Pumpkin isn’t only for sweet recipes. Try switching things up and use pumpkin in a savory cooking application. Start with this Turkey Pumpkin Chili!
How is October already coming to an end? Fall is a busy time for me with conferences and a lot of work travel. Also during this time of year, I’m sure your Pinterest boards are being saturated with pumpkin everything! I am would say I am a self-proclaimed pumpkin lover, but my RD friend Maggie I would nominate as the president of the pumpkin lover’s club. She just came out with a pumpkin cookbook featuring 50 creative pumpkin flavored, shaped, & spiced recipes.
Did You Know?
A few years back I was at a conference and an RD from Nestle was there speaking about Libby’s canned pumpkin. That brand is a staple across supermarkets nationally. I’m sure many of you, like myself, stock up on Libby’s canned pumpkin this time of year. I was fascinated to learn they exclusively use Dickinson pumpkins, which are a special strain of pumpkins.
Why Dickinson Pumpkins?
Libby’s acquired the rights to the “Libby’s Select Dickinson” pumpkin in 1929 from the Dickinson family who brought it in the early 1800s from Kentucky. If you ever Google “Dickinson pumpkin” images that appear look like a pale, slightly misshapen butternut squash, not the jack-o-lantern pumpkin you may be thinking of. When Dickinson pumpkins are grown and cultivated just right, they yield a sweet, bright orange flesh that’s amazing in dishes from pies to pasta, and a healthier ingredient to swap into some of your favorite recipes.
Confession: One year I was a little too pumpkin obsessed. I ate it in my oats for breakfast, stirred it in my yogurt, made smoothies, breads, soups every. single. day. I had a tad too much beta-carotene and my palms started turning orange. Lesson learned.
While pumpkin is used in sweet applications the majority of the time, pumpkin works well with savory applications. This chili is perfect for someone who isn’t too crazy about super spicy chili. It’s a mellow flavor with a hint of sweet. I feel like chili isn’t complete without a slice of cornbread. I always crumble up the cornbread right into the chili.
Fire up the grill! It’s time to make Confetti Turkey Burgers. Learn how to keep a turkey burger juicy and the pros and cons of different kinds of grills.
It’s officially grilling season! Grilling is a healthy cooking technique. This cooking method exposes food to direct heat, leaving grilled food evenly charred on the outside and juicy in the inside. It is also a lower-fat cooking method because the fat will drip from the grill grates. Grilling can be for meats, vegetables, and fruit. Have you ever had grilled pineapple? It’s delicious!
So often I hear complaints that turkey burgers are dry and chewy because they are very lean. Indeed, ground turkey breast is very lean with only 1% fat. Knowing that, how can we add more flavors, more moisture, and even stretch your dollar? Veggies!
Finely chopping veggies and incorporating them into the ground turkey will help keep the burger moist and tender. When cooked the water content from the vegetables is released, leaving you with a juicy burger.
Plus, by bulking up the ground turkey with veggies, it creates more burger patties, significantly stretching your dollar. One pound of ground meat often serves four, but with adding veggies it stretches it to six servings.
They provide a more distinct smoky flavor along with that amazing backyard aroma. It’s such a tease when I’m running through the neighborhood and all I smell are my neighbors grilling. Scented wood chips or charcoal will bring the additional flavor. However, charcoal can be a little messy and sometimes tricky to regulate the temperature
Just turn on a switch and your gas grill is fired up and ready to go. You are able to easily regulate the temperature and often gas grills have different settings that you can easily regulate areas of the grill at different temperatures. You won’t really get that smoky flavor, but you are able to cook various items on the grill at the same.
I call these confetti burgers because there are flecks of colors throughout the burger patty. The key is finely chopping vegetables so they evenly disperse throughout the patty. Play around with different veggies that you like. I always aim to add at least three different colors into the mix.
Looking to revamp pasta night? Love a creamy sauce, but looking for a dairy free version? Try this Creamy Caramelized Onion Pasta, using hummus as the base of the sauce.
I received free samples of Sabra mentioned in this post. By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by Sabra and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.
I have so many memories of my childhood going to Grandma’s for Sunday night dinner with my whole family. Pasta was always on the menu. It’s the Italian way! The second you walked into Grandma’s house you could smell the gravy that has been simmering all day.
Funny story about gravy .. Well, I thought everyone called marinara sauce, gravy. I remember teaching one of my first cooking classes discussing the baked eggplant parm that we were going to top with homemade gravy. With all the puzzled faces looking back at me, I instantly got nervous thinking, “oh no, maybe no one likes eggplant parm?”, but one participant spoke up and questioned the unique combo. They were all thinking gravy = the brown gravy you put on turkey during Thanksgiving. I would have given the same look if I thought I was going to be eating baked eggplant parm with brown gravy. From then on, I’ve been pretty specific when explaining the recipes we are making in cooking class.
I love creamy pasta, but it always leaves me with a stomach ache because it’s just so heavy. Did you know you can create a creamy sauce using hummus? Is your mind blown? By using hummus as the base for a creamy sauce, not only makes it dairy free but also is a plant-based protein making it a more filling and satisfying bowl of pasta. There are over a dozen delicious flavors of Sabra to choose from, but I have a sweet spot for anything caramelized onion.
To double up on the caramelized onion flavor, I added even more caramelized onions and other veggies to round out this meal. Revamp your pasta night with this new recipe!
In a large saute pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Saute onions and garlic for about 4 minutes, until the onion is translucent. Add the mushrooms and saute for 5-7 minutes, until tender and most of the water has evaporated. Tips: Do not rush this step. The mushrooms will release a lot of moisture. Saute until most of the moisture evaporates.
Add the spinach and stir to combine and wilt. Fold in the roasted red peppers. Remove from pan and set aside.
In the same pan, add the container of Sabra Caramelized Onion Hummus and broth. Whisk and bring to a gentle simmer.
Add the sauteed vegetables and linguine to the sauce. Season with salt to taste.
For a lower-carb version: Use half pasta and half zucchini noodles (or all zucchini noodles) For gluten-free: Use a gluten-free paste (my favorite it Banza!) To pack in more protein: Use a bean-based pasta.
Need some new grilling inspiration? Try these simple and flavorful Chicken Pesto Kabobs!
Fire up the grill! Any grill will do, but there are advantages and disadvantages of using both charcoal or gas grills.
Charcoal vs. Gas Grills – What’s the difference?
Charcoal grills provide a more distinct smoky flavor along with that amazing backyard aroma. It’s such a tease when I’m running through the neighborhood and all I smell are my neighbors grilling. Scented wood chips or charcoal will add additional flavor. However, charcoal can be a little messy and sometimes tricky to regulate the temperature.
Just turn on a switch and your gas grill is fired up and ready to go. You are able to easily regulate the temperature and often gas grills have different settings that you can easily regulate areas of the grill at different temperatures. You won’t really get that smoky flavor, but you are able to cook various items on the grill at the same time.
I like to create little ribbons for the zucchini to thread on the skewers. Chopped (quartered or in half moons) zucchini works just as fine! I just enjoy the crispy edges of the zucchini ribbons that crisp up from the grilling process.
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 cup pre-made pesto, divided
salt and pepper, to taste
In a large resealable bag, combine chicken and ¾ cup pesto; marinate for 1 hour.
Using a mandolin (or carefully cut with a knife), slice zucchini lengthwise.
Remove chicken from the marinade. Thread the cherry tomatoes, zucchini in a ribbon-like pattern, then chicken. Repeat until skewer is filled.
Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Add kebobs to grill, cook gently turning halfway through for about 10-12 minutes or until internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165 degrees F. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Brust on additional pesto, if desired. Serve immediately.
This post is sponsored by The Beef Checkoff. Thanks for supporting brands that make this blog possible!
Dietitians are celebrating all month long because March is National Nutrition Month! This year’s theme is “Go Further with Food”. This theme encourages us to achieve the numerous benefits healthy eating habits offer while including a variety of healthful foods from all of the food groups on a regular basis.
Previously working as a Supermarket RD, I quickly learned that a grocery store is a confusing place, especially in certain areas like the meat section.
It can be challenging grocery shopping for beef if you are unsure of the difference between flank steak and skirt steak. The different costs, categories, or even proper cooking techniques of various cuts of beef can throw off even a savvy home cook.
At the supermarket meat case, each beef package label typically identifies the primal cut and the sub-primal cut name. It also includes the weight, price per pound, total price, sell-by date, and safe handling instructions. It may also include a grade, nutrition and preparation information, and the country of origin.
It’s time to “Beef Up Nutrition Month” with decoding what the labels mean in the supermarket meat case.
BEEF QUALITY GRADING
The USDA divides beef into categories by different grades. Prime, Choice, and Select are the ones you will see at the grocery store. The certain qualifications that determine the quality grade of beef are:
Distribution of marbling within the lean muscle at the 12th/13th rib
Age/maturity of the carcass
Color, texture, & firmness of the lean muscle
Prime-Grade Beef is the USDA’s highest designation. Coming from younger, well-fed cattle, this beef has more marbling with afirmer flesh. Prime-grade beef accounts for less than approximately five percent of the market in the United States, with the vast majority going to steakhouses and fancy hotels. Prime roasts and steaks are excellent for roasting, grilling, or broiling.
Choice-Grade Beef is of high quality and produced in highest quantity. Choice-grade beef has less marbling than Prime. This is the standard option at supermarkets. Choice roast and steaks, especially from the rib and loin, will be very tender, juicy, and flavorful when roasted, grilled, or broiled. Less tender cuts are great for slow cooking.
Select-Grade Beef is slightly leaner than Prime and Choice because it has less marbling. It can lack some tenderness, flavor, and juiciness as compared to the higher grades. Select grade beef often benefits from marinating prior to grilling or broiling. 1
Check out this easy to explore chart, outlining the various Grades of Beef.
NATURAL, GRASS-FED, ORGANIC – WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?
Beyond just the quality grade, beef comes along with additional labels. Package labeling can be very confusing.
All cattle spend the majority of their lives eating grass on pastures. But beef can be finished in a variety of ways, giving you choices when at the meat case in your local grocery store or at a restaurant.
“Natural” This label implies the beef has no artificial ingredients or colors added to it an is minimally processed. 2
“Naturally Raised” does have validity. As of 2009, the label ensures that the animals are free of antibiotics, never received growth-promoting hormones, never fed animal by-products, and may spend time at a feed yard. Naturally raised cattle may be either grain- or grass-finished.
“100% Organic Beef” means that the animals must be fed completely organic feed grains and have never received antibiotics and growth-promoting hormones. This is certified and inspected by the government. Organic beef cattle may be either grain- or grass-finished, as long as the USDA’s Agriculture Marketing Service certifies the feed is 100% organically grown and can be fed in a feed yard. 3
“Grass Finished” cattle spend their lives eating grass or foraging, but not always necessarily stay on a 100 percent grass-fed diet or finished on grass. Some “grass-fed” cattle are still fed grain for their last few weeks to help fatten the cattle. Grass-fed cattle may or may not be given FDA-approved antibiotics to treat, prevent, or control disease and/or growth-promoting hormones. 2
Need help choosing lean beef or wondering what type of cooking method works best? Use the Beef. It’s what’s for dinner’s cooking guide.
Beef provides you with 10 essential nutrients that support a heart-healthy lifestyle including protein, zinc, iron and B vitamins. The nutrients found in beef provide our bodies with the strength to thrive and grow throughout all the stages of life.
Beef is an excellent source of protein.
One 3-ounce cooked serving of beef provides approximately 50% of your Daily Value (25 grams) of this important nutrient—making it an excellent source! Protein helps maintain a healthy weight, as well as preserve and build muscle.
New research suggests it’s not only important to just get enough protein in at dinner or lunch but to spread it throughout your day for optimal health. Aim for 25-30 grams of protein at each meal. 4,5
What is considered lean?
6 Look for the word “round” or “loin” in its name when choosing lean cuts of beef.
Lean cuts include top sirloin steak, tenderloin steak, strip steak (or top loin steak), or 95% lean ground beef.
Whip up this simple and delicious stir-fry for dinner.
1 (8-ounce) can pineapple tidbits, 3 tablespoons juice reserved
5 tsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
1 tbsp ketchup
2 tsp brown sugar
1 lb. flank steak, cut into strips
1 tsp cornstarch
3 tsp sesame oil, divided
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 cup snap peas
1 sweet pepper, sliced
Whisk the reserved 3 tbsp pineapple juice, vinegar, soy sauce, ketchup, and sugar in a small bowl until smooth. Place beef in a medium bowl; toss with 2 tablespoons of the sauce. Let marinate for 20 minutes.
Add cornstarch to the remaining sauce and whisk until smooth.
Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Transfer the beef to the pan. Whisk any remaining marinade into the bowl of sauce. Cook the beef, stirring every 1 to 2 minutes, until tender, about 4-5 minutes. Transfer the beef to a plate.
Add the remaining 1 tsp oil to the pan and heat over medium heat. Add garlic, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the mushrooms, snap peas and sweet pepper to cook, stirring often, until just tender, about 3 minutes. Pour in the sauce and cook, stirring, until thickened, about 30 seconds. Add the beef and pineapple and cook, until heated through.
Skip takeout! It will take you less time to make this Instant Pot Sesame Chicken than it is to make a trip out for takeout.
There are just some nights where takeout seems like the easier option. Sesame chicken is one of my favorites when ordering takeout but never leaves me feeling the best. What if I told you, I’ve figured out a way to enjoy this signature takeout dish faster than it will take you to hop in the car and grab from a restaurant. Would you believe me?
Why the Instant Pot recipe is healthier than takeout
Oh Instant Pot, you continue to amaze me. Cooking the chicken in the Instant Pot creates a crispy texture without a fryer, which how typical take-out restaurants cook this dish.
Simple sauce ingredients
You most likely have the majority of these ingredients already on hand. The soy sauce, ketchup, and red pepper flakes will cook with the chicken helping it stay tender while infusing flavors. The honey and cornstarch will help crisp up the chicken and thicken the sauce.
Easily turn this Instant Pot Sesame Chicken recipe into a full meal
Take it even one step further to make this dinner with ease. Utilize the steamable rice and broccoli found in the frozen aisle. Or keep putting your Instant Pot to work again by cooking rice and the broccoli in there too.
Cozy up to a bowl of this creamy Butternut & Acorn Squash Soup. Ever wonder how food bloggers come up with their recipes? I pretty much think or talk about food all day. At work, I’m educating clients about nutrition through food or teaching cooking classes. Then, for the blog, my recipe creations are inspired by conversations I have, discussions in cooking classes or demonstrations, or simply from a particular ingredient. Travel definitely plays a big role in recipe development too. I love dining out when I travel, experiencing the local fare. I like to try an recreate recipes I’ve tried with my own little twist.
This recipe was a little different. The next day to work after FNCE, I was dragging. There was no food in my refrigerator and I went into work empty-handed for lunch. The beauty of working at Living Plate, there is a test kitchen right in the office. I opened the fridge and utilized what was in there and in the pantry. This recipe creation was purely driven by hunger and fatigue. We all loved the soup so much, I ended up making it again in a cooking class, during a community event cooking demonstration and even added it to the meal plans. Ever wonder what kind of squash to use for different recipes? I break it down here! Next time before you start dialing for takeout, really take a look what is in your kitchen. You never know – you might whip up something delicious!
1 apple, peeled and diced (preferably a sweet variety like Honeycrisp, gala, pink lady)
4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
2 cups water
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
salt, to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. To easily cut the squashes, pierce butternut squash and acorn squash with a paring knife. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes to soften, so it will be easier to chop. Let cool until able to handle. Peel and dice squash into cubes.
In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onions, garlic, and carrots. Saute for about 3 minutes, until onions start to become translucent.
Add the garam masala and nutmeg and coat the vegetables.
Stir in the chickpea miso, cashews, butternut squash, acorn squash, and apple. Stir to combine. Add the vegetable broth and water, covering the vegetables. (Use more water, if needed).
Simmer soup for 30 minutes, until squash is tender. Season with salt and pepper.
In batches, add soup to a blender. Blend until smooth. If soup is too thick, add more water.
Serve warm. (Optional: sprinkle pepitas on top to garnish)
Take advantage of peak squash season. Try this Italian Stuffed Delicata Squash recipe for a simple dinner solution.
Delicata squash is available in the fall and early winter months. I don’t think delicata squash gets the attention it deserves this time of year. It’s less intimidating than a giant butternut and spaghetti squash, plus it’s easier to work with.
Cutting through a raw delicata squash is a lot easier, as it has a softer skin and flesh. They are much smaller than other squash varieties and have a perfect center for stuffing. Delicata squash is also delicious simply sliced and roasted. This squash is also great when just cooking for 1 or 2. It’s a perfect size!
Not sure what kind of squash to use for recipes?
Learn the best cooking methods for the different varieties of squash:
Good for: Roasting. Peeling is difficult, so cut it in half or slice (the skin is edible). Butternut
Great for: Roasting and soups. Delicata
Great for: Roasting and stuffing. Hubbard
Great for: Pie filling, purees, and mashes. Kabocha
Great for: Soups. Pumpkin
Great for: Pies, quick breads, pancakes, risottos. Roast or steam, puree, then add to a recipe. Spaghetti
Great for: Roasting. Scrape out the strands and dress with butter or pasta sauce.
If you’re an Italian girl like me, you can make this stuffing in your sleep. You can’t go wrong with this flavor combination. What is unique about this stuffing, is it using the “blend trend“.
The blend is a cooking technique that uses finely chopped mushrooms so that they’re the consistency of ground meat, combining the two and using them together to complete classic recipes is a simple way to make meals delicious and nutritious.
The delicata squash has a sweet note, that adds a unique taste to this savory filling.
This sheet pan recipe has a special gut health ingredient – miso! Sheet pan dinners are becoming a staple for busy weeknights. Sheet pans dinners are versatile and can be mixed and matched with different ingredients and flavor blends.
More and more research is being studied about gut health and the connection to overall health. Some are even calling the gut a “second brain” as now studies are showing how much they continuously work together. According to Harvard Medical School, a troubled intestine can send signals to the brain, just as a troubled brain can send signals to the gut. Therefore, a person’s stomach or intestinal distress can be the cause or the product of anxiety, stress, or depression because the brain and the gastrointestinal (GI) system are intimately connected.
Why gut health is important
I’m sure you’ve heard about how probiotics support gut health. If not, probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for your health, especially your digestive system. We usually think of bacteria as something that causes diseases. The body is full of bacteria, both good and bad. Probiotics are often called “good” or “helpful” bacteria because they help keep the gut stay healthy.
Food rich in probiotics includes yogurt, kefir and fermented foods like sauerkraut, kombucha, tempeh, and miso – the probiotic-rich food I used in this recipe.
What is Miso Paste?
In simple terms, miso is a fermented bean. Primarily, miso is made from soybeans, but any bean can be used. I use chickpea miso or white soybean miso often, just because it’s lighter in color and a more neutral flavor.
Varieties of Miso Paste
Diving a little deeper into the difference between varieties of miso, I consulted one of my favorite cooking resources, The Kitchn.
White miso is made from soybeans that have been fermented with a large percentage of rice. The actual resulting color can range from white to light beige, and the miso has a definite sweet taste. White miso is best used in condiments like mayo or salad dressings, or in light sauces.
Yellow miso is usually made from soybeans that have been fermented with barley and sometimes a small percentage of rice. It can be yellow to light brown in color. Yellow miso has a mild, earthy flavor and is better for general use in not only condiments, but soup, marinades, and glazes.
Red miso is typically made from soybeans fermented with barley or other grains, though with a higher percentage of soybeans and/or a longer fermentation period. It can range in color from red to dark brown. The deep umami flavor of red miso can overwhelm mild dishes but is perfect for hearty soups, braises, and glazes.
Many have an understanding that probiotics are important for gut health and with cold and flu season upon us, the best defense may be good gut health, but the key to these helpful gut health bacteria is feeding them with prebiotics for the probiotics to flourish in the gut. Prebiotics are a type of fiber. They are un-digestible plant fibers that already live inside the large intestine. The more food, or prebiotics, that probiotics have to eat, the more efficiently these live bacteria work and the healthier your gut will be.
Prebiotics are found in whole foods that are packed with fiber (aka. plants)! To improve gut health, a mixture of both probiotics and prebiotics is needed. Probiotics need to be fed (by prebiotics) in order to remain active and healthy and to benefit you as much as possible.
Prebiotics (fiber) is the food for probiotics (helpful bacteria) to flourish, to improve gut health.
Let’s put it this way: It’s like you can’t out-exercise a poor diet. The same goes for gut health. You can’t consume more probiotics without consuming prebiotics to improve gut health.
Sheet pan dinners are becoming a staple for busy weeknights. They are versatile and can be mixed and matched with different ingredients and flavor blends. This sheet pan recipe has a special gut health ingredient – miso!
In a small bowl, whisk together miso, sesame oil, soy sauce, ginger, and garlic until smooth.
In an even layer spread the green beans on the baking sheet. Make room in between green beans and place salmon skin side down. Brush salmon generously with miso mixture. Drizzle remaining miso mixture over green beans.
Bake for 6-10 minutes, depending on the thickness of the salmon, until salmon is opaque in the center and can flake easily. Broil for the last 1-2 minutes.
Garnish salmon and green beans with sesame seeds and scallions.
Keywords: dinner, salmon, sheet pan
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Disclosure: This recipe has been updated to be entered into the #CelebrateSeafood recipe contest.
Make dinner time less stressful with easy prep and easy clean-up. This Sheet Pan Bruschetta Chicken with Roasted Asparagus is quick, nourishing, and delicious! Sheet pan dinners have been lifesavers during busy weeks. Throw ingredients together on a sheet pan and roast for a simple sheet pan dinner. They make busy weeknights a bit more manageable. With just only one pan to clean up, count me in. It’s exciting that sheet pan dinners are this month’s Recipe ReDux theme. I can’t wait to see what other members came up with. We will all have so many new ideas to try now! Hate scrubbing pans? Me too! I highly suggest investing in parchment baking sheets. It makes clean up even easier! No food gets stuck to the pan, so no scrubbing required!
In a small bowl, combine the tomatoes, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, basil, salt, and pepper. Set aside.
Season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper. Place chicken in a line on one end of the prepared baking sheet.
Place asparagus on the opposite side of the baking sheet in a single layer. Drizzle olive oil, salt, and pepper over asparagus. Toss to combine to evenly coat.
Place in the oven and bake for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and top chicken with mozzarella cheese. Toss the asparagus. Cook for an additional 5-10 minutes until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F and asparagus is tender.
Top chicken with bruschetta and serve immediately.
If chicken breasts are thick, cook chicken for 10 minutes alone first before adding asparagus to the pan.
Keywords: dinner, chicken, sheet pan
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