Weeknight Chicken Gyros with Tzatziki Sauce

We all have those recipes that we come back to time and time again. This chicken gyro recipe is one of our staples. It is quick to pull together on a weeknight, and best of all, everyone in my family LOVES them. SCORE! No fighting and complaining during supper. #supermom 

Chicken Gyros with Tzatziki Sauce (serves 4; 1 pita each)

All you need:
1/4 seedless cucumber (or 1 picolino cucumber)
1 clove garlic
Juice from 1/2 a lemon
1 red pepper
1/2 red onion
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/2 tsp dried dill
salt and pepper, to taste
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried rosemary
1.25-1.5 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs (you can use breasts)
4 pitas
Feta cheese (as garnish)

All you do:

  1. Prepare the ingredients. Wash and dry the fresh produce. Finely dice the cucumber. Peel and finely mince garlic. Quarter and seed the lemon. Thinly slice red pepper. Peel and slice half of an onion.
  2. Make the sauce. In a small bowl, stir together the diced cucumber, yogurt, garlic, dill, juice from 1/2 a lemon, salt and pepper (1/8 tsp salt and black pepper, to taste). cover and chill until ready to serve.
  3. Season the chicken. Preheat a large, non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle salt, pepper, oregano, thyme, and rosemary over the chicken. Cook 5-6 minutes on each side until cooked through (internal temperature of 165 degrees). Cut into strips.
  4. Plate the meal. Arrange one pita on each plate. Gently open the pita pocket. Add chicken, red pepper strips and onions. Top with tzatziki sauce and feta.


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Guacamole to Go. A Perfect Snack

Snack time. It can either be used for good or evil. The foods and portions you choose can add nutrition to your day, or sabotage everything you have done and set you up for a blood sugar roller coaster. 

Americans are snacking on average between 2 and 3 times every day! So it’s easy to see how influential snacks can be. Snacks can either help you achieve your health goals, or lead you astray. 

Many people plan out their meals, but forget about snacks, leaving the decision up to impulse. I’m here to tell you that no good decision can be made when you’re hangry! (And I mean NO decisions should be made with low blood sugar. What to eat? Nope. What to wear? Nope. What to watch? Nope. Which car to buy? Nope.)

This is where snacks can be a benefit. But like I talked about here, snacks should have aid in helping balance blood sugars. 

Welcome GoodFood’s Guacamole to go. You get fresh, chunky guacamole (made with quality, real ingredients), and a portion of corn tortilla chips. 

The taste and flavor are spot on. Nutritionally these are amazing. A moderate 200 calories of guacamole goodness. And the package is in the shape of an avocado! 

So RUN, don’t walk to the store and find these next to the other refrigerated guacamole. You will thank me later. 

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Snack Smarter

Snacking has become a nearly universal behavior. Nearly 97% of Americans are snacking at least once per day, with more than 40% snacking three to four times. What you choose to snack on should match your health goals and can make all the difference.

Here are 6 tips to help you snack smarter:
1. Choose wisely. Select snacks that will fill nutrient gaps; avoid snacks that may be low-calorie or low-fat but devoid of nutrients.

2. Drink up. Stayin hydrated is just as important as fueling your body consistently; stick to hydrating low-calorie beverages the still or sparkling water or iced tea.

3. Timing is everything. Don’t wait too long between meals; it could lead to overindulging later.

4. Keep it convenient. Make healthy snacks visible and accessible; you’ll be more likely to grab them when hunger strikes.

5. Portions matter. Too much of a good thing can still be too much; stick to appropriate portion sizs.

6. Plan ahad. Whether it’s keeping the care, desk, or travel bag stocked, planning ahead can save time and keep you on track.
When I snack, I aim for finding a source of protein + carbohydrates + fat.

Almonds + dried apricots
Almond butter + apple slices
Cheese stick + orange
Nuts + dark chocolate (a little indulgence can be exactly what I need to make it through the rest of my day).

*Information taken from the California Almonds “Snacking Just Got Smarter” handout.

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Pineapple Salsa with Shrimp

You know those moments when everything just seems right? This salsa has the power to right all wrongs and make your life sing! 

  This recipe is based on one from the newest Hy-Vee Seasons magazine, with a few modifications. 

It is easy to throw together, you can make it ahead of time, is delicious with tortilla chips, over a bed of greens, and even with a spoon. 

Pineapple Salsa with Shrimp (serves 12 (1/3 cup each))

All you need:

8 ounces of shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1/2 fresh pineapple, peeled, cored and finely diced

1/2 cup diced red onion

1/2 cup diced red pepper

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

1/2 diced jalapeño 

1 lime, juiced

Salt, to taste

All you do:

1. In a skillet over medium heat, sauté shrimp with oil and garlic until cooked through. Chopped and set aside to cool. 

2. In a bowl, combine pineapple, onion, red pepper, cilantro, jalapeño, lime juice and salt. Stir in cooled shrimp. Let rest 30 minutes or up to one day. 

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Greek Layer Dip

You know those recipes that you tend to gravitate towards because they are easy, pretty, and delicious? Well, this is one of my favorite appetizer and party dishes. It is made with ingredients that are easy to find (I almost always have the ingredients in my house), it is quick to put together (and even best when prepared ahead of time), and so delicious.


Greek Layer Dip

All you need:
1 jar (15 oz) hummus (any flavor)
½ seedless cucumber, chopped
½ cup chopped cherry tomatoes
2 green onions, sliced
½ cup crumbled feta cheese
¼ cup sliced black olives (kalamata are my favorite)

All you do:
1.Spread hummus on 10-inch serving platter.
2.Sprinkle with cucumber, tomatoes, onions, feta, and olives. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour. Serve with sliced vegetables, tortilla chips, or crackers.

Nutrition Facts per 2 tablespoons: 38 calories, 2 g fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 128 mg sodium, 4 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber

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Herb-Roasted Squash

There are many ways to make squash, but my personal favorite is savory instead of sweet. It is simple to make and uses ingredients that I always have on hand.

The addition of pinenuts add some crunch to a creamy dish. You can also substitute slivered almonds in a pinch.

Herb Roasted Squash

All you need:

2 squash, peeled and diced into 1-inch cubes (any variety)
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp dried parsley
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
3/4 tsp dried Rosemary
3/4 tsp dried thyme
Pine nuts (slivered almonds work too)

All you do:

1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Line an 11-by-15-inch rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.

2. Place squash cubes in a large bowl. Set aside.

3. Whisk together olive oil, vinegar, garlic, parsley, salt, black pepper, rosemary and thyme. Pour over squash and toss to coat. Spread in a single layer on prepared baking sheet.

4. Bake 35 to 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes, until squash is tender and golden brown. Garnish with pine nuts.

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Sweet Potato or Yam? What’s the Difference?

Yam vs Sweet Potato
What’s in a name? When it comes to the yam, there is a bit of confusion. The truth is what you’ve been calling a yam is most likely a sweet potato. Even more, it’s possible that you’ve never even tasted a yam!

That sweet, orange-colored root vegetable that you love so dearly is actually a sweet potato. Yes, all so-called “yams” are in fact sweet potatoes. Most people think that long, red-skinned sweet potatoes are yams, but they really are just one of many varieties
of sweet potatoes. So where did all of the confusion come from? Let’s break down the main differences between yams and sweet potatoes!

sweet potato

Yam vs. Sweet Potato: A true yam is a starchy edible root of the Dioscorea genus, and is generally imported to America from the Caribbean. It is rough and scaly and very low in beta carotene. It differs greatly from the sweet potato in taste, texture, appearance
and family.



Depending on the variety, sweet potato flesh can vary from white to orange and even purple. The orange-fleshed variety was introduced to the United States several decades ago. In order to distinguish it from the white variety everyone was accustomed to, producers and shippers chose the English form of the African word “nyami” and labeled them “yams.”


Sweet Potatoes

Even though the USDA requires that orange-colored sweet potatoes always be labeled “sweet potato,” most people still think of sweet potatoes as yams regardless of their true identity. Think you know the differences between yams and sweet potatoes? Take
our quiz and test your root knowledge!
1. I am a tuberous root with sweet moist flesh.
2. I am originally from Africa and seldom sold in U.S. markets.
3. I am super sweet and can grow over seven feet in length!
4. My skin can range from thin and pale to dark and thick.
5. I am toxic when eaten raw, but perfectly safe when cooked.
6. I am known for my high content of vitamins A and C.
7. I have rough skin that is difficult to peel and can even be hairy at times,
but it softens when baked.
8. My flesh can sometimes be purple!
9. I have an oblong body with tapered ends


ANSWERS 1.  Both. Sweet potatoes and yams are considered tuberous roots, and both are sweet and delicious.
2.  Yam. Are you surprised? Yams grow in tropical climates, primarily in South America, Africa and the Caribbean.
3.  Yam. They have a higher sugar content than sweet potatoes and can grow to be enormous!
4.  Sweet potato. Paler skinned sweet potatoes have white flesh which is not as sweet and moist as the darker-skinned, orange fleshed sweet potatoes.
5.  Yam. Unlike the sweet potato, yams must be cooked to be safely eaten. Preparation is a time-consuming process involving several minutes of pounding and boiling to remove toxins.
6.  Sweet potato. Yams do not contain as much Vitamin A and C as sweet potatoes.
7.  Yam. Sweet potato skin is thinner and smoother.
8.  Both. Purple Okinawan sweet potato is often confused with the purple yam called ube.
9.  Sweet potato. It can be short and fat or long and thin, but it will always taper at the ends.
Source: NC Sweet Potato Commission

Here are a few of my favorite sweet potato recipes:
Moroccan Beef Stew
Roasted Sweet Potato and Black Bean Burritos



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Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

This RD Eats!

Scarves, boots, squash and cinnamon. These are the signs that fall is here. But let’s not forget about an oh-so-good crispy snack: roasted pumpkin seeds.

Sure, you can purchase pumpkin seeds at the store, but they just aren’t the same as the kind you scoop out of a pumpkin and roast yourself. This is a once-a-year snack that I look forward to each Halloween. The seeds are why I carve pumpkins instead of painting them!

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

The process and recipe are incredibly simple, plus it is a great way to use up what would otherwise go to waste. I had planned on taking great photos of the finished seeds, but there were only a handful left after my family gobbled them up! -So you’ll have to do with photos of the hot seeds on the pan!

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds 3

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

All you need:
2 cups pumpkin seeds.
1 tablespoon garlic-infused oil
Salt to taste

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Black Bean Burgers {Freezer Meal, Vegetarian, Gluten-Free}

With Meatless Mondays picking up in popularity, I am frequently asked for tried-and-true recipes. This Black Bean Burger recipe is a go-to recipe in our house and was given to me by a dear dietitian friend. I’ve made a couple of changes (there’s nary a recipe that I don’t modify, I can’t help it, it’s just what I do!).

black beans

The recipe is simple and is made better by a smoky chipotle mayo. Feel free to make your own, or use a purchased one. We have served these burgers on buns, or on a salad for a veggie-filled meal. These burgers freeze exceptionally well, so I almost always make a double or triple batch. Once the ingredients are out, it doesn’t take much more time to patty up a few extra burgers. So on a busy night, we’ll heat these straight from the freezer.

Black Bean Burgers
Black Bean Burgers
All you need:
2/3 cup whole wheat bread crumbs (or gluten-free crumbs)
1 can (15 oz) black beans, rinsed and drained, divided
1 large egg
2 green onions
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Serve with:
Whole wheat hamburger buns (or gluten-free buns), Chipotle mayonnaise, lettuce, and tomato slices. Or Veggie-up and serve over a salad.

All you do:
1. Place 1/2 of the beans, eggs, onions, chili powder, oregano and garlic powder in the food processor and blend well, scraping sides as needed.
2. Pour mixture into bowl with hamburger bun crumbles. Add remaining black beans and shredded cheese and mix together
3. Form into 4 burger patties. Layer between pieces of parchment paper, place into a zip top bag and freeze

To heat:
1. Preheat a mini-indoor grill (George Foreman or other brand) or stovetop skillet.
2. Place burgers onto greased grill (or pan). Let the patties cook 4 minutes on each side, or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.
3. Place burger on bun and top with chipotle mayo, lettuce and tomato slice. (Or your favorite salad).
bun and top with chipotle mayo, lettuce and tomato slice.

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Refrigerator Bread and Butter Pickles

My cucumbers are eating me alive!   In an attempt to not waste any of my precious garden crop, I decided to give pickle-making a try. I have only ever attempted to make pickles once, and that was with my dad when I was around 5 years old, and it was a disaster! (Sorry, Dad, but the pickles were HORRIBLE!).

Bread and Butter Pickles My mom is the one in our house who keeps us all supplied with homemade spaghetti sauce, salsa, pizza sauce and tomatoes, but can’t stomach the smell of hot vinegar and dill. So dad stepped in and the result was a stinky house and soggy, mushy pickles.

In an attempt to right a wrong, I gave refrigerated pickles a try. Only crispy, crunchy cucumbers here! I didn’t grown nice, pickling cucumbers (thin skin and small seeds), so I had to be creative.  I simply cut the cucumbers in half lengthwise and scooped out the seeds. Then cut into spears or half-moons. Problem solved!

The recipe was easy. Sprinkle cut cucumbers with salt and let sit for an hour or two. Prepare the brine, fill the jars with cucumbers and brine and place in the refrigerator. The difficult part is to let them cure for 24 hours! -We might have tasted them after just a few hours (quality control).

Bread and Butter Pickles

My cute, Little Miss even got in on filling the jars with cucumbers.

Don’t these pickles just look divine?! The first batch I made 3 pints of pickles. Those were G-O-N-E in 1.5 days (only because I made everyone wait a full 24 hours before consuming them). So I made a second batch of 14 pints. We’ll see how long those last!

Bread and Butter Pickles

The hard part is waiting for them to cure!

Refrigerator Bread and Butter Pickles

5½ cups (about 1½ pounds) sliced pickling cucumbers
1½ tablespoons kosher salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/4 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
¼ cup light brown sugar
1½ teaspoons mustard seeds
½ teaspoon celery seeds
1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric


1. Combine cucumbers and salt in a large bowl or colander; cover and chill 1-2 hours. Rinse cucumbers thoroughly under cold water. Drain well, and fill jars with cucumbers (any jar that seals will work).

2. Combine the granulated sugar, white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, mustard seeds, celery seeds and ground turmeric in a medium saucepan; bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Pour the hot vinegar mixture over cucumbers; let stand at room temperature 1 hour. Cover and refrigerate 24 hours. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator up to 2 months.

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