Recipe of the Week: Green Pea & Couscous Salad

Some salads are not lettuce salads, and that is okay! Salad is a very useful word that covers a lot of tasty foods! Captain Create has an easy to make, and easy to eat salad that doesn’t have any lettuce in it! Green peas are fresh and tasty in the spring, so go ahead and use them if you have them, but if not, frozen peas are still full of nutrition and flavor, and just need a quick dip in a pot of boiling water to be ready to go.

Couscous is a tiny pasta shape from Morocco, and its full of good-grain-group energy for busy summer days. Stir it in with some peas and cheese for a tasty cool salad!

Recipe of the Week: Chili Lime Chickpea Salad

This week the weather is beginning to warm up in a hurry, even with all that wind! One way to combat the heat this coming summer is with a simple, but very tasty, salad. Chickpeas have protein and carbohydrates to give you energy and keep you going, and the rainbow of veggies taste great!

Chili Lime Chickpea Salad is easy to make: just dice up any and all veggies you’d like and stir everything together with your freshly made salad dressing. There you go!

This salad is tastes better the next day, so make it ahead and take it for lunch all week; consider adding another protein food to round out your lunch, like a can of tuna or salmon, or slices of grilled chicken. It’s also great to take on a picnic or to a backyard barbecue, because it pairs with so many other foods! Its great with grilled fish, hamburgers, fajitas, and many other things!

This is a no-rules recipe too! What veggies do you have in your fridge or garden? Add them! Prefer tomatoes over green peppers? Feel free to switch it up!

Try Something New During National Salad Month!

It is May already! Welcome to National Salad Month! Salads are a tasty addition to meals, or can even be a meal all by themselves! You can combine fresh and cooked vegetables, grains, fruit, or even add meat to a salad and see what you get. There are no rules! What kinds of salad do you like?

There are all sorts of ways to make tasty salads this month. Look to MyPlate to see if you can make a salad with all of the food groups in it! Try adding dried fruit, a cheese from another country, or sprinkle on some nuts and seeds to try something new!

Check out a few of these pretty (and yummy) salads, and find the recipes linked below!

Cucumber & Lentil Salad

Thai Noodle Salad

Red Potato Salad

How many salads do you think there are out there?

Recipe of the Week: Ham & Cheese Quinoa Cups

Melty cheese is a tasty way to stick foods from each food group together! This week Captain Create has an easy, high-protein snack to fill you up and keep you going until mealtime. This is another easy make-ahead recipe for your meal prep weeks when you know its going to be busy! Make a batch, let them cool, then wrap them up and store them in the fridge or freezer for an easy heat-and-eat snack!

The protein from the ham, egg, and quinoa will help you feel fuller longer, and build muscles to keep you moving all day! Feel free to switch up the ham for other meats you have on hand, or even swap in sautéed squash, roasted carrots, or any other veggies you like. There really are no rules!

Recipe of the Week: Bake a Loaf of Bread

While the cheese may be the star of a grilled cheese sandwich, the bread is the structure that makes it all possible! This year for National Grilled Cheese Month, consider making your own whole wheat bread for your easy, and healthy, grilled cheese sandwich. Whole grains provide long-lasting energy, plus fiber, vitamins, and minerals that help our bodies work well.

There are lots of shapes you can choose for your loaf, from the usual loaf pan shape, to a boule (French for bowl, that looks just like an upside down bowl or like a blob), or an artisan loaf (which is another blob, but longer and thinner and a bit more loaf shaped). These blob shapes bake well and hold their shape better if you give them a few slashes across the top with a knife so steam can escape. You can also add all sorts of tasty bits to your loaf, like sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, or even oatmeal before the loaf bakes. Things like these can add more nutrition and make the loaf more interesting for your taste buds!

Around the World in 80 Plates: Cheddar, England

Since it is National Grilled Cheese Month, Captain Create has traveled all the way to southwesteren England to visit the town of Cheddar. Guess what they make here?

That’s right! Cheddar cheese is named after the town of Cheddar, in Somerset, where it was originally made. It has hills for cows to roam and eat grass, and cliffs with caves that are perfect to age cheese because the temperature inside the cave stays the same all year long. They they have been making cheese there since at least the 12th century; there is a record that in the year 1170, King Henry II purchased a total of 4,640 kg (10,240 lb) at a farthing per pound of cheese from the village of Cheddar1. That is a lot of cheese in a year!

Now there is only one family making cheese in the town of Cheddar, and a few others in villages nearby. There are no rules in England or the United Kingdom that say cheddar cheese has to be made in Cheddar, so it is made all over the world in a similar way, and is a favorite cheese around the world. Canadians, Americans, Australians, Scots, and Kiwis (New Zealanders) all eat loads of cheddar cheese.

When they aren’t making cheese in the town of Cheddar, they play and cheer for various sports like football (soccer), rugby, tennis, golf, and swimming, as well as stay active with lower-impact activities like working in gardens, walking through cities to see the sights, and footpath walking. The United Kingdom has a nationwide footpath system, often following paths that are hundreds of years old!2 Its possible that knights and kings followed a few of those same paths! They are open to walking only, and are usually marked with a sign or trail marker. They cover nearly the entire countryside, and you can walk all the way across the country if you’d like to!

After a game, walk, or big day taking in the historical sights in one of the cities, a cheese toastie might be just the way to recover! What is a cheese toastie? Its another name for grilled cheese! …. But Captain Create, we know how to make grilled cheeses already?! How are they different in the UK?

Mustard! Folks in the UK (the ones that Captain Create has spoken to, anyway, so not all of them) like to add mustard to their cheese toasties, but not that bright yellow mustard we have here in the USA, they usually have Dijon mustard. The UK is much closer to Dijon that we are; its in France, so they use it more than American mustard, but we have Dijon in the USA too! Try it out and see which kind of grilled cheese or cheese toastie you like best! (And, just like we do, they go wild and add all sorts of tasty vegetables and meat to their cheese toasties too; there are no rules!)

  1. Cheddar cheese – Wikipedia. En.wikipedia.org. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cheddar_cheese. Published 2022. Accessed April 6, 2022.
  2. List of long-distance footpaths in the United Kingdom – Wikipedia. En.wikipedia.org. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_long-distance_footpaths_in_the_United_Kingdom. Published 2022. Accessed April 8, 2022.

Nutrition Tip of the Week: Top 5 Ways to Upgrade a Grilled Cheese Sandwich!

Did you know April is National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Month?!

Grilled cheese sandwiches are one of the most famous comfort foods in the United States, and lots of kids grow up eating them. They’re a quick and easy lunch or dinner with tomato soup and a salad, but there are lots of ways to add more nutrition to them. Whole grain bread is a great place to start, and summer time means lots of fresh fruits and vegetables are easy to find! Tomatoes right off the vine can add a bright bite to a toasty grilled cheese, not to mention all the vitamin C and fiber!

There are also a variety of cheeses that melt well and taste great in a hot grilled cheese sandwich! Switch up your cheeses to match the veggies (or fruit) you add to your sandwich. Brie is a soft white cheese that is melty and tastes great with green apples or sliced fresh pears, and cheeses like provolone or muenster melt really well over sauteed mushrooms and bell peppers!

You can also pair a grilled cheese sandwich with a crisp salad or tasty vegetable soup to be sure you can add as many MyPlate food categories to your meal as you can. Try out some new sandwiches today and share them with your family. Do you have a family grilled cheese recipe?

Recipe of the Week: Dragon Noodles with Lime Shrimp

Ready for an easy weeknight meal that is a little bit different, but not so different the whole family will be too chicken to try it? Today, Captain Create has a recipe for Dragon Noodles! They originated in the Shandong Province in China, and are named that because the long thin noodles look a bit like the beard on a Chinese dragon, and are spicy like the fire the dragon can make.

Dragons are a very important part of Chinese history, culture, and mythology. They are often used to symbolize luck, power, and strength so the Emperor’s put them on their buildings and flags to show the power they also had. Sometimes the dragons have wings and sometimes not, but they always have long beards!

The noodles we can get most often in the US that most closely look like the beard of a dragon are instant packet ramen noodles! Other shops, like Asian food markets, would have lo mein noodles or vermicelli that could also be used because they are long and thin.

If you don’ t have or like shrimp, chicken works well in this recipe too, and you can use any fresh or frozen veggies you have handy, and the frozen stir-fry blend works well in a pinch.

Try this recipe out and let Captain Create know how spicy you make it! The Garlic Chili sauce in the recipe is most often in the Asian section of grocery stores, with a green lid and is red paste you can see through the sides of the jar. Its spicy, so feel free to change the amount you use, depending on how spicy your family likes their food.

Recipe of the Week: Asparagus Pasta Salad

Spring is officially here! Lots of new vegetables are starting to grow and one of the easiest to eat is asparagus! Its crunchy and green tasting when its raw, like fresh peas, and cooks quickly on the grill, in the oven, or in a frying pan. If you’re one of the lucky ones, you can find it growing wild! Otherwise, lots of farmers markets and grocery shops will have it for the next month or so.

Because it cooks quickly and tastes great, asparagus makes cooking for friends and family a little easier. Today’s recipe is a choose-your-own-adventure recipe: it has pasta, but you can choose any shape you like, asparagus because its tasty, and whatever other tasty spring veggies you have or like to eat! Be sure to choose a rainbow when you can! More colors means more vitamins for your body to use while you run, jump, and play in the warm spring weather.

Around the World in 80 Plates: Making pasta in Italy

Pasta has been around for so long that nobody really knows when it started; its been recorded in history as far back as the Ancient Greek diets, as well as recorded in China for centuries before that. It can be made with any number of starchy plants like flour, rice, barley, and buckwheat. Italians make dried pasta into lots of different shapes and colors, though they all provide about the same amount of energy per bite, even if they’re shells or twisties. At the last official count, there were over 400 different pasta shapes! From shells, elbows, and bowties to the filled shapes like ravioli, tortellini, and cjalsons (half-moon shapes filled with greens and cheese!) there is always a new pasta dish to try. Some folks have even written big books that explain each Italian pasta. Check one out at your library if you want to learn more! (Librarians love to help you find books!)

Italians are famous for making pasta, and have been sharing their traditions for generations. Different parts of Italy traditionally preferred different types of pasta; in the northern area they use more dried pasta, and in the south they make more fresh pasta. (All shapes and sizes of pasta are sold all across Italy though.) The pasta masters are usually the “nonnas”, or grandmothers, of each family and they are the ones that teach the young people how to make the traditional shapes of pasta.

You can try it too! All you need to know is that it is okay to make a mess and get your hands dirty, as long as you clean up when you are done! There are lots of recipes for sauce you can use on this blog, and over at createbetterhealth.org, to serve your fresh pasta. Consider using lots of veggies, meatballs, and cheese to cover all of the MyPlate food groups in one dish!

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