5 Fall Cookies to Add to Your Seasonal Baking List

Oklahoma is finally starting to feel that nip in the air and we couldn’t be more thrilled. We‘re excited for the newness the season brings, the excuse to buy candy (for the kids of course), and to bake scrumptious pies, cookies, and crumbles. Every kitchen should smell of pumpkin, cinnamon, or ginger at some point during the season, right?

When most people think “fall,” their minds immediately go to pumpkin, but there are so many other flavor options out there.

“My favorite fall treat are my mom’s ginger cookies,” Annie Tucker, blogger at Take A Bite, said. “I remember growing up and right as the weather started to change, there was always a day I’d come home from school to my mom baking ginger cookies. It was always the first official sign of fall in my mind.”

We adore the tried and true cookies of fall, but want to challenge you to step outside your baking comfort zone this season.

“Caramel, pumpkin, apple, cinnamon, and nutmeg all scream delicious fall treats to me,” food blogger Whitney Bond said.

We’ve enjoyed pulling together some fall cookies from fellow Okies (because we believe we bake the best!) to help you celebrate the sweet season. Don’t leave a delicious cookie recipe untested!

Cookie Inspiration for Fall

Pumpkin

Pumpkin is a no-brainer when it comes to sweet treats in the fall. You can find endless pumpkin recipes around this time.

“Fall to me means anything warm, pumpkin, apple, or cinnamon,” Hillary Rankin, blogger at 918 Plate, said.

These Pumpkin Cookies are incredible and have a little secret! They may taste and look like pumpkin, but they are actually made with butternut squash. Don’t let it scare you away; these are sure crowd pleasers!

While pumpkin is a fan favorite for many, some people aren’t into that texture. If you still want to be festive without the canned pumpkin, try these Double Chocolate Pumpkin Seed Cookies. You still get to be a part of the pumpkin fun, while only tasting rich chocolate and an added pumpkin seed crunch.

Spice

Spice cookies are a must-have when it comes to fall. They are delicious and can satisfy your sweet tooth, while not being overly sweet. Depending on your tastes, you can either make them nice and soft, or fun and crunchy. They pair nicely with a steaming cup of coffee or cider.

Get to baking these delicious pumpkin snickerdoodles that are gluten- and dairy-free. We love how these cookies combine both pumpkin and spice. The more festive you get with your cookies, the better!

Cinnamon

We know we’re talking about cookies, but these cinnamon rolls scream fall and we had to share them. The unlikely combination of cinnamon, peanut butter, and maple is enough to make your mouth water. The mix of flavors doesn’t disappoint!

“Step aside, pumpkin. Every fall treat must include cinnamon to be considered fall,” Tucker said. “I’m a sucker for pumpkin anything, but cinnamon is a quintessential fall flavor to me. It’s warm and spicy. I put it in and on everything!”

Caramel

Ooey, gooey caramel makes any dessert just a little more delicious.

We’re getting hungry just thinking about these salted caramel cashew cookies. “Y’all, these are seriously the best cookies ever,” Bond shared in her blog post covering these delectable cookies. “Like, salty, sweet, chewy, caramely, best cookies ever, that I’m totally obsessed with!”

Cranberry

Cranberry isn’t just for your Thanksgiving dinner table anymore. Add cranberry to your cookie for a health kick to help prevent certain types of cancer, improve immune function, and more.

Enjoy these Orange Cranberry Scones from In the Kitchen with Scotty as either scones or cookies. These are tasty as is, but if you’re looking to make them a tad bit sweeter, you can add a nice icing glaze on top.

Cranberries and white chocolate also pair nicely together, as the white chocolate helps mellow out the tartness of the berries.

We hope you try out one of the cookies above, and maybe even create your own! We have all the ingredients you need to make a delicious batch. Head to your nearest Homeland and get baking! We’d love to see your creations, so post your photos and tag us on Facebook.

Snickers® Seven Ways

Calling all candy bar fiends! Has your sweet tooth been anticipating October’s candy-filled festivities? We wanted to pay homage to a favorite candy bowl staple–the delicious, nutty Snickers® chocolate bar.

As far as candy bars go, Snickers® is the complete package. The tender nougat base is topped with creamy caramel and crunchy peanut, and then the entire thing is covered in heavenly milk chocolate. It’s little wonder why Snickers® is a favorite Halloween treat.

We’re celebrating the sugary season by seeing how many ways we can eat Snickers®! From truffles to brownies, our sweet smorgasbord covers it all.

Snickers® Truffles

Ingredients

  • 15-ouncepackage of Oreo® cookies
  • 8-ounce package of cream cheese
  • 8 fun-sized Snickers® bars (chopped)
  • 16-ounce semi-sweet baking chocolate (melted)
  • *1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Instructions

  1. Place Oreo® cookies in a large food processer. Pulse until the cookies turn into fine crumbs. Reserve about ¼ cup for sprinkling on top of the truffles later. If you don’t have a food processer, you can crush the cookies in a large mixing bowl with a pastry cutter. You can also crush the cookies in a large, sealed gallon-sized bag with a can or rolling pin.
  2. Mix in the cream cheese with cookie crumbs until well combined. Stir in finely chopped Snickers®. Reserve about two tablespoons of Snickers® for sprinkling.
  3. Roll the mixture into one-inch sized balls. Place onto parchment paper-lined cookie sheets. Once the balls are rolled, place them in the fridge for one hour or until the balls are firm enough to dip.
  4. Melt the semi-sweet chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. If needed, you can add about half a tablespoon of vegetable oil to the chocolate, just be careful not to add too much. Have truffle balls lined up and ready to dip before you melt the chocolate. Use oven mitts to safely remove the bowl from the microwave.
  5. Dip the truffles into the chocolate (you can also use a spoon to help cover the truffles). Place back on the lined cookies sheet. Sprinkle with Oreo® cookie and Snickers® crumbs. Place in fridge to set. Chill and store in the fridge until ready to serve.

Easy Snickers® Cupcakes

Ingredients

Cupcakes

  • 1 package Betty Crocker® Super Moist Devil’s Food Cake Mix
  • 1 cups water
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 24 fun-sized Snickers® bars

Snickers® Frosting

  • ½ cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  • 3 ½ cups powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 3 fun-sized Snickers® bars (chopped)

Instructions

  1. Prepare cupcake batter according to the package’s instructions.
  2. Once your cupcakes have been poured into two 12-cup cupcake pans, unwrap the fun-sized Snickers® candy bars. Place one candy bar into each cupcake. Use a spoon or small spatula to make sure the candy bar is completely covered by batter, just be sure not to push the candy bar too far down in the cup.
  3. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or as instructed on package. Once finished baking, allow cupcakes to fully cool before frosting.
  4. To create frosting, combine butter and peanut butter in a large mixing bowl or standing mixer. Once the mixture is just combined, slowly add in the powdered sugar. The mixture will become thick. As it thickens, mix in the milk about one tablespoon at a time. Continue until the sugar is combined and the frosting has a workable texture. Gently fold in the chopped Snickers® bars. Frost cupcakes with a piping bag.

Snickers® Obsessed Brownies

Ingredients

  • 1 package Betty Crocker® Fudge Brownie Mix
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 regular Snickers® bars (chopped)
  • ½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Prepare brownie mix according to the package’s instructions.
  2. Add Snickers® and chocolate chips to the mixing bowl.
  3. Pour into a parchment-lined 9×13″ baking pan.
  4. Bake according to brownie package directions. Allow to cool, then slice. Drizzle with melted peanut or caramel sauce if desired.

Snickers® Surprise Pie

Ingredients

  • 1 premade chocolate cookie piecrust
  • 8-ounce package of cream cheese
  • 1 tablespoon peanut butter
  • 8-ounce container of Cool Whip®
  • 3 regular Snickers® bars (chopped)

Directions

  1. In a medium mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, peanut butter, Cool Whip®, and chopped Snickers® (save ½ cup of Snickers® for the pie topping).
  2. Pour the mixture into the chocolate cookie piecrust. Sprinkle the rest of the Snickers® on top of the pie.
  3. Place the pie into the refrigerator and chill the pie for at least two hours or overnight.

Shaken Snickers®

Ingredients

  • 2 cups vanilla ice cream
  • ½ cup of milk
  • 1 regular Snickers® bar (chopped)
  • Whipped cream for topping
  • ¼ cup peanuts for topping (chopped)
  • Chocolate sauce for topping

Directions

  1. Combine vanilla ice cream, milk, and chopped Snickers® in a blender until mixture is smooth.
  2. Pour mixture into two chilled glasses. Top with whipped cream, peanuts, and chocolate sauce. Serve immediately.

Salty and Sweet Snickers® Dip

Ingredients

  • 8-ounce package of cream cheese
  • 8-ounce container of Cool Whip®
  • 10 fun-sized Snickers® bars (chopped)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • Optional ¼ cup peanuts for garnish (chopped)
  • 1 package twisted pretzels for serving

Directions

  1. In a medium mixing bowl, mix cream cheese and Cool Whip® until combined. Add in chopped snickers and mix.
  2. Place into serving bowl. Top with a sprinkling of sea salt and chopped peanuts. Serve with pretzels.

Easy Snickers® Peanut Butter Fudge

Ingredients

  • =14-ounce can of condensed milk
  • 2 ½ cups chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 2 regular Snickers® bars (chopped)

Directions

  1. Place the chocolate chips in a medium-sized, microwave-safe bowl. Add condensed milk and mix with the chocolate chips.
  2. Heat the mixture in the microwave for 30 seconds at a time, stirring in between each time until mixture is smooth and glossy. Use an oven mitt to remove the bowl from the microwave.
  3. While the mixture is still warm, stir in peanut butter.
  4. Pour mixture into a foil lined 9×9” pan. Sprinkle the chopped Snickers® on top of the fudge. Lightly press some of the pieces into the mixture with a spatula if desired. Place the pan into the refrigerator until the mixture is set and ready to serve.

Have a recipe of your own or another candy you’d love to showcase this Halloween? Share it with us!

Want even more spooky treats this Halloween? Check out our ghostly cookie sandwiches how-to or visit our bakery for some party-pleasing treats! Don’t forget to grab a bag of candy for the trick-or-treaters who will be stopping by your door!

At Home Cooking Tips from Professional Chefs

In a perfect world, meal prep would be stress-free and family menu planning would be a piece of cake. While it would be a dream to have a professional chef cook for you every day, it’s likely not in your budget.

Cooking for yourself and your family can be rewarding and healthy. It also keeps your budget in check. With all your savings from cooking a few more meals at home, you’ll be able to enjoy more guilt-free nights out at fantastic restaurants.

While you might not roll out as many multi-course meals as a professional chef, you can learn how to source great ingredients and build satiating meals to please your palate. Simple tricks and seasonings will elevate what you can do in the kitchen.

Regardless if you’re new to cooking or a seasoned pro, you can learn a few tips from these OKC area professional chefs.

Start with a Menu

Developing a menu is a great way to keep from wasting groceries. Just ask Grant Johnson, a professional chef who works with OKC’s Good Egg Dining Group.

“The best way to keep food from spoiling is to plan a menu and stick to it,” said Johnson. “Whether you’re meal prepping for meals away from home or just cooking for the family at home, if you stick to what you’ve planned, you shouldn’t have anything going bad.”

Need to mix up your weekday menu? Take inspiration from Pinterest or recipe videos from Facebook if you’re stuck on the same meals week after week. Also, take a cue from what’s on sale at your grocery store and incorporate those items into your plan.

Buy Items in Bulk

It’s tempting to load up on a lot of groceries all at once, but this can lead to waste. When it comes to fresh fruits and veggies, it’s not wise to buy more than you need for the week. However, while produce isn’t ideal, dry goods are perfect for buying in bulk.

Johnson believes in buying certain dry goods, like rice, in bulk about once a month. Grains and dried beans are safe bets to last longer on your shelf. They can also be used as the base of many different meals.

Rhi Roesler, also a professional chef at Good Egg Dining and chef de cuisine at The Drake and Republic Gastropub, suggested buying meat and fish in bulk. Her tip is to freeze it in portions and defrost as needed.

What to buy in bulk

  • Grains (rice, quinoa, tabbouleh, etc.)
  • Dried beans and lentils
  • Meats (to freeze and portion)

What to avoid in bulk

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables

Roesler also suggested buying fruit slightly under ripe. It will give you a few more days of shelf life.

Spice Up Everyday Meals

You might think cooking for yourself will result in bland meals. Don’t fear–you can save your cooking from a flavorless fate. Simply flavor with different combinations of spices, sauces, and dressings.

“The best way to dress up a simple meal is with seasoning. Don’t be afraid to play with your food,” Johnson said.

Herbs are fairly cheap in bulk and can be spread over many meals. Johnson recommends growing a few of your favorite herbs in a garden or on a windowsill.

He also recommends making your own dressings. His rule of thumb for a simple dressing is a ratio of 1 part vinegar to 3 parts oil. He says to experiment with different kinds of vinegar and acidic elements like lemon or lime juice. Salt, pepper and herbs round it out.

Rhi likes to add sauces to spice up her meals.

“I am a huge fan of sauces. I will make entire meals based on a sauce I’m craving,” Roesler said. “They are a cheap way to dress up any protein or center of the plate item.”

She keeps chicken and beef stock as staples in her kitchen. They’re easy to use in sauces and incorporate tons of hearty flavors.

Freeze Meals for Easy Dinners

When you have a heavy work schedule or a crew of hungry kids at home, freezing ready-to-eat or cook meals save precious time. The chefs love getting ahead of meal prep at home.

“Casserole or one pot meals tend to freeze well, and for a few hours of work in the kitchen, you can make 4 or 5 family size portions of the same meal that can be popped in the oven later when you don’t have time to cook a full meal,” said Johnson.

Roesler uses herbs to get ahead of meal prep by freezing large batches of pesto and herb butter in ice cube trays. When she’s ready to flavor a meal, she takes a cube and melts it into her recipe.

Keep a few essential gadgets around

A craftsman needs good tools. Chefs have their tried and true gadgets to help them elevate simple ingredients. Rhi loves her immersion blender for its many uses.

“The one gadget I use more than anything else is my immersion blender,” Rhi said. “It’s great for making anything, from your own salad dressings or sauces to a quick homemade pancake batter for the kiddos.”

Johnson promises that a rice cooker and slow cooker Crockpot can help stretch a dollar.

Of course, all chefs need to invest in a decent set of sharp knives. A dull knife will frustrate and make meal prep a pain. Plus, it can be dangerous and lead to injuries.

Homeland has what you need

We help feed you and your family quality meals. From fresh produce to quality meats and dry goods, we’ll make sure you have everything you need no matter your budget.

7 Tips to Host a Successful Cowboy or Sooner Tailgate

No matter if you bleed orange or red, we can all agree tailgate season is a revered time in an Okie’s life. While there are many differences between the Cowboys and Sooners, there are also many similarities, one of them being their love for tailgating. Super fans from both teams love their school, talking football, enjoying each other’s company, and most importantly, the delicious food.

Tailgate Guidelines

If you’re completely new to tailgating, we recommend to research campus tailgating policies before you plan a tailgate. Making sure you set up tent in a prime, open location will be an important part to getting your tailgate off the ground.

Are you a Cowboy?

Click here for OSU campus tailgating policies.

The popular Orange Power chant is shouted proudly at every game, thanks to Mr. Orange Power, Lee Redick, who revived the chant. “We were on the last row of the upper deck, so I asked all the alumni in our two sections if they’d like to do ORANGE POWER.  They said yes and it took right off,” Redick said. “I directed it with my hands for four days while we played Baylor, Oklahoma, Texas and then Kansas as a fifth seed!”

Are you a Sooner?

See here for OU campus tailgating policies.

If you’re new to town, don’t be alarmed by the shouts echoing around Norman during football season. It just wouldn’t be right to walk around the stadium without hearing the Boomer Sooner chant. Just remember, if you here a loud “BOOMER”, you’d best yell “SOONER!”

If you’re a tailgating newbie or leading a tailgate of your own this year, you should tuck these tips in your back pocket before embarking on the ultimate tailgate.

  1. Create a Community

Many fans enjoy tailgating, because it’s a time to bond with others who have similar passions. They have a love for the game, the players, and the town.

“Tailgating is a great way to hang with new friends and, for me, to catch up with old college friends,” Jordan Cole, OU tailgate host, said. “I love that you never know who will show up.”

Lauren Neundorf, an OSU fan, loves the community feel on game days. “There are no strangers, whether you’re in orange and black or the opposing school’s team colors, there’s always a cold beer or extra bratwurst for you!”

“My favorite tailgating tradition is walking through the rows upon rows of tailgates – it’s a great way to smell what everyone else is cooking and check in on different games on their TVs,” John Jennings, OU fan and blogger at Bennie and Buds, said.

  1. Have Something Unique You’re Known For

OSU’s Orange Power (OP) tailgate is known for their “Gone Wild” tradition. Many of the tailgate hosts are hunters, so late in October or November, they have a tailgate with wild game like elk, moose, and deer.

At OU, there are many chili cookoffs among the tailgating tents before kickoff. “My favorite tradition is the chili cook-off,” John Politte, OU fan and tailgate host, said. “For the last home game of the year, a bunch of different families make their own chili to contribute to the cook-off. We usually have up to ten different kinds, and it is always great to eat all the different takes on chili.”

While chili is always a hit, others favor sweeter traditions.

“Our tailgate always has festive OSU cookies,” Neundorf said. “People love the sweets to end the meal and never turn one down!”

  1. Assign Duties and Roles for Tailgate Hosts

While one host family might try to do it all, it’s hard to handle alone. It’s a good idea to have a few families involved and assign different roles so that it remains fun for everyone involved, and never a cause for stress.

Redick is one of the many forces behind the OP tailgate. He is the social director, and others handle DJing, operations, or other duties. “Dave and Storm are our grill masters,” Redick said.

  1. Entertain and Welcome Every Football Fan

Tailgating is not the time to be bashful. Get ready to meet your new family. While we don’t recommend crashing a private tent without an invitation – we do encourage you to smile, meet your tailgate neighbors, and be ready to share a burger or brew with a new friend.

“Our tailgate is very welcoming to our visitors. We have people call us from West Virginia asking if we are still in same spot and come back each year,” Redick said. “Just about everyone knows our tailgate, and we like to socialize with our opponents. It’s fun.”

“It’s a bunch of friends at the core of it. We love OSU, socializing, and providing a place for others to have a good time too,” Ruth Inman, OSU regular tailgate host, said. “The three main dads love entertaining and providing fun for other people.”

While others might not personally choose to set up their own tailgate, they are open to people using their space to host a great tailgate. “My roommate and I let a group of tailgaters set up in our lawn during gamedays,” said Jake Kallsen, an OU grad. “If there was an early game time, they’d make a full-on brunch. Breakfast tacos, cinnamon rolls, breakfast casserole…it was awesome.”

  1. Change Up Your Tailgate Food and Drink Menu

Many tailgating traditions that remain the most popular revolve around the tailgate food. While it’s great to have a tried-and-true menu, the routine can get boring, so it is nice to change it on occasion while keeping the crowd pleasers.

The Inmans and Baumgardners take it to another level and change their menu each week with a full theme. “Food is a big focus of what we do,” Inman said. “We have a different theme and menu every single week. In winter, we do a shrimp boil or gumbo and things that aren’t as traditional.”

  1. Go Big or Go Home

Having a noteworthy tailgate takes a lot of effort and commitment. Neundorf shares how her mom is sure to bring table cloths, matching plates, cutlery, and napkins to every tailgate. “You can find almost anything practical in orange, which is slightly impractical,” she said.

Other tailgates go above and beyond when it comes to entertainment. “We hire a band every week,” Inman said. “We tell people to listen for the music and you’ll find us.”

If a band isn’t in the budget, themed décor, a themed playlist, and simply cheering loudly can get you far in the tailgate game without much spending.

  1. Remember the Reason Behind the Fun

Redick may bleed orange, but that doesn’t keep him from recognizing the hard work of the team. While he lives for a solid win, he cares more about supporting the players.

“We are there to support our team. I like to remind people these are 18- and 19-year-old kids. Win or lose, we are just there to support them. We want to win but want to do everything we can to help them out.”

Put on a game day shirt and a good attitude – remember to support your team, win or lose. At the end of the day you still get to tailgate.

Why We Tailgate

People tailgate each year for a host of reasons. It might be for their love of the game, to enjoy other’s company, or to entertain.

When asked why they host tailgates, Mr. Orange Power says it’s the camaraderie. He explains how they enjoy reuniting each year. “It’s been since December that we’ve seen each other last,” he said.

For the Inmans, their tailgate is extra special because of the large part it has played in the history of their relationship: meeting at a tailgate and getting engaged at one. “It’s a big tradition in our family and we build our fall schedule around it,” Inman said.

Not a Tailgater?

That’s okay – sometimes it’s easier (but still fun) to walk around campus and explore!

Game Day Spots for the Non-Tailgaters: Stillwater

The Strip, the intersection of Duck and Elm, and surrounding areas are full of wonderful game day gathering places. Whether you are feeling some cheese fries, a beef dog, or some chips and queso, all your football foodie dreams can come true in Stillwater.

Eskimo Joe’s

Coney Island

Curty Shack

Fuzzys

Game Day Spots for the Non-Tailgaters: Norman

For those non-tailgaters, no need to fret. Campus Corner is loaded with gameday vibes and delicious food without the effort tailgating entails. The environment is equally as fun inside many restaurants.

The Mont

O’Connells

Louie’s

Diamond Dogs

Recipe Ideas for Your Next Tailgate

If your stomach isn’t growling after all this talk of chili-cook offs, burgers, chips and queso, and more, something must be wrong! We are so ready for the season and all the delicious treats that come with it.

Homeland has all the essentials you need for your tailgate. We have the chips, baked goods, fresh meats, and more. Looking for some inspiration? Check out these recipes we created for tailgating season.

Everything You Want to Know About Pasta

Few things are better than a comforting plate of pasta. The humble noodle goes with nearly every flavor out there. Well, maybe not maple syrup, but we can’t say we’ve tried it.

Pasta comes in many forms. Many cultures have their own version or interpretation of it, so it would take days to name every single pasta recipe. With endless combinations and pasta types to keep it fresh and fun, you really can’t go wrong!

Venture over to the Italian section of the grocery aisle and celebrate pasta with your family! You can go with a traditional Italian meal or take inspiration from other world regions for a surprising twist. Grab a loaf of bread from our bakery or throw together a fresh side salad, and voila, dinner is served.

Pasta Infographic

Oklahoma Get Healthy Guide: Tips to Help You Feel and Look Better

Oklahoma ranks eighth for adult obesity in the United States. Obesity is linked to countless dangerous diseases, like diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and some forms of cancer.

Obesity is not only a concern for your health, but also for your overall well-being. Many dietitians have seen how a healthy diet directly affects their clients’ mental and emotional health.

“I have witnessed people relieve so much stress by decreasing their risk for heart disease and diabetes,” INTEGRIS registered dietitian, Meagan Ballard, said. “I have been hugged because grandparents now have enough energy to play with their grandkids. I have seen parents cry because they now feel empowered to lead by example for their children in adopting healthy eating habits.”

Eating well and moving more will not only improve your health, you’ll feel better. Fad diets may promise a quick fix, but it’s important to create a lasting healthy lifestyle you can follow for decades to come.

Quick Helpful Tips to Live a Healthy Life

Eat More Produce

Oklahoma is one of the lowest-ranking states in terms of fruit and vegetable consumption. Getting healthier doesn’t always mean cutting out things from your diet– sometimes adding foods is necessary. Make an effort to eat a vegetable or a piece of fruit as a snack when you are hungry and skip the chips or sugary snack bar.

Exercise and Move Your Body

Kristen Forbes, registered dietitian and nurse, shares how eating healthy can be a challenge, given our environment. “It’s increasingly hard with our sedentary lifestyles, high-fat foods, and the convenience of unhealthy fast food constantly being available,” she said.

Lack of everyday exercise or physical activity also contributes to an unhealthy weight. It is uncommon to see people biking or walking to work in Oklahoma, not to mention the countless advertisements for fast food.

“Transportation is part of Oklahoma’s problems,” Ballard said. “We are landlocked and use our cars to get everywhere.”

Oklahoma has plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation and there are also many different types of gyms, like yoga or cycle studios. If you prefer privacy, you can work out in the comfort of your home with no equipment. You can do body weight exercises like push-ups, or simple cardio exercises like jumping jacks.

“Working out on a regular basis will not only boost your energy throughout the day but also help with muscular strength and endurance,” Ricardo Ibarra, Gold’s Gym fitness manager from Penn Crossing, said. “Incorporating more physical activity into your routine will allow your body to become more efficient at delivering oxygen and nutrients, which will improve your overall health.”

Couple Walking in the Park

Educate Yourself and Seek Accurate Information

Forbes said she recognizes many Oklahomans want to eat healthy but don’t have the tools or knowledge to make the right choices.

“In my experience, about 90 percent of calls I get are in regard to weight loss,” Forbes said. “They are navigating through the nutritional diet dogma online trying to find out what is and isn’t a good strategy. They need help losing weight in a healthful manner.”

It’s important that you find accurate sources to get information about healthy eating.

Helpful Oklahoma-specific nutrition sites and resources:

I On Your Health

Shape Your Future

Oklahoma Nutrition Information and Education Project

Pantry Essentials

Eating healthy starts with stocking your pantry with healthy foods that are ready to grab and go. Below are some common items to include.

Kitchen Spices

Spices

Seasoning is essential when creating healthy, yummy meals full of flavor. Having a wide selection of spices in your pantry helps bring boring dishes to mouthwatering creations. Adding spices to food is a healthier alternative than using sauces, which typically contain high fat and sugar.

Ballard mentions how you can cook the same thing often but change the spice profile hugely by sprinkling on different spices.

Forbes is also a huge proponent to a spice-filled pantry. Dried oregano, cumin, curry powder, Italian herb mix, paprika, and turmeric are a few of her favorites.

“A variety of spices allow you to continuously change the flavor and inspires you to keep cooking and trying new things,” she said.

Mrs. Dash, carried in Homeland stores, has a selection of wonderful spice combinations pre-mixed to make meal preparation even easier. Changing the spice used on your meats can quickly change its taste; our favorites are the barbecue and lemon pepper mix.

Another way to change up staple ingredients and typical flavors is to prep them different ways. Corn, for example, can be boiled, roasted, or grilled.

Grilled Chicken

Canned Goods

While canned goods might not sound as appealing as fresh produce, keeping several on hand can help you stay on track when hunger strikes and you don’t have anything prepped.

Beans are a must-have canned good. Ballard suggests including beans in many of your meals to add fiber and protein.

“They are a cheap option and expand your dish,” Ballard said. “Give the beans a good rinse before preparing and choose the low sodium option.”

Forbes recommends her clients have canned salmon, sardines, and oysters for those busy days. They provide protein and are easy to eat quickly.

If you aren’t used to eating vegetables on a daily basis, incorporate canned vegetables. Canned vegetables provide the same nutritional value and have a longer shelf life than fresh vegetables.

“I suggest having a variety of canned vegetables like artichokes, bell peppers, tomatoes, and pureed pumpkin,” Forbes said.

Grains

Carb-loading every day won’t help anyone reach a weight loss goal, but, like many things, grains are OK in moderation. The ideal amount also depends heavily on the type of grains you are eating.

Ancient grains like barley and quinoa offer a great carb fix that’s healthy to enjoy in moderation. Brown rice and whole wheat pasta are also filling staples to have on hand.

Refrigerator and Freezer Essentials

Just like you need a healthy stock of products in your pantry, you need smart choices in your refrigerator and freezer as well. When you open your refrigerator, you should be greeted by bright colors and lean meats.

Frozen Fruits and Vegetables

Ballard recommends frozen fruits and vegetables to her clients, especially for ones who are new to incorporating more produce in their diets.  Some research has even shown that frozen is more nutritious.

“Look for flash-frozen,” Ballard said. “You don’t want preservatives.”

Flash-frozen vegetables still contain important nutrients found in fresh vegetables. Typically, they are frozen at their peak condition before any nutrients are lost. To prep frozen vegetables, Ballard recommends steaming rather than boiling because the intense heat from boiling may eliminate key nutrients.

Frozen fruits are also convenient to keep in your freezer. They can be thawed and easily thrown into your morning oatmeal or smoothie.

Grapes

 Fresh Produce

While frozen produce may keep longer, there’s nothing quite like fresh produce in season. Learn how to appreciate the beautiful color and texture of produce.

We all know that half of your plate should be filled with vegetables and fruits. However, it can be a challenge to incorporate that many into your diet, especially if you don’t like them. It’s key to find veggies that you like, and learn how to cook them properly.

Dark leafy greens should be kept in the crisper drawer to keep them fresh longer. Combine these greens with other leafy vegetables and a lean protein, or beans, to quickly create a delicious nutrient-packed salad.

Fresh Herbs

Fresh herbs, along with spices, are the keys to enjoying a flavor-packed meal. Try some new herbs this year and challenge yourself to step out of your comfort zone. Discover which herbs you like and which you don’t like. If you’re new to using herbs, experiment with these first: rosemary, thyme, basil, sage, and parsley.

Meats

Having sources of lean protein is an important part to staying healthy and supporting your muscles. Forbes recommends meat like chicken and turkey, or fish like wild caught salmon.

Ballard advises if you aren’t going to be eating meat you’ve purchased within the next 24-48 hours, it’s best to freeze it.

Banish these Items from Your Pantry and Fridge

While we believe in moderation, some items are better to just not have in sight. For example, if you can’t buy a bag of chips without eating it in its entirety, consider not keeping them in your home, but rather treating yourself to a side of chips when eating out.

“I recommend people to get rid of trans fat,” Forbes said. She explains how trans fat increases blood levels of bad cholesterol and lowers good cholesterol, which can lead to increased risk of chronic disease. Forbes suggests making healthy swaps like replacing vegetable oil with higher quality oil, like olive oil, macadamia nut oil, grass-fed ghee, or organic coconut oil.

The refrigerator culprits Forbes suggests ditching are soda and sugar-sweetened beverages. If you have a soda habit, try to slowly replace it with water. You can add some fruit to make it more exciting, like lemon or lime.

Quick Healthy Recipes and Meal Prep

Having quick recipes and meal ideas can really help you stay on track.

“The key is meal planning,” Forbes said. “Sit down and write out your meals for the week and prep on the weekends by chopping your vegetables, or measuring ingredients for the meals later in the week.”

Homeland has all the essentials you need to be successful in your healthy eating. Plan out your meals, write out your grocery list, and head to your nearest Homeland.

OK Get Healhty Infographic

Oklahoma Onion Burger Tips from the Pros

Tucker’s Onion Burgers is a favorite among Oklahoma onion burger fans.

What’s the quintessential Oklahoma dish? Some would argue chicken fried steak or homemade pecan pie, but nothing beats the famous Oklahoma onion burger with its massive following of die-hard fans.

You can find onion burgers across the state. Ask any Oklahoman and they’ll let you know where to find the best. During grilling season, you might be tempted to flip your own at home.

The pros at Tucker’s Onion Burgers shared a few tips for creating the ultimate patty right in your own kitchen.

The Anatomy of a Perfect Onion Burger

The onion burger patty should be thin. A thin patty allows for a generous pile of cooked onions to be piled on top. Tucker’s secret? “You’re going to want to slice the onions as thin as you can get them,” Tucker’s Onion Burgers area director Randy Newberry says.

Temperature also affects the onions. If you cook the onions on low heat, they’ll take on a sweet flavor. Higher heat will bring sharp, more intense flavor.

The base of the burger should also be considered. Use a bun won’t get too soggy. Our bakery has a few options that can handle the juiciness of the burger and onions. We recommend toasting your hamburger buns slightly on a skillet or in the oven with a little butter before assembling.

Now to the real drama – should you add extras like jalapenos, pickles, or condiments, or let the onions shine solo? Cheese and pickles are common (and delicious) additions. At the end of the day, it’s your burger – choose as you please.

Photographed by Aly Clark of A Good Egg Dining Group

The onion burger pros at Tucker’s weigh beef to form patties.

How to Craft an Oklahoma Style Onion Burger

All good craftsmen need good tools. When making an onion burger at home, bring out the sturdy gear.

“Use a heavy cast iron skillet,” Newberry recommends. “That is going to get you nice sear on your patty.”

Overall, it’s a simple process about showcasing the onion’s flavor. Follow our recipe and give this classic a try.

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp. canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 white onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 lb. 85% lean ground beef
  • 4 slices American cheese
  • 1 package hamburger buns
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Pickle slices

Directions

  • Form the ground beef into 2 ½ ounce balls. Lightly press the loose edges of each ball with your thumb as you shape them. Season each ball lightly with salt and freshly ground pepper.
  • Slice the onion into very thin strips. Season with a pinch of salt. We recommend drying the excess moisture with a paper towel.
  • In a large cast iron skillet, evenly spread vegetable or canola oil. Add more as necessary to cover the skillet. Warm the oil over high heat until the oil begins to lightly smoke. Be careful during to monitor smoke during the entire process– you don’t want to set off your smoke alarm.
  • Once the oil is ready, place the ball of meat into the heated skillets, and flatten the meat patties down with a firm spatula. Then place onion slices evenly on top of each patty. Cook patties for three to five minutes. Add time for more well-done burgers.
  • With your spatula, flip the burger patties onion side down on to the skillet. Allow the onions to cook for another three to four minutes. Once the onions are cooked, place a cheese slice on each patty. Allow cheese to melt over the patties.
  • Transfer you patties from the skillet over to lightly toasted hamburger buns and build your burger. Pickles are a highly recommended addition. Serve immediately.

From bun to patty, Homeland has everything you need to make the perfect burger right at home! Be sure to grab fries from the frozen section and coleslaw from the deli to complete your meal.

Celebrate National Dairy Month in June with Delicious Dairy Desserts

As soon as summer hits, ice cream, creamy pies, and other dairy treats immediately beckon. Give in to that craving. You deserve it! Plus, June is National Dairy Month, so it’s the perfect time to indulge in all your favorite creamy treats.

Do you need another reason to celebrate dairy? Approximately 98 percent of all Oklahoma dairy farms are family-owned, according to Oklahoma Ag in the Classroom, so by drinking milk and enjoying dairy, you are supporting Oklahoma’s farmers and our state’s economy.

National Dairy Month History

While some food celebrations come and go, National Dairy Month has been a constant since 1937 and this year, will celebrate 80 years of delicious dairy celebrations. Although the name has changed from National Milk Month to National Dairy Month, the goal remains the same. It’s all about celebrating dairy’s products, its producers, and its nutritional benefits..

Nutritional Benefits of Dairy

Dairy has varied in terms of popularity through the past 80 years; but you can’t ignore its health benefits. Dairy provides calcium, potassium, and a sufficient amount of protein to help rebuild and repair muscle tissue. A dairy treat like chocolate milk or yogurt is a delicious snack after a workout.

“Many people are concerned by the amount of calories and fat found in whole milk, but it’s important to consider the nutritional benefits of it,” Pam Patty, registered dietitian at INTEGRIS, said. “It’s more important to be mindful of correct serving sizes.”

When it comes to enjoying dairy’s benefits, remember moderation is key.

Delicious Dairy Treats Round Up

Everyone has their favorite traditional dairy treat — maybe an ice cream sundae, custard, cake, or even a creamy drink. Here are some different dairy desserts made by fellow Okies to change up your typical dairy creation. Plus, we’ve included a lighter dairy dessert option to help you enjoy the summer season guilt-free.

Key Lime Pie by Take a Bite Blog

Key Lime Pie is a wonderful summer treat. The lime zest adds the perfect twist to this classic sweet pie.

Key Lime Pie

Blueberry Lemon Puff Pastry Bites by Krisztina Clifton

When you combine delicious flaky pastries and a scrumptious filling, you get pure happiness. This treat is perfect to bite into on a hot day.

Buttermilk Brownies by Made in Oklahoma Coalition

There is nothing like the perfect chocolaty rich brownies topped with creamy vanilla ice cream. This tried and true dessert is sure to please any guest!

Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream by Taste of Home

Speaking of ice cream, this easy homemade ice cream is delicious. We believe recipes that have been passed down through the years are some of the finest, and this ice cream proves our theory right.

Ice Cream Pie with Easy Caramel Sauce by Pioneer Woman

We are convinced that the Pioneer Woman can do no wrong when it comes to food. This ice cream pie with the caramel sauce is to die for and definitely worth the calories. We recommend having guests over for this one so you don’t eat the whole thing by yourself!

Mouthwatering Dairy-Free Round Up

We understand that dairy isn’t an option for everyone’s diet. Homeland carries plenty of alternatives in stores so you can join in on the fun.

Chocolate-Covered Mocha Ice Cream Bites by An Unrefined Vegan

The delicious flavors of coffee and chocolate join together in these little bites, and believe us, it’s a match!

Banana Nutella Ice Cream by Hugs, Kisses & Snot

If your countertops are piled high with ripening bananas, we have the perfect way to make sure they won’t go to waste. Make some ice cream! Bananas serve as an unconventional but effective swap for dairy.

Root Beer Float by Plaid & Paleo

Craving a fizzy, creamy root beer float, but can’t quite stomach the dairy? Here’s a great alternative for you to try!

So, which dessert calls out to you? Celebrate National Dairy Month by heading to your nearest Homeland, picking up your favorite dairy products, and making a delicious summer treat!

How to Make an Empanada in 10 Easy Steps

Want to impress and intrigue your dinner guests? Empanadas are sure to do the trick. They may sound fancy, but these treats contain the two things we enjoy most in life: carbs and a delicious filling, and they’re sure to satisfy any hungry friend.

Empanadas aren’t a common dish in the United States but are very popular in Latin American countries. They can be served as the main dish, an appetizer, or a dessert and are the perfect unexpected party guest. Empanadas are also very portable and easy to enjoy as an appetizer while making the rounds, or to take on the go. You won’t mind having any leftovers.

Dinner Table with EmpanadasEmpanadaHistory of Empanadas

The name came from the Spanish verb – “empanar,” which means to wrap or coat in bread. Empanadas originated in Spain and Portugal, but their popularity didn’t stop there. They were quickly seen in the Caribbean, Latin America, and the Philippines with different variations for the filling.

Since then, the empanadas’ popularity continued to thrive and can be enjoyed throughout the world today.

Empanadas

Types of Empanadas

Empanadas are a stuffed pastry or bread. They commonly have meat inside and are referred to as meat pies in some parts of the world. However, you can also make them with veggies, eggs, or anything your heart desires.

The biggest decision you have to make when it comes to empanadas is what you want it to be served as at your dinner. Do you want to offer it as a savory appetizer, the main dish, or as the delightful sweet treat to end the meal?

Empanadas with SauceIt’s also customary to have a dipping sauce to pour over the empanadas. Consider which sauce you’d like to offer your guests. If you’re having a savory Argentinian empanada, you may enjoy a chimichurri sauce, but if you’re having a sweeter Caribbean empanada, a mango salsa may be a better option. You also must decide if you’re going the healthier route, or going all in. Empanadas taste delicious baked or fried.

Now it’s time for you to make your very own empanada. Follow the recipe to the T, or make it your own by changing up the vegetables insides it. That’s the fun part about empanadas: there isn’t a wrong way to fill them!

Empanada Ingredients

Empanada Dough

¼ C Vegetable Shortening

3 C Flour

1 C Hot Water

Empanada Filling

1 ½ Pounds Ground Beef

1 Red Onion

2 Cloves Garlic

1 Green Pepper

1 Red Pepper

1 Jalapeño

3 TBSP Tomato Paste

½ TSP Salt

½ TSP Pepper

2 TBSP Olive Oil

2 TSP Cumin

¼ TSP Cayenne

½ TSP Red Chili Pepper

¾ C Water

8 Oz Cheese (Your Choice)

Instructions

  1. Let’s get started and make the dough. Stir the flour, water, and vegetable shortening together and make a ball of dough. Refrigerate for one hour.
  2. Time to make the filling. Heat the oil in a pan. Then, brown the ground beef. Add the onions and garlic into the mix until they are translucent.
  3. Next, add the peppers and jalapeño to the mix for a few minutes, or until they are cooked.
  4. Pour the water into the mixture and add the tomato paste. The filling should thicken in this stage.
  5. Take the filling off heat and let it cool completely.
  6. Heat oven to 400 degrees to begin preheating.
  7. Time to take your dough out. Roll out the dough into a 1/8 inch circular layer. You can use a circle cookie cutter to create the outside. Dependent on the size, you can either make about 15 small ones, or 7 larger ones.
  8. Once you have the outside ready, spoon the insides into the middle of each circular layer. Sprinkle filling with cheese, making sure there is enough bread on the outsides to seal it shut.
  9. Fold the empanada in half and crimp edges with a fork. Careful not to let the filling come out.
  10. It’s time to get those empanadas into the oven. Brush the empanadas with oil and bake for 10 to 15 minutes.

Is your mouth watering yet? Head to your nearest Homeland to pick up all the ingredients you’ll need!

Drug Take Back Event

On Saturday, April 29, two of our Homeland locations hosted Drug Take Back Events in partnership with KOCO and the Oklahoma City Police Department.

The Take Back Event allowed people to drop off their unused or expired prescription medications for safe disposal.

The event was a huge success even with the less than ideal weather. Our store on Britton and May collected eight trash bags full of medications, and our 18th and Classen location collected another four.

If you missed the take back event and would like more information on the safe disposal of prescription medications, you can contact your local law enforcement agencies for the dates and locations of take back events near you.