It’s Memorial Day! In our house, that used to mean one of two things. We’d either be on the road back from my sister’s in Raleigh for a family reunion, or we’d be heading to the Taste of Cincinnati. Unfortunately, my sister now lives in Phoenix (too far to drive, flying not a great option) and COVID19 has put the kaibosh on festivals for the time being.
So, I’m left at home this morning with no siblings and no festival. In an effort to clean out my fridge, which seems to always be full of leftovers, I thought I’d try my hand at potato pancakes- a staple we’d normally enjoy at the Taste of Cincinnati (as well as the Oktoberfest- yet to be determined for fall)!
Normally potato pancakes are made with shredded potatoes, but if you’ve got leftover white, yellow or mashed sweet potatoes, this is a super simple recipe that can be served with apple butter, sour cream, stone ground mustard or ketchup. I served mine with apple butter because I love the combination of sweet and savory. If you’ve got onion, dice up 1/4 cup and add it to the mix.
If you’ve got sweet potatoes, they can be seasoned with cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice or ginger. Cumin is also a versatile spice that goes well in either regular mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes. The pancakes can be made gluten-free by substituting almond, potato or other gluten-free flour.
2 cups mashed potatoes
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
corn or canola oil for frying (roughly 1/4 cup)
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine mashed potatoes, beaten egg, flour, and spices.
- Heat a large skillet and add 2 Tbsp. oil.
- Once oil is hot, use a tablespoon to scoop 4 portions of the potato mixture and place in the hot oil.
- Fry on one side for 2-3 minutes, then flip.
- Flatten the pancake a bit after you’ve flipped it and continuing cooking and flipping until both sides are golden brown.
- Serve with your favorite condiment. Enjoy!
Makes 6 pancakes.
If you’re spending more ‘thyme’ in the kitchen these days, you’re not alone! While everyone was grabbing toilet paper, my husband and I were going for unbleached flour and packets of yeast. If it’s the end of days, we’re going to live it up with bread and cookies! Kidding (sort of).
Being the frugal dietitian that I am, I have discovered that you can use smaller amounts of ingredients in certain recipes and still have your cake, and eat it, too. While we’re not making too much cake these days (we save that for birthdays), a batch of cookies is a great way to procrastibake an afternoon or morning away.
Last night, my girls requested cookies. In the past, I’d make the batch and my husband would bring some to work or we’d give some to neighbors. Well, things have changed a bit. Social distancing has put a damper on sharing. In addition, I’d rather not use up all my ingredients and have to make another trip to the store or Click list order.
Here are a few hacks to spare ingredients and calories when baking.
- Cut the recipe in half. If your cookies, brownies or other baked item has an even number of eggs, make half the recipe. This leave eggs for something else (such as breakfast or tuna salad) and you’re not stuck with dessert that you can’t share with office mates or neighbors.
- Reduce the sugar in your cookie recipe by 1/2 cup. Most drop cookie recipes call for 1 1/2 cups of sugar (3/4 cup brown, 3/4 cup granular). Use 1/2 cup each and you’ll never notice the difference.
- Use less butter. I like the texture of cookies better when I used less butter. Most recipes have a full stick of butter for a full recipe. I use 1 1/2 sticks instead and the texture is crispier and less greasy. If you’re using a half recipe, you’ll need just 6 Tbsp. butter.
- Add 1 cup of rolled oats in place of a cup of flour. This boosts the fiber content in your recipe and gives the cookies a chewier texture.
- Use mini semi-sweet chips. You’ll get more chocolate flavor with mini chips because they can cover more surface area of your cookies.
- Freeze your extra dough or cookies. There’s no rule that you have to bake all of the dough in one session. Keep dough in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Freezing cookies keeps you from eating them all at once or having them sit on your counter and get stale.
- Add orange, almond, cinnamon or other flavors. Change the flavor or your dough and you’ve got a whole new cookie! I’m a fan of using orange and cinnamon together or almond flavoring in place of vanilla. Use full amount of original recipe for this one. A little extra vanilla never hurts!
- Substitute dried fruit for half of the chocolate chips. Raisins, dried cranberries or cherries add a chewy texture to your cookies and reduce the fat in the recipe when used in place of chocolate.
- Try baby food prunes in place of butter in brownie recipes. Prunes enhance the chocolate flavor and give the brownies more of a cake-like texture.
- Add some zest! Orange or lemon zest is particularly delicious in oatmeal cookies or in blueberry muffins.
Half Batch Chocolate Chip Cookies:
6 Tbsp. butter (softened)
1/4 cup granular sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 cup & 2 Tbsp. white flour
1 cup semi-sweet mini chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees
- Place softened butter, white sugar and brown sugar in a mixing bowl. Mix by hand or use a stand mixer to cream ingredients together.
- Add egg, salt, baking soda, and vanilla and beat until blended.
- Stir in flour to make a soft dough.
- Add in chocolate chips and mix into the dough.
- Place 1 tsp. cookie dough on a greased cookie sheet or baking mat in rows of 3.
- Bake for 9 minutes or until lightly brown
Makes 16 to 18 cookies.
If you’re a baker or need a fun gift for one, check out my Whiskin’ it all gifts:
Whiskin’ it all Eco Tote Bag
It’s Earth Day! ‘Thyme’ to celebrate your mother and reduce the carbon footprint.
As a dietitian, it’s part of my DNA to avoid food waste as much as possible. You’ve likely heard the statistics that 40% of American’s food ends up in a landfill while 1 in 8 go hungry. This is nonsense! I really hate tossing food out- especially now when my income has been nearly cut in half due to COVID19 cancellations and trips to the grocery store are much less frequent. If you’d like to see my review of click list VS Instacart, check out my blog post here: https://soundbitesnutrition.com/grocery-shopping-in-the-age-of-covid19/
I always try to use what’s in my frig, but don’t always want to eat the same dishes. Leftover beans become soup, too much rice is transformed into stir fry, grilled chicken makes great chicken salad.
Today I discovered a partial can of diced tomatoes with green chiles left from weekend tacos. Knowing my daughter hates spicy food, adding this to soup or chili would be met with resistance. So instead, I added them to my eggs! Salsa would be a great substitute here, too.
Adding veggies to any dish is a great way to reuse them. You reduce food waste while adding color, vitamin C, potassium, fiber and texture to your meal. I doused my eggs with oregano and cheese, which made a delicious omelet.
Here’s the recipe:
1 egg with 1 tsp. water, scrambled in a small bowl
1 tsp. shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup diced tomatoes with green chilies (or salsa)
Dusting of oregano
- Heat a small skillet and spray with non-stick spray.
- Add scrambled egg to the pan and cook for 1-2 minutes.
- Sprinkle shredded cheese over the egg, then add diced tomatoes.
- Add oregano over the eggs (as much as desired).
- Fold egg over in pan to make an omelet.
Serve with toast or fruit. Enjoy!
We’ve all been seeing blogs and recipe posts about using pantry staples during the COVID19 crisis. Tips for quick meals, ways to use beans and canned tomatoes are taking over the internet. And believe me, I embrace these recipes, too! I’m all for inexpensive, quick ways to get dinner on the table.
But lettuce not forget about perishable food, too! With stores still allowing people through their doors, or better yet- utilizing Instacart, Click List or Amazon Prime to continue social distancing, we can all continue to eat fresh and frozen food during this pandemic. And we should. Fruits, veggies, whole grains, nuts/seeds and beans offer loads of nutrition from vitamins, minerals and fiber to phytochemicals, antioxidants and other compounds that help fight disease. Studies show that a plant-forward diet is linked with lower rates of cancer, obesity, heart disease and diabetes- several conditions that make people more vulnerable to getting the coronavirus.
Here are a few ways to get your plants on:
- Keep your produce in the frig. Yes, the apples and oranges look beautiful on your counter, but you’ll extend the shelf life if you keep them cool. Remember shelf life has the word SHELF in it, after all! Put them in a Zip lock bag if you have it.
- Add fruits or vegetables to every meal. Onions can be sauteed and used in multiple dishes like eggs, pasta, rice, beans or soup.
- Add fresh or frozen spinach to your dishes to get more vitamin C, potassium and antioxidants in your meals. A dose of daily greens has been found to protect your noggen!
- Add less than perfect fruit (wrinkled apples, browning bananas, soggy berries) to oatmeal, yogurt and smoothies or bake pears or apples with cinnamon for a healthy treat.
- Commit to whole grains. Enough low carb madness- trust that high fiber foods are necessary for bowel regularity, cholesterol reduction, blood sugar management and energy. Choose rolled oats, 100% whole grain bread & pasta, brown rice, quinoa and other hearty grains. These are plants, too!
- Have at least 2 (or more) meatless dinners per week. There’s a large variety of options with beans and lentils including Indian, Mediterranean or other dishes. Maximize your thyme and try new spices and herbs.
- Keep a variety of frozen fruits & veggies on hand. Veggies can be microwaved in 2 minutes and used as a side dish or added to soups, stews or leftovers quickly to boost color and nutritional value of your meals.
- Experiment with fruits and veggies in the same dish. Roast sweet potatoes with apples or add pears or citrus fruit to salads. There’s no rule that these need to be served separately.
If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m a simple gal with simple taste. Basically, I want healthy food that tastes good, but doesn’t take forever to create. I came across some frozen shrimp while grabbing ice earlier and it put me in the mood for seafood. I’m a fan of trying new new flavors, but almost always include my standbys of garlic, salt and pepper.
On a nutritional note, I have a personal mission of eating at minimum- 1 cup of leafy greens a day. Regular intake of leafy greens has been found to reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease and dementia. Today I combined shrimp with spinach, anise seed and leftover rice. Anise has a lovely licorice-like flavor that really complimented the shrimp and spinach. Let me tell you- it was delightful! Below is the recipe:
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. anise seeds
15-20 baby shrimp
2 cups frozen spinach
1 cup cooked rice
salt & pepper to taste
Shredded Parmesan cheese (optional)
- Using a medium sized skillet, heat olive oil to medium heat.
- Add shrimp, garlic and anise seeds and sautee for 5 to 7 minutes until shrimp is opaque.
- Add cooked rice and frozen spinach. Cook for another 3 minutes until spinach is bright green.
- Salt and pepper to taste. Serve with shredded Parmesan cheese.
Makes 2 servings. Recipe can be doubled or tripled to feed a bigger crowd.
Gone are the days of Barbie lunch boxes and Dora thermos. I have teen age girls now. In 12 years of being in school, they have never bought their lunches. Not because I didn’t let them. I was lucky that they typically liked what I packed in their lunch and never had to deal with chicken nuggets or pizza. We saved those battles for dining out.
These days are different. One has gone through a vegetarian phase while the other is suffering with orthodontic pain having had her braces tightened. It was easy to pack their lunches when they were little. But until they are able to drive and spend money on groceries (no times soon, unfortunately), we parents are still in charge of what goes in their lunch boxes.If your child does have braces, it can make eating a really unpleasant experience (for both of you)!
Here are a few ideas if your child has braces since they can’t live on just fruit cups!
- Yogurt- if your child will eat Greek yogurt, this is a lower sugar option with a thicker texture. It has more protein, which will fill them up between meals. If they’re not fond of Greek yogurt, get them traditional, blended yogurt without fruit chunks.
- Bean or lentil soup- this is a great option for both the vegetarian and kid with braces. It’s high in fiber and protein and you can make a big batch and freeze it if needed. Soup can be pureed or further processed to make “chewing” easier.
- High calorie supplements- I am normally not a “meal replacement” person, but if your kid absolutely cannot chew, this will get therm through the morning until they can resume oatmeal or toast. Ensure Plus, Boost or a store brand will do in these cases. Try different flavors to keep things interesting.
- Fruit cups- get a variety- applesauce, fruit cocktail, diced peaches or pears, etc. Pineapple not welcome right now!
- Nut or seed butters like Justin’s or 88 Acres. While your child might not be able to chew toast, soft crackers like saltines might be tolerated OK with a smooth nut butter.These come in convenient pouches that can be packed in your child’s lunch and eaten as part of a meal or for after school snack.They’re a great source of protein and healthy fat.
- Pudding- yeah, I recognize this is “dessert”, but when your child needs calories, let them eat what they can!