Monday, August 31, 2015


Pizza is one of my favorite meals! Often times pizza companies add on extra calories that we don't need. Homemade pizza gives us control of what we put on our pizza. Today i'm going to share with you a healthy homemade pizza! If you make your pizza right you can get all the five food groups. First I made my dough from a whole wheat recipe... 2 Cups of Whole Wheat Flour, 1 1/2 tbs yeast, 1 tsp salt, 1 1/2 tsp sugar, 3/4 cup water, 1 tsp canola oil (optional).  I have chosen red sauce made out of 1 can of tomato sauce with 1 tsp oregano and 1 tsp basil. Next I added a little sausage and cheese for flavor (keep in mind this is where you want to keep to a minimum because of unwanted calories).

Next cut up the vegetables. I have chosen zucchini, green peppers and olives. Use lots of vegetables, its great way to create volume to your meal without extra calories.

By sauteing your vegetable in 1 tsp olive oil and 1 tsp minced garlic will soften and add flavor to the vegetables. 

Add sauteed vegetables to the pizza. 

So far on our pizza we have a grain=whole-wheat dough, protein=sausage, dairy=cheese, vegetables=zucchini, green pepper and olives. What are we missing? Fruit! Take a slice or two of pizza and eat it with a fruit of your choice. Tonight i have chosen a nectarine. I hope you enjoy this pizza. Please comment below with any questions! 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Cooking in Season: Watermelon

It’s watermelon season! I see them at the farmers market, street side markets, and grocery stores. This sweet melon is yummy by itself but can also pair well with other flavors. Today on the blog we have a Watermelon Mint and Lime salad. It is a fresh summer time snack and a fun spin on an original late summer favorite. This recipe is great to toss a few berries in with as well. I suggest black berries, blue berries, strawberries or raspberries.

Select: Choose symmetrical watermelons with dried stems and yellowish undersides, heavy for size.

Storage: Store whole watermelons at room temperature. Refrigerate cut watermelons in airtight container for use within 5 days.

Nutrition: Watermelon is 93 percent water and 1 cup has about 45 calories.  Watermelon has significant amounts of vitamins A and C and is fat free, sodium free, cholesterol free. Red watermelon is a good source of lycopene, a phytonutrient that gives watermelon its color. Lycopene appears to protect the body against a growing list of cancers, which include prostate cancer, breast cancer, endometrial cancer, lung cancer, and colorectal cancers. Lycopene helps to protect cells in the body from damage associated with heart disease as well.

Fun Watermelon Facts:
 Did you know that watermelon…
 · is 93% water?
· is a vegetable, not a fruit
 · is a cousin of the pumpkin
 · was used by explorers as a canteen
 · can grow to over 200 pounds



Monday, August 17, 2015

$15 goes a long way with Bountiful Baskets

Have you tried Bountiful Baskets food coop yet?  It's a fabulous way to get loads of fresh fruits and vegetables at a great price!  There are pick-up sites all over Utah where you can participate in this fun co-op.  The cost is $15 (plus a small participation fee.  In Utah, the fee is $2.50). There is no obligation to participate ever, and you can choose the weeks that you do.  Each week, participation opens up at 10am on Monday, and closes at 10pm on Tuesday.  During that time, you can visit their website:  and pay for your basket for that week.  When you pay, you also select the location you would like to pick up your basket, as well as add any additional items that are available - such as crates of apples or berries that might be available.  It's a great way to load up on produce!!  When you select your location, you will see the date and time that you should arrive to pick up your goodies.  It is usually a Saturday morning around 8am.  Because this is a coop, it is completely run by volunteers.  The organization asks that those who use the program, help out once in a while at their pickup site.  This means arriving a little bit earlier than pick-up time to help sort the produce into the baskets.  It's actually a lot of fun and a great way to make friends with those who live in your area!  Plus, you get an extra fruit or vegetable or two, just for helping out!

At Food$ense, we are huge fans of Bountiful Baskets.  Here is an example of some of the produce we got from one of our baskets, and how we planned to use it to feed our family throughout the week.  It really helped stretch our food budget and incorporate more fruits and veggies each day!


If you ask me, the prize of this week's basket was RAINBOW CHARD!  It's one of the most exciting of the winter greens because it brings so much color to what is usually the least colorful time of the year.  Good chard looks, feels and smells crisp and fresh.  You'll want to store it in the refrigerator in a plastic bag with excess moisture removed.  Once you're ready to use it, you've got plenty of options.  Here are a few: 
  • Add to omelets
  • Add to soups and stir fries
  • Boil, steam, or stir-fry them on their own
You'll want to wash it thoroughly under water.  Uncurl the leaves or anywhere there might be dirt in the crevices.  Let air dry, blot dry with a paper towel, or use a salad spinner.  Both leaves and stalk are edible.  The stalk just needs longer cook-time.  Quick cooking tips:
  • To Boil:  Should take about 3-5 minutes - just until tender.
  • To Steam:  About 2-3 minutes.
  • To Saute:  Heat a little olive oil over medium heat.  Add some minced garlic and red pepper flakes and saute for 30 seconds, then add the greens.  Saute until slightly wilted, then cover and cook until tender.  It won't take long! 

We've put together a meal plan, with feeding a family of 4 in mind.  However, these ideas would be great no matter how many you're feeding.  This meal plan uses produce from a Utah basket from Bountiful Baskets and is based on MyPlate recommendations.  We'll also use a few simple ingredients from a well stocked kitchen and minimal additional items from the market.  You can click on each recipe name for the recipe.  Everything shown here was included in the basket contribution - $15 plus a small fee ($2.50).  Everything pictured came from my personal Bountiful Basket.  

Basket items:  Head of Broccoli 
I'm torn this week.  We've had broccoli almost every week lately and I'm usually not a broccoli lover.  Having it so often and being forced to find ways to enjoy it has actually helped me to like it!  Now I can't decide if I just want to crunch on it raw, simply sauté it with some light flavorings, or turn it into a one-pot meal like Chicken Divan.  (Serve with rice)  Chicken Divan (which has a delightful curry flavor) would stretch it the most to make a complete meal and feed more people, so I'm putting that in the meal plan. Broccoli & Cheese soup would also make an affordable meal.  You can also make both dishes using our fabulous SOS mix.

Basket items:   1 bell pepper, most of one head of lettuce, handful of blueberries, handful of strawberries
Won't these items make a pretty salad?  I'll add almonds (you could also use chicken, beans, or other protein), shredded cheese, and cooked long grain wild rice (or other grain).  Add your favorite dressing or just oil and vinegar.  

Basket items:  leaves of the Rainbow Chard 
This egg-drop soup is one of my favorite cold-weather comfort foods.  And, it's a crowd-pleaser! We'll just be using the leaves of the chard for this recipe.  Save the stalks for later in the week!  This would go well with italian seasoned breadsticks and side salad.

Basket items:  1 large spaghetti squash, 1 bell pepper 
My best friend makes this regularly for her family and occasionally when I am lucky enough to be a guest at their home for dinner.  She's one of the best cooks I know (and today is her birthday!)  HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BRITTANY!!  This dish is very healthy and tasty.  Use whatever vegetables you have on hand or pick up a few more at the market. 

Basket items:   A few leaves of lettuce, 1/3-1/2 of the pineapple, 4 medium potatoes
All I need are the burger buns, the hamburger patties (or vegetarian option...Mmm... portabello burgers sound mouth-wateringly good), and some sweet onions (which I will sauté.)  This recipe makes delicious roasted potatoes.  Potatoes can be baked whole or cut into fries, seasoned, and baked.

Basket items:  handful of blueberries, 1/3 of 1 bell pepper, several potatoes 
I love having breakfast for dinner.  And I double love blueberry pancakes.  Of course, I could eat a package of blueberries in one sitting.  Making something with the blueberries will help to stretch them to make sure everyone at your table gets to enjoy them.  You can add them to any pancake batter recipe or use the one above.   I pour the batter onto my skillet, then drop the blueberries onto each one as it is cooking.  This helps the color from the berries not to run into the pancakes and turn them blue or green.

I'll make a skillet meal with the potatoes and part of one of the peppers.  I'll also use an onion, seasonings from my kitchen, and possibly eggs and cheese (sausage or ham would also be good!).

Basket items:  1-2 bell peppers, stalks of the Rainbow Chard
Serve as side dishes with the main course of your choice. 
RAINBOW CHARD:  Don't waste those gorgeous stalks!  Slice them into bite site pieces and sauté.  Melt butter or oil in a saute pan at medium heat. Add the stalks. Stir slowly but constantly for two to three minutes or until the stalks are slightly browned. If desired, add salt, paprika, garlic or lemon juice for flavor, or other ingredients.  Mashed potatoes would go nicely as another side dish.
PEPPERS:  I just love orange peppers.  It's probably because they sport one of my favorite colors and are just so darn cute.  I would eat all of them raw and be pretty happy about it.  But I need more of a meal for Sunday so I'm thinking I'll roast them in olive oil and have them over a sliced baguette.  To stretch even further, use as topping on a pizza.

Basket items:  Most of 1 clamshell of strawberries, 1/2-2/3 pineapple, 3 grapefruit, 1 dozen fuji apples 
Strawberry Smoothie or other smoothie
fruit parfait
Strawberry Shortcake
Fresh grapefruit halves sprinkled with cinnamon
5-minute apple crisp
Pineapple Curry
Fruit salad
Apple slices on grilled cheese sandwich/quesadilla
Strawberry or apple empanadas
sliced or whole fresh fruit
Fresh fruit in a green salad
Apple slices with peanut butter
Fresh fruit sliced over a bagel w/peanut butter or cream cheese
yogurt or cottage cheese with fresh fruit
Waldorf Salad
Strawberries dipped in fat free plain greek yogurt sprinkled with brown sugar
homemade applesauce
dried apples
homemade fruit roll ups
freeze fruit for homemade sherbet

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Cooking For Two: Batch Cooking

You'd think that cooking for less people would be a lot easier than feeding the masses! Interestingly, many of those who live alone or as a couple, find it tricky to cook meals and shop wisely for groceries. Common complaints I've heard are that produce goes bad too quickly or that there are always so many leftovers that never get eaten and just end up being thrown out. For those cooking for one or two people, I'd like to share just one of many ways you can make the most of your meals and keep food from going bad!

Today's tip: Batch cook and save the leftovers!

Don't be afraid of making larger meals or feel that you need to half every recipe. Make the whole recipe! Then, instead of storing leftovers in the fridge (guaranteed to go bad after you're tired of having lasagna for the third night in a row), freeze them! Then, some other night, enjoy a meal that's all ready to go! An example of a meal that freezes really well is soup. Today's tip will walk you though the proper way to freeze and store soup, but keep in mind that many other meals can be frozen and stored.

How to Freeze Soup:

Method 1:

1. Cool. Place the pot of soup in a bath of ice water in the sink. Stir soup often to help release the heat.

2. Package. Label and date gallon- or quart-size zip-top plastic freezer bags and ladle soup into each bag. Let out any excess air and seal.

3. Freeze. Lay bags flat in a single layer in the freezer; when frozen, stack bags to save space.

4. Reheat. When you're ready to have soup for another meal, take bag our of freezer and thaw overnight in the fridge. The next day, soup can then be reheated over the stove and served.

Method 2:

1. Ladle soup into sturdy, plastic cups and place in the freezer.

2. Once the soup is frozen, cut slits into the rim of the cup and peel cup off of the frozen soup.

3. Place individual frozen blocks of soup together in a bag.

4. Now you have individual serving sizes of soup ready to be thawed and reheated for any at-home meal or meal on the go!

Below is an example of a soup recipe that is great for freezing and storing!

Taco Soup

1 lb ground beef (or ground turkey)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 package mild taco seasoning mix
1 16oz can corn (undrained)
1 16 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed (can use kidney beans or pinto beans if you don't have black beans on hand)
1 14 oz can stewed tomatoes
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
1 4 oz can diced green chiles
Tortilla chips (to crunch up and put on top when serving)
Other taco toppings (cheese, sour cream, avacado, etc)

Brown meat and onion, drain.
Stir in taco seasoning, corn, black beans, tomatoes, tomato sauce, and green chiles
Simmer on low heat for 20-30 minutes.
Serve with tortilla chips and your favorite toppings.


Thursday, August 13, 2015

How I plan on getting my girls involved with Dinner prep

So important, so fun, so rewarding and so chaotic all at the same time.
I have 4 girls and I've noticed, especially with my picky eater that if she is involved in the creation of the meal she is much more likely to partake.  It can be especially hard on my patience but I know if I want them to be healthier eaters involving them in the process is the easiest way.  With school staring next week, I've come up with a plan.
Thursday nights will be our planning nights. We will sit at the table with pen in hand and have each child decide a dinner meal for the next week.  They will be in charge of making sure that meal makes it to the dinner table.  If that means doing all the work on her own (my 12 year old can usually do this) or making sure mom and sisters are helping her prepare it (my youngest, 4 year old) will have to do this.  They choose the meal (with guidance from mom and the budget, of course) and make sure it happens.
Shopping for the weeks meals will be done over the weekend.  I'm a working mom so weekend shopping is the easiest.  I've enlisted 7 reusuable bags that will sit in our pantry with the items that don't need to be refrigerated for each evenings meal.  So it can be as easy as grabbing that nights bag and getting started.  Making it easy if I'm running late from work or can't be home to get things started in time.
My girls love having ownership and being "in charge" for the evening. I'm feeling super jazzed about this new system and my husband couldn't be happier knowing there will be food on the table each night. Why not try it and see if this is something that might work for your family too?

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Veggie Delight Pizza with Two Ingredient Crust

This simple pizza is so good, it will be sure to become a family favorite! Chopped tomatoes, fresh zucchini, sliced mushrooms, artichoke, and cheddar cheese, sit atop a healthier Greek Yogurt crust. 

Pizza, a delicious and easy meal that as a family, or a couple you can create easily in your kitchen. My husband and me love, love, love pizza! We eat it often, and enjoy making it home made, as a date night activity. When I found a recipe for a Two-Ingredient crust I was so excited to try it. Pizza crust can take a long time to make, which can sometimes to buying a pre-made pizza instead. I tend to feel healthier when I make things at my home, and it’s a fun family activity.

A view of the ingredients you'll need from you pantry! Keep these items on hand, to create this easy pizza crust, any time you're craving pizza!
The Two (or three!) ingredient crust is so easy to make, you just put the ingredients into a bowl, and mix! This pizza is so easy, and super affordable. I love how versatile pizza can be, depending on what you have in your cupboard, it can be simple as cheese, or as complex as you’d like to make it. The nice thing about summer is you can find fresh veggies like zucchini and tomatoes at the farmers markets, they’re also easy to grow in a garden. I used a zucchini right from my garden for this Veggie Pizza.

Start with your pizza crust! As the name says, the crust consists of 2 or 3 ingredients. You mix together in a bowl 1 cup of self-rising * flour (I used half whole wheat flour, and half white flour in mine) and 1 cup of non-fat plain Greek yogurt. I like to add 1 tablespoon of Italian Seasoning to my crust, for added flavor, but any type of seasoning you think would be good will work.

* Don't worry if you don't have self-rising flour. You can make your own by combining 1 cup of all-purpose flour, 1 and 1/2 tsp baking powder, and 1/2 tsp of salt. (This is what I did, since I don't have self-rising flour)

Mix all of the ingredients for the pizza crust together in a medium sized bowl until they form a ball. Spray your pan with a non-stick spray and place the pizza dough in the center of the pan. Work the dough out to the edge from the center, by pushing down with your palms and fingers until the dough has spread out. If the dough is sticky, add a little bit of flour to the top of it until you can spread it out easily.

My husband and I love to eat pizza, so I decided to double this recipe. Doubling the recipe makes enough Pizza for the two of us, plus left overs. I recommend doubling the recipe if you like Pizza.
Here are the ingredients I used to top this pizza. Zucchini and tomatoes are both found at the farmers market, but if you're like me, and enjoy making meals quickly, try getting canned diced tomatoes, sliced mushrooms, and minced garlic. I also used canned artichoke hearts.

Once your pizza crust is ready, set it aside to prep your veggies. I am a big believer in making things quicker and easier when it comes to cooking, by having certain things on hand. One of the items I like to keep my pantry stocked with is canned diced tomatoes. They certainly came in handy for this pizza. However, eating fresh diced tomatoes is slightly healthier, because you are keeping more of the nutrients, than you would in a canned item. 

I used two 15 oz. cans of diced tomatoes, and drained and rinsed them well. I then placed them in a bowl with a 1/2 tsp of minced garlic*, 1/2-1 Tablespoon of olive oil, and dash of salt. Mix these ingredients together, and set aside. Thinly slice the mushrooms and zucchini, drain and rinse the artichoke well, and grate your cheese. 

*if you don't have minced garlic, you can use 1/2 a tsp of garlic powder

 Before layering your pizza crust, coat the crust with a lite amount of olive oil, and cook for 5 minutes at 350 degrees F. Begin layering the crust with cheese, followed by the zucchini, top with the tomato mixture, mushrooms, and artichokes. Sprinkle a little bit of cheese on top and bake at 350 degrees F for 20-30 minutes.

Top with cheese, and pop it in the oven. 20-30 minutes later you'll be eating a delicious, and healthier pizza!

Let the pizza cool for 5 minutes, slice and enjoy! To make it a MyPlate approved meal, serve it with a fruit salad.

Here is the recipe below.

Another way to create a simple pizza, is by following a few simple steps. Just choose an item from each category and follow the directions. Use your imagination! Each pizza idea below serves four adults.

1.      Choose/prepare a crust

Options: homemade crust ( Greek yogurt crust, or any crust recipe you like), pre-made crust from store, flour tortilla, flat bread, pita bread, English muffin, bagel, French bread.

2.     Choose a Sauce
Tomato paste thinned with water or tomato sauce + basil + oregano + pepper
Re-fried beans or bean dip
Barbecue Sauce
Sweet chili sauce (found in Asian aisle of grocery store)
Peanut sauce –peanut butter thinned with hot water + soy sauce + sugar + garlic + crushed red pepper

3.     Choose Flavors
1-2 teaspoons dried herbs as needed according to sauce (oregano, basil, cumin, chili powder, ginger, soy sauce, garlic, crushed red pepper, etc.)
Salt and pepper to taste

4.     Choose toppings
Green pepper
Red pepper
Banana Pepper
Dried cranberries
Ground Beef

Prepare homemade crust and set aside to rise. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Prepare sauce and toppings. Spray baking pan or pizza pan with cooking spray. Roll crust out and place on pan. Top with sauce and toppings. Bake approximately 10-12 minutes or until crust is cooked and sauce is bubbly.

Create a Pizza, Additional Recipes to try:

Mexican Spicy Bean Pizza
• 1 whole-wheat pizza crust (see below)
• 1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste
• ½ to 1 (15 oz.) can re-fried beans
• 1 cup frozen corn, thawed
• ¾ cup sliced bell pepper
• ¼ cup thinly sliced red onion
• ½ cup grated Monterrey jack cheese (optional)
 • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
• ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
• ¼ cup mango

Whole-wheat Pizza Dough
 • 2 cups whole-wheat flour
• 1 ½ tablespoons yeast
 • 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 ½ teaspoons sugar
• 1¼ cup water
• 1 teaspoon canola oil (optional)

Mix dry ingredients in bowl. Add water and oil and mix well to incorporate flour mixture. Form dough into ball. Let rise 10 minutes while covered with clean towel. Roll out in pizza shape. Cover with favorite toppings.

Preheat oven to 425ºF. Put pizza crust on baking sheet or pizza pan. Spread tomato paste and re-fried beans over crust. Arrange corn, bell pepper, and onion over beans. Sprinkle with cheese and red pepper flakes. Bake 15 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Garnish with fresh cilantro.

Yield: 4 servings

 Caramelized Onion and Mushroom Pizza
• 1 small yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
• 1 teaspoon olive oil
• ¼ cup water or broth
• Pinch of sugar
• 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
• 2 large whole wheat flour tortillas or flat bread
• Cooking spray
• ¼ cup shredded Parmesan cheese (optional)
• 6 – 8 button mushrooms, thinly sliced
• Salt and pepper to taste

 Preheat oven to 450° F. Saute the sliced onions in olive oil and small amount of water or broth and cook 30 minutes or more, stirring occasionally, until the onions reach a dark brown color. Add water in small amounts as needed to keep onions from burning. Add a pinch of sugar and the balsamic vinegar. Cook a few more minutes and remove from heat. Line baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. Place tortillas or flat bread on baking sheet and lightly spray each one with cooking spray. Sprinkle each tortilla with cheese, then mushrooms, then caramelized onions, then salt and pepper. Bake until the crust is crisp and brown, 5-10 minutes.

 Yield: 2 servings

A pantry that is stocked with whole foods will help you create great tasting homemade pizzas like these! You can change the taste of basic ingredients in your dish simply by changing the herbs and spices you use.

For instance, use these herbs and spices to get these flavors:

Mexican-use cumin, oregano, chili powder, cilantro, and garlic
Italian-use basil, oregano, parsley, and garlic
Asian-use soy sauce, ginger, garlic, chilies, and turmeric
Savory/Thanksgiving-use rosemary, sage, thyme, and parsley

*This material was funded by USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program - SNAP. Utah State University is an affirmative action/equal opportunity institution.