Posts Tagged With: healthy

Healthy Recipe: Homemade Pumpkin Bread

Mmmmm….if there’s one thing I love baking, its quickbreads. They are super¬†easy to make, freeze really well, are super customizable, and if you make them with vegetables and fruit, they can be somewhat guilt-free. ūüôā I have recipes I use for banana bread, chocolate-chip banana muffins, zucchini bread, zucchini-banana bread, and pumpkin bread.

Last week I decided to make some pumpkin bread, as I had nothing sweet in the apartment (!) and had some canned pumpkin on hand.

Here’s the recipe I used. I forget where I found the original, but I have tweaked it somewhat since, anyway:

Homemade Pumpkin Bread

  • 1 cup AP flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1 cup pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • optional: 1/2 cup mix-ins, such as chopped walnuts, raisins, or white chocolate chips.

Makes: One 9x5x3 loaf pan (14 servings)

Ingredients all assembled

Step 1: Sift together the flour, salt, sugar, and baking soda.

Step 2: Mix the remaining ingredients (pumpkin, oil, eggs, water, and spices).

Step 3: Combine with the dry ingredients (don’t overmix).

Step 4: Pour into a 9x5x3″ loaf pan (pre-sprayed with cooking spray). Bake at 350*F for around 50-60 minutes until a knife poked in the middle of the bread comes out clean. This is usually around 55-60 minutes for me. Turn out of pan & let cool!

Soo great. It’s super moist thanks to the olive oil, sugar, and pumpkin, and I think it tastes great when you store it in¬†a tupperware in the fridge¬†and serve it a little chilled. But it’s also great served warm!

Nutrition Facts! Remember, this nutrition info is based on 1 slice, if you cut the loaf into 14 slices. If you slice your pumpkin bread into more slices, the calories will be less, and if you slice the bread into 13 or less slices, then the calories will be more than what is reflected below.

1/14th of the recipe (1 slice):

  • 187.2 calories
  • 8.7g fat
  • 1.3g saturated fat
  • 26.4mg cholesterol
  • 184.1mg sodium
  • 57.3mg potassium
  • 25.8g carbohydrate
  • 1.3g fiber
  • 14.9g sugar
  • 2.6g protein
  • 55.3% Vitamin A
  • and between 1-5% daily values for basically every other vitamin/mineral.

So the good news is that thanks to the pumpkin, we’ve got over half our percent daily value for vitamin A, from a single slice of bread! The other good news is, thanks to the heart-healthy olive oil, you have 7.4g of unsaturated fats and just 1.3g saturated fat. Someone on a 2000-calorie diet should be consuming 45-65g¬†of total¬†fat each day and¬†no more than 15.5g of saturated fat each day, so pumpkin bread definitely can fit into a healthy diet.

And my favorite part– switching things up!

  • Try using 1.5 cups whole wheat flour, instead of a mix of both, and you’ll save 52 calories¬†and add 11.2 g of fiber for the entire pan.
  • Try using brown sugar instead of white sugar, or use slightly more pumpkin…and eliminate a tablespoon or two of olive oil.
  • If you use liquid egg whites instead of 2 eggs, you’ll save 89.6 calories, eliminate 369.6mg of cholesterol, 2.8g of saturated fat, and 9.8g of total fat from the entire pan.
  • Don’t have allspice? Just use more cinnamon. The recipe uses 1.5 tsp of spices, so use whatever variety you think will taste good!
  • Not to mention any mix-ins…walnuts, chocolate chips, craisins, raisins, shredded carrots, shredded zucchini…whatever!
Categories: Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Healthy, Quick, & Inexpensive Recipe: Homemade Hummus

One of my new favorite food items is hummus. I have been loving it with carrots sticks or warm, whole wheat pita bread. For those of you who don’t know much about hummus, or haven’t tried it yet, hummus¬†is a spread made¬†from chickpeas (garbanzo¬†beans), olive oil, and a bunch of other spices. It’s great on top of pita bread, crackers, tortillas, and fresh veggies like carrot sticks, celery, and red pepper.¬† I like to think of¬†hummus¬†as a lower-calorie and lower-fat¬†alternative to peanut butter.¬† Another benefit¬†is that I find myself eating a lot more fresh vegetables when I have hummus¬†around! So last week I decided that I should make homemade hummus, because it can be a little pricey to regularly buy¬†hummus from the store, typically Athenos (my favorite) or Sabra.¬† I used a modified version of the hummus recipe I found in the recipe booklet that came with the food processor.

Homemade Hummus

(makes about 2 cups)

  • 1/3 cup loosely packed Italian parsley leaves
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 1 can (19 oz) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • ¬ľ cup water
  • ¬Ĺ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • Sprinkle of black pepper
  • ¬ľ cup roasted red peppers (optional)

Chop the parsley for 5 seconds; remove and reserve. Process garlic until finely chopped, about 5 seconds. Add chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, water, cumin, black pepper, and reserved parsley to work bowl;¬† process until smooth, 1 ¬Ĺ to 2 minutes, stopping to scrape bowl as needed one or two times. With the machine running, add the olive oil in a steady stream and process until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Add any remaining optional ingredients (black olives, roasted red peppers, artichokes, etc) at the end.

The ingredients you’ll need.¬† Tahini¬†is a sesame seed paste that can be found in most grocery stores. Check the international foods¬†aisle, or¬†in an aisle next to the pickles and olives.¬†When you open the tahini it should have a layer of oil on the top, so be sure to mix it before measuring out the 2 tablespoons for this recipe.

I finally get to use my home-grown parsley! Make sure to wash the parsley with water & dry it on paper towels before use.

Mixing the final product…it’s looking good!¬† When adding your olive oil, this is where you can experiment a bit. The original recipe called for 1/4 cup olive oil, but I wanted to cut some of the fat out of the recipe, plus I like my hummus¬†to be a little thicker, so I used just 2 tablespoons of olive oil. If you like creamy hummus, you might want to add in an extra tablespoon of olive oil or more.

If you want to make different flavors of hummus, this is where you can add in any optional ingredients. I decided I wanted 1 cup to be basic (parsley, garlic flavor) and 1 cup to be flavored with roasted red pepper. So I scooped out half, and added 1 pepper in to the remaining half. Feel free to add artichokes, green olives, black olives, jalapenos, spinach, pine nuts, sun-dried tomatoes, basil, or other spices.

Final product! About 1 cup basic hummus and 1 cup roasted red pepper hummus. Ready to be eaten with carrots & celery! And just a note: If you decide to make or buy hummus, it should be stored in your refrigerator in an air-tight container.

Nutrition Facts

(serving size = 2 tablespoons)

  • Calories: 59
  • Total Fat: 3g
  • Saturated Fat: 0.4g
  • Cholesterol: 0mg
  • Sodium: 100mg
  • Potassium: 64mg
  • Carbohydrate: 6.8g
  • Dietary Fiber: 1.4g
  • Protein: 1.7g
  • Vitamin A: 2.2%
  • Vitamin C: 6.0%
  • Calcium: 1.9%
  • Iron: 3.4%

Cost Breakdown:

  • 1/3 cup parsley leaves: 0.00
  • 1 garlic clove: 0.05
  • 19 oz chickpeas: 1.32
  • 2 tablespoons tahini: 1.05
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice: 0.13
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin: 0.08
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil: 0.29
  • 1/8 tsp salt: 0.00

Total: $2.92 for about 16 servings, which makes out to $0.18 per serving!

As a comparison, store-bought hummus¬†is typically $3.49 for 7 servings, or $0.50 per serving.¬† The cheapest I’ve seen hummus¬†on sale for was $2.00 for 7 servings, or $0.29 per serving. So by making homemade hummus you’re basically cutting the cost in half!

Categories: Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Healthy, Quick, and Inexpensive Recipe: Cucumber Blackbean Tuna Salad

I don’t know why tuna has such a bad rep…packed with protein and omega-3s, cheap, and easy prep (hello, can opener!), this fish should definitely be a staple in everyone’s kitchen.¬† I thought I’d share one of my favorite tuna recipes today. It’s a recipe I use when I’m looking for something that’s fresh, high in protein and fiber, low in calories, and high in volume.¬† I probably make this at least once a week.¬† This is especially great for anyone trying to lose weight because the protein and fiber will make you feel full for hours, not to mention it’s a pretty generous portion size,¬†so you don’t feel like you’re starving yourself.¬† Plus,¬†the whole¬†salad is only 357 calories! If you’d like, you could eat half of it, add a side of fruit and a cup of skim milk, and you’ve got a complete meal that way, too.

Homemade Cucumber Blackbean Tuna Salad

  • 1 cup diced cucumber
  • 1/2 cup black beans
  • 1/4 cup chopped onions
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise (a little goes a long way!)
  • 1 can tuna, drained
  • dash of black pepper

All my ingredients, ready to go

Dicing up the cucumber. You’re going to need 1 cup, which is about 1/2 of a cucumber.

Drain and rinse the black beans (if you used canned beans), and drain the water from the tuna.

Throw all your ingredients together in a bowl or tupperware (don’t forget to add the black pepper)

When it’s all mixed together, feel free to eat it by itself, or what I like to do is put it in a whole wheat pita or whole wheat tortilla.

I cannot tell you how delicious this, especially for the summer when its 100*F outside and you just want something cold, light, and fresh to eat.

Nutrition Facts (for entire recipe):

  • Calories: 357
  • Total fat: 13.2 g
  • Saturated fat: 1.7 g
  • Cholesterol: 66.3 g
  • Sodium: 524.1 mg
  • Potassium: 769.2 mg
  • Carbohydrates: 28.0 g
  • Fiber: 10.3 g
  • Protein: 33.9 g

Not to mention a multitude of vitamins and minerals (% daily values):

  • 5.2% Vitamin A
  • 38% Vitamin B-12
  • 22.6% Vitamin B-6
  • 13.5% Vitamin C
  • 15% Vitamin D
  • 3.6% Vitamin E
  • 4.8% Calcium
  • 12.0% Copper
  • 37.5% Folate
  • 22.2% Iron
  • 19.0% Magnesium
  • 25.8% Manganese
  • 91.1% Niacin
  • 4.8% Pantothenic Acid
  • 15.8% Phosphorus
  • 5.0% Riboflavin
  • 152.1% Selenium
  • 16.9% Thiamin
  • 8.5% Zinc

Cost breakdown:

  • 1 can tuna: $0.70
  • 1/2 cup canned black beans: $0.23
  • 1/4 cup onion: $0.09
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise: $0.06
  • 1/2 cucumber: $0.25

Total Cost: $1.33….and who says healthy food is “too expensive”?? This is way cheaper than anything of similar volume at a fast food restaurant (Big Mac, Whopper, etc.).¬† Let me know if you give it a try!

Categories: Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Homemade Granola Bars! And What’s the Deal with Flax Seeds?

So this past week I found myself with some time on my hands, and I wanted to try out a new recipe. I had found several recipes for homemade granola bars in the past, and I thought it’d be the perfect time to give it a shot.¬† Granola bars used to be a staple in my cupboards; I really liked the Quaker Oats Chewy bars and¬†Nature Valley Sweet & Salty Nut Bars. But, with store-bought granola bars costing $3-4 for a box of 5-8¬†bars, cost can definitely become an issue if these are bought on a weekly basis, so I hadn’t bought any granola bars for a very long time.¬† So, I was hoping that I could find a granola bar recipe that would still be as tasty as my Sweet & Salty Nut Bars & Quaker Oat Chewy Bars, but without the steep price tag.

The recipe I chose was one I found online here. I chose it because the ingredients were flexible, it required no baking, and it was highly customizable to invididual tastes and preferences.

The ingredients I used were:

  • 1/2 cup of light corn syrup (you can also use honey, or a mix of the two)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 2 cups quick oats
  • 2 cups Crispy Rice cereal (Kroger brand Rice Krispies)
  • 1/4 cup ground flax seed
  • 1 cup mix-ins (I went with what I had in my pantry at the time– 1/2 cup craisins and 1/2 cup pecan halves)

All my ingredients– the only thing I had to go out and purchase was the $2.00 box of Crispy Rice cereal.


  1. Place wax paper over a 9×13″ pan, set aside
  2. Mix together oats, rice cereal, & ground flax seed in a large bowl
  3. Stir the brown sugar and corn syrup (or honey) in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir until dissolved.
  4. Take the syrup off the burner and add the peanut butter
  5. Quickly add liquid mixture to the bowl of dry ingredients, mix well
  6. Stir in your 1 cup mix-ins….chocolate chips, nuts, sunflower seeds, dried fruit, marshmallows, etc.
  7. Press mixture into wax-paper lined pan…it helps if you put wax paper on top and roll it/press it down¬†with a rolling pin or just your hands
  8. Let cool & cut into bars.

Although I was pretty busy with both hands, I managed to take a few photos.

Grinding my flax seeds in a blender. You can also use a food processor or coffee grinder.

If you’ve never tried flax seeds before,¬†I highly suggest¬†giving them a try.¬† Flax seeds are stocked full of important nutrients that provide numorous health benefits. Flax seeds are one of the best plant sources of lignan, which is a phytoestrogen that the National Cancer Institute has identified as having anti-cancer properties- it¬†has the potential to¬†protect against certain cancers such as prostate cancer and breast cancer.¬† Flax seeds are also the best plant source for Omega-3s, a heart-healthy fat. So if you don’t like getting your Omega-3s from fish or supplements, flax seeds are a great alternative. The flax seed I used (Arrowhead Mills Organic Flax Seed) contains 7 grams of fiber per 3 tablespoon serving. It provides both soluble and insoluble fiber, meaning it can help regulate your digestive system as well as protect your heart. Flax seeds are also a complete source of protein, meaning they provide all of the essential amino acids our bodies can’t produce.

If you do decide to purchase flax seeds, there are a few things to know. One is that flax seeds are either golden or brown in color. ¬†Both varieties¬†contain the same nutrient profile, the only difference is the color and perhaps the cost.¬†¬†You can purchase flax seeds in ground form or in the whole seed form. In order to reap the health benefits of flax seeds, you have to either chew them up very well or eat them in ground form (sometimes called flax seed meal), otherwise they will pass right through your body, undigested.¬† I would suggest buying the whole seeds, as once ground, flax seeds are highly perishable and will go bad fairly quickly if they are not kept in an air-tight, opaque container in the refigerator or freezer.¬† So I’d recommend keeping the whole flax seeds in a bag, and grinding the flax seeds as needed, perhaps on a weekly basis.

Ground flax seeds can be put in pretty much everything.  Bake them into muffins, pancakes, waffles, cookies, banana bread, pumpkin bread, and other baked goods. You can use ground flax seed to coat chicken, pork, or other meats before baking, as well as mix it into meatballs or meatloaf.  You can also sprinkle ground flax on oatmeal (my favorite), yogurt, casseroles, or other dishes.

Consuming 1-2 tablespoons of ground flax seed a day is considered safe, but there have been studies that show there are nutrient-drug interactions at high levels of flax seed consumption. The NIH states that flaxseed may interfere with certain blood thinners, muscle relaxers, or medications for acid reflux, so consult with your physician if this applies to you.

Comparing flax seeds to ground flax seeds. 1/4 cup of flax seeds produced almost 1/2 cup ground.

Getting all my ingredients ready, so that when the syrup/sugar/peanut butter mixture is ready, I can move quickly to mixing it in before the liquid mixture hardens.

Pressing my mixture down, almost like rice krispie bars.

After letting the pan cool and after cutting them into bar shapes, I decided to individually wrap them with plastic wrap.

The recipe ended up making 20 bars, which are great for breakfast, lunch, or for a quick snack.¬† I’m pretty pleased with how the craisin, peanut butter, pecan flavor turned out, too, although you shouldn’t be afraid to mix and match different flavors, or just use what you have on hand.¬† The resulting texture is a chewy, soft granola bar not too different from Quaker Oats Chewy Bars.¬† I have them stored in my cupboard, but you could also throw them in the refrigerator or freezer depending on how long you plan to keep them and what mix-ins you used.

And of course, I wanted to know the nutrition facts, so here¬†is¬†the nutrition information for¬†one of my “Homemade Craisin-Pecan Granola Bars”:

  • 140 calories
  • 6 g of fat
  • 1¬†g saturated fat
  • 100 mg sodium
  • 100 mg potassium
  • 23 g carbohydrate
  • 16 g sugar
  • 1.5 g fiber
  • 3 g protein

Hope you enjoy!

Categories: Current News, Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Healthiest Vending Machine Options

When choosing a snack from a vending machine, you’re faced with a few options….chips, popcorn,¬†chocolate bars, candy, cookies, trail mix, and more.¬† The average person may not think twice about the nutritional content of these items.¬† However for the person who is trying to keep an eye on their health or waistline,¬†deciding what to purchase can be a tougher decision.¬† Now, if vending machines dispensed fruits and vegetables, every option would be a healthy choice.

Fresh fruits & veggies from Fresh Healthy Vending

However, most vending machines today still look like the one found in the Agricultural Sciences Building at West Virginia University.

Chips, and Snacks, and Candy, Oh My!

It’s really too bad, considering that West Virginia has one of the highest rates of obesity and diabetes in the country.¬† But in order for behavior change to occur, people have to have the right tools and skill set in order to make healthier and educated choices.¬† I wanted to create some kind of sign or educational material that grouped these vending machine choices into “green, yellow, red” for a “yes, sometimes, rarely” type of rating system that will let consumers know how each snack ranks nutrition-wise, when compared with the rest of the available options.¬† After analyzing the calorie and fat content of each package, I decided the most reasonable criteria to use was 240 calories or less and 20% DV of total fat or less for the “green” rating. A yellow rating meant it only met one of the two previous criteria, and a red rating meant the snack didn’t meet either of the criteria, as it was above 240 calories and above 20% DV of total fat.

Here is a PDF file showing the snacks grouped into each stoplight color, which I hope to have as a poster next to the vending machine:

Guide to Vending Machine Snacks

And here is another flyer highlighting the 3-4 best vending machine choices:

Best Vending Machine Choices

While doing this project, there’s one main lesson I learned and that others should take notice of as well.¬†¬†Portion size is everything! Many of these snacks are not single serving sizes.¬† For example,¬†the bags of chips were 1.125-2 ounces,¬†while a serving of chips is 1 ounce.¬† So naturally, if you eat the whole bag, you have to nearly double the calories, fat grams, carbohydrates, etc. in order to accurately depict what is in the entire bag.¬† This is especially key to take note of if you choose the Kar’s Roasted Salted Peanuts.¬† Peanuts are a great snack to have– they contain 8 grams of protein and nearly 3 grams of fiber per serving, not to mention they contain the heart-healthy unsaturated fats. But this bag is two¬†ounces, and an ounce of peanuts is¬†one serving.¬† If you eat the full two ounces in one afternoon, you’ve just ate 29 grams of fat, or 45% of your DV for the day.¬† So it’s definitely best to eat half of the package, and save the other¬†half in your desk drawer for later in the week.

Ok, so “what can I eat?”¬† The answer, is anything! Just eat half of the bag of chips or half of the candy bar, and you’ll be just fine. Everything will be less than¬†170 calories that way, and less than 17% DV of total fat, or 11 grams.¬† But if you want to eat an entire package, here’s the best option from each category:

BEST CHIP: Baked Ruffles, Cheddar & Sour Cream
Due to its smaller portion size (1.125oz), this bag contains just 135 calories and 4 grams of fat (only 0.5g of that is saturated). Go for it!

BEST SNACK ITEM: Chex Mix, Cheddar
This 1.75-oz bag contains 210 calories and 6.5g of fat (10% DV). A better choice than Cheez-Its which have more than double the fat.

BEST CANDY: Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
Due to its smaller portion size, these 2 peanut butter cups are the lowest calorie candy bar you’re going to find in this vending machine. While Reese’s does have 13g¬†of fat (20% DV), 8.5g of these are unsaturated fats, and there’s also 5g of protein, which isn’t too bad!

HONORABLE MENTION: Kar’s Original Trail Mix
While it did receive a “yellow” rating due to its higher fat content (22% DV), trail mix is still a good choice. This 1.5-oz bag is 200 calories, has 3g¬†of fiber, 7.5g of protein, and 12.5g of the 14g of fat are unsaturated (“healthy”) fats.

Remember, the healthiest¬†choice to make would be to bring a snack from home, such as fruit, whole wheat crackers, yogurt, a cheese stick, or fresh veggies.¬† But if you find yourself¬†in front of a vending machine with a dollar in your pocket, it’s also important to know what vending machine options¬†are the¬†healthiest for you.

Categories: Community Nutrition, Education in the Community | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Create a free website or blog at