Hannibal Regional Blog


Our blog offers content about healthcare, healthy living and the culture at Hannibal Regional.

A New Meaning to Spring Cleaning

After a long winter, we often revive our home with a good spring cleaning. So why not do the same with our eating habits? We all know that fruits and vegetables are good for us, but yet most of us fall short of the recommended 5-9 servings per day. The simplicity of the produce section is something that no other section of the store has. Every item comes "as is", and is in its whole form. Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables may reduce risk for heart disease including heart attack and stroke, as well as protect against certain types of cancers. Fruits and vegetables are full of fiber, which helps maintain proper bowel function, and reduce blood cholesterol levels. They are packed with many essential nutrients, minerals, phytochemicals and antioxidants. The impact of fruit and vegetable consumption on our health is pretty remarkable.  Improving our eating habits can be hard, but if you currently don’t eat many fruits and vegetables, start by adding just 1 serving of a fruit and 1 serving of a vegetable to each day. Have an orange with lunch, 1/2 cup sugar snap peas for a snack, or simply add some chopped spinach to that pasta dish or chopped broccoli to a casserole. Gradually increase the number of servings you eat per day to at least 2 fruits and 3 vegetables. Spring clean your diet by choosing more from the produce section.

What counts as a serving?

  • 1 medium piece of fruit= baseball size
  • ½ cup fresh, frozen or canned cooked fruit
  • ¼ cup dried fruit
  • ½ cup 100% fruit juice
  • 2 cups leafy greens
  • 1 cup raw veggies
  • ½ cup fresh, frozen or canned cooked vegetables
  • ½ cup 100% vegetable juice

Blog post provided by:
Katie Foster, RDN, LD

Adding Fiber

Fiber has long been known to be beneficial for heart and gut health. It is also known that Americans get far too little fiber at an average of 12-15 grams of fiber daily in their diets. Our goal is to reach between 25-30 grams of fiber each day.

Fiber plays an important role in stabilizing blood sugar and is a component of a diabetic’s diet that is often lacking. Increasing your fiber intake can also help facilitate weight loss as foods and meals with more fiber are digested slower and keep us full for longer.

Fruits, vegetables and whole grains are excellent sources of fiber. You can increase your fiber intake by choosing whole grain products (brown rice, 100% whole wheat bread) over refined products (white rice, white bread). Set a goal to eat 2 servings of fruit daily. Whole fruit has more fiber than dried and canned but remember, anything is better than nothing! Choose a whole apple over dried apple slices or apple juice to bump up your fiber intake a little more. Fruits are a great addition to any breakfast and/or snack while vegetables can easily be incorporated into a lunch and/or dinner. Vegetables can be mixed into the main dish or entrée or they can be a quick and easy side. Check out the frozen section at your local grocery store. There are a variety of vegetable blends that can be added to meal. Challenge yourself to pick up one new fruit or vegetables at your next grocery visit. Little changes to your diet and fiber intake lead to bigger changes and more goals met. Make small daily goals to help you form new healthy eating habits.

Blog post provided by:
Megan Kemp, RDN, LD

Homemade Salad Dressings

Making your own salad dressing from scratch is super easy, quick, and taste so much better! It allows you to use better, simple ingredients and allows versatility of sugar and salt content. Oils rich in Monounsaturated fat include canola, safflower, almond, avocado, flaxseed and olive oil.  Oils rich in polyunsaturated fats include walnut, grapeseed, sunflower, corn, vegetable and soybean oil. Use whatever oils you like in the recipes below. These dressing pack a ton of flavor so a little goes a long way. Use for salads or as marinade.

Honey Mustard Dressing

  • ¼ cup Dijon Mustard
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ¼ cup cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup oil

Balsamic Dressing

  • 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoon oil
  • 4 teaspoons mustard
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Fresh ground pepper (optional)

Poppyseed Dressing

  • ½ cup canola
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon poppy seeds
  • ½ cup sugar or substitute

Mix all ingredients in small mason jar. Shake until emulsified. Store in fridge.

Blog post provided by:
Katie Foster, RDN, LD

Assembling Freezer Meals

Once you know what freezes well and what does not, freezer meal planning and preparing can begin!

Grocery Shopping:
Make your grocery list BEFORE going to the grocery store. Tip: Take inventory of your pantry, fridge and freezer before leaving the house. This will save money and help you avoid extra waste! Grouping similar items (like all seasoning, all produce, etc) will help you be most efficient with your time at the grocery store.

Preparing Ingredients for Freezer Meals:
When you feel most motivated, start preparing meals! This could take anywhere from 1-4 hours depending on how many recipes you are making. Review your recipes to see what needs to be completed ahead of time.

  1. Look to see which meats need to be cooked ahead of time. Some recipes call for raw meat to be thrown in with all the other ingredients before freezing, while others (usually ground meats in chilies or soups) need to be cooked ahead of time.
    1. Recommend cooking all meats at the start of prep so they are cooled and ready-to-go into recipes.
  2. Cook any pastas and rice that need to be cooked before frozen.
    1. Remember to cook them only about ¾ of the recommended cook time so they freeze better. For example, if pasta typically calls for 12 minutes of cooking, only cook it for 9 minutes for your freezer meal pasta dish.
  3. Cut, chop and dice any fruits and vegetables that are needed for recipes.
  4. Place all of these in refrigerator while you take a moment to clean pots, pans, and cutting boards.

Assembling Freezer Meals:
Label any freezer bags and casserole dishes (foil or glass work best) and focus on one recipe at a time. Line up freezer bags or casserole dishes. Have the measuring utensils you need out and ready for you to use. You will want to double check the recipe to make sure all ingredients are included. Place in your freezer and move on to the next recipe!

Labeling Your Freezer Meals:
Labeling meals is a very important step in freezer meal cooking! Write the name of the recipe, date made and instructions for finishing or reheating the meal. Having this information right on the package will save you time later trying to find it! It is recommended to eat frozen meals one to three months after making them for best quality.

Freezer Meal Cooking can save you time and the stress of making homemade meals on a busy weeknight. It can also help bring variety to your weekly menu. The best part: homemade freezer meals can be tailored to meet any of your dietary needs!

Blog post provided by:
Megan Kemp, RDN, LD

Go Further with Food Meal Plan: Chicken

Chicken, it’s what’s for dinner tonight…and tomorrow!

These meals should require little to no work other than heating up. On Saturday/Sunday, prep all ingredients as needed; chicken breasts cooked in crockpot (or buy a rotisserie chicken) and sliced/diced, potatoes baked and diced, brown rice cooked according to package instructions etc. Place all ingredients for each meal in glass tupperware container.

Meal #1 Southwest Chipotle Chicken

  • 3 teaspoons Mrs. Dash Southwest Chipotle seasoning
  • 4 (4 ounce) boneless, precooked chicken breasts, sliced or diced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1/2 cup Tostitos chunky salsa

Place all ingredients in a glass Tupperware container and mix. During the week simply dump all ingredients into a skillet on medium-high heat, until hot for serving. Stuff in a whole wheat tortilla shell, on top of baked chips, served with brown rice (cook ahead of time if so) or as is. Top with cheese, additional salsa, avocado, chives etc.

Meal #2 Honey Sesame Chicken

  • 3/4 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 bag frozen chopped Broccoli
  • 1 bag frozen sugar snap peas or edamame
  • 2 large chicken breasts cut into small pieces
  • 2 teaspoon sesame seeds
  • Honey Sesame Sauce:
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock or water
  • 1/4 cup reduced sodium soy sauce or tamari
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • salt & pepper to taste

Shake together all honey sesame sauce ingredients in Mason jar or small storage container- reserve until heating.

Place all ingredients in a glass Tupperware container. During the week simply dump all ingredients into a skillet on medium-high heat. Add the sauce to the pan and simmer for 2 minutes, until food is hot and sauce is thickened.

Meal #3 Garlic Parmesan Chicken and Vegetables

  • 4 (4 ounce) boneless, precooked chicken breasts, sliced or diced
  • 1 medium zucchini, sliced
  • 1 medium yellow squash, sliced
  • 3 medium potatoes, precooked, diced
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ cup whole wheat Bread Crumbs
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese

Lightly spray a 9x13 inch casserole dish. Add all ingredients to dish. Toss well with the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Store in fridge until ready to eat. Right before baking, mix ½ cup whole wheat Bread Crumbs and ½ cup grated parmesan cheese. Sprinkle over top of chicken and vegetables. Bake in preheated, 350 degree over for 30-40 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

Meal #4 Garlic Chicken and Veggies

  • 4 (4 ounce) boneless, precooked chicken breasts, sliced or diced
  • 3 medium potatoes, precooked, diced
  • 1/2 tsp Basil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh minced Garlic
  • 1/2 tsp Oregano
  • 1 tbsp Parsley
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp Honey
  • 2 tbsp Brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tbsp Olive oil

Place all ingredients in a glass Tupperware container and mix. During the week simply dump all ingredients into a skillet on medium-high heat, or on sheet pan and roast in oven at 350 degrees until warm- about 30 minutes. Serve with steamed vegetables or salad.

Blog post provided by:
Katie Foster, RDN, LD


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