(Family Features) Road trips, outdoor adventures and relaxing by the pool are some of summer’s most popular activities, and all can be more enjoyable by adding favorite snacks to the mix. Next time you bask in the summer sun, bring along some tasty pecan snacks that allow you stay on track with wellness goals without sacrificing those snack-time delights.
Whether you enjoy their natural sweetness straight from the bag or add them to your go-to recipes, pecans are among the lowest in carbs and highest in fiber of tree nuts, an option that’s perfect for snacking. In fact, each ounce of pecans includes 3 grams of plant-based protein and 3 grams of fiber to go with 12 grams of “good” monounsaturated fat and only 2 grams of saturated fat.
Curb your snack cravings with a savory option like Buffalo-Pecan Pimento Cheese Dip with veggies and crackers, or if something sweeter tempts your taste buds, dive into a tangy treat with these Mini Pecan Lemon Berry Tarts.
Visit AmericanPecan.com for more snacking tips and recipes.
Mini Pecan Lemon Berry Tarts
Total time: 22 minutes
Mini Pecan Crusts:
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 2 cups pecan pieces
- 1/4 cup butter, melted
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 cup lemon curd
- 1/2 cup blueberries, raspberries or combination
- powdered sugar, for dusting (optional)
- To make mini pecan crusts: Preheat oven to 350 F. Line mini muffin tin with paper liners or spray with nonstick cooking spray.
- In food processor, blend pecan pieces, butter and sugar until mixture forms coarse dough.
- Scoop about 2 teaspoons pecan mixture in each muffin tin. Use back of wooden spoon or fingers to press mixture evenly along bottom and up sides of each muffin cup.
- Bake 12 minutes, or until crusts are golden brown. Allow crusts to cool completely before removing from pan.
- To assemble crusts: Spoon 1 teaspoon lemon curd into each mini pecan crust. Top with one raspberry or three small blueberries. Dust with powdered sugar, if desired.
Buffalo-Pecan Pimento Cheese Dip
Total time: 15 minutes
- 1 cup raw pecan pieces
- 1/2 pound (2 cups) sharp cheddar cheese, freshly grated
- 1 jar (4 ounces) sliced pimentos
- 2 tablespoons red hot sauce
- 2 tablespoons mayo
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
- 1 tablespoon chives, freshly chopped
- veggies, for serving
- crackers, for serving
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- On baking sheet, spread pecans and roast 8-10 minutes, or until golden brown and fragrant, tossing once halfway through. Remove from oven and set aside to cool completely.
- In bowl, combine cheddar cheese, pimentos with juice, hot sauce, mayo, salt and pepper. Stir until combined. Add 3/4 of pecan pieces and mix until combined.
- Place dip in serving bowl and top with remaining pecan pieces and freshly chopped chives.
- Serve with veggies and crackers.
Source: American Pecan Council
It's little secret that eating more nutritious veggies is an essential element of healthier eating. Fortunately, finding ways to boost the veggie content of your favorite dishes may be easier than you think.
Put a creative twist on your meals from breakfast through dinner with these tasty tips:
- Experiment with new flavors to enhance the dishes you enjoy regularly. If a ham and cheese omelet is your standard breakfast fare, try adding fresh tomato, peppers and mushrooms for a whole new taste. If you tend to keep things simple, get creative when it comes to topping your morning toast, such as this version that features avocados and radishes. Then at dinner time, give basic pasta a bump by adding broccoli or spinach to your sauce.
- Look for veggie-rich versions of your favorite condiments, dips and sauces. For example, Sabra's Veggie Fusions Guacamole has tons of added vegetables with 30 percent less fat than classic guacamole. Available in Garden Vegetable and Mango Lime, you can also opt for the Southwest flavor and get your fiesta fix with a hearty combination of guacamole, sweet corn and rich black beans - the perfect complement to a spicy steak taco.
- Find new flavor combinations by swapping out calorie-laden carbs. Ditch the bread and instead use leaves of lettuce to wrap your sandwich. Traditional cold cuts, chicken salad and even burgers taste great nestled in fresh, crisp leafy greens.
Get inspired with more ideas to up your veggie intake at sabra.com.
Avocado Toast with Radish and Cotija Cheese
Recipe courtesy of The Lemon Bowl
- 1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 lime, juice only
- salt, to taste
- 4 slices crusty, whole-grain bread, toasted
- 1 cup Sabra Veggie Fusions Southwestern Guacamole
- 2 ounces Cotija cheese, crumbled
- 4 large radishes, thinly sliced
- cilantro sprigs (optional)
- In small bowl, toss together onion slices with lime juice and salt, to taste; let sit 5 minutes, or as long as overnight.
- Top each piece of toasted whole-grain bread with 1/4 cup guacamole.
- Place equal parts pickled red onions, crumbled Cotija cheese and radish slices on top of each piece of toast. Garnish with cilantro, if desired, and serve.
Spicy Steak Tacos with Southwestern Guacamole
Recipe courtesy of Emily Bites
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 pound raw lean, trimmed flank steak, cut into thin strips
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 8 tortillas (6 inches each)
- 1 cup chopped lettuce leaves
- 8 tablespoons Sabra Veggie Fusions Southwestern Guacamole
- 4 tablespoons clover sprouts
- 4 grape tomatoes, sliced
- 1 radish, thinly sliced
- In small dish, combine chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, paprika, cumin, salt and pepper, and stir together until well mixed.
- Place uncooked steak strips into re-sealable plastic bag and add spice mixture. Seal bag and shake/turn until steak is coated with seasoning.
- Pour oil into large skillet and bring to medium heat. Add seasoned steak strips and stir to coat steak with oil. Cook, stirring and flipping occasionally, about 5 minutes, or until steak strips are cooked to taste. Remove from heat.
- Warm tortillas slightly in microwave then lay out to fill. Divide lettuce and steak between tortillas and top each with 1 tablespoon of guacamole. Sprinkle each taco with sprouts and slices of tomato and radish.
(Family Features) From burgers to barbecued chicken, many of the best grilled foods are served with creamy condiments – often packing on calories and fat. Next time you’re ready to grill, experiment with new ways to create simple but robust flavors using fewer ingredients through simple swaps.
Rice vinegars offer a healthy alternative to condiments like mayonnaise or a creamy dressing when grilling. Keeping meals simple is easy with naturally gluten-free Nakano Rice Vinegar, which includes six or less simple ingredients with no artificial preservatives, flavors or ingredients, and no high-fructose corn syrup or MSG. The brand recently announced a clean-labeling initiative for all of its products, which now have easy-to-read labels with recognizable ingredients.
Dawn Jackson Blatner, star of ABC’s “My Diet Is Better Than Yours,” author of “Superfood Swap” and a registered dietitian and nutrition consultant for the Chicago Cubs, has created healthy dishes to heat up the grill this season.
This fall, look for organic Nakano Rice Vinegars debuting at retailers nationwide, and find more recipes at Mizkan.com.
Grilled Meatballs and Zoodles
- 1 pound organic ground turkey or grass-fed ground beef
- 1 cup organic kale, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup crushed brown rice crackers
- 1 egg
- 1/4 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- non-stick cooking spray
- 4 medium zucchini
- 2 cups organic cherry tomatoes, chopped
- 1/4 cup shaved Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup Nakano Rice Vinegar – Natural or Nakano Organic Rice Vinegar – Natural
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- sea salt, to taste
- black pepper, to taste
- Heat grill to medium.
- In large mixing bowl, combine ground meat, kale, crackers, egg, chili pepper flakes and salt. Use hands to form mixture into 12 balls. Refrigerate 30-60 minutes to help meatballs set.
- Mist meatballs with non-stick cooking spray and place them on grill. Grill each side 3-4 minutes, using tongs to flip to sides that haven’t been browned yet. Meatballs should reach internal temperature of 165°F.
- Using vegetable spiralizer, create zucchini noodles.
- Toss zucchini with tomatoes, Parmesan, vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper.
- Serve each zoodle plate with three meatballs.
Nutritional information per serving: 350 calories; 20 g total fat; 6 g saturated fat; 240 mg sodium; 14 g carbs; 3 g fiber; 6 g sugar; 32 g protein.
Grilled Veggie and Ranch Bowl
- 8 ounces skinless chicken breast
- 2 ears corn, shucked
- 6 asparagus spears, trimmed
- 1 organic bell pepper, seeded and cut into 4 large pieces
- 1 zucchini, cut in half lengthwise
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- sea salt, to taste
- pepper, to taste
- 4 tablespoons Cashew Ranch Dressing (recipe below)
- Heat grill to medium.
- Season chicken breast, corn, asparagus, bell pepper and zucchini with olive oil, sea salt and pepper.
- Grill chicken 6-7 minutes per side, internal temperature reaches 165 F. Grill corn 10-15 minutes, rotating after every pop, until corn is golden. Grill asparagus, bell pepper and zucchini 3-5 minutes per side, until tender.
- Separate chicken, corn, asparagus, bell pepper and zucchini evenly into two bowls. Drizzle bowls with Cashew Ranch Dressing.
Note: Bowl leftovers can be refrigerated for up to four days.
Nutritional information per serving: 450 calories; 21 g total fat; 4.5 g saturated fat; 870 mg sodium; 31 g carbs; 6 g fiber; 10 g sugar; 38 g protein.
Cashew Ranch Dressing
Makes: 1 cup
- 1 cup raw, unsalted cashews
- 3/4 cup almost-boiling water
- 3 tablespoons Nakano Rice Vinegar – Natural or Nakano Organic Rice Vinegar – Natural
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon dried dill
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives
- In food processor, puree cashews, water, rice vinegar, garlic, dill, oregano, salt and pepper 3-4 minutes, until creamy. For best results, drizzle water in gradually as food processor is running. Stir in chives.
Note: Leftover dressing can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to seven days.
Nutritional information per tablespoon: 50 calories; 4 g total fat; 0.5 g saturated fat; 110 mg sodium; 3 g carbs; 1 g sugar; 2 g protein.
Tuna Stuffed Avocado
- 1 ripe avocado
- 1 can (5 ounces) tuna packed in water, drained
- 1/2 cup finely diced celery
- 1/2 cup grated carrot
- 1/4 cup finely diced red onion
- 2 tablespoons Nakano Rice Vinegar – Natural or Nakano Organic Rice Vinegar – Natural
- 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- 16 brown rice crackers
- Cut avocado in half, remove pit and scoop out flesh leaving thin wall of avocado. Dice avocado flesh and set shell aside for serving.
- In small bowl, combine tuna, celery, carrot, onion, vinegar, oil, mustard, salt and pepper. Mix well. Gently stir in diced avocado.
- Scoop mixture into avocado shells and serve with brown rice crackers.
Nutritional information per serving: 360 calories; 19 g total fat; 3 g saturated fat; 530 mg sodium; 26 g carbs; 9 g fiber; 3 g sugar; 22 g protein.
Source: Nakano Rice Vinegar
Add nutritious, natural ingredients for a healthier you
(Family Features) When it comes to making tasty meals for your family, you probably know that ingredients matter. From vitamins and nutrients to sugar and acidity, it’s important to know what you’re using in your recipes at every meal and how each ingredient can impact all parts of the body.
To help understand how ingredients matter and how quality ingredients can keep your body healthy, consider these tips from registered dietitian, celebrity nutritionist and healthy cooking expert Keri Glassman, MS, RDN.
- Mind your veggies. Nearly everyone knows veggies are a vital part of any healthy diet. They are high in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, and pack loads of fiber, but not everyone knows what health benefits you get from specific vegetables. For example, Brussels sprouts are packed with vitamin C to support your immune health and dried figs are known for lowering blood pressure and optimizing digestion.
- Just add lemon. Water with lemon can aid in digestion and boost your immune system due to its high vitamin C content, so adding it to water is one way to reap these benefits. While including lemons in your diet has its perks, it’s also important to know they are acidic in nature and eating highly acidic foods can impact your oral health.
- Be mindful of acid attacks. Every day, everyone’s mouths go through hundreds of “acid attacks,” mainly due to eating and drinking. While a variety of foods can have positive health benefits, they also carry acids that can weaken tooth enamel. To help combat this, take advantage of the acid-neutralizing power of baking soda, an ingredient found in Arm & Hammer Toothpastes. Baking soda helps neutralize acids, while gently cleaning and removing plaque, so your teeth and gums stay healthy and strong. Find more information at ArmandHammer.com.
- Say hello to healthy fats. Nuts carry healthy unsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for cardiovascular health, mental health and cholesterol, so they can be a natural component for a healthy diet. Fat can be your friend, but stay mindful about not going overboard, as the calories can add up fast.
- Avoid added sugar. Sugar can cause inflammation in people’s bodies and is known to potentially impact cardiovascular health and weight, and can have a negative effect on our teeth. Sugar is often a sneaky ingredient that can be found in condiments and salad dressings. Avoid added sugar by making homemade dressings using lemon juice, oil and herbs, or checking labels to make sure you avoid added sugar whenever possible.
Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad with Pecorino and Hazelnuts
Recipe courtesy of Keri Glassman, MS, RDN
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup hazelnuts, lightly crushed
- olive oil, to taste
- rosemary, to taste
- salt, to taste
- pepper, to taste
- 4 cups shaved Brussels sprouts
- 1/2 cup dried figs, chopped
- 1/3 cup finely sliced red onion
- 4 tablespoons Lemon Dressing
- 1 grapefruit, segmented
- 1/3 cup shredded pecorino cheese
- Heat oven to 375° F.
- To make Lemon Dressing: mix olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
- On lined baking sheet, toss hazelnuts with olive oil, rosemary, salt and pepper, to taste.
- Roast 10-15 minutes, or until lightly brown; let cool.
- In large mixing bowl, toss roasted hazelnuts, Brussels sprouts, figs, red onion and dressing until combined.
- Plate about 1/4 of mixed salad, top with a few grapefruit segments and sprinkle with
Source: Arm & Hammer Toothpaste
(Family Features) Although you may share a passion for a favorite sports team, not everyone has the same taste when it comes to the tailgating menu. Enter these seven dips: from a yogurt turmeric dip to spicy buffalo chicken dip, you’re sure to please nearly every game-day guest.
There won’t be any trash talk when it comes to this dip. It’s the ultimate ooey, gooey, cheesy dish that’s sure to be all the rage at game-day parties and social gatherings.
Games and wings go hand-in-hand, but you can keep hands mess-free with this alternative that combines all the flavors of savory Buffalo chicken wings in a warm, creamy dip.
Think outside the box this season with a dip that is the perfect blend of salty and sweet. Bacon, Georgia peaches, sweet onions and a brown sugar bourbon marinade are complemented by pecans for a nutty, crunchy finish.
Low-fat yogurt and milk blend with golden turmeric and cinnamon for a tangy dip just waiting for crispy dippers like pita chips and veggies.
Move over cheesy, chili dips – the tangy sweetness of orange juice, carrots and honey make for a simple dip you can feel good about devouring.
Warm up with this crowd-pleasing dip made with fresh spinach, artichoke hearts, cream cheese and Parmesan.
Simply mix together a can of black beans, chopped tomatoes and spices like chili powder and cumin for an easy dip to throw together for last-minute guests.
(Family Features) There’s not much that tastes better during the summer than a meal hot off the grill. If you’re in the mood for a delicious backyard dish, try adding versatility to your grilling game with a few simple tips.
Try a new cooking method. If your usual preparation involves a basic flame, you may be surprised by all the different flavors you can evoke just by changing the method. Whether you’re using gas or charcoal, switch from standard grilling to smoking over indirect heat. You can also use seasoned wood chips with most grilling methods to build a completely different flavor profile.
Look for non-traditional ways to use your favorite proteins. Instead of the traditional steak or chicken on a kabob, you can create a whole new flavor experience using smoked sausage. For example, Eckrich offers a variety of smoked sausage flavors in traditional ropes and bun-length links, all with just the right blend of seasonings for a rich, savory taste.
Explore new condiments and toppings. Ketchup, mustard and relish may be staples at the condiment station, but there’s no reason you can’t add a little something extra. Grilled onions, mushrooms and peppers are all simple and delicious ways to add flavor. Or try something entirely new, like this sweet, tangy marmalade made with bacon and onions.
Find more summer grilling ideas at Eckrich.com.
Smoked Sausage Links with Bacon and Onion Marmalade
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
- 2-3 strips bacon
- 1 tablespoon mustard seeds
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 1/2 pounds (about 6 onions) Vidalia onions, diced
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup cane syrup
- 1 package Eckrich Smoked Sausage Links (bun-length)
- 6 hot dog buns
- Heat oven to 350° F.
- Line baking sheet with parchment paper and lay strips of bacon flat. Cook until crispy, about 20-25 minutes. Chop bacon into small pieces and set aside.
- In dry pot over medium heat, toast mustard seeds until slightly browned.
- Add bacon, vinegar, onions, brown sugar and cane syrup to pot. Cover, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. Cook about 20 minutes at medium-high heat. Remove pot cover and reduce to medium heat. Cook until liquid is reduced and onions are dark in color, about 50 minutes.
- Oil grill and bring to medium heat. Grill sausage 12 minutes, or until heated through.
- Place smoked sausage in hot dog bun and cover evenly with marmalade.
Note: Marmalade can be made in advance for easier dinner preparation and can be kept up to 2 weeks in a refrigerator or 3 months in a freezer.
Grilled Kabobs with Smoked Sausage and Veggies
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 25 minutes
- 6 wooden skewers
- nonstick cooking spray
- 1 package Eckrich Original Smoked Sausage (rope)
- 1 medium zucchini
- 2 large red bell peppers
- 2 large yellow bell peppers
- 1 large red onion
- Soak skewers in water 1 hour. Spray grill and heat to medium.
- Cut smoked sausage diagonally into 1-inch pieces. Slice zucchini, bell peppers and onion into 1/2-inch pieces.
- Thread smoked sausage, peppers, zucchini and onion onto skewers.
- Grill kabobs until smoked sausage is hot and vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes per side. Remove from grill and serve immediately.
Add fresh produce to your diet and community
(Family Features) Dedicating more of your plate to fresh-from-the-garden produce as well as rice and grains can lead to a healthier lifestyle, according to Cheryl Forberg, registered dietitian and award-winning chef and nutritionist for “The Biggest Loser.”
“Most of my adult clients who are not veggie lovers usually had little exposure to them growing up, or they just weren’t cooked properly,” Forberg said. “It’s important for parents to get their children involved in cooking, shopping and even gardening so kids can understand the journey from seed to plate.”
Forberg furthers her personal dedication to the seed-to-plate journey through her involvement with Seeds of Change, which invests in healthier and greener communities by offering both organic seeds and foods, and delivers an annual grant program that benefits school and community gardening as well as farming programs. This year, the grant program will award $310,000 to participants who plan to help their communities and teach people about sustainability and where fresh food comes from.
To start living healthier and greener lives, Forberg offers four simple tips:
Start in the garden. This hands-on approach is a fun way to learn about nutrition and where food comes from. Following produce from seed to plate can compel you to eat more healthfully. Plant a garden at home or become involved in a local project nearby.
Opt for veggies with big impact. Richly colored veggies contain the richest supplies of nutrients. Opt for spinach or romaine instead of iceberg lettuce in your salads. Skip the celery or carrots and go for red bell pepper slices to deliver a healthy serving of antioxidants and vitamin C.
Make smart swaps. Replace the dense calories of pasta noodles with a flavorful cup of cooked spaghetti squash. The squash is a satisfying and tasty alternative with a mere 40 calories, 2 grams of fiber and loads of vitamins.
Pair with whole grains. Mashed potatoes may be a favorite dinner side, but there are more nutritious options to complement your garden produce, such as this grain bowl with wild salmon from Chef Seamus Mullen.
Learn more about starting a community garden and living a greener, healthier life at seedsofchangegrant.com.
Warm Grain Bowl with Wild Salmon, Almonds and Salsa Verde
Total time: 20-25 minutes
- 8 wild salmon fillets (3 ounces each)
- sea salt, to taste
- fresh pepper, to taste
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 cup asparagus, cut into 2-inch pieces
- 1/2 cup shitake mushroom caps, sliced
- 1 package Seeds of Change Quinoa, Brown & Red Rice with Flaxseeds
- 1/4 cup slivered almonds
Salsa Verde (optional):
- 1 bunch scallions
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/2 cup packed cilantro leaves
- 1/2 cup packed mint leaves
- 1/2 cup packed basil leaves
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Heat oven to 400° F.
- In oven-proof pan, season salmon with salt and pepper, and drizzle each fillet with olive oil. Bake 12-15 minutes, until cooked through.
- In blender or food processor, combine all Salsa Verde ingredients and pulse until fully incorporated but still rustic and chunky. Set aside.
- In medium saute pan over medium-high heat, heat remaining olive oil. Add mushrooms and asparagus and saute vigorously 3-5 minutes. Add grains and slivered almonds, and continue to saute until heated through, about 5 minutes. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, to taste.
- Divide grains among eight plates, place a piece of salmon on each plate then finish with dollop of Salsa Verde, if desired, and serve.
Substitution: Shitake mushroom caps may be substituted with button mushrooms or other wild mushrooms.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images
Source: Seeds of Change