Applesauce in meatloaf? Recipe-maker tries to get Americans to eat more fruits and veggies

Clare Howard

With recipes

Jen Kamps published her first book of original, healthy recipes when she was 23 and in graduate school.

Now, a year later, she's formulating more healthy recipes and completing her dietetic internship at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center.

Her goal is nothing short of transforming the American diet.

Kamps has calculated a family of four needs to eat 49 cups of fruit and 56 cups of vegetables each week in order to meet their recommended daily requirements.

"Eating more fruits and vegetables is not difficult. There are lots of healthy snack foods that are simple to prepare. It's not time-consuming, difficult or expensive to change your diet," she said.

Kamps develops recipes to incorporate additional fruits and vegetables not found in traditional recipes. Some of her specialties: applesauce in meatloaf; tuna salad with broccoli, cauliflower, onion, carrots and celery; sweet potato in chocolate nut bread; and fruity slaw with cabbage, pears, apple, fruit juice and raisins.

She's currently perfecting a simple recipe for roasted garbanzo beans - a snack high in protein and fiber. She rinses and dries canned garbanzos, spreads them on a cookie sheet and bakes them in a 350-degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes. She has added roasted garbanzo beans to Chex mix.

"Sometimes, the strangest recipes are the best," she said.

The verdict is out on a vegetable and pizza flavored popcorn she developed in grad school with four other students at Clemson University. The recipe calls for dehydrating mushrooms, peppers, pizza sauce, onions, black olives and spinach, which are then ground into a powder and sprinkled on air-popped popcorn. The recipe uses Danisco pectin as an adhesive solution.

"That's popcorn with two servings of vegetables," she said in defense of the concept, which she calls Poptastic, a naturally fat-free flavored popcorn.

Poptastic was judged among the top 12 recipes in the 2006 Danisco Knowledge Award.

"I think it could have won if there had been an extra month of development time. I see it as a microwave product," she said.

Snack food was the focus of Kamps' recent presentation for the Cancer Center for Healthy Living. The program was held in the demonstration kitchen at Lippert Inc., 7719 N. Pioneer Lane.

Kamps worked under a large ceiling mirror so the 16 members of the audience could easily watch her prepare fresh fruit burritos, granola bars, freezer bars, Hawaiian kebabs, chocolate raspberry smoothies, party pizzas, vegetable and fruit pizza and candy bar salad.

"There are so many granola bars on the market. You can make them for half the cost of buying them, and it's simple. These are made with five ingredients. You read the label on the bars in the store and the list goes on and on and on. I don't even know what all those ingredients are," she said. "These make a perfect snack in a child's backpack."

J.T. Henderson, 9, was in the audience with his mother Ellen Henderson. The family recently moved back to Peoria from Hawaii. Kamps asked J.T. to help with the Hawaiian kebabs.

Most of the foods were then distributed to the audience for tasting. J.T. loved the kebabs, the smoothie, the granola bars and the pizza. He also said he loves sushi.

"His favorite restaurant in Peoria is Sushigawa. The people there are always so amazed at how much wasabi sauce he eats," Ellen Henderson said.

J.T. and his mother came to the demonstration to learn more about healthy eating. The family recently started participating in a community subscription agriculture program and receives locally grown produce each week.

Kamps said the earlier children become accustomed to healthy foods, the greater the likelihood they will continue to eat healthy foods as adults.

"It's hard to change adult eating patterns. It's easier to change kids, but kids want the foods they see advertised on television," she said. "They see ads for Snickers, Doritos and Coco Puffs, not Brussels sprouts.

"My ultimate goal ... make the world a better place one fruit or vegetable at a time. It's so sad to see children who never tasted home-baked applesauce. It's so simple yet so elegant."

Her book, "Cooking for the Health of It," can be ordered by sending a check for $10 to Jen Kamps, 12058 Pleasant View Road, Darlington, WI 53530.

Or copies can be purchased at her next cooking demonstrations for the Cancer Center for Healthy Living, noon and 5 p.m. Tuesday at Lippert Inc., 7719 N. Pioneer Lane, off Pioneer Parkway near the Honda dealership. The program is free, but registration is required by calling 693-8139 before Friday.

Clare Howard can be reached at


Granola Bars

1 cup quick-cooking oats

1 cup bran cereal

1 cup peanut butter

1/2 cup honey

2 tablespoons light chocolate syrup

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9-inch square baking pan. Combine oats and cereal. Mix peanut butter and honey in microwave-safe dish. Microwave for 15 seconds. Stir.

Add peanut butter mixture to cereal and stir. Stir in chocolate syrup and bake for 10 minutes. Let cool and cut into 18 bars.

Servings 18. Per bar: 157 calories; 4.8 grams protein; 7.8 grams fat (45.2 percent of total calories); 16.7 grams carbohydrate; 2.4 grams fiber; no cholesterol; and 105 milligrams sodium.

Garbanzo Bean Medley

1 small zucchini, cubed

1 teaspoon apple juice, light

2 teaspoons garlic, minced

1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained

1 14.5-ounce can tomatoes, undrained

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1/4 cup cheese, shredded and fat free

Saute zucchini in skillet with apple juice until tender. Add garlic and cook 1 minute longer. Stir in garbanzo beans, tomatoes and Italian seasoning. Heat through. Sprinkle with cheese.

Serves 4. Per serving: 172 calories; 8.6 grams protein; 1.9 grams fat (9.9 percent of total calories); 30.1 grams carbohydrate; 6 grams fiber; 2 milligrams cholesterol; and 521 milligrams sodium.

A Whale of a Kale Soup

1 medium onion, chopped

6 medium cloves garlic, chopped

4 cups plus 1 tablespoon chicken or vegetable broth

2 tablespoon lime juice

3 cups kale

2 cups canned hominy, drained

1 15- ounce can diced tomatoes

1 4-ounce can diced green chili

1 cup carrots, chopped

2 teaspoons dried parsley

Salt and pepper to taste

Rinse kale and remove from stems. Chop finely. Heat 1 tablespoon broth in medium-sized pot. Saute onion in broth for five minutes over medium heat. Add garlic and saute for another minute. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

Serves 4. Per serving: 232 calories; 16 grams protein; 4 grams fat (15.1 percent of total calories); 33.3 grams carbohydrate; 6.3 grams fiber; 3 milligrams cholesterol; and 2,125 milligrams sodium.

Fruity Slaw

2 firm pears, diced

1 red apple, diced

1 tablespoon fruit juice (apple or orange)

1 1/2 cups cabbage, shredded

1/4 cup raisins


1/2 cup yogurt, fat free

1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

1/2 tablespoon sugar

In bowl, combine the pears and apples with the fruit juice. Add cabbage and raisins and mix well. In small bowl, combine dressing ingredients. Add dressing to cabbage mixture. Mix well and refrigerate before serving to enhance flavors.

Serves 4. Per serving: 97 calories; 1.2 grams protein; 0.3 grams fat (3.1 percent of total calories); 22.4 grams carbohydrate; 4.2 grams fiber; no cholesterol; and 7 milligrams sodium.