Monday, July 31, 2017


Snacking doesn't have to be done aimlessly, snacking can actually be beneficial to your nutrition routine.  
Using snacks to fill in your neglected food groups for the day is a great way to hit your daily intake goals, and achieve My Plate suggestions.  For example, if your breakfast contains; eggs, milk, whole wheat toast and fresh fruit, your missing your veggie for the meal.  So, for your mid-morning snack you could have cucumbers and carrot sticks.  Then your mid afternoon snack would fill in what you didn't get with your lunch.  This process eliminates empty calorie consumption and boosts nutritional intake, and My Plate goal achievement. 
Another benefit of snacking is it helps maintain your stomach levels all day.  This helps you avoid getting hungry, which leads to fast eating and over consumption of food.  When your stomach has food in it all day, it allows you to consume smaller portions at meal times, leading to less consumed calories over the day.  

Smart snacking is crucial to achieve these benefits.   Calories add up fast, so if snacking isn't done smartly it can result in weight gain. Here are some good suggestions to help you determine a good snack option.
  • Few Calories:  Fruits and vegetables are low in calories, even when consuming a large portion to satisfy hunger, the count is still low.  Aim for less than 100 calories;
    • Medium apple: 95 calories
    • Small banana: 90 calories
    • Two kiwis: 84 calories
    • 20 medium baby carrots: 70 calories
    • 20 grapes: 68 calories
    • Medium orange: 65 calories
    • 20 cherry tomatoes: 61 calories
    • Medium peach: 58 calories
    • Medium red pepper: 37 calories
    • 20 pea pods: 28 calories

  • LOTS OF WATER:  Fruits and vegetables contain a lot of water, which helps fill you up, and keep you hydrated.  The average person should consume 64 oz of water a day.
  • LOTS OF FIBER:  Fiber is the part of the plant that you can not absorb.  It also passes through your digestive system slowly, keeping you full longer.
  • Little Fat:  Good rule to consider; HIGH fat = HIGH calories and usually low in water and fiber.  We want to steer clear of these type of foods, especially when it comes to snacking.  

Fruits and veggies fulfill all of these suggestions, which is why they are great suggestions for snacking.  Here are some other great snacking options!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017


Easy Chicken Enchiladas your family will love!!!  Only 7 whole ingredients!  This is a recipe you can feel good feeding your family, and can be thrown together in a few short min.  Only 360 calories per serving!  

Chicken Enchiladas  
7 servings     -     360 calories per servings
Shredded chicken (canned, rotisserie, or chicken breast)
2 TBL butter
2 TBL flour
2 cups chicken broth (low sodium preferred)
1 1/2 cups plain greek yogurt
2 cups shredded cheese
7 (10") flour tortillas
Optional toppings include; salsa, cilantro, sour cream, limes etc.

1.  Heat oven to 350 degrees.
2.  In a skillet melt butter over medium heat and whisk in flour.   Cook about 2 min, stirring constantly.  
3.  Gradually whisk in the broth.  Stir in yogurt until sauce is smooth and lump free.  Add 1 cup of cheese; stir well and set aside
4.  Place 1/4 cup shredded chicken and 1 TBL cheese on each tortilla and roll up; place in ungreased 9x13inch casserole dish.
5.  Pour white sauce over the tortilla rolls and top with remaining cheese.
6.  Bake 35 min or until cheese is melted.


July is nearly over, hopefully you've had lots of family fun and made memories this summer.  Here is a great activity checklist and ideas to end your summer with a bang!  HERE is the link to the list.  Summer will be over before we know it, lets cram in as much fun as we can before summer comes to an end.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017


ONLY 145 CALORIES!  These nacho boats are loaded with flavor without the calories.  A great option to help you use up all your bell peppers from your garden.  This time of year I'm always searching for some new bell pepper and squash recipes.  This one is worth trying!

SKINNY Bell Pepper Nacho Boats
Yeilds: 8 servings   Serving: 2 boats   Calories per serving:145
1 lb ground meat (ground turkey preferred) 
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp pepper 
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup salsa
1 cup grated cheese (low fat preferred)
3 bell peppers

1.  Remove seeds, core and membrane from bell peppers then slice each one into 6 vertical pieces (where they dip down).  Set sliced peppers aside.
2.  Cook ground meat over medium-high heat, breaking up as it cooks.  Cook until cooked through,  drain off any fat.
3.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees
4,  Combine meat, spices and salsa.  Evenly distribute mixture into the bell peppers, top with cheese.  Bake for 10 min or until cheese is melted and peppers are hot.

***IF YOU PREFER SOFTER BELL PEPPERS; add a few TBL water to the bottom of a large casserole dish, add filled nacho boats and cover tightly with foil and bake 15 min.

Optional ingredients: sliced jalepeno peppers, diced avocado, fat-free Greek yogurt or sour cream, or green onions,

Recipe adapted from


Parmesan Roasted Carrots
4-5 cups peeled and sliced or baby carrots
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tsp minced garlic (or 1/2 tsp garlic powder)
3 TBL grated parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp salt, (more to taste)
1/4 tsp ground black pepper, (more to taste)
1-2 Tbl panko bread crumbs (OPTIONAL)
Chopped or dried parsley (OPTIONAL)

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and line a baking sheet with foil, spray with non-stick spray.
2.  Place the oil, garlic, parmesan, bread crumbs (if using), salt and pepper in a large ziplock bag.  Add the carrots and shake until well coated.  Spread out onto the prepared baking sheet.
3.  Bake for 20-25 min, or until tender.  Toss halfway.
4.  Serve immediately, top with parsley if desired.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017


Involving your kids in the kitchen is the best way to teach them healthy habits and success in trying new foods.  When your children feel a sense of responsibility in the cooking process they are likely to feel satisfaction and excitement to try a new recipe.

This process can begin long before the cooking process starts. Taking children to the grocery store with you allows them to familiarize themselves with different foods and their location.  HERE is a link to a grocery store B-I-N-G-O game that will entertain and educate your children on their next market visit. 

Another way to involve children in the shopping experience is to let them pick out a new fruit or vegetable to bring home and try with their next meal.  This allows them to be proactive in the food selection, and feel a sense of responsibility.  It also helps them learn, that trying new foods isn't scary, but can be fun and exciting.

Allowing children to help in the kitchen doesn't always have to last the entire cooking process.  Especially on a busy night, when dinner needs to be ready quickly.  Simple steps can be done by your children, which can even speed up the dinner prep.  Such as, filling water in the pot, washing the fruits and veggies, slicing the veggies(if age permits), buttering the bread, or even getting the spices from the cupboard (and or put away).

Chores in the kitchen are not subject to only the cooking process.  Cooking, cleaning and maintaining kitchen duties can be a family pursuit.  Here are a suggested list of age appropriate chores to incorporate in your family:

Involving your kids in the kitchen has multiple benefits.  Including eating whats for dinner. πŸ‘Š

Friday, July 14, 2017


If you didn't know better, you would mistake these as Peanut Butter Cookies.  They are moist and soft, and packed with protein.  They contain 3 sources or protein... peanut butter, eggs and beans.  That's right beans.  You would never know they were in there, without being told.  In fact, my sons and even husband loved them... (they still don't know the secret ingredient) πŸ˜‰  
 I know it sounds weird, but trust me.. You cannot taste these AT ALL!  The recipe calls for 1/2 cup pureed Pinto Beans.  To get them smooth I poured them out of the can and rinsed them in a strainer.  Then I put them in a blender with some water (around 1/4 cup) and pureed until they were completely smooth.
 The recipe is incredibly simple, you add the first six ingredients, (peanut butter, brown sugar, white sugar, eggs, pureed beans and vanilla). 
Mix until combined.

 Add the dry ingredients, and mix until completely incorporated.
 Dough will be sticky.
 Spray a cookie sheet and press into the pan until evenly distributed. Bake at 375 degrees for 10-15 min, until it starts to turn golden brown.
These bars are so soft and moist, and you can eat them without feeling guilty!!! ENJOY!!!!


  • 1 cup Peanut Butter
  • 1 cup Brown Sugar
  • 3/4 cup White Sugar
  • 1/2 Pureed Pinto Beans
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 tsp Vanilla
  • 2 cups Flour (whole wheat preferred)
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
1.  Blend the first 6 ingredients together.
2.  Add dry ingredients and mix well. (dough will be sticky)
3.  Spray 11x17 cookie sheet with non-stick spray.  Spread dough onto cookie sheet, until evenly distributed.
4.  Bake 375 degrees for 10-15 min or until golden brown.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017


  This is a great game for your kids to play while you grocery shop.  Gives them something to do, while you fill your cart!  All you need is a B-I-N-G-O card and a pen or pencil.  Simply have your kids mark off the food they see, until they get B-I-N-G-O OR blackout...(to make it last longer πŸ˜‰) Get your BINGO CARD HERE or copy and print image below.

Monday, July 10, 2017



We're all aware that vitamins are good for our bodies, to help them grow and develop properly.  But did you know that there are different types of vitamins, that digest differently in our bodies? Vitamins fit into 2 groups:

       1.  Fat Soluble Vitamins         
       2.  Water Soluble Vitamins 
Vitamins are necessary for our body to function and fight off diseases.  Your body cannot produce vitamins itself, so understanding how these vitamins are digested and where the come from will ensure your body is getting the nutrients it needs to grow, develop and function properly.  

FAT SOLUBLE VITAMINS - Are needed in our bodies in small amounts.  These type of vitamins need fat to be absorbed and used in our bodies.  Luckily most foods that contain these kind of vitamins already contain a little bit of dietary fat.  To get the most out of these type of vitamins in fruits and vegetables try eating them with a little bit of light salad dressing, hummus, nut butters or any other source of heart healthy fat!  We DO store fat soluble vitamins in our bodies, but it is still a good idea to eat foods rich in these vitamins every day!
Fat Soluble Vitamins include: A, D, K, E (I remember them, by rearranging them into the name KADE... little trick πŸ˜‰)  
The following chart defines the fat soluble vitamins function in our bodies and the sources for which to find them.

WATER SOLUBLE VITAMINS - Are also needed in our bodies in small amounts.  Our bodies cannot make any of these vitamins on their own, which is why it is VERY important we consume them in the foods we eat.  These type of vitamins are available in many kinds of food.  We DO NOT store water soluble vitamins in our body, once our body gets the amount we need we excrete extra amounts in our urine.  So its crucial we eat foods that contain these vitamins everyday.  If you are eating a variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains every day you are probably getting all the water soluble vitamins you need!
Water Soluble Vitamins include: B vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B6, B12), Folate, Pantothenic Acid and Biotin.
The following chart defines the water soluble vitamins function in our bodies and the sources for which to find them.

With a better understanding of these vitamin break downs we can arrange our diet with nutrient rich foods and replace the empty calories in our diet.  Make those calories count! 


A few of our USU Extension staff members appeared on FOX 13's The Place; talking about ways to spiral fruits and veggies, as well as ways to incorporate them into your diet!  


Here are some great recipes to incorporate those spiral veggies!

           Spiralized Cucumber Spa Water with Mint and Lemon
12 oz. cucumber, Blade A (do not pat dry)
7 grams roughly chopped mint
1 small lemon, sliced into 1/4" rounds
9-12 cups water (depending on the size of the pitcher)
1. Add the cucumber, mint and half of the lemon into the bottom of a pitcher. Pour in the water and then squeeze the remaining lemon into the pitcher and either discard the lemon rinds or add them in as well.
2. Stir well and let sit for a few hours to infuse or enjoy immediately!

Spiralized Apple Cranberry Salad

1 red apple (or pink lady)
1 granny smith apple
½ c. citrus poppy seed dressing
¼ c. dried cranberries
¼ c. golden raisins
¼ c. crumbled goat cheese
⅓ c. pecans, chopped and optionally toasted
1. Spiralize the apples and toss them with the dressing, and remaining ingredients. (If you don't have a spiralizer, simply cut the apples into matchsticks.)
2. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to 1 hour.
NOTE: If you want to use store-bought poppy seed dressing, make a mixture of 2 parts poppy seed dressing to 1 part lemon or lime juice.

Spiralized Vegetable Salad with Roasted Chickpeas
o 4 large carrots
o 1 large zucchini
o 1 large yellow squash
o 1/4 cup Greek yogurt plain
o 1/2 avocado
o 1/4 cup water
o 2 tablespoons lemon juice plus zest
o 1/2 cup cilantro leaves plus ½ cup chopped for garnish
o 1 clove garlic minced
o 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
o 1/4 cup olive oil
o Pepper freshly ground, as needed
o sesame seeds for garnish
• 15 ounces chickpeas (1 can), garbanzo beans
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1. Preheat oven to 400ΒΊF. Drain and rinse the chickpeas and spread them out on a paper towel-lined baking sheet. Pat them dry with a paper towel, removing and skins that came off the beans.
2. Toss chickpeas with oil and salt.
3. Roast the chickpeas for 30-35 minutes until they are golden in color and crispy on the outside, the center may still be slightly soft. If you want the chickpeas even more crispy, turn off oven and allow the chickpeas to continue drying about 30-40 minutes more.
4. Make the salad while you roast the chickpeas.
1. Cut your vegetables using a spiralizer. If you don`t have a spiralizer, use a vegetable peeler to create long strips, or you can thinly slice the vegetables into ⅛ inch thin strips. Add vegetables to a mixing bowl.
2. Blend yogurt, avocado, water, lemon juice, zest, cilantro, garlic and salt in a blender until smooth. Add in olive oil and blend for a few minutes more until creamy. Season with more salt and pepper as needed.
3. Toss together the noodles with the dressing, adding a small amount of dressing at a time until coated to your liking. There will be extra dressing.
4. Sprinkle salad with sesame seeds, chopped cilantro and serve with roasted chickpeas, croutons, avocado slices or any additional toppings of your choice.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

chicken parmesan pasta skillet

ONE PAN Chicken Parmesan Pasta Skillet, with only 6 ingredients! This is our go-to easy recipe anytime we are craving comfort food. Delicious one pot pasta everyone will love!

  • 2 tablespoons Italian dressing (not the creamy kind) fat free preferred 
  • 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into cubes
  • 1 pkg (16 ounces) rigatoni pasta small/medium sized
  • 1 (24-ounce jar)  Marinara pasta sauce
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Chopped fresh basil for garnish (optional)

  1. Heat chicken and Italian dressing in a large pan over medium high heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper.
  2. Cook chicken until browned and just cooked through, (about 5 minutes depending on thickness of chicken).
  3. Add the box of pasta and the entire jar of marinara to the pan. Fill the empty marinara jar with water and add to the skillet. If using a stockpot, use 2 cups water. Lightly stir the mixture to combine.
  4. Bring mixture to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook for 15 minutes or until pasta is tender. 
  5. Cover with grated parmesan and then shredded mozzarella. No need to stir. Continue to cook for 2-3 more minutes or until cheese is fully melted. You can also broil the entire skillet for about 4 minutes to make the cheese extra melty!
  6. Top with chopped basil (optional) and serve! Enjoy!
  7. ***The pasta in the middle of the skillet and underneath will be more tender than the outside pasta. It's okay if those pieces are a bit toastier and less soft. The inside will be plenty soft.