Step into the kitchen to fight those winter blues

2014-02-06T07:30:00Z Step into the kitchen to fight those winter bluesBarb Ruess Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
February 06, 2014 7:30 am  • 

This is the time of year when it feels like winter will never release its icy grip. Outside it’s cold and snowy and comfort foods – cheesy pasta, potato soup, rich casseroles – all sound delicious. Before we know it, we’ve packed on some pounds and are feeling more lethargic than energetic.

Boost your energy with these healthy snack ideas.

Here are a few healthy snacks that really hit the spot this time of year. They feed some of those carb cravings but pack plenty of nutrients to help boost your energy levels:

• Popcorn: Sorry, not the “movie theater butter” kind. We’re talking air popped or popped with just a bit of canola oil. Instead of butter and salt, try salt-free herb blends like Mrs. Dash.

• Salsa: With so many great varieties of salsa available, this is a snack that never gets boring. Try pairing it with fresh veggies or low fat, whole wheat crackers.

Carol Bliznik, Registered Dietitian at Franciscan St. Anthony Health-Crown Point talks about her favorite finds in the produce section: “Fresh produce is always best for your health and your budget. This time of year oranges, tangerines and clementines are delicious. Apples, carrots & celery sticks are always good. And I encourage people to branch out and try something new like jicama.”

Not sure what to do with a jicama?

At first glance, a jicama doesn’t look too appetizing. However, beneath its brown skin lies a crunchy, sweet veggie.

1. Jicama Combo: combine cubed jicama, a sliced cucumber and orange sections. Sprinkle with chili powder and salt. Drizzle with juice of half a lemon and mix well.

2. Toss in a salad: try a Jicama & Red Pepper Salad.

3. Saute it: Saute cubes of peeled jicama in a small amount of olive oil until browned. Add one small sliced onion, 1/2 red pepper cut into strips and cook until onion is translucent. Add 1/4 cup of water or broth and cook until jicama is tender.

4. Mix up your stir fry: Add jicama to a stir fry dish.

5. Roast it: Peel a jicama and cut into cubes. Toss cubes with one small chopped onion, a small amount of oilve oil, 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic, rosemary and parsley. Spread on a baking pan and roast at 400 degrees for one hour, stirring every 15 minutes.

6. Spice it up: Try a spicy Jicama-Orange Salsa at a party.

7. Jicama Relish: At your next barbecue, serve a Jicama Relish for burgers and hot dogs.

8. Jicama Chips: Peel the jicama and thinly slice. Arrange on a plate and toss with the juice of half a lime. Sprinkle lightly with salt, sugar and chili powder. Chill for 20 minutes and serve.

9. Jicama Slaw: Add peeled, julienned jicama to your coleslaw or make a Jicama Slaw.

10. Crudite Surprise: Peel & slice up some jicama to add to a fresh vegetable tray.

Source: permission from FruitandVeggiesMoreMatters.org .

A warm, comforting and healthy dinner.

When it is time to cook dinner, get the kids involved! The more involved kids are in selecting ingredients or helping prepare the meal, the more likely they are to eat and enjoy it. Try this recipe to warm up this winter.

Meatball Soup

6 cups vegetable broth

2 cups water

1 (15 oz) can of white (cannellini) beans

1 (15 oz) can of diced tomatoes

2 carrots, thinly sliced

1 tsp Italian seasoning

1 beaten egg

1/2 cup parmesan cheese

1/2 cup bread crumbs

1 Tbl parsley

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp black pepper

1 lb ground, low fat turkey

2 handfuls of fresh spinach, chopped

1/2 package of tubettini or alphabet pasta

In your crock pot combine the following:

6 cups broth

2 cups water

1 (15 oz) can of white (cannellini) beans

1 (15 oz) can of diced tomatoes

2 carrots, thinly sliced

1 tsp Italian seasoning

Now make some meatballs. In a large bowl combine:

1 beaten egg

1/2 cup parmesan cheese

1/2 cup bread crumbs

1 Tbl parsley

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp black pepper

1 lb ground turkey

• Mix it with your hands until everything is incorporated into the meat. With your hands, roll small meatballs (think quarter to half-dollar size) and drop them into your soup.

• Cook on low for 7-8 hours. Or on high for 3-4. For the last 30 minutes of cooking time, put the heat on high if it wasn’t already, and stir in 2 handfuls of fresh chopped spinach and 1/2 box of small pasta. If you’re not home 30 minutes before dinner don’t stress: just take 15 minutes, stir in the spinach while you bring water to a boil on the stove. Cook the pasta and stir it in before serving.

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