Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015 by News and Updates From Dreamfields

What does a healthy lifestyle mean to you? Waking up early enough to eat breakfast?  Eating the veggies on your plate?  Enjoying a smaller bowl of ice cream? Taking a brisk walk with your dog after supper? Or filling your shopping cart with foods that deliver the best nutrition for your grocery dollar?  It’s all that – and more!

March is National Nutrition Month! It’s a reminder to "Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle" – and choose an eating pattern that meets your nutrient needs, within your calorie limits.  If you’re like many Americans, that means three key things: consume fewer calories, make informed food choices and get daily exercise ... in order to achieve and maintain a healthy weight, reduce your risk for chronic disease and promote your overall health.

Bit by bit, taking just a few small steps adds up, over time, to a lifestyle that’s healthier!  So for starters, you can …

 

Make Your Food Choices … Just a Little Bit Better

  • Read the label as you shop. Choose nutrient-dense foods that deliver more for their calories. For example, Dreamfields pasta adds more fiber and protein to your meal than traditional pasta. Low-fat cheese has all the nutrients of regular cheese, but with less fat and fewer calories. And using leaner ground meat or turkey delivers less fat yet plenty of protein to lasagna, burgers and chili.
  • Add a veggie to a mixed pasta dish, soup or rice dish. It’s as easy as mixing in grated carrots, chopped Swiss chard or kale, canned tomatoes, sliced mushrooms or chopped bell pepper.
  • Right size your portions. Two ounces of dry pasta cooks to about 1 cup; the equivalent of 6 cups daily from all grain foods is enough for most people. For more about smart food choices, click Healthy Carb Living.

Stay tuned for part two of Bite Into a Healthy Lifestyle

Roberta L. Duyff, MS, RDN, CFCS is author of the American Dietetic Association Complete Food and Nutrition Guide, with more ways to bite into a healthy lifestyle!

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Table for Two – On Valentine’s Day & Every Day: Part Deux

Friday, February 13, 2015 by News and Updates From Dreamfields

In this week of romance, we're talking about intimate dining.  Specifically, recipes that serve two.  Whether you're eating for two for Valentine's Day or every day, here are some more tips on how to do it well.

Buy Less, Save More

Shopping savvy always applies:  buy just what you can use and store safely. A smaller, more expensive package may cost less if you end up discarding food from an economy size.

  • Choose from the supermarket salad bar and bulk department.  Buy smaller amounts of what you need:  from the salad bar, chopped fresh veggies for pasta dishes, casseroles, stir-fries and other mixed dishes, and from the bulk department, nuts, raisins and rice.
  • Buy ingredients that are easily divided.  With dry pasta, frozen vegetables and shredded cheese on hand, you can pour out just what you need.
  • Splurge sometimes.  Although some meat cuts and seafood cost more, you don’t need as much when cooking for one or two. 
  • Repackage.  If you buy meat, poultry and seafood in larger portions, rewrap them in freezer bags or heavy foil, label and freeze for later.

 

Cook Once, Enjoy Twice

Sometimes the sensible approach is to prepare family-sized amounts then save the rest for later. 

  • Divide for later. Casseroles and lasagna can be divided into smaller baking dishes. Assemble Traditional Lasagna in two 8- x 8-inch baking dishes, instead of one 13- x 9-inch baking dish. Cook one now, freeze the other for next week.

  • Transform your leftovers.  Use cooked pasta tossed in hearty salads; cooked vegetables in heartier and healthier prepared soups; and pasta sauce, chili or taco filling, spooned over baked potatoes. 
  • Change the sidesRoast a whole chicken or braise a pot roast for several meals.  To avoid “menu boredom,” serve different sides, perhaps Rotini Greek Salad or Spicy Caprese Pasta Salad one night, and Lemon Herb Penne the next.

 

Savor your table for two … on Valentine’s Day and throughout the year!

Artichoke, Walnut & Prosciutto Angel Hair

Thursday, February 12, 2015 by Dreamfields Recipes & More

Artichoke, Walnut & Prosciutto Angel Hair

 

Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

1/2 box Dreamfields Angel Hair
4 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 cup chopped prosciutto (about 2 ounces)
1 package (9 ounces) frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and patted dry
1/2 cup chopped leeks or green onions
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 cup reduced-sodium, fat free chicken broth
2 tablespoons heavy cream
Coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted
1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
2 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese
Additional shredded Parmesan cheese (optional)

Directions:

  1. Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add prosciutto; stir to separate pieces. Add artichoke hearts; cook 2 to 3 minutes until artichokes and prosciutto are lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Remove from skillet; set aside.
  2. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and return to pan.
  3. Meanwhile, heat remaining 2 teaspoons oil in same skillet over medium-high heat. Add leeks and garlic; cook 2 to 3 minutes until lightly browned and tender, stirring frequently. Add broth to skillet; bring to boil. Cook 1 to 2 minutes to reduce by about half. Stir in cream; cook and stir 30 seconds to 1 minute to blend. Return artichoke mixture to pan; heat through.
  4. Remove skillet from heat. Toss artichoke mixture with pasta. Add black pepper as desired. Add walnuts, parsley and Parmesan cheese; toss again. Serve with additional Parmesan cheese, if desired.


Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition information (1/4 of recipe): 351 calories; 15 g protein; 43 g carbohydrates; 16 g total fat; 4 g saturated fat; 25 mg cholesterol;502 mg sodium; 8 g total dietary fiber.

See more at: http://www.dreamfieldsfoods.com/healthy-pasta-recipes/2012/05/artichoke-walnut-prosciutto-angel-hair.html#sthash.qpcCw0Pw.dpuf

Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

1/2 box Dreamfields Angel Hair
4 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 cup chopped prosciutto (about 2 ounces)
1 package (9 ounces) frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and patted dry
1/2 cup chopped leeks or green onions
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 cup reduced-sodium, fat free chicken broth
2 tablespoons heavy cream
Coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted
1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
2 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese
Additional shredded Parmesan cheese (optional)

Directions:

  1. Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add prosciutto; stir to separate pieces. Add artichoke hearts; cook 2 to 3 minutes until artichokes and prosciutto are lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Remove from skillet; set aside.
  2. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and return to pan.
  3. Meanwhile, heat remaining 2 teaspoons oil in same skillet over medium-high heat. Add leeks and garlic; cook 2 to 3 minutes until lightly browned and tender, stirring frequently. Add broth to skillet; bring to boil. Cook 1 to 2 minutes to reduce by about half. Stir in cream; cook and stir 30 seconds to 1 minute to blend. Return artichoke mixture to pan; heat through.
  4. Remove skillet from heat. Toss artichoke mixture with pasta. Add black pepper as desired. Add walnuts, parsley and Parmesan cheese; toss again. Serve with additional Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition information (1/4 of recipe): 351 calories; 15 g protein; 43 g carbohydrates; 16 g total fat; 4 g saturated fat; 25 mg cholesterol;502 mg sodium; 8 g total dietary fiber.

- See more at: http://www.dreamfieldsfoods.com/healthy-pasta-recipes/2012/05/artichoke-walnut-prosciutto-angel-hair.html#sthash.qpcCw0Pw.dpuf

How to Make Your Pasta Favorites a Little Better... Slash the Sodium

Thursday, February 12, 2015 by Dreamfields Recipes & More

Pasta Favorites:  12 Easy Ways to Make Them a Little Bit Better

In this last installment of easy ways to make your pasta dishes a little bit better, we’re taking on sodium. 

Slash the Sodium, Spark Up the Flavor

10. Skip the salt; use herbs, spices and citrus instead.  Oregano, basil and chilies are naturals for many pasta dishes, but Lemon Herb Penne with Dreamfields Pastaexperiment.  Lemon-Herb Penne is seasoned simply with thyme, chives, pepper and lemon peel. (Just 1/8 teaspoon of salt adds about 300 milligrams to a dish.)  

11. Cook from scratch.  Homemade pasta sauce often has less sodium than store-bought.  Try Dreamfields’ easy-to-make No Cook Tomato Basil Sauce.

12. Read the label; make a switch.  For prepared pasta sauces, look for low-sodium or no-salt added products.  Another option: replace half the jarred pasta sauce with salt-free diced tomatoes or tomato sauce.

No Cook Tomato Basil Sauce

 

 

 

 

 

Read Boost the Fiber – and the Vegetable Rainbow, Power Up the Protein, and Cut the Calories for steps 1-9.

Which simple steps will you try?  For more healthy ways to prepare your favorite pasta dishes, check Dreamfields Healthy Recipes.

 

 

How to Make Your Pasta Favorites a Little Better... Cut the Calories

Wednesday, February 11, 2015 by Dreamfields Recipes & More

Pasta Favorites:  12 Easy Ways to Make Them a Little Bit Better

Part three of this series will focus on cutting the calories while still enjoying the full flavor of your recipe.

Cut the Calories, Cut the Fat

  1. Use a smaller plate to right size your portions.  That’s an easy way to “right size” your calorie intake, too.  Consider pasta portions:  if you need about 2000 calories daily, you need about 6 ounces from the grain group; 1 cup of cooked Dreamfields spaghetti or macaroni (elbows) counts as 2 ounces. Dreamfields Pasta's Healthier Mac and Cheese
  2. Change to low-fat dairy options.   Healthier Mac & Cheese gets its rich flavor and creamy texture from lower-fat cheese and plain Greek yogurt.
  3. Go lean.  Prepare meat sauce for spaghetti, lasagna or any pasta dish with lean ground beef, chicken or turkey – or experiment with tempeh, made from soybeans!   

 

Also read Boost the Fiber – and the Vegetable Rainbow and Power Up the Protein for steps 1-6.

Come back tomorrow for our last installment of easy tips to make your pasta dishes a little bit healthier by cutting back on sodium.

Table for Two – On Valentine’s Day & Every Day

Wednesday, February 11, 2015 by News and Updates From Dreamfields

A romantic dinner this Valentine’s Day -- the perfect occasion to prepare your special “table for two.”  But for the growing numbers of one- and two-person households, small-scale cooking can be an everyday meal challenge that may seem like more trouble than it’s worth.  Not so.

Whether for regular fare or an intimate special celebration, meals for two (or one) can be creative and satisfying.  And being home prepared, they can be healthier and arguably more affordable than restaurant meals, too!

Enjoy Recipes for Two

Although most recipes are written for four or six, great recipes also are created for fewer servings.  These trendy “recipes for two” from Dreamfields can get your culinary juices flowing:

 

Scale Down:  Larger Recipes g Smaller Ones

To halve, or halve not?  With simple math, you can cut most recipes in half or thirds – with a few quick tips.  (Baked goods and sauces are often harder to scale down.)

  • Reduce ingredient amounts accurately.

If the recipe says …

For 1/2 the recipe …

For 1/3 the recipe …

¼ cup

2 tablespoons

1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon

1/3 cup

2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons

1 tablespoon + 2 1/4 teaspoons

½ cup

¼ cup

2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons

2/3 cup

1/3 cup

3 tablespoons + 1 ½ teaspoons

¾ cup

6 tablespoons

¼ cup

1 cup

½ cup

1/3 cup

1 tablespoon

1 ½ teaspoons

1 teaspoon

1 teaspoon

½ teaspoon

 generous ¼ teaspoon

¼ teaspoon

1/8 teaspoon

dash (scant 1/8 teaspoon)

1/8 teaspoon

dash (scant 1/8 teaspoon)

dash (scant 1/8 teaspoon)

 

  • Season a little at a time. For the right flavor, you may need more or less than one half or one third of the amount of herb, spice, or salt and pepper.
  • Use a smaller pan.  Right size the cooking equipment for a smaller volume of ingredients.  
  • Watch the time.  A smaller pan with a smaller amount of food may require less cooking or baking time.
  • Find ways to reduce difficult-to-divide ingredients.  If a recipe asks for a large egg, use a small one or just the egg white.  If it calls for a whole apple or banana, a whole zucchini or bell pepper, use half, wrap well and refrigerate the rest for later.
  • Check recipe apps.  Some let you scale down the recipe with a few quick clicks.

Check back later this week for more time and money saving tips on how to prepare tasty meals for two.


 

 

How to Make Your Pasta Favorites a Little Better... Power Up the Protein

Wednesday, February 11, 2015 by Dreamfields Recipes & More

Pasta Favorites:  12 Easy Ways to Make Them a Little Bit Better

Welcome to the second of our four-part series on easy ways to make your pasta dishes a little bit better for you. Yesterday we shared some tips on adding veggies – and fiber – to your favorite pasta dishes.  Today we want to focus on easy ways to power up your protein intake.

Power Up the Protein

4. Add canned beans!  Meatless or not, mixing in canned black, cannellini, kidney or red beans or soybeans (rinsed and drained) added to pasta sauce or mac ‘n cheese delivers and extends the protein economically.  Penne with Greens and Dreamfields Penne with Greens and Cannellini Beans Cannellini Beans is a tasty example.

5. Choose pasta with added protein benefits.  Dreamfields pasta promotes satiety with seven grams of protein per label serving.

6. Add nuts.  Pine nuts and pistachios, as garnishes and in sauces, complement the flavors and add protein to many Mediterranean pasta dishes.  Pine nuts are a staple in pesto; try Sherri’s Pesto Pasta.

Dreamfields Pesto Pasta

 

 

 

Check out Boost the Fiber – and the Vegetable Rainbow for tips 1-3.

Stay tuned for more! Tomorrow we’ll be providing tips 7-9 on how cutting calories and fat . . .but not the taste.

How to Make Your Pasta Favorites a Little Better... Boost the Fiber

Tuesday, February 10, 2015 by Dreamfields Recipes & More

Pasta Favorites:  12 Easy Ways to Make Them a Little Bit Better

Dreamfields Mac and Cheese

 

Mac ‘n cheese … spaghetti with meat sauce … lasagna.  By popular demand, they’re likely among the great-tasting “regulars” on your family table.  With small steps in your food prep, you can make these everyday favorites “just a little bit better.” 

 

 

 

 

Boost the Fiber – and the Vegetable Rainbow

  1. Switch to pasta with more fiber.  Dreamfields’ prebiotic fiber, inulin, helps promote healthy digestion.  All seven cuts of Dreamfields pasta deliver 5 grams of fiber per label serving, about 20% of the day’s recommendation.
  2. Thicken pasta sauces with puréed vegetables.   Toss spaghetti or another favorite pasta cut with canned pumpkin purée, seasoned with cinnamon and nutmeg.  Or purée canned beans (rinsed and drained) and add to pasta sauce for more fiber and fewer calories.
  3. Sneak veggies in.  Just one more makes any pasta dish more nutritious, fiber-rich and appealing!
    • To mac ‘n cheese blend in chopped bell peppers or sun-dried tomatoes for more robust flavors.  Start with Stove Top Mac n Cheese, then add! 
  • To your favorite spaghetti sauce add sliced porcini (dry), shiitake (fresh) or cremini (fresh) mushrooms – and enjoy their earthy flavors like in this recipe for Spaghetti with Wilde Mushroom Sauce.
    • To lasagna arrange a colorful layer of dark-green leafy vegetables, such as chopped chard, kale or spinach, or Dreamfields With Spaghetti Mushroom Saucechopped carrots or butternut squash. 

Tune in tomorrow for more tips on making your pasta dishes a little bit healthier.

How To Take Better Care Of Your Heart

Saturday, February 7, 2015 by Dreamfields Recipes & More

We all know that cardiovascular disease (heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure) should be taken seriously. According to the CDC, it’s the number 1 killer of both women and men in the United States.

Taking small steps towards a healthier you can help to improve your overall health, and decrease your chances of cardiovascular disease. So, what can you start doing today? Give these suggestions from the American Heart Association a try:

  1. Visit your MD.
    Make an appointment with your Doctor to determine where your numbers are so you know exactly where you are starting. Know your “HDL” (good cholesterol) and “LDL” (bad cholesterol), total cholesterol, weight, BMI, and weight. Discuss goals with your Doctor and a plan to check back to review progress. For more information on healthy numbers, visit the ' Numbers that Count for a Healthy Heart'  by the American Heart Association.  
  2. Get others on board.
    Find a friend or perhaps get your entire family on board and make healthy changes together. Use each other as support and celebrate little victories together (in a healthy way, of course!)
  3. Lose Weight.
    Extra weight can raise blood pressure, so if you have a little extra around the middle it is highly recommended to do something about it. According to the American Heart Association, reducing calories in and increasing calories out is the way to go. Read more in the article ‘Losing Weight’.
  4. Eat a Little Better.
    Changing your diet for the better can obviously have an impact on your overall health. Focus on high fiber (link to Roberta’s post on fiber), low sodium meals (link to Roberta’s post on low sodium). And remember to include a variety of colorful veggies! (Link to Roberta’s post on veggies)
  5. De-Stress
    Letting yourself get too stressed can raise your blood pressure, so it is recommended to take some time for yourself. Find a calming activity that you enjoy, and make sure to “unplug” before partaking in it. It is all too common nowadays for people to be connected 24/7 and that can contribute to more stress.

There is plenty more you can do to improve your overall health. Use the American Heart Association as a resource, and get great advice on nutrition, stress management, weight management and more.

Plus, know the warning signs of a heart attack.

DREAMFIELDS HEALTHY PASTA UNVEILS “LBB FOR A HEALTHIER ME” CONTEST ON PINTEREST

Thursday, February 5, 2015 by News and Updates From Dreamfields

New Year’s resolutions are typically long forgotten by the time the Groundhog looks for his shadow.  So Dreamfields Pasta – the “little black box (LBB)” in the pasta aisle – is reigniting motivation with the launch of its “LBB for a Healthier Me” contest on Pinterest this month. 

For the month of February, participants are encouraged to arrange photos onto a special Pinterest board to showcase simple ways to make life a little bit healthier . . . and keep those resolutions alive. Pins can include healthy pasta recipes, exercises, fun activities and inspirational messages, and anything that inspires long-term commitment to wellness.

“Small steps, like choosing a high fiber pasta like Dreamfields, are most effective in making healthy changes that last a lifetime,” said Liz Housman, director of marketing for Dreamfields pasta. “Just like a LBD (Little Black Dress) is the foundation to a well-rounded wardrobe, Dreamfields’ LBB (Little Black Box) is the foundation to a healthier diet.”

Participating in the contest is easy. Users can log in to their personal Pinterest accounts and add as many photos to their contest board as desired.  Contest entry captions should explain how each image contributes to pinners’ goals, using at least one of the official program hashtags--#HealthyPasta, #LittleBlackBox or #DreamfieldsPinterestContest.

Entries are official once participants submit their name, email and contest board URL at www.TryDreamfields.com/Contest . The contest’s official rules and a link to a coupon are also available on that page. To begin your search for healthier pasta inspiration, visit Dreamfields on Pinterest.

“Weighing In” for Health

Monday, January 19, 2015 by News and Updates From Dreamfields

Your healthy weight matters.  Yet, once the New Year’s enthusiasm wears off, well-intended resolutions often get dumped, and extra pounds quickly rebound.  If that sounds familiar (and all-too personal), it’s time to switch your thinking and your approach.

Instead embrace the message of Healthy Weight Week, the third full week of January.  It’s a time to celebrate healthy living – and dieting-free habits that last a lifetime, and that promote health and prevent weight problems.  Those habits aren’t the latest food fads, or weight loss gimmicks, or strict exercise regimens.  Instead they’re summed up simply and sensibly:  living actively, eating well, and feeling good about yourself and others.

Your Healthy Weight …

Are you tall and lanky?  Short and stocky? Apple shaped or pear shaped?  Muscular or not? Healthy bodies come in many sizes and shapes, directed by genes that you can’t control, as well as by lifestyle choices you can! 

Your healthy weight probably isn’t the so-called “ideal weight” on a chart.  Nor is it the weight implied by weight-obsessed celebrity bodies.  

Instead your healthy weight depends on your total health and well-being.  Wherever you tip the scale, your “numbers” (e.g. blood cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure, fasting blood sugar levels) indicate your overall health.  If your “numbers” aren’t within healthy ranges, dropping a few pounds wisely may help.  And your general well-being?  Simply stated, it’s a positive outlook and feeling healthy, energetic and good about yourself and others. And that includes dumping unrealistic notions about the “ideal weight” for you.

Dieting Doesn’t Work, Healthy Living Does …

Popular weight loss regimens (fad diets) may result in short-term weight loss. However, studies show that regular physical activity, wise food choices, and a healthy relationship with food more likely lead to long-term success.  And enjoyment fits all three!

Healthy Weight

  • Enjoy active living:  Every day, your way, as a priority. Skip the self-talk (“too busy,” “too tired, “too boring”), and find ways to move.  Being active not only improves health, relieves stress, builds stamina and strength, keeps bones healthy, and improves sleep; it also helps regulate hunger signals.
  • Take pleasure in eating well:  Make time to savor the flavors and celebrate nourishing food – with family and friends, and even when you eat alone.  Try to eat regular meals and snacks … with a variety of nutrient-dense foods from all five food groups (grains, vegetables, fruits, protein foods, dairy).  Listen to your body signals: eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re full.  Eat mindfully; control your portions.  Enjoy the simple pleasures of preparing and sharing a meal at home; click the Dreamfields’ recipe file for nourishing main dishes, salads and sides, including lower-calorie recipes.
  • Value and accept the uniqueness of you -- and of others.   Set aside unrealistic notions of appearance and body size.  Enjoy life; learn to deal with stress.  Make healthy lifestyle changes one small step at a time.  If you need to shed body weight, go slowly and gradually.  Make overall health and well-being your goals, not unsustainable weight loss. Then enjoy ... how good healthy living feels!

 

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Make Fitness Your Family Goal!

Monday, January 12, 2015 by News and Updates From Dreamfields

It’s January.  The delicious indulgences of holiday foods are now just pleasing memories.  Like many people, your priorities may have turned to earnest promises of healthier eating and exercising more in this new year.

If you’re ready to turn your New Year’s resolutions into realistic, do-able commitments for success, let January Family Fit Lifestyle Month be your perfect “kickstarter.”  This month-long campaign, established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, can help you “hit the restart button” for healthy yearlong -- in fact, lifelong -- lifestyle habits that you and your whole family can embrace.

Why “Family Fit Lifestyles” Matter …

A commitment to fitness helps build a stronger, healthier family unit -- with benefits for every aspect of life:  not just for your physical health, but also for your emotional, social, and mental well-being, too.  Being fit can lead to …

  • A healthier body … with better resistance to common sniffles and “bugs” and with less risk for life-changing health issues, such as heart disease, some cancers, diabetes and osteoporosis.
  • More physical energy, physical strength and endurance … to do what’s important to you and your family, to protect yourselves in emergencies and to learn and be more productive at school and at work.
  • Looking and feeling your personal best … which builds self-esteem and self-confidence (something valued for adults and kids).
  • A sense of well-being … which encourages a positive outlook and stamina to handle the daily stresses, challenges and ups and downs of your busy lives.
  • Positive interactions with family and friends … which adds fun and a better quality of life. 

 

How to Follow a “Family Fit Lifestyle” …

Smart eating, active living and adequate rest are central to family fitness. As a parent or caring adult for others, you’re the best role model to show and teach children the how-to’s of healthy lifestyles.  To start... 

  • Plan to eat smart.  Involve kids in creating “healthy plates” (about half colorful fruits and vegetables, and about a quarter each of lean or low-fat protein foods and of grain choices).  Make a low-fat or fat-free dairy food part of the meal, too.  Tip:  Figuring out a mixed dish, like Dreamfields Penne Rigate with Turkey, Swiss Chard and Walnuts, takes a little “kitchen math.” 

  • Cook together, eat together.  Taking a little extra time to involve kids in food prep helps them learn to enjoy a variety of vegetables and fruits.  Likewise sharing family meals is a powerful strategy to encourage and model healthy eating.  Tip:  Fruit & Yogurt Elbow Salad is an easy dish even for young kids to assemble!

  • Be mindful as you eat.  Encourage slower eating; talk about the foods.  It’s easy to overeat without realizing when you eat too fast. Tip:  Pasta twirled around a fork is often a slower-to-eat meal; put spaghetti, linguini or angel hair recipes on your family menus.
  • Make regular physical activity part of your family's everyday routine:  perhaps brisk, after-dinner walks; active fun (running a homemade obstacle course, jumping rope, hula hooping, dancing to music); and household chores (snow shoveling, raking).  Try to fit in 60 minutes daily, if you can.  And limit screen (TV and computer) time!  Tip:  Plan now to plant a warm weather garden of fresh vegetables to grow and enjoy at your table. (Gardening is great exercise!)
  • Get enough sleep.  Although there’s no magic number, advice from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute is this:  for preschoolers, 11 to 12 hours daily, for school-aged kids, at least 10 hours daily, for teens, 9 to 10 hours daily and for adults, 7 to 8 hours daily.  Sleep deficiency is linked to many health risks, including heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and impaired immunity.

 

As a family, enjoy how good fitness feels – starting now with Family Fit Lifestyle Month!

 

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Holiday Meals Go Italian

Wednesday, December 17, 2014 by News and Updates From Dreamfields

Buon NataleBuone Fest! … Merry Christmas!  Happy holidays! 

With today’s enthusiasm for Mediterranean cuisine, why not flavor your celebratory meals with Italian traditions?  Enjoy what matters most in many Italian holiday gatherings:  great food, skillfully prepared with days of preparation and served with countless relatives gathered around the festive family table.


‘Twas the Night Before Christmas …

 … and all through the Italian kitchen, families from Southern Italy traditionally prepare meatless meals, called La Vigilia di Natale.  Also termed the Eve of the Seven Fishes, this seven- to nine-course meal typically features several seafood dishes, with an antipasti or soup, vegetables, a mixed green salad, crusty bread – and nearly always, a pasta dish!  The number of courses isn’t about indulgence, but instead has a sacred meaning, representing the seven religious sacraments or nine for the Trinity times three.  Going meatless:  a common practice before holy days.

Here are a few ways you can bring seafood and pasta together for your Christmas Eve dinner – including quick recipes -- especially if you choose to serve seven courses or more!

  • Spicy Linguine with Shrimp takes just 30 minutes to prep and cook.  Colorful and easy, gently toss cooked Dreamfields linguine with green, red and/or yellow bell pepper, onion, garlic, parsley and red pepper flake.  Add “tails on” shrimp  and top it off with shaved Parmesan cheese.

  • Easy Mediterranean Angel Hair is a great dish for those preferring vegetarian options.  Sauté a medley of regional ingredients – anchovies, artichoke hearts, bell peppers, capers, garlic, Kalamata olives, thyme and oregano – in olive oil, and toss with Dreamfields angel hair pasta.  For vegans, skip the anchovy filets and the feta cheese on top.
  • Seafood Stew with Rotini combines 2 types of seafood – cod and shrimp – in a zesty sauce of carrots, leeks, tomatoes, clam juice, broth, wine, orange zest and red pepper flakes.  Ladle the seafood sauce over Dreamfields rotini, and top with aioli (savory garlic-flavored mayonnaise) if desired.

Christmas Day Lunch …

… often lasts for hours!   A typical feast begins with a classic antipasti (appetizer) of cured meat, olives and cheese.  A primi (pasta course) comes next, often a baked dish that’s a regional favorite.  The secondi (second course):  roasted meat, chicken or stuffed turkey, served with contorni (vegetables and salads) and bread on the side.  The next courses:  formaggi (cheese), then the dolci (desserts like panettone) as the grand finale.

Three recipe ideas from Dreamfields for a primi course have steps you can prepare ahead:

  • Veggie Lovers Lasagna offers a new take on this family favorite.  Layer cooked Dreamfields lasagna noodles with cremini mushrooms, red bell pepper, yellow squash, broccoli, spinach, cottage cheese, mozzarella, Parmesan cheese, fresh herbs and Alfredo-pesto sauce – and bake on Christmas morning!
  • Roasted Vegetable Macaroni & Cheese brings winter vegetables to the menu. Roast bell pepper, sweet potato, squash, broccoli, portabella mushrooms, onion and garlic ahead.  Before the meal, cook Dreamfields elbows and the savory cheese sauce, then gently combine them with the roasted veggies.
  • Penne Mediterranean Delight Salad is a prepare-ahead, chilled primi course, or a contorni dish to serve on the side.  Tossed with Dreamfields penne rigate, it’s a delicious blend of regional ingredients – cherry tomatoes, red onion, olives, feta cheese, basil, capers, lemon juice, olive oil and toasted pine nuts.

And on December 26th….

... it’s a day to enjoy Santo Stefano’s lunch, of mostly delicious leftovers or perhaps some unique pasta dishes for casual entertaining.  After all, in Italian tradition, holiday feasting continues until January 6, to celebrate the Epiphany, or the visit of the Three Kings.           

For more healthy pasta ideas to serve this holiday season, click on Dreamfields’ collection of authentic, great-tasting pasta recipes.

***

Whether you celebrate Christmas or enjoy the secular festivities this season, the Italians have it right: “chi mangia bene, vive bene,” or “who eats well, lives well.”  The Dreamfields family wishes you and your family a wonderful holiday – and a healthy new year!

 

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Red and Green: Color Your Plate for the Season!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014 by News and Updates From Dreamfields

Green wreathes made of pine, spruce or balsam … holly branches with their shiny green leaves and bright red berries … holiday gifts joyfully wrapped with red and green paper and bows … stores adorned with red and green decorations … tables carefully set with green and red napkins … poinsettias showing off their green and red foliage.  Without question, you know it’s the holiday season!

The Colors of the Holidays!

Apple red and pine green:  their traditional meanings go back hundreds of years. So the stories go … Romans exchanged holly wreathes to celebrate their December Saturnalia festival.  Holly, ivy and mistletoe brightened the indoors during the long, dark days of Europe’s winter.  In the Middle Ages, Paradise Plays on Christmas Eve performed the story of the Garden of Eden, with a pine tree, trimmed with bright red apples tied to its bough -- a tradition that eventually became the Christmas tree.

The Colors of Health!

Red and green represent more than the holiday season.  Brightly-colored vegetables and fruits now – and throughout the year – supply plenty of good nutrition:  vitamins, minerals and fiber, along with thousands of phytonutrients, which promote your health and help your body fight disease in many ways.  A few examples …

  • Red and bright-pink fruits and vegetables contain lycopene and anthocyanins.
  • Lycopene helps support prostate health and may help reduce the risk of some cancers.  Most red fruits and vegetables, such as tomatoes, tomato products (spaghetti sauce, tomato juice, tomato paste), and pink grapefruit provide lycopene.  Heat from cooking spaghetti sauce or canning tomatoes makes lycopene easier for your body to absorb.
  • Anthocyanins work as antioxidants, defending body cells and supporting your brain’s healthy functions. Berries, cherries, cranberries, red grapes and red kidney beans are good sources. 
  • Deep-green vegetables and fruits deliver lutein; some green veggies, indoles and isothiocyanates.
    • Lutein helps promote eye health; lutein is found in the macula of your eye.  Among the good sources are asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, collard greens, kale, Romaine, spinach, Swiss chard and kiwifruit.
    • Indoles and isothiocyanates come from cruciferous vegetables, such as bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, collards, kale, and, watercress.  Among other jobs in your body, these “phytos-“ may help protect against some types of cancer.

Advice:  If you need 2000 calories a day, fit in 2 ½ cups of vegetables daily, including 1 ½ cups of deep-green vegetables and 5 ½ cups of red and orange vegetables weekly.  For fruit, enjoy 2 cups daily from a colorful variety.

The Colors of Holiday Menus

For the festivity of the season, for the visual appeal of delicious meals and for the nourishment they deliver, plan holiday menus with a palette of color!   Use these ideas to get your creative juices flowing …

  • For a light bite … sliced red Delicious and green Granny Smith apples, arranged in a “wreath” with a fruit-yogurt dip inside … red and green bell pepper “sticks” with an herbed yogurt dip … red bell pepper soup , garnished with chopped green onion … Lasagna Soup, cooked with tomatoes and topped with green parsley

  • On the side … red pomegranate seeds or dried cranberries, sprinkled on a crisp, leafy-green salad … green beans, sautéed with chopped red pimiento … a kale salad made with dried cherries or cranberries … roasted skin-on, small red potatoes tossed with chopped parsley … Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Bacon Pasta with a roasted red pepper garnish … slaw made with red cabbage and chopped green apples
  • As an edible garnish … small bunches of red and green grapes, arranged around roasted turkey … roasted beet slices and fresh green herbs , garnishing roast pork or beef… cherry tomatoes and fresh basil on a favorite Dreamfields pasta dish
  • As a beverage … cranberry juice drink garnished with a lime slice … spicy tomato juice with a small celery stick … cranberry smoothie with a slice of kiwifruit floating on top

Wishing you a happy, healthy and colorful holiday season!

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“Eat Smart” Tips for Hectic Holiday Meals

Monday, December 8, 2014 by Dreamfields Recipes & More

'Tis the season … that’s typically all-too hectic, yet traditionally filled with food, fun and festivities.  As for many families, jam-packed holiday schedules may leave you with little time to sit down for shared meals, much less prepare them!  That said, healthy eating, along with adequate rest and a regular fitness routine, continue to be the perfect antidotes for managing the many stresses of the holiday season.

Quick ‘n Easy:  Mealtime Tips for Your Busy Holiday Season

  • Plan ahead.  Keep meal ideas for a few days in mind … and ingredients already on hand. Think about plan-overs from holiday feasts, too.  For example, slice leftover beef roast or turkey to stir into cooked spaghetti and pasta sauce, or mac’ and cheese, or pasta salad.  Fortify homemade or prepared soups with leftover veggies or turkey; add cooked pasta or rice for heartier soup.  Hurry-up dinner idea:  Turkey Mac Soup with cooked turkey left over from yesterday’s entertaining.
     
  • Prep ahead, too.  Save time by spending a few minutes pre-prepping ingredients. For example, wash and trim the veggies, slice meat or chicken, or make the sauce.  Then for dinner, you‘ll just need to assemble and cook.  Hurry-up dinner idea:  Pan-Fried Butternut Squash Pasta, made with prep-ahead steps: peeling, seeding, and shredding the squash.
     
  • Plan variety into a one-dish meal. That can add up to less prep time and less clean up.  Stovetop dinners are usually quick to make – with the main dish and sides prepared as a one-dish meal. Hurry-up dinner ideas:  Quick Chicken & Veggie Spaghetti Skillet, with tomatoes, zucchini, cooked chicken and spaghetti pasta.
     
  • Use quick cooking methods.  Broiling, microwaving, and stir-frying are faster than roasting or baking.  Hurry-up dinner idea: Sweet Potato and Kale Skillet, made by stir-frying diced sweet potato and kale, before adding rotini pasta and ricotta cheese and topping with Parmesan cheese.
     
  • Stock up for quick-to-fix foods.  That way, you’ll always have healthy meal basics on hand.  Keep pasta, rice, frozen and canned vegetable and fruit, canned beans, tuna and salmon, and prepared sauces, dressings, and salsa in your pantry, and prewashed greens, frozen vegetables, cheese, and eggs in the ‘fridge.  Hurry-up dinner idea:  Spaghetti Tuna Salad, a four-ingredient recipe prepared with only pantry foods, and served with a simple fruit salad on the side.
     
  • Involve your whole family.  From start to finish, many hands make faster kitchen work!  Hurry-up dinner idea:  Cheesy Pasta with Chicken and Broccoli.
  • Keep your counters clutter free!  Find another landing place for gift wrap, holiday cards, and decorations.  Being clutter-free you’ll have more space to prepare and enjoy your holiday mealtimes.  Hurry-up dinner idea:   Pasta Cannellini, a simple way to fit beans in, and it doesn’t take much counter space (even if your kitchen isn’t clutter-free).

  • Stay flexible.  When unexpected holiday activities take top priority, switch meal plans around.  It’s okay to serve breakfast for dinner, and lunch for dinner (or even breakfast) if you’re in a real time crunch!   Hurry-up dinner idea:  Cobb & Rotini Pasta Salad, a simple toss of rotini pasta with hard-cooked eggs, cooked chicken and bacon, avocado, tomato, onion and cheese, tastes great at any time of day.

 


 

 

 

Seasonal Vegetables in Harvest Meals – Part Two

Tuesday, November 25, 2014 by News and Updates From Dreamfields

The many shapes of pasta adapt deliciously and easily in their partnership with the many fresh flavors of cool-weather vegetables.  While Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and winter squash hit their peak at this time of year, three more deserve a place at your harvest plate, too.

Eggplant

Known also as aubergine, eggplant is botanically a fruit (or berry).  So why is it called “eggplant”?  Its name derives from the white and yellow varieties found in 18th century Europe, which looked like chicken or goose eggs: hence its name.  Today the most common eggplant varieties have a smooth, shiny skin with a deep-rich purple color.  Farmers’ markets and specialty grocers may carry cultivars that vary from purple to white, oblong to round, and anywhere from two to 12 inches in length.  So experiment with the variety if available.

To buy:  Choose firm, smooth eggplant without wrinkles, tan spots or bruises-- and with a fresh-appearing stem.  Those heavy for their size are the best bet.  If you gently press it, the eggplant should give slightly but bounce back.   Tip:  Smaller eggplants are less bitter and have thinner skins and fewer seeds.

To store: Keep eggplant in a cool, dry place for a day or two– or in the refrigerator up to 4 or 5 days – then use it right away. Store eggplant in the ‘fridge in a perforated plastic bag to slow decay.  Be aware: eggplant is quite perishable and bruises easily, so be gentle.

To prepare: Trim off the stem. Leave the skin on or peel it off -- your choice since it’s edible. (Tip: The skin on young eggplant is more tender.)  Then slice or cube it for braising or frying, removing any blemishes in the flesh, or leave it whole with skin on to roast.  Tip: To reduce bitterness from older eggplant, sprinkle cut eggplant liberally with salt, and let sit in a strainer for an hour. Then drain, rinse and pat it dry with a paper towel before you prep it as desired.

Recipe idea: Prepare this ratatouille-inspired pasta dish, flavored with marinara sauce, parsley, rosemary, onion, red wine and Parmesan cheese.  Penne with Roasted Eggplant & Savory Mushroom Ragout is a robust side dish that would complement a Thanksgiving turkey feast or an autumn dinner with roasted chicken, pork loin or beef roast as centerplate. 

 

Sweet Potato

Sweet potatoes or yams?  While the terms are used interchangeably in the U.S., the sweet, orange root vegetable, as well as their long, red-skinned varieties, are sweet potatoes.  Yams are a different species of tubers -- different in taste, texture and appearance -- and common in the Caribbean, not in the U.S.  Whatever you call these vitamin A-rich vegetables, their natural sweetness complements savory flavors in a harvest meal.

To buy:  Select firm sweet potatoes – small to medium in size -- with smooth skins and without decay or bruises. .

To store:  Store sweet potatoes in a cool, dry, well-ventilated space – but not the ‘fridge – for up to two weeks.  Tip:  Refrigerating sweet potatoes will produce a hard center and less pleasant taste.

To prepare:  Scrub them well, then bake, boil, or sauté sweet potatoes – whole or cut up, skin-on or skinless.  Tip: Substitute sweet potatoes for regular potatoes in most any recipe.

Recipe idea: On the Thanksgiving table, candied sweet potatoes are the traditional side dish.  For another seasonal way to make them part of your menu, prepare Roasted Vegetable Macaroni & Cheese.  Roast a rainbow of vegetables (sweet potato, red bell pepper, yellow squash, broccoli, mushrooms and onion), then fold them, along with a creamy Cheddar cheese sauce, into cooked Dreamfields elbows. It’s a delicious way to enjoy a variety of vegetables in a single dish!

 

Swiss Chard

A member of the beet family, chard’s deep green leaves give any mixed dish vibrancy, a delicate flavor and plenty of good nutrition.  This leafy vegetable presents a rainbow by itself – with green and deep-red leaves, green or reddish leaf blades, and stalks that vary from white and yellow to red.  Cool weather delivers the more delicate texture and flavor.

To buy:  Choose bunches of chard with dark-green leaves (not dried out) and brightly colored stems

To store:  Refrigerate fresh chard in an airtight plastic bag for up to three days for peak quality.

To prepare:  Use chard’s bright, green leaves in recipes that call for spinach; their food prep is the same but the flavor of chard is more delicate.  Wash them well under cold, running water.  Use raw leaves in salads and mature leaves and celery-like stalks in sautéed and other cooked dishes.  Cook the leaves and stalks separately: chopped stalks for about 5 minutes, then add tender, chopped leaves to cook a few minutes longer.   Tip:  Unlike spinach, chard retains its bright green color when cooked.

Recipe idea: Short on time to prepare a big turkey dinner?  Serve Penne Rigate with Turkey, Swiss Chard and Walnuts, a one-dish pasta meal made with Dreamfields penne rigate, Swiss chard, broth and tomatoes, and topped with Parmesan cheese and toasted walnuts

And … if you have leftover Turkey, prepare a hearty Turkey Mac Soup, made with Dreamfields elbows, cooked turkey … and several more vegetables that hit their stride in the autumn season:  leeks, carrots, celery and broccoli.

 

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Seasonal Vegetables in Harvest Meals

Thursday, November 20, 2014 by News and Updates From Dreamfields

Fall produce is at its peak, with the best flavors and arguably their greatest value for delicious and hearty seasonal meals.  Carrots, potatoes and sweet potatoes are harvest favorites – but consider other, perhaps less common, seasonal vegetables that add variety, nourishment and culinary interest to your Thanksgiving and family menus: Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, eggplant, Swiss chard and winter squash.

Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts: they look like baby cabbages!  What’s different is the way they grow.  They’re really leafy green buds that grow on a single long stalk from the small tender ones (1/2 inch diameter) to those that may be three times the size. They’re generally cut off the stalk before being readied for sale.  Why the name?  Brussels sprouts as we know them now were probably cultivated as long as 800 years ago in a region in present day Belgium that was already called Brussels.

To buy:  For tenderness, choose smaller sprouts with bright green leaves and firm, tight heads. Avoid those that are yellowing or turning a drab green.  If they’re still on their stalk, better yet!  You can store them a bit longer!

To store: Refrigerate sprouts in an airtight container for up to 3 days. With longer storage a stronger flavor may develop.

To prepare: Trim the ends; remove and discard the loose outer leaves, then clean them.  You now have options: either cut them in half or quarters, or keep them whole but make a cut through the center of the stem so heat penetrates the sprouts as they cook.  You can boil, grill, roast, sauté, steam or stir fry sprouts, but to keep their delicate flavor and aroma, don’t overcook them!  Gently separate the leaves if you stir fry the sprouts.

 

Recipe idea: Feature roasted Brussels sprouts with prosciutto or bacon, goat cheese and spaghetti as a main dish -- Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Bacon Pasta -- in a harvest menu.  Tip:  Roasting is simple; just drizzle with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper, and roast for 20 minutes.

 

Butternut Squash

 

A type of winter squash, the pear-shaped butternut squash has a sweet, nutty flavor and orange flesh that’s much like pumpkin.  Like other squash, it grows on a long, trailing vine.  

To buy: Select firm squash that’s heavy for its size, with a deep-colored, hard rind that’s blemish free. For convenience, look for pre-packaged, cut-up, raw butternut squash.

To store:  Keep whole butternut squash in a cool, dark place for a month or longer; refrigerate it if you prefer.

To prepare:  Enjoy butternut squash roasted or toasted, pureed or mashed, or halved and grilled or baked!  To prepare you can:  1) peel, remove seeds, cut up and simmer squash for all kinds of mixed dishes, 2) slice in half lengthwise, remove seeds, and bake cut side down or bake cut-side up, with butter, nuts and spices in the hollow or 3) cut in ½ to 1-inch slices and roast.

Recipe idea: Complement your Thanksgiving meal with this memorable and seasonal side dish:  Butternut Squash & Linguine.  Butternut Squash simmered in wine and garlic, tossed with cooked linguine, goat cheese (or blue cheese or Parmesan) and sage, and topped with prosciutto and perhaps toasted walnuts.  A delicious harvest dish!

 

Cauliflower

Like broccoli, cauliflower is a flower; hence its name from Latin: caulis meaning stalk and floris meaning flower. And like broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cabbage, cauliflower is botanically part of the brassica family.  In fact, Mark Twain recognized its upscale qualities, calling it “nothing but cabbage with a college education.”   

To buy:  Choose a firm head with crisp leaves by the stalk and compact florets; size doesn’t make a difference. While white cauliflower is most common, look for unique varieties in specialty stores:  green, orange and purple

To store:  Wrap raw cauliflower tightly and refrigerate for up to 5 days.  Once cooked, refrigerate for just 1 to 3 days for peak quality.

To prepare:  Enjoy cauliflower raw or enjoy it roasted, boiled, steamed or sautéed.  The outer leaves and stems are edible, too.  Remove the stems and break the florets into smaller pieces for even cooking or for finger food snacks.  Or steam or bake the head whole.  Cook just until soft, not mushy.

Recipe idea: Add elegance and nutrition to mac ‘n cheese -- Creamy Stove Top Cauliflower Mac n Cheese -- by blending freshly cooked, mashed cauliflower with the creamy cheddar cheese-pasta mixture. Tip:  To speed food prep time, pre-cook the cauliflower and macaroni ahead, then finish cooking just before serving time.

 

For more flavorful dishes -- with pasta partners – featuring other seasonal produce, check the Dreamfields recipe file.  Hint: Penne with Roasted Eggplant & Savory Mushroom Ragout could be a great side with your turkey dinner!  And Penne Rigate with Turkey, Swiss Chard and Walnuts an easy Thanksgiving dish if you’re short on time to prepare a big turkey dinner!

 

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Pasta + Sauces: Perfect Pairings

Wednesday, October 29, 2014 by News and Updates From Dreamfields

Every month is pasta month.  That said, an October National Pasta Month celebration can spur your ingenuity and adventure for new pasta-sauce combinations.

The mild flavor and different cuts (shapes) of pasta make them perfect partners for uniquely different pasta sauces … whether you make your own sauce from scratch, buy jarred sauces or prepare the sauce in a pasta recipe.

Different Shapes, Different Sauces

Almost any sauce goes with the box of spaghetti in the cabinet.  But with the myriad sauce options, did you ever ask yourself … which pasta sauce is the best match for different pasta cuts?  Although there’s plenty of room for culinary creativity, the “long” and “short” of it is: 

  • Thicker, long  pasta (e.g. fettuccine) with heartier or creamier sauces
  • Thinner, long pasta (e.g. angel hair) with light, delicate sauces or perhaps olive oil and herbs and finely-chopped mixtures
  • Shapes, tubes, and short pasta (e.g. penne, rotini, elbows) to support chunkier, often more seasoned, sauces (perhaps with chunky veggies and meat)
  • Lasagna with its ridges and ruffles, to capture heavy sauces and cheese, in baked dishes

For more tips on pairing pasta shapes and sauces, click on How To Pair Your Pasta Shapes With The Right Sauce.

Pasta Sauces:  A Quick Reference

Thoughts of “pasta” often conjure up thoughts of the many popular sauces that make a dish so deliciously “Mediterranean.”   Many, but not all, are prepared with tomatoes (before contact with the Americas, there were not tomatoes in Europe).  Other sauces are as simple as olive oil and herbs, perhaps with some grated cheese.  This quick reference describes the ingredients … and why each popular pasta sauce is uniquely flavorful.

Sauce

Description

Dreamfields Recipe

Alfredo

Rich, creamy sauce of heavy cream, butter, grated Parmesan, and perhaps egg yolks, flour and garlic

Shrimp & Pasta Cheddar-Alfredo

Arrabbiata

A dish with a spicy tomato sauce with pancetta and chiles

 

Bechamel

White sauce made with flour, milk, butter and onion, often used as a sauce for lasagna and for mac and cheese

 

Carbonara

Cooked sauce made of cream, eggs, Parmesan cheese and bacon pieces

Linguine Carbonara

 

Spaghetti Carbonara

Classic

Typically a simple, cooked red sauce of tomatoes, diced vegetables, olive oil, and seasonings.

Basic Tomato Sauce with Linguine

 

No Cook Tomato Basil Sauce

Marinara

Highly-seasoned, classic, cooked tomato sauce made with onions, garlic and oregano and perhaps basil, parsley, olives, other seasonings, and perhaps seafood; sometimes called neopolitan sauce 

Elbows with Prosciutto, Olives and Marinara  

Pesto

Uncooked sauce of crushed ingredients: most commonly, fresh basil, garlic, pine nuts, Parmesan or Pecorino cheese and olive oil.  Tip:  Substitute other nuts (almonds, walnuts) or herbs (parsley, rosemary).

Sherri's Pesto Pasta

 

Linguini with Walnut Pesto Sauce

 

Roasted Vegetables with Rotini & Rosemary Pesto.

Puttanesca

Spicy cooked sauce of tomatoes, onions, capers, black olives, anchovies, oregano and garlic, cooked in olive oil. 

Chicken Puttanesca with Spaghetti

 

Linguini Puttanesca

Ragu

Thick, full-flavored, cooked meat sauce, often made with ground meat (sometimes pork or ham); sautéed tomatoes, carrots, celery, garlic, onion and herbs; and often enhanced with wine, milk or cream.  Sometimes called ragu bolognese

Penne with Roasted Eggplant & Savory Mushroom Ragu

Romesco sauce

Classic Spanish sauce made of ground tomatoes, red bell peppers, onion, garlic, almonds and olive oil, used in pasta dishes, over grilled fish or with poultry and stews.

 

Vodka

Marinara sauce with a splash of vodka and cream

 

 

Pasta “Saucing” Tips

  • When preparing a pasta meal, first shop for pasta sauce or pick a sauce recipe.  Then choose the pasta cut to match. 
  • Cook pasta only until al dente, or “firm to the tooth,” so the sauce can adhere to the pasta without the pasta losing its shape or firm texture.
  • Drain hot pasta as soon as it’s cooked.  Return it to the pot with a ladle of pasta sauce; toss it gently to lightly coat the pasta.  Then add enough sauce, without overwhelming the pasta.
  • Save a little cooking water when draining the pasta.  Add a little if the pasta looks too dry with the sauce.  The starchy cooking water helps the sauce coat the pasta.  Be judicious:  just a splash will do!
  • Mound the pasta with its sauce in the center of the plate to both keep it warm longer and to keep the sauce from overflowing the plate.
  • Toss cheese just before serving – or shave some on top -- so it melts into the pasta dish without getting stringy.

Enjoy National Pasta Month!

Treat your Friends And Family To 1 Of These 7 Casual Entertaining Recipes

Friday, October 10, 2014 by Dreamfields Recipes & More

Entertaining can be lots of fun. Friends and family + great food can be a recipe for good times, but can also prove to be stressful for the host.

So instead of trying to shoot for the moon why not take it easy with one of our “casual entertaining” recipes created by one of seven different guest bloggers? These delicious recipes are great for having friends or family over for a relaxed evening of food and fun.

Buffalo Chicken Pizza Macaroni and Cheese

Buffalo Chicken Pizza Macaroni and Cheese

Combine tailgate favorites buffalo wings and pizza with mac & cheese to create this outrageously delicious pasta dish.

Get the recipe!

 

Linguine With Meatballs, Mushrooms and Creamy Onion Sauce

Linguine With Meatballs, Mushrooms and Creamy Onion Sauce

Enjoy this easy, simple, stress-free recipe that combines the taste of lean ground beef meatballs with a creamy onion sauce and cremini mushrooms.

Get the recipe!

 

 

Creamy Garlic and Avocado Primavera

Creamy Garlic and Avocado Primavera

Imagine everything you want in a decadent cream sauce… but it’s healthier! That’s what this savory recipe offers. “Indulge” in creamy avocado, sharp garlic and scallions as well as an “Alfredo” sauce created from nonfat yogurt.

Get this recipe!

 

 

Awesome Pasta with Quick and Healthy Tomato Sauce

Awesome Pasta With Quick And Healthy Tomato Sauce

Need a quick recipe to entertain with? Then look no further. This recipe only has 12-20 minutes of total cook time and features succulent ground lamb, sweet onion, brown sugar and an easy tomato sauce.

Get the recipe!

 

 

Lasagna Rolls With Chicken Cordon Bleu And Kale Filling

Lasagna Rolls With Chicken Cordon Bleu And Kale Filling

Did you know that you can reduce the cooking time for your lasagna recipes by making lasagna roll ups instead? Well, that’s exactly what CookTheStory did to delicious results with her recipe, which features the decadence of chicken cordon bleu with the health benefits of chopped kale. Try it for yourself at your next get-together!

Get the recipe!

 

 

Dreamy Creamy Asparagus Chicken Rotini

Dreamy Creamy Asparagus Chicken Rotini

Skip having to dress up for a night on the town and instead indulge in relaxed moments with friends, casual clothing, casual food and casual conversation. Top it off with a delicious meal that combines asparagus spear tips, shredded Parmesan cheese, succulent chicken breast, rotini pasta all covered in a simple sauce.

Get the recipe!

 

 

Penne Rigate Chicken Pasta Soup Recipe

Penne Rigate Chicken Pasta Soup Recipe

Soups are often overlooked when it comes to entertaining, however, they are some of the easiest and most delicious types of meals that you could serve a large group. This recipe features succulent chicken drumsticks, crisp celery and fresh mushrooms. Enjoy!

Get the recipe!

 

Meatless on the Menu

Wednesday, October 8, 2014 by News and Updates From Dreamfields

October:  besides the seasonal menu shift from summer produce to autumn crops, it’s Vegetarian Awareness Month – and perhaps a chance to enjoy some Meatless Mondays or add spark to your menus with new vegetarian recipes.

Why Eat Vegetarian-Style?

There’s no single reason – and no single benefit – for those who choose a plant-based diet.   For some, vegetarian food is just a personal preference, often for the unique and delicious flavors and ingredients in many ethnic vegetarian dishes.   Others cite health, perhaps as a fitness strategy. Some have concerns about animal welfare, world hunger or the impact of animal agriculture on the environment. The lower cost of a plant-based diet motivates, especially as meat and fish prices go up.  And some people (Seventh-Day Adventists, Buddhists, Hindus, Jainists, others) follow a vegetarian eating and lifestyle for religious or spiritual reasons.

What’s the Health Connection? 

Whatever the reasons, a vegetarian eating style can have health benefits – if the foods are chosen and prepared with good nutrition in mind.  Research shows a positive link between plant-based diets and lowered risks of obesity and some chronic diseases:  heart disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.  Why?  Vegetarian food patterns tend to have less saturated fat and cholesterol and more complex carbs, fiber, potassium, folate, carotenoids and other phytonutrients.  Many fit-focused vegetarians also watch their calorie intake and make other healthful lifestyle choices:  regular physical activity, no smoking and moderate or no alcoholic drinks.

That said, “vegetarian” doesn’t necessarily equate to “healthier.”  Vegetarian meals can be high in calories, fat and sodium and low in fiber, calcium and other important nutrients if poorly planned.  Remember that sodas, desserts and fries may be vegetarian, but still deliver a lot of added sugars, fat and calories.  Healthy vegetarian eating focuses on nutrient-dense foods:  vegetables, fruit, lean proteins such as beans, fiber-rich grains and low-fat and fat-free dairy foods.

What nutrients may come up short?  Iron, zinc, vitamin B12, calcium and vitamin D, which come from animal products such as meat and milk; read food labels to choose foods, including fortified foods, with these nutrients.  Protein usually isn’t an issue since eating a variety of plant-based foods -- grains, beans, nuts and vegetables, and dairy foods and eggs for many vegetarians-- can provide all the essential amino acids that the body needs.   

 

The Menu:  What Vegetarian Style?

Lacto-ovo-vegetarians enjoy milk, cheese and other dairy foods, and eggs, as well as beans, nuts and seeds, grains, vegetables, and fruit, but no meat, poultry, or fish.  Dairy and eggs are complete proteins, with all nine essential amino acids.

Menu ideaRoasted Vegetable Macaroni & Cheese, a healthier way to prepare a traditional family favorite.  It’s made by roasting sweet red bell peppers, yellow squash, white onion, sweet potato, fresh garlic, mushrooms and broccoli florets, before combining them with Dreamfields elbows and a white cheddar and parmesan cheese cream sauce.  The sauce has eggs for a thickener (and a protein source).

Lacto-vegetarians follow a similar eating pattern but stay away from eggs and egg derivatives such as egg whites and albumin.  Many traditional pasta recipes such as Vegetable Lasagna and Healthier Mac & Cheese are made with cheese as a protein and calcium source.  For some new culinary ideas, try these pasta dishes which deliver dairy as well as a hefty amount of veggies and fruit!

Menu ideaPasta Toss with Zucchini, Beans, Tomatoes, and Feta, combines protein-rich cannellini beans with roasted tomatoes, zucchini, Dreamfields rotini and feta cheese.  Tip:  Add beans of all types – black, cannellini, kidney and more – to pasta dishes to boost the protein.

Menu ideaSpaghetti with Roasted Brussels Sprouts & Greek Yogurt Cream Sauce, a combo of trendy roasted Brussels sprouts and Dreamfields spaghetti, combined with several calcium- and protein-rich dairy foods:  Greek yogurt, goat cheese, mozzarella, and blue cheese.

Menu idea:   Roasted Vegetable Pasta Primavera from A to Z:  a colorful rainbow of roasted veggies -- asparagus, bell pepper, broccoli, carrots, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, peas, shallots, yellow squash and zucchinis – tossed with Dreamfields spaghetti, fresh parmesan, pine nuts and seasonings.  Variety on the plate!

Menu ideaFruit & Yogurt Elbow Salad, perfect as a main dish, breakfast food or dessert, combines yogurt, fruit, almonds and cinnamon (and perhaps mint and  honey) with Dreamfields elbows.

Vegans, or strict vegetarians, avoid animal-based foods altogether -- so no meat, poultry, fish, eggs, or dairy, and no products made from them such as gelatin, lard, whey, casein, and perhaps honey (made by bees).   Protein comes from legumes (beans), nuts, and seeds, along with grain products such as Dreamfields pasta; calcium, from broccoli, calcium-processed tofu, as well as fortified soymilk, other dairy alternatives and juice. (Note:  Dreamfields pasta does not contain egg or egg derivatives; besides being higher in fiber (5 grams per label serving) than traditional pasta, it also delivers 7 grams of plant protein per serving.

Menu idea: Spaghetti Oriental, an Asian “noodle” dish that combines Dreamfields spaghetti with peanuts stir-fried with chiles, soy sauce and lemon juice, which is then tossed with hearts of palm, cucumber, fresh mint and cilantro and lemon zest.  Peanuts deliver protein to vegan meals.

Menu idea: Sesame-Soy Edamame and Pasta Salad, a savory combination of protein-rich edamame (soybeans), Dreamfields rotini, radishes, cilantro, and green onions, dressed with pickled ginger, garlic, sesame oil, soy sauce and rice wine vinegar dressing.  Edamame is an excellent source of complete protein.  Garnish with sesame seeds if you’d like!

Menu idea: Sherri’s Pesto Pasta, a quick and easy dish, with a homemade pesto sauce of basil, pine nuts, olive oil and garlic, tossed with Dreamfields spaghetti.  (Tip: substitute angel hair, linguini or rotini pasta, if you prefer.)

Menu idea: Healthy Green Curry Pineapple Rotini, the tropical flavors of pineapple, coconut milk, curry and lemon grass, tossed with Dreamfields rotini, carrots and broccoli.   Choose coconut milk that’s fortified with calcium and vitamin D!

 

For more meatless pasta recipes, check these menu ideas from Dreamfields!  And in many of the flavorful pasta recipes that call for meat or poultry, try substituting cooked or canned beans, firm tofu, tempeh or soy burgers.