Helping families eat healthier for less

Helping families eat healthier for less

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.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Serve Meal in Bell Pepper for Nutrition Bonus

STOUFFER'S Macaroni & Cheese inside a red bell pepper.

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

Balance Your Plate is a recipe contest by Nestle where you start with a Nestle frozen food item and add other foods to it to make it a nutritious, balanced meal that meets the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Last month, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans Committee issued their preliminary version of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The report concludes that generally we do not eat enough vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and dairy and many of us eat too many refined grains, added sugars, saturated fats, and salt. We should strive to make half our plate fruits and veggies, at least half our grains whole grains, switch to fat free or lowfat dairy products, watch portions, and get regular physical activity.

Planning a healthy meal day after day can be challenging, even for a dietitian. Some days after coming home from work you’re tired and have no energy and the last thing you want to do is spend an hour or better in the kitchen putting together a healthy meal.

Frozen meals can easily fit into a balanced plate. You make them more balanced by adding a serving or more of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, or lowfat dairy. Frozen meals are one way to keep on handle portion size as well as cost, especially when you find them on sale or have a coupon.

Here are some creative ways to make a more balanced meal that start with a Nestle frozen food:
  • Top your baked frozen pizza with salad. Purchase a salad kit from the produce department of your supermarket. (My favorite is sweet kale vegetable salad kit that includes broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, chicory, dried cranberries and pumpkin seeds.) Prepare the salad as directed on the package, and then place it on top of your baked pizza. Cut into wedges and enjoy.

  • Serve your favorite LEAN CUISINE entree with a lower sodium vegetable-based soup, such a carrot ginger.

  • Serve your favorite LEAN CUISINE® entree over a baked sweet potato or baked winter squash.

  • Top your favorite LEAN POCKETS® or HOT POCKETS® with a zesty bean dip (Rinse and drain a can of white or black beans and put in food processor, along with herbs and spices, hot sauce, and 2 tablespoons of olive oil).

  • Prepare a salsa of mango, green onion, red bell pepper, lime juice and jalapeno pepper. Pour over your favorite LEAN POCKETS® or HOT POCKETS®.

  • Prepare your favorite LEAN POCKETS® or HOT POCKETS® as directed on the package. Then cut it up into crouton-size pieces and serve over a tossed green salad.

  • Prepare your favorite LEAN CUISINE® Simple Favorites (such as Santa Fe-Style Rice & Beans)  or Morning Collection  (such as Veggie Scramble) entrees according to package directions. Microwave a whole grain tortilla and serve your Simple Favorite entrée inside the tortilla along with a 4-ounce glass of 100% fruit or vegetable juice.

My favorite suggestion to serve a more balanced meal is very simple one. Serve your Nestle product inside a cooked bell pepper. You may be surprised at the nutrition that just one red bell pepper adds to a meal. One medium red bell pepper adds only 37 calories and no fat, 5 mg of sodium, 2.5 grams of fiber and helps you meet 75% of your daily value for vitamin A and over 250% of your vitamin C needed for the day. And if you use a large red bell pepper, you get over 100% of your vitamin A and 349% of your vitamin C for the day and add only 51 calories and 7 mg of sodium. What a tasty way to get your vitamins. Green bell peppers are good, too, although you don’t get near as much of vitamins A and C as you do with the red ones.

You can fill you bell pepper with a number of different Nestle products.  Here are a few examples.

Start with peppers that have flat bottoms so that they will sit upright in a custard cup or container. Slice off the top of the bell pepper and remove the seeds and inner membranes. 

Slice top off pepper and remove seeds and membranes.

I found that it is best to partially cook the bell pepper before filling in. So, cover it loosely with plastic wrap and microwave on high power for 2 and a half minutes.

Microwave bell pepper for 2-1/2 minutes.

Fill the partially cooked bell pepper with your favorite frozen entrée that has been allowed to thaw overnight in the refrigerator.

Fill partially cooked pepper with thawed macaroni & cheese.

Here is a red bell pepper with STOUFFER’S macaroni & cheese.

Finished Macaroni & Cheese in red bell pepper.

Here is a green bell pepper stuffed with STOUFFER’S Chili Cheese Mac Cup

Chili Cheese Mac in a Green Bell Pepper.

Here is a pepper stuffed with LEAN CUISINE Turkey Sausage Scramble

Turkey Sausage Scramble in a green bell pepper.

Here’s the complete recipe for the Macaroni & Cheese Stuffed Bell Pepper:

Macaroni & Cheese Stuffed Bell Pepper


1 12-ounce package LEAN CUISINE® Macaroni & Cheese
1 red or green bell pepper
Parsley or cilantro for garnish, if desired


Thaw frozen Macaroni & Cheese in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.
Wash and dry the green or red bell pepper. Slice off the stem top and remove the inner seeds and membranes. Place pepper in a custard cup or microwaveable container to hold it upright. Cover loosely with plastic wrap. Microwave on High power for 2 and a half minutes.
Uncover and fill partially cooked bell pepper with softened macaroni & cheese.
Microwave, covered, on High Power for 2 to 3 minutes, or until peppers are tender. Let set for 1 minute. Garnish with parsley or cilantro, if desired.

Makes 1 Serving.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

dark chocolate + black beans = guilt-free brownies

Guilt-Free Black Bean Brownies

The theme for February for Recipe Redux is to identify your favorite chocolate match.  Valentine’s Day is over and many of us may have “extra” chocolate laying around.  So, we need to show our favorite healthy chocolate combo.

For me, I love dark chocolate brownies. But there can be a guilt factor with the “normal” or “traditional” brownies. So, I make mine using canned black beans in place of the vegetable oil typically called for in the recipe. It saves on calories and total fat and adds fiber. And, it means less guilt while enjoying them.

E-Z Bean Brownies

1 15 oz. can cooked beans, drained and rinsed well (can use black beans or dark red kidney
2 large eggs
¼ cup water
1 19-1/2 oz. package chocolate fudge brownie mix
1/4 cup bittersweet 60% cocoa chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 9 X 9-inch baking pan with foil; then spray with nonstick cooking spray and set aside. Place the drained beans in the bowl of a food processor; process until smooth and creamy.  In a large bowl combine the pureed beans, eggs, water, and brownie mix; stir just until smooth, about 50 strokes.  Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish and bake 30 to 35 minutes, or until the edges start to pull away from the sides and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Top cooked brownies with chocolate chips as soon as remove from oven. Spread in even layer with spatula. Let cool completely. Lift out of pan and cut into squares.
Makes 20 Servings
Nutrition Information per Serving (1/20 of recipe):
150 calories, 3.8 g total fat, 0.6 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 1.6 g dietary fiber, 3.0 g protein, and 134 mg sodium.
Cost per Serving (1/20 recipe): $0.18

Pricing Note: all ingredients were at “regular” prices except for the brownie mix (on sale for $1.50 a box).