Helping families eat healthier for less

Helping families eat healthier for less

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Philly Cheesesteak Breakfast Casserole a Hearty Favorite

Philly Cheesesteak Breakfast Casserole is Sure to Please

I received beef product mentioned in this post at no cost. By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by The Beef Checkoff and am eligible to win prizes available associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.

I got excited when I heard the Beef Checkoff was offering a recipe contest.  One of the first recipe ideas that came to me was a Philly cheesesteak. I live in northern Delaware, only 40 minutes to South Philly. Cheesesteaks are big here and are many people's favorites. After reading the recipe contest rules, I decided I wanted to do something for breakfast. So, I developed a Cheesesteak Breakfast Casserole that has the red and green bell peppers, onions and provolone cheese combined with an egg/milk/flour mixture. And it all fits into one skillet.

There is new research that shows that eating lean beef as part of a heart-healthy diet and lifestyle can actually help lower your cholesterol levels. In the BOLD study (Beef in an Optimal Lean Diet) published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, study participants consuming lean beef every day as part of a heart-healthy diet saw a 10 percent decrease in their LDL “bad” cholesterol.

How do you identify “lean” cuts of beef? Look for “loin” or “round” in the name. I chose a boneless, trimmed “eye of the round” steak because it is one of the leanest cuts, with only 4.0 grams of total fat and 144 calories per 3-ounce cooked serving and it was less per pound than many of the other cuts in the meat case. For a colorful chart of lean cuts of beef, go to:

Lean beef has less than 10 grams of total fat, 4.5 grams or less of saturated fat, and less than 95 milligrams of cholesterol per 3-1/5-ounce cooked serving.  That means some cuts of beef are as lean as a 3-ounce skinless chicken thigh.

Beef is also loaded with nutrients. A 3-ounce cooked serving provides 48% Daily Value (DV) protein; 44% DV B-12, 40% DV selenium, 36% DV zinc, 26% DV niacin, 22% DV B-6, 19% DV phosphorus, 16% DV choline, 12% DV iron, and 10DV riboflavin.

Many people don’t get enough protein in the morning hours. They do okay at lunch and often get too much protein at their evening meal. The latest research says it is better to spread out your protein throughout the day, aiming for 20 to 30 grams at breakfast,  lunch and dinner.

This Cheesesteak Breakfast Casserole recipe provides 23 grams of protein a serving for a breakfast meal. As I mentioned earlier, it uses only one skillet and prep is easy.  This recipe is kid-friendly, so you can get even your picky eaters to chow down on this breakfast meal. It’s sure to become a family favorite.

Start by freezing eye of the round beef steak, then cutting into thin slices.

Then, brown beef in skillet.

 Then saute sliced onions and bell pepper strips in skillet.

Combine flour, egg and skim milk in a small bowl. Then pour over beef and vegetables in pan. Top with provolone cheese. Bake.

Here is the complete recipe.

Philly Cheesesteak Breakfast Casserole
8 ounces lean “eye of the round” beef steak
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt or to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 green bell pepper, seeded and cut into thin strips
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into thin strips
1/2 sweet onion, peeled and cut into thin strips
3 large eggs
1/3 cup white wheat flour
1/3 cup skim milk
3 slices (2 ounces) thinly sliced reduced-fat provolone cheese, cut into small pieces

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Place beef in freezer for 30 to 60 minutes, until just firm. Using a sharp knife, cut into thin strips. Heat oil in large oven-safe skillet over medium heat. Add beef and stir until lightly browned. Remove beef from pan and set aside. Add bell pepper and onion to skillet and cook for 5 to 7 minutes until soft.

Meanwhile, whisk eggs in small bowl. Add flour and milk and mix just until blended. Set aside.

Add beef back to skillet with peppers and onions. Pour egg mixture over all. Sprinkle with provolone cheese.  Place skillet in hot oven and bake for about 13 to 15 minutes, until set and cheese is lightly browned. Carefully remove skillet from oven (remember handle will be hot) and cut into fourths. Serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition Information per Serving:
277 calories, 14 g total fat, 5 g saturated fat, 186 mg cholesterol, 2 g dietary fiber, 23 g protein, and 371 mg sodium. One serving of this low cost recipe provides an excellent source of protein, vitamins A, B-6, B-12, riboflavin, niacin, and calcium and a good serving of thiamin and folate.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Corn Chowder with Wild Rice and Grapes

The theme for Recipe Redux this month is “Fresh from the Garden.”
Nothing beats fresh corn on the cob

I love fresh corn on the cob. Can’t get enough of it in the summer months.  I don’t grow corn myself, but can find lots of it at local supermarkets and farmer’s markets. It is best to shop early in the day for corn and prepare it that same day for the sweetest, best tasting corn.

One of my favorite ways to enjoy fresh corn is to make a large batch of corn chowder. It is especially good with fresh rosemary, from my garden.

Fresh homegrown rosemary adds great flavor

Corn Chowder with Wild Rice and Grapes

6 slices lower sodium turkey bacon
1 Tbsp canola oil
1 medium sweet onion, peeled and diced
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 tsp fresh or dried rosemary, minced
4 cups fresh or frozen corn, thawed if frozen
5 cups lower sodium chicken broth
1 tsp ground black pepper
2 cups cooked wild rice
1 cup seedless red or green grapes, halved


Cook bacon in Dutch oven over medium heat until crisp, turning as needed. Transfer to paper towel-lined plate and set aside. Add oil to Dutch oven. Add onion and sweet potato and cook over medium-low heat, covered and stirring occasionally, until onion and sweet potato soften, about 15 minutes. Add garlic and rosemary and cook for 1 minute. Add corn, chicken broth, and pepper and bring to a simmer. Carefully transfer half of the soup to a blender and puree until smooth. Add pureed mixture back to Dutch oven. Stir in wild rice and grapes and heat just until warm throughout. Ladle into soup bowls. Garnish each bowl with 1 strip of crumbled turkey bacon.

Makes 6 servings (about 1-2/3 cups each or 10 cups total)

Nutrition Information per Serving:
250 calories, 6 g total fat, 1 g saturated fat, 15 mg cholesterol, 4g dietary fiber, 9 g protein, and 415 mg sodium. One serving of this low cost recipe provides a good source of protein, fiber, B-6 folate, and vitamin C.

Cost per Serving: $1.78

Pricing Note: all ingredients were at “regular” prices except grapes were on sale for $0.99 per pound and corn was on sale, 5 ears for $1.99.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Nutrition Budgeteer Suggests Adding Tuna to a Broccoli Cheese Souffle

Broccoli Tuna Souffle

I received free samples from Bumble Bee Seafoods that are mentioned in this post. By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by Bumble Bee Seafoods and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.

I was excited to learn about a recipe contest from Bumble Bee Seafoods. As the Nutrition Budgeteer, I often promote canned tuna as a budget-friendly, healthy choice. I have developed a flyer on 10 ways to enjoy canned tuna that you can access here. Canned tuna provides an excellent source of protein, selenium and niacin and is a good source of vitamins B6 and B10.

Most of us do not eat near enough seafood per week, as recommended by government officials, including FDA and EPA. We should be eating 2 to 3 servings of seafood per week. Even moms and moms-to-be should be eating more seafood. While some women may avoid seafood during pregnancy because of fear of metal contamination, a 2014 report from FDA points out that pregnant women should actually consumer 3 to 4 servings (or 9 ounces) of canned albacore tuna per week to realize the maximum net benefit for her infant’s IQ. Fresh seafood can be costly, so canned seafood is an economical choice.

Researchers from Harvard School of Public Health reviewed several randomly controlled trials and prospective studies looking at the danger of consuming seafood and concluded that the benefits of eating seafood far outweighs the cancer risk from chemicals, such as mercury. Click here to link to the Harvard conclusions.  You can also learn more about Bumble Bee Foods’ scientific approach to long-term sustainability of fisheries by clicking here.

Need some other ideas on ways to enjoy canned tuna? Click here to see recipe videos, quick and easy recipes, and other lunch and dinner ideas for using Bumble Bee Food products. You can also visit YouTube to see recipe videos at:

For this recipe contest, I decided to make a tuna broccoli soufflé. Although some people may be afraid to make a soufflé, they actually are fairly simple, as long as you separate the eggs easily and handle them properly. Canned tuna and eggs used in this soufflé are a low cost and tasty choice.  Instead of 6 individual ramekins, I used a soufflé dish that serves 2 and 4 individual ramekins, as you'll see in the photos. The lemon caper sauce accents the soufflé well.

Broccoli Tuna Souffle with Lemon Caper Sauce

Broccoli Tuna Soufflé with Lemon Caper Sauce

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes

Serves 6


2 cups chopped broccoli flowerets
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup cold milk
1 5 –ounce can Bumble Bee® Solid White Albacore in Water, drained
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
5 eggs, separated
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

Lemon Sauce:
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon chicken bouillon granules
1/4 cup dry white wine
Zest of 1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon capers

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Spray 6 individual ramekins or a 5-cup soufflé dish with non-stick cooking spray and place on baking sheet.
  3. Microwave broccoli with 1 inch of water in microwave-safe dish, covered, for 1-1/2 to 2 minutes until broccoli is tender-crisp. Rinse broccoli in cold water to stop cooking. Drain broccoli and set aside.
  4. Melt butter in small saucepan over medium-low heat. Whisk in flour and stir until mixture becomes paste-like, about 2 minutes. Whisk in milk; bring to a boil and then simmer until thick, 2 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.
  5. Place milk mixture, tuna, broccoli, garlic, and egg yolks in blender or food processor and process just until smooth. Pour broccoli mixture into a large bowl. Stir in Cheddar cheese; mix well.
  6. Beat egg whites in a clean, large glass or metal bowl using electric mixer on high speed until soft peaks form. Add cream of tartar and continue beating until stiff peaks form.
  7. Carefully fold the beaten egg whites into the broccoli mixture using a large rubber spatula just until combined; do not over mix.
  8. Fill prepared ramekins or soufflé dish about 3/4 full.
  9.  Bake in preheated oven until edges are golden brown and firm to the touch, about 20 to 25 minutes for ramekins or 25 to 35 minutes for soufflé dish.
  10. While soufflé is baking, make sauce. Melt butter in small saucepan over medium heat. Add oil, garlic and chicken granules. Bring to a boil and simmer 1 minute. Add wine, lemon zest, and lemon juice and continue cooking for 3 minutes. Add cornstarch mixture to sauce. Bring to a boil and cook for 1 minute until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in capers.
  11. 1Remove soufflé from oven and serve immediately with sauce.

Folding egg whites into broccoli tuna mixture

Squeezing lemon for sauce

Adding caper to lemon sauce

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Raw Eggs Turn Chocolate Coconut Smoothie Into a Milkshake

Chocolate Coconut Breakfast Milkshake

I received coupons for free samples of Davidson’s Safest Choice Eggs mentioned in this post. By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.

Who doesn’t love chocolate milkshakes?  Okay, there may be a few people out there, but generally I think they are a real treat, especially during these hot, summer months. Here’s a beverage recipe that allows you to have a chocolate milkshake for breakfast. Yes, every morning if you so desire. This coconut chocolate milkshake doesn’t have ice cream. It has real, pasteurized raw eggs, so they are safe to eat without heating. The eggs are the magic ingredient that gives texture to this smoothie, making it more like a milkshake. You probably won’t do this with everyday, raw eggs. But it is now possible with Davidson’s Safest Choice eggs.


Davidson’s Safest Choice eggs are pasteurized and are now available in your local supermarket. They taste great and are safe for all your egg recipes, including those calling for raw eggs, such as salad dressings, smoothies, ice cream, mousses and the such. Or, maybe you simply like your eggs (like my husband) sunny side up. Now, there’s no more worry about salmonella. Davidson’s eggs have all the good nutrition found in other eggs, including high quality protein, essential fatty acids, and numerous vitamins and minerals.

Davidson’s offers a RD kit full of resources to help dietitians with patient education and wellness counseling. Click here for more information.

Chocolate Coconut Breakfast Milkshake

Preparation Time: 5 minutes

1 cup refrigerated unsweetened coconut milk
1 frozen banana, cut into chunks
2 Davidson’s Safest Choice eggs
1 teaspoon cocoa powder (such as Hershey’s Special Dark Cacoa)
Dash of ground cinnamon

Combine all ingredients in blender container. Blend until combined and frothy, about 30 seconds.
Makes 1 serving.

Friday, May 22, 2015

DIY Jalapeno Ranch Salad Dressing

Jalapeno Ranch Salad Dressing Whips Up Quickly

The theme for May for Recipe Redux is DIY Kitchen Essentials (describe your favorite kitchen staple that you make from scratch – but in the past you purchased).

For many years now, I make my own jalapeno ranch dressing. My husband and I have a large salad most nights and we use the same dressing. We never seem to grow tired of it. I usually make one or two blender batches at a time. You can make it as spicy hot as you like by adding more or less jalepenos to the batch.

This is a spicier version of a typical ranch dressing with a lot less calories, fat, saturated fat, and sodium per serving. The paprika gives it a nice color. It’s great on salads or use it as a dressing over cooked chicken or meats.

Salad Dressing Ingredients

Jalapeno Ranch Salad Dressing


2 bunches green onions, washed, trimmed (using white and two-thirds of green)
1 – 2 fresh jalapeno peppers, stem and seeds removed*
4 cloves fresh garlic, peeled
1 32-ounce carton Greek-style yogurt
1 cup lowfat buttermilk
1 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
1 tsp. ground black pepper
2 tsp. paprika

Makes two large batches. Place one half of green onions, jalapenos, garlic, yogurt, buttermilk, mayonnaise, and seasonings in blender or food processor container. Blend or process until smooth, stirring and scraping sides of container as needed. Pour into sealable container. Repeat process with remaining half of ingredients. Keep refrigerated.

Makes 56 servings (2 Tbsp each) or about 7 cups.

*Note: The amount of jalapeno peppers is a matter of personal preference. Start with one pepper and add more if a spicier dressing is desired.

Nutrition Information per 2 Tbsp Serving:
26 calories, 1.4 g total fat, 0.2 g saturated fat, 1.5 mg cholesterol, 0.2 g dietary fiber, 2.0 g protein, and 47 mg sodium.

Cost per Serving: $0.19
Pricing Note: all ingredients were at “regular” prices except green onions which were on sale for $0.59 per bunch.

To print the recipe, please click herehere.

Jalapeno Ranch Salad Dressing Ready to Use

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Red Lentil Soup uses red lentils and canned tomatoes and chicken broth.

The theme for April for Recipe Redux is to go through our pantry, freezer or refrigerator and see what treasures we find.  In going through my pantry, I found some red lentils, canned tomatoes, and low sodium chicken broth .

 I love red lentils. They cook faster than the French green or brown lentils. All lentils are loaded with nutrition, particularly protein, fiber, folate, thiamin, phosphorus and iron.

If you haven’t done a lot of bean cooking from “scratch,” this is an easy recipe to make. There is no pre-soaking of the beans and it all cooks up in about 30 minutes. It also uses one of my favorite spices, smoked paprika.

Red Lentil Soup

1 large sweet onion, peeled and diced
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into coins
3 stalks celery with leaves, diced
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
32 ounces (4 cups) low sodium chicken broth
1 14.5-oz can diced tomatoes
1 cup dry red lentils (green or brown lentils may be substituted)
1 tsp. curry powder
1 tsp. black pepper
½ tsp smoked paprika

Sauté onion, celery, carrots, and garlic in oil over medium-high in large dutch oven until onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Add broth, tomatoes, lentils, and seasonings. Bring soup to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes.

Makes 4 large servings (about 1-1/2 cups each).

Nutrition Information per Serving:
297 calories, 6.2 g total fat, 1.1 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 9.1 g dietary fiber, 19.0 g protein, and 167 mg sodium. One serving of this recipe is an excellent source of fiber and protein.

Cost per Serving : $1.82
Pricing Note: all ingredients were at “regular” prices. Look for red lentils in ethnic supermarkets.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Bite into NNM with Sweet Potato Breakfast Risotto with Cinnamon and Raisins

Sweet Potato Breakfast Risotto with Cinnamon and Raisins

By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by USA Rice Federation and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.

The theme for this March’s National Nutrition Month® is “Bite Into a Healthy Lifestyle.” You can do this now by biting into a morning bowl of creamy risotto rice, flavored with sweet potatoes, cinnamon and raisins. there are so many reasons to "think rice" when biting into a healthy lifestyle. Visit the USA Rice website ( for a wealth of information about rice grown in this country. For example, I learned:

·         Rice is naturally gluten free and the least allergenic of all grains.
·         Rice is naturally sodium-, cholesterol-, trans fat-free with just a trace of fat.
·         A half cup serving of rice is about 100 calories and contributes 15 vitamins and minerals, especially folate, other B vitamins, iron and zinc, making it a nutrient dense choice.
·         Rice supplies complex carbohydrates that our bodies and brains need to function. It triggers the production of serotonin in our brains, a chemical that helps regulate and improve our mood.
·         Rice grown in the US has a positive impact on our environment as the rice fields create wetland habitats for many species of birds, mammals, and reptiles.
·         About 85% of the rice eaten in this country is grown in this country.
·         American grown rice is exported to over 150 countries.

Arborio or risotto rice is different from long grain, white rice.  It’s higher in starch and cooks into a creamy texture around a chewy center. This rice has an exceptional ability to absorb flavors.  The cooking method is different too!  Instead of simmering rice in water, small amounts of hot liquid get added to cooking rice.  The rice slowly absorbs the liquid as one stirs.

For me, rice and coconut are a winning combination. So, when thinking about developing a breakfast risotto, I decided to start with canned lite coconut milk as the base. Then I wanted to add some good nutrition with some mashed cooked sweet potato. To round out the flavors, I added cinnamon, vanilla extract and golden raisins.

Sweet Potato Breakfast Risotto with Cinnamon and Raisins

2 cans (13.6- to 14 ounces each) light coconut milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter or margarine
1 cup U.S.-grown arborio (medium grain) rice
1/2 cup cooked sweet potato, mashed
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup golden raisins

Warm coconut milk in microwave-safe container, covered, until hot, but not boiling, about 4 minutes. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the rice and stir to coat. Ladle in enough hot coconut milk to cover the rice. Stir with wooden spoon over medium flame. As rice absorbs the milk, ladle in 1/2 cup more hot milk and stir. Continue this process until all the milk has been added and is absorbed, stirring constantly. This will take 15 to 20 minutes. Rice should be tender with just a little bite to it. Stir in the sweet potato, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and raisins. Stir well to combine. Stir over low heat until heated through.
Serve warm or cold.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

Nutrition Information per Serving (for 1/6th of recipe):
322 calories, 13 g total fat, 9 g saturated fat, 10 mg cholesterol, 2 g dietary fiber, 3 g protein, and 38 mg sodium. One serving of this low cost recipe provides an excellent source of vitamin A.

Cost per Serving: $1.39
Pricing Note: all ingredients were at “regular” prices.

 Here are preparation photos:

(Left to Right): Adding rice to pan with butter; stirring to coat; adding hot coconut milk in stages.

(Left to Right); Addition of milk and stirring; rice develops a creamy texture; addition of mashed sweet potato,cinnamon, vanilla, and golden raisins.