Looking for a fresh summer treat? Skip the water ice and ice pops loaded with added sugars and try something simple at home. Have some fun with this recipe, get creative and have your kids get involved in the process. Have them pick out a fun new seasonal fruit to include or let them help wash the fruit.

Berries & Cream Popsicles

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

1 Cup mixed berries (fresh or frozen)

1 Cup plain or vanilla yogurt

Pinch of white sugar to taste if using plain yogurt

4 Paper cups, popsicle sticks, or silicone popsicle molds

Place berries and yogurt in blender. Blend until berries are finely chopped or desired texture. Pour into cups, wrap with foil and insert popsicle stick or pour into popsicle mold. Freeze for about 5 hours. Enjoy!

Are you watching your sugar intake?  Added sugars can be found in many products. Of course the usual suspects include candies, sweets and sugar sweetened beverages such as soda, but added sugars can be found in many other foods including whole wheat bread and greek yogurt.  This doesn’t mean that you need to raid your refrigerator and toss your Chobani, though. Just be mindful of your intake. Look for key words in the ingredient list such as syrups (including high-fructose corn syrup), dextrose, fructose, invert sugar, and regular old sugar. Also, be aware of other more attractive sounding forms of sugar such as evaporated cane juice and organic raw sugar which are both still sugar. 

The current guidelines for added sugars aren’t very clear, but the American Heart Association has put forth it’s own guidelines which is good to keep in mind. They recommend that females intake less than 6 teaspoons of added sugars daily, which is equivalent to 24 grams or about 100 Calories and men intake less than 9 teaspoons daily, which is equivalent to 36 grams or about 150 Calories. For frame of reference, just one 12oz can of Coca Cola has 140 Calories and 39 grams of sugar. Be mindful of sugar you add to your coffee and tea as well. A packet of sugar is equal to one teaspoon, so they can add up quickly in your morning cup of coffee. 

Your best bet is to try your best to look for products that are low in sugars. Choose more naturally sweet foods such as fruit (these sugars don’t count towards the recommended total). The current nutrition label does not need to differentiate natural from added sugars, so be sure to read the ingredient list. Also, try limiting your own added sugars. Start by making your coffee up yourself instead of having it pre made from your coffee shop. Then try gradually cutting back on the amount you use.

Take a look at an area of grass.  Do you see those pesky, yellow flowered weeds; ever think of eating them? Dandelion greens are a surprisingly nutritious food.  It may seem taboo to eat something that is known as such a nuisance, but it is a great way to switch up your greens!  Dandelions are slightly bitter leaves that cook like spinach.  They are rich in Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and Calcium.  You can find them at most health food stores.  Be sure to grab the ripe green ones, don’t buy the yellowish, brown or wilted leaves.  They will keep in the fridge for a few days in an open plastic bag.  You can substitute them in place other green leafy vegetables in many recipes.  Add them to salads, smoothies or stir fry because they are sure to satisfy!

During the warm months of summer the amount of illnesses tend to rise.  Those toasty summer days allow for naturally found bacteria to multiply.  With a few simple steps you can help reduce your chance of becoming ill, specifically from food borne illness.  
Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill.  Clean off all of your counters, equipment and utensils before preparing or serving food.  Separate your foods before, during and after cooking.  Be sure that all raw meats stay separate from any “ready to eat foods.”  Cooking out when hosting a summer party is always a good time, just make sure to double check that your foods are fully cooked.  For fresh beef, veal, pork and ham the minimum safe cooking temperature is 145 degrees Fahrenheit and it should rest at this temperature for 3 minutes.  Ground meats and poultry require a minimum safe temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit with no safety resting time.  Chilling foods is a large problem for many people.  Bringing cooling equipment to a picnic or displaying it on a table is not too common.  However it is important to keep cold things cold and to not leave cooked meats at room temperature for more than two hours.  Keep your lunchmeats and potato salads in an insulated cooler or put them on ice.  All of these tips will help you reduce your chances of food borne illnesses this summer so you can get out of the house and into sun!

Resource: foodsafety.gov

Quin No Uh? Kee-no-what? Quinoa!

What is this thing…”quinoa”? How do you pronounce it? This wonderful ancient grain is called quinoa and pronounced “keen-wah”.  Quinoa is considered a whole grain and is also naturally gluten-free. It is such an important food because it is considered a complete protein as well, which means it contains all of the essential amino acids, which is not very common for plant foods. So if you are looking for something new that is a good protein source, a good fiber source, and a versatile gluten-free whole grain, then you should check out quinoa!

Quinoa can also be used in place of other grains and even as a breakfast cereal. Here is a favorite recipe of mine to get you started:

Tabouleh with Quinoa

by Anthony Tassoni, RD, LDN

INGREDIENTS:

1/3 cup, Feta Cheese, crumbled

¼ Cucumber

Juice from ½ Lemon

3 Tbsp Olive Oil

¼ cup Parsley, raw

1 cup Quinoa, uncooked

½ large Tomato

PREPARATION:

Bring 2 cups of water to a boil and stir in 1 cup of Quinoa. Cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the water is mostly absorbed. While the Quinoa is cooling, diced up the tomato, cucumber and parsley. After Quinoa has cooled, mix in the diced vegetables, the olive oil, lemon juice squeezed from ½ lemon and feta cheese. Mix together and add salt and pepper to taste. Store in the refrigerator as a cold salad.

Nutrition Facts:

2 Ounces provides about 140 Calories, 8 grams of fat, 2 grams of sat. fat, 6mg of cholesterol, 70 mg of sodium, 14 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 0 grams of sugar, 4 grams of protein

This recipe is great for a summer side dish or on top of a bed of lettuce. It is served cold, so be sure to make a big batch to have throughout the week.

Trying to eat a more plant based diet? Have some vegetarian friends coming over for some grilling? Tired of paying tons of money for store bought, processed and frozen veggy burgers? Make your own! These black bean burgers are incredibly easy, extremely tasty and makes 4 patties for about $1.00. Try making these ahead of time and freezing in advance. 

Black Bean Burgers

by Anthony Tassoni, RD, LDN

Makes 4 Patties

Ingredients:

1 15.5oz can of Black Beans (reduced sodium if available)

¼ C Frozen chopped onions and peppers

1 Large Egg

1 Tbsp Sriracha sauce*

1 tsp Olive Oil

¼ C Bread Crumbs

Directions:

Rinse and strain black beans. When dry, transfer beans to a bowl and mash with a fork. Combine chopped peppers and onions with oil into bean mixture (you may use fresh chopped as well). Whisk egg with Sriracha sauce and mix with bean mixture. Combine bread crumbs and form into patties. Freeze for later use or grill for about 15 minutes and serve with your favorite toppings such as sautéed onions or avocado. 

*If you don’t want to use sriracha hot sauce, replace with a pinch of garlic powder (or fresh garlic) and some chili powder to taste.

Nutrition Facts:

Per serving (1 Patty): 150 Calories, 3g Fat, 21g Carbohydrates, 4.7g Fiber, 8g Protein, 381mg Sodium

(recipe adapted from http://allrecipes.com/recipe/homemade-black-bean-veggie-burgers/)

These delicious veggy burgers provide 10% of your daily iron, are low in fat, high in fiber and protein. Enjoy in a lettuce wrap or a whole wheat bun for added nutrition. Enjoy!