Intensify the Taste

Roasted Vegetables

We all know it’s important to eat our veggies. The challenge often comes in how to prepare them. Nothing brings out the flavor profile of vegetables more than roasting. Roasted vegetables achieve a caramelization factor that leads to vegetables that are crisp on the outside while being tender on the inside with a sweetened flavor that tantalizes the taste buds.

Almost any vegetable can be roasted, the only variation necessary is the length of cooking time. The range in temperatures for roasting vegetables are between 350°F to 425°F. Higher temperatures shorten the roasting time required; but vegetables that are cut small or are delicate do better at lower temperatures for a longer time period. The following are approximate cooking times for roasting vegetables cut into 1-inch pieces at 400°F – 425°F. Don’t forget to toss the vegetables half way through the suggested cooking time:
Asparagus – 20 minutes
Bell Peppers – 20  minutes
Broccoli – 25 minutes
Brussels Sprouts (halved) – 25 minutes
Butternut Squash – 30 minutes
Cabbage (cut into 1-inch thick slices) – 30 minutes
Carrots (cut into 1-inch chunks or whole baby carrots)- 30 minutes
Cauliflower – 25 minutes
Corn (cobs left whole with husks) – 40 minutes
Green Beans – 20 minutes
Kale – 15 minutes (it doesn’t need to be in a single layer)
Onions – 35 minutes
Potatoes – 45 minutes
Sweet Potatoes – 30 minutes
Tomatoes (grape or cherry) – 15 minutes
Yellow Squash – 20 minutes
Zucchini – 20 minutes

If the vegetable you want to roast isn’t listed here, just pick the timing required for a vegetable with a similar density. For instance, if you were roasting radishes (halved or whole) they would be similar in density to carrots, so you would roast them for approximately 30 minutes.

There are three ways to roast mixed vegetables. First, and easiest, you can roast the individual vegetables on separate trays and combine them after they are cooked. This method may require reheating the combined dish at the end. Second, you can pair together “vegetable friends” — ones that roast at roughly the same rate. For instance, you could roast cauliflower and broccoli together, or butternut squash with cabbage. Combine them on the same baking sheet and roast them together. If the baking sheet is getting crowded, split the vegetables between two sheets to prevent steaming instead of roasting. When using two sheets be sure you put the top rack in the upper third of the oven and the lower rack in the bottom third of the oven. This will allow the heat and air to circulate better to help get the vegetables tender and caramelized. If the baking sheets are only an inch or two apart, the bottom vegetables will steam rather than roast. Be sure to rotate baking sheets between the racks half way through to ensure even roasting at the same time as you toss the vegetables. Third, you can add different vegetables to the baking sheet in stages — start roasting the hardest, longest-cooking vegetables first, and then add softer, quicker-cooking vegetables later on. If the baking sheet starts to get full, split the vegetables between two pans so you don’t crowd them. Doing it this way allows the vegetables finish roasting around the same time, and remember: A little extra roasting time is unlikely to hurt.

Try this Life’s Solution and intensify the taste by roasting up your favorite vegetables using the following directions. Be sure to do a large batch if you want leftovers. They can be refrigerated 3 to 4 days in an airtight container and be reheated in a 450°F oven for 4 or 5 minutes before serving. Leftover roasted vegetables can also add a burst of flavor to your favorite soups, casseroles, quesadillas, omelets, pizzas, and grain bowls (directions for making a grain bowl can be found in Life’s Solutions-Making the Most From What You Have).

How to Roast Any Vegetable
Serves 4-6
1- 2 lbs. of any vegetables, cut to a like size
1-2 tablespoon of oil or vegetable oil spray
½ teaspoon of salt (optional)
¼ teaspoon of pepper
½- 1 teaspoon of additional seasonings of your choice (you might want try a seasoning mix described in Life’s Solutions- Tasteful Additions


  1. Arrange oven rack to the middle of the oven then pre-heat to 425°F.        
  2. Prepare vegetables by washing, peeling (if desired), and cutting into uniform pieces so they cook evenly. If your vegetables still have some moisture after washing, be sure to pat them as dry as possible; the drier the vegetable, the better it will roast.
  3. Put the vegetables to a large bowl. Add the oil and toss to coat. Vegetables should be lightly coated and glistening but not doused in oil or spray with vegetable oil spray.
  4. Spread the vegetables out on a rimmed baking sheet or in a baking dish. Make sure they are in a single layer with a little space in between. Use two baking sheets if needed to prevent crowding. Sprinkle vegetables with salt, pepper, and seasonings.
  5. Estimate your cooking time based on the vegetables you are cooking and the method you chose if roasting combined vegetables.
  6. Place the vegetables in the oven and begin roasting. Toss vegetables halfway through the cooking time, if using two racks rotate baking sheets at this time.
  7. Continue roasting until the vegetables are easily pierced with a fork or knife and they are showing crispy, browned bits at the tips and edges.
  8. Remove from oven and transfer the vegetables to a serving dish.


If you are interested in more recipes, nutritional information, or classes, visit our website at or contact Michelle Leveski, Nutrition Program Educator by calling 518-234-4303 ext. 115 (please leave a message), or emailing her at
To read more articles like this subscribe to the “Life’s Solutions” blog at .

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Bigger Isn’t Always Better

(Zucchinis are summer squashes that are harvested early while the seeds are still soft.)Bigger isn’t always better, true words when talking about a favorite summer garden vegetable—zucchini. Even though zucchini is served as a vegetable, it’s technically a fruit because it comes from a flower. It grows from golden blossoms that bloom under the leaves. While the male flowers are there to attract bees and pollinate only the female flowers produce squash which is best harvested when medium sized, seven to eight inches long and two to three inches in diameter.

One medium zucchini has only 33 calories, less than a gram of fat, and is high in water. It also contains significant amounts of vitamins B6, riboflavin, folate, C, and K, and minerals, like manganese and potassium. In fact, it has more potassium than a banana and it also contains antioxidant and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients. Whether from your garden, a farm-stand, a farmer’s market, or the store; look for zucchinis with shiny skin that are free of blemishes, bruises, nicks, and soft spots. The skin should be firm to the touch, especially the stem, and they should feel heavy for their size. It occurs in several varieties, which range in color from deep yellow to dark green.

Three medium zucchini equal approximately one pound of zucchini which equals about 4 cups grated zucchini; 2 cups of salted and squeezed zucchini; about 1 cup mashed zucchini; and 3 cups chunked zucchini. Store fresh zucchini unwashed on the counter in a cool spot for one to two days. To store it longer put it in your refrigerator crisper drawer in a perforated plastic bag (remember in Life’s Solutions-Keep It Fresh we learned the University of California at Davis has done the math and 20 pin-sized holes in a medium bag will do the trick) or in a loosely closed plastic or paper bag for up to one to two weeks. You can freeze zucchini without blanching, but blanching one to three minutes deactivates enzymes that would otherwise cause the zucchini to become mushy and discolored. For more details on freezing zucchini (summer squash) go to and click on the Extension Fact Sheet-Handy Reference for Freezing Vegetables in right menu. When your garden abounds or your generous neighbors share their bounty it’s good to remember that zucchini is a very versatile vegetable. You can…

  • Cut it up raw and add it to salads or serve it with a dip.
    • Shred it, drain it, and bake it into breads, pancakes, muffins, or cakes.
    • Stew it with other summer fruits and vegetables to make ratatouille.
    • Stuff with rice, lentils, or other vegetables, then bake it.
    • Stir-fry solo or with other vegetables by adding a little olive oil and sautéing it.
    • Boil it, then blend it into soups.
    • Serve it as a side, grilled or sautéed with a little garlic and oil.
    • Try it breaded and fried, air-fried, or baked.
    • Spiralize it into spaghetti- or linguine-like noodles, or slice it to replace lasagna sheets.Even though Life’s Solutions says bigger isn’t always better, if your zucchini played hide and seek in your garden and grew to a mega size you can always make personal pan pizzas instead of the pizza bites described below or remove over large seeds, shred it, drain it, and freeze it for use in breads, pancakes, muffins, or cakes.


(This zucchini played a successful game of garden hide and seek - “Olly olly oxen free”.)

Zucchini Pizza Bites
Makes approximately 20 pizza bites- 4 servings

1 medium zucchini
½ cup marinara sauce
½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
salt, pepper, garlic, or spice blend of choice to taste
vegetable oil spray


  1. Wash zucchini in cold running water. Slice into ¼ inch slices, then place slices (do not overlap) onto
    a parchment lined baking sheet then spray lightly with vegetable oil spray, flip slices and spray again.
  2. Sprinkle slices with salt, pepper, garlic, or spice blend of choice. Bake in a 400°F oven for 15-
    20 minutes. Flip slices halfway through baking time.
  3. Remove from oven and top slices with marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese evenly divided
    between slices; then sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Bake an additional 5 minutes in a 400°F oven,
    and if browning is desired finish under the broiler for one to two minutes. Serve immediately.
    Leftover pizza bites can be refrigerated and reheated.

One serving (5 pizza bites) has approximately 86 calories, 4.5 grams of carbohydrates,7 grams of protein and 4.5 grams of fat.

(Yummy Zucchini Pizza Bites.)

For another tasty version of sliced zucchini try our recipe for Zucchini Rounds at

If you are interested in more recipes, nutritional information, or classes, visit our website at or contact Michelle Leveski, Nutrition Program Educator by calling 518-234-4303 ext. 115 (please leave a message), or emailing her at
To read more articles like this subscribe to the “Life’s Solutions” blog at



Tasteful Additions

Herbs fresh or dried are a great way to add either subtle nuances or a blast of flavor to some of our favorite culinary creations. They will enhance the flavors present or provide a complexity of layered flavors in the dishes they are added to. Whether you are growing your own herbs in the garden or containers or buying them at farmer’s markets, the store, or online take some time to learn more about them. Check out Healthy Cooking with Fresh Herbs for ideas on herb- food combinations, storing fresh herbs, and even basic growing tips. Then peruse Uses and Culture of Culinary Herbs to further explore more herb usage and explicit planting tips.  If this information sparks an interest in growing herbs in your own garden or in containers you can find helpful how-to information in Gardening with Herbs and Planting Herbs in a Container. These resources can all be found at

Using herbs can be simple. Try adding your favorite fresh mint leaves to water for a refreshing beverage.  Caraway seeds are not just for rye bread, added to mashed potatoes they elevate that dish to another level. Dill weed and celery seed added to sour cream or plain Greek yogurt makes a great vegetable dip, though go sparingly as both herbs impart a strong flavor. When using fresh herbs use a sharp knife or herb scissors for chopping so the delicate herb leaves are cut rather than crushed. Dried herbs are concentrated and tend to have stronger flavors than their fresh counterparts. If you are substituting fresh herbs for dried in a recipe you would use three to four times the amount of fresh than the recipe calls for dried and add them towards the end of the cooking time.

For more Life’s Solutions tasteful additions try these fresh and dried herbs herb combinations right out of the pages of French cuisine.

Fines Herbes- Known for its delicate, bright, and fresh flavors, this mixture uses fresh herbs and is commonly used in mild flavored dishes like saladsegg dishes, and poultry recipes that won’t overpower its pleasantly subtle flavor. Fines herbes are typically added at the end of cooking, as excessive heat or cooking time can deplete their gentle aroma and flavor.
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chervil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives

Combine the chopped herbs in a bowl. Use at the end of cooking to achieve the most flavor, or freeze in ice-cube trays filled with water or chicken stock for later use.

Herbes de Provence- This dried herb blend packs a more powerful, hearty flavor. While the recipe for this mixture is flexible, the basic recipe includes basil, fennel, marjoram, parsley, rosemary, tarragon, and thyme. Other recipes may include crushed bay leaves, savory, chervil, sage, oregano, lavender, and mint. This herb blend can be added at the beginning of the cooking time allowing flavors to develop in vegetable dishes, soups, and stews. It can also be used as a dry rub to season meats or chicken or sprinkled on fish and salads for a pop of flavor.
1 tablespoon dried fennel seeds
2 tablespoons dried rosemary
2 tablespoons dried basil
2 tablespoons dried marjoram
2 tablespoon dried parsley
2 tablespoons dried thyme
1 tablespoon dried tarragon

Grind the fennel seeds and rosemary in a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle. Pour into a mixing bowl. Stir in the remaining herbs until well combined. Store the mixture in an airtight container. Mixture can be kept in a cool, dark, dry place for six months to a year.

For an easy Provençal chicken dinner, coat a skinless chicken breast(s) in olive oil and sprinkle both sides with salt and herbes de Provence, marinate for an hour in the refrigerator in a covered container or resalable bag, then cook on the grill or roast in a 400°F oven for 22 to 26 minutes.
Use a meat thermometer to check for doneness, poultry should reach an internal temperature of 165°F.

If you are interested in more recipes, nutritional information, or classes, visit our website at or contact Michelle Leveski, Nutrition Program Educator by calling 518-234-4303 ext. 115 (please leave a message), or emailing her at
To read more articles like this subscribe to the “Life’s Solutions” blog at .

Fresh and Dried Oregano
Oregano fresh and dried can be used on pizzas, in sauces, and in vinaigrettes to add a burst of flavor

Savor the Flavor

Strawberries(Flavorful fresh picked strawberries.)

Do you want the flavor of fresh fruit with a longer shelf life? Try making an uncooked freezer jam or jelly. This type of jam or jelly is quick and easy to make.  Because they are not cooked the fruits and juices used retain brighter colors and fresher fruit tastes. However, be aware that the finished product has a slightly looser set than a traditional cooked jam or jelly and must be kept at room temperature for up to 24 hours to create a gel set before refrigerating or freezing.

Uncooked jams and jellies can be made from most fresh or frozen fruits, and fruit juices. When choosing fresh fruit do not use under or overripe fruit because that will be the predominate flavor of your jam and it can affect the gel set negatively. Adding extra fruit or doubling batches can also do that.

Most recipes call for the use of commercial pectin. Store-bought pectin comes in two forms: liquid and powdered – the two are not interchangeable— be sure to use the form your recipe calls for.

Sugar inhibits the growth of bacteria, keeping your jam or jelly fresh, fruity, and safe to eat.  The recipe you are using has been formulated for a certain ratio of pectin to sugar and will not gel properly if you don’t use the correct amount of sugar.  If you want to make a less-sweet jam or jelly, you need to use a special kind of pectin formulated to work with less sugar.

Acid is needed for gel formation and flavor. Certain lower acid fruits will require lemon juice be added to the recipe. If lemon juice is called for in the recipe citric acid may be substituted. One tablespoon of lemon juice has the same acidity as 1/8 teaspoon of citric acid.

Before you begin making your jam or jelly, have all your jars ready and waiting. Use either sturdy plastic containers with tight-fitting lids, or short, wide-mouthed glass jars made especially for the freezer. It’s best to choose containers that are no bigger than pint-size, smaller is better; the jam will not set up as well in larger containers. Wash them as you would any other dishes; there’s no need to boil them.

Now it is time to give this Life’s Solution a try and savor the flavor of fresh strawberries for that just picked taste.

Making Strawberry Jam
(Preparing the strawberries for freezer jam.)

 (makes about 4 half-pint jars)
1-3⁄4 cups crushed strawberries (about 1 quart)
4 cups sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice or ¼ teaspoon of citric acid
1 pouch liquid pectin
1. Crush strawberries in a large bowl with a potato masher one layer at a time.
2. Measure 1-3⁄4 cups crushed strawberries into an extra-large bowl. Add sugar, mix well.
3. Measure lemon juice into a small bowl; add the liquid pectin and stir well.
4. Pour pectin mixture into the prepared fruit and sugar mixture and stir for 3 minutes.
5. Ladle jam into clean, dry freezer containers or half-pint canning jars, leaving 1⁄2-inch headspace, wipe rims, and close with lids. Let stand at room temperature until gel is set (up to 24 hours).
6. Once jam is set it can be refrigerated for up to three weeks or you can freeze it for up to a year. When removed from freezer thaw jam in the refrigerator; stir before serving.

It can again be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks. Once a container is opened, the product should be kept refrigerated. Room temperature is not recommended because uncooked jellied products will mold or ferment in a short time.

For uncooked jam and jelly recipes using powdered pectin follow this link-

If your uncooked jam or jelly doesn’t set within 24 hours follow the directions at the following links to remake your product. If your recipe called for using liquid pectin go to If your recipe called for using powdered pectin go to

If you are interested in more recipes, nutritional information, or classes, visit our website at or contact Michelle Leveski, Nutrition Program Educator by calling 518-234-4303 ext. 115 (please leave a message), or emailing her at

Keep It Fresh

You’ve probably heard it all your life — eating fruits and vegetables is important for good health, however the experts say, most of us still aren’t getting enough. One solution to this problem it to buy flavorful fresh picked produce at the peak of season at your local or online farmer’s market.  To find a market to shop at near you, go to the National Farmer’s Market Directory at, and do a search.  If you want to try an online market shopping experience check out Cornell Cooperative Extension Schoharie and Otsego Counties’ new Online Farmers Market through the Source WhatsGood website at  or the  Schoharie Fresh Online Farmers’ Market at

Beware though, this solution to the challenge of eating enough fruits and vegetables can create yet another unforeseen challenge. Many times we visit to the market and see all the beautiful, fresh fruits and veggies in season and on sale, and we over buy.  We gather gorgeous greens, radiant reds, and yummy yellows then bring them home, stick them in the refrigerator, or leave them out on the counter, only to toss them in a few days because they’ve wilted or become moldy. The life’s solution to this is to keep it fresh. Here are a few tips on keeping produce fresh:

  • In general, avoid washing fruits or vegetables until you are ready to eat them because it removes the plant’s natural protective coating, making produce more susceptible to damage and degradation on your counter or in your fridge. The exception to the rule is the leafy salad greens like spinach and different varieties of lettuce. They will keep better and longer if you wash and dry them completely before storing.
  • Some fruits and vegetables emit ethylene gas as they ripen, which can hasten the over ripening of other produce. It is a good practice to store ethylene emitters away from other produce. Some examples of  these ‘emitters’ are apples, apricots, blueberries, cantaloupe, grapes, honeydew, unripe bananas, nectarines, peaches, pears, plums, and tomatoes.
  • You can slow the evaporation from your refrigerated fruits and vegetables by placing them in the crisper drawers, which are typically humidity-controlled. Also do not place fruits and veggies in airtight plastic bags, this will actually speed up decay. You can store produce in plastic bags with holes punched in them (the University of California at Davis has done the math: 20 pin-sized holes in a medium bag should do the trick).

Knowing how long produce will last and where and how to store it for maximum shelf life is the key. There are fruits and vegetables need to be eaten right away, others have a slightly longer consumption window, and some can be stored for weeks and even months. For more information on storing produce check out this factsheet on Storing Fresh Fruits and Vegetables for Best Flavor at

If your fresh produce is ripening to fast, and you can’t consume it all before nature’s expiration date, your freezer can extend that date for certain fruits and vegetables. For tips on freezing your produce in the nick of time or before check out these Handy References for freezing produce at and

Before that happens though, try Cornell Cooperative Extension Schoharie and Otsego Counties’ recipe for this tasty vegetable treat to use more of that fresh farmer’s market produce before it expires or needs to be frozen. Nutrition Educator Allyson Wyman sharing samples of Healthy Corn Dip and nutrition information on a sunny day at Festival Farmers’ Market July 2019 in Cobleskill. Photo by Regina Tillman/TBG Nutrition Educator Allyson Wyman sharing samples of Healthy Corn Dip and nutrition information on a sunny day at Festival Farmers’ Market July 2019 in Cobleskill. Photo by Regina Tillman/TBG

Healthy Corn Dip
Makes 32- ¼ cup servings

 ¼ cup olive oil
⅓ cup balsamic vinegar
4 cups of fresh cooked corn, cut off the cob (approx.4-5 large ears)
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained
1 large red pepper, chopped
1 large green pepper, chopped
1 large red onion, chopped
¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Shuck 4-5 large ears of corn, remove silk. Fill a large pot halfway with unsalted water and bring to a rolling boil. Add the ears of corn to the boiling water. Let the water return to a full boil, and cook 10 minutes. Remove from water, allow to cool cut off cob using a sharp knife or corn cutter, include corn milk in measured 4 cups for recipe.
. In a large bowl add all ingredients, mix well.
. For best results prepare the day before, storing in the refrigerator. If desired set out at room temperature for 1 hour before serving, allowing dip to temper.

• Serve with tortilla chips, lettuce, tossed salad, celery sticks, etc.
• Corn on the Cob leftover and cut off the cob from the night before or 3 (11-ounce) cans of Shoepeg white corn, undrained may be substituted for fresh cooked corn.

Nutrition Facts (per serving):
Calories: 60, Total Fat: 2g, Saturated Fat: 0g, Cholesterol: 0g, Sodium: 125g, Total Carbohydrate: 9g, Dietary fiber: 1 g, Sugars: 2g, Protein: 2g, Vitamin A: 40 RE, Vitamin C: 15 g, Calcium: 0 g, Iron: .36 mg

If you are interested in more recipes, nutritional information, or classes, visit our website at or contact Michelle Leveski, Nutrition Program Educator by calling 518-234-4303 ext. 115 (please leave a message), or emailing her at

Eggs to the Rescue!

When you’re shopping and the market sign over the poultry counter limits your purchase to one package of chicken, you begin to feel the fears you’ve heard others voice:  Is there a meat shortage? Your menu plans just went out the window.   Now is the time for you to become creative.

Eggs can help fill the gap.  They provide that needed protein punch along with the versatility to serve them for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snacks. Then you remember eggs have also been limited or in short supply, and don’t nutrition experts tell us to limit eggs because of cholesterol?

Your plan can still work as Americas’ egg producers are helping grocers replenish stock quickly, and area producers may sell them directly from farms.  Your concerns about cholesterol were addressed in the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The guidelines no longer provide a quantitative limit on cholesterol because the kind of cholesterol in the foods we eat isn’t the driving factor in blood (serum) cholesterol. Further, a recent Harvard study, which updated findings published over twenty years ago, reinforces that eating eggs is not associated with cardiovascular disease.

In fact, eggs are more than just a source of dietary cholesterol. They provide a good or excellent source of eight essential nutrients including choline, six grams of high-quality protein, 252 mcg of the carotenoids, lutein, and zeaxanthin, making them the perfect complement to heart-healthy diets.

Now that you have some answers, it’s time to put your plan into action by adding some egg dishes to your menu plan. When it comes to cooking eggs, they can be fried, scrambled, poached, or hardboiled, or for the more adventurous, they can be made into frittatas. Frittatas are perfect for a brunch or a quick weeknight dinner with the family

When making frittatas the filling ingredients should be cooked and cut into small pieces.  The filling is an ideal use of leftovers when there is not quite enough for a meal on their own. Using your favorite combination of vegetables, cheese, and or cooked meats and grains you can create the perfect frittata, limited only by your culinary imagination.  When seasoning your frittata, pick fresh or dried herbs that complement your filling. Frittatas are also tasty cold and travel well – perfect for picnic fare or a take-along lunch. Follow this basic recipe to make the perfect frittata you and your family can enjoy anytime!

Basic Egg Frittata
Serves 4

8 eggs
1/2 cup liquid- milk, tomato juice, or broth
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme or herb of your choice-dill, cilantro, basil, parsley, etc.
2 cup of fillings of your choice (described in paragraph above)
4 teaspoons of butter or vegetable oil
salt and pepper to taste

1. Beat eggs, liquid, herbs, salt and pepper in a medium bowl until blended.
2. Add 2 cup of fillings of your choice to eggs, mixing well.
3. Over medium heat using an eight to ten-inch nonstick skillet melt butter or heat oil until hot.
Pour in egg mixture; cook over low to medium heat until eggs are almost set, 8 to 12 minutes.
4. Remove from heat. Cover and let stand until eggs are completely set and no visible liquid egg remains,
5 to 12 minutes. To serve cut into wedges and serve from the pan or slide uncut frittata topside-up onto platter or invert frittata onto platter to show its nicely-browned bottom

When meat is in short supply at the store or at home, eggs can come to the rescue. For more egg-citing recipes and information about eggs, explore The American Egg Board’s website at .

If you are interested in more recipes, nutritional information, or classes, visit our website at or contact Michelle Leveski, Nutrition Program Educator by calling 518-234-4303 ext. 115 (please leave a message), or emailing her at
Nutrition Information
Per Serving (without fillings) Calories: 193, Total Fat: 14 g, Saturated fat: 6 g,
Polyunsaturated fat: 2 g, Monounsaturated fat: 5 g, Cholesterol: 385 mg, Sodium: 157 mg,
Carbohydrates: 2 g, Dietary Fiber: 0 g, Protein: 14 g, Vitamin A: 721 IU, Vitamin D: 99.8 IU,
Folate: 49 mcg, Calcium: 96.1 mg, Iron: 1.9 mg, Choline: 257.1 mg

Making the Most from What You Have

The world has changed, seemingly overnight, bringing stress, anxiety, sleepless nights, and a feeling of no control.  One thing you have some control over is choosing how you eat. During these times it is really important to try your hardest to eat healthy meals by having a combination of foods from all five food groups–vegetables, fruits, grains, lean protein, and dairy. This coupled with proper exercise and staying hydrated will help you feel your best.  Now comes the challenge of meeting this need, whether reaching in the pantry or shopping, some food items are becoming hard to find. Here are some ideas for eating healthy and stretching the food budget while making meals with what you have.

If fresh fruits and vegetables are in short supply or you aren’t going to the store as often as you did before, try loading up on frozen and canned fruits and vegetables when you can shop.  Frozen can be just as nutritious as fresh, often frozen within hours of being picked.  Frozen fruits work well in muffins and smoothies. Frozen vegetables are easily used in soups, stews, or even stir-fry’s.  Look for fruits canned in light syrup, fruit juice, or even coconut water and choose canned vegetables labeled “low” or “no salt”. You can amp up the health factor in meals by adding extra vegetables–fresh, frozen, or canned to pasta, pizza, omelets, or smoothies.

Are there leftover mashed potatoes from dinner? Use them to make potato pancakes. Mix together 2 cups of leftover mashed potatoes, 1-2 eggs, 1/4 cup flour, and seasonings of your choice. Other ingredients can also be added- chopped onion or other diced vegetables, crumbled bacon or diced ham, and or shredded cheese.  Preheat a skillet on medium high with 2 tablespoons of shortening or vegetable oil. Pour 1/4 cup of batter for each pancake into the hot pan; brown on both sides. Serve with a side of applesauce or other fruit.

Potato Pancakes

Looking for a fun flexible family-friendly meal? Experiment with making a grain bowl.

In individual bowls layer:
1/2 – 1 cup cooked grains: rice, quinoa, barley, or other favorite
1/2  cup cooked protein: cooked or leftover meat, fish, beans, eggs, or cheese
1- 1 1/2 cups vegetables: raw, steamed, roasted, sautéed, or pickled
1/4 cup fruit: diced or sliced, if using dried reduce to 2 tablespoons

Top with:
1-2 tablespoons of sauce – pesto, a balsamic reduction, or your favorite dressing
1 tablespoon of roasted nuts or seeds

Short of any ingredients just omit or use a substitute. Served hot or cold grain bowls come with enough variety to make everyone in the family happy.

Grain Bown

Having trouble buying fresh meat?  Try some beans- kidney, navy, pinto, black, lentils, and more.  Beans are high in protein and fiber and are a great addition to any meal. To make them the star of the meal, make this recipe for Garbanzo Bean Burgers at You can change this recipe up just by using a different kind of bean, like black beans or black-eyed peas.

Make sure foods you are planning for meals do not get “snacked” away. Label foods in the cupboard, refrigerator, and freezer for their intended purpose. Have a designated spot for foods available for snacking both in and out of the refrigerator to help avoid an in house supply shortage.

Last but not least, try experimenting with foods you already have on hand and make something new.  You might be surprised just how good it tastes! Challenges presented by tightened supply lines may make some of these ideas difficult to accomplish.  Just remember ingenuity is key, so choose to make the most from what you have.

If you are interested in more of helpful tips, nutritional information, or classes, you can also contact
Michelle Leveski, Nutrition Program Educator by calling 518-234-4303 ext. 115 (please leave a message), or emailing her at


When Someone Eats the Last Slice

Finding ways to feed our families and ourselves can often add to the challenges and struggles we are facing today. We can’t run to the store as often as we like, and when we get there, many of the basic items we have depended on before are limited or no longer available.

One household staple that can be in short supply is bread. Your resourceful, so you decide to make it yourself only to find yeast- a key ingredient is also unavailable.

Time for a “life solution”, that little bit of knowledge that can make a difference. You can substitute double action baking powder for the yeast in your bread recipes with a one-to-one ratio (one packet of yeast contains 2 ¼ teaspoons).  Baking powder reacts immediately when exposed to liquid and heat so it does not require rise time called for in traditional bread recipes. Because of this bread made with baking powder will be denser than bread made with yeast, but just as yummy.

Using this “life solution”, here is a recipe that enables you to make bread dough with only 2 ingredients.  This dough can be used for bread, pizza, calzones, breadsticks, and more.

 Bread Recipe
1 1/2 cup self-rising flour
1 cup plain Greek yogurt

Preheat oven 375°

To make dough by hand: Place self-rising flour in a large bowl.  Add yogurt and stir with a fork until dough can be handled.  Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth, about 8 minutes. Add a few tablespoons water if the dough seems dry or a few tablespoons flour if it is sticky.
To make a dough in a stand mixer:  Place self-rising flour in a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook.  Add yogurt and mix at low speed until a smooth dough forms, 3 to 4 minutes.  Add a few tablespoons water if the dough seems dry or a few tablespoons flour if it sticky.

Place dough on lightly floured surface and shape; then place shaped loaf on greased cookie sheet or in an oiled cast iron pan. If desired, you can brush an egg wash on dough before baking. Bake at 375° for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.

If you don’t have self-rising flour or it was also in short supply, you can make it yourself:
1 cup flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoons salt
Whisk all ingredients together.

If you would like to make enough to store:
4 cups flour
2 Tablespoons Baking powder
1 teaspoons salt

Whisk all ingredients together and store in an airtight container.

For more recipes and information visit:

Sometimes just a little bit of information makes all the difference when faced with challenges. Cooperative Extension of Schoharie and Otsego Counties will be sharing more “life solutions” articles in the coming weeks to help families and individuals meet this need.

If you are interested in more of helpful tips, nutritional information, or classes, you can also contact

Michelle Leveski, Nutrition Program Educator by calling 518-234-4303 ext. 115 (please leave a message), or emailing her at


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