DIY Valentine Chocolates

 

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Valentines Day is the day for love, cards, and chocolates. To help you get ready, I met with Christie Thompson, a chocolatier and good friend. Christie has been making incredible chocolates for the last 15 years and currently makes chocolates for Rebecca’s Chocolates in Salt Lake City, UT. If you have ever had Rebecca’s, you know they are some of the best around.

In the past, I had tried dipping strawberries, and making my own chocolates, but mine always began to sweat, streak, or melt and never looked very appetizing by the time I arrived at the party. Christie, graciously agreed to share her secrets, and with her help, I dipped fruits that lasted and looked beautiful for days. And I made my first truffle, which I must say was the best I have tasted. We made a large batch of chocolate fruits and truffles that were savored and raved about by friends and family.

Dipping Fruit

First, you want to make sure your fruit is at room temperature (~68°). If it is chilled at all, it will sweat after dipping. Also, your fruit must be completely dry, so no washing immediately prior. Buy pre-washed or wash and let dry for at least a day before dipping.

Processed with VSCOcamFor small berries, place in small cupcake lined cups at room temperature.

Then melt the chocolate. This can be done in the microwave or double boiler. If melting in the microwave, heat for 3 minutes at 20-30% power, stir, and repeat until melted. If melting in a double boiler, heat on low and allow chocolate to melt for 15-20 minutes while mixing. You don’t want to get the chocolate too hot or allow steam from the bottom pot to come out and get into the chocolate. A good test to make sure your pot is not too hot is to place your hands on the side; you should be able to leave your hands on the pot without burning them.

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Once your chocolate is melted, you want to let it cool to 68-72° (otherwise it will streak). There are several things you can do to ensure proper temperature:

  • Use a candy thermometer to test the temperature
  • Place a small dot of chocolate on wax paper and test for streaking
  • Pull up a small ribbon of chocolate with a fork and allow it to drizzle back into the bowl. The drizzled bit should remain on top and not melt back in.

At this point your chocolate is ready for use.

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For strawberries, hold the stem and dip the berry 3/4 into the chocolate, pull out and let drip, then place on parchment paper to cool. For the other berries, simply drizzle chocolate over the fruit in lined cupcake cups and allow to cool. You may want to open a window to make sure your kitchen in cool enough to allow the chocolate to set. Once set, enjoy!

 Truffles

When my friends and family ate these truffles they asked what made them so creamy and buttery. I gave them a short answer, “cream and butter.”

Processed with VSCOcamIngredients:

  • 1 cup cream
  • 2 Tbsp cooled butter
  • 16 oz chocolate
  • 1 Tbsp extract of choice (vanilla, cherry, almond, etc)

Method:

In a small pot, heat the cream on low and allow to come to a gentle boil. You don’t want to heat it too much or it will curdle, but you need to heat it enough to prevent molding. Look for a film to appear on the top and allow to simmer for 1-2 minutes. Do not stir!

Remove from heat and add the butter. Do not stir until the butter has fully melted. The butter helps gently cool the cream and thicken the mixture. Once the cream has cooled to almost room temperature, add the chocolate and mix. If you add the chocolate too early while the cream is still too warm it will become clumpy. Mix with a whisk until chocolate is fully incorporated. Then add flavoring extract.

Place a long sheet of saran wrap in a shallow casserole dish. Your sheet should be about twice as long as the dish and hang over the sides. Pour the mix into the casserole dish and wrap the remaining saran wrap over the top of the mixture. Make sure the mixture is fully contained by the saran warp. This allows you to easily remove the truffle from the dish once cooled. Cool in the the fridge at minimum 3-4 hours. 

Once cooled, cut into shapes using a cookie cutter dipped in cornstarch. If the truffle is too soft to manage, roll in corn starch before dipping.

Then, using a fork (Christie uses her hands), dip the truffle into melted chocolate using the same tips as outlined above for the fruit. Then cool on parchment paper. Again, if your kitchen has warmed up, open a window or take the chocolates outside to cool.

Once cooled, enjoy and store in the fridge (if they last that long).
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Note: It is important to use high quality chocolate made for dipping to ensure good end results. If you are going to use a lower quality such as chocolate chips from the store, add about 1 T of coconut oil to the chocolates to help them look shiny. In high quality chocoaltes you will notice coconut oil as an ingredient where lower qualities tend to use wax.

You could make these today and they would still be perfect for your Valentine tomorrow.

Happy Valentines Day!

-Megan

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Love Your Heart!

Heart Healthy DIets
February is National Heart Month. It is the month to celebrate love and to start working on your heart health. What do you think of when you think heart health? For many people this brings anxiety about their last doctors appointment, or fear from family history. While there is a genetic component to heart health, there are also modifiable behaviors that impact your heart such smoking, exercise, stress, and diet. The last one is where I come in.

As a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, I speak to many patients and community classes on a heart healthy diet. With all the fads out there, diets can be confusing and overwhelming. To help keep it basic, I stick to 6 basic building blocks for a heart healthy diet.

6 Building Blocks for a Heart Healthy Diet

1: Eat Lots of Fruits and Vegetables. Yes this again. You have probably been told many times to eat your fruits and vegetables, and for good reason. They are considered nutrient dense foods, because are packed full of nutrients and fiber while maintaining low calories. If you normally don’t eat many fruits and vegetables, try to add one to each meal and eventually work towards making 1/2 your plate fruit and vegetables.

2: Choose Whole Grains: These foods also are nutrient dense and provide fiber which helps lower cholesterol, maintain a healthy weight, and aid in overall digestion. Try to make at least 1/2 of the grains you eat whole grains. To know if something is a whole grain look for the word “whole” in the ingredients list or aim for bread products with at least 3 g of fiber.

3: Choose Lean Protein: Protein is important for maintaining muscle, a healthy weight, and healing. Most of your body is made up of proteins and there are 9 that are essential to consume because your body can’t produce them. Choose a variety of protein foods with lower fat such as poultry, fish, dairy, nuts, seeds, and beans. Red meat is also a great source of protein, but often provides more calories and fat so eat it sparingly.

4: Choose Healthy Fats: Recently this has gotten a little confusing with new research indicating saturated fats may not be bad for your heart. Saturated fat can still be part of a heart healthy diet, but we still recommend cooking with oils and eating foods high in heart protecting fats such as nuts and fish.

5: Consume 3 servings of Dairy Daily: As the link above indicates, recently new research has shown that the saturated fats in dairy might actually protect your heart. However if you are trying to lose weight it might be a good idea to still choose low-fat varieties for weight loss. If you struggle with satiety, full fat options may help you to eat less and stay full longer. Whichever you choose, dairy is a nutrient rich addition to your diet and has been shown to help with heart health, especially in lowering blood pressure (Dash Diet). It has also been shown to aide in weight loss and provides important nutrients for overall health.

6: Limit sugar, salt, and alcohol. Avoid adding salt to your prepared foods and eat mostly fresh foods that aren’t preserved with salt. Keep alcohol to 1 drink/day for women and 2 for men, and eat added sugar sparingly. Especially avoid sugary beverages.

Make some goals today, and start building a heart healthy future with these 6 building blocks.

Megan Ostler MS, RDN, CNSC, CD

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Skinny Alfredo Sauce

Today is National Fettuccine Alfredo Day. Who doesn’t love Alfredo with it’s creamy, cheesy goodness? It is comfort food at it’s finest, but for those looking to lose weight it might not fit in your calorie limit. Well I have an option that will give you all the flavor with far fewer calories.

My skinny Alfredo is quick to whip up, lower in calories, but packs great flavor. For even fewer calories, I serve it over baked spaghetti squash instead of noodles. If you haven’t tried spaghetti squash in place of pasta give it a try.

To bake, simply cut your squash in half vertically, scoop out the seeds, poke it with a fork, and lay it on a foil lined cookie sheet, skin up. Bake at 400 for 45 minutes. Once baked, you can scoop out the middles and you have what looks like yellow spaghetti noodles (hence the name)

Whether you want to try the spaghetti squash or stick with fettuccine noodles, this sauce is sure to be a hit with your family.

Skinny Alfredo Sauce

Ingredients

  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 c. flour
  • 3 1/2 c. milk (1% is what I used )
  • 3/4 cup parmesan (more for garnish)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Tarragon for garnish

Method:

Melt butter in a large saucepan on low heat. Add garlic and saute for about 1 minute. Next add flour to melted butter and mix until a thin paste forms. Add milk and bring to a boil while whisking in the paste to the milk. Add more milk for a thinner consistency. Once desired consistency reached add parmesan cheese and salt and pepper. Serve hot over pasta or spaghetti squash and garnish with tarragon and parmesan cheese.

Printer Friendly Skinny Alfredo Sauce

-Megan

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What is the Difference Between Lactose Intolerance and a Milk Allergy?

A food intolerance is different than a food allergy. It can be confusing, but it helps to know what’s what in order to healthfully navigate food choices. When it comes to milk, here’s the difference:

Lactose Intolerance (LI) refers to the body’s physical response to the sugar found in milk. While its symptoms can be really uncomfortable, there are no lasting, harmful consequences. Here’s the quick 411 on how dairy digestion works:

What is LI - NDC Video

  • Lactose is the simple sugar found in milk, comprised of two sugar molecules – glucose and galactose.
  • In the intestine, the enzyme lactase breaks lactose into its component sugar molecules for complete digestion and absorption.
  • As people age, the amount of lactase in the body slowly declines, a term called lactase non-persistence.
  • Without enough lactase, the undigested sugar moves further along the intestinal tract into the colon, where bacteria break it down. This process is called lactose maldigestion since the milk sugar is not digested in the proper part of the intestine by the enzyme lactase.
  • If the byproducts of bacterial digestion cause physical symptoms (individual reactions can be different), such as gastrointestinal distress, the consequence is lactose intolerance. Many people have maldigestion without physical symptoms.

An allergy to milk is a different beast all together. When someone suffers a cow’s milk allergy, the body actually mounts an immune response to one or more of the proteins found in milk – reactions to b-lactoglobulin, casein,  a-lactalbumin, and bovine serum albumin are the most common. As is the case with all food allergies, the reasons why the body treats these benign proteins as foreign invaders is unclear. Milk allergy is most common in infants and young children – approximately 2.5% of children experience this in the first three years of life. Most of these children – about 80% – outgrow the allergy and can tolerate milk by age 4.

Symptoms associated with milk allergy vary from individual to individual but can include hives, wheezing or vomiting and in severe cases, anaphylaxis. In some people, symptoms can be similar to those associated with lactose intolerance – loose stool, diarrhea, or abdominal cramping.

For those with a milk protein allergy, the solution is avoidance.

So to recap:

Lactose intolerance refers to the body’s inability to digest the sugar found in milk. Those with LI can still enjoy dairy, by opting for lactose-free milk products or by choosing dairy foods that are naturally low in lactose or lactose-free like aged, natural cheeses, and fermented dairy products like yogurt and kefir.

When the immune system gets involved, the body has an allergic reaction to one or more of the proteins found in milk. It is likely that most children with the condition will outgrow it, but while symptoms persist, avoidance is the solution.

Lactose Intolerance Recipes - DairyUTNV Pinterest

Managing Lactose Intolerance – Recipe Ideas

For more about lactose intolerance, check out National Dairy Council’s new site: EatConfidentlywithLI.org

And share your experiences #EatConfidently

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Promoting Breakfast Through FUTP60

Your mother probably told you breakfast is the most important meal of the day and research is now proving her right. Students who  consume a nutrient rich breakfast are more likely to  have higher nutrient intake, improved cognition, and improved academic performance. Breakfast is too important to miss, but can be hard during busy mornings. Here are some ideas to help you eat a nutrient rich breakfast.

The FUTP60 program teaches students the importance of breakfast, fueling your body with a healthy diet, and getting active. We wanted to highlight two Utah schools are using the program to promote breakfast among their student bodies.

BYU Students Helping with the Assembly

BYU Students Helping with the Assembly

WestField Elementary – Alpine district

In conjunction with the BYU Community Nutrition Class, Westfield Elementary put on a FUTP60 School Assembly with Alex Smith.  The PE teacher used the assembly to promote Westfield’s Breakfast Picnics. During these picnics, students gather regularly in the cafeteria to eat breakfast together.  Some bring breakfast from home, but most purchase the school breakfast.  These breakfast picnics teach kids the importance of eating a healthy breakfast and provide them a time to get breakfast and socialize. 

Orem Jr High Breakfast Kiosk fall 2014 1

Breakfast Carnival Booths

Orem Jr High – Alpine District

The Orem Junior High FUTP60 Student Team promotes breakfast and their new healthy Grab and Go Breakfast Kiosk by having special events monthly during breakfast.  They even had a breakfast carnival and featured music and games that encouraged physical activity like shooting on a soccer goal in the corner of the cafeteria, shooting baskets, and doing push ups.  Kids earned tickets by:

1) Eating breakfast at school 

2) Show a selfie of you eating a healthy breakfast at home

3) Successfully complete the physical activity challenge.

The tickets could be turned in for prizes. The new Grab and Go Breakfast Kiosk at Orem Junior High allows students to eat breakfast up until class starts. Because of this, more students are able to eat a healthy breakfast every day. 

We are so excited to see the fun ideas being implemented in our local schools and to see more kids getting active and eating a healthy breakfast. If you are interested in getting involved with FUTP60, contact Becky Low for more information.  (Becky@dairycouncilutnv.com

 

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Super Bowl Popcorn

Processed with VSCOcam with s1 presetThis recipe was adapted from Cooking Together by Erin and Tatum Quon

 

What is your favorite game day treats? Do you favor the wings, chips and dips, or the veggie tray? I love all game day food, but one of my favorites is popcorn. I love it sweet, salty, buttery, or spicy.

With little prep and endless varieties, you are going to want to add this popcorn to your Super Bowl Menu.

For this recipe, I popped the corn on the stove top. I had never done this, and it was so fun. I was giggling as I watched the kernels jumping and turning into little puffs of goodness.  If you are doing this with kids, I would highly recommend popping on the stove. You can also air-pop or microwave for a less fun, but still tasty option.

After your corn is popped, simply add your choice of toppings.

I did a sweet one, a cheesy one, and a spicy one. Then I mixed the sweet and cheesy and it created an awesome sweet and salty flavor! Okay lets get popping!

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Super Bowl Popcorn

Stove top popcorn

1/3 cup canola oil

1/2 cup popcorn kernels

 

Sweet Popcorn

1/2 recipe popped corn (about 5 cups)

2 tsp salt, more or less to taste

1/4 cup powdered sugar

 

Cheesy Popcorn

1/2 recipe popped corn (about 5 cups)

1 tsp salt, more or less to taste

3/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated

3 Tbsp butter, melted

 

Chipotle BBQ

1/2 recipe popped corn (about 5 cups)

1 tsp salt, more or less to taste

2 Tbsp butter, melted

2 Tbsp Chipotle BBQ Dry Seasoning mix, or more to taste ( I used Buffalo Wild Wings)

Method: 

Pour the canola oil into a large saucepan and heat over medium heat. Add the popcorn kernels, cover, and cook, shaking the pan often. Continue until you start to hear and see popcorn pop. Shake continuously, until the popping slows to 3-5 seconds between pops. Remove and divide into two bowls.

Pour desired toppings over popcorn and with clean hands or a large spoon, toss until the toppings evenly coat popcorn. Enjoy!

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Printer Friendly Super Bowl Popcorn

-Megan

 

 

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Savoring the Winter with Soup

Roasted Tomato Curry Soup

Roasted Tomato Curry Soup

Is there snow at your house? Currently there is not much around mine and the deceivingly warm days are making me dream of spring. I keep thinking,  “I can go outside without a coat today” and am quickly reminded it is January!

Even though it is the dead of winter…. I have found a way to warm-up and enjoy the cold days. Soup!  As a registered dietitian, I love that soup can be full of veggies and loved by the pickiest eaters. As a busy wife, I love that it freezes well and makes great leftovers. As a foodie, I love the versatility and seemingly endless options.

I can….. and often do, eat soup multiple times a week in the winter, so it seems only fitting that January is National Soup Month. To celebrate we  have 20 amazing soups to share.

 

  1. Roasted Tomato Curry Soup – Becky Low
  2. Roasted Cauliflower Cheddar Soup- Two Peas and Their Pod
  3. Chicken and Cheese Enchilada Chowder- Taste and Tell
  4. Golden Baked Potato Soup- Oh Sweet basil
  5. Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff Soup- Carlsbad Cravings
  6. Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup- Cooking Classy
  7. Slow Cooker Chicken Parmesan Soup- Foxes Love Lemons
  8. Creamy Tomato Tortellini Soup- Two Peas and Their Pod
  9. Italian Chicken Soup- The Pioneer Women
  10. The Best Cheeseburger Soup- Foodie Crush
  11. White Chicken Chili- Cooking Classy
  12. Slow Cooker Chicken Fajita Soup- The Recipe Critic
  13. Mexican Pinto Bean Soup- The Wanderlust Kitchen
  14. Chicken Pot Pie Soup- Shugary Sweets
  15. Lasagna Soup- Cooking Classy
  16. Philly Cheesesteak Stew- The Cozy Apron
  17. Cream Of Mushroom Soup- Lauren’s Latest
  18. Creamy Corn Soup with Queso Fresco- Skinnytaste.com
  19. Spaghetti Meatball Soup- Chef In Training
  20. Creamy Cajan Chicken Pasta Soup- Carlsbad Cravings

Want more ideas? Check out out Savory Soups Pinterest page!

-Megan

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