Feeding toddlers is always an adventure and during the holidays it’s magnified by family gatherings, loads of sweets and piles of presents. This time of year I am always looking for meal ideas that might persuade them to sit down and eat a somewhat healthy dinner or something I can make and bring with to family gatherings that might not have toddler-friendly foods. I don’t know about you, but my toddlers won’t eat au gratin anything. The menu I’m sharing today features The Grinch’s (Spinach) Mini Pizza Muffins and Roasted Butternut Squash Trees. We love a good themed menu at our house and this is a great way to get my boys to eat spinach! Continue reading “Holiday Meal Ideas with Toddlers”
It’s the start of a new season and that means it’s time to get out the slow cooker. Here is a perfect recipe on the days you know you won’t have a lot of time after work. It was great! The pork chops were moist and the vegetables were tender with a lot of good flavor. If you don’t care for the flavor of basil you can leave it out. Enjoy… I did!
Coborn’s Inc. Meat and Seafood Merchandiser
- 1-1/2 tsp. Seasoned Salt
- 1 tsp. Garlic-Pepper Blend
- 2 T. Olive Oil
- 4 Boneless Pork Chops, ½ inch thick
- 1 Cup Baby Carrots
- 4 Small Red Potatoes, cut in half
- 1 Onion, cut into thin wedges
- 1 Small Yellow Summer Squash, thinly sliced
- 2 T. Dried Basil
- In small bowl, mix salt and garlic-pepper blend.
- Sprinkle half of seasoning mixture over pork.
- In 12-inch skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium-heat.
- Cook pork chops in oil for about 4 minutes, turning once, until just browned.
- Spray 5-quart slow cooker with cooking spray.
- Place pork chops in slow cooker; top with carrots, potatoes and onion.
- Cover and cook on low heat setting for 6-7 hours.
- In medium bowl, mix squash, basil, remaining 1 tablespoon oil and remaining half of seasoning mixture; spoon on top of vegetable mixture in slow cooker.
- Increase heat setting to High.
- Cover; cook 10 to 15 minutes longer or until squash is crisp-tender.
This is one of my favorite pork recipes because it is so easy to make, and the flavor of sage, garlic and maple mixed together with the pork make your tastebuds do a “happy dance”! Let’s not forget the squash either. Yummy! Enjoy….I did!
Coborns Inc. Meat and Seafood Merchandiser
- 4 Pork Chops, boneless, ½” thick
- 1 med. Buttercup Squash, unpeeled, cut into 4 wedges
- ½ tsp. Seasoned Salt
- ½ tsp. Sage Leaves, dried
- ¼ tsp. Garlic Powder
- ¼ cup Syrup, real or maple-flavored
- 2 T. Butter or Margarine, melted
- Heat oven to 425 degrees.
- Spray 9x12 inch glass pan with cooking spray.
- Place pork chops and squash in pan.
- Sprinkle squash and both sides of pork chops with seasoned salt, sage and garlic powder; rub with fingers to distribute evenly.
- In small bowl, mix maple syrup and butter.
- Brush about half of mixture over pork and squash.
- Cover pan with foil.
- Bake 40 minutes.
- Turn pork chops over.
- Brush pork and squash with maple mixture.
- Bake uncovered 10 minutes longer until the internal temperature of the pork reaches at least 145 degrees and the squash is tender.
Happy fall, everyone!
The leaves have turned their final colors and are now dropping off the trees at a faster rate, the days are more crisp and cool and there is a very evident chill in the air. I hate to say it, but ol’ man winter is right around the corner and there is nothing you can do to prevent it unless you plan to move to Hawaii tomorrow. The only option left is to prepare and embrace it! You may wonder what I am doing to prepare myself. Well folks, besides turning on my fireplace and drinking hot tea every chance I get, I’m spending more time in my toasty, warm kitchen making soups! Hot and healthy soups are a great way to warm the soul and allow you to step out into the bitter cold with a bit more confidence that you won’t just turn into an icicle.
- Use low sodium broths, not necessarily lowER sodium (lower than what?). LowER sodium could still be very high; in order for something to be labeled as “low sodium,” it needs to have under 140mg of sodium per serving. Remember, when there is no salt, you need to replace it with other flavors, so…
- Use sodium-free seasonings, such as Chef Paul and Mrs. Dash, as well as herbs – fresh, dry, or freeze dried – and garlic powder and onion powder should be a staples, too.
- If you need to thicken your soup, use pureed potatoes or cauliflower or any other vegetable to thicken, and use fat free Greek yogurt in place of cream. I always try to think seasonally this time of year, so I would thicken my soup with pumpkin or squash, or both, and then add a dollop of fat free plain Greek yogurt on top for extra creaminess! You could also try a slurry of cornstarch and cold water instead of cream or roux, but obviously there is more nutrition if you use veggies.
- Speaking of veggies, soups are a very easy way to get a lot of vegetables into your diet. Add, add, add away! Maybe adding vegetables sounds like a lot of work, but it surely doesn’t have to be! You can use canned or frozen vegetables instead of fresh; that way they have already been washed and cut. All you have to do is open the can or bag and just keep adding! Make sure they are not in cream sauce or loaded with extra sodium, though. Try to buy the no-salt-added versions or just remember to drain and rinse for 2-4 minutes to remove that excess sodium. Canned and Frozen are just as nutritious as their fresh counterparts. If you want to learn more information about this topic, click here to read my blog about how all forms of fruits and vegetables matter; canned, frozen, fresh, dried, and 100% juice.
- If you are adding meat, make sure it is lean and always take off the skin; but who says you can’t make a seafood-based soup or why can’t it be vegetarian?
- Try using tofu or beans and lentils as your protein base. Remember, canned beans are just as nutritious as dried beans and a huge time saver; just remember to drain and rinse them for 2-4 minutes to reduce the sodium by up to 41%. By the way, beans are so nourishing; they offer a good source of protein, iron, and fiber. Plus they are low-fat, not to mention very cheap compared to other protein foods. Cannellini beans work great for Italian-style soups while black or pinto beans are nice in Southwestern-types.
- Don’t forget the whole grains! Get creative and use wheat berries, barley, quinoa, brown rice, or wild rice to name a few. You can either add them to the soup, or pour the soup on a bed of whole grains for something different. This will add fiber and keep you feeling fuller for longer. There is a laundry list of benefits of adding fiber to your diet, from weight loss to lowering your cholesterol and maintaining blood sugar levels, so don’t forget the fiber!
- Think smart when it comes to toppings: Crackers may be the go-to soup topping, but there are other options that will add crunch or flavor to your soup, with some nutritional benefits to boot. If you are looking for a crunchy topping, try toasted whole wheat bread sliced into cubes or whole grain tortillas sliced into strips, misted with oil and placed under the broiler until crispy, or whole wheat bread crumbs are a great option, as well, and very easy! For creamy toppings, try nonfat plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream or reduced-fat finely shredded cheese (the more finely it’s shredded, the less you’ll use). Avocados work great to add creaminess, as well, plus they are a fruit… BONUS! Also, fresh herbs such as basil or cilantro are always great to add as a final, flavorful touch to your favorite soup. Adding any veggies as toppings, not only add eye appeal, but also nutrition, of course!
- Ingredients for the Soup:
- 2 pounds winter squash, such as butternut
- 2 medium bulbs fennel (I reduced this amount due to personal preference)
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons fennel seeds (I reduced this amount due to personal preference)
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 2 cups sliced onions
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- 2 dried red chiles de arbol, or a fat pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 bay leaf
- ¾ cup sherry
- 8 cups water
- ¼ cup Fat Free Greek Yogurt
- Ingredients for the Pumpkin Seeds:
- ½ cup raw pumpkin seeds
- ¼ teaspoon ground cumin, or whole seeds ground
- 1 tablespoon land o lakes light butter
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- Generous pinch each of cinnamon, paprika, and cayenne (small amount)
- 1 teaspoon honey
- Heat the oven to 400°F. Peel and cut the squash into 1-inch wedges, discarding the peel and seeds. Peel and core the fennel and chop it up into equally-sized wedges. Drizzle with the olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper, and then roast until soft and caramelized, about 35 minutes.
- In the meantime, toast the fennel seeds in a dry skillet until fragrant, then grind or pulverize in a mortar and pestle. Heat the butter over medium-high heat in a heavy, large pot (like a Dutch oven) until it foams, then add the seeds, onion, thyme, chiles, bay leaf, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook until the onions are soft and translucent, about 10 minutes.
- While the squash and fennel finish roasting, prepare the pumpkin seeds: melt the butter in a small skillet over medium heat, then add the seeds, sugar, spices, and a pinch of salt. Toss well to coat the seeds and cook until they begin to pop and color slightly, moving them around the pan often. Remove from the heat, wait 30 seconds, then add the honey and toss quickly to coat. Spread on a plate to cool.
- Combine the contents of the roasting pan with the onion in the heavy pot and pour in the sherry. Allow to reduce for a few minutes, then add the water and bring it to a boil. Simmer for 20 minutes. Transfer about a third of the solids to a blender (purée it in batches to ensure the perfect consistency) and add ½ cup or so of the liquid. Turn on at low speed until the solids are completely puréed, then add another ½ cup of broth and turn the speed to high, adding liquid little by little until the soup has the consistency of heavy cream. Blend for at least a full minute on high speed. Follow this process for the rest of the soup.
- Serve the soup with some Greek yogurt spooned in, and topped with scattered pumpkin seeds.
Below is my favorite soup recipe for this season!
Squash and Fennel Soup with Candied Pumpkin Seeds
Happy soup making! The weather outside may add a chill, but this is sure to take that away, Honestly speaking, would soup taste so good if it was warm out? Nope, that’s for sure, so be thankful for the cold weather… I guess, okay maybe not thankful – that’s a bit far – rather make the best of it.
Peace and Wellness,
Coborn’s Supermarket Dietitian
Click Here for more articles written by Ashley
This is such a wonderful side dish and is extremely simple to make. It makes a large bowl so it is great when serving a crowd. It took me less than 30 minutes to get it ready and the mixture of colors made this side dish just beautiful. I am a lover of any kind of squash but butternut is my all time favorite. This would be a wonderful side dish served during those holidays dinners fast approaching. Enjoy….I did!
Coborn’s, Inc. Meat and Seafood Merchandiser
- 2 Cups Butternut Squash peeled & cubed (1/2 inch)
- 6 Cups Frozen Broccoli Cuts
- ½ Cup Orange Juice
- ¼ Cup Butter or Margarine, melted
- ½ Cup Sweetened Dried Cranberries
- ½ Cup Finely Chopped Pecans, toasted
- 1 T. Grated Orange Peel
- 1 tsp. Salt
- Cook broccoli as directed on bag; set aside.
- Meanwhile, in 12” skillet, cook squash in orange juice over medium-low heat 8 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until tender but firm.
- Stir in butter, broccoli, cranberries, pecans, orange peel and salt; toss to coat.
- Serve immediately.