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Go further with food this spring with these helpful recipes

Spring is in the air and in celebration of the new season that’s coming, here are some quick recipe ideas that include most of the food groups (fruit, vegetables, dairy, protein and grain).

The foods you eat can make a big difference in your health and energy level.

HAVE IT YOUR WAY PARFAIT

You’re tired, there’s no one else to fix dinner for tonight and all you feel like doing is pouring a bowl of cereal. But, wait! Take an extra 5 minutes and prepare this luscious parfait, full of foods from three of the five food groups. No need to get out your recipe book. Forget about the measuring cups and spoons. Just layer yogurt, low-fat granola and fresh, frozen or canned fruit in whatever proportions you’d like. Add some nuts and you’ve included a fourth food group. A sprig of mint is optional! And there’s no sink full of dishes!

Here are some possible yogurt and fruit combinations to layer with granola:

• Blueberry Lemon Parfait: Lemon yogurt and blueberries

• Red, White and Blue Parfait: Strawberries or raspberries, blueberries, bananas and vanilla yogurt

• Tropical Parfait: Kiwi, mango, pineapple and coconut or vanilla yogurt

• Berry Good Parfait: Any combination of berries such as strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, boysenberries, blackberries, etc. served with vanilla or a berry-flavored yogurt

• Peachy Parfait: Sliced peaches and vanilla or peach yogurt. If desired, top with raspberry jam or raspberry syrup.

EASY MAIN DISH TOSSED SALAD

A hearty main dish salad is both a healthy and an easy choice for a quick meal.  Start with lettuce. Then check in your refrigerator for possible ingredients that might go together. Toss with salad dressing and you’re done!

Here are the basics:

• Include fruit(s) and/or vegetable(s).

• Add a protein component, such as beans (black, kidney, pinto or white beans), cooked meat, poultry, fish or an egg.

• Round out all the food groups by including a food from the Dairy Group, such as cheese, in the salad or accompany it with a glass of milk or a side of yogurt.

• Toss in some whole grain croutons to include the Grain Group or serve with whole grain crackers

WRAP IT UP!

Wraps are a terrific way to use up odds and ends of meats, vegetables, cheese and so on. The possibilities for combinations are limited only by your imagination! (1 serving)

1 8- to 10-inch whole wheat tortilla

Filler Ingredients:

1 to 2 tablespoons “dressing” to moisten contents, such as salad dressing, low-fat mayonnaise, salsa, guacamole, hummus

1/2 cup of your favorite combination of chopped, shredded or leafy vegetables, such as tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, lettuce, cabbage, spinach, onions, peppers, celery, olives, avocado, jicama, radishes (did you know olives and avocados are actually fruits?)

1/4 cup of a protein food, such as sliced, cooked, meat; flaked fish; tuna or salmon; cooked dried beans; refried beans; a scrambled egg or chopped, hard-cooked egg

1 to 2 tablespoons shredded cheese

Follow package directions for preparing the tortilla before filling it — you will often be advised to heat the tortilla briefly (such as in a microwave oven or a hot pan) to make it more pliable.

Mix all filler ingredients together and spread on the tortilla. Or, you can layer them on the wrap and top with the dressing. Leave a 1-inch margin around the edge of the tortilla.

Roll up the tortilla and enjoy! There are several ways to roll up a wrap; two common methods are: •Simply start rolling from one side until the wrap is completely rolled.

•Fold in one or both ends and roll up the tortilla.

Tip 1: If you plan to prepare the wrap to eat later, start with a layer of well-dried lettuce leaves or other leafy green base. This will help keep the tortilla from becoming soggy.  Source:  A. Henneman, MS, RDN Extension Educator.