Meal Ideas 18 May 2020

Breaking Bread

(Family Features) As families spend more time at home, Americans are finding comfort in a surprising source: bread. In fact, a 20-year trend of declining grain food consumption has been reversed.

A national study by the Grain Food Foundation suggests that the turnaround is more than a one-time sales blip due to pantry loading. In reality, consumers count bread among their top comfort foods. The study revealed one-third of Americans named pasta and bread as foods that are comforting during a stressful time.

In addition to the comforting flavor, this trend provides valuable nutritional benefits. As a part of many healthy eating plans, bread and pasta are nutritionist approved and provide nutrients needed for healthy aging such as B vitamins, magnesium, selenium, iron, folate and fiber.

“For years, we’ve been telling consumers that grain foods are the foods we love that love us back,” said Christine Cochran, executive director of the Grain Foods Foundation. “The stress has given us permission to enjoy bread and pasta again, but unlike most comfort foods, consumers recognize that grains have nutritional value.”

The highest-ranking comfort foods were ice cream; baked goods like cakes, cookies and pastries; salty snacks; candy; and fast food. However, when asked to identify comfort foods with nutritional advantages, consumers identified bread and pasta as the top two.

Beyond identifying comfort foods and their nutritional value, consumers also expressed worry that bread is in short supply right now.

“We can all rest assured that there is enough supply of grain food products in this country,” Cochran said. “Shoppers may be experiencing some sporadic unavailability of certain high-demand items. However, manufacturers are working closely with retailers to make sure that out-of-stocks are short lived. Consumers will be able to buy their favorite grain-food products and eat them, too.”

To learn more about the role of grain foods in a healthful diet, visit GrainFoodsFoundation.org.

Avocado Veggie Sandwich

Recipe courtesy of the Grain Foods Foundation
Prep time: 10 minutes
Servings: 2

  • 1/2       ripe avocado, peeled
  • 1          tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/8       teaspoon salt
  • 4          slices bread
  • 4          slices tomato
  • 8          slices cucumber
  • 12        slices sweet bell pepper
  • 2          tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2          lettuce leaves
  1. In small bowl, combine avocado, lemon juice and salt. Spread mixture evenly over two bread slices.
  2. Place tomatoes, cucumber and peppers on covered surface. Drizzle with vinegar.
  3. Layer lettuce, tomato, cucumbers and peppers evenly between slices of bread, creating two sandwiches.

Panzanella Bagel Salad

Recipe courtesy of Sylvia Melendez-Klinger, MS, RD, on behalf of the Grain Foods Foundation
Prep time: 5 minutes
Servings: 6

  • 2          medium Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 1 1/4    cups canned diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1/4       cup green bell pepper, diced
  • 1/4       cup cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
  • 2          tablespoons red onion, diced
  • 2          tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated, plus additional (optional)
  • 1          tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2          tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
  • 2          bagels (4 ounces each) cut into 2-inch pieces, toasted
  • assorted greens (optional)

In medium bowl, mix tomatoes, canned tomatoes with juice, green pepper, cucumber, onion, cheese, vinegar and basil.

Add toasted bagel pieces; toss gently. Marinate, covered, in refrigerator 1 hour. Serve within 1 hour after marinating. Sprinkle with additional cheese and serve on bed of assorted greens, if desired.

Rotini with Sausage and Mushrooms

Recipe courtesy of Sylvia Melendez-Klinger, MS, RD, on behalf of the Grain Foods Foundation
Prep time: 18 minutes
Servings: 8

  • 1          box (13 1/4 ounces) whole-grain rotini
  • 1          tablespoon olive or vegetable oil
  • 1          pound chicken sausage, sliced
  • 1          cup leeks, thinly sliced
  • 1          cup green onions, thinly sliced
  • 2          cups mushrooms, sliced
  • 1          cup chicken stock
  • 1/4       cup parsley chopped
  • 6          leaves from tarragon sprigs, chopped
  • 1          cup Romano cheese grated
  • Parmesan-Romano cheese (optional)
  1. Prepare rotini according to package directions. Drain and transfer to large bowl.
  2. In large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Cook sausage 2-3 minutes, or until well browned. Add leeks, onions and mushrooms; cook until tender. Add chicken stock and simmer 3-5 minutes, or until hot. Fold sausage mixture into warm pasta. Add parsley, tarragon and Romano cheese; toss again. Top with Parmesan-Romano cheese, if desired.

Cheesy Black Bean Toast with Pico de Gallo

Recipe courtesy of Sylvia Melendez-Klinger, MS, RD, on behalf of the Grain Foods Foundation
Prep time: 15 minutes
Servings: 4

  • 6          Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1⁄2       medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1          clove garlic, finely minced
  • 2          serrano or jalapeno peppers, finely chopped
  • 3          tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1          lime, juice only
  • 1⁄8       teaspoon oregano, finely crushed
  • 1⁄8       teaspoon salt (optional)
  • 1⁄8       teaspoon pepper
  • 1⁄2       Hass avocado, diced
  • 4          bolillos (6 inches) or large Kaiser rolls, sliced in half lengthwise
  • 1          can (16 ounces) seasoned low-fat refried black beans
  • 2          cups shredded Chihuahua or mozzarella cheese
  1. Heat oven to 350 F.
  2. In medium mixing bowl, combine tomatoes; onion; garlic; peppers; cilantro; lime juice; oregano; salt, if desired; pepper; and avocado; set aside.
  3. On medium platter, split rolls. With medium spatula, spread refried beans onto each bread half; sprinkle cheese among bread.
  4. Bake 5-8 minutes, or until cheese is melted and hot.

Source:  Grain Foods Foundation

Meal Ideas 01 July 2018

Fresh, Family-Friendly Flavors

(Family Features) One of the best parts of warmer weather for many families is the availability of fresh ingredients for meals at home. The unique tastes provide a variety of recipes that can be prepared with everyone in mind, including crisp flavors to help satisfy adults and kids alike.

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For example, Michigan asparagus is hand-harvested at more than 120 family farms, meaning each spear is snapped at its optimal point to produce an all-edible product with no woody ends.

To help keep that fresh-picked flavor, the Michigan Asparagus Advisory Board recommends storing asparagus upright in about an inch of water after trimming the ends. Loosely cover the container with plastic and keep it refrigerated.

Whether you’re enjoying it blanched, roasted or on the grill, it’s a perfect complement for warmer weather. This Asparagus Crust White Chicken Pizza from author Gina Ferwerda is a creative take on the seasonal vegetable. Find more inspiration in Ferwerda’s cookbook, “Meals from the Mitten.”

For more information and recipes, visit michiganasparagus.org .
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Asparagus Crust White Chicken Pizza

Recipe courtesy of Gina Ferwerda on behalf of the Michigan Asparagus Advisory Board
Servings: 4

Asparagus Crust:

  • 2          cups cut-up fresh or frozen Michigan asparagus, blanched
  • 1          egg
  • 2/3       cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2/3       cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1          tablespoon lemon pepper seasoning


White Sauce:

  • 2          tablespoons butter
  • 1/4       cup chopped leeks
  • 1          clove garlic, minced
  • 1          tablespoon flour
  • 3/4       cup milk
  • 1/4       cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1          cup cubed rotisserie chicken
  • 1          cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2       cup frozen green peas, thawed
  • 1/2       cup cut-up fresh or frozen Michigan asparagus, blanched and seasoned with avocado oil and lemon pepper seasoning
  • 1/4       cup chopped prosciutto
  • fresh chives, for garnish
  • fresh basil, for garnish
  1. Heat oven to 375° F.
  2. To make Asparagus Crust: In food processor, puree blanched asparagus until smooth. In large bowl, mix asparagus puree, egg, Parmesan, mozzarella and lemon pepper seasoning until thoroughly combined.
  3. Press asparagus mixture into circular shape on parchment paper-lined pizza stone or baking sheet. Place layer of paper towel over crust and gently press down to remove excess moisture. Repeat until paper towel is no longer absorbing moisture. Discard wet paper towels.
  4. Bake 12-13 minutes.
  5. To make White Sauce: In saucepan over medium heat, cook butter, leeks and garlic 3-4 minutes. Slowly whisk in flour and cook 1-2 minutes. Slowly add in milk, continue whisking and cook until thickened. Add Parmesan then remove from heat and set aside.
  6. Pour white sauce over partially baked asparagus crust and top with chicken and mozzarella. Add peas, asparagus and prosciutto. Bake 5-8 minutes, or until cheese is thoroughly melted. Garnish with fresh chives or basil.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images (Asparagus on the grill)

Source: Michigan Asparagus Advisory Board

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