Smart nutrition choices

By Tanya Davis | Published Thursday, December 2, 2010

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While we’re overfed, we’re undernourished, and new research shows that many Americans are not meeting their average daily needs for key nutrients. The solution is to eat nutrient-rich foods that provide you with the essential vitamins and minerals you need to fuel a healthy lifestyle.

The new definition of healthy eating is not just about counting calories, but making your calories count.

Over the next several weeks I will bring you examples of how eight Wise County 4-H’ers learned through their foods and nutrition projects to make their calories count more by including nutrient-rich foods in their diets. These 4-H’ers received first place honors in the District 4-H Food Show held recently in Vernon.

Sweet potatoes are a great way to start and are packed with so much flavor and nutrition it would be a shame to reserve them strictly for special occasions or holiday meals. Their beautiful yellow-orange color indicates that they are loaded with vitamin A beta carotene, vitamin C and manganese, and they are a good source of fiber and potassium. So you see, sweet potatoes really pack a nutritional punch, and they are so versatile and tasty.

Thaine Laaser, an 11-year-old Decatur 4-H’er, learned about the benefits of sweet potatoes in his foods project. I’ve already tried his Crispy Sweet Potato Baked Fries with Triple Dips on my family, and they gave this recipe a definite thumbs up!

Crispy Sweet Potato Baked Fries with Triple Dips

3 whole sweet potatoes
3 tsp. kosher salt
1 quart warm water
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2. Scrub potatoes and pat dry. Cut into small fries, about 1/4 of an inch thick.

3. Place potatoes in bowl with warm water and 2 tsp. of sea salt. Fill bowl with additional warm water so that all fries are covered. Soak potatoes for 15 minutes to 1 hour.

4. Toss together potatoes, oil, black pepper, smoked paprika and salt in a large bowl.

5. Place a lightly greased wire rack in a jelly-roll pan. Arrange potatoes in a single layer on wire rack.

6. Bake at 425 for 20 to 25 minutes or until browned.

Number of servings: 4

Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce

Whisk together: 1/4 c. honey mustard, 1/4 cup mayonnaise and 2 Tbsp. milk.

Blue Cheese Dip

Stir together: 1/2 cup mayonnaise, 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese, 1 Tbsp. lemon juice, 1 garlic clove, minced, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. ground pepper and chill for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Spicy Chipotle Ketchup

In a blender, puree 1 (7 oz.) can chipotle chiles en adobo (seeds removed). In a small bowl, stir together 3/4 cup ketchup, 1 Tbsp. chipotle puree (refrigerate remainder), 1 Tbsp. lime juice and 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro. Serve immediately or cover and chill for up to one day.

Congratulations, Thaine!

Logan Moore, a 14-year-old Boyd 4-H’er received first place honors at the District 4-H Food Show.

Consuming lean beef is a great way to make your calories count. It is a satisfying source of many nutrients including zinc, iron, protein and B-vitamins. Logan learned in his 4-H foods project about the importance of including lean beef, along with fruits and vegetables in one’s diet. His recipe for Logan’s Super Beef Sliders was entered in the Senior Main Dish category.

Logan’s Super Beef Sliders

1 lb. lean ground beef
2-4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
5-6 shakes Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
4 slices of sharp Cheddar cheese
8 rolls or other small bread of choice
Plus other vegetables of choice such as lettuce, onion and pickle

Two-Tomato Relish

3 cups small red tomatoes, chopped
2 cups small yellow tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup fresh basil, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper


1. Wash your hands and clean surfaces.

2. Wash vegetables and prepare tomato relish in a medium bowl. Set aside.

3. In another medium bowl, combine the first six ingredients mixing lightly, but thoroughly.

4. Form 8 small patties (approximately 2 oz.) to fit your selected roll size and shape and cook in a frying pan on medium heat until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees. Melt two quarter pieces or one half slice of cheese onto each patty.

5. Place burger patties on rolls and serve with tomato relish, other toppings and condiments.

Number of servings: 4

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