

In my opinion, blondies should be chewy, slightly gooey, and they should smack of brown sugar without being overly sweet.  We like our gluten-free blondies with chocolate (we prefer just about everything with chocolate!) and some crunch, so I added chocolate chips and chopped walnuts.

brown sugar, walnuts, eggs, chickpeas, chocolate chips, vanilla extract, oil, oatmeal

Gluten-Free Chickpea Brownies use just nine everyday pantry ingredients.

Better-for-You Blondies with Benefits

I didn’t set out to make these chickpeas gluten-free, it just happened that way. I have nothing against any kind of flour, but I know that some people must avoid flour and other foods with gluten.

Chickpeas take the place of most of the flour in Gluten-Free Chickpea Blondies, but you can’t use them whole! You must blend them first so that they are smooth and creamy enough to enhance the chewiness of baked goods and spread their goodness throughout the batter.

 

blended chickpeas in a food processor

Blended chickpeas contribute to the chewiness of baked goods.


Read: 26 Easy Recipes to Make with a Can of Chickpeas 


 

I prefer foods with lots of benefits, even desserts.  Why not get the biggest bang for your caloric buck from what you eat, even if it is a treat? One of these gluten-free chickpea blondies supplies many different nutrients, but these are stand-outs:


• 13% of your daily fiber for digestive health, and overall wellbeing


• 10% of your daily choline, necessary for every cell in your body and brain health


• 10% of daily vitamin E, which a powerful antioxidant that protects cells from damage


Chickpeas also provide phytonutrients, which are protective plant compounds. Eating plans that are rich in phytonutrients are associated with a lower risk for certain health conditions, including heart disease.

batter for gluten-free chickpea blondies with chocolate chips and walnuts

Stir the walnuts and chocolate chips in at the end.

Gluten-Free Chickpea Blondies

Chickpeas make these flourless blondies moist and chewy!
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time22 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: chickpeadessert, flourless, glutenfree, glutenfreeblondie, walnuts
Servings: 8
Calories: 280kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup plain gluten-free oats, uncooked
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/3 cup gluten-free semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350˚F. Coat an 8-inch square baking pan with cooking spray.
  • Place drained chickpeas and oil in large food processor. Process until smooth, about 45 seconds to 1 minute. Add the eggs, brown sugar, and vanilla and process for another 45 seconds.
  • Add the oats, baking powder, and salt and blend for another minute or so. (The oatmeal won't completely break down, and that's OK.)
  • Stir the walnuts and chocolate chips into the batter and pour into the pan.
  • Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes before cutting.

Notes

Per serving: 280 calories, 15 grams fat (2 grams saturated fat), 47 milligrams cholesterol, 206 milligrams sodium, 34 grams carbohydrate, 4 grams fiber, 6 grams protein

Recipe Variations for Gluten-Free Chickpea Blondies

I love it when readers swap ingredients to make a recipe their own.  Here are some possible ingredient substitutions, and I’m sure you can come up with your own, too!

  • Use white chocolate chips instead of dark or semisweet chocolate chips.
  • Pump up the flavor with 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon.
  • Swap walnuts for chopped hazelnuts or pecans.

Leave a note in the comments if you changed the recipe around to your liking!


Read: How to Make Ingredient Substitutions 


pin for chickpea blondies

Creamy Polenta, Shrimp, and Vegetable Bowls

Creamy polenta, shrimp and vegetable bowls

Creamy Polenta, Shrimp, and Vegetable Bowls are an easy way to include seafood in your eating plan.

I love quick, delicious dinners, don’t you? These creamy polenta, shrimp, and vegetable bowls are easy enough to make on busy weeknights, and elegant enough for guests. That’s my kind of meal!

I first wrote this post in 2016. I recently changed the recipe and I wanted to make you aware of the improvements. I’ve also added tips for customizing these bowls depending on what ingredients you have on hand. I love polenta and shrimp, but if you want to use chicken or another type of seafood, that works, too!

Eat Seafood Twice a Week

Experts recommend eating at least two seafood meals weekly, and as many as three meals ( a total of 8-12 ounces) in a week’s time if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. Seafood is rich in protein, healthy omega-3 fats that support heart and brain health, and other nutrients, including choline, which is often in short supply in the American diet.

Shrimp is one of Americans’ favorite types of seafood: we eat an average of nearly 4.5 pounds a year per person. (I’m pretty sure I am a top consumer!) Most of the shrimp we eat is imported, but shrimp is also harvested and sold in the U.S. As fish go, shrimp is considered one of the safest.

Frozen shrimp and other frozen seafood are useful to have on hand to make meal prep easier, but you can also use the fresh variety, too.  You can even make these creamy polenta, shrimp, and vegetable bowls with frozen shrimp and you don’t have to thaw it before cooking!

How to Make Whole Grain Creamy Polenta

Creamy polenta is a mixture of cornmeal, water, butter, and cheese. (I add some milk to mine to make it creamier.)  I prefer whole grain cornmeal for its taste and health benefits.

For this dish, you may want to use a medium or coarse-ground cornmeal; packages of cornmeal labeled as polenta are usually coarser grinds. You can substitute grits for cornmeal but you won’t get the same results or the same nutrition profile.

Customize your Creamy Polenta, Shrimp and Vegetable Bowl

I am not into fussy, precise recipes. In fact, I love recipes that people can change around to suit their needs and what’s in their pantry at the moment. Here are some tips for making do in the kitchen:

  • No spinach? Kale works well in this recipe, too. I haven’t tried it, but I’m sure the bowls would be delicious with other greens, such as collard and beet, and with broccoli.
  • Canned, drained diced tomatoes can be swapped for the red bell pepper.
  • If you don’t have cornmeal in the house, or you don’t want to use it, swap pasta, farro, or rice. Farro is a whole grain, and whole wheat pasta and brown rice are, too. Any of the three will help you meet the suggested daily intake of at least three servings of whole grains a day.
  • Cooked chicken can take the place of shrimp. Polenta pairs well with chicken, meat, and seafood.

I‘m a big believer in using what you have on hand. Read this for how to make ingredient swaps that work. 


Creamy Polenta, Shrimp, and Vegetable Bowls

A simple, delicious meal in a bowl!
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: highprotein, polentabowl, shrimpbowl
Servings: 4
Calories: 378kcal

Ingredients

  • 3 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 large red bell peppers, chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 5 cups baby spinach, stems removed
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 cup whole grain cornmeal
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup 1% low fat milk
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 16 ounces raw shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails removed
  • fresh chopped chives for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  • Place water in medium saucepan over high heat. Cover.
  • Add oil to large skillet. Heat oil over medium heat. When oil is hot, add the onion, red bell pepper, and garlic. Saute for about 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
  • Add the spinach and saute for another 3 minutes or until the spinach has just wilted. Add the crushed red pepper flakes and stir well. Remove from the heat.
  • When the water has boiled, slowly add the cornmeal, whisking constantly to prevent lumps. Add the salt. Turn the heat to low and simmer the cornmeal, stirring often, for 10 minutes. Add the milk, cheese, and butter and stir until the butter is melted and the polenta is creamy. Cover and set aside.
  • Return the skillet to the medium-high heat. Add the shrimp and cook until the shrimp is pink on both sides, about 5 minutes.
  • To serve, divide the polenta evenly between four bowls and top with the shrimp-vegetable mixture. Garnish with fresh chives, if desired.

Notes

Per serving: 378 calories, 16 grams fat (6 grams saturated fat), 210 milligrams cholesterol, 618 milligrams sodium, 30 grams carbohydrate, 4 grams fiber, 31 grams protein, 653 milligrams potassium, 208 milligrams calcium 

pin for Creamy Polenta, Shrimp, and Vegetable Bowls

 

How to Make Meat Go Further (Easy, Delicious Tips and Recipes)

If you have a family to feed every day, and you’re on a tight budget, you’re probably wondering how to stretch the meat you have on hand to make satisfying meals. Though you may not be able to purchase all the meat you’d like, or readily find your favorite cuts, it’s possible to extend meat with these easy, delicious recipes from my foodie friends, and simple tips for how to make meat go further.

Mexican Chicken & Rice Soup from The Nutrition Adventure

 Mexican Chicken & Rice Soup from The Nutrition Adventure

 

How to Make Meat go Further with Beans

Beans (legumes) bulk up meat dishes. They are a relatively low-cost alternative to some of the meat in your favorite recipes and a welcome, healthy addition even when meat is readily available.

You probably won’t even notice you’re eating less meat with beans in the mix. Legumes, such as black beans, garbanzos, and lentils, add interest and texture to meat-based dishes, and they provide eating satisfaction, too. Beans are rich in a variety of nutrients, and their protein and fiber help you feel fuller for longer. As plants, they contain phytonutrients, which help protect cells from damage.


Easy Beef and Bean Chili uses just 8 ounces of ground beef to make 6 servings!


You don’t have to prepare beans from dried. It’s perfectly fine to use canned beans and lentils for the sake of convenience, but it’s less expensive to cook the dried versions.  Here are some delicious recipes that pair beans with meat or poultry:

Spanish Brown Rice and Beans from Juggling with Julia

One Pot Taco Soup from The Cheesy RD

Chicken Dhansak

Chicken Dhansak from Desilicious RD

 

Spiced Chicken Stuffed Zucchini with Brown Rice and Lentils from Tasty Balance Nutrition

How to Make Meat Go Further with Mushrooms

Though mushrooms don’t supply as much protein and fiber as beans, they can be an excellent or good source of certain minerals, such selenium and copper, and vitamins, including B vitamins and vitamin D, a nutrient that is often in short supply in our diets and may play a role in supporting the immune system. Like beans, mushrooms supply phytonutrients, and are a lower-cost filler that adds interest to meat dishes while contributing zero cholesterol or saturated fat.

whole mushrooms

Some brands of mushrooms are excellent sources of vitamin D, which helps support the immune system.

 

Mushrooms that have been exposed to ultraviolet light are richest in vitamin D. It’s the same for humans: strong summer sunlight, in the form of ultraviolet rays, prompts vitamin D production in the body.  However, not all mushrooms are high in vitamin D, so check package labels to make sure.

Mushrooms have a firm, meat-like texture that pairs particularly well with ground meat. A beef and mushroom blend lends itself to burger, taco, meatloaf, lasagna, pasta sauce, and meatball recipes.

I typically use 1 cup cooked, diced mushrooms per pound of ground meat (although sometimes I add even more mushrooms!)  So, if you’re working with 8 ounces of lean ground beef, add 1/2 cup of cooked mushrooms. For 1/2 cup cooked mushrooms, start with 4 ounces raw.


Try these delicious, juicy Beef and Mushroom Burgers!


It’s easy enough to buy fresh mushrooms, but you are probably limiting trips to the store right now. In that case, considered dried mushrooms, which can be reconstituted and used like fresh on a moment’s notice.

In addition to ground beef, mushrooms go well with chicken, pork, and shrimp, too! Here are some easy, delicious recipes that pair mushrooms with high-protein foods:

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls from Snacking in Sneakers

 

creamy mushroom and shrimp pasta

Creamy Mushroom and Shrimp Pasta from Fad Free Nutrition 

 

Ground Beef and Mushroom Lettuce-Wrap Tacos from Craving Something Healthy

Blended Al Pastor Tacos with Pineapple Jalapeño Slaw from the Mushroom Council

Other vegetables help you go further with meat, too. Here’s an example of how to “beef up” pasta sauce:

 

bowl of pasta sauce with carrots and tomatoes

Hidden Vegetable Pasta Sauce from It’s a Veg World After All

How to Make Meat Go Further with Cottage Cheese

Cottage cheese may not come to mind as a meat extender, but it’s rich in protein and offers calcium, too. In fact, one cup of low-fat cottage cheese has more protein than the same amount of plain, fat-free Greek yogurt. (However, the cottage cheese has about 25% less calcium.)

You may be put off by the curds in cottage cheese. I have a solution for that!

Place as much cottage cheese as you need at the time in a small food processor or blender and blend for about 45 seconds to 1 minute to produce creamy cottage cheese.

cottage cheese in a bowl

Don’t like the curds? Blend cottage cheese for a creamy consistency.

 

I use creamy cottage cheese in meatballs or burgers made with lean ground beef or 100% ground turkey breast. Cottage cheese extends the ground meat, and it also produces lighter and juicier meatballs and burgers.

How to Make Meals With Less Meat

Almost Lasagna is one of my favorite recipes that pairs meat with cottage cheese. If you don’t want to bother with a recipe, simply stir creamy cottage cheese into warm marinara sauce or mix cottage cheese with warm pesto sauce and serve over cooked pasta.  If you have some cooked chicken, beef, or other meat, add that, too.

spaghetti topped with meat sauce and shredded cheese

Almost Lasagna

This deconstructed lasagna uses cottage cheese for some of the meat in traditional recipes.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: cottagecheese
Servings: 6

Ingredients

  • 16 ounces long fusilli pasta, linguine or other pasta  Or any type of pasta you have, including whole wheat.
  • 8 ounces 95% lean ground beef or 100% ground turkey breast
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium carrot, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • fresh ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup low-sodium beef broth or stock
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed no salt-added tomatoes, not drained Diced tomatoes work well, too.
  • 3 fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces
  • 1/3 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup plain lowfat cottage cheese

Instructions

  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it, add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain and keep warm.
  • Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the beef, breaking it into large pieces and continuing to break into small bits. Cook until lightly browned, about 4 to 5  minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and transfer meat to a medium bowl, and set aside.
  • Return the skillet to the burner, add the olive oil, and heat over medium heat.  Add the carrot, onion, and garlic and cook until the vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes. Season with fresh ground black pepper.
  • Add the meat back to the pan.  Stir in the beef broth, tomatoes and their juices, and basil, and simmer on low heat for 10 minutes.  
  • In a small bowl, mix the cottage cheese and parsley.  
  • Toss the pasta with the butter, transfer to the skillet and combine with the meat sauce. To serve, place equal amounts of the cottage cheese/parsley mixture in shallow soup bowls, and top with the pasta mixture. Garnish with grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.    

Notes

Per serving (with ground beef): 504 calories; 67 grams carbohydrate; 4 grams fiber; 13 grams fat; 5 grams saturated fat; 27 grams protein; 239 milligrams sodium; 41 milligrams cholesterol; 97 milligrams calcium.

simple tips to make meat go further when preparing meals

 

Beef and Mushroom Burgers

Beef and mushroom burger topped with tomato on plate with salad.

Use mushrooms to go further with meat.

You’ve probably seen the news about a possible shortage of meat, and higher meat prices, but even if you can’t buy all the beef you’d like, you can still enjoy juicy, delicious meat burgers.  Beef and mushroom burgers are better for you and are a great way to stretch the meat you have on hand.

Why mushrooms are good for you, your food budget, and the planet 

Mushrooms are tan or white, and are often disregarded for their lack of deep color, which is taken to mean that they’re not worth much nutritionally. Wrong!

Mushrooms supply B vitamins, selenium and other protective compounds, and when producers expose them to ultraviolet rays, mushrooms are an excellent source of vitamin D. In fact, mushrooms are the only source of vitamin D found in the produce aisle.

Here are some facts you probably didn’t know about mushrooms’ sustainability: it’s possible to grow up to one million pounds of mushrooms on a single acre of land, and producing a pound of mushrooms requires less than two gallons of water. That’s good news for the environment.

How to use less meat and not miss it 

Mushrooms have a meaty texture and a savory taste called umami which pairs well with meat.  I also use mushrooms to replace meat in marinara sauce and pizza, too.


Beef and Mushroom Stew forgoes some meat for mushrooms.


Substituting mushrooms for some meat, no matter what type, increases vegetable intake, which is always a good idea. It addition, combining mushrooms and meat naturally decreases the calories, fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol in a typical beef burger.

 

mushrooms on a cutting board

Mushrooms provide a savory taste and meaty texture.

How to make beef and mushroom burgers

In my beef and mushroom burger recipe, each burger uses just two ounces of lean beef.  I serve the burgers on whole wheat hamburger buns, along with a large green salad topped with olive oil and pepitas (pumpkin seeds) for extra crunch and nutrition.  I like to garnish my burger with a horseradish/mayonnaise mixture, sliced tomato, and lettuce.

finely chopped mushrooms

Processing cooked mushrooms makes for a consistency that’s closer to ground beef. 

 

Beef and Mushroom Burgers

Delicious, juicy beef burgers that use less meat and more vegetables.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: beefburgers, healthierburgers, mushrooms, umami
Servings: 4
Author: ewardrd

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces baby bella mushrooms or white button mushrooms
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 8 ounces 93% lean ground beef
  • fresh ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup seaonsed breadcrumbs
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 2-ounce whole wheat buns, toasted or grilled, if desired

Instructions

  • Chop mushrooms into 1/4-inch pieces.
  • Add oil to medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from pan, place in medium mixing bowl, and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
  • Place mushrooms in a food processor or blender and pulse until they take on a paste-like consistency, about 10-15 seconds.
  • Add the mushrooms back to the mixing bowl and add beef, black pepper, eggs, breadcrumbs, basil, and Worcestershire sauce. Combine thoroughly.  Form mixture into 4 patties of equal size.
  • Preheat grill or grill pan to medium-high heat.
  • Cook burgers for 5 to 7 minutes on each side or until they reach an internal temperature of 160˚F.
  • To serve, place patties on buns with desired toppings

Notes

Per serving (burger and bun): 
360 calories; 11 grams fat (3 grams saturated fat); 141 milligrams cholesterol; 771 milligrams sodium; 40 grams carbohydrate; 5 grams fiber; 27 grams protein

beef and mushroom burger on a plate with salad pinterest

Simple, Healthy Thai Peanut Chicken

If you’re like me, you’re always looking for a new family dinner recipe, and by that I mean an easy and delicious dish that everyone likes and is quick enough to make for a weeknight meal. This Simple, Healthy Thai Peanut Chicken recipe fits the bill, and there’s a bonus: You only have to clean one pan!

Thai peanut chicken breast on a bed of white rice served with cooked broccoli.

How to Cook Simple, Healthy Thai Peanut Chicken

This recipe originally appeared in my book, Expect the Best, Your Guide to Healthy Eating Before, During, and After Pregnancy, and it was called Slow Cooker Thai Peanut Chicken. I made it a slow cooker recipe so that it could be ready at the end of a busy day. When I was pregnant and the mother of young children, knowing that dinner was already in the works was such a relief!

I thought it might be helpful to also include directions for stovetop cooking for when you want to make a quick meal with very little clean up, so I’ve included both cooking methods for the recipe in this post.

Also, feel free to use boneless, skinless chicken thighs instead of chicken breast meat. Thighs are less expensive than chicken breast, and some people prefer their flavor.

I think peanuts make everything taste better, but If someone in your family has a peanut allergy, it’s good to know that the recipe also works with sunflower seed butter.

The level of spiciness is up to you.  The sauce gets its warmth from the ginger and the salsa, but you can also add cayenne pepper to take it up a notch.  The original recipe doesn’t call for cayenne, as it can aggravate the heartburn that pregnant women often experience.

Simple, Healthy Thai Peanut Chicken

This easy recipe can be ready in less than 30 minutes or cooked in a slow cooker.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: chicken, easydinnerrecipe, peanutbutter
Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 16 ounces boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup tomato salsa
  • 1/3 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons peeled, grated fresh ginger, and more if desired
  • 1 clove garlic, diced
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
  • 4 lime wedges (optional)

Instructions

  • Slice chicken breasts into ½-inch thick pieces and season with the black pepper. Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet.  
  • Add chicken and cook for about 3 minutes on each side until lightly browned, turning each piece once.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, combine the salsa, peanut butter, lime juice, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and cayenne pepper, if using, with a whisk. Add the salsa mixture to the skillet. 
  • Cover, and cook for another 10 minutes on medium heat or until chicken is fully cooked. 
  • Use a slotted spoon to remove the chicken from the skillet, and place on a serving platter. Spoon the sauce from pan over the chicken. Garnish with peanuts, cilantro, and lime wedges, if desired.

Nutrition information per serving (without optional ingredients):

  • Calories: 274, Total fat: 15 grams, Saturated fat: 3 grams, Cholesterol: 93 milligrams, Sodium: 619 milligrams, Carbohydrate: 8 grams, Dietary fiber: 2 grams, Protein: 28 grams, Calcium: 34 milligrams, Iron: 2 milligrams

Notes

Slow cooker instructions: 
Season both sides of chicken with black pepper. Place the chicken in the slow cooker.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine the salsa, peanut butter, lime juice, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and cayenne pepper, if using, with a whisk. Add the salsa mixture to the slow cooker.
Cover and cook on low heat for 8 hours. Use a slotted spoon to remove the chicken from the slow cooker and place on a serving platter. Spoon the sauce from the slow cooker over the chicken. Garnish with peanuts, cilantro, and lime wedges, if desired.

What to Serve with Simple, Healthy Thai Peanut Chicken

I serve this meal with a variety of side dishes.  Any type of rice, or rice or soba noodles, pairs well with the chicken.  Green beans, broccoli, and asparagus are also good choices to complement the flavors in the recipe, but use whatever vegetables you have on hand.

You can swap cooked, riced cauliflower for the rice or noodles for a lower carbohydrate meal.

If you choose to make this chicken dish spicier, fruit, such as honeydew, cantaloupe, and watermelon will help balance the heat, and they are also a good source of fluid.

 

Thai peanut chicken, white rice, and broccoli on plate.

Easy No-Yeast Pizza Dough Recipe (white and whole wheat)

Pizza is one of my family’s favorite foods. Americans purchase 350 slices every second, so it’s safe to assume that you love pizza, too!  These days, you’re probably preparing more pizza at home than you’re buying, and you may be having trouble finding yeast to make the crust. No problem. This easy no-yeast pizza dough recipe (which can be made with white or whole wheat flour) is ready in less than 10 minutes.

Pizza made with no-yeast dough recipe.

Have a warm pizza on the table in well under a half hour with this easy, no-rise crust!

 

How To Make Easy No-Yeast Pizza Dough

In traditional pizza dough recipes, yeast plays a big role in helping the dough to rise. In this recipe, baking powder and Greek yogurt stand in for yeast.

Baking powder helps the dough to rise but it needs the acid from the Greek yogurt to do its job. Greek yogurt also helps to tenderize the pizza dough.

You must use Greek yogurt in this recipe because regular yogurt is too thin to form the dough. Use any type of plain Greek yogurt you like, such as fat-free or whole milk.

How to Make Whole Wheat Pizza Dough with No Yeast

You can make this pizza dough recipe with 100% whole wheat flour instead of white flour, or a combination of all-purpose and whole wheat. I prefer whole wheat flour to all-purpose for a few reasons, although I just use what I have on hand.

Because the dough has Greek yogurt in it, it’s got more moisture than traditional pizza dough.  When I use an whole wheat flour, I find the dough is not as sticky and easier to work with.

I also prefer whole wheat flour for the nutrition it offers. Whole wheat flour has more fiber than all-purpose, and it contains higher levels of certain nutrients, such as potassium, magnesium, and vitamin E. If you struggle to eat at least three servings of whole grains every day, whole wheat pizza dough is an easy, delicious way to include more.

However, it’s perfectly healthy to prepare this recipe with all-purpose flour, which is enriched with B vitamins and iron.  Refined grains, such as all-purpose flour, are part of a balanced, healthy diet.

Tips for Making Pizza Dough Without Yeast

Clear mixing bowl with flour, salt, and baking powder on a white surface and a cup measure full of yogurt.

This four-ingredient pizza dough without yeast is simple, fast, and foolproof.

 


If you have kids, this is a perfect time to get them into the kitchen to help, and to learn basic cooking skills, too.

 

yeast-free pizza dough on floured surface

 

The dough is wetter than traditional pizza dough, so be sure to generously flour your work surface and rolling pin.

 

yeast-free pizza dough on floured surface with person holding a rolling pin

Preparation tips:

• The crust will be thin, so be careful when you transfer it to the prepared baking sheet. It if rips, just pinch it to fix the tear. You can divide up the dough and make personal pizzas, which is fun for kids to do.

• Crimp the edges of the dough because it may spread a bit in the oven and you don’t want to lose any of your toppings.

• Top the dough with pizza or marinara sauce (or not!) and whatever cheese and other toppings that  you have on hand. Low-moisture cheese works best with this dough, as it already has a fair amount of moisture in it.

 

uncooked no-yeast pizza dough topped with tomato sauce and cheese

 

Your pizza can be ready in minutes using this easy no yeast pizza dough recipe, prepared sauce, and grated cheese!

 

Cooked sliced pizza made with no-yeast crust

Easy No-Yeast Pizza Dough

This no-yeast pizza dough uses 4 ingredients and is ready in less than 10 minutes.
Prep Time10 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: Greekyogurt, norisedough, noyeastpizzadough, pizza, pizzadough
Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour or 100% whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 425˚F. Lightly coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  • Add the Greek yogurt and stir combined.
  • Turn out the dough onto a clean, well-floured surface. Using a rolling pin that's been coated in flour, roll the dough into a 12-inch circle.
  • Transfer the dough to the baking sheet and add toppings.
  • Cook on the bottom rack for 12-15 minutes.

Notes

• Don't overdo it on the toppings because the dough can get soggy. 
• The dough tends to be sticky, so be sure to generously flour the work surface and the rolling pin.
• Don't worry if the dough breaks when you're handling it. Just put it back together! 
• Double the recipe for a larger - or hungrier - group and make two pizzas, or divide up the dough for personal pizzas.

 

easy no-yeast pizza dough made with all-purpose or whole wheat flour

 

 

 

How to Reduce Stress During Social Distancing

With schools letting out, sports cancelled, and other social events suspended, our everyday routines and sources of entertainment have changed because of the coronavirus.  In addition to working from home, you may have more family members in the house, all day, every day, with no end in sight! It’s normal to feel anxious right now, so I thought it would be useful to talk about how to reduce stress during social distancing.  

Social distance written on chalkboard with arrows

It pays to keep your distance, but it can be stressful.

What happens to your body when you’re stressed

Stress is your body’s way of defending you from danger.  

When you’re under stress, your body is on high alert. The brain triggers the release of adrenaline and cortisol to prepare the rest of your body to “do battle” with what the brain considers a threat. 

Worrying about your income, schooling kids at home, and your health can lead to constant stress, which is a problem. Prolonged stress constantly exposes cells to adrenaline and cortisol which can lead to weight gain, higher than normal blood glucose levels, and foggy thinking.  

Though fatty, sugary foods, and alcohol, seem like the perfect antidotes to stress, they are temporary bandages for your feelings.  While there is room for treats, stress-eating – and drinking –  will only make you feel worse in the long run. 

Bowl of beef and bean chili on a yellow plate.

Eat regular, balanced meals to help combat stress.

What to eat and drink to reduce stress and anxiety during social distancing

Eating plans that include lean meat, poultry, seafood, soy foods, and eggs, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables may help ease stress and anxiety.  Try to stick to your usual eating schedule and have meals at a table rather than at your desk or on the couch (at least most of the time!).  Eating balanced meals and snacks throughout the day prevents sagging energy levels that can cause you to feel jittery and to reach for sugary treats, which can create a cycle of poor eating. 

Speaking of jittery, don’t rely on caffeine to boost energy levels. Caffeine can increase feelings of anxiety. Do stay hydrated with other beverages, such as milk, flavored water and decaffeinated tea, to help feel your best. 

Food can help support your immune system, which is located mostly in your gut. Eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables, combined, and at least three servings of whole grains, and refined grains daily to support overall health and the beneficial gut bacteria that protect you against harmful bacteria and viruses.  Avoid taking probiotic supplements because it’s unclear which ones are useful for healthy people, and taking the wrong one could work against you. Instead, have a serving of probiotic-rich foods, such as yogurt, every day. 

Also, take it easy on the beer, wine, and cocktails. Alcoholic beverages add calories and they interfere with the restful sleep you need right now. 

Read: What to make with cereal

 

Woman sleeping in bed with white sheets.

Sleeping enough is one way to help reduce stress.

Why you should get enough sleep for your immune system

Those of us working at home may be saving time by not commuting. Use those extra hours to your advantage by getting enough sleep.

Adults need about seven to eight hours of sleep every night. Adequate shut-eye is refreshing and will help you feel more energized and ready to take on the day, no matter what’s going on in the world, or in your house!

In addition, sleep supports the immune system and being well-rested helps regulates your hunger hormones, which promotes easier weight control. 

If you have young children who wake up early, my sympathies. (I have three children, so I know all about that.) Do try to go to bed when they do on most nights so you don’t wear yourself out during this time of social distancing. 

Every storm runs out of rain.

Every storm runs out of rain, including the one we are in right now caused by the coronavirus.

What to do when you’re bored and stuck at home

I find a good sense of humor helpful in trying times.  Laughter is relaxing, and it’s especially fun to laugh in a group because it brings people together. Laughter also benefits your immune system by helping to counteract the stress response.  

Listening to a funny podcast that’s not about the coronavirus is a good mental escape from stress. So is talking with a funny friend by phone or zoom. If binge-watching is in your future, I’d steer clear of dark shows like The Handmaid’s Tail and Hunters for now in favor of lighter fare like Jane the Virgin and Zoey’s Incredible Playlist. 

Mother and young daughter laughing outside with binoculars.

A good laugh is great fun, and laughing outdoors is even better!

How to exercise during social distancing

In all likelihood, you can’t go to your gym, pool, or exercise class right now. However, you should still get regular physical activity.  Easier said than done, I know, especially if you have kids at home.  

Physical activity reduces stress and improves mood. Take a run or walk outdoors by yourself if you need some “me time,” or get outside with your family at least once a day. The fresh air and sunshine will do you good.

If you prefer to exercise inside, check out online resources as many are free right now. 

Beef stew with carrots in bowl with cornbread.

Offer a delicious and nutritious meal to someone in need.

How to help other people when social distancing

As I watch shoppers hoarding toilet paper, bottled water, and cleaning supplies, I am reminded that we are all in this together. The coronavirus pandemic is particularly hard for older people and those with mobility or financial problems who can’t just run out to the store to get what they need, only to find empty shelves. 

Staying connected to those who are alone or have fewer resources is more important than ever now, and it may improve your mood. Helping others takes the focus off your anxiety while easing their loneliness.

Check in with older neighbors and relatives and see if they have the food, medication, and other medical supplies they need. You can call, text, email or FaceTime, or pop in briefly without touching anything and sit far away during your visit. Remember to wash your hands before your visit and wipe down surfaces as you leave. Assure them that they can contact you if they start getting symptoms and that you will check in on them regularly. 

Consider cooking a meal or two for those in need. If you don’t know anyone that requires attention, consider donating to your local food pantry. Food pantries are vital to feeding low-income communities and the elderly. 

What are you doing to relieve your stress these days? Let me know what works for you! 

how to reduce stress during social distancing

 

 

What to Make with Cereal

Photo by Peter Lewicki on Unsplash cereal strawberries milk
Photo by Peter Lewicki on Unsplash

Cereal is a delicious, nutritious food that offers a big bang for the buck. Ready-to-eat cereal with dairy milk provides a bowl of nutrients for an average of 50 cents a serving on average! Cereal is for more than pouring into a bowl and dousing with milk, however. You can eat it any time of day and in many ways. Check out what to make with cereal – you’ll be surprised at how creative my dietitian friends are!

Why cereal is a healthy choice for family meals 

Whether it’s whole grain, or refined, cereal supplies energy-producing carbohydrate. In addition, it can be a source of other nutrients that often go missing in the diet.

Whole grain choices offer the most fiber, vitamin E, and selenium, but they are not usually enriched.

Refined grains are missing one or more of their three key parts – the bran, the germ, or the endosperm. Refining a grain results in some nutrient loss. However, most refined grains are enriched.

Enriched grains contain additional B vitamins, including folic acid, and the mineral iron. Iron and folic acid don’t occur naturally in significant amounts in whole grains, but they are welcome additions to refined grains, especially cereal.

Health experts recommend that women in their childbearing years get adequate folic acid every day. Adequate folic acid helps prevent neural tube defects during the first month of pregnancy. A serving of enriched cereal can provide as much as 100% of the Daily Value for folic acid.

The added iron in enriched cereal is a good source of this nutrient. Iron is needed to prevent iron deficiency anemia, which can result in long lasting fatigue, and other health problems.

Why it’s OK to eat refined grains

Does eating cereal cause weight gain?

You may be surprised to hear that grains of all kinds, including cereal, can be good for your waistline. An eating pattern that includes higher amounts of a variety of grains is associated with a healthier body weight.

Choose cereals with the least added sugar, which contributes additional calories. Save sugar-laden cereals for a treat, not an everyday food.

How to eat less added sugar

What to make with cereal for family meals 

Since I think cereal is good any time of day, I’ve divided up the delicious healthy recipes with cereal into two groups: sweet and savory. Enjoy them at any meal, or for a snack!

Sweet healthy recipes to make with cereal

Coconut Fruit Tart by Live Best

Coconut Fruit Tart by Live Best

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cereal Nachos by Jill Weisenberger

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cereal Nachos by Jill Weisenberger

Strawberry Banana Breakfast Popsicles by The Nutritionist Reviews

Strawberry Banana Breakfast Popsicles by The Nutritionist Reviews

Cinnamon Buckwheat Granola by Foods with Judes

Cinnamon Buckwheat Granola by Foods with Judes

No Added Sugar Fruit and Nut Bread by Better Is the New Perfect

No Added Sugar Fruit and Nut Bread by Better Is the New Perfect

Almond Pistachio Cocoa Bites by Amy Gorin

Almond Pistachio Cocoa Bites by Amy Gorin

Flourless Milk & Cereal Pancakes by Sinful Nutrition

Flourless Milk & Cereal Pancakes by Sinful Nutrition

Sweet and Spicy Peanut Trail Mix by National Peanut Board

Sweet and Spicy Peanut Trail Mix by National Peanut Board

Grab-and-Go Granola Bars by Liz’s Healthy Table

Grab-and-Go Granola Bars by Liz's Healthy Table

Protein Packed Chocolate Cereal Bowl by Nutrition Starring You

Protein Packed Chocolate Cereal Bowl by Nutrition Starring You

Kid Friendly Smoothie Bowl by The Crowded Table

Kid Friendly Smoothie Bowl by The Crowded Table

Vanilla Maple Chia Yogurt Parfait by Julie Harrington

Vanilla Maple Chia Yogurt Parfait by Julie Harrington

Peanut Butter Cereal Bars by Better Is the New Perfect

Peanut Butter Cereal Bars by Better Is the New Perfect

Savory healthy recipes to make with cereal

Black Bean Breakfast Burrito Bowl by The Grateful Grazer

Black Bean Breakfast Burrito Bowl by The Grateful Grazer

Crispy Hummus Mashed Potato Balls by Tasty Balance Nutrition

Crispy Hummus Mashed Potato Balls by Tasty Balance Nutrition

Sweet and Spicy Popcorn Snack Mix from The Lean Green Bean

Sweet and Spicy Popcorn Snack Mix from The Lean Green Bean

Savory Oatmeal Breakfast Bowl with Spinach, Mushrooms, and Fried Egg by Jessica Levinson

Savory Oatmeal Breakfast Bowl with Spinach, Mushrooms, and Fried Egg by Jessica Levinson

Wheaties Oven Baked Ravioli by My Menu Pal

Wheaties Oven Baked Ravioli by My Menu Pal

Fonio Recipe by Laurel Ann Nutrition

Crunchy Cereal-Filled Waffles by Bonnie Taub-Dix:

easy family meals to make with cereal photo credit: Bonnie Taub-Dix

How to Reduce Food Waste and Help the Environment

There’s no shortage of debate about whether eating more plant than animal foods is better for the environment. Perhaps it’s time to focus on the fact that wasting any type of food threatens the health of the planet, no matter what your eating style, and throwing food away costs you money.  Here’s how to reduce food waste, save money, and help the environment.

 

Fresh carrots, fresh strawberries, fresh tomatoes, fresh greens

Every bit of food counts, so make the most of it.

How much food we waste every year

A recent study found that the U.S. wastes, on average, 30% of the food that’s available to eat, and most of it is tossed at home. To better visual such waste, think about buying three bags of food every day and immediately throwing one in the trash bin.

Sounds ridiculous, right?  Sadly, it’s true. The same study found that American households pitch about  $2,000.00-worth of food every year. That amounts to about $240 billion yearly.  In addition to wasting money, tossing edible food drives up prices for everyone, and people with limited budgets may not be able to afford nutritious food.

Sunny day, green fields, long and winding road

Strategies to save more food are good for your wallet and the planet.

Why food waste is bad for the planet

If food waste was a country, it would be the planet’s third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, right behind China and the United States.

Food is the single largest part of trash in landfills, where it produces methane, a global-warming gas.

In addition, wasting food wastes resources. For example, 25% of all freshwater in the U.S. is used to produce food that we never eat.

 


Click here for Zero-waste snacking tips


How to reduce food waste at home and save money

Managing food wisely takes some time and creativity, but it’s worth it.

The amount of food tossed in my household is directly related to my level of motivation to manage it. That includes planning meals, shopping, and using up leftovers. The busier I get, the more food I throw away because I’ve let it go bad.

We can’t keep all the food out of the trash heap, but I think it’s safe to say we can do better.

I asked my registered dietitian/nutritionist (RDN) colleagues for their best food-saving tips. I divided their advice, and my own, into three levels of difficulty. Pick the tips that best fit your lifestyle.

woman shopping

Shopping wisely helps reduce food waste.

Simple tips to save food and money

  • Overeating is technically a form of food waste, because we are consuming more food than our bodies need. This form of food waste can lead to chronic diseases, too. Choose smaller plates and glasses.  A smaller plate helps encourage proper portions and reduces overeating.  – Chris Vogliano
  • “Before going to the grocery store, look in the fridge and cabinets to see what you have, and what needs to be used up first. If there is something that I know I won’t eat before it goes bad, into the freezer it goes (either cooked or not, depending on the food). Then I use what’s in the freezer when I’m planning my meals.” – Kaleigh McMordie
  • “You don’t need a complicated recipe to make a meal, snack or side dish. Take a look at what you have, and be confident. Most leftovers combine nicely for a soup, casserole or stir-fry.”- Pat Baird

Shows a bowl of chili to show that nourishing meals can be simple.

Simple recipes help prevent food waste because they use fewer ingredients.

  • Get kids involved! Make preserving food a family effort and encourage children to think of ways to waste less.

Check out 10 Ways to Get Kids to Waste Less Food


Fresh strawberries in boxes.

Fresh fruit is highly perishable, so make sure you eat it soon after buying.

  • “Use fresh produce in smoothies. I keep bulk Greek yogurt in the fridge and make smoothies as a grab and go breakfast.” – Mary Emerson
  • Purchase plain frozen fruits and vegetables, which allow you to use only what you need to minimize waste.Embrace imperfection. Choose fresh fruits and vegetables with odd shapes, sizes, or colors. They taste the same, and slightly bruised produce is OK to eat if you cut away the damaged areas.
  • Avoid produce with any cuts. After grocery shopping, get perishables into the fridge or freezer ASAP to reduce spoilage. If you’re making stops before heading home from the super­ market, bring a cooler bag with you in the car for dairy, meat, and produce.
  • Avoid resealing fresh fruits and vegetables in airtight plastic storage bags or containers because they trap moisture that promotes faster decay. Purchase perforated plastic bags for produce or make your own by poking tiny holes in resealable plastic bags.
  • “Write the date a food was opened when you open a container of shelf stable food like broth or canned beans to avoid having to guess whether it’s still good or not when you can’t remember how long it’s been in the fridge.” Courtney Stinson
  • “Consider a meal delivery service. I found food waste challenging when we went from a family of three to a family of two. Using the Hello Fresh for a few meals a week is helpful. We get just the right amount of ingredients and the meals-for-two are actually dinner-for-two and lunch-for-one.” – Shelley Real

How to reduce food waste and save more money 

  • Plan meals and snacks for at least five days of the week and shop for the ingredients. Meal planning helps to save money and food waste, and prepping meals on the weekend saves time Monday through Friday. Check out Smart Meal Prep for Beginners by Toby Amidor to get started.

cucumber and cherry tomato, parsley

Add vegetable odds and ends to soups, stews, and salads.

  • “Reorganize your fridge. Crisper drawers actually have a purpose! Reconsidering how you organize your fridge can keep your food fresh longer by reducing spoilage.  This will save money and fight food waste.  Check out this fridge storage infographic for more information.– Chris Vogliano
  • “I cook vegetables within a day or two of purchase and refrigerate them in airtight container if I know I will not be eating them that day. This allows me to eat them before they have a chance to wilt in the fridge.” – Barbara Baron
  • “Have a family fix it yourself leftovers night. We do this when we’re too lazy or tired to make a meal. We try to eat all the leftover food and what that is close to expiring. Nobody eats the same thing, but we can still usually each find a pretty balanced meal.” – Courtney Stinson
  • “When I’m feeling ambitious, I portion out foods like fruit, veggies, beans, and grains into see-through containers, typically in ½-cup or 1-cup portions. As a result, instead of the blueberries getting pushed to the back of the refrigerator and forgotten, someone can easily grab a portion to eat.” -Wendy Kaplan
  • “Build a layered vegetable salad in order of the food’s ability to withstand moisture, and it’ll keep in your refrigerator longer. Starting at the bottom of the bowl, use sturdy vegetables like peppers and carrots. Then use vegetables that can withstand some moisture, like mushrooms and beans. Follow with a layer of whole grains. Finish with a top layer of herbs and lettuce. Add dressing on individual plates, right before serving.” – Tamar Rothenberg

 

Cook more often for zero waste in the kitchen 

  • “I keep a bag of vegetable scraps in my freezer to make stock. When I get enough, I toss the vegetables in with bones and cook overnight.” –Wendy Jo Peterson

 

  • “Eat root-to-stem! For example, if you’re a fan of broccoli, sauté the leaves, which tastes similar to kale, and turn the stem into broccoli rice in the food processor.”  – Jessica Spiro
  • Use ice cube trays to preserve leftover wine, remaining tomato paste, milk, yogurt, and 100% fruit or vegetable juice. Use in recipes later.
  • “I make this salsa with veggies that are about to go bad!” – Tawnie Kroll

salsa and crackers

Tawnie Kroll’s salsa.

  • “Use up parts of veggies you wouldn’t normally eat, or veggies that have lost their texture (ex: softened carrots) by making your own vegetable broth. Compost the veggie scraps after you’ve gotten flavor and nutrients out of them.” – Kelly Jones
  • Make food fresh again. Perk up wilted kale, Swiss chard, spinach, and other greens by placing them in ice water for 30 minutes. Cook and eat or freeze. To freshen up nuts, toast them on a baking sheet in a 350 ̊F oven for 10 minutes.

Read: A year of less food waste by Moms Kitchen Handbook


 

  • “I make an Egg Bake with my leftover food–nearly anything can be mixed with eggs, some onions and a little cheese (even cottage cheese–one of my favorites).” – Kitty Broihier
  • “Don’t throw away the liquid from the can of beans! This “aquafaba” makes an excellent vegan egg alternative for baked goods, and can be used to make vegan mayo. Here’s an example of how to use it in these sweet potato fritters with aquafaba aioli!” -Chrissy Carroll
  • “Search for recipes based on what you need to use up.  Also, when I realize I made too much of something, I’ll find a friend or neighbor to share it with. -Kacie Barnes
  • “Dry fruits and vegetables in the oven or a dehydrator. Purée veggies and tomatoes for marinara sauce. Make soup. Make croutons with extra bread.” -Aimee Sarchet
  • “I evaluate the fridge before going to the store each Sunday. Then I make a meal with leftovers, such as a frittata with leftover veggies and cheese.  I also make dishes like grain salad for lunches with cooked whole grains, salad greens, veggies and meat, or a soup. I always freeze leftover canned goods.”‪ – Jessica Ivey

Judy Barbe's Roasted Cauliflower Fettucini

Judy Barbe’s Roasted Cauliflower Fettucini uses cauliflower stems! 

  • Roasted cauliflower fettucini is the most popular recipe on my blog. I use the cauliflower stems in the sauce and top it with bread crumbs (a good way to use stale bread). – Judy Barbe

Kara Lydon Evancho has compiled 25 delicious, creative recipes to use up leftovers

When is it OK to throw food away?

I feel guilty every time I throw out food, but sometimes I have to. For safety’s sake, toss the following:

  • Odd­-smelling food
  • Food left out for more than two hours, or one hour if the air temperature is 90 ̊F or above
  • If the power has been out for at least four hours and you haven’t opened the refrigerator or freezer; sooner if you have raw animal foods, dairy, and leftovers
  • If cans have rusted or they’re leaking, deeply dented, or bulging
  • Moldy food (except for cheese; you can cut that part away)

What do the dates on food packages mean?

You may pitch food because you want to eat only the freshest and safest items, but throwing away perfectly good items contributes to food waste.

Some of the dates on food packages are more about quality than anything.

• “Sell by” dates are used for fresh, perishable foods, such as meats and dairy products. It’s the last possible day the store can sell the product, and it’s a date you should take seriously for safety’s sake. However, if the date passes while you have the product at home, the food should still be safe if handled properly.

• The “Use By” and “Best If Used By” dates have more wiggle room, as they refer to perceived food quality, not food safety. For example, the “best if used by” is the last date recommended for the customer’s use of a product at its peak quality.

• Set your refrigerator between 35 ̊F and 40 ̊F, and your freezer at 0 ̊F or below, to keep food fresher for longer. Don’t stuff the refrigerator and freezer. That reduces cooling efficiency and speeds up food spoilage.

To see how long food is still good past these dates, visit stilltasty.com.

dozens of easy tips to prevent food waste

29 Ways to Use Up Holiday Leftovers

When you host holiday dinners, you have more than leftover turkey to deal with, and if you’re like me, you hate to waste cranberry sauce, vegetables, pie, and other festive food. Here are 29 ways to use up holiday leftovers and prevent food waste.

How to Use Up Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry sauce in white bowl

Use cranberry sauce in place of jelly in a peanut butter sandwich, and add to turkey sandwiches as a spread.

• Stir cranberry sauce into warm oatmeal that’s been microwaved with milk (milk for extra protein, calcium, and other minerals, and vitamins). Top with chopped walnuts or pecans.

• Add a tablespoon or two of cranberry sauce to fruit smoothies and eliminate sugar or other sweeteners.

• Combine cranberry sauce with plain Greek yogurt and make a parfait with whole grain ready-to-eat cereal.

• Warm 2 tablespoons of cranberry sauce in the microwave for 10 seconds and put it on top of vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt.

• Top French toast, waffles, and pancakes with warm cranberry sauce instead of maple syrup.


Reduce food waste, save money, and help the environment! 


How to Use Leftover Stuffing and Dressing

• Prepare stuffing “pancakes” and top with a fried egg.

• Stir stuffing or dressing into turkey soup.

• Use as a topping on turkey pot pie.

What to Make with Leftover Holiday Vegetables

quiche-2067686_1920

Prepare a vegetable strata from leftover bread, chopped vegetables, eggs, and cheese, or make a quiche.

• Puree cooked broccoli, cauliflower, or carrots and add milk or cream to make soup.

pumpkin-soup-2886322_1920

Mix butternut squash and sweet potato together for soup, and add coconut milk.

• Add cooked sweet potato or beets to smoothies.

• Stir plain pumpkin or mashed or sweet potatoes into turkey soup for a thicker, more flavorful soup.

• Stuff a cooked baked sweet or white potato with 1/4 cup cooked diced turkey or 1/4 cup black beans, and top with cranberry sauce or salsa.

• Top turkey pot pie with mashed sweet or white potatoes instead of pastry crust.

• Smash (gently!) whole cooked small potatoes, roast in 400˚F oven for 10 minutes, and top with a dollop of sour cream or Greek yogurt and fresh chives.

• Chop cooked veggies and add to omelettes along with leftover cheese or use on top of pizza.

• Puree cooked cauliflower and mix with milk or cream and grated Parmesan cheese to the desired consistency for a side dish.

• Whip up potato pancakes with white or sweet potatoes.

What to Make with Leftover Bread and Rolls

• Prepare French toast or pancakes with leftover cream or eggnog.

• Make croutons from cornbread, rolls, or other leftover bread. Cut into large pieces and roast in oven at 300˚F until dry, about 20 minutes.

Pancakes with powdered sugar, and fresh raspberries

Use leftover eggnog to whip up a quick batch of pancakes.

Simple Ways to Use Up Leftover Turkey

• Prepare turkey pot pie with leftover sweet potato, white potato, or stuffing for the topping.

• Make a white bean and turkey chili and include leftover vegetables.

• Prepare quick quesadillas using whole wheat tortillas, leftover cheese, and sliced turkey. Serve with cranberry sauce for dipping.

• Add chopped turkey to your favorite macaroni and cheese recipe.

Simple Recipes for Leftover Eggnog

• Use eggnog in place of milk when you prepare French toast, vanilla cake from a mix pancakes, waffles, and bread pudding.

• Combine eggnog and fruit for a delicious smoothie.

Pumpkin smoothie with whipped cream.

Scoop pumpkin pie out of the crust and combine with plain Greek yogurt for a creamy pudding, or add some milk and make a smoothie.

What to Do with Leftover Wine

• Freeze red wine in ice cube trays to use later in stews.


What are your favorite ways to use up holiday leftovers?


 

29 ways to use up holiday leftovers

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