4 Secrets for Handling Picky Eaters

In a perfect world, your children would love everything you serve. In real life, you know that just isn’t the case. One won’t touch anything green, the other is experimenting with being a vegetarian and the third cries over anything that isn’t chicken fingers.

Having a gang of picky eaters can be enough to drive any parent straight to the local drive-in, but with a few smart tricks, making healthy meals that everyone agrees on is easier than you think. Here’s how to cook for kids with different tastes without driving yourself crazy in the kitchen.

Plan Your Weekly Menu

Having your kids weigh in on the family dinner plans not only teaches them skills on building healthy meals, but it makes them feel as if you’re listening to their preferences. When one child gets to have her favorite roast chicken on Monday, she might be more open to trying her brother’s beloved veggie lasagna on Tuesday.

Posting the weekly menu ahead of time helps kids know what to expect. Sometimes, a little advance notice is all a picky eater needs to get used to the idea of eating sweet potatoes or spinach.

Find Your Healthy Go-To’s

Sometimes there’s no time to make a weekly plan—and you find yourself panicking at 6 p.m. on Tuesday about what to cook for dinner. To avoid scrambling for a crowd-pleaser, build a kid-approved list of simple, healthy meals you can turn to when time is tight.

On a weekend afternoon, gather 20 or so recipes you love and that are easy to make. Then round up the kids and discuss each dish. Have them vote for the recipes they like, saving the ones that get a resounding yes from everyone. Next time you’re not sure what to cook, all you have to do is turn to your list.

Learn more about healthy eating.*

Make More Mix-And-Match Meals

Instead of whipping up three completely different dinners, make meals that are easy for your gang to customize. For instance, tacos can be filled ground beef or black beans. Homemade pizzas can be topped with pepperoni or chopped olives.

Similarly, make more dishes that are easy to leave things out of. It’s pretty hard to pick broccoli florets out of a casserole once it’s cooked, but it’s easy to reserve a portion of plain cooked noodles before adding broccoli to a basic bow-tie pasta and veggie dish.

Promote Adventurous Eating

You can’t force children to eat something they don’t like. But you can encourage your kids to try new things before giving them the veto. Make it a family rule that everyone has to sample a food item at least once. If someone doesn’t like something, ask him or her to explain why. For instance, you might find out your child doesn’t actually hate butternut squash; she only hates butternut squash with cinnamon.

Make a policy that requires your kids to re-try disliked foods again after a few months. Often, kids just need time to get used to a new food or recipe and will start to like it once it feels more familiar.

Learning how to cook for kids with different tastes doesn’t have to be difficult. With a few simple moves, you can start making more healthy meals that everyone accepts.

Marygrace Taylor is is an award-winning health, wellness, and nutrition writer whose work has appeared in Glamour, Redbook, Prevention, and Women’s Health. You can follow her on Twitter @mgtylr, or at marygracetaylor.com.

Healthy and Delicious Tomato Recipes Perfect for Spring

Tomatoes are some of the best parts of a Tennessee spring. Tomatoes are packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that your body needs to be healthy.

Whether you want a main dish, a side or a satisfying appetizer, a tomato can get you whatever you need with these five recipes:

1.) Cornbread Salad

A hearty side dish for a potluck dinner, cornbread salad is a favorite among Tennessee families. While there are many variations, it typically begins with crumbled cornbread, fresh red tomatoes (any variety), bell pepper and onion mixed together with a dressing. You can add bacon, pickles, corn, beans, cucumbers or even cheese. Lighten the recipe using low-fat mayo or dressing. Try this a good basic recipe.

2.) Fried Green Tomatoes

Fried green tomatoes are a staple of many Tennessee households. To make them, slice four green tomatoes into half-inch slices. Whisk two eggs with half a cup of milk. Mix half a cup each of cornmeal and bread crumbs in a shallow plate and add some salt and pepper. Put one cup flour on another plate. Coat tomatoes with flour, then dip in the eggs and milk. Next, dredge the slices in the cornmeal-bread crumb mixture. Fry in vegetable oil until golden brown on both sides. For a healthier version, slice the tomatoes thinner (one quarter inch), coat as above and bake at 400 degrees for 18 to 20 minutes.

Trying to eat healthier? See more delicious recipes.

3.) Tomato, Feta and Watermelon Skewers

Tomatoes’ tart acidity pairs great with cool, refreshing watermelon. This recipe from Southern Living takes about an hour and is a sweet, healthy treat that combines a bunch of flavors.

4.) Tomato Sauce

Plum tomatoes make a delicious sauce for pasta. It’s easy to make, but it does take some time to cook the tomatoes down, and you’ll need to peel the tomatoes. Score the tops using a sharp knife, and then drop them into a pot of boiling water for a few seconds. The skin will slide off easily.

5.) Peach-Tomato Salsa

Offer guests a fresh take on chips and dip with this easy-to-make peach-tomato salsa. Serve with tortilla chips or use it as a topping for grilled chicken or fish.

 

A former newspaper journalist, Chelsea Adams is a freelance writer specializing in health, wellness and lifestyles topics. A native Tennessean, she makes her home in Kansas with her husband and two daughters. Learn more about her transition from the mountains to the prairie at http://wichitawesome.blogspot.com.

Healthy Eating in the Winter: 4 Easy Recipes to Get You Started

What is it about winter that gets you out of your healthy eating routine? Is it a jam-packed schedule of holiday parties and treats that come with the season? Or is it the cold weather that keeps you inside around all those tempting snacks in the cupboard?

Whatever the reason, there are ways to get back on track with healthy meals. For food the whole family will enjoy, add these four fruits and vegetables to your grocery list this winter.

Avocado

Although avocados may have more fat than any other fruit, their mono-unsaturated fats are actually good for you. According to the American Heart Association, the fats found in avocado can help lower your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Avocados are also rich in magnesium and potassium, which are both known to reduce blood pressure. You can find avocado at your favorite grocery store year-round, but the Bacon Avocado is most plentiful during the winter months. Try adding avocados to chicken tacos for added nutrients in a dish the entire family can enjoy.

Broccoli

Broccoli might have a bad reputation with children across the globe, but it’s still one of the world’s healthiest vegetables. Packed with vitamins and minerals, broccoli can improve bone health and skin health, and aid in detoxifying your digestive system.

A study from researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute has also revealed a link between broccoli and cancer prevention. Entice your family to indulge in this super food by pairing it with shrimp stir-fry when you’re looking for a nutritious, easy-to-make meal this winter.
 

Get more healthy winter recipes.

Carrots

Carrots have been advertised for decades as the vegetable that will help improve your eyesight. While carrots do contain a substantial amount of vitamin A, which has been linked to improving vision, the vegetable also has plenty of other health benefits.

The veggie has high concentrations of both vitamins K and C, which contribute to a healthier immune system and stronger teeth and gums. Carrots are also rich in potassium, which is said to help with anxiety, high blood pressure and stroke. The next time you’re at the grocery store, pick up some carrots to add to a veggie-packed dish such as rainbow spring rolls.

Potatoes

People who are health-conscious tend to avoid consuming potatoes because they are a starchy food with a relatively high glycemic index. However, potatoes are actually an excellent source of nearly every essential vitamin and mineral.

Research conducted by the Agricultural Research Service branch of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has found that several potato varieties are also rich in flavonoids, which help improve your overall heart health and protect against both lung and prostate cancer. The next time you find yourself craving a filling meal on a cold winter day, pick up some potatoes to make some hearty potato soup.

 

What is your favorite winter recipe? Let us know in the comments!

 

7 Mouthwatering Recipes for Healthier Comfort Food

On a cold winter’s night, there’s nothing better than cozying up with a warm blanket, a good movie and a hearty helping of your favorite comfort food. Be it a bowl of creamy macaroni and cheese or a steamy serving of chicken pot pie, these satisfying dishes are good for your soul, but not so good for your waistline.

With a few simple ingredient swaps, you can make lighter versions of your favorite foods without compromising on flavor. Here are five comfort food favorites that will warm you up without weighing you down.

Macaroni and Cheese

Nothing compares to the warm, gooey goodness that is macaroni and cheese. A favorite of children and adults alike, this delicious dish will please even the pickiest of eaters.

With ingredients like butter, cream, noodles and cheese, the only thing not to love about macaroni and cheese is its high calorie and fat content. However, you can still enjoy this savory meal without placing your health on the backburner.

This simple recipe uses healthier ingredients like quinoa and butternut squash. If you’re looking for a way to lighten your favorite boxed recipe, swap the butter and milk for half of a cup of Greek yogurt. This will decrease fat and increase protein. Throw in some yummy vegetables like spinach, broccoli, tomatoes or kale for even more nutritional value.

Chicken Pot Pie

With its golden crust, tender chunks of chicken and warm filling, chicken pot pie has all the makings of a classic comfort food. Although delicious, a store-bought pie can have upwards of 700 calories in a single serving.

With a few modifications, you can still enjoy all the savory flavor of chicken pot pie without significant damage to your diet. For a healthier pie that saves both calories and time, try these mini chicken pot pies. This recipe uses filo dough instead of a traditional, homemade crust to cut prep time and calories in half. Additionally, using muffin tins to make the pies smaller, making it much easier to control portion sizes.

Chili

Thanks to the invention of the slow cooker, even the least experienced chef can easily make a batch of chili. An incredibly versatile dish, chili recipes can be tailored to please any palate.

For a lighter alternative to traditional ground beef chili, try this healthy turkey chili recipe. The lean ground turkey combined with a variety of vegetables makes for a healthy and flavorful dish that’s high in protein and low in fat.

For a delicious and nutritious vegetable chili, try this sweet potato and black bean quinoa chili. To top it all off, replace sour cream with a dollop of plain Greek yogurt for double the protein and half the fat.
 

Learn more about healthy eating.*

Pasta

High in carbohydrates and low in nutritional value, pasta is hardly considered a healthy food. Luckily, there are replacements for this favorite food. Ever heard of the zoodle?

A combination between the words “zucchini” and “noodle”, these thinly sliced strips of zucchini are becoming increasingly popular as a healthy alternative to pasta. In addition to zucchini, many vegetables like squash, eggplant and carrots can also be used as noodle substitutes to decrease calories, fat and carbohydrates in your favorite dishes. Try this easy recipe for “zusketti,” spaghetti made with zoodles, to get started.

For all the flavor of traditional lasagna without the noodles, try this low-carb zucchini lasagna from Slender Kitchen. For a lighter take on classic fettuccine Alfredo, simply use vegetable noodles instead of pasta and top with your favorite Alfredo sauce.

Brownies

For those of us with a serious sweet tooth, comfort food often means dessert. And there’s no better dessert to combat a cold winter’s night than a warm, fudgy brownie.

This gluten-free brownie recipe from the Minimalist Baker uses black beans to achieve the perfect gooey consistency without the flour, oil or eggs.

To lighten boxed brownies, Prevention suggests replacing oil with healthier alternatives like canned pumpkin, applesauce or even avocado. These simple ingredient swaps will save calories so you don’t have to feel guilty about going back for seconds… or thirds.

 

What’s your favorite comfort food recipe? Got any tricks to make it healthier? Comment to tell us!

 

5 Winning Recipes for the Final Game

Football season is coming to a close, and part of the fun is having parties with your fellow fans while the action kicks off. Although football is often known for its classic, but less-than-healthy snacks, it’s worth trying nutritious options that still make for satisfying treats.

Here are some healthy recipes that are sure to score big with your friends and family.

Roasted Chicken

Fried chicken may be a typical tailgating food, but the dish is often loaded with fat. Instead, steer clear with baked or roasted chicken, which can be just as tasty when prepared creatively.

Simply bake boneless chicken pieces in the oven, seasoned with your favorite spices like rosemary, basil or sage. Add dashes of unrefined sea salt and ground black pepper. Right after you take the chicken out of the oven, drizzle it with olive oil. You can serve this cold, too, making it an ideal on-the-go dish for tailgating.

Grass-fed Burgers 

Burgers made with conventional ground beef tend to be fattening and contain unhealthy hormones. Two healthier options, grass-fed beef and turkey burgers, are just as appealing and much better for you.

Mix grass-fed ground beef in a bowl with finely chopped onions and garlic — plus unrefined sea salt and black pepper — and grill or bake to your liking. For turkey burgers, mix ground turkey with chopped onions, lemon juice and thyme for a refreshing, light entree.

Whipped Guacamole

Processed cheese dip might be a tailgating staple, but with a little effort, you can whip up a much healthier alterative made with yogurt, sour cream or avocado.

A simple guacamole can include mashed avocado, finely chopped red onion and tomato, lime juice, unrefined sea salt and ground black pepper. Serve it with chunks and slices of raw, fresh vegetables such as cucumbers, tomatoes, celery and carrots.
 

Learn more about healthy eating.*

Sweet Potato Chips

Potato chips may be convenient, but there’s a better option in the produce section. Make your own homemade sweet potato chips as a delicious alternative.

Wash and thinly slice sweet potatoes, and place each slice on a baking dish. Drizzle with unrefined coconut oil and a dash of unrefined sea salt. Bake your chips in the oven — checking and turning them occasionally — while avoiding the high heat that, according to Shape, cooks the nutrients out of many store bought brands.

Desserts

Tailgating wouldn’t be complete without a dessert. Store-bought cookies tend to be loaded with sugar, fat, additives and similar ingredients that can sabotage your health goals. Instead, make your own. Ingredients like almond flour, unrefined coconut oil, cacao and honey can help you create a dish that tastes just as good as conventional desserts.

Getting creative with your tailgating menu means you can have fun and be healthy at the same time. Fill up with plenty of nutritious food with these healthy tailgating recipes, and you’ll have more than energy to cheer your team through overtime.

Share your healthy tailgating recipes in the comments.

Judy Wilson is a writer and editor specializing in varied content areas, including health, wellness, food, cooking and nutrition. She enjoys educating others and enabling them to lead fulfilling lives of vibrant health. You can follow Judy on Twitter @EvergreenWords.

4 Fun, Healthy Lunches for Work

Bored with the same old salad you bring every day for lunch, but don’t want to spend the extra money on take-out? To stave off boredom, look for ways to make lunch more interesting. Here are some fun, healthy lunches for work.

1. Mason Jar Salads

It’s time to remake your salad. Mason jar salads give you your leafy greens and protein all in one container. Prepare these salads in advance so you can grab one from the fridge in the morning as you’re headed out the door.

The key to a successful Mason jar salad is the order in which the ingredients are layered. Make sure the dressing goes in first so your salad doesn’t get soggy. Then, add your protein with chunks of chicken or a grain like quinoa. Next come toppings such as dried cranberries, sunflower seeds and nuts. Leafy greens top off the jar. When you’re ready to eat, pour your salad into a bowl and enjoy.

2. Muffin Tin Meals

Cooking smaller versions of your favorite recipes in a muffin tin gives you an easy-to-transport meal and helps you control your portions. Spend some time on the weekend making things like mini lasagna, chicken pot pies or a similar recipe suggested by The Huffington Post. Throughout the week, pack these handy meals for your lunch. They heat up quickly and don’t always require a knife and fork to eat. You can even freeze many of these recipes for future meals.

3. Copycat Recipes

You can make some of your favorite restaurant meals right at home. This lets you control the portion size and the ingredients so you know exactly what you’re eating. For example, Gimme Delicious suggests a recipe that is similar to Chipotle’s burrito bowl and is extremely easy to make on a bed of brown rice. Another great set of healthy lunches for work are Panera Bread‘s broth bowls, which are filled with healthy ingredients, very simple to recreate and all under 400 calories.

4. Lose the Bread

When it comes to lunch, many people resort to a sandwich. But instead of bread, put slices of lunch meat and cheese between two hollowed-out pieces of cucumber. You might even spread peanut butter on various pairs of apple slices and squeeze raisins or nuts in between. Or, use lettuce as a wrapper for a tasty filling in your own turkey tacos.

 

Don’t let lunch be the same every day. Have fun with these healthy lunches for work and you’ll be more productive, in better health and have more money in your pocket.

A former newspaper journalist, Chelsea Adams is a freelance writer specializing in health, wellness and lifestyles topics. A native Tennessean, she makes her home in Kansas with her husband and two daughters. Learn more about her transition from the mountains to the prairie at http://wichitawesome.blogspot.com.

Q&A with a Registered Dietitian: Getting Started with Healthy Cooking

One of the biggest challenges when trying to improve your and your family’s eating habits is coming up with healthy family recipes that are quick, easy and tasty. Rather than finding new recipes, however, a quicker strategy may be to recreate the dishes you’ve been making all along.

For a simple food makeover, Rebecca Greer, a Registered Dietitian, shared personal experiences that can help anyone who wants to eat right and serve healthier meals.

Q: How did you get interested in healthy eating?

Rebecca Greer: I’ve always loved food and being around the kitchen. I quickly discovered that if you love good food, it’s handy to be able to make it yourself. I learned a lot about how to make healthy food taste delicious by watching cooking TV shows and reading healthy cookbooks. I had a lot of mishaps in the beginning, so I always encourage people to keep trying. Cooking takes practice.

Q: Are there any aspects about cooking that present unique obstacles?

RG: I find cooking to be enjoyable most of the time, but it can be stressful if I don’t have a meal planned or go to the grocery store ahead of time. I recently spent about ten minutes writing down a list of my family’s favorite recipes. It’s hanging on the fridge, so that way I can plan meals from those if I don’t feel like looking for new ones. I also often tell my clients to make sure they’re selecting easy and quick recipes for weeknights.

Q: What family recipes have you converted to healthy ones?

RG: My mom always made delicious artichoke dip for football games. I’ve made it healthier by swapping out half the mayo for plain low-fat yogurt. I do [this type of] swap a lot. For my mom’s pumpkin bread, I swapped out half the oil for applesauce. For pancakes, I do half whole wheat and half white flour. My mother-in-law makes her greens with olive oil, which is healthier but also delicious. For my husband’s favorite double-chocolate cookies, I switched out half the butter for oil.

Learn more about healthy eating.*

Q: How did you and your family react to the change to heathier recipes? Was there any resistance?

RG: I learned not go on and on about how healthy something was; that usually puts a preconception in someone’s mind that it won’t taste good. Just cook and serve it and see how everyone likes it. After all, flavor is the number-one reason people choose to eat what they do, so even if it’s the healthiest meal in the world, you won’t make it again if it doesn’t taste good.

Q: Where do you buy food for making healthy family recipes?

RG: I go to the grocery store for most things, but I love visiting farmers’ markets when I can. I also have a small garden that helps with the cost of things like herbs. I prefer to spend money on good food and cut back elsewhere, but I’ve found that meal-planning helps keep the cost down.

When starting your own healthy family recipes, don’t overwhelm yourself with too many right away. Begin by giving one of your favorite recipes an adjustment, and when you’ve perfected it, move on to another. Find substitution ingredients and ratios online. By taking these baby steps, you’ll make tremendous progress over the long term.

Judy Wilson is a writer and editor specializing in varied content areas, including health, wellness, food, cooking and nutrition. She enjoys educating others and enabling them to lead fulfilling lives of vibrant health. You can follow Judy on Twitter @EvergreenWords.

Advice or recommendations are for informational or educational purposes only, not a substitute for a visit or consultation with your doctor.
Consult your doctor before beginning any diet or exercise program.

How to Make Homemade Dog Treats

With a lot of tasty treats around the house this time of year, it’s tempting to share a bite with your dog (yes, it really is that hard to say no to those big puppy-dog eyes). But no matter how interested he or she is, human food isn’t always good for your canine pal.

According to the ASPCA, foods like chocolate, avocados, onions, garlic, bread dough, raisins, grapes and macadamia nuts can cause your dog serious health problems.

Don’t risk offering a leftover that could make your companion sick. Instead of sharing your goodies, learn how to make homemade dog treats that are much healthier.

The Basics About Dog Treats

Most homemade dog treat recipes are quite easy to put together, and allow you to tailor treats to your dog’s own dietary restrictions.

When making your own treats, remember:

  • Watch for allergies. You should certainly avoid foods that are known to be harmful to dogs, but you need to be aware of your own pet’s allergies as well. Don’t use ingredients to which your dog has reacted poorly in the past. If you’re unsure how your dog will respond to a new food, serve only a small portion at first.
  • Control the ingredients. You’ll know exactly what your dog is eating and that he’s enjoying a nutritious and wholesome treat.
  • Avoid unhealthy food additives. Commercial dog treats can contain preservatives, fillers and byproducts to keep them fresh, at the expense of the natural ingredients that make them beneficial. Learning how to make homemade dog treats will keep your dog from consuming these artificial ingredients.
  • Provide variety in your dog’s diet. Even dogs can get bored with the same thing all the time. Tempt their taste buds with homemade dog treats that offer a balance of diverse flavors and textures.
  • Save money. Oftentimes, you can make dog treats with ingredients you already have in your pantry or fridge. There’s no need to purchase specialty products that hike up the price.
  • Make it fun. Use cookie cutters to make dog treats look like bones, fire hydrants or whatever shape you’d like.

Seasonal Specialties

Incorporate fall flavors into your dog’s treats with apple crunch pancakes. The recipe combines applesauce, apple chips and whole wheat flour into a delicious cookie that you can enjoy too. This recipe for dog biscuits that combine peanut butter and pumpkin are another good option.

Leftover Trail Mix

Dogs enjoy trail mix too! Cut leftover meat, veggies (no onions or garlic), potatoes and fruit (no grapes or raisins) into half-inch pieces. Spray lightly with a non-stick cooking spray. Cesar’s Way suggests either placing your product in a food dehydrator or a 200-degree preheated oven until it’s dry.

All-Meat Recipes

It’s no secret that dogs like meat. So, combine ground pork or beef with flour, vegetables and shortening. Bake your concoction into a crunchy biscuit and tempt your pup with this meat-filled treat by Allrecipes. Experiment using different types of protein like rabbit, duck or fish.

How to Store Them

Because they don’t include as many preservatives, homemade dog treats are best kept in the freezer. Put them in an airtight container and they can last for up to six months. Allow them to thaw for 15 minutes before letting your dog dig in.

A former newspaper journalist, Chelsea Adams is a freelance writer specializing in health, wellness and lifestyles topics. A native Tennessean, she makes her home in Kansas with her husband and two daughters. Learn more about her transition from the mountains to the prairie at http://wichitawesome.blogspot.com.

How to Gauge the Shelf Life of Food

Shopping and meal-planning are just a couple of the tasks involved in healthy, flavorful eating. You also need to become a food detective of sorts, and pay attention to the shelf life of food you eat every day. Not only is this important for fresh taste and texture, but it keeps you safe from foodborne illnesses. Because expiration dates aren’t regulated by the FDA, but rather provided by food product sellers, you need to stay mindful.

It’s essential that you know how a food typically smells, looks and tastes when it’s fresh. This allows you to use your senses to identify food that has gone bad. Keep the following guidelines in mind as you manage your kitchen.

Vegetables

Naturally, the lifecycle of a fruit or vegetable varies based on what kind it is. Green leafy vegetables and lettuces, for example, typically go bad more quickly than foods such as broccoli and celery because they’re delicate and, according to The Kitchn, often depend on their roots for moisture. Foods like carrots, sweet potatoes, onions, garlic and winter squashes last much longer — anywhere from several weeks to a few months.

Fruit

Fresh berries and soft fruits such as peaches and bananas have a shorter shelf life than fruits like apples. Berries usually go bad within a week, whereas you can keep apples refrigerated for several weeks before they start to decay. You can ultimately tell if fruits or vegetables have gone bad when they don’t look or smell fresh; they get soft, discolored and develop white or brown fuzzy spots or patches. They may also have a foul odor.

Meat and Eggs

You’ll know when meat and eggs are no longer fresh and safe to eat when they smell before or during cooking, or they taste spoiled while eating them. Eggs in their shells keep in the refrigerator for three to five weeks, states the U.S. Department of Health. When it’s frozen solid, chicken stays fresh in the freezer between nine months (for chicken pieces) and a year (for whole chicken). Ground beef can stay in the freezer for four months whereas steak can last up to a year.

Seafood

As is the case with meat and eggs, the smell of seafood often determine whether it’s still fresh. Fish can be expected to have a rather strong smell even when fresh, but it should not have an odor that doesn’t match how the it smells when you first buy or catch it. MyRecipes suggests lean dishes like catfish should be used within one or two days, but they can be frozen for six months before cooking.

Dry Goods and Packaged Food

Dry goods and packaged food can take longer to go bad, but it’s still important to be cautious about shelf life. These foods include dry goods like pasta, rice and flour, as well as packaged products such as crackers, canned items (fruits, beans, vegetables and soup), cooking oils and frozen produce. If you’re unsure whether an item like this is still fine to eat, go by its texture, smell and appearance. Flour, according to Eat By Date, generally stays fresh for at least four months.

When food shows signs of exceeding its shelf life, throwing it away is your best course of action. When in doubt, throw it out — that’s far better than taking a chance on getting sick. To follow your food budget and avoid having to toss food that has gone bad, be sure to plan the quantities of the foods that you buy. Meal planning can be an excellent tool to help you do this.

Judy Wilson is a writer and editor specializing in varied content areas, including health, wellness, food, cooking and nutrition. She enjoys educating others and enabling them to lead fulfilling lives of vibrant health. You can follow Judy on Twitter @EvergreenWords.

Six Pumpkin Recipes Perfect for Fall

No other activity is perfect for fall than carving a pumpkin, and if you’re wondering what to do with your pumpkins after carving, wonder no more. To use this brightly colored winter squash — which is high in vitamin A and potassium — cut it off the top and scoop out the orange, seed-laden flesh for six delicious results.

Soup

If you haven’t tried pumpkin soup, you’re missing out on a filling dinner or healthy side dish. Spices such as ginger and cinnamon create a sweeter-tasting item, whereas rosemary, parsley or thyme yield a food that’s more savory. This recipe from the Minimalist Baker is easy to make.

Chili

As the weather cools, warm up with this unique take on chili, a traditional comfort food. Pumpkin can easily be added to a variety of recipes. Try making slow cooker turkey pumpkin chili for a hearty meal and vegetarians can try this meatless version.

Muffins

A satisfying quick snack, pumpkin muffins can be made in many recipe variations. For a sweet snack, try pumpkin chocolate chip muffins. For a fiber rich treat, follow this recipe from Food.com and add in oatmeal and chopped nuts. For a muffin with some crunch, throw in some pecans.

Pudding

Great as a snack or healthy dessert, pudding takes on a warm color and flavor when you add pumpkin. This recipe has half the fat of other popular puddings. You can also try a spiced version with nutmeg and ginger. For a nutritional punch, add in chia seeds.

Butter

Pumpkin butter makes a delicious and healthy spread for bread, muffins or toast. It’s quick and easy to make, and you can store it for a long while. Follow this recipe and make it in a crock pot. Short on time? This recipe only takes 20 minutes to make.

Lattes

Pumpkin spice lattes are now a staple of fall and you don’t need to make a trip to the coffee shop to enjoy them. Whip up this treat by following this simple recipe from the Food Network. Indulge without the guilt with this recipe by using almond milk and stevia as a sweetener.

Do you have a favorite pumpkin recipe? Share in the comments

Judy Wilson is a writer and editor specializing in varied content areas, including health, wellness, food, cooking and nutrition. She enjoys educating others and enabling them to lead fulfilling lives of vibrant health. You can follow Judy on Twitter @EvergreenWords.