Tag Archives: cooking

Scrumptious Spinach

Written by Deanna Teter
Part of National Nutrition Month 2014

Spinach is a veggie many people do not like because of the rep that comes with it; people do not think it tastes good. But, if you are not a fan of how it tastes by itself, it can taste great when you add it to many dishes. It can be added to sandwiches or wraps, omelets, in a dip, in a dish as an appetizer or even as a side dish. Not only does it taste great in recipes but spinach has many benefits and can be good for the body. It has lots of vitamins and minerals that make it a good vegetable to add to your grocery list. Spinach can help maintain bone health, protect eyesight, fight infections, and help keep skin healthy. Now that you know a little more about spinach here is a simple recipe you can try to add spinach to any meal.

Quick and Easy Sauteed Spinach

spinach recipe

Image by Deanna Teter


  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1(10 ounce) bag spinach leaves
  • 1 ½ tsp garlic salt
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese


  1. Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat then add spinach and cover.
  2. Cook for 5 minutes then stir in garlic salt and cover for another 5 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and sprinkle with parmesan cheese to serve.

If you are still not convinced on how spinach can taste great try some of these simple steps to incorporate spinach into your everyday meals:

  • Add spinach to a smoothie
  • Sprinkle spinach on any pasta dish
  • Eat a salad with spinach
  • Add spinach to your pizza
  • Toss spinach into soup

What will you do with spinach?


Basic report: 11457, spinach, raw.(n.d.) Retrieved from http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/3214

Quick and easy sautéed spinach (n.d.). Retrieved from http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Quick-and-Easy-Sauteed-Spinach/Detail.aspx?evt19=1

Spinach Health Benefits. (2014, February 20). Retrieved from http://www.newhealthguide.org/Spinach-Health-Benefits.html

What are the health benefits of spinach? (2014, February 2). Retrieved from

Chickpea Craze

Written by Amanda Presler
Part of National Nutrition Month 2013

You might be familiar with garbanzo beans, also know as chickpeas, but did you know all you can do with them? Because they are legumes, chickpeas are a great source of protein and fiber! One serving of chickpeas provides you with just 120 calories. 20 grams of carbs, 6 grams of fiber (24% of your daily fiber intake!), 6 grams of protein to keep you feeling full AND 10% of your daily iron intake are all packed into this single serving! Furthermore, chickpeas contain many unsaturated essential amino acids, including linoleic and oleic acids. Riboflavin, niacin, thiamin and folate are examples of vitamins also contained in chickpeas that are so important in the diet. When eaten as part of your regular healthy diet, chickpeas can help prevent diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, digestive problems, and even potentially some cancers. As an added bonus, a can of chickpeas costs about a dollar at the grocery store so you won’t break the bank stocking up!

garbanzo beans

Image by Amanda Presler

Give your recipes a fun, healthy twist by using chickpeas! I recently used a recipe with chickpeas to make super easy gluten-free cookies. Blended chickpeas, honey, peanut butter and some other ingredients were combined to substitute for gluten-producing flour. The peanut butter and honey served as binding agents holding the processed chickpeas together in substitution of typical cookie ingredients! Throw in some peanuts or chocolate chips and you have a gluten-free cookie that doesn’t have to taste gluten-free!

Chickpea cookie recipe:

A couple notes: I’ve also used less chickpeas (even ½ cup) and they turned out great! Also try adding 1 Tbs of brown sugar, and experiment with chocolate chips, chopped peanuts, shredded coconut, or toss in another ingredient you might want to try!

Chickpeas are also great tossed into a salad as a protein source, pureed into hummus (where you can add other ingredients such as roasted red pepper), or even just cooked and served as a side dish. The taste of chickpeas goes well with a wide variety of other foods, so the possibilities are endless!

Here are a few links to some chickpea recipes:


I hope this post will inspire you to get creative and find ways to incorporate chickpeas into some of your everyday recipes. Be sure to let me know some ways that you’re using your chickpeas!


Jukanti, A.K., Gaur, P.M., Gowda, C.L., Chibbar, R.N., “Nutritional quality and health benefits of chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.): a review.,” British Journal of Nutrition, vol. 108, 16 pages, 2012. Retrieved from: http://journals.cambridge.org.ezproxy.lib.vt.edu:8080/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=8675336.

Season of Squash

Written by Rachel O’Connor
Part of National Nutrition Month 2014

peeling vegetable

Image by Rachel O’Connor

In March, it’s still chilly, and hard to imagine any vegetable could be in season. On the contrary — many are! One of the best vegetables to purchase during the winter/early spring is squash. It is very low in saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium and a good source of vitamins E, A, and C, as well as calcium and manganese (Squash Intimidation 2013). Butternut, acorn, and spaghetti are the most common types available during the colder months. Butternut squash is an ideal choice if looking to incorporate in a vast variety of recipes. Anything from soup to pasta to casseroles can integrate this versatile vegetable. What are some of your favorite recipes for squash or other in-season vegetables? Enlighten us!

It may be intimidating if you have never cooked it, but there are some very simple methods. After peeling and cutting in half, the seeds need to be scooped out. Then you can roast it in the oven or zap it in the microwave for a quick dish; time will be dependent on size of squash.

A recipe that is not only simple, but also nutritious and delicious is spice-roasted butternut squash and onions. The only ingredients are a large, cut and peeled squash, a red onion, olive oil, garam masala (a great Indian spice, combining sweet with a mild kick, found in most grocery stores), salt, black pepper, and cilantro (though I usually forego the cilantro out of personal preference). Olive oil is a great choice when cooking vegetables in a light way because it is a monounsaturated fat that may help lower the risk of heart disease and also gives vegetables a nice flavor.

Chop, season, and roast for 25 minutes at 400°, and voila! An easy side dish everyone will enjoy.

diced squash

Image by Rachel O’Connor

up close squash






The recipe:


  • 1 spray(s) cooking spray
  • 2 1/4 pound(s) uncooked butternut squash, fresh, peeled, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 medium uncooked red onion(s), halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper, freshly ground, or to taste
  • 3 Tbsp cilantro, fresh, chopped


Squash intimidation. In eatright.org. (2013). Retrieved from http://www.eatright.org/Public/content.aspx?id=6442478245

Say Bye to the Two B’s at Meals: Boring and Bland!

Written by Taylor Horne
Part of National Nutrition Month 2014

Without question there is a wide range of attitudes toward a healthy diet in our society. At times thinking of eating well can have negativity associated with it – those bland vegetables that are pressured upon us, or the lean meats and starches that can seem to be lacking flavor. So what’s there to be done to change the approach to a healthy diet to make it more exciting? One of the easiest ways to spice up a nutritious diet is literally that simple, incorporating spices! What could be better than enriching the taste of the foods you consume while avoiding excess calories and getting added health benefits as well? Mixing spices with staple foods like pastas, eggs, vegetable dishes, and other starches and proteins will make a significant increase in the excitement of your mealtimes. Try these quick ideas:

  • Add cinnamon or nutmeg when making ground coffee
  • Replace the salt in your shaker on the dinner table with a new spice every week

These will allow you to occasionally skip on the flavored coffee and espresso drinks you love the flavor of that can be packed with calories and fat and also decrease the salt intake during meals at home. It also allows a chance to become familiar with and incorporate new spices into your everyday life! What are some spice and food combinations you’ve found to be particularly appealing? Have any of them been surprising?

You have complete control over the richness and tastes of the foods in your diet. Why settle for monotony when you could be giving your taste buds something to celebrate? Give some of these spices a try today!

Variety of Herbs and Spices

Image by Taylor Horne

Talk about an endless array to choose from…
Some articles for further reading:
Fox News

US News


Dhingra, D., Sharma, A. (2006). Antidepressant-like activity of n-hexane extract of nutmeg (Myristica fragrans) seeds in mice. Journal of Medicinal Food, 9(1), 84-89.

Martell, C. (2009, December 4). Spice Up Your Diet; Herbs, Spices Offer Health Benefits. Wisconsin State Journal, pp. C1.

O’Neil, C. (2009, October 21). Spices boost health benefits, too. The Atlanta-Journal Constitution. pg. 2D.

Spaghetti or Squash?

Written by Catelyn Hill
Part of National Nutrition Month 2014

Spaghetti is a food that many people enjoy eating; however, have you ever wanted to enjoy the taste of spaghetti without the extra carbohydrates and calories? Spaghetti squash is a great alternative to choose, and contains fewer calories and carbohydrates compared to normal spaghetti. Spaghetti contains on average about 200 calories and 42 grams of carbohydrates per serving (2 ounces). However, spaghetti squash contains only 70 calories and around 17 carbohydrates per serving. A serving of spaghetti squash is about 4 ounces, and one spaghetti squash serves four people. Why wouldn’t you choose the option that combines the delicious taste of spaghetti with a third of the calories?

low carb noodles from spaghetti squash

Image by Catelyn Hill

Not only is spaghetti squash full of vitamins and minerals that our body needs, it is also an excellent side to pair with meatballs or any other dish that you would normally eat with some type of pasta. Vitamin C and vitamin B6 are two important vitamins found in spaghetti squash, and as many of you know, vitamin C is a good antioxidant, and vitamin B6 is important for energy metabolism. Calcium is also found in spaghetti squash, and helps maintain healthy bones.

With all the added nutritional advantages of spaghetti squash, why wouldn’t you choose the option that has fewer calories, and will help you get in a serving of vegetables? Not only is spaghetti squash a tasty vegetable, it only takes 30 minutes to make! Here’s a quick and easy recipe to try at home!

  1. Place spaghetti squash in microwave for 30 seconds (this will help soften the squash before you cut it)
  2. Preheat oven to 375 F, cut spaghetti squash in half
  3. Place squash on cookie sheet, upside down (with flat side facing down)
  4. Cook in oven for 30-35 minutes, until tender
  5. After squash is cooked, remove it from the oven and use a fork to rake out the squash inside.

I like to add parmesan cheese and tomato sauce to my spaghetti squash to add a little flavor. You could also add some garlic to make it more flavorful. Let me know how it is after you give this a try? It looks just like spagehtti, and tastes good, too!


Agricultural Research Service United States Department of Agriculture. (2014). Retrieved March 27, 2014, from http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/3243?fg=&man=&lfacet=&format=&count=&max=25&offset=&sort=&qlookup=spaghetti+squash

Learn to cook spaghetti squash. (2014). Retrieved February 20, 2014, from https://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/recipe/learn-cook-spaghetti-squash