Monday, December 23, 2013

Weekly Recipe #146: Honey-Maple Roasted Nuts

By Samantha Iovino, University of Minnesota – The Emily Program Dietetic Intern

Honey-Maple Roasted Nuts

(Serves a holiday crowd!)

Photo Credit - Ryanready/Flickr

One of my favorite parts about going home during the holidays is visiting New York City! It’s only a 40 minute drive away from where my family lives in New Jersey and I always try to make a trip in at least once during my time home. The city is transformed in a winter wonderland during the holidays. Buildings are adorned with lights, mini Christmas tree markets pop up on the streets, and carolers are on every corner (along with dozens of Santa’s ringing bells!). 

It’s also the one time of year when I actually look forward to the smells of the city. The air is crisp and full of roasted chestnuts and honey roasted nuts! After ice skating in Central Park, I love to visit one of the infamous nut stands for a bag of honey roasted almonds (see above photo). They are sweet, toasty, crunchy, and warm! Plus, they are totally great for your heart, thanks to their monounsaturated fat content, and they are rich in fiber, magnesium, iron, and calcium. 

If you ever find yourself in NYC for the holidays, I highly suggest trying those roasted nuts! In the meantime, here is my adaptation of those magical roasted nuts! Enjoy and happy holidays!

  • 3 tbsp. honey
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. real maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 lb. mixed nuts
  • 2-3 tbsp. sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line a baking sheet with tin foil or parchment paper.
  3. In a small bowl or pot, combine honey, maple syrup, and butter. Microwave or heat on stove top until butter is melted.
  4. Add salt, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg to mixture and stir.
  5. Place nuts in a large bowl, pour honey-maple mixture over nuts and toss to evenly coat nuts.
  6. Spread nuts on lined baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for 6 minutes.
  7. Remove from oven, toss again using a spatula, and place back in oven for 6 more minutes.
  8. Remove and pour into a new bowl, toss with 2-3 tbsp. sugar (enough to coat the nuts).
  9. Let nuts cool, stirring occasionally.
  10. Once nuts are completely cooled, serve in your favorite serving bowl and enjoy!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Weekly Recipe #145: Butternut Squash & Sage Winter Risotto

By Samantha Iovino, University of Minnesota – The Emily Program Dietetic Intern

Butternut Squash & Sage Winter Risotto

(Serves 4-5)

Photo Credit: Galant/Flickr

I grew up at my mother’s apron strings. She taught me how to make fresh pasta, tomato sauce, creamy polenta, and vegetable ragouts. She taught me how to cook intuitively and mindfully, tasting, trying, and adjusting as we cooked. She taught me how to “make something out of nothing”, or how to create a delicious, satisfying meal out of simple, quality ingredients. Most importantly, she taught me how to be fearless and to be open to mistakes and successes in the kitchen.

Her risotto recipe is the epitome of all the lessons I learned from her in the kitchen—intuition, patience, fearlessness, and simplicity. I always watched her in awe as she created a creamy, hearty risotto from some rice and whatever veggies she had on hand in 30 minutes flat. I know that most folks are intimidated by risotto, but it’s really a simple process once you get the hang of it and if you let go of the fear! Best of all, you can adjust the flavors and ingredients based on the season.

Here, I’ve shared with you her basic risotto recipe with some butternut squash and fragrant sage for winter. Feel free to substitute the vegetables, herbs, and spices as the seasons change!


  • 8 cups vegetable or chicken stock (Note: you may not use all of the stock!)
  • 4 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 butternut squash, peeled, and diced into small cubes
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 c. Arborio rice
  • 10-11 sage leaves
  • 1/4 c.  + more for garnish freshly grated Pecorino-Romano cheese or Parmesan cheese


  1. In a medium stock pot, heat stock to a rolling boil, then lower the heat to keep warm.
  2. In another medium-large pot, pour 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and heat over medium heat.
  3. Once olive oil is heated, add the onions and stir occasionally until onion are translucent.
  4. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant (about a minute). You may need to lower the heat to avoid browning both the onion and garlic.
  5. Add the butternut squash and the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pot and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Add 1 tsp. of salt and ½ tsp. pepper
  7. Next, add 1 cup of Arborio rice and stir until the rice is translucent (the rice will literally go from white to clear looking, so just be patient!)
  8. Once the rice is translucent, use a ladle to add enough of the stock to just about cover your rice.
  9. Raise the heat to bring to a gentle boil and stir occasionally.
  10. Once the stock has been just about completely absorbed, add another ladle-full of stock and stir occasionally.
  11. Repeat Step 10 as many times as necessary until risotto is “al-dente” – the rice will be tender, but firm when you taste it! 
  12. Taste and add more salt and/or pepper to taste.
  13. Once “al-dente”, turn off the heat and stir in 5-6 sage leaves and ¼ c. freshly grated cheese.
  14. Serve warm and top with some extra cheese and a sage leaf or two.
  15. Enjoy! Buon appetito!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Weekly Recipe #144: Strawberry Oatmeal Bars

By Alex Clough, University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview Dietetic Intern

I love oatmeal and understand its nutritional benefits, but I am definitely an on-the-go type of person and I am not always able to sit down and enjoy breakfast. Baking bars are simple and create abundance, meaning there is always an alternative option at home. For those rushed mornings, I know I always have something to grab. Remember, breakfast is the most important meal of the day!

Strawberries are packed with vitamins, fiber and antioxidants helping to protect your heart, increase your good cholesterol (HDLs), lower blood pressure, and guard against cancer. Oats are one of the most recommended breakfast ingredients. They are an excellent source of soluble fiber and are known for their heart-healthy benefits. Oats help to control blood pressure and lower blood cholesterol. Also, they help you to feel full longer.

Below is a simple recipe for those on-the-go or no-time-for-breakfast people to help incorporate a fast and delicious breakfast everyday.

Strawberry Oatmeal Bars

Photo Credit: Hagedorn/Flickr

Adapted from:
(Serves – 24)


  • 1 ¾ sticks salted butter
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ cups oats
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ½  tsp. salt
  • * 12oz (3/4 pint) homemade strawberry preserves.


  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease a 9x13 inch baking pan with cooking spray.
  3. In a bowl, mix the butter, flour, oats, brown sugar, baking powder and salt.
  4. Press half of the oat mixture in the baking pan.
  5. Spread the strawberry preserves over the oat mixture.
  6. Sprinkle the rest of the oat mixture over the strawberry preserves and pat down lightly.
  7. Bake about 30-40 minutes; until light brown.
  8. Let cool then cut into squares so there are 4 squares by 6 squares in the pan.

Strawberry Preserves

Adapted from:
(Makes 1 pint)


  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ large lemon, zested and juiced
  • ¾ cup frozen strawberries


  1. Mix sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a small saucepan and cook over very low heat for 10 minutes until the sugar is dissolved.
  2. Add strawberries and continue to cook over very low heat for 20 minutes until the strawberries are tender and release some of their juices and the mixture boils slowly.
  3. Continue to cook until a small amount of the juice gels on a very cold plate (Idea: keep a plate in the freezer for this part).
  4. Pour carefully into a canning jar and keep refrigerated.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Weekly Recipe #143: Cranberry Pear and Walnut Salad

By Elizabeth Mishler, University of Minnesota-The Emily Program Dietetic Intern, on rotation with Open Arms of Minnesota

Growing up in Phoenix, AZ, more than 1,500 miles away from extended family, we have always celebrated the holidays with family friends, whose families were also out-of-state. Thanksgiving with this wonderful group of people is always a feast! This Cranberry, Pear, and Walnut Salad makes an appearance each year and is one of my favorite dishes for the meal. It might be the week after Thanksgiving, but chances are you still have leftovers in your fridge. One of my favorite things about this salad is that it is a great addition to the sandwich I make with leftover turkey and rolls.

This dish is great because it is full of healthy fruit and nuts. Apples and pears are high in fiber, which helps with gut health, keeping you “regular”, and keeping you full. Apples are also high in vitamin C, which is necessary for the health and repair of skin and other tissues in your body and for the healing of wounds. Finally, walnuts are an excellent source of the minerals manganese and copper both are required for many different processes in the body.

Cranberry Pear Salad  

(Serves 4-6)

Photo by Deven Rue/Flickr

  • 1 green apple, coarsely chopped
  • 3 ribs celery, sliced and chopped
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1-16oz can pears, in light syrup, drained and chopped
  • 1-16oz can whole cranberry sauce, refrigerated

  1. Toss chopped apple with lemon juice and pour off the excess juice.
  2. Add pears, celery and walnuts to the apples and toss.
  3. Cover and refrigerate.
  4. Just before serving drain off juice and stir in cold cranberry sauce.