This article was written by Helen Bernadt, a dietetic intern from Iowa State University who is currently doing a rotation with us at Nebraska Extension in Douglas-Sarpy Counties. This article features great tips on how to meal plan when crunched for time. As well as healthy recipes you can make using fresh produce that your entire family will enjoy.
I was delighted to be given the duty of picking up the CSA for the week. This week’s CSA contained kale, kohlrabi, tomatoes, cucumber, and zucchini. My first few thoughts were, what to prepare that my one-year-old son will eat and what will I do with the kale and kohlrabi. Typically, spinach is my usual choice from the dark-green vegetable group. Adults on average need 2 cups and children need 1 cup of of dark-green vegetables a week. It is important to eat a colorful variety of vegetables from all the sub-groups every week-dark green, red and orange, beans and peas, starchy, and other vegetables; every color has a different nutrient profile that is essential for our bodies.
As a dietetic intern, my days have become hectic with commuting, homework, and my rotations. My family is living on a reduced income which has forced me to lower my food budget and just less time to prepare healthy meals.
Biggest complaint I hear is… “It’s expensive and takes too much time to eat healthy” …What can you do to reduce those barriers to eating healthy? Plan your meals!
Meal planning is a necessity for me these days to be able to provide my family with balanced nutritious meals, and not having to eat out when I have don’t have anything planned. Meal planning saves money and time in the long run. Eating out is expensive and the foods have more fat and sodium than what you can prepare at home. Preparing extra and freezing the leftovers will provide you with a meal when you just don’t feel like cooking or short on time. The first step in meal planning is to see what you already have at home. How many of us have cabinets or freezers full of food we don’t even know what is in there? That was me until a few weeks ago. Plan your meals on what you have NOT what sounds good.
Now, to the CSA box. This was going to be a challenge for me! Making a salad would have been the easiest summer option, however it would perish quickly
and my one-year old son can not eat a salad. Wanting to prepare something for my son I could freeze and pull out later I decided on making kale and sweet potato muffins. Including one of his favorite foods-sweet potatoes, increased my chances that he would eat kale and not even know it was in there. I also had sweet potatoes in my pantry that needed to be used up.
Toddler Friendly Sweet Potato Kale Muffins
1 cup sweet potato, cooked and mashed
1 cup kale, cooked and chopped
½ cup cottage cheese
½ cup whole wheat flour
½ cup all purpose flour
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. olive oil
1. Boil the sweet until soft, drain and let cool. Place cooled sweet potatoes in food processor and pulse a few times or place in potato ricer and press through.
2. Finely chop the kale, sauté with 1 tsp till soften and bright green, about 8 minutes.
3. Add kale to the food processor and pulse, until desired consistency for your little one.
4. Mixed together sweet potatoes, kale, egg. Add flours, baking powder. Combine until flour is just mixed in. Do not over mix.
5. Grease muffin pan with non-stick spray and fill half full with the batter.
6. Bake for 20-25 mins until golden brown. Remove from the oven let cool for 10 minutes and remove from the muffin tin.
Success, he loved the muffins. They came out a soft texture which he was able to chew and self-feed.
With the rest of the produce I made our dinner sides; kohlrabi and carrot slaw, cucumber salad, and tomatoes were used for bacon, lettuce, tomato and avocado sandwiches. After a request from my husband for zucchini bread, I baked zucchini chocolate chip muffins.
Carrot and Kohlrabi Slaw
1 large kohlrabi, peeled, stems trimmed off, grated
1 cup carrots, grated
1 small onion, grated
2 Tbsp mayonnaise, made with olive oil
2 Tbsp cider vinegar
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
Combine the kohlrabi, carrots, onion in a large bowl. Mix the rest of the ingredients in a separate bowl, whisk to combine. Pour dressing over the slaw, and mix until coated. Chill for several hours before serving.