Food and Entertaining

How to build healthy habits for the school year and beyond


(BPT) - Bells are ringing across the country as kids settle into classrooms for a year full of fun, friendship and plenty of learning.

While exciting, adjusting to new school schedules is a hectic time. Healthy habits are often forgotten as the focus shifts to studies, assignments and extracurriculars.

"Parents and caregivers can make a big difference in helping kids lead a healthy lifestyle during the back-to-school season and beyond," says Deanna Segrave-Daly, a mom and registered dietitian. "A few proactive steps can set kids up for success in and out of the classroom."

Segrave-Daly offers six easy ideas you can try to help encourage your kids to build healthy habits that last a lifetime:

Prioritize sleep

Sleep is something families often sacrifice due to busy schedules. Remember, kids need significantly more sleep than adults to support their rapid mental and physical development, according to the National Sleep Foundation. School-age children should strive for nine to 11 hours of sleep each night. Establish a nighttime routine and prioritize sleep every night.

Eat breakfast

We all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day — especially for our kids. Help them jump-start their day with a quick breakfast of healthy foods like fruit, eggs and whole-grain cereal. For those busy mornings, grab fridge-free, GoGo squeeZ YogurtZ, made with real low-fat yogurt and fruit, for a wholesome option they can easily eat in the car or bus with a banana, toaster waffle or whole-wheat toast.

Encourage exercise

Kids should do at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Hopefully some of this physical activity can take place during the school day, but there are lots of easy ways to build healthy activity into daily life at home. Make a habit of going on a family walk after dinner (a great chance to unwind and reconnect) or challenge kids to bring their books up the stairs or to another room one at a time. Take 10-minute “dance party” breaks during homework or see who can jump rope the longest.

Manage screen time

It's important for families to be mindful of screen time for kids. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends kids ages 2-5 limit screen use to one hour per day of high-quality programs. For children 6 and older, place consistent limits on the time spent using media and monitor the types of media used.

Snack well

Kids love to snack, and it’s important to keep nutritious options on hand for when hunger strikes — it helps them avoid emergency vending machine stops. Stock your pantry with healthier snacks like GoGo squeeZ applesauce pouches. These fridge-free pouches, made from natural ingredients, are easy to grab on the way to soccer practice, music lessons or the playground. They’re also an easy lunchbox addition!

Adjust the attitude

Mental wellness is part of overall wellness. Keep in mind the power of a positive attitude toward education. Encourage kids to look at issues from different angles, appreciate diversity and be resilient. Have conversations with children and truly listen to their concerns to build trust and solve problems.

Finally, it's the adult role models in a child's life that really set them up for success.

"If you model healthy habits, your child is likely to follow your lead," says Segrave-Daly. "Try to routinely eat well, sleep well, exercise and have conversations about the good and bad parts of your day. Your kids are paying attention even when it seems like they aren’t!"

3 things you'll need to throw the ultimate tailgating party


(BPT) - Football season is finally upon us and fans everywhere are getting revved up to cheer on their favorite team. Whether you watch the big game from the comfort of your home or head down to the stadium, it’s the perfect time to throw the mother of all football celebrations — a really big tailgating party.

Tailgating is a chance to enjoy (or brave) the fall weather and bond with friends over the anticipation of football. At its peak, stadium tailgating can turn into a free-flowing block party that anyone can crash.

Whether at home on the deck or camped out at the stadium, an unforgettable day of tailgating starts with a good plan and the right mindset. Whatever you do, be sure and roll out the welcome mat and tackle the tailgating experience head on, creating the ultimate football party zone.

1. Up your grill game

You can’t tailgate without great food and mountains of meat. That means this is a good time to evaluate your outdoor cooking gear.

Consider adding a second grill, and you'll have plenty of extra cooking space to feed the crowd. One great addition to your lineup is the Black 3-Burner Liquid Propane Gas Grill by Char-Broil, available at Lowe’s. It’s easy to start so you’ll have those extra burgers, steaks or chicken wings sizzling right away.

Explore other additions to your grilling kit to help you fix up a memorable feast. Invest in that smoker you always wanted so you can perfect your brisket recipe and make your tailgate party an instant fan favorite. Nowadays, portable grills come with larger cooking spaces, so you can keep those bellies filled while making the trip to the stadium much easier.

2. Make room for the crowd

Wherever you tailgate, meeting new people is part of the fun and tradition, so be prepared for extras. Take a look at your seating situation and add folding chairs so you'll always have space for special guests. When people are enjoying the spread of snacks, appetizers and sides, extra tables will keep the buffet well-organized with plenty of elbow room. Finally, preparation will keep everyone comfortable through that unpredictable fall weather. A spacious pop-up canopy or two with your team’s colors and logo can keep the party going and those spirits up whether the day brings intense sun or a chilly fall drizzle.

3. Get everyone off their feet

Tailgating is not just hanging out for a couple hours in a parking lot; it can last an entire day. Break up the lull and get everyone on their feet with some yard games. You could always purchase some game sets, but with a little effort and the help of some power tools, you can build your own.

Building a few sets of cornhole boards and ring toss games is easier than you think. Or you can keep it casual with homemade diced darts made with giant foam dice. A high-stakes giant-sized balancing block tower game is a sure way to amp up the excitement. In any case, a bit of friendly competition creates the perfect ice breaker for any gathering.

Lowe’s is the place where you can find everything you need to create the ultimate tailgating experience that will please any fan. Find more creative tailgating ideas at

Age ferociously with this eating game plan


(BPT) - A healthy diet and lifestyle are our best weapons against age-related diseases, and for staying healthy and active throughout life.

Becci Twombley is sports dietitian for USC Athletics and Angels Baseball, overseeing the nutrition of 650 collegiate athletes and the 200 MLB and minor league baseball players within the Angels organization. The healthy practices she employs to keep her athletes fighting strong also apply as preventative measures for staying fit and active as we age.

“It’s vital at any age to adopt good habits to live a long and healthy life,” says Twombley. “Exercise and move 30 minutes a day and along with that, pay attention to what you put in your body.” Twombley’s prevention plan against age-related illnesses and conditions starts with a “food first” approach.

Diet has a profound impact on two of the leading causes of age-related illnesses and conditions: inflammation and being overweight, according to Twombley. “Maintaining a healthy heart and blood vessels are two of the most important things anyone can do, along with keeping one’s weight under control.”

Eating a healthy diet does not need to be a chore, she claims. It is all a question of smart choices. Picking the right foods not only makes a difference in health risks, but also positively affects performance throughout the day at work and at home. While the answer is not in a single food, or even a handful, adding nutrient-rich foods like these Twombley recommends, and calls the "All Americans" of the functional food group, is part of a winning game plan.


Pistachios are a multitasking nut that has proteins and healthy fats, as well as three types of antioxidants. Those antioxidants help to decrease blood pressure and allow for good muscle recovery. Large population studies show that people who regularly eat nuts, such as pistachios, have a substantial lower risk of dying from heart disease or suffering a heart attack. Pistachios may protect from heart disease in part by improving blood cholesterol levels. Pistachios contain relatively high levels of the amino acid L-arginine, which maintains the arteries’ flexibility and enhances healthy blood flow by boosting nitric oxide, a compound that relaxes blood vessels. They’re also good for the eyes and skin, and have been found to positively promote weight maintenance.

Cherry juice

Twombley serves tart cherry juice to her athletes after their workouts as its targeted antioxidants help with muscle recovery, improving recovery time. In addition, it boosts sleep quality to help prevent anxiety and stress later on in the day.

Greek yogurt

Plain Greek yogurt is a nutrient-packed snack that has many health benefits. High in protein, it can boost energy and muscle mass, which decreases as we age. It can also benefit digestive health if it contains probiotics. Check the label to see if it contains live and active cultures.


The deep red root vegetable increases the size of blood vessels, thereby improving the flow of oxygen that can get to muscles and tissues. For anyone with high blood pressure or suffering from cardiovascular disease, this is a good food to include.


A good hydration beverage that has protein, vitamin D and calcium like we often hear, milk also contains electrolytes for good muscle contraction.

Salmon and grass-fed beef

Both of these are high in omega-3, which is a really good healthy fat profile for overall heart health. They also decrease inflammation in the long term. Inflammation causes a lot of the diseases we fear as we age, whether it’s diabetes or cardiovascular health.

Beyond these foods Twombley identifies, the noted nutritionist has more tips for healthy eating.

* Look for different colors of foods at different times. Make sure they’re incorporated throughout the day.

* Eat often and in a good portion size.

* Shop for high quality whenever possible and pay attention to ingredients.

* Maintain balance. Make sure your plate has carbohydrate, protein and healthy fat in the correct amounts. Add fruits and vegetables to that to get the antioxidants.

* And finally, have a plan. Plan out what you’re going to eat that day and stick to it.

A celebrity chef's secrets to building a better sandwich


(BPT) - A great sandwich is a delicious meal choice, which could be why about 60 percent of American adults eat at least one for lunch every week and 70 percent pack one or more in their children’s lunches, according to food industry trend-watching company Datassential. In fact, sandwiches are so popular and so common that at some point in the past you’ve probably made or eaten a lackluster sandwich.

However, every sandwich has the potential to be great — or at least better — says celebrity chef and sandwich expert Tom Colicchio.

Sandwich starters

Americans eat more cold-cut sandwiches than any other kind, while burgers, poultry, hot dogs, other meats and peanut butter and jelly round out the six most commonly eaten types of sandwiches, according to the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service. Whatever you decide to put in your sandwich, always start with the freshest ingredients available, Colicchio advises. “There’s no substitute for a perfectly ripe piece of produce.”

“Create and customize sandwiches to fit your and your family’s palettes, not what the latest trends tell you to eat,” he says. “At the same time, don’t be afraid to experiment. One of the best things about sandwiches is the endless potential to create something new and delicious. If an experiment doesn’t work out, you can always try again tomorrow!”

In fact, more than one-third of consumers say they love sandwiches because of the ability to customize their meal by choosing from a variety of proteins, vegetables, cheeses and condiments, Datassential reports.

Building better sandwiches

“The architecture of a sandwich is as important as what you put in it,” Colicchio says. “I think there's an actual science behind building the better sandwich.” Colicchio, the James Beard Award-winning founder of Craft Hospitality and 'wichcraft, offers some tips to help ensure every sandwich you make is the best it can be:

* The bread is the foundation of every sandwich, and it should be as sturdy as it is delicious. You can find a variety of quality options from Arnold, Brownberry or Oroweat in the bread aisle of your local grocery store.

* When dealing with messier ingredients like roasted vegetables or condiments such as dressing, try lightly toasting or searing one side of each slice of bread in a pan atop the stove, until the side is crisp. Stack with the toasted sides facing in to help build a strong foundation for your sandwich.

* Build from the bottom up. Place the driest and heaviest ingredients on the bottom slice of bread first before adding toppings like lettuce and tomato. Spread condiments on the second slice of bread as the last step before topping the sandwich.

* For cold sandwiches, place the cheese next to the bread to help reinforce the stability of the sandwich. For hot sandwiches, place the cheese next to the meat so the flavors can interplay properly.

* To avoid sogginess and ensure consistent seasoning throughout, dress greens before placing them on the sandwich.

* Don’t go crazy with condiments. “The more you mix them, the more muddled the flavor becomes,” Colicchio says. “Pick one that will really accentuate the flavors you’re highlighting.”

* Finally, don’t overload your sandwich to ensure your ingredients won't fall out or leave a mess behind when you take a bite.

Bite into better

Looking for sandwich inspiration? The America’s Better Sandwich Contest, hosted by Arnold, Brownberry and Oroweat Breads, gives entrants the chance to hone their skills by creating delicious and nutritious sandwiches that feature the breads as the base. Visit for recipe inspiration, contest rules and to find out how to enter.

Meanwhile, try the contest's winning sandwich recipe from last year:

Moroccan Rainbow Carrot Sandwiches with Spicy Orange Dressing


2 slices of Arnold, Brownberry or Oroweat Whole Grains Oatnut Bread, toasted

2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon harissa

1 tablespoon orange marmalade

1/4 teaspoon each of ground coriander and ground cumin

1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 pinch each of salt and black pepper

3 medium assorted rainbow carrots, shaved into long ribbons with a vegetable peeler

1/2 cup loosely packed arugula

2 teaspoons fresh mint, chiffonade

2 tablespoons golden raisins

2 tablespoons chopped roasted pistachios

3 tablespoons crumbled feta

1/4 cup roasted garlic hummus


In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, lemon juice, harissa, marmalade coriander, cumin, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Add the carrots, arugula, mint and raisins. Toss mixture and let sit for five minutes.

Gently stir in the pistachios and feta.

Spread hummus over each slice of toast, and top with the carrot mixture.

Diabetes impacts younger people more often: Are you at risk?


(BPT) - Every 17 seconds someone in the United States is diagnosed with diabetes. What's even more surprising is diabetes is growing fastest among younger people, outpacing the rate of heart disease, substance abuse and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

A new study by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) shows that the impact of diabetes continues to grow and is increasing most rapidly among those age 18 through 34. The 4.7 percent growth in diabetes impact for younger adults from 2013 through 2015 corresponds to this age group’s spike in obesity rates, a key contributor to the onset of diabetes.

Diabetes ranks third in terms of its health impact nationally on quality of life and cost for the commercially insured population among the more than 200 conditions measured by the Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) Health Index. The “health impact” of a specific condition reflects the prevalence and severity for that condition as well as the years of life lost due to disability and risk of premature death.

The report, “Diabetes and the Commercially Insured U.S. Population,” represents an analysis of the BCBS Health Index data on diabetes, which leverages the claims of more than 40 million BCBS members.

Younger people may not be as focused on their health and many may not be aware they are at risk for diabetes at their age. The first step is to understand the risk and the next step is to take action. Type 2 diabetes is preventable with thoughtful, proactive measures.

According to the American Diabetes Association, there are many ways to lower your risk of developing diabetes, including:

Weight: Staying at a healthy weight can help you prevent and manage problems like prediabetes, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and unhealthy cholesterol. Keep tabs on your weight by weighing yourself at least once per week. Stay active and strive to watch less than 10 hours of TV per week.
Physical activity: Physical activity can do a lot for your overall health. Set your alarm to get up and stretch or walk around the house or office at least every 30 minutes throughout the day. A walking buddy or workout friend can support you while you both work toward your goals.
Healthy eating: Eating healthy is one of the most important things you can do to lower your risk for Type 2 diabetes. Cut back on calories and fat in your diet. Choose lean meats, whole grains and fill half your plate with non-starchy veggies such as carrots, broccoli and green beans. Consider keeping a journal of what you eat and have fun trying new healthy recipes.
Finally, speak with your doctor about any concerns you have. Your doctor is able to provide individualized insight into your risks and guide you to how you can prevent diabetes and live healthier. For more information, visit

5 ways to tame the back-to-school madness


(BPT) - It seems like you just adjusted to managing your children's summer schedules, juggling camps and making sure all that free time doesn’t get them in trouble. Now it’s time to switch gears. Summer is nearly over and school is about to begin.

Back-to-school time might mean new outfits, reconnecting with old friends and fun new classes for your kids, but it is not uncommon to feel like your brain is in a bit of a scramble.

Despite the impending chaos, with a little planning you can glide right into back-to-school mode and be on top of your game. Here are some tips to make the transition seamless.

1. Start early. You’ve probably heard that it’s never too early to get your back-to-school shopping done. This is true — in fact, the number one rule for back-to-school success is: Don’t procrastinate! Before summer is over, start getting the kids back on a normal sleep schedule and make sure they know where the bus stop is or what route to take to get to school. The earlier you start, the easier their first day will be!

2. Prepare lunches ahead of time. Who wants to go through the mad dash of packing a lunch in the morning when you’re already pressed for time? Take 15 or 20 minutes on Sunday to make sandwiches (for freshness, keep the bread separate from meat or other toppings) and divide snack items like Snack Factory(R) Original Pretzel Crisps(R) into small bags. You’ll be amazed at how much easier it will be to get your kids out the door!

3. Digitize and post schedules. There have probably been times that you thought you might need a personal assistant to keep track of everyone’s activities and schedules. In addition to hanging up a calendar you can easily mark up, take advantage of calendar software that allows you to sync with your entire household so everyone gets automated reminders and updates.

4. Keep after-school snacks on hand. The last thing you want is to come home to hungry kids after a long day at work, especially if you have teenagers who seem to always be asking for something to eat. Keeping a well-stocked pantry with snacks like Pretzel Crisps, which are made with no trans fat, saturated fat or cholesterol, is the simple and tasty way to keep your kids satisfied.

5. Set up a command center for your kids. Parenting is largely a battle against chaos. What is clean and tidy one minute is a mess the next. This is not a situation you want to be in the first week of school! Set up designated stations in your home where your kids can keep school supplies, shoes and outerwear.

By rolling up your sleeves and staying organized, you might even find that getting the school year off to a smooth start can be surprisingly easy. Now, if you can just make doing homework and bedtime so simple!

Five steps to becoming a true pitmaster


(BPT) - When the skies are blue and the sun is hot, some people hit the pool, drive to the nearest beach, kick back with a book on their deck, or fire up the grill.

If you’re one of those people who sees every summer day as an opportunity for grilling, or if you have your smoker going at the same time your neighbors are running their snow blower, you’re probably ready to take it to the next level.

How do you go from being an enthusiast to grilling and smoking meat like the best pitmasters? Here are five important steps to consider:

1. Use only the best quality ingredients. The best pitmasters and chefs will tell you that no matter your level of experience, if you don’t have great ingredients you can’t make a great meal. It’s that simple. This is as true in fine French cooking as it is in barbecue. As the winner of Food Network’s “Chopped: Grill Masters,” Pitmaster Ernest Servantes insists on using high-quality, flavorful fresh pork products from Smithfield(R) to get that pork that is tender and juicy every time.

2. Find the right chips. When smoking fresh meat, the combination of charcoal and wood chips can take your flavor to the next level. Pecan, red oak, hickory, apple or mesquite woods all have their unique attributes and flavors. One isn’t better than the other. It’s more a matter of your personal style. Take the time to experiment and learn what kind of wood works best for your signature meats and taste preferences.

3. Keep the rub simple. Once you have an amazing rack of ribs or perfectly marbled pork shoulder or butt, the question is how to season them. People often get carried away, adding too many spices that ultimately overpower the taste of the meat. If you’re cooking with a high-quality cut of meat, a simple rub will often yield the best results. For instance, a recipe for Cactus Jack Texas Spare Ribs uses a rub made up of salt, pepper, chili powder, granulated garlic and onions — just enough to bring out the true flavor of the ribs without being overpowering.

“Cactus Jack” Texas Spareribs

Recipe by Chef Ernest Servantes for Smithfield

Cactus Jack Rub

2 racks Smithfield(R) Pork Spareribs

1/4 cup kosher salt

1/4 cup cracked black pepper

1 tablespoon granulated garlic

1 tablespoon granulated onion

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon seasoned salt


Oak or Pecan wood for smoking

1 cup apple juice, in a spray bottle

Rattle Snake BBQ Sauce

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1/2 cup diced yellow onion

2 tablespoons minced fresh jalapeño

1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic

1/4 cup ketchup

1/4 cup Kingsford(R) Original Smoked Hickory BBQ Sauce

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup pepper-style soda

2 tablespoons molasses

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Kosher salt and cracked black pepper

  1. For “Cactus Jack” Rub, combine salt, pepper, garlic, onion, chili powder and seasoned salt in small bowl; mix well. Season ribs on all sides; cover and refrigerate overnight or for at least two hours.
  2. Heat smoker or grill for indirect cooking at 250°F.; add wood for smoking. Place ribs, meaty side up, and smoke for 2 1/2 hours, spraying with apple juice every 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, for Rattle Snake BBQ Sauce, heat oil in heavy saucepan over high. Sauté onion, jalapeño and garlic until tender. Stir in remaining ingredients except salt and pepper, bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until reduced in volume by 1/3. Remove from heat, season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Remove ribs from smoker; wrap each rack in heavy-duty aluminum foil. Return to smoker, meaty side down, for an additional two hours until internal temperature reaches 190°F to 200°F.
  5. Remove ribs from foil, place back on smoker and brush with Rattle Snake BBQ Sauce; cook for about 20 minutes. Serve with additional BBQ sauce on the side.

Makes: Two to four servings

Prep time: 15 minutes plus 24 hours stand time

Cook time: Five hours 15 minutes

4. Explore the world. There are many regional barbecue styles in the U.S.: Kansas City, Texas, Memphis and the list goes on. At a time when people are more adventurous in their culinary tastes than ever, try branching out from your normal go-to style and infuse some international flavors into your grilling. For instance, one recipe for Honey Soy Grilled Pork Chops Korean BBQ Sauce combines a medley of Asian flavors, teriyaki marinade, soy sauce and rice wine vinegar with an unmistakable barbecue kick.

Honey Soy Grilled Pork Chops Korean BBQ Sauce

Recipe by Chef Ernest Servantes for Smithfield

Honey Soy Grilled Pork Chops

6 to 8 (4-oz.) Smithfield(R) Boneless Center Cut Pork Chops

1 cup KC Masterpiece(R) Honey Teriyaki Marinade

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 to 2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon white or rice wine vinegar

Korean BBQ Sauce

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup water

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons sriracha sauce

4 teaspoons brown sugar

2 teaspoons minced ginger

2 teaspoons KC Masterpiece BBQ Sauce

  1. Sprinkle both sides of the pork chops with salt and pepper and place in a large resealable food storage bag. Whisk together honey teriyaki marinade, oil, soy sauce and vinegar; mix well. Pour over pork chops; seal the bag and let stand 1 hour.
  2. For Korean BBQ Sauce, heat oil in small saucepan on medium; fry garlic until it begins to turn color. Stir in water, soy sauce, sriracha sauce, brown sugar, ginger and BBQ sauce. Bring to a simmer; reduce heat and cook for 10 minutes or until it becomes thick.
  3. Heat charcoal or gas grill to medium. Remove pork chops from marinade (discard marinade) grill for three minutes or until the pork chop easily releases from the grill. Flip chops and continue to cook for three more minutes until internal temperature reaches 145°F to 160°F.
  4. Baste each pork chop with Korean BBQ Sauce, grill one minute on each side. Let chops stand for three minutes before serving.

Makes: Six to eight servings

Prep Time: 10 minutes plus one hour marinade time

Cook Time: 18 minutes

5. It’s all about practice. Like a perfect golf swing, grilling or smoking the perfect rack of ribs or pork butt takes time and practice. Invite your friends or family over to practice your grilling or smoking of the best barbecue you ever had and remember that behind each one of those to-die-for bites were practice sessions to perfect your craft. So keep at it!

Now that you’re feeling inspired, why wait? Call up your friends, get out the grill or smoker, and be sure to have plenty of quality Smithfield Fresh Pork on hand! Because once those ribs and chops come off the grill, people are going to want more.

Fighting the morning clock? 9 no-fail ways to get out the door on time


(BPT) - As the sun shines through the curtains, you hit the snooze button again. Suddenly you bolt up, realizing you're running late. You skip breakfast, grab your bag and rush out the door. Stress levels skyrocket and your day has barely begun.

The race against the clock at the start of the day is a common problem. Mornings shouldn't be difficult and certainly not something you dread. To get out the door on time and with a grin on your face, consider these nine no-fail tips.

Bedtimes aren't just for kids: A great morning starts the night before. A regular bedtime is as important for adults as it is for children. Go to bed with the goal of getting seven to nine hours of sleep, as is recommended for adults by the National Sleep Foundation.

Use the night prior to your advantage: Mornings flow smoothly when you do a lot of prep work the evening before. That means select outfits, pack bags and backpacks, and organize any paperwork before you hit the hay.

Stock the fridge for health and convenience: It’s always smart to have delicious and nutritious ingredients in your fridge like fresh fruits, veggies and eggs. Eggs are especially versatile and packed with nutrition. Look for eggs with added nutritional benefits like Eggland’s Best eggs. In a hurry? Try Eggland's Best Hard-Cooked Peeled Eggs for a ready-to-eat lunch or snack.

Meal prep on Sunday: Another fridge-friendly tip is to do Sunday prep for the week. For example, chop up veggie spears or fruits and place in individual containers for easy grab-and-go snack options to pair with your hard-cooked eggs.

Learn to love the alarm: Rather than just setting one alarm for waking up, try setting several to keep your morning routine on track. For example, set one for when it's time for breakfast and another as a five-minute warning for departure.

Eliminate distractions: The fewer distractions you have, the better your chances of meeting the morning clock. That means resist the urge to check your smartphone or have a rule that the TV remains off until all morning tasks are complete.

Check it and forget it: It can be highly effective to make a specific list with morning to-do's for you and your family members. As each task is complete, you get the satisfaction of marking it off your list, plus it keeps the morning moving quickly.

Adjust your attitude: A positive attitude doesn't only start your day out on the right foot, it can also help you stay focused so when you're racing against the clock, you win every time (and with a smile on your face).

Don't forgo breakfast: The most important meal of the day doesn't have to take a lot of time. Make-ahead breakfasts and easy recipes are your key to a delicious morning without running late.

These delicious Make Ahead Breakfast Bowls will fuel your family throughout the day with superior nutrition. By choosing Eggland’s Best eggs, you get six times more vitamin D, 25 percent less saturated fat, more than double the omega-3s and vitamin B12, and 10 times more vitamin E than ordinary eggs.

Make Ahead Breakfast Bowls


2 lbs Yukon gold potatoes, chopped into 1-inch cubes

1 green pepper, seeded then chopped into 1-inch chunks

1 onion, chopped

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon seasoned salt

salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste

12 Eggland’s Best Eggs (large)

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

3 green onions, chopped

toppings: tortilla chips, salsa, avocado

6 individual-sized containers with lids


1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

2. On a large baking sheet, place potatoes, peppers and onions in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with seasoned salt and ground black pepper. Toss until evenly coated.

3. Roast for about 30-40 minutes or until potatoes are golden brown and tender, stirring and rotating pan halfway through cooking.

4. Meanwhile, crack Eggland’s Best eggs into a large bowl, then season with salt and pepper and whisk until smooth.

5. Heat a large skillet over medium heat, then spray with nonstick spray and add eggs.

6. Scramble until the eggs are just barely cooked through and still slightly glossy, then scoop onto a plate and set aside.

7. Divide the potatoes and scrambled eggs evenly between the containers, then set aside to cool.

8. Once cool, sprinkle with cheese and green onions, then cover and refrigerate. Freeze any portions that aren’t eaten within three days.

9. To reheat from frozen: microwave for 1 1/2 minutes, then stir and continue microwaving until food is reheated, stirring between intervals. Top with optional toppings, then serve.

7 grape ways to celebrate summer


(BPT) - Summer is here, and with higher temperatures and sun-filled days, people crave foods and snacks that are light, cool, and refreshing. It’s no wonder, then, that so many people choose to beat the summer heat with plump, juicy California grapes.

Always the perfect snack, there’s a lot more you can do with grapes than just pop them in your mouth and enjoy their natural goodness. Grapes are also a versatile ingredient, perfectly suited to a range of seasonal recipes. To get you started, here are seven tasty grape recipe ideas that will cool you off and fill you up.

1. Frozen grape lemonade pops

Looking for a way to add some serious pizzazz to your frozen treat game? Whether you have a pack of hungry kids or want something to cool off with beside the pool, you'll find a world of difference between these grape-filled ice pops and the plain, run-of-the mill variety sold in stores. Simply fill ice pop molds with halved grapes; pour in lemonade to cover the grapes and insert the handle; then place in the freezer until frozen.

2. California grape cocktail

When it comes to a cold drink on a hot day, is there such a thing as too delicious? Probably not. But when you bring out your inner mixologist and combine fresh green grape juice, vodka and champagne in a refreshing, fizzy libation, you might think you’ve come pretty close!

3. Farro with arugula, grapes and pesto vinaigrette

There’s something about hot, humid days that makes people crave salads, since they feel light, fresh and wholesome. This entrée salad is the perfect way to get a healthy combination of whole grains, fruits and veggies. Fresh grapes add a burst of juicy flavor to complement the whole grains, peppery bites of arugula and the mouthwatering dressing that ties it all together.

4. Shrimp Thai salad

Bringing together a Southeast Asian-inspired combination of spices and flavors, this crisp, refreshing salad combines a sweet, yet slightly tart dressing and crisp greens with the mild flavor of shrimp and the sweet burst of California grapes.

5. Grape picnic salad

This white bean salad is delightfully accented with plump, juicy California grapes to create a crunchy, protein-rich salad that is perfect for picnics. Tied together with a classic lemon-mustard dressing, the combination of grapes, beans, celery, onions and parsley produce a hearty flavor that is filling, refreshing and healthy. Perhaps most enticing: It’s easy to make!

6. Grilled flank steak with grapes and Stilton

What’s a summer without spending some time around the grill? Add this winning combination of flank steak, blue cheese and grapes and you not only have a meal that will score big points for its stunning presentation, but a delicious entree that perfectly pairs a hearty grilled protein with cool, refreshing grape accents.

7. Frozen California grapes

It doesn’t get much simpler than freezing grapes and keeping them on hand for a cold, refreshing treat on a hot summer’s day. All you have to do is rinse a bunch of grapes, pat them dry and then pluck them off the stem or cut into clusters, place them on a cookie sheet and put them in the freezer for a couple of hours. Perfect for kids of any age, this snack is great fun and just like a mini-sorbet!

To learn more about how California grapes can reinvent your summer menu, visit, where you'll find more recipes and health information on the wonderful and delicious California grape.


7 ways to snack like a pro this football season


(BPT) - Football season is quickly approaching, which means it will soon be time for tailgating or watching the big game on TV. For many of us, this time of year is tough on our diet and exercise plans, but it doesn't have to be, according to Bryan Snyder, registered dietitian and director of team nutrition for the Denver Broncos.

Snyder, who is responsible for keeping the year-round nutrition strategies for the team’s players on track, also knows the pitfalls for fans. “Nutrition goals can fall by the wayside when leisure time includes snacking or party fare,” Snyder says. “We tend to make poor choices when it comes to snacking, earning it a bad rap. But in fact, by picking healthy and tasty options, anyone can come out a winner on game day.”

Snyder recommends these tips for better snacking in his healthy eating playbook for football season and throughout the year.

1. Plan ahead.

Cut and slice your fruits and vegetables the day before you plan on eating them. That way when you find yourself hungry and ready for a snack, you will already have the hard part finished. Grab your pre-cut veggies and dip them in low-fat ranch dressing or hummus to help get you through the day. This is a great way to add some healthy vegetables to your tailgate menu. Perhaps you could make a strawberry banana smoothie with Greek yogurt the night before and leave the pitcher in the refrigerator for a quick grab-and-go snack as you run out the door.

2. Snack on foods that are healthy and will fill you up.

How many times do we eat a snack and 10 minutes later we’re hungry? The perfect snack strikes a great balance of healthy carbohydrates along with protein, fiber and antioxidants. One of the healthiest and best snacks is pistachios. With 1 ounce of pistachios, you get 6 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber, healthy fats and 6 percent of your daily value of iron. Plus, pistachios contain antioxidants, which help our immune systems stay strong and fight off diseases. One serving of pistachios contains only 160 calories.

3. Aim for whole grains.

The last thing you probably think about as you get ready for the big game is setting out snacks that contain whole grains. However, eating whole grains may reduce your chances of developing chronic diseases like heart diseases, and incorporating whole grains isn't as hard as it seems. One option you could have available is whole grain crackers and cheese. Try whole grain Wheat Thins instead of potato chips as a healthy substitution.

4. Stay hydrated with water.

Our bodies have a difficult time distinguishing between being hungry or thirsty. Often, we feel like we are hungry when in reality we simply may be thirsty and/or dehydrated. One study found that people who drink water 20-30 minutes before starting their meals eat about 75 fewer calories per meal. Considering we may be snacking for three hours while watching the game, these calories will add up.

5. Replace fatty protein with lean proteins.

Hamburger sliders are a staple of many tailgating menus across the country, but sometimes we just want a good burger. While eating a fatty hamburger in moderation isn’t the worst thing in the world, there are certainly some leaner options to choose. Instead of going to the grocery store and picking up the first piece of beef available to grill for the game, look at either a leaner beef option or a different meat altogether. For example, a better option for protein would be a 97 percent lean ground beef to make sliders or hamburgers. Another option would be to simply choose ground turkey instead of ground beef to make patties to throw on the grill.

6. Don’t be afraid of veggies.

Despite what your buddies may think, it is not against the law to eat vegetables at a tailgate party. More than likely, there will be some grilling before the big game. Don’t be afraid to throw some zucchini, mushrooms or even asparagus on the grill to complement the other items you are cooking. You can also chop up some veggies and serve with low-fat ranch dressing or hummus.

7. Have a backup plan

You might be heading to the game on Saturday or Sunday, and you plan on meeting up with some friends before the game to tailgate. In this case, you may have zero healthy choices to pick from while you are snacking and eating before the game. It is always good to have a backup plan. Healthy bars, nuts or a piece of whole fruit are easy and portable so you have a go-to backup plan. Trail mix and pistachios are easy to throw in your bag for the game or to have around your house for a snack. Plan ahead and bring some small snacks with you, so you don’t indulge in hours of unhealthy snacking, like my Pistachio and Date Energy Bites (recipe below). Great for tailgating, this portable and delicious snack is healthy and gives a great variety of protein and antioxidants to not only fill you up, but give you an immune system boost as well.

Pistachio and Date Energy Bites

Serves 20-25


1 cup dried cherries

8 ounces dates

1/2 cup local honey

1 1/2 cups rolled oats

1/3 cup dark chocolate chips

1 tablespoon chia seeds

1 tablespoon flax meal

1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste or 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 cup pistachios (shelled)

Pinch of Kosher salt

3/4 cup pistachios (Finely ground)


Combine dates, honey, chia seeds, flax meal and salt in food processor and mix. Add small amount of honey if it's too thick.

Remove and add to mixing bowl. Incorporate pistachios, cherries, oats and dark chocolate chips, and mix until combined.

Use desired portion scoop or portion by hand. Roll bites in finely ground pistachios, coating the whole bite. Store in the refrigerator.

Simple ways fresh mozzarella can jazz up favorite summer foods


(BPT) - The fresh flavors of summer delight taste buds. Crisp salads, savory grilled meats and iconic dishes passed through generations — food is one of the best parts of the season.

One way to add a simple twist to fantastic fare is to reach for fresh mozzarella. This versatile cheese is summer's best friend because it melts beautifully on hot dishes yet adds cool, creamy flavor to chilled foods.

Whether served hot or cold, you always have options when you stock your fridge with Stella Organic Fresh Mozzarella. The milky flavor and soft, delicate texture are reminiscent of the fresh mozzarella originally handmade in the Italian countryside.

Think beyond the pizza and consider these indulgent uses for fresh mozzarella with favorite summer foods:

Burgers: A big round slice of fresh mozzarella perfectly tops your burger patty. It's a great complement to ground beef burgers, but also enhances the flavors of turkey or veggie burgers if that's your preference.

Grilled fruit: The heat brings out fruit's natural sugars for a wholesome, tasty dessert. For example, slice peaches, grill 2 minutes on each side and then layer with slices of fresh mozzarella.

Salads: Farmers markets are bursting with produce to make amazing summer salads. What makes them more amazing? Chopped or pearled fresh mozzarella pieces. More than just for caprese salads, mozzarella is a delicious addition to virtually any salad.

Flatbread: Many people are turning off their ovens this summer and making flatbread on the grill. To make yours irresistible, top with your favorite vegetables and slices of fresh mozzarella.

Drinks: Pairing foods with drinks can seem complicated, but with fresh mozzarella it's simple. The subtle, milky flavors pair well with crisp, acidic wines like Chianti or Pinot Grigio, as well as lighter beers such as lagers or pilsners.

Want more fresh mozzarella inspiration? Visit to explore recipes like this delectable caprese sandwich.

Open-faced Toasted Caprese

Makes 6



1 loaf crusty sourdough or ciabatta bread, sliced
2 avocados, peeled, pitted and sliced
olive oil, to drizzle over bread slices and avocados
1 clove garlic
salt and pepper, to taste
8 ounces Stella Organic Fresh Mozzarella, sliced
1 bunch fresh basil
4-6 heirloom tomatoes, sliced

Balsamic drizzle

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon brown sugar (optional)


Add vinegar and brown sugar, if using, to a small saucepan and bring to a boil.

Reduce to a very low simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes, until liquid reduces by about half and is slightly syrupy. Remove from heat, pour vinegar in a bowl or glass to be used later, and set aside to cool and thicken.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit or grill to high heat.

Place the slices of bread on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil on both sides. Rub each side of bread with the halved garlic clove. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

Drizzle avocado with olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.

Place bread slices and avocado slices in oven or grill both until lightly charred, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove from the oven or grill.

Slice fresh mozzarella and divide equally among the sandwiches. Place on top toast, then add fresh basil to taste. Add grilled avocado slices and tomato slices. Drizzle everything with olive oil, balsamic drizzle and salt and pepper to taste.

Mangos bring families together around the world


(BPT) - Ayesha Curry was raised by great women who instilled in her a passion for cooking. This passion has helped Ayesha both launch her career and prioritize spending time with her family in the kitchen. But even as a celebrity chef, author and foodie, Ayesha sometimes struggles to think of new, wholesome and delicious meals to bring to her table. When she finds herself needing a little food inspiration, Ayesha turns to the experiences and flavors of her childhood.

Mango love runs deep

Ayesha grew up with a Jamaican grandmother who had mango trees in her backyard, so eating and cooking with the fruit reminds her of home. A lot of people don’t know this, but mango is the world’s most popular fruit and iconic in many cuisines across the globe. While its sweetness and versatility make it a perfect addition to any favorite dish, mango is also delicious on its own and is often simply paired with the spices of the country.

In Ayesha’s home, not only does everyone love mango for its incredible flavor, but because it’s a superfruit. At 100 calories per cup, mangos are packed with vitamins and nutrients, and are a good source of fiber, making them a perfect food for any family.

Make it with mango!

When Ayesha is in the mood for something special and with a little cultural flare, she whips up her Jerk-Rubbed Chicken Skewers and Mango Salsa. Jerk chicken is a family-favorite recipe for Ayesha, and adding the sweet flavor of mango gives it a delicious twist.

Jerk-Rubbed Chicken Skewers with Mango Salsa

Servings: 4-6 skewers


Mango Salsa

2 cups mango, chopped

1/4 cup red onion

1/4 cup cilantro

1/2 tbs lime juice

1 tsp jalapeno, finely diced

1/4 tsp salt and pepper

Jerk Chicken Rub & Skewers

3 cloves minced garlic

3 tbs olive oil

1 shallot, finely minced

1 tbs fresh thyme leaves, finely minced

1 tbs brown sugar

1 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp ground clove

1/2 tsp ground allspice

1/2 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

1 pound chicken breast, cubed

Skewers, soaked in water


Mango Salsa

Combine all ingredients. Let sit and allow flavors to meld while you prepare the chicken.

Jerk Chicken Rub & Skewers

Mix all dry ingredients together in a bowl. Coat cubed chicken well with the rub. Marinate for 30 minutes or more. Skewer 4-6 pieces of chicken per stick. Cook on a grill pan at medium high heat. Turn frequently to avoid burning. Cook for about 15 minutes or until juices run clear. Place the chicken on or off the skewer and spoon the Mango Salsa on top.

Get your hands on a perfect mango

Mangos are available year-round, so you can always get your hands on a perfect mango. If you’d like to make mango your go-to ingredient, here are some tips and tricks Ayesha shares with family and friends:

  • Selection. To find a ripe mango, just squeeze gently. A ripe mango will be slightly soft like a peach or avocado.
  • Ripening. Keep unripe mangos at room temperature. Once ripe, mangos can be moved to the refrigerator to slow down ripening for several days.
  • Cutting. To cut a mango, simply slice off the sides of the fruit, avoiding the large seed in the center. Once you have these two sides, you can slice or dice as needed. Then, simply scoop it out of the skin. You can also cut around the seed to get two extra slices of mango and let your kids gnaw on the seed!

Mangos at the grocery store

While there are many mango varieties to covet, Ayesha’s kids love Honey mangos because they’re super sweet and creamy! Here’s a quick look at the most common mango varieties you’ll find in U.S. grocery stores:

Honey. Sweet, creamy and vibrant yellow. Small wrinkles appear when fully ripe. Peak availability is March – June.

Francis. Rich, spicy and sweet, with yellow skin and green overtones. Peak availability is April – June.

Haden. Rich in flavor with fine fibers, often bright red with green and yellow overtones. Peak availability is March – May.

Keitt. Sweet and fruity, with juicy flesh, limited fibers and green skin. Peak availability is July – September.

Kent. Sweet and rich, dark green mangos with red blush. Peak availability is December – February and June – August.

Tommy Atkins. Mild and sweet, these dark red mangos are the most widely grown variety coming into the U.S. Peak availability is March – July and September – October.

Who will you share the mango love with today?

Learn More

Visit for additional information on mango nutrition, selection tips, cutting methods and much more.

Seedless watermelons: The taste of summer


(BPT) - For many people, seedless watermelons are a symbol of summer. Crisp and refreshing, this beloved red and green striped fruit represents a true slice of Americana.

So it may be a surprise to learn this summertime classic hasn’t been around very long. Until the 1960s, seedless watermelons were nothing more than a pipe dream. O.J. Eigsti, Ph.D., discovered a way to modify the genetic structure of a watermelon plant, allowing the fruit to grow without seeds.

Since Eigsti’s discovery, these seedless watermelons have become a staple at barbecues, lake-house getaways and family gatherings. But many consumers don’t realize how much time and effort go into growing just a single seedless watermelon.

An unlikely beginning

Rather than planting seeds on the farm, farmers purchase seedless watermelon transplants — or young plants — from agriculture companies, like Syngenta, the world’s leading supplier of quality seedless watermelon transplants.

Once these transplants are ready to be relocated, farmers like Jack Wallace, a third generation seedless watermelon grower in Edinburg, Texas, take over caring for them through the later stages of development.

“Planting transplants is very convenient because it helps make sure we have an adequate stand,” Wallace says. “And, generally, the better the stand, the better the yield.”

After a successful transplant onto his farm, Wallace turns to bees. They are essential for pollination, the last step before melons form in the field. It is estimated that 16 to 24 bees visit every seedless watermelon plant. The bees reap the benefits of a fresh flower, and the seedless watermelons are able to achieve full-yield potential.

Details matter

After pollination, the work continues for Wallace as he cares for his seedless watermelon crop. From the very beginning, he must record and account for every input and activity. This helps him be more efficient in determining what works and what doesn’t, and it allows consumers to see that their food is grown sustainably. With a complex crop like watermelons, keeping track of every move can be overwhelming. To simplify his record keeping, Wallace is enrolled in the Syngenta AgriEdge Excelsior program and uses Land.db software, which helps track the inputs and outputs of his farm.

“I record all of my field activities,” Wallace says. “The program helps me keep track of how much I’m investing in the crop and each plant.”

Wallace doesn’t just invest money, he invests a substantial amount of time. In the months leading to harvest, Wallace continues caring for his plants and laying the groundwork for a successful yield. Some tasks, like applying mulch or pruning leaves, can take up to a full day’s work. Others, like regulating soil temperature and preventing rot, are a season-long commitment.

From farm to table

At harvest, Wallace’s challenge is picking each seedless watermelon at just the right time. Gathering too soon will result in a less-than-quality product, but waiting too long can be just as bad, resulting in over-ripened fruit. To achieve the perfect taste of summertime, Wallace diligently waits until the peak of ripeness to harvest.

Once the seedless watermelons reach their peak, they head to supermarkets and farmers markets, where consumers can select the perfect fruit. Wallace said the truest way to find the best watermelon is to simply listen to it.

“A lot of people thump or tap the melon,” Wallace says. “If it sounds like a bass drum, that may indicate the watermelon is past maturity. But if it sounds more like a snare drum, that’s a good sound. That one will be your melon.”

Watermelon and Lime Pops


3 cups seedless watermelon

1/3 cup lime juice

1 teaspoon sugar

2 limes (optional)


Add all ingredients to a blender or food processor. Blend until liquid. Pour mixture into molds. Freeze overnight.

Optional: If you don’t have molds, pour mixture into paper cups. Place slices of lime at the top of cups to hold sticks in place.

4 surprising health benefits of cherries - this summer's superfruit


(BPT) - Have you ever said no to a cherry? Probably not. This summertime treat is simply delicious. And if you’re looking for another reason to indulge, you’ll be pleased to know that cherries are surprisingly good for you. Recent research indicates that this summer’s superfruit offers a variety of health benefits, including the four outlined below.

Reduced risk of heart disease and diabetes

Heart disease and diabetes threaten the health of millions of Americans every year, and cherries can help. Research from Michigan State University found that 20 cherries provide 25 milligrams of anthocyanins, which reduce inflammation by shutting down the enzymes that cause tissue inflammation. This helps protect the arteries from the damage that leads to heart disease. Further research shows that those same anthocyanins also help lower blood sugar levels in animals, leading scientists to speculate that a similar blood sugar lowering effect could occur in humans.

In addition to being packed with anthocyanins, cherries also have a low glycemic index, making them a good choice for people with diabetes. Foods with a high glycemic index cause blood glucose to soar and then quickly crash. In contrast, foods with a low index, like cherries, release glucose slowly and evenly, helping you maintain a steady blood sugar level — as well as leaving you feeling full longer and potentially helping you maintain a healthy weight.

Combating arthritis and gout

More than 8.3 million Americans suffer from gout, a form of arthritis characterized by severe pain, redness and tenderness in the joints. This condition is commonly associated with elevated levels of uric acid in the blood. A study conducted by researchers at the University of California at Davis found that people who ate sweet cherries showed reduced levels of uric acid. In addition, research from the Boston University School of Medicine showed that people who ate cherries had a 35 to 75 percent lower chance of experiencing a gout attack.

Sleep support via melatonin

Everyone understands the value of a good night’s sleep, but sometimes your body simply doesn’t want to cooperate. When you find yourself wide awake and restless, your melatonin levels might be low. Melatonin is the chemical that controls your body’s internal clock to regulate sleep and promote overall healthy sleep patterns. Studies show that cherries are a natural source of melatonin, and researchers who have studied the melatonin content of cherries recommend eating them an hour before bedtime to help stabilize your sleep cycle.

Fiber for weight loss

Many Americans struggle with weight issues, and poor diet is often identified as a major culprit. But although there is a great deal of discussion about what people shouldn’t be eating, there isn’t as much talk about what people should be eating, like fiber. Most Americans’ diets are fiber-deficient, falling short of the 25-35 grams per day recommended by the USDA Dietary Guidelines. These guidelines recommend two cups of fruit daily, and cherries are an easy and delicious way to meet that target.

Enjoy a bowl of superfruit today

In addition to all these health benefits, cherries also possess cancer-fighting properties, according to a study by the USDA’s Western Human Nutrition Research Center. So whether you’re looking to boost your health or you enjoy the taste of this juicy treat — or both — there are plenty of reasons to reach for a bowl of cherries for your next snack or to add them to the menu at your next meal. Whatever your preference, be sure to get them quickly before cherry season is over.

To learn more about the health benefits of cherries, visit

4 eating trends that are reshaping breakfast, the most important meal of the day


(BPT) - Moms across the country agree: breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. And, while some of the best breakfast foods will always be eternal, like pancakes and eggs, there is a significantly wider range of food choices and flavors for this morning meal than what our parents or grandparents enjoyed. Breakfast is evolving, and Americans love both new and traditional breakfast foods so much that they’re no longer willing to reserve them for just one meal of the day.

Take a bite out of these four hot breakfast trends:

Second breakfast

Many Americans enjoy breakfast foods so much, they’re not settling for just one breakfast a day anymore. A recent Wall Street Journal podcast noted more Americans are eating a "second breakfast." Early risers may have something small and quick when they first get up, and follow it up with a more substantial breakfast mid-morning.

Breakfast anytime

Sixty-three percent of all restaurants now serve breakfast, according to market research organization Data Essential. The National Restaurant Association reports 72 percent of adults want restaurants to serve all-day breakfast. Another research group, Technomic, found that half of Americans say they enjoy eating breakfast at other times of day, not just in the morning.

IHOP Restaurants has been serving breakfast foods and beverages any time of day, every day since 1958. On Tuesday, July 18, 2017, the brand will celebrate its 59th year of business by offering guests a short stack of three original Buttermilk pancakes for just 59 cents from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at any of its more than 1,700 restaurants nationwide. Visit to find a participating location.

Favorites continue to flourish

Breakfast lovers have always had their classic standbys of eggs, bacon, pancakes and toast — and restaurants continue to create innovative ways to blend timeless favorites with new flavors. For example, IHOP serves more than 700 million pancakes annually, introducing diners to a variety of flavors like Red Velvet, Cupcake and New York Cheesecake. And while the brand’s original Buttermilk pancakes may be its bestselling pancake flavor, the choice of syrups, including Old Fashioned, Butter Pecan, Strawberry and Blueberry, means guests can always customize and experiment with a breakfast-inspired meal.

Beyond burritos: Ethnic inspirations

Despite their enduring love for traditional breakfast foods, Americans continue to embrace new food experiences and take inspiration from cultures near and far. While the breakfast burrito has become a menu staple, the National Restaurant Association says more consumers are demanding ethnic breakfast offerings on restaurant menus. Whether you try a breakfast sausage from Poland, dosa (a type of savory crepe) from India, or rarebit (cheese toast) from Wales, breakfast has become an opportunity to explore cuisines of the world.

As American tastes continue to evolve, so does the world of breakfast. With new ways of enjoying the go-to favorites — whether with new unexpected flavors or times of day to dig in — there’s no doubt breakfast will continue to reign as the most important meal of the day.

Easy ways to lighten up your cookout


(BPT) - The mouthwatering taste of grilled foods, the indulgence of rich desserts and the joy of entertaining with family and friends — a cookout is always a crowd-pleaser, no matter the time of year.

The food and fun make for a memorable time, but sometimes all those savory sauces, scrumptious salads and succulent sweets can be a little heavy. Fortunately, you can cut calories and lighten up your menu without sacrificing taste.

Try these eight ideas at your next cookout for lighter foods bursting with flavor.

Go lean: Hamburger and red meat can be high in fat content and calories. When grilling meat, opt for leaner varieties, such as chicken breasts, turkey burgers or fish. Guests will love the variety. If you just can't forgo the classic American hamburger, look for leaner meat such as a 90-10 ground mix.

Skip the barbecue sauce: A cookout without barbecue sauce? It can be done. Try marinating or rubbing spices on meats and sides instead. For example, citrus juice, olive oil and chopped fresh herbs are a healthier marinade for chicken or fish that brings out natural flavors.

Cut sugar in desserts: Bake with Stevia In The Raw, a zero-calorie sweetener with extracts from the stevia plant. Try replacing about half the sugar in any of your favorite baking recipes with Stevia In The Raw Bakers Bag to cut calories and reduce sugar, while still achieving the proper browning, rising and caramelizing desired. The Bakers Bag is a smart pantry staple and measures cup for cup with sugar so there is no conversion needed.

Think outside the bun: Iceberg and butter lettuce are smart alternatives for buns for those who want to cut calories or have gluten sensitivities. If you do want to include buns in your menu, opt for whole grain rather than plain old white ones.

Drink up: Soda, punch, blended frozen drinks and adult cocktails are packed with calories. Swap or add in flavored water to the menu for a light and refreshing alternative. Fill pitchers with water, ice and add in flavor enhancements, such as sliced lemons, cucumbers, strawberries and raspberries.

Want more inspiration? Try these two recipes for decadent desserts that are ideal whether you're hosting a cookout or attending a potluck.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes 2 dozen cookies

1/2 cup butter, melted
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup Sugar In The Raw + 1/2 cup Stevia In The Raw Bakers Bag
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup macadamia nuts
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 F. In a large bowl, beat together the melted butter, egg, vanilla extract and the Sugar In The Raw/Stevia In The Raw Bakers Bag combo. Meanwhile, mix dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, salt) in a separate bowl. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir well to combine. Slowly add nuts and chocolate chips until well combined. Drop the dough in spoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 10 minutes.

Nutrition information:
Per serving (1 cookie): 144 calories, 9 g fat (4.5 g saturated fat), 16 g carbohydrate, 1 g protein, <1 g dietary fiber, 75 mg sodium.

Cranberry Crisp

Makes 8 servings

1 pound fresh or frozen cranberries
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons Sugar In The Raw, divided
1/4 cup Stevia In The Raw Bakers Bag, divided
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Zest of 1 orange
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1/3 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 375 F. Butter an 8-inch square pan or 9-inch pie dish. In prepared baking dish, toss together cranberries, 1/3 cup Sugar In The Raw, 2 tablespoons Stevia In The Raw, cornstarch and zest. In a medium bowl, combine flour, oats, 2 tablespoons Sugar In The Raw, 2 tablespoons Stevia In The Raw, salt and nutmeg. Add butter and use your fingers to work it into flour until mixture is crumbly. Stir in pecans. Sprinkle crumble mixture over cranberries. Bake until fruit is bubbling and crumble is browned, 45-50 minutes.

Nutrition information:
Per serving: 220 calories, 12 g fat (6 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 26 g carbohydrates, 2 g protein, 3 g dietary fiber, 150 mg sodium, 11 g sugar.

7 simple steps to a sensational summer cheese plate


(BPT) - From backyard barbecues to sophisticated soirees, summer is sure to pack your social calendar. Whether you're hosting the party or want to help out the host, there's one favorite food option that everyone will adore: a cheese plate.

This classic plate offers something for everyone and is as appropriate for an elegant evening event as it is at a casual cocktail hour. Heck, a cheese plate is the perfect dish to nosh on as you sit around a cozy fire on a star-studded summer evening.

Creating a delectable cheese plate is easier than you think. Simply follow these tips from the pros at Saputo Specialty Cheese. With a few twists for summer, your plate will have everyone raving.

Plan the right amount

Prepare 4-6 ounces of cheese per person if cheese is the main dish, and serve more or less depending on the time of day and whether other foods are served. When in doubt, reference this handy online cheese calculator at

Strive for variety

To create the ultimate summer cheese plate, just remember this rhyme when shopping: Something old, something new, something stinky and something blue! Stick with three to five cheeses and strive for variety in taste, appearance and texture.

Get the best of blue

You can't go wrong with Salemville award-winning blue cheeses. Try Salemville Gorgonzola with a rich, earthy flavor. Or, embrace the summer barbecue mindset with Salemville Smokehaus Blue cheese, an Applewood smoked blue cheese with a sweet, slightly smoky flavor. Explore the four flavors and select based on your preferences.

Save the extra

If you don't want to set out all your cheese at once, the Salemville brand's new packaging is sure to make entertaining a snap. Each comes in easily resealable containers so you can use as little or as much as you want, then pop it back in the fridge for whenever you need more!

Select the platter

You're not limited to fine china for your cheese plate. Let your creativity flow! Consider wood cutting boards or marble tiles to add an unexpected visual twist. Plus these materials are sturdier and less likely to break if you're hosting an event al fresco.

Complement your cheese

A well-rounded cheese plate will include tasty accompaniments. Embrace summer's vibes by including fresh berries, halved figs, melon balls, vegetable straws or sliced apple. A small jar of locally harvested honey can add the essence of summer to your plate while enhancing the flavors of the cheese pairings.

Round it out

Finally, no plate is complete without a selection of garnishes like crackers, crostini or pitas. Add olives, nuts and meats as desired. A few sprigs of fresh summer herbs is also a pretty and tasty addition. Arrange cheeses and extras artfully on the platter about an hour before guests arrive, as room-temperature cheese maximizes each variety’s flavor.

3 things to consider when choosing chocolate


(BPT) - Few things are better in life than unwrapping and biting into a piece of silky smooth chocolate. With so many options in the candy aisle, it’s important to know not only where your favorite treat originates, but how it impacts the environment and the farmers who grow cocoa.

“Americans are more aware than ever of where the products they consume come from and how they’re made,” says Kerry Cavanaugh, brand director for DOVE Chocolate, which is produced by Mars Chocolate North America. “They want to know products have been sustainably produced in a manner that has the least possible impact on the environment and a positive effect on people at the source. Chocolate producers like Mars are paying attention to consumer sentiment.”

If chocolate is high on your list of favorite treats, make sure the brand you choose is one that combines pleasure with purpose by asking if it is doing something that will benefit others around the world. Here are three things to consider the next time you reach for chocolate at the store:

1. Helping fight poverty. Cocoa is an industry that affects 6.5 million farmers around the world — the majority of cocoa is grown on small farms operated by independent farmers in developing countries in West Africa, Southeast Asia and the Americas. DOVE Chocolate supports initiatives like the CARE Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA) program, a micro-finance program that allows participants, such as cocoa farmers in developing countries, to support each other with low-interest loans. The loans help cocoa farmers improve their farming practices, expand their businesses and support their families. DOVE has partnered with CARE to sponsor the VSLA program in Cote d’Ivoire, the world’s top producer of cocoa beans, which has already benefited nearly 3,000 farmers since the program began in 2016.

2. Protecting the environment. According to the Rainforest Alliance, cocoa can be grown in forest settings, under the shade of native trees, rather than in deforested fields. Organizations like the Rainforest Alliance help farmers learn and implement sustainable farming and harvesting practices that protect the wildlife and environment in the region as well as improve their livelihoods and the well-being of their families and communities. Mars is the first company to pledge to use 100 percent certified cocoa by 2020, and as part of this pledge, sources 100 percent Rainforest Alliance Certified cocoa for DOVE Dark Chocolate products.

3. Female empowerment. Although they contribute to 50 percent of farming activities, women rarely benefit from cocoa-related income. Programs like CARE’s VSLA initiative take on this challenge by providing women with ways to save money and access small loans. With VSLAs, women in farming communities can increase production on their cocoa farms, recover from natural disasters that threaten their livelihoods and achieve greater equality with male farmers. Beginning July 7, DOVE Chocolate will donate $1 to CARE for every purchase of specially marked DOVE Dark PROMISES at all CVS Pharmacy locations.

To find out more about the chocolate-making process, visit

Do these 5 things for a stress-free summer adventure


(BPT) - The beloved summer season tends to come and go too fast, so there’s no time to waste when planning a summer trip with friends or family. Whether it’s a bike ride, hiking for the day or a family vacation at the beach, you’ll want to make sure you’re prepared for the adventures that lie ahead. Check out these five essential on-the-go travel tips that will ensure a safe and stress-free trip.

Pack smart

The contents of your adventure pack depend entirely on your summer plans. Packing for a longer beach vacation? Be sure to make a packing list so you don’t forget anything important, and pack plenty of layers to prepare for all types of weather. If your summer is filled with day trips to the beach, pre-pack the suits, towels, beach chairs and plastic bags for wet clothes. If you plan on going on long hikes, have bug spray and a first aid kit at the ready. Try to expect the unexpected; you never know when duct tape and a little emergency cash can save the day.

Guard yourself against the sun

Nothing can ruin a fun time quite like sunburn can. Sun protection is something you don’t want to leave behind and you certainly don’t want to get a late start to your day because you have to run to the store to pick up another bottle of sunscreen. Make sure your summer adventure pack is full of sun gear: sunscreen, sunglasses, SPF clothing, and a baseball cap or a wide-brimmed hat.

Have cold water at the ready

It’s important to stay hydrated in the summer heat, so don’t forget to pack plenty of water. To keep your water ice-cold, fill your water bottles halfway with water and stick them in the freezer. Before you leave for your next outing, fill the bottle to the top and you have refreshing ice water to go! Or invest in a well-made reusable, insulated bottle that will keep your water cold throughout the day.

Tip: Freeze fresh fruit such as berries or lemons in ice cube trays and toss in your water bottle before you go for a refreshing unique twist!

Don’t let empty batteries stop your fun

A few hours into your adventure you might find that your phone is running low on battery, making you choose between keeping your access to the outside world and a photo op. Invest in a portable power bank. Just keep it charged and ready in your pack so you can top off your battery meter whenever you’re on the go.

Stay energized with protein-rich on-the-go snacks

It can be hard to eat healthy when you’re on the go. Avoid fast-food places that tend to be heavy on the junk food and prepare a variety of nutritious snacks before you hit the road. “Choose foods that are high in protein and other nutrients like vitamin B12, which are essential for maintaining energy throughout the day,” says Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist Dawn Jackson Blatner. “Raw nuts, nut butters, fresh fruit and even eggs are easy to prep and won’t make a mess while traveling.”

Blatner recommends baking up a batch of egg muffins and freezing them until your next outing. “Not all eggs are created equal though,” says Blatner. “With six times more vitamin D, more than double the omega-3s and vitamin B12 than ordinary eggs, Eggland’s Best eggs are the only eggs I recommend to my clients and serve to my family since they are loaded with superior nutrients that can help you refuel after a long day of traveling or sightseeing."

Check out this easy and healthy Eggland’s Best Mini Quiches with Chives, Shallots and Turkey Bacon recipe to get started.

Mini Quiches with Chives, Shallots and Turkey Bacon


8 Eggland’s Best Eggs (large)

12 oz. turkey bacon, chopped

1 small onion, minced

1 shallot, minced

1 teaspoon garlic, minced

1/4 cup fresh chives, minced (plus more for garnishing)

Small handful of parsley, roughly chopped

1 teaspoon Italian seasonings

Pinch of smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon salt

2/3 cups fresh Parmesan cheese


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a mini muffin tin with cooking spray and place it on a cooking sheet. Doing this will make it easier to transport in and out of the oven.

In a large skillet, add in the turkey bacon and cook on medium-high heat. After a few minutes, add the onion, shallot and garlic and cook down for a few more minutes.

Lastly, add the chives, parsley and Italian seasoning and cook mixture until the turkey bacon is cooked through.

Remove mixture from heat and set aside until needed.

In a 4-cup liquid measuring cup, add in the eggs and take a fork to whisk until evenly beaten.

Add the paprika and salt and whisk to combine.

Place a thin layer of Parmesan cheese into each individual muffin tin.

Take one teaspoon of the bacon mixture and add it to each tin.

Carefully pour enough of the egg mixture into each muffin tin, just until it covers the filling mixture. Sprinkle with some more Parmesan cheese.

Bake quiches for 16-18 minutes or until the eggs have fully set.

Allow to cool slightly before taking a butter knife to release them from the pan.

Serve immediately or let quiches cool completely, cover with plastic wrap, and store in the fridge.

To reheat, place them on a baking sheet in a 375-degree oven for 5-7 minutes, or until heated through.

Source: Eggland's Best

How much juice should kids drink? What you need to know about juice and serving size


(BPT) - Selecting beverages for your children can be tricky. What should they be drinking and how much should they drink? Dr. Lisa Thornton, pediatrician and mother, breaks down new juice guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and answers questions about 100 percent juice in the diet.

My kids like to drink juice, but I don’t know how much to serve them. Do you have any suggestions?

Like the whole fruit it is squeezed from, 100 percent juice is both delicious and nutritious. It is filled with important vitamins and minerals like potassium, folate and vitamin C, which make it a great beverage to serve your children. A serving of 100 percent juice is also a good option to help children meet their daily fruit serving recommendations.

In regards to portion size, follow the guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Children ages 1-3 can have up to 4 ounces of juice a day, kids ages 4-6 can drink up to 6 ounces a day and children 7 and older can have up to 8 ounces per day. These new guidelines were put into place to help parents manage their children’s intake.

Should I be worried about juice and weight gain?

Balance is the key to good health for people of all ages, from age 1 to 100. Guidelines and recommendations are put into place by experts at the American Academy of Pediatrics and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to help guide you to make the best decisions about the foods and beverages you serve to your family.

Scientific studies that analyzed the juice consumption of children and adults found that when juice is consumed in appropriate amounts, there is no association between drinking juice and obesity. If you are worried about the impact of individual foods on your child’s weight, consult with a professional, such as a nutritionist or pediatrician.

Does drinking juice impact fruit consumption? I’m concerned that if I serve my children juice, they will be less likely to eat fruit.

Actually, nutrition research shows just the opposite. Children who drink juice tend to have overall better quality diets than those who do not drink juice. This means they eat more whole fruit, less saturated fats and have less added sugar in their diet.

Drinking juice shouldn’t replace eating whole fruit in the diet; it should complement it. According to the U.S. Dietary Guidelines, 100 percent juice is part of the fruit group, which consists of all forms of fruit — fresh, frozen, canned, dried and 100 percent juice. More than 75 percent of Americans do not eat the recommended amount of fruit; one serving of fruit juice can help to supplement your family’s intake.

Making decisions about what to feed your family shouldn’t be stressful or difficult. Consult with your physician, pediatrician or nutritionist if you are confused about what foods and beverages you should be serving your loved ones. For more information about 100 percent juice and how it fits into an overall balanced diet, visit Juice Central. Juice Central is your source for the latest information about juice, including healthy lifestyle tips, recipes and nutrition science.

Create a special day for Dad this Father's Day with a delicious meal


(BPT) - By Yvette Marquez, Vive Mejor spokesperson

As my grandma would always say, “Panza llena, corazón contento.” The best gift you can give Dad on Father's Day is a full stomach. Sure you could take him to a fancy restaurant, but try surprising Dad with an economical and homemade meal for his special day. It’ll mean a lot that you put some extra thought into making his day more special and this simple dish is delicious and made with amor. Show Dad how much you love him with this one-skillet Garlic Shrimp Risotto made with Knorr Sides.

Shrimp is featured in this recipe, but any kind of seafood will work. The garlic adds a very classic and tantalizing element to the dish. The kale and cherry tomatoes adds freshness and a burst of color. The four cheeses in the Knorr Selects package adds a lot of flavor, and I guarantee the entire family will love this rich and creamy risotto.

Knorr Selects is a new premium line of rice side dishes that contains no artificial flavors or preservatives, and are gluten free. They have cleaner, shorter ingredient labels and are made with rice sustainably sourced from Arkansas.

This one-skillet meal is made in less than 20 minutes, so you can spend less time in the kitchen cooking and cleaning, and more time planning Father's Day around one of his favorite hobbies or interests, such as fishing or hiking. He’ll appreciate the opportunity to do what he loves, and he’ll especially enjoy spending time with his family.

For more information and mealtime inspiration, go to

5 essential soft skills for a job interview


(BPT) - Picture this: After months of networking and polishing your resume, you managed to make the necessary connections, get in front of the right people and land an interview.

You deserve to be here. After all, you have an impressive background, great experience, fantastic references and are confident you can exceed the requirements of the job. The interview is really just a formality.

For many, the hardest part of the job hunt is simply getting an interview. However, many top candidates get passed over and are surprised when they are not offered a job. The reason for this is they often spend a lot of time practicing how to answer questions and explaining their qualifications, but forget about the soft skills.

A successful interview is about making the right impression, and these five soft skills are essential to making the impression that leads to a job offer.

1. A memorable appearance. We all know you need to dress your best before going into an interview, but you should go the extra mile to ensure the person you meet with remembers you. In addition to looking clean, tidy and professional, dress in a way that makes you feel confident and will make others notice.

2. Be ready to floss on the go. If someone notices something in your teeth, a piece of spinach or fleck of cereal, they won’t be able to see anything else. Before any interview, be sure to have a pack of Plackers Flossers with you. Made with strong floss that can quickly remove any gunk stuck in your teeth, these convenient one-handed flossers also double as a toothpick. Don’t leave home without them!

3. Exude confidence. Beyond just making you look good, the big reason behind dressing well and double checking that your teeth are clean and free of gunk is because this will give you confidence. Hiring managers can tell the difference between someone who is confident and someone who is not. Needless to say, they’re more impressed by confidence! So even if you’re nervous, dress up, keep clean, give a firm handshake and—if you have to—fake it until you make it!

4. Keep it positive. How you answer questions is often just as important as the answers you give. Always frame what you say in a positive note. In describing difficult managers or poor work conditions at other companies, frame it as a challenge you were happy to take on, an opportunity to learn and grow. Most importantly, remember to smile!

5. Eat well. You might be nervous and lose your appetite, but be sure you eat well the night before and the morning of the interview. Whole grains and foods loaded with fatty acids, such as salmon, eggs and kale, can help you feel great and relaxed for the interview. Just remember to have a few Plackers Flossers on hand so that energizing meal doesn’t become an unsightly mess in your mouth!

5 reasons summer is salad season


(BPT) - Summer is the perfect time to turn over a new you. With the arrival of warm weather, a relaxed schedule and summer vacations, this is the moment to invest in a new wardrobe and, of course, a new, healthier menu. When you think of summer cuisine, light and flavorful is the order of the day, and nothing captures that order quite like a fresh, vibrant salad.

Salads can be so much more than just a healthy lunch or dinner choice, thanks to their minimal prep requirements and the boatload of benefits they can deliver, such as the five posted below. So, take a mindful turn toward salads this summer and enjoy their many perks.

* A great source of vegetables — and fruits, too. You’re constantly hearing you need to eat more fruits and vegetables, so make it easy by including them in whichever kind of salad you choose. Peppers, cucumbers, carrots and tomatoes are all popular salad staples, but no matter which vegetable you crave, feel good knowing that it’s a natural fit on your salad plate. And if you’re trying to up your fruit intake, you’ll find plenty of reasons to add strawberries, grapes and other delicious treats to your salad serving.

* A window of opportunity. If the idea of a salad seems same old same old, it’s time to get creative. And it’s so easy. There are virtually no rules when it comes to whipping up a salad, so don’t always settle for what you think “just has to go in there.” Seize the day and mix in what you truly want, instead. The inclusion of seafood is an easy way to add both a lean protein and the omega-3 fatty acids that are good for your body. Plus, seafood flat-out tastes great. Salmon, shrimp and crab are all excellent options.

* Easy, carefree meals. With so much to do during the summer, your life is constantly on the go. When you don’t have much time, a salad can be your best friend. Simply toss those ingredients together and grab a fork. It’s the perfect quick fix when you just want to relax after a fun-filled summer day.

* Loaded with health benefits. You already know salads are an easy, scrumptious way to satisfy your recommended vegetable intake, but did you know they can also be your path to numerous other nutritional benefits? Adding spinach to your salad, for instance, has been proven to support your need for vitamins A and K, which help your bones and your vision. Meanwhile, romaine lettuce has been shown to lower the risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease, and arugula can reduce the chance you’ll get diabetes.

* New tastes every single day. Even if you don’t consider yourself the creative type in the kitchen, you can still enjoy the limitless options that salads present. The web is loaded with unique salad recipes, allowing you to sample a tasty combination you may have never tried before. For example, you can start your summer salad stretch with this inventive Island Coconut Shrimp Salad.

Island Coconut Shrimp Salad


1/2 of 18-ounce package of SeaPak Family Size Jumbo Coconut Shrimp

2 packets orange marmalade sauce (included in coconut shrimp package)

2/3 cup bottled ranch salad dressing

1 package (10 ounces) bagged mixed salad greens (or 1 head of lettuce, chopped)

1 mango, peeled and sliced

1/2 red bell pepper, diced

4 tablespoons macadamia nuts or pecan halves (if desired), chopped


Prepare coconut shrimp according to package directions. In small bowl, whisk together the orange marmalade sauce and salad dressing.

Divide the salad greens, mango slices and diced peppers among 4 serving plates. Evenly top each plate with shrimp.

Pour the salad dressing mixture over each serving of the coconut shrimp salad.

Sprinkle chopped nuts over the salads and serve immediately.

Top 10 tips for hosting a stress-free summer BBQ


(BPT) - The party is at your place, but no need to panic! These expert entertaining tips from the Chinet brand will help you plan, prep and enjoy a casual summer gathering — without the stress.

1. Be smart during set-up

Arrange two tables, one for dining and the other for food and drinks. Stack sturdy plates and cutlery at each end of the food table to keep the buffet from getting backed up.

2. Go potluck on the sides

Lessen the stress of hosting a backyard BBQ by making it a potluck. Assign each guest a dish — appetizer, salad, side dish or dessert — to contribute, leaving you to make the main course.

3. Ditch dirty dishes for disposables

A flimsy paper plate is no picnic. When hosting a backyard BBQ, choose biodegradable Chinet Classic White paper plates. Not only are they sleek and stylish, but they’re made from 100 percent pre-consumer recycled paper and made in the USA.

4. Make time with make-ahead recipes

Cooking for a crowd can turn into a hassle as you’re prepping for a party. Appear cool, calm and collected when your guests arrive by preparing food in advance. Kabobs are a perfect make-ahead recipe for cookouts and are easy for your guests to eat outside.

5. Helping hands

When feasible, choose simple, seasonal recipes that can be served as handhelds or in individual cups. This not only makes it easy for guests to mingle and move about, but also helps cut down on cleanup.

6. Serve pitcher-perfect drinks

Stage a bar area where guests can make their own drinks. Serve a big-batch beverage, like a summer sangria. Keep a non-alcoholic drink as an option as well. You can’t go wrong with lemonade or iced tea — both are always refreshing, light and just right for the season.

7. Let the yard games begin

Have pre-planned yard games like bocce ball, cornhole or ladder golf available for early arrivals or to combat the post-lunch slump. If you’re feeling extra crafty, create a DIY word jumble game using square paper plates and large gold sticker letters.

8. Light up the night

Supplement the stars with this Glittered Cup Garland using Chinet Cut Crystal 14 oz. cups. Use a gold string of lights for a more classic look, or if you’re feeling bold, opt for a colored strand. Once finished, string along your veranda, fence, patio or deck for a memorable ambience.

9. No campfire, no problem

S’mores aren’t just for the campfire. Get your fix on this traditional summertime snack with this easy dessert recipe.

10. Enjoy

A happy, stress-free host means a fun time for your guests and a successful get-together!


5 surprising facts about dairy you should know


(BPT) - Have you ever stopped to think about what a delicious cheeseburger, the dressing on your salad or your morning extra-foam latte have in common? They’re all undeniably dairy! From cow care to nutrient-packed punches, here are five facts you may not know about dairy:

1. Dairy farming is a family affair.

Every day, nearly 42,000 dairy farmers across the U.S. work hard to care for the cows that produce the milk that becomes the many dairy products everyone loves. The majority of all dairy farms — 97 percent — are family owned. Many dairy farms have been in the same family for generations, and each new generation of dairy farmers brings something new and innovative to the family farm.

2. Milk is "green" and that’s good!

Sustainability and cow comfort are priorities for today’s dairy farmers. In fact, producing a gallon of milk today takes 90 percent less land and 65 percent less water than 60 years ago, according to a study by Capper et al in Journal of Dairy Science. Dairy farms reuse their water, recycling it an average of three to five times a day, and even cow manure doesn't go to waste. Many farmers reuse manure to fertilize crops, and some farmers even capture the methane produced from manure to power their farms and the neighboring communities.

3. Dairy offers more nutritional benefits than just calcium.

Dairy’s reputation as a calcium powerhouse is well established, but did you know it offers additional nutritional and health benefits? For example, one cup of milk has the same amount of protein as 1 1/3 eggs. Milk also contains B vitamins - B12, riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3) and pantothenic acid (B5), which can help give you energy. From cheese, you can also get phosphorus, and yogurt provides zinc, too. Following a low-fat diet? Good news — lower fat versions of favorite dairy foods contain less fat but all the same nutrients of whole milk and dairy products.

4. It’s all about caring for the cows.

It makes good business sense to take the best possible care of the animals that produce your livelihood, and dairy farmers are constantly improving how they care for their cows. Cow nutritionists help determine the perfect balance of feed ingredients in cows’ diets to ensure the health of the animals. Dairy farmers also use technology to monitor the health of their cows with sophisticated collars, bracelets or ear tags that track key behaviors like activity levels, body temperature and milk production for each individual cow.

5. Dairy brings joy to summertime dishes.

Whether it's topping your burger with a slice of cheddar or enjoying fresh berries with a dollop of Greek yogurt, dairy is the ingredient that makes a variety of summertime dishes so enjoyable. So next time you gather with friends and/or family, tap into a little nostalgia with this Blueberry Hand Pie recipe:

Blueberry Hand Pies


2 9-inch, store-bought, ready-to-bake pie crusts

1 pint fresh blueberries

1 tablespoon all-purpose, unbleached flour

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten with 1 teaspoon of water

1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar

1 tablespoon reduced-fat milk


In a medium bowl, toss blueberries with flour. Add sugar and vanilla extract. Toss to combine. Set aside.

Allow store-bought crust to come to room temperature. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Flour a work surface and roll out the warmed pie crust to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut into eight rectangles about 3-by-4 inches in size. Scoop a scant 1/4 cup of the blueberries into the center of four dough rectangles. Place the remaining dough rectangles over the top of each blueberry filling. Use a fork to seal the edges of each pie and transfer pies to the prepared baking sheet.

Pierce the tops of the pies with a paring knife a few times and brush with egg wash. Bake for 30 minutes or until dough is golden brown. Allow pies to cool completely before icing. Use a fork to stir together the confectioner’s sugar and 1 tablespoon of milk. Drizzle over cooled hand pies. Serve with a glass of cold milk.

For more ways to enjoy dairy this summer, and to learn more about America’s farm families and importers, visit

Catch a day on the water with Dad this Father's Day


(BPT) - This Father’s Day, add a little adventure and gift Dad a day he will remember by surprising him with a day of fishing. There’s nothing like getting in a boat with loved ones and heading out on the water to sink a line and enjoy some of the finer things in life together — like fishing, snacking and discovering a few unexpected treasures along the way.

The invite

Whether it’ll be just the two of you or the entire family on this excursion, start the day by presenting him with a Father’s Day card attached to a tackle box with the message that you’ll be taking him fishing. Add a new baseball cap emblazoned with his favorite team’s logo to shield his head from the sun and wind.

Piping hot coffee

When you get in the car, make sure the cup holder has a new tumbler full of Dad’s favorite coffee, ready for him to sip on the way to the water. Some of today’s insulated bottles can hold the heat, keeping the coffee piping hot for up to 24 hours so you can rig up this treat hours and hours ahead of time. Check labels to see how long various containers keep drinks hot or cold, just to make sure.

Fishing gear

As soon as you’re on the boat and it’s time to open the tackle box, have some new fishing gear pre-packed inside, ready for him to discover. An ultra-versatile choice that will have him reeling in fish all day is the new Storm 360GT Searchbait, which uses a natural swimming action that fish just can’t refuse. While you’re at it, tuck in a spool of Sufix 832 Advanced Superline to ensure a good day’s catch. The strongest, most durable line on the market is a great gift that will help Dad avoid breakoffs.

Snack time

As the day goes on, keep Dad fueled with plenty of snacks to charge forward through the day — even if that means waiting for the next big fish to bite. Grab something simple and manly, like protein-packed Matador Jerky, to keep him fueled. Always good to go with no refrigeration needed, it’s available in several flavors to tempt his taste buds, from Original to Teriyaki to Peppered. Find them wherever chips are sold, in both individual 3-ounce packs and four-count variety packs. Be sure to bring along a cooler filled with ice-cold beverages to put out the fire and quench his thirst.

Shore-side supper

After a great day on the water with Dad, top it off with a shore-side grilled supper featuring the entree of all entrees, fresh-caught fish. Toss some corn on the cob or veggies on the grill for sides and bring along something indulgent for dessert. A pre-made cake or homemade cookies can provide an easy and satisfying cap to a fun-filled day. However, the present he’ll likely remember most on this Father’s Day is the time you’ve spent enjoying it together.

Party themes for a summer bash to remember


(BPT) - When summer party season arrives, your guests will be happy to eat the grilled food you serve and down gallons of iced tea, but will they recall your party after Labor Day? Every good host wants to throw a bash guests will talk about all summer and remember long after the first snowfall. A themed summer party can be just the ticket to ensure your summer celebration has everyone clamoring to be on the guest list for your next big event.

Here are tips for staging a summer celebration to remember:

Sporting fun

A summer without sports would be like a beach vacation with no water! A sports-themed party is sure to have broad appeal, whether you opt to focus on a single sport or incorporate several favorites. Sports-themed decorations are a good start, but to really make a statement, rent some bleachers from your local party rental store, add in some concession equipment like popcorn and cotton candy makers, and throw in some backyard-sized versions of your favorite sports games. You can rent basketball tosses, pitching games and more at your local rental store.

Go patriotic

Summer has three of the year’s most patriotic holidays. Red, white and blue bunting and other decorations are musts for patriotic celebrations, but don’t stop there. Consider incorporating other all-American features in your event, like a barbecue cook-off with all the rentable fixings you need, and favorite summer lawn games like ring toss and lawn darts.


Great weather and freedom from school can make anyone feel like dancing, so why not host a backyard dance party? Rent a dance floor, add in a jukebox and a karaoke machine, and you’ve got the basis for a summer dance-off featuring summer-themed music. Include a misting fan or two to help keep dancers and spectators cool.

Summer snack celebration

Shaved ice, ice cream, fruit salads, popcorn — seasonal snacks are as much a part of summer as sunshine and hot temperatures. Why not heat up your backyard event by turning it into a celebration of summer snacks? Slice some watermelon, steep some iced tea in the sun, and rent a variety of snack machines to make cotton candy, popcorn, frozen drinks and snow cones.

Summer chilling

Your party should be hot but your guests don’t have to be. Rental stores carry a wide range of items that can help party-goers cool off, from dunk tanks to misting fans, and inflatable water slides to snow machines. Visit your local dollar discount store to stock up on water pistols, squirters, water balloons and buckets (for reloading), and invite guests to have a cool backyard water battle.

Movie madness

Summer is blockbuster movie season, so why not bring a bit of the excitement of the cinema to your own backyard? Rent projectors and screens, some theater seats and velvet rope and stanchions to turn your yard into an open-air theater. Turn on the popcorn machine and pop in a DVD of last summer’s hottest blockbuster for a night of movie madness.

For more party rental ideas or to find summer party items for rent near you, visit

Throw a sizzling summer cocktail party


(BPT) - Raise your glasses high — cocktail parties are the toast of this summer’s entertaining. Don’t know where to start? Think barware, which is nearly as hot as the rising temperatures. That’s why we turned to designer Julie Robbins from Replacements, Ltd., the world’s largest retailer of vintage and current dinnerware, for fabulously fun ideas sure to make your soiree one of your favorite summer memories.

Why are cocktail parties so popular for summer 2017?

These gatherings are both fun and easy to put together — you’re not trying to seat everyone at the same table so you can make use of more of your home, whether that’s an apartment, condo or house. Cocktail parties are all about conversation, networking and introducing one group of friends to another, so people are always moving around. This type of entertaining is perfect for both small and large spaces alike; you can use your kitchen, family room or head outside to a patio, deck or even your yard.

What’s the best time for the perfect cocktail party?

Any time! Cocktail parties are usually the warm-up or wind-down for the evening, and timing often depends on your reasons for celebrating. For instance, if you’re holding your party as a kick-off to some event, say an evening out or concert under the stars, you may want to serve drier drinks and savory, spicier foods. If it’s a post-event gathering, consider a late night with sweets, such as liqueurs and dessert-type finger foods.

What about barware? What’s hot this summer?

I think three barware types will be extremely popular this season: the coupe, the old fashioned and a tall drink glass, such as a tumbler or highball.

Why the coupe?

There’s a movement toward more elegant cocktails, and people want to serve those beverages in something equally elegant. That’s why coupes (often referred to as champagne-sherbet glasses) are really stepping into the fore. Coupes offer a more refined shape that looks great in the hand. Vintage coupes from classic American glassmakers such as Tiffin, Fostoria and Heisey are big with our customers, with unique pieces in pretty much every price range. Not only are vintage coupes a great conversation starter, these glasses are highly collectible. You can also use them for desserts.

The old fashioned?

Old fashioned or even double old fashioned glasses are used for serving spirits straight up or on the rocks. They’re also great for mixed cocktails, such as old fashioneds (the glass is named after this whiskey-based drink, which muddies bitters and sugars with a citrus twist), whiskey sours or even Bloody Marys. What’s neat is that you’ll find them in varying shapes. For example, Waterford has great old fashioned patterns, from something very simple and squared like their “Vintage” collection to more elegant, cut patterns such as “Powerscourt,” which is sparkly and almost tulip shaped. You’ll also find very rounded, roly-poly shapes made popular on the television show Mad Men.

How about the highball?

Highballs are perfect for serving taller, refreshing drinks such as Long Island iced teas or a Tom Collins. You may see highball glasses referred to as tumblers in vintage patterns. Most of the Depression glass patterns have unique shapes such as footed tumblers, which can really step up your game.

Bar carts seem to be everywhere. Is that another trend for summer entertaining?

Bar carts are great! We’re coming out of a phase where people kept their liquor put away; these days they want to show it off. A well-stocked bar cart is the perfect accessory for any size living space. And many companies even seem to want a beautiful, shiny and organized bar cart for the office. Bar carts are a great way to help keep your entertaining organized and not all spread out. And you can set those up for any style or taste. For example, you might want to put your alcohol on one shelf and your barware on another, or you can mix it up. Plus you can move your cart around as needed, so you’re not stuck in the same place with your guests glued to a bar.

How about food?

Pre-portioned foods are fantastic for cocktail parties and a great way to serve something pricier without having to break the bank. One fun idea — think about using barware you may not need at that particular party, such as glass punch cups, to make individual shrimp cocktail servings. This saves you from having a huge bowl of shrimp where that one person (you know the one) will stand and eat all night and keeps your guests moving — they can grab a serving and go. Two- and three-tiered servers are fabulous for cocktail parties. These servers have a very small footprint since they’re stacked, meaning you can tier different hors d'oeuvres on each layer and serve your guests without taking up a huge chunk of your table. Replacements can actually handcraft these pieces in the pattern of your choice.

Any final tips?

Limit your party to one or two signature cocktails. This keeps you from having to stock ten kinds of liquor and you can mix drinks in batches, meaning you can spend more time enjoying your party rather than bartending.

5 signs you need a relationship upgrade - with your grill


(BPT) - Do you still feel the heat? Are you allowed the space you need? Are the best years yet to come? If you answered "no" to any of those questions, you may want to dump your current grill and upgrade to a newer model. With grilling season upon us, there’s no time to waste being stuck in a grilling relationship rut.

While you likely have a sentimental attachment to your grill, like most Americans, you may feel you could do better. How do you know when it’s time to cut ties and move on? Following are five signs your grill relationship might need a trade up:

1. Commitment Phobia – You need a partner who’s in it for the long haul. Number one on the list of importance for grillers is high-quality construction and durability. Some grills, like some relationships, lose their luster over time. Consider a grill that offers superior construction, high-quality materials and a long warranty.

2. You’ve Been Left in the Dark – Are you and your grill riding off into the sunset, or when darkness falls are you left by your lonesome? Look for a grill that features integrated interior lights and lighted control knobs to help keep the flame burning all night long. Napoleon’s Prestige PRO series even offers knobs that turn red when the gas is on and blue when the gas is off, allowing users to know exactly which burners are lit for both precise grilling and added safety.

3. It Feels Like a Chore – Some say relationships should be simple. This is especially true when it comes to your relationship with your grill. Look for traits in your partner that make life easier, like easy assembly and set-up, an integrated wood chip smoker tray or interior storage to house all the grilling essentials.

4. There’s No Spark – Wanna feel the heat? Meet the infrared burner. Perfect for steaks, it heats up fast and gets extremely hot — much like a young summer romance, but with the durability to last a lifetime.

5. You’re Left Wanting More – Perhaps you’re feeling restless, looking for something more, but not quite sure what. How about a built-in ice bucket for marinade or a cold beverage? Or a built-in cutting board for added convenience? Today’s grills offer features you didn’t even know you needed, until now.

Life’s too short to be stuck in a lackluster relationship — even if it’s with your grill. You can do better.

To begin your online search for a fiery soulmate, visit

Simplifying baby nutrition: Expert advice for your infant's first foods


(BPT) - Your cooing, curious, incredibly cute baby is now 6 months old and you've got the go-ahead from your pediatrician to start solid foods. You both are excited to begin this new adventure, but when you head to the store you are suddenly confused by a sea of options.

Which foods are safe for your new little eater? Which offer the most nutrition? How do you know what is the best for your baby? If you’re feeling overwhelmed, you’re not alone.

In research conducted by ORC International and Stonyfield, at least one-third of parents admit to feeding confusion during baby’s first months, and just over half (53 percent) feel overwhelmed by the varying opinions of early childhood nutrition.

Pediatrician Dr. Tanya Altmann, MD, FAAP and mother of three, sees many parents who are unsure about best first foods for infants. To help guide parents and caregivers, she offers five important pieces of advice.

Seek safe dairy options for babies under 12 months.

You might think it’s safer to avoid dairy products until infants are at least 12 months old. However, dairy is packed with essential nutrients (such as calcium and vitamin D) for growing bodies, and can be an important part of baby’s diet.

The good news is babies as young as 6 months can begin eating yogurt, even if they’re breastfeeding. Not only is it a healthy option for their little bodies, you’ll find infants love yogurt. Choose a brand made with organic whole milk, like Stonyfield YoBaby yogurt, the No. 1 Pediatrician Recommended yogurt for babies between 6 months and 2 years old among refrigerated yogurts. (Source: IMS Health ProVoice Survey, 12/01/15 - 09/30/16)

Expose baby to healthy foods early.

Introducing baby’s first solids is a stressful time for parents. To keep it simple, reference a list of trusted foundation foods to ensure your baby is receiving the proper nutrients. Remember to check with your pediatrician before feeding your baby any new food groups and modify as needed to accommodate any food allergies.

Some great foundation foods are eggs, prunes, avocados, fish, yogurt, cheese, nut butters, chicken, beans, lentils, berries, citrus fruits, green vegetables, whole grains and water. Mix and match these foods as your baby becomes more comfortable with solids.

Protect baby’s gut health.

Did you know gut health is the foundation for overall good health? To help protect your baby’s gut health, you want to ensure they’re getting enough probiotics. While naturally found in breast milk, probiotics are also found in yogurt.

Stonyfield recently added the probiotic BB-12 (registered trademark of Chr. Hansen) to its YoBaby Yogurt. BB-12(R) has been shown to have a digestive health benefit when consumed regularly as part of a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle by promoting beneficial gut bacteria and regular, soft stools.

Understand natural sugar vs. added sugar.

Sugar is receiving a lot of attention in the news recently and many parents are looking more closely at labels when grocery shopping. In doing so, it's important to understand the difference between naturally occurring sugar and added sugar.

Wholesome foods like milk, yogurt and fruit have naturally occurring sugars that are part of a healthy diet. Many yogurts come in both plain and flavored varieties, and if you’re looking to control the amount of sweetness, you can purchase unsweetened yogurt to which you can add your own mashed fruits.

Get adventurous with finger foods.

Don’t be afraid to put down the spoon and let your little one try feeding themselves with some nutritious finger foods. Not only will baby explore new flavors and textures, but it's an excellent way to practice fine-motor skills.

A simple and nutrient-packed first finger food is berries cut into small pieces. The soft berries are easy for babies to pick up and they feel gentle against their gums.

Introducing first foods to your baby doesn't have to be a confusing process. By working with your pediatrician and keeping this information close at hand, you'll be ready to expose baby to a whole new world of flavors.

Alternative white wine pairings for popular summer meals


(BPT) - Summer means long days, bountiful sunshine and fresh fare to tantalize the taste buds. Locally grown produce, grilled meats and seafood, and new takes on classic dishes like pizza and pasta make this the season to raise a glass and toast to family, friends and the sharing of delicious food.

White wine is a classic summer drink that never goes out of style. However, you may want to look beyond the traditional chardonnays and sauvignon blancs when creating the perfect pairings for your summer menus.

If you want alternative white wines for upcoming meal pairings, the following options are guaranteed to satisfy whether you're making an intimate meal for two or are hosting a large outdoor event.

Perfect pairing: Pinot gris and grilled poultry and seafood

Wine to try: Wairau River Pinot Gris 2015 Marlborough

Grilling poultry and seafood infuses amazing flavor, making it a popular main dish for summer dining. A pinot gris is a fantastic dry white wine that complements these types of dishes. With the rich fresh flavor of pear and green apple mingling with touches of spice, this wine adds weight to the palate and completes the dining experience.

Perfect pairing: Chenin blanc with salads and fresh vegetables

Wine to try: Protea Chenin Blanc 2016 Western Cape

Whether you regularly visit the farmers market, subscribe to a CSA or grow your own produce in a home garden, fresh vegetables are abundant throughout the summer season. When enjoying a luscious salad, pour yourself a glass of chenin blanc. This lively wine with notes of stone fruit have a light body that enhances without overwhelming fresh fare.

Perfect pairing: Garganega with shellfish, fish and white pizza

Wine to try: Anselmi San Vincenzo 2016 Veneto

Summer is the ideal time for new takes on favorite dishes. For example, try a white pizza for extraordinary, outside-the-box flavor. White pizza typically features a garlic sauce that is then topped with loads of vegetables. This light take on pizza calls for a crisp, medium-bodied wine made from garganega grapes. (This dry variety is also a great option for shellfish and fish dishes.)

Perfect pairing: Carricante with pesto dishes and white fish ceviche

Wine to try: Alta Mora Etna Bianco 2015

Wines made from the carricante grape are sure to please. Fresh and fruity, with touches of earthy minerality, this silky, full-bodied wine is a wonderful pair to the pesto dishes that are so popular during summertime. (Also ideal for seafood and shellfish, particularly fish ceviche.)

Perfect pairing: Falanghina with pasta made with citrus- and cream-based sauces

Wine to try: Feudi di San Gregorio Falanghina 2015

Inspired by warm weather, chefs often create a citrus- or cream-based pasta dish on their summer menus. You too can enjoy this quintessential summer trend by cooking your own recipe from the comfort of your home and then enjoying it with a big glass of Falanghina. Fresh and well-balanced, this wine blends flavors of flowers and fruit, and has a clean finish.

Need more inspiration? Try this recipe and visit for the right wine pairings.

Simplest Shrimp Kebabs

Serves 6

Pick and choose the vegetables that are freshest at the market, and alternate them with plump shrimp on skewers to create a colorful warm-weather entrée.


1 1/2 pounds raw peeled and cleaned jumbo (16 to 20 count) shrimp

3 cups mixed vegetables, such as red onions, bell peppers, zucchini, yellow squash, or briefly cooked cauliflower or broccoli, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces, or whole cherry tomatoes

1/2 cup Citrus Basil Sauce (recipe follows)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Lemon wedges, for serving

Fourteen 6-inch or eight 12-inch wooden or metal skewers


1. Place the shrimp in a large bowl. Add the vegetables, then toss with the Citrus Basil Sauce. Marinate in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours.

2. If you are using wooden skewers, at least 30 minutes before cooking soak them in water to cover in order to prevent them from burning.

3. Thread the shrimp and veggies on skewers, creating appealing patterns. (The 6-inch skewers will hold about 3 pieces of shrimp, alternating with veggies; for 12-inch skewers, double that amount.) Lightly salt and pepper the skewers.

4. Preheat the grill to medium-high.

5. Grill the kebabs until the shrimp is cooked through and everything has a nice grill-marked exterior, about 3 minutes per side. Serve the kebabs hot, with wedges of lemon. If you used metal skewers they will be hot, so make sure your guests know.

Cottage cheese reimagined [Video]


(BPT) - When it comes to food options to supplement a healthy lifestyle, one high protein choice that has been overlooked because of its dull and boring taste is cottage cheese. Muuna has changed all that with its rich and creamy cottage cheese with delicious pieces of real fruit including blueberry, strawberry, pineapple, peach, mango and lowfat plain. Muuna’s perfectly portioned, single serve cups are easy to grab on your way to work, school or for a quick protein-packed snack, to help sustain energy and keep you full. Muuna, the new way to cottage!

5 ways to make your gluten-free lifestyle more appetizing


(BPT) - Whether you have been gluten free for years or are just starting out, it’s a lifestyle rife with challenges. From cardboard-tasting foods to limited choices at social gatherings, a gluten-free lifestyle can make you feel left out and stuck with unappetizing options.

“A gluten-free lifestyle doesn’t have to be a life sentence of boring, bland food,” says Laura Fuentes, of and author of “The Best Grain-Free Family Meals on the Planet” and “The Best Homemade Kids' Lunches on the Planet.” “By following a few simple suggestions, you can enjoy your meals both at home and at parties, without worry.”

With just a few simple tips, you can add a feeling of “gluten freedom” to your gluten-free lifestyle.

* Make simple ingredient swaps. Changing out a few gluten-heavy ingredients can turn retired recipes into updated favorites. Substitute flour tortillas for Boston bib lettuce leaves or swap in grated steamed cauliflower instead of couscous.

* Find gluten-free meals everyone will enjoy. “After switching to a gluten-free diet, many families find it challenging to find convenient foods that everyone likes — especially social and celebratory foods like pizza,” says Fuentes, a mother of one child with a gluten intolerance and two without. “Rather than making different pizzas for different diets, I serve everyone Freschetta Gluten Free pizza. It’s a delicious, thin-crust alternative that my family loves.”

* Incorporate snack prep into your weekly routine. Choose colorful, nutritious foods such as dipped apples, fruit skewers, popcorn and veggies with dip. Store snacks in clear containers and keep them at the front of your fridge or cupboard. Easy access makes gluten-free snacking a breeze and encourages you to eat healthier, since you have to think twice before reaching for chips or sweets.

* Experiment with new flavors and dishes. “Pizza night is a great time to expand your palate. Top gluten free pizza crust with adventurous choices like pesto and chicken or mushrooms and caramelized onions,” said Fuentes. “Or, rather than searching for new gluten-free recipes, seek out recipes with naturally gluten-free ingredients like fish, vegetables and rice.”

* Add texture with tasty alternatives. Fried and baked chicken are still possible by exchanging breadcrumbs for ground rice cereal. Instead of skipping the crunch of croutons on your salad, add lightly toasted almonds, pecans or walnuts. And try plantain chips in place of crackers — they’re delicious and just as crunchy.

Incorporate these ideas into your everyday eating habits and your gluten-free lifestyle will be rich with flavors and textures, while still ensuring your food is safe and delicious.

To learn more about Freschetta Gluten Free Pizza and to find a store near you, visit

Seasoning tips to help you savor a great grilling season


(BPT) - Flowers are blooming, days are getting longer and temperatures are warmer — you can probably recognize all the signs that grilling season has arrived! But do you know how to best season all the fresh foods you’ll grill this summer?

Sure, a dash of salt and pepper may be all you need for some premium cuts of meat, but creative seasoning with organic spices and herbs can enhance the taste of virtually everything you grill. What’s more, the clean simplicity of organic seasonings perfectly complements the natural healthfulness of grilling.

The organic seasoning experts at Frontier Co-op offer some tips for using seasonings to achieve greater grilling this spring and summer:

Dry or wet? That’s the rub

Two of the most common ways to add seasonings to grilled food is through the use of a rub or marinade. What’s the difference between the two? It’s not just that one is dry and the other wet, because some rubs are wet, too.

Generally, rubs are mixtures of dry spices that you rub on food to add flavor before cooking. They’re good for high-fat foods like meat, and often contain salt and sugar, which also promotes the formation of a crust on the food when you grill it. Usually, after applying a rub you’ll want to let the food sit an hour or two before grilling it.

Marinades are typically liquid seasoned with spices to add flavor to food and sometimes tenderize it. You place the food in the liquid and allow it to sit for a set period of time — a few hours to overnight. When you’re ready to cook, remove the food from the marinade and use a brush or rubber spatula to remove excess marinade before placing the food on the grill. Marinades are great for vegetables and meat, poultry or fish that tend to be dry.

Other ways to spice things up

Of course, seasonings can add flavor to food in multiple ways. For example, if you’re soaking vegetables or fruit before grilling, you can add herbs and spices to the soaking water. In addition to absorbing liquid, the food will also soak up the great flavor of the seasonings.

Some foods benefit from basting during the grilling process. You can enhance the flavor of the food by adding seasonings to the butter or liquid you use for basting. If you use foil packets to steam fish, veggies or fruit on the grill, you can add seasonings directly atop the food before folding the foil, or add them to a bit of liquid at the base of the packet.

Pairing seasonings with food

Some food/seasoning pairings are obvious, like apples and cinnamon or fish and lemon pepper. However, a wide range of seasonings can elevate the flavor of a variety of foods. Here are a few creative pairings to try this summer grilling season:

* Cardamom — Pork, apples, pears, citrus fruits, cabbage and carrots

* Cloves — Beef, pork, sweet potatoes, onions, apples, pears, citrus fruits and peaches

* Cumin — Hamburgers, pork, chicken (marinades), tofu, tempeh and cabbage

* Ginger — Steak, chicken, fish, seafood and fruits

* Marjoram — Burgers, chicken, fish, lamp, poultry and vegetables

* Poppy seed — Potatoes, cabbage, carrots, onions and zucchini

* Saffron — Chicken and fish

* Turmeric — Lamb, beans and zucchini

Try this recipe for Savory Paprika and Chili Rub the next time you grill meat, tofu or vegetables:

Savory Paprika and Chili Rub


1 teaspoon Frontier Organic Ground Paprika

1 teaspoon Frontier Organic Chili Powder

2 teaspoons Frontier Organic Ground Cumin Seed

1 teaspoon Frontier Organic Onion Powder

1 teaspoon Frontier Organic Ground Cayenne Chili Pepper

1/2 teaspoon Frontier Organic Garlic Powder

4 teaspoons olive oil


Mix all ingredients together and rub into meats, poultry or vegetables (or shake onto soft veggies, tofu or tempeh). Then refrigerate for one hour before grilling.

For more grilling seasoning ideas and recipes, visit

6 ways to stay cool when entertaining


(BPT) - When the temperature rises, hosts need to stay as cool as can be when entertaining friends and family. The secret is planning ahead to deliver easy ambiance, crowd-pleasing food and plenty of fun. Start with versatile foods that can both stand alone and serve as recipe-enhancing ingredients to help keep summertime hosting stress-free.

1. Turn to the summer host’s best friend — an entrée salad that’s cool, crunchy and refreshing, like the Crispy Garlic Chicken Chopped Salad (recipe follows) that tickles tastebuds with a delightful contrast of sweet California grapes and savory toasted garlic.

2. Spending the afternoon poolside? Keep an assortment of floats and inflatable tubes so guests can relax or play in the water. Stock a mini-fridge with cool beverages, and tuck small bags of grapes in the freezer section for a cooling snack. Hint: grapes also make great ice cubes that won’t dilute a drink!

3. Put together an Italian-inspired antipasto platter in minutes — arrange clusters of fresh grapes next to olives, marinated artichoke hearts, cubes of provolone cheese and roasted red peppers on a large plate. Serve with crusty Italian bread.

4. Liven up any picnic with a cooler filled with easy-to-eat red, green and black California grapes that have been cut into small clusters ahead of time. Add some assorted cheeses, crackers, fresh veggies and Mediterranean dips and let the party begin.

5. Say olé to cool summer libations at celebrations. Start the party with an unexpected and unique drink, the frosty Grape Mojito, shown below. Red grapes add natural sweetness and a pop of color.

6. Set up a grilled fruit buffet for a fun snack or dessert. Thread fresh grapes, pineapple chunks and peach cubes on skewers. Brush lightly with oil and grill until the fruits begin to caramelize, which deepens and enhances flavor. Serve with a choice of sorbets.

Crispy Garlic Chicken Chopped Salad

Serves 4


1/3 cup grapeseed oil

6 large cloves garlic, very thinly sliced

2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, divided

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

2 teaspoons honey

Pinch cayenne

3 cups chopped romaine lettuce

2 cups chopped radicchio

2 cups chopped green cabbage

2 cups halved California grapes

1 cup thinly sliced celery

1/4 cup roughly chopped mint


Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook until browned and crisp, removing pieces as they brown with a slotted spoon, about 2 minutes altogether. Pour the oil into a heatproof cup.

Sprinkle the chicken with 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Transfer 2 tablespoons of the garlic oil back to the skillet. Heat over medium-high until almost smoking and add the chicken. Cook until golden on the bottom, about 7-9 minutes. Turn and cook another 7-9 minutes or until golden and cooked through. Remove to a cutting board. Let stand 5 minutes.

Whisk the lemon juice, vinegar and honey into the remaining garlic oil. Season with 1/4 teaspoon each kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper and cayenne.

Combine romaine, radicchio, cabbage, grapes, celery and mint in a large bowl. Chop the chicken and add to the bowl along with the dressing. Toss to mix and serve sprinkled with the crispy garlic.

Nutritional analysis per serving: Calories 360; Protein 22 g; Carbohydrate 25 g; Fat 21 g (50% Calories from Fat); 2.5 g Saturated Fat (6% Calories from Saturated Fat); Cholesterol 60 mg; Sodium 290 mg; Fiber 4 g.

Grape Mojito


3 wedges lime

12 mint leaves

6 large red California grapes, halved, plus more for garnish

2 teaspoons sugar

2 oz. white rum


Club soda


In a cocktail glass, muddle together two of the lime wedges, mint leaves, grape halves, sugar and rum until the sugar dissolves. Fill the glass with ice and top off with club soda. Top with the reserved lime wedge and more grapes.

Nutritional analysis per serving: Calories 200; Protein 0 g; Carbohydrate 18 g; Fat 0 g; Sat Fat 0 g; Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 0 mg; Fiber 1 g.

5 nutritionist tips to start eating and living healthier


(BPT) - When you need to fix your car, learn the latest tech or finish a major home improvement, what do you do? You turn to the experts, those with in-depth knowledge on how to accomplish these tasks in the most efficient and effective way. And when you’re looking to improve your overall health by focusing on improving your diet, it’s also time to turn to the experts.

Nutritionists and registered dietitians are the thought leaders when it comes to improving your eating habits. So to learn from the professionals, we asked Registered Dietitian and nutritionist Dawn Jackson Blatner to offer her tips on how you can improve your nutrition and start living a healthier life today. She offers this advice:

*Get organized. Your environment can work for you or against you. Having an organized refrigerator can be the key to success on the journey to weight loss. Keep produce where it is easily visible and accessible. Storing foods like hard-boiled eggs, chicken breast and roasted vegetables at eye-level can really help to make smarter meal choices. Clear food containers will also help to keep already prepared meals top of mind and lessen food waste, which means saving money in the long run.

*Practice superfood swaps. Don’t cut out food cravings — embrace them! Eat the flavors that you crave but swap out overly processed stuff for fresh, wholesome ingredients. Avoid products with chemicals, refined sugars and flours, artificial flavors and preservatives and it will naturally lead to a healthier lifestyle. When you fill the house with healthier foods, you’ll automatically eat smarter when hunger strikes.

*Eat your “green base.” It can be difficult to make the right nutrition choices all the time. So when you are eating more decadent food like fried chicken, Chinese or pizza, put it on a base of leafy greens like spinach, spring mix or kale. That way you will get to eat what you want, but you’ll fill up more on your superfood greens and eat less of the high-calorie foods.

*Set the table. One of the simplest ways to start naturally eating less and enjoying food more is to eat all meals and snacks at the table. When you put food on a plate, eat at a table and sit in a chair you’ll eat much less than if you were eating while working on the computer, watching TV, standing in the fridge or driving!

*Build a better breakfast. A healthy diet starts with a nutritious breakfast. Think whole foods instead of pre-packaged foods high in calories and packed with preservatives. Eggland’s Best eggs contain double the omega-3s and more than double the vitamin B12 compared to ordinary eggs, which can be perfect for maintaining heart health. They also contain 25 percent less saturated fat, six times more vitamin D and 10 times the vitamin E of ordinary eggs. Plus, they taste great. Get your day started with this amazing recipe and you’ll be happier and healthier all day long.

Spinach, Grape Tomato and Cheddar Frittata


2 tablespoons olive oil

6 ounces baby spinach

1 cup grape tomatoes, sliced in half

8 Eggland's Best eggs (large)

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

salt & pepper to taste

1/4 cup milk


Preheat oven to 350 F.

Whisk eggs and milk together until smooth.

Heat cast iron or oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil and saute spinach until wilted and then add half of the grape tomatoes.

Pour eggs slowly into pan.

Sprinkle cheese over eggs and spread remaining grape tomatoes evenly over the egg mixture.

Season with salt and pepper.

Place skillet to oven and bake for 20-30 minutes or until eggs are cooked through and golden brown.

Remove skillet from oven and let rest for a few minutes.

Cut into wedges and serve warm.

To find more delicious recipes, tips and tricks to celebrate 25 years of a more nutritious egg, sign up for the EB newsletter,

Small-space gardens: Easy tips for homegrown flavors


(BPT) - The new growing season is upon us. You don’t have to be an experienced gardener to enjoy the many benefits of the season, nor do you need large swaths of land and sprawling acreage to grow your favorite greens. In fact, beautiful outdoor spaces — rich with colorful blooms and hearty edibles — can be created in nearly any space, including patios and balconies.

“Small-space gardening is the fastest-growing area in gardening and is becoming increasingly important to individuals who are interested in starting a garden but don’t have a lot of space,” says Tom Batt, a horticulturist and sales associate with Burpee Gardening Products and a consultant for Tractor Supply Company. “Ultimately, people are looking to have more control over what goes into their family meals and there’s no better way to know than by harvesting food from your own garden.”

Small-space gardening is all about getting creative and having fun. So whether you’re attempting to create an eye-catching outdoor oasis or produce delicious food for cooking, the most effective way to learn is by simply digging in.

To help you get started, the experts at Tractor Supply Company compiled a list of tips on how to take a confined area and turn it into a bountiful garden.

Ready, set, prep

As with most new endeavors, preparation is key. First, determine how much space you’ll be allocating and whether or not the area has access to adequate sunlight. According to Batt, a successful garden should receive at least eight hours of sunlight per day. It’s also important to make sure your planters are equipped with a sufficient drainage system. A hole at the bottom of your containers will help prevent oversaturation while still allowing water to permeate the soil. It will also ensure adequate airflow reaches the roots.

Commit to cultivating

Now that you’ve decided on an area, it’s important to remember that a garden — regardless of its size — requires time, attention and effort. It isn’t just planting then vacating. With that in mind, try to be realistic about how much time you’re willing to put forth. Batt suggests reserving an hour over the weekend for things like weeding and watering.

When it comes to plant hydration, it’s better to water deeply and thoroughly on a seldom basis than water too little on a regular basis. That being said, plants in containers tend to dry out more quickly than plants in the ground and will often require more water, especially during warmer months. A good rule of thumb is to soak plants until you notice water coming through the drainage holes. But remember plants absorb water through their roots and lose water through their leaves, so when watering try to avoid the foliage.

Start simple

It’s almost time to plant those first few seeds, but you’re not entirely sure what to grow. Consider starting with simple, cool-season crops like cabbage, carrots and radishes. Often, according to Batt, newer gardeners attempt to grow popular products like peppers, but what they don’t know is that in order to thrive, those need to be started indoors.

Another great option for beginners is herbs, which are inexpensive, require nothing larger than a 6–8-inch container, and only take three to four weeks to yield results.

“Herb gardens involve very little space and provide gardeners with a harvestable product that’s relatively easy to cultivate,” Batt says. “It’s also a fantastic way to grow a wide variety of plants in one fell swoop.”

Time to eat

It’s vital to know what you’ve planted and how long it should stay in the ground. Carrots, for instance, will harvest in about 65 to 70 days and, according to Batt, will show signs of wilting when they’re ready to be eaten.

Try to make a trip out to the garden every day to see what has ripened or is starting to flower. Trim back herbs, such as chives and basil, as soon as they start to flower. This will help plants continue to put energy into growth and production.

Checking on your garden daily also allows you to intervene at the first sign of trouble.

When it comes to small-space gardening, a little goes a long way. To give you an idea, a 10-foot by 12-foot garden has the capacity to feed a family of three for the entire summer simply by rotating the crops.

Tractor Supply Company hosts a variety of gardening events throughout the year, featuring expert advice and special products, all geared toward getting families out from under the roof and inside the garden. The rural lifestyle store carries all the supplies a family needs to get started, including mulch and soil, live plants, regular and organic seeds, pest control and garden tools.

Check with your local Tractor Supply store for details on upcoming gardening events.

For more expert advice on lawn and garden care, visit Tractor Supply’s Know How Central, and for homegrown inspiration for your garden, visit Tractor Supply’s Pinterest page.

Cook like a pro: Easy restaurant-quality meals to make at home


(BPT) - If your family is tired of the same dishes and menus week after week, it’s time to step up your recipe game and make meals exciting again. You can help your family look forward to mealtime by trying new recipes that use favorite ingredients, or replacing over-used ingredients with new premium, high-quality choices.

"Meals are only as good as the ingredients that they’re made with, and some of the best meals are a lot simpler than you would think," says Colby Garrelts, a James Beard Foundation award-winning chef. "When you start with premium, high-quality foods, all you need are a few basic ingredients to create a simple yet elegant, flavorful dish."

To enhance your recipe repertoire with only a few pantry staples, try these dishes from acclaimed chefs Colby Garrelts and Jose Mendin. Whether you have a dinner party or you’re simply looking to elevate your weeknight meal, these recipes will be sure to impress — and your friends and family will never know just how easy they were to prepare.

Visit for additional meal ideas and recipe inspiration for any occasion.

Lemon-Herb Roasted Pork Sirloin

Created by Chef Colby Garrelts, 2013 James Beard Foundation “Best Chef: Midwest” award winner


1 Smithfield Prime Boneless Pork Sirloin Roast

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic

1 tablespoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons black pepper

2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage

2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano

2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest


Heat the oven to 350 F. In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, sage, oregano and lemon zest; coat pork sirloin completely with the rub.

Place the pork roast on a rack in a roasting pan; pour water into bottom of pan until 1/2-inch deep. Roast pork until internal temperature reaches 145 F to 160 F, about 1 hour.

Remove pork roast from oven, tent loosely with foil, and let stand 20 minutes before carving.

Serve with collard greens on the side.

Sauteed Pork Chops with Romesco

Created by Chef Jose Mendin, five-time James Beard Foundation “Best Chef: South” award nominee


4 Smithfield Prime Bone-In Pork Chops (1-inch thick)

2/3 cup hazelnuts

1/4 cup pine nuts

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

5 cloves garlic

2 tomatoes, halved

1/2 cup piquillo chiles

2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

1 tablespoon kosher salt


Heat oven to 325 F. Toss hazelnuts and pine nuts with 2 tablespoons olive oil; spread on small baking sheet. Toast in oven until golden brown.

On another baking sheet, spread additional 2 tablespoons of olive oil; place garlic, tomato halves (cut side down), and piquillo chiles on pan. Roast until ingredients begin to caramelize.

In food processor or blender, puree all toasted and caramelized ingredients until smooth. Add sherry vinegar and salt, to taste. While processor or blender is running, slowly add 1/4 cup olive oil to the sauce until emulsified.

Toss pork chops in marinade. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

In large skillet, heat remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. Sautee pork chops for 5 to 7 minutes per side until internal temperature reaches 145 F to 160 F. Let stand 3 minutes before serving.

Serve with roasted vegetables on the side.

The mess is the best: Cooking with family creates lifelong memories


(BPT) - Preparing a family dinner doesn’t have to be a solo chore when there are helping hands nearby. Getting the kids involved in the kitchen not only teaches them valuable lessons, but it’s also an opportunity to create fun family memories with a few spills and messes along the way.

“The dinner table is a great place for sharing the day’s events, but it’s in the kitchen where family memories are made,” says actor, dad and cookbook author Freddie Prinze Jr. “Some of the best moments with my kids are when we roll up our sleeves and get messy while making our favorite recipes.”

There is no doubt that splatters, splashes and spills are a mess, but these messy moments can lead to laughter and unforgettable memories. To encourage families to make time for fun in the kitchen, Prinze Jr. has created a series of “Messipes,” kid-friendly messy recipes that are tasty, simple to prepare, with handy cleanup tips along the way.

“One thing I’ve learned from cooking with my kids is to appreciate the time spent together and not worry about the mess,” he says. “Of course, the clean-up has to happen at some point, so I like to add a few cleaning steps to encourage my kids to help while we’re in the kitchen.”

A trick he uses is to ask the kids to fill a large bowl with warm water and a few drops of dish liquid, such as Palmolive Ultra Strength, to quickly cut through the grease. Then, the kids help by collecting the used dishes and place them in the bowl to make cleanup easier.

The first step to family fun in the kitchen is selecting the “Messipe.” One of Prinze Jr.'s favorite “Messipes” is: The Sauce. This tasty tomato-based sauce has enough steps and ingredients to get the whole family involved, yet it is also easy to make and delicious.

“Between the prep, taste tests, stirring and adding the Parmesan cheese at the end, the whole family works together,” he says. “This time spent with family is just as good as the meals we make.”

The Sauce


1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 pound ground pork

1/2 pound ground veal or beef

4 ounces diced pancetta

salt and black pepper

1/2 cup red wine (something you would drink)

3 small to medium cloves of garlic

1/4 cup minced fresh parsley

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 box or can (26 ounces) tomato sauce

1 box linguine


1. Start off with a clean slate. Ask the kids to quickly help empty the dishwasher and sink to de-clutter the kitchen. Before you start cooking, have the kids guess how long they think the “Messipe” cleanup will take and time it. The winner gets to try the first bite!

2. In a medium soup pot, heat the oil over medium low heat.

3. Add your diced pancetta to the pan and cook for 2 minutes.

4. “Messipe” moment: Roll up your sleeves, it's time to get messy! In a bowl, take turns mixing the veal and pork with washed, clean hands. Add your salt and pepper, then add to the pan, browning the meat with the pancetta. Stir occasionally, with a wooden spoon, for about 8 minutes, breaking the meat up as you go.

5. Increase the heat to medium and add the wine, simmering until it reduces by half.

6. Add the garlic, parsley, basil and tomato sauce. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce begins to thicken, about 30 minutes.

7. Cover and cook for 15 minutes more (aka walk away till it’s done). Take turns tasting for salt and pepper and serve hot. "I like to pair the sauce with linguine pasta — and it’s also my kids’ favorite," Prinze says.

8. Cleanup tip: If sauce spills, quickly drop some flour on the spill to stop the spill from spreading. This way, you can keep cooking and not worry about cleaning up the mess right away. When you’re ready, fill a spray bottle with warm water and a few drops of Palmolive Ultra Strength dish liquid. Let the kids squirt the bottle over the mess ... or maybe even at each other!

For more kid-friendly “Messipes” and cleanup tips, visit

5 ways to make your staycation feel like an actual getaway


(BPT) - No stringent schedule. Eating new, exotic foods. Getting lost in a page-turning novel. Trying a new activity that takes you outside your comfort zone.

These are the types of things that make for a memorable vacation. The problem is, you're not traveling this year and instead are opting for the increasingly popular staycation.

Yes, you're taking PTO and staying put, but that doesn't mean you can't have an incredible time. In fact, many of the activities that make a traditional vacation so wonderful can be emulated while at home.

To help make your staycation feel like a real getaway, follow these five steps. You'll have just as much fun as leaving town, but you'll save tons of money, plus get to sleep in your own bed.

Limit technology: When you travel to a faraway location, you probably have limited-to-no access to your cell phone and email. That disconnection helps you unwind. Mimic that feeling by limiting your technology use during your staycation.

Leave your phone upstairs, turn the computer off and resist grabbing the tablet. You should consider changing your email and phone message to say you'll have limited access over the time you're off, so people who contact you know it might be awhile until you get back to them.

Escape with a destination-specific book: Want to feel like you're leaving town without leaving the house? Historical fiction can transport you to a different time and place, no matter how short or long your time off. For example, New York Times best-selling author Anita Shreve's newest novel, "The Stars Are Fire," vividly brings 1947 New England to life. Based on a real event — “the year Maine burned,” when more than 200 fires raged across the state — the book introduces us to Grace Holland, five months pregnant and the mother to two toddlers. As flames rip through the town, Grace must flee into the ocean to survive, spending the night in the frigid sea as the fire sends debris and smoke onto the beach. In the morning, she discovers her husband missing and her home completely destroyed. Amid devastating loss, Grace must rebuild her family’s life, and find strength she didn’t know she had. The novel asks her, and its readers: What would you do if you could begin again?

People Magazine called the book “original and gripping,” the perfect recipe for a staycation. And USA Today gave the book three and a half out of four stars: "Shreve is masterful at creating compelling characters whose inner conversations about love and intimacy are both heartfelt and heartrending … [this] quiet novel about marriage, duty and passion lingers long after the last page is turned, like the smoke from a wildfire."

Eat exotic and amazing fare: Every corner of the world offers cuisine that represents the culture of the people who live there. When you travel, eating these types of foods enhances the vacation experience. During your staycation, skip standard weekly meals and try new destination-inspired recipes and make a few at home.

Try your hand at a New England clam bake, the Midwest-famous Watergate Salad or chili rellenos from the southern U.S. states. Or, for a more exotic taste adventure, explore ethnic recipes from around the world. Whatever you choose, you're sure to have fun making and eating the unique dishes.

Drink and be merry: While you're expanding your staycation experience with new cuisine, why not drink that way too? Complement your meals with a traditional location-inspired libation, such as a Manhattan from New York, Mai Tai from Hawaii or Vieux Carre from New Orleans.

Of course there are plenty of non-alcoholic beverages to wet your whistle, too. Feel the southern charm with a traditional sweet tea, or sit down with your book and instead of a classic cup of joe, indulge in an Italian espresso or an iced coffee.

Break routine with a daily adventure: You may be home, but that doesn't mean you can't explore areas of your city that you rarely venture to. By doing new things, you'll feel like you're really on vacation!

Visit that museum. Go to that quiet park. Take a hike down by the river. Go to a movie in the middle of the afternoon. Try something new, such as paddle boarding or rock climbing. Just because you're "home" doesn't mean you can't have unique adventures that make for unforgettable memories.

Staycations continue to grow in popularity, and with these tips, it will truly feel like a getaway rather than just bland days off at home.

Gather the family in the kitchen for a magical Mother's Day


(BPT) - She's your biggest fan and the one you call whenever you need advice. Moms should be celebrated every day of the year, but there's no better time to show her you care than on Mother's Day!

This year, rather than going with the tried-and-true gift of flowers and chocolate, surprise Mom with a day of activities she's sure to remember for years to come. Esteemed celebrity chef and Iron Chef America judge Donatella Arpaia says to make Mom smile, turn to the kitchen for food, fun and a dash of love, and follow these five tips to create new Mother’s Day traditions:

Tip 1: Find activities for the entire family to actively partake in.

“Start Mother’s Day off right with breakfast in bed,” says Arpaia. “Try something new this year that the entire family can indulge in together — my ‘Green Eggs & Ham Breakfast Pizza’! It’s absolutely delish and you can personalize it to reflect Mom’s favorite ingredients. Also, don’t forget her favorite coffee and fresh squeezed orange juice. It’s all about the details for Mom’s special day!”

Tip 2: Create divine dishes by stocking up on delicious ingredients and storing them correctly.

“If you have little helpers assisting with the preparation of Mom’s breakfast pizza, assemble ingredients ahead of time and store them in the LG InstaView Refrigerator's Door-in-Door compartment, which makes them easily accessible without having to open the entire fridge,” says Arpaia. “You can also knock twice on the glass InstaView panel and it lights up, letting you see what’s inside without having to open the door and helping you keep your prized cooking ingredients front and center. Go the extra mile and write simple recipe instructions on Post-it notes for your little ones. This will make them feel so proud knowing that they made breakfast themselves ... with a little help from Dad.”

Tip 3: Make sure your kitchen is well-equipped.

The right tools — including your appliances — not only make cooking more fun, but also allow novice chefs to cook like professionals in their own homes. “Make technology work hardest for you, even in the kitchen,” says Arpaia. “Think like a chef and choose appliances that make every meal unforgettable. I am loving LG’s ProBake Convection ovens because the heating element can be found on the back wall versus the bottom, guaranteeing even cooking on every rack, every time. Your breakfast pizza will definitely come out crispy and delicious when baked using ProBake Convection technology!”

Tip 4: Relax, enjoy a slice and give the gift of time.

“As a busy, working mom, what I treasure most is a day without cooking and cleaning — and simply being present with my family,” says Arpaia. “After making breakfast pizza for Mom, give her the gift of your time and engage in your favorite family activity. Keep technology at bay — unless it’s in the kitchen working for you! Go for a hike, play a board game, relax and enjoy! It’s essential to slow down and savor those sweet moments with your whole family.”

Tip 5: Give her a gourmet experience with a celebrity chef-approved recipe.

To really wow Mom, Arpaia developed a Green Eggs & Ham Breakfast Pizza recipe you can bake at home. Given her success with the Prova Pizzabar restaurant in NYC, Mom is certain to be impressed.

Donatella Arpaia’s Green Eggs & Ham Breakfast Pizza


1 pound pizza dough, at room temperature (store bought or recipe for dough attached)
1/4 cup prepared pesto
1 cup (8 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup cherry tomatoes halved, tossed with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper
1/4 cup thick chunks of ham
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 eggs
Parmesan cheese, to taste


About 30 minutes before baking the pizza, preheat the oven to 500 F and place a large, rimless baking sheet in the lower third of the oven; for the most even cooking and optimal heat distribution, use an LG ProBake Convection oven. Place a large sheet of parchment paper on a work surface and dust the parchment lightly with flour.

Stretch dough using hands or rolling pin. Pierce the dough firmly all over with the tines of a fork.

Slide pizza with parchment onto a baking sheet, then slide it onto the hot rimless baking sheet in the oven.

When the dough is slightly puffed, at about 7 minutes, take out of oven and spread on pesto mixture, top with mozzarella cheese, cherry tomatoes, Parmesan and ham. Be sure to keep your toppings stored in a secure compartment separate from the main refrigerator, like the LG InstaView refrigerator’s Door-in-Door; this provides easy access to your ingredients without having to open the entire fridge and ensures they stay fresh while prepping. Place back in oven for another 3 minutes until cheese is melted. Slide pizza out, crack four eggs (one on each quarter of pizza), place back in oven and broil for about 4 minutes or until egg cooks to over easy (LG ProBake Convection will ensure consistent heating on the top and bottom of the pizza pan).

Grab the edge of the parchment and transfer the pizza from the oven to a cutting board, again using a rimless baking sheet or back of a rimmed pan to facilitate moving it. Drop ricotta cheese by rounded teaspoonful over top, cut and serve. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Donatella’s Homemade Pizza Dough


2 3/4 teaspoons fresh yeast or active dry yeast
4 1/8 cups fresh water
2 3/4 tablespoons sea salt
12 1/3 cups type “00” flour
Olive oil


Sprinkle the yeast over the water and let stand until the yeast is creamy, about 1 minute. Stir until the yeast dissolves. In a large bowl, add the sea salt, yeast mixture and the flour; stir until a soft dough forms.

Transfer the dough ball to a lightly floured surface and knead, adding more flour if necessary, until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Lightly coat another large bowl with olive oil. Place the dough in the bowl, turning it to oil the top. Cover with plastic wrap and store someplace warm; let rise until it doubles in size, about 6 hours.

Shape the dough into a 20-ounce ball. Place the ball on a nonstick surface or parchment paper, and then cover with plastic wrap, allowing room for the dough to expand. Let the dough rise until doubled, 8-12 hours.

Rest the dough in the LG InstaView refrigerator’s Door-in-Door compartment for 2-4 hours. Knock twice on the refrigerator’s glass panel to keep tabs on its progress without opening the fridge door, reducing cold air loss to keep the dough fresh. Your homemade dough is now ready to be baked. Remove dough and allow it to come to temperature for 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to as high as it can go for 15 minutes. Take sheet pan tray and spread thin layer of oil all over. Put some flour on your hand and stretch dough on table, then transfer into tray and press the dough further into shape of pan. Drizzle dough with about 2 tablespoons olive oil.

5 ways to take your summer grilling to a whole new level


(BPT) - The bright, sunny days of summer are your favorite time of year and when the season arrives, you spend much of your time outdoors. Your yard becomes your living room and you move your cooking to the grill.

Summer is grilling season and there is nowhere you'd rather be than standing in front of your favorite grill for every game day, holiday and weekend cookout. These events are when some of your best memories are made, and now is the perfect time to make this grilling season your best yet. To do just that, here are five ways you can up your grilling game in 2017.

* Switch to lump charcoal. The number one reason people grill with lump charcoal is due to the enhanced wood-fire flavor it imparts. When most think of charcoal, they inherently think of it as briquettes, and miss out on the natural advantages of its alternative — lump charcoal. Lump charcoal accounts for only 7 percent of the market, but the figure is growing steadily as more grill masters recognize the improved flavor. When you grill with lump charcoal, you’ll enjoy a quick, hot burn with less ash production. Lump charcoal is also natural and widely available in an array of varieties, allowing you to find the perfect charcoal to match your menu.

* Use a Smarter Starter fluid. Lighter fluid is a mainstay around the grill when you want to get cooking quickly; however, the chemical taste it leaves behind poses a serious drawback. The reason you get that petrochemical taste is because the chemical vapor from the fluid gets into the food. You can gain the benefits of a quick burn without the chemical taste by using Smarter Starter Fluid. Made from recycled restaurant cooking oil, Smarter Starter Fluid doesn't smell like traditional petroleum-based alternatives and you’ll never have to worry about it corrupting the taste of your food. Smarter Starter Fluid, being made from recycled cooking oil, makes it safe for use around kids and pets. The result is 87 percent less greenhouse gas emissions, so you can feel as good about your environmental impact as you do your grilling. And, it’s perfectly suited for use on lump charcoal.

* Customize the smoke flavor. Lump charcoal already lends itself a natural smoke flavor when compared to briquettes, but to really customize that flavor in your food, you can complement your lump charcoal with wood chips or chunks. Chips are smaller and more readily available in most stores, but they burn faster. Chunks burn slower and give you a better chance to lock in that unique smoke flavor. And once you pick a wood size, it’s time to pick a flavor. Apple, cherry, oak, mesquite and hickory are just a few of your options, so don’t be afraid to explore several. Whatever you're planning to smoke, there’s a chip or chunk out there that offers the perfect flavor complement.

* Take control of your temperature. In the hands of an experienced grill master, the uneven heat offered by charcoal grills is a benefit, not a drawback. Creating two zones on your grill will give you the strong, searing heat of the fire on one side, and indirect heat on the other side to cook your meat all the way through. To accomplish this, pour charcoal into one half of the grill — this will be your direct heat source — and leave the other half empty as your indirect heating zone. Heartier meats like steak can then be cooked for two minutes on each side in the direct zone and allowed to finish cooking in the indirect zone where you’ll lock in all of the flavor without burning your meat.

* Targeting the topmost temperature. To be sure your food is cooked to perfection, a temperature thermometer is a must. Dark meat chicken or turkey should be cooked to 175 degrees, while white meat should be cooked to 165. Beef and lamb should be cooked to 130 degrees (for a rare result) all the way to 170 degrees or higher for well done. And if your menu calls for brisket, keep the meat cooking until it reaches 185-205 degrees.

You look forward to the summer grilling season all year. Now that it's here, don't let a single opportunity pass you by. Apply the tips above and you'll take your time-honored pastime to a whole new level in 2017. To learn more about Smarter Starter Fluid, visit

6 surprising health benefits of strawberries


(BPT) - Eight strawberries, a single serving, delivers on a surprising checklist of benefits for anyone looking to live a healthier lifestyle. Strawberries are much more than a sweet and delicious treat — they are a versatile fruit that's great for your health. What better time than National Strawberry Month to share six health benefits of strawberries that may be new to you. Grab a handful of strawberries and read on, because eating right has never tasted so good.

* Strawberries help you stay sharp. A recent study in the Annals of Neurology suggests that eating strawberries more than twice a week appears to delay cognitive aging by up to two and a half years.

* Loaded with nutrients. Strawberries pack a lot of healthy properties into a small package. Each berry is full of beneficial antioxidants and nutrients, including potassium, folate and fiber.

* Sweet without the sugar. The sweet taste of strawberries makes them a natural dessert topping, and strawberries are also low in calories and sugar — one serving of eight strawberries contains just 45 calories!

* A delicious source of vitamin C. When you think vitamin C, think strawberries. One serving of eight strawberries has more vitamin C than an orange, topping out at 140 percent of the recommended daily value. It's the perfect power-packed boost that you can add to any meal or cold remedy.

* A healthy choice for diabetics. The American Diabetes Association has identified berries, including strawberries, as a perfect component of a diabetes meal plan. This is because strawberries have a low glycemic index and are loaded with vitamins, antioxidants and dietary fiber.

* Cholesterol fighter. Lowering your cholesterol is a common goal for many Americans these days, and strawberries can help. In addition to being packed with antioxidants and fiber, strawberries are also rich in phytochemicals, which have been shown to reduce overall cholesterol levels. In addition, the potassium found in strawberries may help control blood pressure and fight strokes.

It's easy to see why you should eat eight strawberries each day. Grab a handful today — your body and taste buds will be glad you did.

To learn more about the health benefits of strawberries, visit

Men and millennials pour it on, salad dressing survey reveals


(BPT) - Summer heat often brings lighter meals, and salads can bring a cool dish to the menu. How Americans dress their salads can vary, from ranch to vinaigrette and from bottles to jars to packets.

Consumers purchased salad dressings more often than just two years ago, the Association for Dressings and Sauces found in their January 2017 survey. What’s even more surprising? Men and Millennials played major roles in setting the table of trends for this popular condiment, as these groups showed some of the biggest swings in the past two years. The survey also uncovered that some of these upward trends pointed to new ways to use salad dressings, outside of salads.

Salad dressings being purchased more often

All three types of salad dressings saw an increase in purchase frequency. When consumers were asked when they most recently purchased salad dressing, the most popular answer was within the past month. Bottled grocery shelf dressings saw 52 percent of consumers buying the product within the past month, compared with 44 percent in the prior survey conducted two years ago. For refrigerated salad dressings, 33 percent of consumers bought them within the past month (compared with 26 percent prior). And for dry packet salad dressings, 25 percent bought them within the past month, compared with 22 percent before.

One of the biggest catalysts for the growth was with men and those 18-34 years of age.

Men reaching more often for dressings, reading more labels

The survey discovered twice as many men (42 percent now compared with 21 percent before) using dry packet dressings several times a week. What could they possibly be doing with all of this dry salad dressing? The study found that men are using dry dressings more on a sandwich as a condiment or added flavor and as an ingredient in a hot dip. For example, try a vegetarian ranch taco salad with a packet of dry ranch salad dressing, taco seasoning and mayonnaise over top of mixed greens, cilantro, black beans, mango and tortilla chips. That full recipe can be found at

Another interesting trend has been the increase in popularity of lite or lower fat, organic and clean label salad dressings, particularly among the dry dressings category among men. Again, more men than before are buying lite or lower fat at 34 percent (from 31 percent), organic dressing purchased by men increased to 28 percent (from 13 percent) and clean label dressing products increased to 14 percent (from 9 percent).

Millennials buying more and more often

The January survey also revealed that young buyers, age 18 to 34, are buying more, with 52 percent buying grocery shelf dressings in the past month, compared with 43 percent two years ago. For dry packet dressings, 30 percent of Millennials bought the product in the past month, compared with 23 percent two years ago. And 38 percent bought refrigerated product versus 24 percent two years ago.

Once the product is bought, the survey found Millennials are using salad dressings more often. About four in 10 younger buyers are using all three types more often than they did prior. With Millennials' interest in the culinary arts, some may be making their own dishes, such as hot dips. For example, here is a recipe for Buffalo chicken dip that utilizes bleu cheese dressing. Mix together some cooked and shredded chicken, bleu cheese dressing, bleu cheese crumbles, buffalo wing sauce and cream cheese, and the results are delicious (the recipe can be found at

Check out this year's top 3 trends in vegetable gardening


(BPT) - Whether you go to a restaurant or stay home and dine in, you want what you eat to be fresh and full of flavor. This movement toward tasty, locally grown food is illustrated by the rise in farmers markets, food subscription boxes, and a renewed joy in growing vegetables at home. As the spring gardening season gets underway, here are three of the top trends you can take advantage of in your own vegetable garden that can help you reach a new foodie level in 2017.

Trend number 1: Garden size doesn't matter

You don’t need massive outdoor space to enjoy the benefits of growing your own food. In fact, today’s garden veggies make it possible to achieve that fresh-from-the-garden taste even if you only have a small sunny patch or balcony. With Take 2 Tomato Combos from Burpee you combine a delicious slicer tomato with a sweet cherry in one container. They ripen at the same time for a steady supply of great-tasting tomatoes, like BushSteak and Baby Boomer. Next to your hardworking container, plant complementary herbs, peppers or lettuces, which also grow well in smaller spaces.

Trend number 2: Explore fresh, unique tastes

Unleash your inner gourmet by selecting vegetables for your garden that create a unique flavor story or experience. Cupcake Summer Squash offers a new twist on a familiar favorite. Its edible zucchini-like skin is shaped perfectly for savory stuffing. The presentation is sure to impress dinner guests, while it’s petite enough to enjoy solo. Continue to experiment and be on the lookout for other unique vegetables and herbs with color, texture and global flavor. Your garden can be a culinary adventure.

Trend number 3: Grow something amazing

We’re all a bit of a showoff when it comes to growing vegetables. The satisfaction of success is even sweeter when you can impress your friends and neighbors — either over the garden wall or on social media. So why not grow the biggest, the earliest or the best? SteakHouse is one of the world’s largest beefsteaks. This tomato routinely tips the scale at three pounds or more. Loaded with tomato flavor and fragrance, it will get them saying, “Wow!” and get you excited for dinnertime. Up your social currency with other amazing selections like the season’s first tomato, the best herbs for recipes all season, high-yielding peppers and more.

Like many other aspects of your life, the 2017 trends in vegetable gardening are all about maximizing your time, space and abilities to create an experience that’s uniquely yours. Use these ideas in your garden as your next step to fresh and flavorful food.

Visit to start your shopping list of Foodie Fresh, Space Savers, and Amazing Veggies vegetables and herbs. Get timely garden tips and recipes from Burpee experts in their weekly blog.

Think you're eating well? Misconceptions lead to nutrient deficiencies for many


(BPT) - The good news? Americans think they are eating well; in fact, 60 percent say they eat a very healthy diet. The not-so-good news? Perception and reality may not be aligned.

Only 6 percent of Americans report eating five or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day, reveals recent research from supplement maker MegaFood. The discrepancy leaves a huge nutritional gap to fill.

The survey results highlight another knowledge gap between Americans and healthy eating — you can eat plenty of healthy foods, and still not get the recommended daily allowances of key nutrients.

For example, 52 percent of survey respondents say they think they get enough vitamin B6 in their diets. B6 is found in foods like bananas and avocados, plays an important role in producing fuel and energy, and is critical for optimal function of the brain, nervous and immune systems. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say 30 million Americans are deficient in vitamin B6.

Multiple studies have shown many Americans don’t get the recommended amounts of needed nutrients every day, yet two-thirds believe they can get all the required nutrients by eating a healthy diet, according to the MegaFood survey. As a result, the belief they don’t need a multivitamin is the top reason two in five people don’t take one.

“My experience consistently shows me that a large number of Americans live high-carb, high-sugar, caffeine-overloaded, stressed-out, no-exercise lives,” says Dr. Tieraona Low Dog, an internationally recognized expert in the fields of integrative medicine, herbal medicine and dietary supplementation, and author of National Geographic’s "Fortify Your Life: Your Guide to Vitamins, Minerals, and More." “We may have good intentions when it comes to eating well, but the truth is that many of us fall short of an ideal diet — and even when we do our best to eat well, it is extremely difficult to get all the nutrients we need on a regular basis with diet alone.”

What you can do

It is possible to take steps to improve nutrition. Dr. Low Dog offers these tips:

* Know the nutrients you should be getting and the recommended daily amount for each. The National Institutes of Health provide online tables for recommended daily allowances of vitamins and minerals, based on age and gender.

* Do your best to eat a balanced diet; it delivers health benefits beyond vitamin sufficiency. Be sure to get at least five servings of fruits and vegetables per day.

* Supplement your good eating habits with a quality multivitamin. Eighty-one percent of consumers realize that not all multivitamins are the same. MegaFood makes a line of multivitamins formulated to support the health of men and women during various phases of life. They’re made from real food from real family farmers. The line is gluten-, soy-, GMO- and dairy-free, and tested to be free of pesticides and herbicides.

5 clever hacks to simplify any family's morning routine


(BPT) - Getting the family out the door on time every morning is no small feat. Seemingly simple tasks like getting dressed, packing backpacks and making breakfast can quickly turn into chaos. Before you know it, you're running late and the kids haven't even eaten as you dash to the car.

Stop dreading the stressful start to the day and start taking control of your mornings. A few simple tips and tricks will turn the morning craze into smooth sailing. Plus, when you have a stress-free start, the rest of the day just seems to go better.

Select a week's worth of clothes Sunday night.
Instead of choosing outfits the night prior, supersize your time-saving efforts by doing this task just once on Sunday night. Involve kids in selecting their clothes for the week so they feel empowered in their choices. Then hang entire outfits in the closet or stack in one drawer dedicated to weekday wear. When mornings come, kids know exactly where to find the day's duds. Bonus: you don't have to worry about midweek laundry.

Create a routine and set alarms.
Create a morning routine and stick to it. For example, kids wake at 7 a.m., eat breakfast at 7:15 a.m., get dressed and ready at 7:30 a.m., then out the door by 8 a.m. And if the kids need to share a bathroom, set a daily bathroom schedule with alarms to keep kids on track and avoid arguments in the morning.

Get ready before waking up the kids.
Trying to ready yourself for the day while helping the kids is a recipe for disaster. This is why waking before the rest of the family really makes mornings happier. Try getting up 30 minutes before the kids so you have time to get ready and enjoy a cup of coffee. You'll be fully awake, much happier and can focus on helping the kids stay on-task.

Create morning rules.
Just like you don't let kids eat dessert before dinner to ensure they eat well, set rules for the morning to keep things moving. For example, no TV until all morning tasks are completed. For teens, smartphones and other mobile devices must remain on the kitchen table until they are ready to go.

Sundays = meal prep.
Make a week’s worth of PB&Js on Sunday and put them in the freezer. This way lunch items are ready to go and the sandwiches will be thawed and ready to eat by lunchtime. For breakfast, make it easy for kids by setting out shelf-stable items they can make themselves. New Jif(R) Peanut Butter and Naturally Flavored Cinnamon Spread keeps mornings interesting. Set out a jar by a loaf of bread and kids can quickly make a tasty sandwich they'll devour. Learn more at

Want to up the ante for breakfast without spending any extra morning time in the kitchen? Try this recipe for delicious overnight oats that can be made in the evening and customized for each family member.

Protein Power Packed Overnight Oatmeal Recipe
Courtesy of

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 8 hours
Serves: 1-2


1/2 cup old fashioned rolled-oats
1/2 cup vanilla yogurt
1/4 cup pecans
1/4 cup fresh blueberries and raspberries
Large spoonful of Jif(R) Peanut Butter and Naturally Flavored Cinnamon Spread (or Maple if you prefer!)
1 to 1-1/2 cups milk (basically cover what's in your jar)

1 teaspoon chia seeds
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon honey


1. In a large jar, layer your ingredients starting with about a 1/2 cup of old fashioned rolled oats.

2. Then add about a 1/2 cup of your favorite yogurt, your favorite nuts and fruit.

3. Next, add a spoonful of Jif(R) Peanut Butter and Naturally Flavored Cinnamon Spread

4. If you want, add chia seeds and a drizzle of honey and vanilla extract.

5. Cover with your favorite kind of milk. You can use cow, almond, coconut or soy milk.

6. Gently stir your ingredients, top with a lid and place in the fridge overnight.

In the morning, you'll have a jar full of yummy oatmeal ready and waiting for you. Choose to eat it cold or warm it up in the microwave.

Farming program helps neighbors in rural America fight hunger


(BPT) - Although the United States produces much of the world’s food, 48 million people in the country are food insecure, lacking access to enough food to sustain a healthy, active lifestyle. What's even more surprising is that many of the counties with the highest rates of food insecurity are located in rural communities, the very places growing the bulk of this food.

According to Feeding America’s study Map the Meal Gap 2016, rural counties are more likely to have high rates of food insecurity than more densely populated counties. In fact, 54 percent of counties with the highest rates of food are in rural areas. Rural areas also account for 62 percent of counties with the highest rates of child food insecurity.

While shocking to many, these numbers don't surprise Michelle Sause, Assistant Director of Network Relations at Food Bank for the Heartland in Omaha. Her work with the food bank covers more than 78,000 square miles and spans 93 counties.

"The majority of our counties are rural communities," says Sause. "We serve over 530 network partners that include pantries, meal providers and backpack programs, Kid’s Cafe and summer feeding programs."

Some of the challenges in providing food to food-insecure families are unique in rural locations compared to metropolitan areas. These pantries often have limited resources, supplies and volunteers, which makes it difficult to secure meals for people struggling with hunger.

"We have two main challenges — transportation and establishing partnerships with donors in our rural communities," she says. "With a service area that spans over 78,000 square miles, transportation can be a challenge."

Sause adds, "Another challenge is finding and securing relationships with donors. This challenge is partly because our communities really want to take care of their own and when a large agency from a bigger city is coming in, it can feel threatening."

There is a tradition of helping your neighbor in rural communities, including Sause’s. Invest An Acre is a program working hard to uphold that tradition.

Invest An Acre is a program of Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization, designed to engage farmers, agribusiness, and rural communities in the fight against hunger in rural communities across America. Farmers can donate a portion of their crop proceeds at their local grain elevator, by check or online. Donations are doubled by matching partners, and the full amount is distributed directly to eligible local food banks and pantries. This means 200 percent of what a farmer gives goes back to the local food back of that town, and the people who need it most.

Food Bank for the Heartland — just one of many organizations working with Invest An Acre to fight rural hunger — has received more than $50,000 through the program.

"At Food Bank for the Heartland, we have found the best support is locally sourced," says Sause. "Thank you to the generous farmers who have donated through Invest An Acre and who have encouraged fellow farmers to participate too. You are making a difference in the lives of hungry children, families and seniors."