August 13, 2018by Cook Learn Live0

Breakfast Basics was one of the classes in our recent Feed Your Family Right series.  We covered what it takes to build a healthy breakfast and try out a few recipes for delicious, nutritious, and easy to prepare ways to start the day.  Here’s a sneak peek at what we discussed about oatmeal, including some ideas for fast and easy prep!

Oatmeal is a great way to start your day.  Filling and warm, it can really keep you going through your morning.  Studies have shown that beta-glucan, the soluble fiber in oats, can help to lower LDL cholesterol and to slow down digestion time, helping with glucose control.  The insoluble fiber in the oats fills you up and reduces hunger cravings for hours after eating. Oatmeal is inexpensive and gluten free (those with celiac – make sure that your package says so), and can be the perfect blank canvas for your favorite fruits and flavorings.

Do you love homemade oatmeal but lack the time in the morning to make it fresh every day? Don’t reach for a packet of the sugary stuff, try our two hints for advance preparation and enjoy a warming bowl in as little as two minutes.

  • If you have a favorite oatmeal recipe or brand already, make a large batch and freeze in individual containers.  Take one out of the freezer and place into the fridge before you go to bed, and then zap it in the microwave in the morning for about 90 seconds at high power.  Stir to make sure that the oatmeal is fully heated and then top as desired.
  • Don’t want to even wash a pot?  Try overnight soaked oatmeal instead.  Place equal amounts by volume of old-fashioned oats and your liquid of choice (water, milk, or a milk replacer such as almond or coconut milk) into a container with a lid, stir to combine, cover and refrigerate overnight.  In the morning, scoop out your serving into a bowl, heat for 60 to 90 seconds, and serve with your choice of toppings.

Ingredients for today’s batch of overnight oatmeal – equal volumes of old fashioned rolled oats and almond milk.
Want some ideas for topping your oatmeal?  Think fruit, nuts, and seeds and try to stay away from a lot of sugary sweet toppings.  Chopped fresh fruit or a spoonful of sugar free or low sugar fruit preserves add sweetness, as would a teaspoon of honey or maple syrup.  Go easy when using dried fruits as their sugars are pretty concentrated.  Toasted chopped nuts, pumpkin or sunflower seeds, and nutty flax seeds or hemp hearts all make great additions and up the ante with heart healthy unsaturated fats, omega 3’s and protein.  Try swirling in a bit of plain or vanilla low-fat yogurt for a creamier alternative, or even your favorite nut butter.  Turn your soaked oats into muesli by adding some apple juice to the soaking liquid and then stirring in plain yogurt and chopped apples before serving.


August 10, 2018by Cook Learn Live0

We’ve all heard “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” and its true that apples are generally good for us.  An average medium size apple has 95 calories, 4 grams of fiber, and provides 14% of our daily requirement of vitamin C.  The soluble fiber and antioxidants in apples have been shown to have a positive impact on lowering LDL cholesterol (the bad kind), reducing inflammation, and lowering the risk of heart disease.  Sounds pretty good, right?  Well, what do you do when you have too many apples?

My family belongs to a CSA — a community supported agriculture program where we pay in advance for a weekly share of seasonal produce from a local farm.  We generally love the vegetables and fruits that we get from Stoneledge Farm, but every fall we find ourselves falling behind (no pun intended) the weekly onslaught of apples that come in our fruit share.  This year we didn’t even do our annual apple picking trip, and we still have a huge bowlful on the counter.

So, what do we do with all of those apples?  Desserts are the obvious choice, but not always the healthiest one.  Of course, there are plenty of recipes out there for unsweetened applesauce, baked apples, crumbles, crisps and pies with limited amounts of sweeteners and saturated fats, but they all relegate apples to the dessert end of the spectrum.

I love to find uses for apples in savory dishes.  The key is to use them in recipes where their crisp natural sweetness, gentle acidity, and crunch can play well with the other ingredients.  Salads are the easy answer, especially those featuring dark, flavorful greens such as spinach and kale.  Diced or shredded apples add a nice sweetness to ribbons of Italian Lacinato (or dinosaur) kale dressed with a vinaigrette of cider vinegar whisked with olive oil and grainy or Dijon mustard.  Try adding shredded apples to shredded cabbage for a sweet turn on coleslaw, or mix with shredded carrots, beets, jicama or kohlrabi for a great, crisp salad — made even better with the addition of toasted walnuts or pumpkin seeds on top.  Apples can also add sweet magic to vegetable and grain dishes.  Try sautéing apple slices with shredded cabbage or roasting apple chunks with sweet potatoes, or toss raw or roasted apples into cooked grains.

Apples work great as a naturally sweet counterpoint to chicken, turkey and pork.  I love serving apples simply sautéed in a little olive oil — with or without onions or shallots — and a sprinkling of thyme or rosemary with grilled chicken, lean pork chops, and pork or turkey tenderloin. (If you haven’t yet discovered turkey tenderloins, search them out!)  Try Eating Well’s recipe for Chicken & Spiced Apples— a fan favorite!  For a great all-in-one autumn dinner, my recipe for Maple Glazed Chicken Thighs with Roasted Squash, Apples, and Onions is below.  Hmm, that looks like a good use for you, oh growing pile of butternut squash, also from the CSA!

So, go forth confidently into the Fall knowing that when life gives you lots and lots of apples you can make so much more than just pie and applesauce.  Take a walk on the savory side and that pile of apples will soon dwindle.  Let me know what you come up with — I can always use more inspiration in the kitchen!

Maple Glazed Chicken Thighs with Roasted Squash, Apples & Onions

The best flavors of fall - squash, apples, onions, and maple syrup - are incorporated into this healthy chicken dish chock full of Vitamins A and C. Marinating skinless chicken thighs infuses the meat with flavor and roasting the squash and apples brings out their rich caramel notes. Serve with simple sautéed or steamed greens such as spinach, kale, or chard, or crisply cooked green beans to balance the sweetness of the dish.
Servings 6 servings


  • 3 cups 1/2 in cubed peeled butternut squash 1 1/2 lbs
  • 3 medium onions cut into thin wedges with root end intact
  • 2 medium crisp apples cored, peeled and cut into wedges
  • 2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 and ½ tablespoons olive oil divided
  • 1 tsp. salt divided
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 1 ½ # boneless skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat
  • 2 T. maple syrup
  • ¼ cup sherry or cider vinegar


  1. Preheat the oven to 375° F.
  2. Combine the maple syrup, vinegar, remaining olive oil, and remaining salt and pepper in a non-reactive bowl or lidded container. Stir to combine, add the chicken and coat well. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 to 45 minutes.
  3. In a large bowl, combine squash, onions, apples, 1 tablespoon olive oil, ½ tsp salt, ½ teaspoon ground pepper, and thyme. Toss well to coat. Arrange squash mixture in a single layer on a baking sheet or large baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring once, or until squash is cooked through and all vegetables are nicely caramelized. Remove from the oven and set aside.
  4. Heat a large non-stick pan over medium high heat. Remove the chicken from the marinade (reserving the marinade) and place into the skillet, making sure that pieces do not touch or overlap. Brown the chicken evenly on both sides, about 5 minutes per side. Once browned, remove the chicken and keep warm. Pour the remaining marinade into the pan; bring to a boil while scraping the bottom of the pan with a spatula, and cook down until reduced by half. Remove from the heat. Place the chicken pieces into the pan of roasted vegetables and pour the marinade over everything, gently mixing to coat well. Return the pan to a 350° oven for 15 minutes to allow the sauce to glaze and ensure that the chicken is fully cooked.

Recipe Notes

Boneless, skinless chicken thighs cook rather quickly while remaining juicy. All poultry should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165° F to ensure that it is safe to eat.