This post is a collaboration with the Kansas Beef Council on behalf of the Beef Checkoff. I received compensation, but all opinions are my own.
Healthy Meal Plan Checklist
I get asked all the time, how do I make a healthy meal plan? Most people think it has to involve a complicated recipe, expensive ingredients or, at the very least, must be a boring salad. I am here to tell you none of those are the case. My healthier steak fingers recipe is the perfect example. A healthy meal starts with a lean protein. In this case we are using tenderized round steak. It is tenderized so that even though it’s lean, it won’t be tough. Using beef for these fingers brings an unbeatable taste. Picking beef as your lean protein provides 10 essential nutrients and you never have to check the ingredients list because beef is just one simple ingredient. To complete your healthy meal, just add a healthy fat and a fiber-rich carb. In this case we are adding ground flaxseed, which is both a healthy fat and a fiber-rich carb. Flax nutritionally provides a plant-based source of omega-3 fatty acids and acts as the gluten-free breading and gravy thickener for these healthier steak fingers.
The Steak Fingers
Growing up, country-fried steak was one of my favorite meals. These steak fingers are my take on country-fried steak. Steak fingers are made by first dredging in a milk and egg mixture, then tossing in a coating of flour and spices. Most traditional recipes would then fry the coated fingers in oil. For my steak fingers we are using ground flaxseed as the coating, which means this recipe is naturally gluten-free. Then we skip frying them in oil and instead bake them. The end result? A delicious and healthy comfort food. If you are looking for more beef recipes, be sure to check out www.kansasbeef.org/one-simple-ingredient
No steak finger is complete without a little gravy. For this simple gravy we used ground flaxseed instead of flour and let me tell you, you won’t miss it. This goes great as a dip for the steak fingers, or I like to put them on mashed cauliflower to get a veggie side in for my picky eaters. My favorite flax is Manitoba. It has a two-year shelf-life and is the smoothest I have ever worked with, which makes it great as a steak finger coating or in a gravy.
Find out more about the Kansas Beef Council and all they do to support Kansas farmers:
YouTube https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChKfCz9R5HHqw-jSzjM6AUw (where they have lots of recipe ideas)
I’ll be honest, as a mom of a picky eater, there are lots of times I just want to throw in the towel and feed my child M&Ms and cupcakes all day. I trick myself into thinking she’d be happier, and I would be too. Recently I was listening to a webinar about picky eating by a couple of other dietitians. I walked away from that webinar with a renewed sense of direction for helping my picky eater. They said the goal should be to get your child to eat an orange and green fruit or vegetable most days. This goal provides adequate nutrition for growing bodies, even if your picky eater’s palate is limited. After a couple of failed attempts, we resorted to a few favorites, like my sweet potato waffles and then I went back to my original thought, that maybe feeding my child M&M’s and cupcakes didn’t have to be a bad idea.
When I first pulled these out of the oven my little picky eater didn’t want anything to do with them. So, I asked her if she wanted a cupcake, and in true picky eater fashion, she told me, “no, she didn’t like them”. UGH! They are chocolate, I thought, WHOSE child are you?!?
Putting my best Halloween-loving mom brain on, I decided to make my little “cupcake” (they really are more of a brownie, but my daughter doesn’t know what a brownie is yet) into spiders. I grabbed her favorite candy, M&Ms of course, and another favorite snack, pretzels, and made these fun, Brownie Recluse Spiders. Adding a little spider frenzy was all that it took to make my little picky eater into a believer.
Note: While I love the curled legs of the pretzels I have to admit they did take a few extra minutes to make, so if you are trying to make these quickly, grab pretzel sticks instead. I have also made this recipe with bananas instead of pumpkin. You can sub it out one-for-one but as you’d probably expect they are a little bit sweeter, not a bad thing for most people. I would also recommend using dark cocoa powder if you are using banana to minimize the strong taste of banana.
Check out the full video on how to make these fun treats.
If you read my last post, you know that my life lately has been all about Magnolia, with my trip to Waco, the silo’s half marathon, and getting the Joanna Gaines’ cookbook for my birthday. I decided to follow up that post with one along the same theme. During my Waco trip we visited the Magnolia Table restaurant, and tried Joanna’s Lemon Lavender Donuts. Let’s just say I wasn’t disappointed. I already knew that I loved lavender for it’s therapeutic aroma, but didn’t have a lot of experience with it’s culinary uses.
Lavender seems to be just the thing to, with one simple ingredient, elevate a food from something you’d get at a gas station to a culinary delight. Or to put it another way it takes your 99 cent donut experience to 5 dollars a pop. I couldn’t imagine a better way to celebrate National Donut Day then with a lavender infused donut delicacy. Unlike it’s “typical” donut counterpart this recipe is gluten-free, dairy-free, low in sugar, and high in protein. With almost 10 grams of protein per donut, you are sure to find it satisfying, and as you can see, picky-eater approved.
A few notes about baking with lavender
Lavender (at least in Kansas) is typically found in specialty foods stores like Whole Food’s in the dried spices and herbs section. You may also find fresh lavender at a farmers market, that you can dry and then use. Make sure to buy culinary lavender. Culinary lavender is a particular species of lavender that has the sweetest and most fragrant aroma making it great for use as a cooking herb. Lavender, used as a herb, is similar to rosemary, in fact it is often paired in seasoning blends with rosemary. I LOVE the flavor of rosemary but unless it is brushed on top of bread or chicken, I want to taste it, not see it. Lavender has a leaf structure similar to rosemary, that is best ground down either with a food processor or mortar and pedestal. A little of it goes a long way, and helps to bring out the rich flavors of the ganache and the subtle sweetness of the donut. If you don’t have a donut pan you can easily make this yummy recipe into cupcakes, you will just want to watch the baking time depending on the size of cupcake tin that you use.
February is Heart Month and I don’t think I could call myself a nutrition blogger without at least one blog post dedicated to celebrating our heart. What brings a heart more happiness than CHOCOLATE? I’m excited to introduce a pair of guest bloggers for this post, Carolyn & Sarah Schmidt are sisters and nutrition students. Don’t let the term student fool you, they know their way around the kitchen and are passionate about finding alternate paths to health with food. They shared with me this chocolaty deliciousness and I knew I had to find a way to share it before Heart Month was up.
Carolyn & Sarah: We love our desserts! Honestly, we feel like every meal is another opportunity for a little sweet treat… preferably something chocolate. When we think of chocolate we reach for the good stuff, dark chocolate, (at least 70% cacao or higher). That 70% means that it is high in antioxidants and vitamins and minerals like iron, magnesium, and manganese. All which promote heart health. This dessert not only tastes sweet, rich, and ooey-gooey, but the ingredients in it are providing your body with all-natural vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. You can’t get a better deal than that! So… we’ve created a delicious dessert that we absolutely love!
Scanning through the list of ingredients you may see one that you aren’t as familiar with: collagen peptides. Collagen has been getting a lot of attention lately… but what exactly is collagen and how does it benefit you other than add protein to your dessert or smoothie? Collagen is the most widely used and abundant protein found in our bodies! It is basically everywhere: bones, GI tract lining, skin, tendons, hair, nails, blood vessels… the list goes on and on. Our body naturally makes collagen, but as we get older, this process begins to decline. Although research is still pending it is thought that dietary collagen may help aid in healing, particularly joint associated conditions such as arthritis and joint pain. If you chose to skip the collagen peptides in this recipe you can sub out another favorite protein powder for a similar result.