Applesauce Oatmeal Muffins with Blueberries… “The Best Muffins Ever”

Applesauce Oatmeal Muffins with Blueberries

Are you looking for a quick & healthy grab-n-go breakfast or snack idea? Then this recipe is for you! These Applesauce Oatmeal Muffins with Blueberries are easy to make, healthy, and tastes amazing!

I was trying to find the perfect muffin recipe for a group of middle school students, who attended my 10-hour nutrition education program during the month of June. This program was available thanks to the 4H Food Smart Families grant from National 4-H Council and the ConAgra Foods Foundation. I wanted to find a recipe with mostly whole grains that the students would love!

I found a recipe for “Applesauce Oatmeal Muffins” on UNL Extension’s Food Website, but I decided to modify the recipe by adding more whole wheat flour and using blueberries instead of raisins. I decided to name them “Applesauce Oatmeal Muffins with Blueberries.” So original, right?

The youth prepared 2 dozen muffins some with blueberries and some without for the food prep lesson. They were anxiously waiting for them to get out of the oven while they were doing other homework. After serving them with a cup of 1% milk, they asked for them to be part of a snack again. The muffins turned out to be a HIT with the youth!

I ended up making 4 dozen muffins for this program. It was about 50/50 if they liked the muffins better with or without blueberries. I would say they were a success!

One student even claimed, “These are the best muffins ever!”

I enjoyed witnessing youth make healthier choices as a result of this program! Learn more about my experience from the Beatrice Daily Sun newspaper article, “Students receive lesson in nutrition.”

Here is the recipe….

Applesauce Oatmeal Muffins with Blueberries

Makes 12 Muffins

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • ½ cup brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup applesauce, unsweetened
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup whole wheat flour
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup frozen blueberries, optional
  • 1 cup quick-cooking oatmeal

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.Preheat Oven to 350
  2. Combine oil, brown sugar, applesauce, and egg in one bowl, mixing well.Measuring liquid ingredients
  3. Combine dry ingredients (flours, oatmeal, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt) in another bowl, mixing well. If you didn’t mix them before combining with the liquid ingredients, when baked, the muffins will likely get tunnels inside.Measure dry ingredients
  4. Combine dry and wet ingredients, by hand with a wooden spoon, just enough to blend. Batter should still be lumpy, don’t try and smooth it. DO NOT OVERMIX. Only 10-15 strokes are needed to moisten the ingredients. This process is called the “muffin mixing method,” which is when you mix liquid and dry ingredients separately then combine them with as few stirs as possible to prevent gluten formation.Combine wet and dry ingredients.
  5. Blend in frozen blueberries. You can use fresh blueberries if you like. I usually have frozen blueberries in my freezer, and I think they taste great in baked goods or smoothies.Blend in blueberries
  6. Spoon into 12 muffin cups. I like to measure a 1/4 cup of batter for each muffin cup. I take a spoon if I need to take some batter out of a cup if it is too full. Try to fill cups evenly for best baking results.Making muffins
  7. Bake at 350°F for 25-30 minutes.Muffins ready to bake
  8. Muffins are done when a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.Muffin Test for Doness
  9. Remove from oven and cool.Cooling Rack
  10. Store muffins in a covered container or plastic storage bag to prevent them from drying out. Pair it with a glass of 1% or skim milk for a healthy grab-n-go breakfast.Muffin Storage

Variations to the Recipe that I have tried and loved!

  • Plain… without blueberriesApplesauce Oatmeal Muffins
  • Add dark chocolate chips instead of blueberriesApplesauce Oatmeal Muffins with Dark Chocolate Chips

Applesauce Oatmeal Muffins with Blueberries

Makes 12 Muffins

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • ½ cup brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup applesauce, unsweetened
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup whole wheat flour
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup frozen blueberries, optional
  • 1 cup quick-cooking oatmeal

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Mix together oil, brown sugar, applesauce, and egg.
  3. Combine dry ingredients (flours, oatmeal, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt) in another bowl, mixing well.
  4. Combine dry and wet ingredients, by hand with a wooden spoon, just enough to blend. Batter should still be lumpy.
  5. Blend in frozen blueberries.
  6. Spoon into 12 muffin cups.
  7. Bake at 350°F for 25-30 minutes. Muffins are done when a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.
  8. Remove from oven and cool.
  9. Store muffins in a covered container or plastic storage bag to prevent them from drying out.

Nutrition Information for 1 muffin:

Per serving: 159 calories, 23 grams (g) carbohydrate, 10 g sugar, 7 g fat, 3 g protein

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Black Bean & Corn Salsa

Black Bean & Corn SalsaLooking for a healthier dip recipe to take to a party? The Super Bowl is this Sunday, and I wanted to share with you one of my favorite recipes for salsa! It is low in calories and fat, high in nutrients, and tastes amazing. Bonus, this recipe is super easy to make!

Ingredients:

  • 1 can (15 oz) black beans, drained & rinsed
  • 1 can (10 oz) diced tomatoes with green chilies (Mild), drained
  • 1 can (15.25 oz) whole kernel corn (No Salt Added), drained
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice

Directions:

  1. Open can of black beans and place in strainer. Rinse beans and place in medium bowl.Rinsed Black Beans
  2. Place in strainer, can of dice tomatoes with green chilies and corn to drain off excess liquids. Then, place in medium bowl.Drained Diced Tomatoes & Corn
  3. Finely chop red onion. Add 1/4 cup to bowl. To make it easier, I like to use the small setting on my Chop Wizard* when chopping vegetables. You can use a knife to finely chop them too.Finely Chopped Red Onion
  4. Finely chop fresh cilantro. Add 1/4 cup to bowl.Finely Chopped Cilantro
  5. Add 1 teaspoon of lime juice and stir.Lime Juice

You can enjoy this salsa all by itself as a salad or can eat with tortilla chips. Watch your portion size on the tortilla chips because 1 ounce of tortilla chips (about 7 chips) equals 150 calories. I like to load my chip up with salsa on every bite to get more nutrients without eating as many chips. You can also enjoy this salsa with salads, tacos, or burritos.

Develop a winning Super Bowl “food game plan.” Check out the handout my colleague, Alice Henneman, developed that talks about eight winning strategies, “Your Super Bowl Game Plan for Healthy Eating.”

Chips & Salsa

Black Bean & Corn Salsa

Makes 18 Servings (1/4 cup each)

Ingredients:

  • 1 can (15 oz) black beans, drained & rinsed
  • 1 can (10 oz) diced tomatoes with green chilies (Mild), drained
  • 1 can (15.25 oz) whole kernel corn (No Salt Added), drained
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice

Directions:

  1. Open can of black beans and place in strainer. Rinse beans and place in medium bowl.
  2. Place in strainer, can of dice tomatoes with green chilies and corn to drain off excess fluids. Then, place in bowl.
  3. Finely chop red onion. Add 1/4 cup to bowl.
  4. Finely chop fresh cilantro. Add 1/4 cup to bowl.
  5. Add 1 teaspoon of lime juice and stir.

Nutrition Information per Serving: 35 calories, 0g fat, 135 mg sodium, 6g carbohydrates, 2g sugar, 2g protein

*Reference to commercial products or trade names is made with the understanding that no discrimination is intended of those not mentioned and no endorsement by University of Nebraska–Lincoln Extension is implied for those mentioned.

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2013: Making Health a Priority… No More Excuses

I can’t believe 2014 is here.. where has the year gone? Time flies when you are having fun! Currently, I’m on my way home from Colorado. I went skiing with my husband, brother, and a couple friends. It was a lot of fun to start the new year on the slopes! The long drive had me thinking about everything I achieved personally and professionally in 2013, and it has me excited for what is to come in 2014! I created a highlight video of 2013 using the Flipagram app.


I would like to share with you how I made eating healthy and exercising a priority this past year, which led to a 10 pound weight loss since the beginning of January. I’m super excited that I have been able to maintain my weight loss, and I was able to purchase jeans in December that were 3 sizes smaller than in January! Did I eat healthy all the time? No. Did I exercise all the time? No. I achieved the right balance by making healthier decisions!

I will never forget when I was complaining to my husband about how I didn’t have time to exercise or eat healthy. His response, “Kayla, you have time, but you are just not making healthy eating or exercise a priority.” He was right, and I needed to hear that! I finally realized that I was choosing other activities to fill my time and my excuse wasn’t going to work anymore. For 2013, I made eating healthy and exercising a priority.

My main healthy eating goals were to eat more vegetables, fruits, whole/natural foods, and home cooked meals while eating less processed foods. Check out some of the recipes I used this past year:

For exercise, my goals were to workout at least 2 times a week at my CrossFit gym, but it really depended upon my schedule. My biggest accomplishment within CrossFit was competing in the 2013 CrossFit Open. The Open is a world-wide CrossFit competition where athletes complete one workout a week for five weeks and submit their scores online.

CrossFit Open 13.3

In August, I was excited that I achieved 5 kipping handstand push-ups for the first time. Remember to not give up on a goal even if it takes months to reach it! It is all about the small gains!

Kipping Handstand Push-Up

Increasing my physical activity level resulted in completing three 5k races: the Color Run, NAND Fuel Up to Color, and the Spartan Sprint. I think this is a huge accomplishment since I completed my first 5k in 2012!

The Color Run 6/1/2013, NAND Fuel Up with Color 5K Race 9/28/13, Spartan Sprint 10/12/2013

The Color Run 6/1/2013, NAND Fuel Up with Color 5K Race 9/28/13, Spartan Sprint 10/12/2013

My husband and I also enjoy riding our bikes and playing volleyball to increase our physical activity level.

Thanks to UNL Campus Rec for the bike valet we were able to bike to the football game.

Thanks to UNL Campus Rec for the bike valet we were able to bike to the football game.

I was able to lose weight and maintain my weight loss by achieving my healthy eating and physical activity goals while enjoying unhealthier foods in moderation. I traveled a lot this past year. I attended the FBLA National Leadership Conference in June. During my trip and in honor of Throwback Thursday, I wanted to recreate an FBLA pic from 2001. Same outfit, just 12 years later. Thanks to losing weight and making healthier decisions the same clothes still fit!

In honor of #tbt, I wanted to recreate an FBLA pic from 2001. Same outfit, just 12 years later. Thanks to making healthier decisions the same clothes still fit!

Did you make a New Year’s Resolution goal? Make 2014 the year you lead a healthier lifestyle by making it a priority! Making a change takes time, commitment and a lot of encouragement. You may get off track at times, but pick up where you left off and start again. Keep working toward that goal and making healthier decisions! Check out my Walk Nebraska Newsletter “New Year, New You: 4 Tips to a Healthier You” to help you achieve your goals!

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Roasted Baby Carrots with Garlic Recipe

Oven Roasted Baby Carrots

I love fresh garlic and I love baby carrots. I decided to put them together, and the recipe turned out amazing.  It has become one of my go-to recipes for an easy vegetable side dish. This recipe requires very little preparation since it only has 3 ingredients. Extra Bonus – They even taste great as leftovers! I had to share my recipe with you. Please let me know if you make this recipe and how you like it by leaving a comment at the end of this blog post.

Ingredients:

  • One 32-ounce bag baby carrots
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.Preheat oven
  2. Combine the carrots and olive oil in a large bowl.IMG_0936.JPG (2)
  3. Add the minced garlic cloves and stir. I like to use a garlic press by placing one clove of garlic in the press at a time. Learn how to mince garlic or use a garlic press by watching this short video: 
  4. Place the carrots in a single layer on a 12″ x 16 3/4″ baking pan. I like to use a darker pan because the carrots will brown more.IMG_0944
  5. Roast for 30-35 minutes, stirring occasionally, until carrots are tender. I check to make sure the carrots are tender by using a fork to poke the carrots to see if they are soft.Roasted Baby Carrots with Garlic

Roasted Baby Carrots with Garlic Recipe

Makes 8 servings

Ingredients:

  • One 32-ounce bag baby carrots
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. Combine the baby carrots and olive oil in a large bowl.
  3. Add the minced garlic cloves and stir.
  4. Place the carrots in a single layer on a 12″ x 16 3/4″ baking pan.
  5. Roast for 30-35 minutes, stirring occasionally, until carrots are tender.

Nutrition Information per Serving: 60 calories, 2g fat, 82 mg sodium, 10g carbohydrates, 6 grams sugar, 1 g protein

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Almond Berry Chicken Salad Recipe

Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and red raspberries… oh my! These are some of my favorite fruits. I love to eat them as a snack, in a salad, or with frozen yogurt. I especially enjoy fresh berries this time of year because they are in season, cost less, and taste better!

Another summertime favorite of mine is ordering Panera’s Strawberry Poppyseed & Chicken Salad* since it is only available during the summer. While shopping for groceries, I was looking at the refrigerated salad dressings in the produce aisle and realized that I could buy Panera’s Poppy Seed dressing*. This inspired me to modify Panera’s* salad recipe, which includes all of my favorites. I swapped romaine lettuce with spinach, pecans with almonds, and only used fresh berries. My spinach salad was topped with my Oven Roasted Chicken Breast along with some poppy seed dressing. You can substitute the poppy seed dressing for raspberry vinaigrette or balsamic vinaigrette if you would like. Feel free to adapt the recipe using your favorite fruits and nuts. This salad turned out amazing, so I had to share it with you!

Ingredients:

  • 6-8 ounces Oven Roasted Chicken Breasts
  • 4 cups Baby Spinach
  • 2 cups Fresh Berries
  • 1/2 cup Almonds
  • 2-4 tablespoons Poppy Seed Dressing

IMG_1819Directions:

  1. Prepare the Oven Roasted Chicken Breast Recipe or use leftover chicken breast to top the salad. When using leftovers, reheat the chicken to a minimum internal temperature of 165°F.Oven Roasted Chicken Breast
  2. Add 2 cups (or 2 large handfuls) of spinach to each salad bowl.
    Spinach
  3. Top salad with 3 to 4 ounces of sliced oven roasted chicken breast.
    Chicken Spinach Salad
  4. Add 1 cup of fresh berries to the salad bowl. Make sure to wash fresh berries under cool running water before adding to salad. I used a combination of my favorite berries like strawberries, blueberries, and red raspberries.Adding Fresh Berries
  5. Place a handful of almonds on top of salad, which is about 1/4 cup of almonds.Almonds
  6. Finish the salad by adding 1-2 tablespoons of Panera’s Poppy Seed dressing*.Poppy Seed Dressing
  7. I like to mix up my salad before enjoying it!Enjoy!
  8. I also enjoyed this salad the next day for lunch at work.

    Almond Berry Chicken Salad at Work

    Don’t be afraid of using leftovers for a simple meal at work! I had enough chicken and fresh berries left for my spinach salad.

Almond Berry Chicken Salad Recipe

Makes 2 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 6-8 ounces Oven Roasted Chicken Breasts
  • 4 cups Baby Spinach
  • 2 cups Fresh Berries
  • 1/2 cup Almonds
  • 2-4 tablespoons Poppy Seed Dressing

Directions:

  1. Prepare the Oven Roasted Chicken Breast Recipe or use leftover chicken breast to top the salad. When using leftovers, reheat the chicken to a minimum temperature of 165°F.
  2. Add 2 cups (or 2 large handfuls) of spinach to each salad bowl.
  3. Top salad with 3 to 4 ounces of sliced oven roasted chicken breast.
  4. Add 1 cup of fresh berries to the salad bowl. Make sure to wash fresh berries under cool running water before adding to salad.
  5. Place a handful of almonds on top of salad, which is about 1/4 cup of almonds.
  6. Finish the salad by adding 1-2 tablespoons of Panera’s Poppy Seed dressing*.

*Reference to commercial products or trade names is made with the understanding that no discrimination is intended of those not mentioned and no endorsement by University of Nebraska–Lincoln Extension is implied for those mentioned.

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A Chicken Breast Recipe for a Variety of Meals

In order to balance my busy schedule and eating healthy, I created this simple chicken breast recipe that is great by itself, mixed with veggies, or on salads. The best part, it only has 3 ingredients! I always make enough to have leftovers too. Enjoy this chicken recipe with a variety of meals. More recipes are to come using this simple chicken recipe, but check out my Almond Berry Chicken Salad blog for one idea.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1.5 teaspoons grill seasoning for chicken
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 pound)

Oven Roasted Chicken Ingredients

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.IMG_0947
  2. Mix together 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1.5 teaspoons of grill seasoning (My husband and I really like PepperJax Seasoning*, which can be found in select grocery stores). Of course, this seasoning can be substituted by any other grill seasoning.Oven Roasted Chicken Preparing Recipe
  3. Place chicken breasts in an ungreased 8×8 inch baking pan.Oven Roasted Chicken Ingredients
  4. Brush both sides of the chicken with the olive oil mixture. Pour the remaining olive oil mixture evenly over the chicken.Oven Roasted Chicken Preparing Recipe 2
  5. Bake uncovered for 25 – 35 minutes (depending on size of chicken breast) until the  juice of the chicken is no longer pink.IMG_1740
  6. The best way to know the chicken is fully cooked is to insert a food thermometer into the thickest part of the chicken.
  7. IMG_1778When the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165°F, the chicken is safe to eat.IMG_1780
  8. Cut chicken breast into 3-4 ounce servings. I like to use a kitchen scale to measure, but 3-4 ounces of cooked meat looks like a deck of cards. Eat cooked chicken right away or refrigerate for up to 4 days to use in other meals.
    IMG_1809

Oven Roasted Chicken Breast Recipe

Makes 4 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1.5 teaspoons grill seasoning for chicken
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 pound)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. Mix together olive oil and grill seasoning (My husband and I really like PepperJax Seasoning, which can be found in select grocery stores.)
  3. Place chicken breasts in an ungreased 8×8 inch baking pan.
  4. Brush both sides of the chicken with the olive oil mixture. Pour the remaining olive oil mixture evenly over the chicken.
  5. Bake uncovered for 25 – 35 minutes (depending on size of chicken breast) until the  juice of the chicken is no longer pink.
  6. The best way to know the chicken is fully cooked is to insert a food thermometer into the thickest part of the chicken.
  7. When the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165°F, the chicken is safe to eat.
  8. Cut chicken breast into 3-4 ounce servings. I like to use a kitchen scale to measure, but 3-4 ounces of cooked meat looks like a deck of cards. Eat cooked chicken right away or refrigerate for up to 4 days to use in other meals.

*Reference to commercial products or trade names is made with the understanding that no discrimination is intended of those not mentioned and no endorsement by University of Nebraska–Lincoln Extension is implied for those mentioned.

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A Healthier Recipe for Beef Roast

Ingredients for Roast

Living a busy life, I turn to my slow cooker a lot to make simple recipes. After prepping all of your ingredients, you place them in your slow cooker and let it sit for 6 – 10 hours depending on the recipe and your timeframe. How easy is that! The best part is that my husband and I are able to eat about 6 meals from one recipe! The leftovers work great during the week. Especially right now, my evenings are busy with CrossFit, volleyball, bible study, or meetings for work. So, planning or preparing my meals on the weekend is essential!

My husband and I are trying to eat more vegetables, so I decided to create a healthier roast that was loaded with veggies.

IMG_0822

Healthy Swap #1: Sweet Potatoes instead of White Potatoes

Usually, I use white potatoes in my roasts, but I decided to swap them out with sweet potatoes. Why? Sweet potatoes are high in vitamin A, vitamin C, and fiber, contain a good source of calcium and potassium, and an excellent source of fiber. They contain more nutrients than white potatoes making them healthier.

Healthy Swap #2: Load up on the veggies

I normally do not add very many vegetables to my roasts, but ChooseMyPlate.gov recommends making half of your plate fruits and vegetables. So, I decided to add more carrots and onion while incorporating celery into my recipe.

Savory Beef Roast Recipe

  • 1 bag of celery, sliced
  • 2# of carrots, sliced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, cubed
  • 3-4 lbs. beef boneless chuck roast
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1.5 tablespoons of Paula Deen’s House Seasoning
  • 3 cups beef stock
  1. Cut off the base and leaves of the celery. Wash stalks of celery under running water. Cut the stalks into 1/2 inch slices. Place into the slow cooker.Celery
  2. Wash carrots under running water while gently scrubbing them. Peel carrots and cut off the end of the carrot. Then, slice carrots into 1/2 inch slices. Place into the slow cooker.carrots
  3. Cut ends off of the onion and peel the outermost layer. Cut onion in half. Slice each half into 8 slices. Place in slow cooker.onion
  4. Wash sweet potato under running water while gently scrubbing them. Peel the sweet potatoes if you would like to, but it depends on personal preference. I have tried the recipe with the skins left on the sweet potato, and it still turned out great. Cut sweet potatoes into cubes. Place in slow cooker.Sweet Potato
  5. You may have to move some of the vegetables into a separate bowl in order to fit the roast in the middle.Veggies for Roast
  6. Place roast in the middle of the slow cooker. Take 1.5 tablespoons of the house seasoning  and sprinkle on all sides of the roast and vegetables.
  7. Peel 3 garlic cloves. Mince the garlic. I put some garlic on the vegetables and I leave some on top of the roast. Put the remaining vegetables on the sides of the roast. roast with veggies
  8. Add 3 cups of beef stock. I like to use Rachel Ray’s Stock-in-a-Box All-Natural Beef Flavored Stock*.
  9. Cover and cook on high for 6 hours. If I cook my roast on the weekends, I like to cook it on high for 6 hours. If I started the roast before I leave for work, then I would cook it on low for 10 hours.ready to cook
  10. After it is done cooking, I like to cut the fat away from the roast and shred the meat. Shredding the meat makes it easier for leftovers.
  11. cooked roastEnjoy!!!!bowl of roast and vegetables
  12. After you are done eating, it is time to get the leftovers ready. I put 3 ladles of vegetables with a little juice in each bowl along with 1/2 cup of meat. I had 4 bowls of leftovers! It makes cooking easier during the week.leftovers

*Reference to commercial products or trade names is made with the understanding that no discrimination is intended of those not mentioned and no endorsement by University of Nebraska–Lincoln Extension is implied for those mentioned.

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