November Blog Posts

Men Make Dinner Day (11/7)

Guys. It's time to step it up in the kitchen.

Historically, men have not been portrayed in the home kitchen. We're typically pictured at the grill, preparing paleolithic meat dishes—and it ends there. Come on! It's the 21st century, it's time to learn and showcase some real culinary skills, not just to improve our abilities, but to improve our health—and the health of those we love.

Our "western diet" often consists of excess meals consumed outside the home, and studies have shown that dining out frequently can lead to health consequences like obesity, cardiovascular disease, depression, GI issues, and even diabetes. When we go out, we eat differently. My simple solution for preventing or mitigating these adverse health consequences is simple: cook and eat more meals at home!

There are plenty of benefits. Statistically, home cooks have an increased vitamin and mineral intake and decreased excess total calorie consumption. Home cooking makes it easier to achieve and maintain a healthy weight and reduce the amount of sodium and saturated fat in the diet. When you’re making a dish, you know every ingredient.

Making meals at home can sound daunting but with some meal planning, grocery shopping, and expert selection, it’s easy. And Giant’s nutritionists are here to help. Want to ask about meal planning, grocery shopping, or cooking? Ask an in-store nutritionist!

Aside from the obvious health benefits, if you are a dad, cooking also offers the opportunity to model healthy behaviors at home. Parents who are within a healthy weight range (achieved through healthy eating habits and exercise) are four times more likely to have children at a healthy weight. And parents who eat the recommended daily servings of fruits and vegetables (2-3 servings of fruit and 3-5 servings of veggies) are 10 times more likely to have children that eat the recommend servings. Dads, this is a great opportunity to be a role model! Check out our family meals podcast to learn more about why family meals are so important, and the role men can play in their family's health.

Not to leave out anyone flying solo, either. You may find that stepping it up in the kitchen, taking control of your diet and eating well can lead to feeling great—which can be a catalyst for even more positive change in your life. Plus, everyone admires someone with serious cooking skills. A homemade dinner invite is hard to turn down.

After going over why it’s time to cook and eat more of our meals, let’s talk about what to cook, because there’s a lot out there. Yes, can grill, but let's expand on it. Today, I’m making Corn and Quinoa Burritos.

These burritos are colorful and packed with vitamins and minerals, not to mention 19 grams of protein per serving. They are also great for dinner and lunch! And with several steps in this recipe, other family members can help out—making it easy and fun to get your veggies in. Another cool aspect of this recipe is that it’s easy to modify to your tastes (or what you have on hand). Try new spices! If you want to, grill the corn! There are so many ways to customize this recipe—you could have a whole cookbook.









Check out this recipe and thank me later!

George Baldwin is a registered dietitian and in-store nutritionist for Giant Food who is all about showing guys how to fall in line when it comes to cooking and their health. As a father of three and former paratrooper, he knows the trick to inspire men to cook easy, hearty, and secretly healthy. George will show you the basics on how to train your loved ones to come to the table hungry, whether it’s 0700 or 1900.




Have A Happy and Healthful Friendsgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving, #giantfoodies! This holiday is all about family and family traditions, but in recent years, a friends-focused thanksgiving has caught steam. Now, it’s arguably as popular as the traditional Thanksgiving. If you know, then you know—I’m talking about Friendsgiving!

Friendsgiving is really just a catchy way of saying "Thanksgiving with friends." It can be more laid-back and relaxed than your traditional Thanksgiving, depending on who you're talking to. Friendsgiving usually doesn't involve travel, is typically potluck-style, and doesn't have Aunt Becky asking when you're going to get married.

In true millennial fashion, I love my annual Friendsgiving! Don’t get me wrong, I love my family’s turkey-and-mashed-potato Thanksgiving too. But Friendsgiving gives me the opportunity to experiment with healthy and delicious fall recipes, without the side-eyeing of unnamed family members fearful of me "healthifying" traditional dishes!

This year, I’m focused on a better-for-you dessert—Pumpkin Spice Hand Pies! (and yes, I’m one of those pumpkin-obsessed people).

Store-bought pie crust is fine but I made my own this time to boost the fiber and protein. How do I do this you ask? With a whole grain flour! In addition to traditional whole wheat flour, Pereg's, One Degree, and Arrowhead Mills have alternative flours such as teff, buckwheat, almondmeal, chickpea, coconut, sprouted spelt, and even banana! These flours are great for that gluten-free friend, but you don't need a diet restriction to try these other options! Alternative flours are all the rage right now and they give our baked goods and recipes new tastes and textures—and something to talk about at a party. I used Pereg’s Quinoa Flour, which has four grams of protein and three grams of fiber per serving.



Next is the filling. Pureed pumpkin is festive and delicious—AND it counts towards your daily veggie intake. Give it another layer of flavor by mixing the puree with pumpkin spice seasoning! If you’re not into the pumpkin craze, you can keep this dessert healthy-ish with in-season fruits like apples, cranberries, pears, or figs!



Simple, nutritious, and a sure hit at Friendsgiving.



Recipe adapted from Savory's Turkey & Cranberry Hand Pies

I would love to see your Friendsgiving table spread! Tag your creations with #giantfoodies and don't forget to listen to our Friendsgiving podcast to learn more about the holiday and fun potluck ideas!

Thu is a Registered Dietitian and In-Store Nutritionist for Giant Food. A proud millennial mommy, Thu loves good food made easy—saving time for cold brew mornings and evening wine downs. So if you’re looking for simple, fun, and better-for-you options, Thu has them! In her series, Thu will serve up creative recipes and uses for trending foods, all of which can be found in-store at Giant Food.




Thanksgiving Add-Ons for under $2 a person

Thanksgiving is—beyond a shadow of a doubt—my favorite holiday. Is it that there’s no shopping for gifts? The abundance of carbs? Whatever the case, you can bet that I will be in the kitchen in all my glory on Turkey Day. Technically, I've been eating the same menu since I was a kid—but there is one change I made after I was placed in charge of the holiday meal. If you guessed "add more vegetables," then you deserve the wishbone this year.

In the past, green bean casserole and cranberry sauce counted as our produce. But there was no real nutritional value and, even if there was, it wasn’t nearly enough to count. So like a good dietitian-nutritionist, I didn't take anything away from the standard menu – I just added to it.

This Thanksgiving, if you are tasked with bringing a dish (or, like me, in charge of the whole event), here are a few of my favorite budget-friendly ways to add vegetables to your carb-filled holiday.


START WITH A SOUP

Soup is a great pre-meal option since you can make it in advance and reheat in a slow cooker when burner space is at a premium. When the turkey is 30 minutes behind (I know it always is in my house) and folks are "starving," you can use soup to get them “warmed up” for the main event.



Butternut Squash Soup – serves 6
Inspired by: Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

  • One 3-pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1” cubes
  • 2-3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 12 sage leaves
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • 3 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • Salt and pepper to taste

HOW TO: Preheat the oven to 425°. Spread the squash, chopped onion, and sage leaves on a baking sheet in a single layer and toss with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Roast in the oven for about 30 minutes, until tender, tossing once half-way through. Puree squash, onions and sage in a food processor or in a blender and add to a large pot. Add half-and-half, followed by stock, to desired consistency; stir to combine. Serve with fresh sage as a garnish. Can be made in advance and reheated.

Total Cost: $5.97 (Cost per serving: $0.75)

NOTE: If you have a vegetarian or vegan coming for the holiday, soup is a great way to add protein to their meal! Choose the Lentil Butternut Squash recipe below and swap out the beef broth and soup for vegetable variants.

Soup inspiration from Savory:

FOLLOW WITH A SALAD

Let's face it: a traditional Thanksgiving plate is heavy–literally and figuratively. You can lighten that load and add a touch of "fresh" by including a salad. But not just any 'ol salad. It has to be fancy and holiday-worthy. In my book, that means it has to include fruit and nuts. Now, nuts aren't typically on my blog because they aren't always budget-friendly. But around the holiday season they go on sale and I take full advantage! When I don’t have the time, I'll buy a salad dressing like Taste of Inspiration's Strawberry Champagne vinaigrette which is as good as homemade and just a few pennies extra!



Spinach, Apple & Pecan Salad – serves 6
Inspired by: Apple Cranberry Salad

  • 10 oz baby spinach
  • 2 large apples (1 gala, 1 granny smith), cored and thinly sliced
  • 1 cup pecans (or walnuts), toasted
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 small red onion, sliced into thin strips
  • (optional) 5 ounces of feta or goat cheese

HOW TO: Toss spinach, apples, nuts, cranberries and red onion in a large salad bowl. Drizzle desired amount of dressing over salad and toss to evenly coat. Serve immediately after adding dressing.

Total Cost: $10.22 (Cost per serving: $1.70)

NOTE: Did you know that nuts can be frozen and stored? Nuts will keep up to a year in an airtight container or heavy-duty freezer bag. So snatch them up when they are on sale and store for later!

Salad Inspiration from Savory:

HAVE SOME TURKEY WITH YOUR VEGETABLES

Can we finally admit that green bean casserole just isn't as good as we want it to be? Any veggie casserole, actually—even that carrot soufflé is just a sugar bomb. At my house we keep it simple with French green beans blanched for about 7 minutes because their simplicity is really appreciated when the rest of the plate is brimming with butter and bread. But, if you want to take it up a notch, you can't go wrong with fall vegetables. And, as any nutritionist will tell you, "roasted vegetables are THE BEST." (If you listen to our podcast, you'll hear this over and over.)



Roasted Fall Veggies – serves 12
Inspired by: https://recipecenter.giantfood.com/recipes/101089/roasted-winter-vegetables
  • 4 medium carrots, peeled and diced ¼” thick on the diagonal
  • 2 large parsnips, peeled and sliced ¼” thick on the diagonal
  • 1 medium head cauliflower, cut into 1” florets
  • 1 small butternut squash (2 pounds)—peeled, seeded and cut into 1” cubes
  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, halved
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 10 sage leaves
  • 5 thyme sprigs
  • Two 6-inch rosemary sprigs, cut into 2-inch lengths
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

HOW TO: Preheat the oven to 425°. In a large bowl, toss vegetables with olive oil, sage, thyme and rosemary and season generously with salt and pepper. Spread the vegetables on 2 large rimmed baking sheets and roast for about 55 minutes, tossing once halfway through, until the vegetables are tender and golden. Scrape into a bowl and serve hot or at room temperature.

Total Cost: $12.79 (Cost per serving: $1.07)

NOTE: The vegetables and amounts above are just guidelines – if you like carrots, add more, and if you don’t like Brussels sprouts, skip them! The only hard and fast rule is to chop whatever veggies you use about the same size so they cook at the same rate. P.S: You can also use frozen precut vegetables, which takes a bit longer in the oven, but cuts the cost by almost half.

Vegetable Inspiration from Savory:

Vegetable sides and starters are an easy "add" to any holiday table. So when someone asks "what can I bring," send them a link to one of these tasty veggie options. And keep this in mind: if you make half that holiday plate delicious vegetables, you'll have plenty of room left for pumpkin pie! Here's to piles of turkey, plates full of carbs, and buffets brimming with veggies. Don’t forget to show off your spread—vegetables or otherwise. Tag us with #NutritionMadeEasy.

Mandy is a registered dietitian and in-store nutritionist for Giant Food who is passionate about showing people how to eat healthy (and deliciously) on a budget. As a mom of two teenage boys, she knows firsthand how difficult it can be to stay on budget, keep it interesting, AND keep it healthy-ish. Let Mandy check prices and create a plan that will satisfy your taste buds, wallet, and schedule. In her series “Healthy on a Budget,” she will convince you that it’s NOT “too expensive” to eat healthy.




Looking forward to your leftovers

Not to brag, but I am basically Captain Planet when it comes to food waste—and I’m seriously dating myself with a Captain Planet reference.

Food waste is virtually nonexistent in my house, in part because I’ll eat everything and anything. That’s something I picked up being "hungry as a hound dog" in the military.



But it’s also just the right thing to do. You can’t go wrong eating your leftovers—you’ll save money, something I love as a baller on a budget—and you’ll reduce your environmental footprint. That last one is a big deal! According to the USDA, the United States wasted 133 billion pounds of food worth about $161 billion in 2010 alone. We throw out more food than anyone else in the world. Some estimate that as much as 40% of the food we produce ends up in a landfill. And that means all the resources used to produce that food was wasted, too.

Globally, food waste breaks down like this:

  • Fruits and vegetables: 35%
  • Cereals and grains: 24%
  • Roots and tubers: 19%
  • Milk and eggs: 9%
  • Meat: 5%
  • Beans and legumes: 3%
  • Fish and seafood: 1%

And remember: we hear, often, that we’re not eating enough fruit and vegetables and don’t get our recommended serving of seafood. I'll let you ponder that for a bit!

It all sounds pretty bleak. But big change starts at the individual level, and with that in mind, here is my case for leftover consumption. Before we get into how excellent leftovers are, we need to cover some essential food storage tips.



First, the storage of vegetables. Most vegetables will hold up for four to seven days in the refrigerator on average, with carrots holding firm for up to two weeks. Uncut onions will last up to four weeks at room temperature. However, when cut, onions only last up to four days in the refrigerator. Potatoes, acorn, and butternut squash will last four to five weeks at room temperature in a cool place out of direct sunlight; remember to refrigerate any cut but unused portions.

Pro tip: label your leftovers and other food items with expiration dates just like restaurants and foodservice organizations do. It takes a tenth of a second, and when you inventory your refrigerator for dinner or meal planning, you will know what needs to be eaten first.

Fruits can last as little as three days and as many as 42 days. So what’s on either end of this spectrum? Kiwis last the longest—up to six weeks, depending on the level of ripeness when purchased. Raspberries only last two to three days after purchase.

Another pro tip: only washes berries right before use. They have fragile skin that quickly soaks up water and moisture, and that extra wetness makes them prone to early spoilage.

Uncooked beef, lamb, and pork can last up to five days in the refrigerator. Once cooked, you can store them for an additional four days safely. Poultry and ground meats will only last raw for two days and another four days when cooked. Uncooked eggs will last up to 5 weeks in the refrigerator!

Remember to cook ground meats to an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Same goes for reheated leftovers.



(This is not an all-inclusive list—for more, see your in-store nutritionist or check out www.foodsafety.gov.)

Now that you know about food storage and are prepared to join me in reducing food waste, let’s get back to my favorite topic: leftovers. Delicious. And functional! You’ll see what I mean.

I cook to create leftovers on purpose, which makes them supremely functional. My dinner leftovers become my lunch the next day. After all, if you are already cooking a balanced meal at home for dinner, why not pack some for a healthy lunch, too? Y'all heard me say it before: We eat out way too much as Americans. Cook once and eat several times. That’s smart.

Almost every day someone tells me they don’t have time to meal prep. This may not be a solution for everyone, but if you haven’t tried it yet, it might change how you eat forever. Remember to inventory your refrigerator before planning and cooking and use anything that needs to be used.

Some dishes actually get more flavorful after a night in the refrigerator. Given time, the flavors intensify, which makes what you made even better. Ever had chili the next day? You’ll know what I mean! Word on the street is that shepherd's pie and goulash make some of the best leftovers.

The most important part of using your leftovers is being creative, and that comes with practice. Leftover rotisserie chicken can get shredded into a soup or power a buffalo chicken grilled cheese. Leftover fruit that’s starting to turn becomes a smoothie. Over-ripe bananas are necessary for banana bread. Leftover burgers are the ideal starter for a great chili. The possibilities are endless!

The bottom line? Love your leftovers—and even cook with leftovers in mind. You’ll save money and start to save the planet. Just remember to label and date, cook, eat, and enjoy!

George Baldwin is a registered dietitian and in-store nutritionist for Giant Food who is all about showing guys how to fall in line when it comes to cooking and their health. As a father of three and former paratrooper, he knows the trick to inspire men to cook easy, hearty, and secretly healthy. George will show you the basics on how to train your loved ones to come to the table hungry, whether it’s 0700 or 1900.