Fall & Football Favorites

Touchdown! All these fall favorites – apples, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, chili, cornbread – score big time at your next celebration or tailgate party.

Intercept ho-hum tailgate sides with a batch of Maple Apple Baked Beans. Pass the apple and pear slices for my Pumpkin Cheesecake Dip. Huddle for more whole grains with my Skillet Cornbread. And tackle that bag of apples you bought by turning them into Homemade Chunky Applesauce.

Forward pass to my Recipe page for all four recipes and get in the game with great taste and good health for your tailgate party!
(Cornbread photo courtesy My Indiana Home magazine/Journal Communications)


Kim’s Whole Grain Skillet Cornbread
Serves: 8-10 pieces
  • 1 tablespoon butter or shortening for 10-inch cast iron skillet plus more for melting over top of cooked cornbread*
  • 2 cups whole grain stone-ground yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ⅔ cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ⅔ cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1¾ cups buttermilk
  • ⅔ cup corn oil
Heat oven to 425°F. Add butter to skillet and place in oven to completely melt. In a large bowl, whisk together corn meal, flours, salt, baking powder, baking soda and sugar. In a smaller bowl, whisk together eggs, buttermilk and corn oil. Add liquid mixture to dry ingredients and stir just until combined with a wooden spoon. Carefully remove hot skillet from oven and spread cornbread batter evenly in skillet. Cook 15 to 18 minutes, until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean or with just a smidgen of crumb. Immediately after removing from oven, rub top and edges with butter stick, melting it as you rub. Do this several times! Makes 8-10 pieces.

*A 10-inch skillet that is 10-inches across the bottom and 12-inches across the top rim.
Tips & Hints

  1. Find wholegrain cornmeal right near the other cornmeal and flour. Always store it in the fridge to keep it fresher.
  2. Corn oil is exactly the same calories and fat grams as other oils, and it works great for any baking, including corn bread, corn muffins and corn pudding.
  3. Lately I’ve been using full-fat buttermilk in my cornbread, but low-fat works well too.

Homemade Chunky Applesauce
Easy Homemade Chunky Applesauce
Serves: 10 servings of ½ cup each
  • 4 ½ pounds apples (combination of any favorite cooking apples)
  • 1 cup 100% apple juice (such as Simply Apple)
  • 2 tablespoons to ⅓ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons orange juice
  • ¼ teaspoon finely grated orange zest
  • ¼ - ½ teaspoon allspice
  • 1 ½ - 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
Peel, core and cut apples into 1-inch chunks. In a 4 to 5 quart saucepan over medium-high heat, combine apple chunks, apple juice, sugar, lemon and orange juices, zests, allspice and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until apples are tender, about 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in remaining desired cinnamon. Using a fork, wooden spoon or potato masher, mash apples slightly, leaving some chunks. Refrigerate in tightly covered container.

Tips & Hints

  1. Kim likes a less sweet applesauce, Jeff likes it sweeter! I use at least ⅓ cup brown sugar when I’m making a big batch for Jeff’s lunches.
  2. Use more or less spices and zests depending on how you like your applesauce.
  3. Best apples include Gala, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, McIntosh….just about anything other than red delicious.

Spiced Pumpkin Cheesecake Dip with Apples & Pears
Serves: 11 servings of ¼-cup each
  • 1 package (8 oz.) ⅓-less fat cream cheese
  • 1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin
  • ½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • ½ to ¾ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • ⅛ - ¼ teaspoon ground Saigon cinnamon
Combine all ingredients in a food processor until blended. Enjoy immediately or chill one hour before serving. Serve with thickly sliced apples and pears.

Tips & Hints

  1. I normally make a double batch for parties or get-togethers. Use 2 cans (15 oz. each) rather than 1 big 29 oz. can.
  2. Use as much or little of the spices as you want!
  3. If you don’t have time to slice pears and apples, just use gingersnaps, vanilla wafers or graham crackers. Even shortbread cookies.

Maple Apple Baked Beans

Maple Apple Baked Beans

Maple Apple Baked Beans
Serves: 15 servings of ⅔ cup each
  • 5 cans (15 oz. each) great northern beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2¼ cups peeled, chopped Granny Smith apple (2 very large apples)
  • 1⅔ cups chopped sweet onion
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped, cooked bacon
  • 1½ cups hickory barbecue sauce
  • 1 cup pure maple syrup
  • ¼ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • ¼ cup stone ground mustard
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • ½ teaspoon ground ancho chili pepper
Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and stir well. Pour in 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish coated with vegetable cooking spray. Bake 45 minutes, or until bubbly and heated throughout.

Tips & Hints

  1. Kroger’s new Roasted Bacon that only takes 2-4 minutes is an absolute timesaver for this recipe! Just look for boxes of it in near the refrigerated bacon.
  2. Definitely use hickory barbecue sauce to compliment the maple syrup.
  3. Tarter apples, like Granny Smith, really help balance the sweet maple syrup.


Red Velvet, Green Apple & Hot Wings on Game Day

HotWingsHummus     food


Still haven’t figured out the line-up for your Super Day of Eating menu? Consider these crowd-pleasing ideas.

Dessert: Red Velvet Brownies with Cream Cheese Icing. Simple to make and so much easier to cut into bite-size portions than a huge Red Velvet Cake. You’ll still get rich red velvet flavor with irresistible cream cheese icing, though.

Appetizer: Hot Wings Hummus. Fast, easy and a fantastic substitute for the more calorie-and fat-laden but oh-so-delicious Hot Wings or Buffalo Wings Dip. Nutrient and protein-rich chickpeas are blended with antioxidant-rich spices and seasonings. Serve with fresh celery sticks – a winning way to get more vegetables on the plate!

Side Dish: Maple Apple Baked Beans. Oh sure, you could put out bowls of grapes, Cuties, kiwi, bananas and berries for everyone enjoy. But can you really imagine enjoying your Porter or Stout (my faves) along with fresh fruit? Probably not. Score big-time by adding apples to baked beans, maple syrup and barbecue sauce.

Touchdown: Crock pot on for Pulled Pork with a lean pork loin, skillet on the stove for Hot & Spicy Beef Burrito meat and some whole-wheat buns and corn tortillas….maybe a batch of my Zesty Black Bean & Corn Salsa for extra veggies ……and Touchdown! The perfect menu for blending and balancing great taste with good health. Even on this Super Sunday of Eating.

Red Velvet Brownies with Cream Cheese Frosting
1 cup butter
2 ounces bittersweet baking bar, coarsely chopped
1 ½ cups sugar
1 ½ cups light brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 (1 ounce) bottle red liquid food coloring
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons low-fat buttermilk
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 (8 ounces) package 1/3 less fat cream cheese
4 tablespoons butter, softened
1 ½ cups powdered sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with butter or shortening.
Microwave butter and bittersweet chocolate in a large microwave-safe bowl on high 1 ½ minutes or until melted and smooth, stirring at 30-second intervals.
Whisk in sugars. Add eggs, one at a time, whisking just until blended after each addition.
Add red food coloring, vanilla and buttermilk and whisk until thoroughly blended.
With a wooden spoon, gently stir in flour, cocoa powder and salt. Pour and spread batter into prepared pan. Bake 25-35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out with a few moist crumbs. Cool completely in pan on wire rack before frosting.

While brownies cool, make frosting. In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese and butter at medium speed with electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add powdered sugar and salt, beating until blended. Stir in vanilla. Frost cooled brownies and store in refrigerator.
Makes 36 small brownies. Recipe by Kim Galeaz, RDN CD

Spicy Three Pepper Hot Buffalo Wings Hummus
2 cans (15 to 16 oz.) chickpeas, rinsed and drained, 1 cup chickpea liquid reserved
2 tablespoons barbecue sauce
3 (or more!) tablespoons cayenne red pepper hot sauce
1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
¼ cup tahini
4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ancho chili powder
¼ teaspoon ground cayenne red pepper

Place all ingredients in food processor. Add ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons reserved chickpea liquid. Puree until smooth and creamy. Add additional chickpea liquid if you prefer a thinner hummus. Serve with celery sticks, waffle-style pretzels, pretzel crisps and/or whole-grain crackers.
Makes about 14 servings of ¼ cup each (3 ½ cups total hummus). Recipe by Kim Galeaz, RDN CD

Maple Apple Baked Beans
5 cans (15 oz. each) great northern beans, rinsed and drained
2¼ cups peeled, chopped Granny Smith apple (2 very large apples)
1 2/3 cups chopped sweet onion
1 cup coarsely chopped, cooked bacon
1½ cups hickory barbecue sauce
1 cup pure maple syrup
¼ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
¼ cup stone ground mustard
2 teaspoons dry mustard
½ teaspoon ground ancho chile pepper

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and stir well. Pour in 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish coated with vegetable cooking spray. Bake 45 minutes, or until bubbly and heated throughout.
Makes about 10 cups (15 servings of 2/3 cup each). Recipe by Kim Galeaz, RDN CD


Grain Goodness: From Barley to Brown Rice


The fruits and vegetables of fall – cranberries, apples, pears, sweet potatoes and winter squash – pair beautifully with all types of grains.  Barley is filled with heart-health promoting soluble fiber and when combined with cranberries, raisins and pecans gives you all kinds of health-boosting nutrients. Try my “Curried Barley with Cranberries, Raisins and Pecans.” Or maybe you’d enjoy my “Brown Rice with Pears, Walnuts and Gorgonzola.” It’s a gluten-free grain, those pears are filled with soluble fiber and walnuts provide plant-based omega-3 fats.   Get cooking with the goodness of grains!

Photos courtesy of My Indiana Home/Journal Communications. (Recipes created for My Indiana Home by Kim Galeaz, RDN, CD)

Curried Barley with Cranberries, Raisins and Pecans

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1¼ cups diced onion

2 – 3 large garlic cloves, finely minced

1½ teaspoons curry powder

½ teaspoon turmeric

½ teaspoon allspice

¼ teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

3 cups fat free, lower sodium chicken broth

1½ cups quick-cooking barley

1/3 cup golden raisins

½ cup dried cranberries

½ cup chopped pecans

Heat olive oil in a large 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat.  Add onions and sauté until starting to become tender, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook until onions are crisp-tender, about 2 more minutes. Stir in curry, turmeric, allspice, salt, pepper and chicken broth. Bring to a boil; add barley, raisins and cranberries. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 15 to 20 minutes, or until barley is tender and all liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and let stand covered 3 minutes. Stir in pecans and serve immediately.

Estimated prep time:  5 minutes

Cooking time:  30 minutes

Servings: 8 servings of about 2/3 cup each

Difficulty rating: Easy

Brown Rice Salad with Pears, Walnuts and Gorgonzola


3½ cups cooked medium or long grain brown rice*

1 large red Anjou pear, cored and diced (3/4-inch pieces)

2/3 cup chopped green onions

½ cup chopped toasted walnuts

2 ounces crumbled Gorgonzola cheese (about ½ to 2/3 cup crumbles)

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 ½ tablespoons white balsamic vinegar

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

In a medium bowl, combine rice, pear, onion, walnuts and cheese. Whisk oil, vinegar, salt and pepper together in a small bowl and pour over rice mixture. Toss lightly to blend all ingredients. Serve immediately.

Estimated prep time:  15 minutes

Cooking time: 45 to 60 minutes for rice

Servings: 8 servings of about 2/3 cup each

Difficulty rating: Easy

*(For 3½ cups cooked brown rice, you’ll need roughly 1¼ cups dry rice and 2 ½ cups water. Measure out 3 ½ cups cooked rice after cooking.)

Football Strategy for Winning Weeknight Meals

Game Plan: Create nutrient-rich – and tasty – family meals.

Defensive Strategy:  Tackle tasteless foods before they end up off-sides….and off the plate for Mom, Dad and the kids. From entrees and side-dishes, salads and desserts, nothing can be so low in fat or seasonings that it lacks the MVP of family meals: great flavor!

Offensive Strategy:  Half your Plate Fruits and Vegetables. Increase/add nutrient-rich ingredients in every dish if possible, too. Serve whole grains and lean proteins like the six lean cuts of pork, twenty-nine lean cuts of beef, boneless skinless poultry or seafood. Focus on flavor first and foremost. 

Formation:  Front and center with plenty of fall apples. Apples are in-season right now, which means they’re very budget-friendly and taste best. Let apples shine in entrées, side dishes and even desserts.  All fresh apples add fiber, especially the cholesterol-lowering soluble type, plus lots of disease-fighting antioxidants. One antioxidant in particular, quercetin, is being studied extensively and may help reduce risk of some cancers and possibly even Alzheimer’s disease. 

Touchdown to Victory:  A family-pleasing menu filled with great flavor AND good nutrition: Pork, Apples & Onion entrée, Spice Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Apples side dish and Whole-Wheat Rolls.  Use a trans-fat free soft margarine like Country Crock with 70% less saturated fat and 30% fewer calories than butter to coat the potatoes and apples, then roast in the oven while the Pork Tenderloin, Apples and Onions on the stove-top burner!  Sauté the apples in margarine, too, instead of oil and save a few calories.   

Extra Points:  Score extra points with your family by serving a delicious homemade dessert – especially one filled with nutrient-rich ingredients. Try a simple Apple Crisp made with two whole grains: oats and whole-wheat flour. Or Pumpkin-Spiced Apple Crisp with pecans and dried apricots along with those two whole grains.  Or even Apple ‘N Peanut Butter Bread Pudding made with whole-grain bread! 


Spice-Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Apples 

¼ cup Shedd’s Spread Country Crock® Pumpkin Spice Spread

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

3 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1-inch wedges

3 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch wedges 

Preheat oven to 450°F. Combine Shedd’s Spread Country Crock® Pumpkin Spice Spread*with pepper in a small bowl; set aside. Toss apples with one tablespoon spread mixture in medium bowl; set aside. Toss potatoes with remaining spread mixture on baking sheet and arrange in single layer. Bake 10 minutes. Stir in apple mixture and bake, stirring once halfway through, an additional 25 minutes or until potatoes and apples are tender. Gently toss before serving. *Use regular Country Crock and mix with 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice if you don’t have this variety of margarine available.  Makes 6 servings. Prep Time: 10 minutes    Cook Time: 35 minutes 

Dessert recipes mentioned available at www.countrycrock.com. Nutrition information for this sweet potato/apple recipe there, too.


Skillet Pork Medallions with Sautéed Apples & Onions

¼ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

2 teaspoons Saigon cinnamon

1 tablespoon packed brown sugar

2 pork tenderloins (2 to 2½ pounds total)

2 to 4 tablespoons trans-fat free soft margarine, divided

2 large yellow onions, thinly sliced

1 large garlic clove, finely minced

2 large red apples (Jonagold or Honeycrisp), cored and sliced into wedges

½ to ¾ cup apple juice 

Mix salt, pepper, cinnamon and brown sugar together in a small bowl. Rub over both tenderloins to completely coat, and then slice each tenderloin into eight medallions. Set aside. Heat 1 tablespoon margarine in a large 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork and brown on both sides. Remove pork and set aside on a covered plate. Heat additional 1 to 2 tablespoons margarine in same skillet, then add onions, garlic and apples and sauté until just becoming tender. Add pork medallions along with apple juice, cover, reduce heat to simmer and cook until pork reaches 145°F and apples and onions are tender. Let pork rest 3 minutes before serving. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

(Recipe adapted from and photo courtesy of porkbeinspired.com)

Disclosure: I’m a culinary-nutrition consultant to Kroger Central Division, various restaurants, numerous public relations representing one or more foods/beverages included in this post and several agriculture organizations.