(Family Features) Staying healthy is important year-round, but especially in the cooler months when temperatures drop, people spend more time inside and germs can spread easily. What you eat and the lifestyle you embrace are critical components of staying healthy.
Nourishing meals full of fruits, vegetables, protein-rich foods and whole grains help provide the body's immune system with the nutrients it needs. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle by getting enough sleep, being physically active every day, having enough fluids and reducing stress also help keep the immune system in shape.
As a nutritious food to include on your grocery list, grapes of all colors - red, green and black - contain more than 1,600 natural plant compounds such as antioxidants and other polyphenols that help protect the health of cells throughout the body. They also contain about 82% water, so they provide important fluids for hydration, which is also critical to a healthy immune system.
Grapes can be enjoyed as a healthy snack or an immune-boosting ingredient in recipes like Chicken, Spinach and Grape Pita sandwiches and Grape and Salmon Power Salad. Each provides a mix of immune-supporting nutrients, including zinc in chicken, vitamins A and C in kale, polyphenols in grapes and other important nutrients in the salmon, walnuts and barley.
Chicken, Spinach and Grape Pita
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons minced shallot
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 pinch red pepper flakes
- 1/4 teaspoon ground sumac
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 package (5-6 ounces) fresh baby spinach, washed and dried
- 1 1/2 cups shredded, cooked chicken (about 8 ounces)
- 1 cup red California grapes, sliced
- 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 4 whole-wheat pita breads (6 1/2 inches each), warmed and halved
- In small skillet over medium-high heat, toast pine nuts, stirring constantly until toasted, about 5 minutes. Transfer to bowl and let cool. In large bowl, whisk lemon juice, shallot, olive oil, red pepper flakes, sumac, salt and pepper. Add spinach, chicken, grapes, feta and pine nuts; toss to mix. Stuff into pita breads and serve.
Nutritional information per serving: 445 calories; 24 g protein; 46 g carbohydrates; 20 g fat (39% calories from fat); 5 g saturated fat (10% calories from saturated fat); 57 mg cholesterol; 658 mg sodium; 6 g fiber.
Grape and Salmon Power Salad
- 3/4 cup pearled barley
- 3 cups firmly packed kale leaves, torn and sliced into ribbons
- 1 cup halved red or black seedless California grapes
- 8 ounces cold, cooked salmon, skin and bones removed
- 1/2 cup walnuts, lightly toasted and coarsely chopped
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 clove garlic, mashed
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pinch cayenne pepper
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Cook barley according to package directions. Drain and cool.
- Tenderize kale by blanching in boiling water 2-3 seconds or microwaving 1 minute. Rinse pieces in cold water to stop cooking; squeeze dry. Fluff and uncrimp dry kale pieces with fingers. In medium bowl, mix barley, kale, grapes, salmon and walnuts.
- To make dressing: In small bowl, whisk lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper and cayenne. Gradually mix in olive oil. Pour onto salad and fold gently to combine.
Nutritional information per serving: 413 calories; 15 g protein; 30 g carbohydrates; 16 g fat (47% calories from fat); 3 g saturated fat (8% calories from saturated fat); 22 mg cholesterol; 232 mg sodium; 500 mg potassium; 4 g fiber.
(Family Features) Turning to easy recipes that require minimal cooking time can help your loved ones take the stress out of busy back-to-school evenings while increasing the opportunities for sharing family moments together.
Skip the long cook times of complicated dishes and instead turn to an option like this Skillet Macaroni and Cheese, a kid-friendly and parent-approved meal to turn hectic school nights into happy time with family.
With a slight twist on the childhood classic, this version calls for chicken to add protein along with spinach and cherry tomatoes for increased veggie intake. Plus, it’s made with milk and cheese as part of an important daily intake of dairy, an irreplaceable part of a balanced diet as a source of essential nutrients.
Visit milkmeansmore.org to find more kid-friendly meals.
Watch video to see how to make this recipe!
Skillet Macaroni and Cheese
Recipe courtesy of Katie Serbinski of “Mom to Mom Nutrition” on behalf of Milk Means More
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
- 1 cup dried elbow macaroni
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
- 1 package (5 ounces) semisoft cheese with garlic and fine herbs
- 1 1/2 cups fat-free milk
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce
- 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 2 cups fresh baby spinach
- 1 cup quartered cherry tomatoes
- Cook macaroni according to package directions; drain.
- Heat large skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil, chicken and onion. Cook 6-8 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink.
- Reduce heat to medium. Stir in semisoft cheese. Gradually add milk and flour. Continue stirring and cooking until mixture is thickened and bubbly.
- Reduce heat to low. Add hot sauce, cheddar cheese and cooked macaroni. Cook and stir 1-2 minutes until cheese is melted. Stir in spinach.
- Top with cherry tomatoes and serve.
Source: United Dairy of Michigan
(Family Features) If you’re juggling a new set of responsibilities right now, you’re not alone. Those busy mornings may still pose challenges even if your commute no longer exists.
Making breakfast in advance can give you a few extra minutes to move your body, center your mind or simply hit the snooze button one more time and still put a delicious, nutritious breakfast on the table. Aim to use ingredients with a mix of protein, fiber and good fats to keep you full and energized for whatever the day has in store.
Take morning meal prep off your plate for days at a time by making a batch of No-Bake Walnut, Cocoa and Cherry Bars or Savory Walnut Egg Cups, which can be made with mostly pantry staples or frozen ingredients to help limit trips to the grocery store.
Find more make-ahead recipes for any meal of the day at walnuts.org/meal-prep.
Savory Walnut Egg Cups
Total time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
- 3/4 cup chopped walnuts
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons cold water
- 9 large eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
- 1 tablespoon stone ground Dijon mustard
- 1 cup baby spinach, coarsely chopped
- 1 small red bell pepper, diced
- 3/4 cup extra sharp shredded cheddar cheese
- Heat oven to 350° F and generously spray 12-cup muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray.
- In bowl of food processor, pulse oats until fine and flour-like. Add walnuts and pulse until blended with oat flour. Pulse in olive oil, salt and water until mixture comes together.
- Spoon walnut-oat crust mixture evenly (about 1 1/4 tablespoons each) into each muffin cup and press into bottom and partially up sides. Bake 25 minutes until crust begins to brown. Cool on wire rack 10 minutes.
- In large bowl, whisk eggs, garlic powder, oregano and mustard until well combined. Stir in spinach, bell pepper and cheese.
- Fill each muffin cup evenly with egg-veggie mixture and bake 20 minutes, or until eggs are set. Cool slightly on wire rack before removing egg cups by carefully inserting sharp knife between crust and muffin pan.
No-Bake Walnut, Cocoa and Cherry Bars
Total time:15 minutes
- 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
- 1 cup (about 12) pitted medjool dates
- 1/2 cup shelled walnuts
- 1/2 cup unsweetened dried cherries
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- In large food processor bowl, combine oats, dates, walnuts, cherries, cocoa powder and salt. Process 1-2 minutes, or until mixture resembles crumbly dough.
- Turn mixture onto wax paper and shape evenly into 1/2-inch thick rectangle.
- Chill at least 1 hour and cut into nine bars.
Source: California Walnuts
(Family Features) The spring season brings to mind flowers blooming and plants springing back to life, making it the ideal time to enjoy fresh produce in meals throughout the day. Salads are of course one of the easiest ways to combine the flavors of your favorite fruits and veggies, but you can take your greens to the next level with refreshing recipe ideas.
Creating a cool, satisfying salad can be easy when you start with quality ingredients like Fresh Express salad blends, NatureSweet Cherubs Tomatoes and Litehouse dressings for versatile bases in a nearly endless array of options. For example, salads aren’t limited to lunch or appetizers – this Breakfast Salad Bowl makes for an energizing start to the day by combining classic salad ingredients with quinoa, bacon and avocado.
Perfect for those busy weeknights, heartier salad recipes can also provide quick, simple dinner options. As a more traditional mix to enjoy at the family table, this Salmon and Grains Salad Bowl brings together salmon, tomatoes and chickpeas on a bed of lettuce topped with ranch dressing.
Find more ways to create hearty salads this spring at litehousefoods.com/iheartsalad.
Salmon and Grains Salad Bowl
- 4 ounces salmon
- 2 tablespoons paprika, divided
- salt, to taste
- pepper, to taste
- 15 ounces chickpeas
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 ounces Fresh Express Sweet Butter Lettuce
- 1 cup red quinoa, cooked
- 6 ounces NatureSweet Cherubs Tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons Litehouse Homestyle Ranch Dressing
- Heat oven to 350° F. Sprinkle salmon with 1 teaspoon paprika; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Bake on lined baking sheet 15 minutes, or until it reaches desired doneness.
- In bowl, toss chickpeas in olive oil and remaining paprika; add salt and pepper, to taste. Add chickpeas to lined baking sheet. Bake at 400 F 30-40 minutes.
- Add lettuce to plate or bowl. Top with quinoa, chickpeas, salmon and tomatoes. Drizzle with ranch dressing.
Breakfast Salad Bowl
- 10 ounces NatureSweet Cherubs Tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 2 ounces Fresh Express Baby Spinach
- 1 egg
- 2 bacon strips, halved
- 1 cup quinoa, cooked
- 1/2 avocado, sliced
- 2 tablespoons Litehouse Jalapeno Ranch Dressing
- Heat oven to 400° F. Toss tomatoes in 1 tablespoon olive oil. Bake tomatoes on lined baking sheet 40 minutes.
- In skillet, add remaining olive oil and cook baby spinach until wilted, stirring as necessary.
- Cook egg as desired. Remove egg from skillet and set aside. Add bacon to skillet and cook until crispy, turning halfway through.
- In bowl, layer quinoa, bacon, avocado, egg, spinach and tomatoes. Drizzle with jalapeno ranch dressing.