What’s in a Grain?

September is National Whole Grain Month! I’m sure you’ve heard the term “Whole Grains” tossed around these past few years, and may have thought to yourself “what exactly is a whole grain?”

A grain, in its whole form, has three parts to it. It contains:

  1. Bran
  2. Endosperm
  3. Germ

Whole grains are packed with nutrients including protein, fiber, B vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals. Diet containing proper amounts of whole grains has been shown to reduce the risk of type two diabetes, heart disease, and even some forms of cancer!

When a grain is processed (such as white flours) it loses almost all of their fiber, along with many healthy proteins, vitamins and minerals.

whole grain

*TIP*- Although the front of a package may advertise Whole Grains in their product, it is important to flip the package over and read the ingredients list to ensure that whole grain is listed as the FIRST ingredient before any other type of flour. This will ensure that the product is indeed a whole grain product.

Here’s a healthy and delicious way to incorporate your daily whole grains. This is recipe for a whole grain bulgur salad has a Middle Eastern flare with the incorporation of dates and cumin, while adding hints of orange and almond. Give it a try this week!

Date and Almond Bulgur Salad with Sofrita


  • 1 cup bulgur (cracked wheat)
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange peel
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 teaspoonMcCormick® Cumin, Ground
  • 1/2 teaspoon McCormick® Gourmet Collection Sicilian Sea Salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped plum tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 1/3 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/3 cup chopped onion
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1/3 cup pitted dates, quartered, divided
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted, divided
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, divided
  • Bring 6 cups water to boil in medium saucepan. Meanwhile, heat large skillet on medium heat. Add dry bulgur; cook and stir 2 to 3 minutes or until fragrant. Add toasted bulgur to boiling water. Cook on medium heat 10 to 12 minutes or until tender. Drain and rinse under cold water. Place bulgur in large bowl. Mix orange peel, juice, cumin and sea salt in small bowl. Pour over bulgur; toss to coat well. Set aside.
  • Heat oil in large skillet on medium-high heat. Add tomatoes, bell peppers, onion and garlic; cook and stir 2 to 3 minutes or until tender-crisp. Add vegetables, and 1/2 each of the dates, almonds and cilantro to the bulgur; toss to coat well.
  • Serve warm or refrigerate until ready to serve. Garnish with remaining dates, almonds and cilantro.

Click here to watch as Alyson Approved showcases this yummy recipe on Fox 25!

5 Tailgate Foods That Are Surprisingly Healthy

Football season is here, which means that tailgating is about to be brought to full speed. This week, we are going to talk about some tailgate foods that are surprisingly healthy and taste great.

It’s not a secret that many tailgate foods can add on some unwanted calories. Before the guilt sets in for just thinking about indulging, you might be intrigued to learn which tailgate regulars are actually healthier than you might realize.

Street Corn
Perfectly seasoned sweet corn straight off the grill is hard to beat. You’ll be glad to know that cooked corn is high in cancer-fighting antioxidants. It also promotes healthy vision. Adding 1-2 teaspoons of butter is only an extra 34-68 calories. We like to add some feta cheese, cilantro, and spices for an extra flavorful side dish.


Baked Potato
Potatoes get a bad rap for being high in carbohydrates and calories. You might be surprised to find out that 1 medium sized potato has 0 grams of fat and only 160 calories. Potatoes have half of the vitamin C of an orange and more potassium than a banana! A baked potato bar is a fun way to let everyone personalize their plate and add a lot of vegetables to your pre-game meal. Good options include broccoli, bell peppers, and green onion. Adding beans increases the fiber content and some low-fat cheese adds calcium.


Grilled Chicken Wings
Grilled chicken is a great source of protein for your tailgate that is easy to prepare and can be cooked in large quantities. Removing the skin can cut calories and half of the fat. Many butchers will remove the skin for you if you ask when purchasing, which can save you a lot of time when preparing for the big game.


Chili is a common staple at tailgates especially when the temperatures begin to drop. Most chili recipes are packed with beans, our 4th healthy tailgate food. 1 serving of Navy Beans provides an astounding 76% of your daily fiber needs. Fiber helps to lower cholesterol and reduces hunger by keeping you feeling full. Just replacing half of your meat with beans will significantly decrease the fat content of your favorite chili recipe.


No tailgate is complete without this creamy dip. Avocado is a great source of healthy fats and biotin, which helps to keep your metabolism going. This tasty fruit is also great for your hair and skin. Try swapping tortilla chips for raw vegetables to increase your vitamin and mineral intake and to decrease calories and fat.


One of the biggest calorie contributors to a lot of tailgates is alcohol. A Skinny Margarita is a fun way to enjoy your game day beverage without all of those extra calories. You just combine 1 can of Fresca and 1 to-go packet of Crystal-Light Lemonade with a shot of tequila and ½ of a lime.


Whether your team wins or loses, you can avoid forfeiting your waistline if you stick to these foods at next weekends tailgate.

Peachy Keen

August is National Peach Month. Who could resist celebrating this fuzzy fruit all month long?

Sweet peaches are a summer staple and an extremely versatile ingredient. These fruits actually originated in China thousands of year ago and have made their way all around the world. They can be found during July and August at your nearest farmer’s market. There are over 2000 peach varieties in the world and over 300 of those are found in the United States.

Peaches can be categorized by the following:

  • All peaches are either clingstone or freestone (see this previous post for further explanation).
  • There are white and yellow varieties. The white varieties tend to be sweeter and more difficult to find. Yellow varieties are more widely available due to a longer growing season. Both colors can be used interchangeably in recipes based on availability and personal preference.
  • The shape of a peach can vary from very round with a pointed end (what we generally associate as a peach) to a flat shape, rounding in towards the center, such as a donut peach.

If you find a new variety, try it! You might find a new favorite treat.

And try these fun and fruity recipes to bring some sweetness to summer’s end. Chilled Peach Soup is a refreshing appetizer that pairs easily with many of our favorite grilled main dishes. The Peach Crostinis are a quick and easy first course or snack that are both sweet and tangy and will keep your guests coming back for more.


Chilled Peach Soup

  • 4 cups fresh peaches, peeled, sliced (about 5)
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/8 teaspoon cardamom
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 6 oz plain yogurt
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Fresh mint for garnish


  1. Combine peaches, wine, cinnamon, and cardamom in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 10 minutes. Peaches should be soft.
  2. Remove saucepan from heat and let cool for about 5 minutes. Puree in a blender or food processor or blender until smooth.
  3. Add honey, lemon, yogurt, and vanilla extract to blender and pulse until combined. Add additional yogurt to thicken.
  4. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 hours.
  5. Garnish with mint when ready to serve.

Peach Crostini

  • 2 peaches, slicedpeachcrostini
  • ½ baguette, sliced into 1-inch rounds
  • 6 oz goat cheese, whipped
  • 12 basil leaves (or 6 halved)
  • Balsamic glaze


  1. Set oven to broil. Toast baguette slices until golden, approximately 3 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.
  2. Spread goat cheese on toasted baguette slices.
  3. Add basil leaves and then a peach slice.
  4. Drizzle with balsamic glaze.
  5. Enjoy!

Back to School Healthy Eating

Those long summer days are getting shorter, which means school is just around the corner. Families are getting busier and meal planning is often not a top priority. Many parents find that preparing breakfast and packing school lunches for their children is too time consuming or they simply do not have any ideas of what to make or pack. Healthy eating with a busy schedule for both kids and adults can be a chore, but below are some helpful tips that can make it easier and more fun!

BrainFoodsBetter Brain Foods

  • Berries and cherries are rich in antioxidants that help boost brain function. Add them to a morning smoothie or put them on top of a bowl of cereal or oatmeal
  • Fats fuel our brains. They tend to get a bad reputation because they are high in calories and many people associate them with weight gain. However, some fats that occur naturally in foods like avocado, nuts and seeds are essential for brain health.
  • DHA is the most abundant fatty acid found in the brain. It can be found in fatty fish like salmon, sardines, and tuna.

Tips for Packing Lunches:

  • Save money by purchasing reusable and washable lunch bags
  • Try to prepare ingredients the night before, like cutting up fruits and veggies
  • Plan lunches when you make dinner, that way you can have leftovers for lunch
  • Buy a thermos for hot soups and chowders, and ice packs to keep food cold

Fruits and Vegetables: Since most kids avoid these foods, try to make them as fun as possible! Cutting up foods into fun shapes will make kids more likely to try them, as will involving kids in shopping and cooking. Ideas for foods than can be prepared ahead of time include: carrots, celery, cherry tomatoes, peppers, apples, grapes and oranges.

Spreads and Dip: There are a variety of spreads and dips on the market, but choosing the best one for growing children can sometimes be difficult. Keep it simple by sticking to nut butters without added sweeteners. Nut butters like peanut or almond pair well with produce or crackers. Hummus, a dip made from chickpeas, is easy to make and is also high in protein.

Tail mix: Trail mix is another high protein snack that keeps both kids and adults full and can be made far in advance. It is an easy snack that is mainly is composed of dried fruits and nuts, but other foods like pretzels or chocolate chips can be added in small amounts. You can have your kids create their own trail mix with ingredients from our bulk bins.

Bread: There are a variety of breads on the market now and lunches do not have to be the same-old sliced bread sandwiches. Try using tortillas for wraps, pita bread or crackers with a tuna or chicken salad. Be sure to choose whole wheat as it is higher in protein, fiber and vitamins.

Lunchbox Pita Pocket
Recipe adapted for Homeland
Yield: 1 serving

1 whole wheat pita bread round, cut in half
½ cup deli turkey, chopped
½ cup lettuce, chopped
¼ cup carrot, chopped
¼ cup tomato, chopped
2 Tbs pesto (or other spread)

Place turkey and vegetables in a plastic bag. Pour pesto into resealable container. Pack all ingredients into lunchbox. Assemble pita pocket by spooning half the pesto into each pita half and spreading around. Add half the turkey mixture into each half.

Traditional Hummus
Recipe adapted for Homeland
Yield: 3 cups

2 (15.5 ounce) cans of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 garlic cloves
¼ cup water
2 Tbs fresh lemon juice
3 Tbs olive oil
1 Tsp cumin
¼ Tsp paprika
1 Tsp salt
Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth, scraping down sides as needed.
Optional ingredients include pesto, feta cheese, spinach, avocado, and sun-dried tomatoes. Feel free to experiment with other ingredients that your family enjoys!


Greek Tuna Pita
Recipe adapted for Homeland
Yield: 2 serving

1 whole wheat pita bread round, cut in half
1 can/pouch tuna
½ cup tomato, chopped

½ cup cucumber, chopped
½ avocado, sliced
1 tablespoon red onion, chopped

2 tablespoons Greek yogurt, plain

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

2 teaspoons lemon juice

2 leaves Romaine lettuce

2 tablespoons black olives, sliced

  1. In a small bowl, combine tomato, cucumber, avocado, onion, Greek yogurt, mayonnaise, lemon juice, olives, and tuna
  2. Place lettuce leaf in each pita half.
  3. Add tuna mixture to pit.
  4. Enjoy!


Kid-Friendly Trail Mix
Recipe adapted for Homeland
Yield: 4.5 cups

2 cups popcorn, popped
½ cup sunflower seeds

¾ cup raisins

½ cup walnuts

½ cup peanuts

¼ cup M&Ms
Place all ingredients in a large bowl. Mix. Enjoy!

Spectacular Stone Fruits

Nothing says summer quite like the sweet juicy flavors of stone fruits. The only challenge with stone fruits compared to apples or pears, is that fresh stone fruits don’t store well.

What does “Stone fruit” mean? I’m so glad you asked! The term comes from the stone-hard covering found around the single large seed at the fruit’s core. The stone supports the fruit as it hangs off the tree branch by its stem and provides a passage for nutrients to flow from the tree to the growing fruit.


Storage Tips: Peaches, nectarines, apricots, plums and their hybrids are best ripened at room temperature, stem-end down. Don’t refrigerate fruit before it’s ripe, or it may develop a wrinkled skin and mealy flesh. Ripe fruit is soft, has a sweet aroma and can be store in the refrigerator for a few days. Cherries are ready to eat when purchased and can be kept in the refrigerator, loosely covered, for up to three days.

Cooking Methods: Stone fruits are delicious eaten as is, but they also can be roasted, poached or sautéed, baked into pies and crumbles, tossed into salads, made into jams or used as a sauce.

Plums: Fresh plums are a good source of vitamin C, while died plums-also known as prunes- provide fiber and Vitamin A, and may be pureed and substituted for fat in cakes, quick breads or muffins.

Nectarines: Nectarines have a smooth skin versus a peaches’ fuzz. Like peaches, a nectarine’s flesh may be white or yellow. These cousins can be used interchangeably in recipes, but nectarines offer the advantage of having no skin to peel.

Peaches: peaches come in clingstone and freestone varieties. A clingstone’s fruit doesn’t fall off its pit, making it fine for eating but a chore for slicing. However, a freestone’s fruit easily separates from its pit. You can’t tell whether a peach is a clingstone or freestone by its looks, but clingstones typically arrives first at farmers markets, followed by freestones.

Cherries: Sweet or sour, cherries are a good source of vitamin C and potassium. Since they must be picked ripe, cherries are a fragile crop. Sweet cherries are mainly sold fresh, but most cherries grown are sour varieties and typically are canned, frozen, or dried.

Apricots: Apricots are rich in pectin, which provides their creamy texture when eaten ripe and their meatiness when dried. This delicate fruit is most often canned or dried.

 Stone Fruit PanzanellaPanzanellaIngredients

  • 1 pint cherry tomatoesSonefruitSalad
  • 2 medium zucchini, quartered lengthwise and diced
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 3 cups of ½-inch ciabatta bread cubes
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 peach, diced
  • 1 lb cherries, pitted and halved
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup chopped basil
  • 5 oz baby arugula
  • 4 oz goat cheese, crumbles
  • Balsamic syrup for drizzling


  1. Heat oven to 350F
  2. Arrange the tomatoes and the zucchini on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Toss with 1 tbsp olive oil and salt, to taste. Roast for 40 minutes, stirring halfway through. Set Aside.
  3. Meanwhile, toss the bread cubes with 2 tbsp olive oil, a pinch of salt, and the garlic. Bake for 20 minutes or until crispy and starting to brown, stirring halfway through. Let cool to room temperature.
  4. Ina large bowl, toss the roasted vegetables with the croutons, fruit, red wine vinegar, remaining olive oil, basil, arugula, and goat cheese. Let sit for at least 10 min before serving. Serve drizzled with balsamic syrup.