Category Archives: Recipes

Community’s Garden is Open to All

The Community’s Garden, located on the campus of Door County Medical Center, is open to all in our community. In 2016, more than thirty families and community organizations grew fresh produce in these garden plots.

Families who rent a 20’ x 20’ garden plot have the potential to save nearly $1,000 a year on food costs. And spring is a perfect time to begin planning for summer gardening by perusing catalogs and buying and starting seeds.  “Not only does a garden plot produce fresh produce in season, but end-of summer canning, freezing and dehydrating make fresh, home-grown foods available throughout the year,” says Registered Dietitian Carmen Schroeder of Door County Medical Center.

The Community’s Garden also offers “Food for Health” classes to introduce community members to gardening and cooking with fresh produce. For more information on the Community’s Garden, visit, or call Jenny Spude at 920.746.3877

Try this recipe now, and reserve your garden plot to ensure plenty of tomatoes for next year!

Spaghetti with marinara sauce and basil leaves on top, decorated with cherry tomatoes. on blue background.



  • 2 (14.5 ounce) cans stewed tomatoes*
  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley (or 1 1/3 Tbsp. dried parsley)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped (or 1 tsp dried oregano)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/3 cup finely diced onion
  • ½ cup white wine


  1. In a food processor place the stewed tomatoes, tomato paste, chopped parsley, minced garlic, oregano, salt and pepper. Blend until smooth.
  2. In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté the finely chopped onion in olive oil for two minutes. Add the blended tomato sauce and white wine.
  3. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve over your favorite pasta.

*For each can, substitute 1 ¼ cup fresh tomatoes, ¼ cup chopped bell pepper, ¼ cup chopped onion and 1 cup tomato juice, water or broth.

Brussels Sprout Slaw with Cranberries and Walnuts

by Judi Sowl, Registered Dietitian, DCMC

Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, brussels sprouts, green cabbage and cauliflower are excellent sources of vitamin C, folate, dietary fiber and magnesium. The four-petal flowers from these veggies resemble a cross or “crucifer,” hence their name. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, adding cruciferous vegetables like Brussels sprouts to your diet can help lower risk for certain cancers, including colon, mouth, esophagus and stomach.

Raw Brussels sprouts on a cutting board with a knifeBut these vegetables are also delicious! This colorful, fresh side dish will make a great addition to the Thanksgiving table, or any festive gathering. Or, take a serving for lunch along with a piece of whole grain bread and some low-fat cheese.

Brussels Sprout Slaw with Cranberries and Walnuts

  • 3/4 lb. Brussels sprouts
  • 1 Fuji or Gala apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped
  • 2/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/8 tsp. fresh ground pepper
  • 1/3 cup fresh Meyer lemon juice (or 1/4 cup regular lemon juice)
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. honey

Trim bottoms from sprouts and remove any loose or bruised leaves. Place shredding disk or fine slicing disk in food processor, and using feeding tube, gradually shred Brussels spouts: makes about 4 1/2 img_5888cups. Transfer shredded sprouts to mixing bowl.

Add apple, cranberries, walnuts, salt, pepper and lemon juice and stir with a fork for one minute to combine well. Add oil and stir. Cover and refrigerate slaw for 3 hours or overnight. Re-stir before serving. Best served within 24 hours.

Makes 8 1/2 cup servings.

Per serving: 141 calories, 7 g fat, 20 g carbohydrates, 3 g protein, 4g fiber, 13 mg sodium.



Savor the Flavor in March

We often think of food simply as energy and nutrients. Food provides these things, but there is another side of food to explore. In celebration of National Nutrition Month, we are appreciating the social aspects of food, as well as flavors and textures.

Food is often the center of gatherings with family and friends. Do you serve traditional dishes at holidays? Are there certain spices or herbs that remind you of home? These flavors bring variety and interest to our meals. Slow down and enjoy!

This month, why not try some new flavors in your meals? Buy a fruit, vegetable, spice or herb you’ve never had before. Make it a goal to try a new recipe with an ethnic flavor. Here’s a list of popular ethnic cuisines and flavors associated with them to inspire you:

  • China: low-sodium soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, ginger
  • Greece: olive oil, lemon, oregano
  • India: curry, cumin, garlic, ginger
  • Italy: tomato, garlic, basil, marjoram
  • Mexico: tomato, chili, paprika

In honor of National Nutrition month, be bold and “savor the flavor” of something new. It just may be the beginning of an enjoyable eating tradition! Here’s a stir fry recipe from Spark.People to get you started:

Sirloins on sweet and sour sauce served with boiled rice

Pork Apple Stir Fry

This super simple supper is packed full of fruits and veggies.

Minutes to prepare: 10    Minutes to cook: 15    Number of servings: 4


  • 2 Tbsp. peach jam, preferably fruit-sweetened
  • 2 Tbsp. reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. water
  • 1/2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 tsp. dark toasted sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp. finely minced fresh ginger root
  • 1/2 lb. (8 oz) pork tenderloin, cut into thin strips
  • 1 1/2 tsp. canola oil
  • 1 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 1 cup chopped yellow pepper
  • 1 can (8 oz) sliced water chesnuts, drained
  • 2 firm apples, such as Fuji or Gala, cut into one-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup scallions, thinly sliced
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste


  1.  In a small bowl, combine jam, soy sauce, water and cornstarch. Set aside.
  2.  In large non-stick skillet, heat sesame oil over medium high heat. Add pork and ginger and stir-fry until pork is browned and just cooked through, about 3-5 minutes.
  3. Transfer pork and ginger to bowl with slotted spoon. Add canola oil to skillet. Stir-fry peppers, water chesnuts and apples until peppers are crisp and tender, about 3 minutes.
  4. Add pork back to skillet along with scallions. Stir-fry 30 seconds. Add jam mixture. Continue to stir-fry 30 seconds to one minute, or until sauce thickens. Season to taste with black pepper.

Makes 4 servings. 313 calories, 8.5 gm fat, 19.5 gm protein, 41 gm carbohydrate, 6 gm fiber per serving.

-Judi Sowl, RD Nutritionist, Ministry Door County Medical Center

Rethink Your Snacking Strategy

To snack, or not to snack. Is that the question? “Snacking can be an important part of a healthy eating plan,” says Judi Sowl, registered dietitian at Ministry Door County Medical Center. “But it all depends on what you eat, and how much.”


Many of us think of snacks as unhealthy “convenience” foods like cookies and chips, making it important to redefine snacking. “A snack should really be a miniature meal that includes a variety of nutrient rich foods,” says Sowl.

Here are six tips for healthy snacking:

  • Plan ahead. In order to snack well, you need healthy foods on hand, otherwise you’ll be reaching for that bag of potato chips. Purchase fresh veggies, and wash and chop them as soon as you get home. Keep them in water at eye level in the fridge, making them them easy to grab and munch.
  • Appeal to the eye. A bowl of fresh fruit on the counter is pleasing to the eye, and may inspire you to make a healthy choice.
  • Variety rules. Include 2-3 food groups in your snack. Peanut butter on apple slices with a couple of whole grain crackers, or low-fat cottage cheese and avocado slices on a piece of whole grain toast are perfect examples.

Homemade baked granola with yogurt and blueberries in a glass and old wooden background, selective focus

  • Eat mindfully. Instead of mindless munching in front of the television or computer screen, take the time to sit and enjoy your snack. “If you’re hungry enough to need a snack, take the time to do that. If you’re not, skip it,” says Sowl.
  • Portion size matters. For adults, a 100-200 calorie snack is about right. Active teens and children need more calories. Be sure to portion snack foods that pack a caloric punch. “Nuts make a great snack, with their combination of protein and healthy fat, but it’s easy to overindulge,” says Sowl. “About two tablespoons of nuts is all you need.”
  • Think mini-meals. A cup of soup or a whole grain waffle with a dollop of yogurt and fresh berries make a satisfying snack. Or try a small whole wheat tortilla with black beans, low-fat cheese and salsa.

Would you like help developing a personal approach to healthy eating?  Learn more about Lifestyle Nutritional Coaching at MDCMC.

Click here for more healthy snack ideas, and happy snacking!

From the Dietitian: Fresh Summer Peaches

As a registered dietitian at Ministry Door County Medical Center, I enjoy recommending fresh, seasonal foods to my patients to help them achieve a healthy diet. Fresh peaches on grocery store shelves and at roadside markets are a mark of summer. Found from May until September in most regions of the United States, the peak months for these nuggets of scrumptious flavors are July and August.  Nutritionally speaking, one medium peach has 60 calories and contains potassium, vitamin A and vitamin C. Peaches also contain phytonutrients that can inhibit the growth of cancer and tumors.

Here are some great ways to enjoy your peaches:

1. Peachy breakfast. Add sliced peaches to hot or cold cereal, pancakes and waffles, plain or vanilla yogurt or cottage cheese.

2. Grill, bake or broil: Peaches taste great warm from the grill. Place them on kabobs with other favorite fresh fruit and just grill some slices and enjoy! Or you can warm peach slices in the oven or on the stove, topping with cinnamon for a flavor sensation!

3. Drink them: Toss fresh or frozen peaches into the blender with some low-fat yogurt or milk, bananas and ice. Puree for a delicious smoothie.

4. Homemade fruit leather. Peel and pit peaches then puree in a blender. Pour the puree onto wax paper-lined cookie sheets and dry in a dehydrator or the oven at a very low temperature. Letting this cook overnight will give you a warm, welcoming treat in the morning!

5. Sweet sauce. Puree peaches, berries, apples, or pears for a thick, sweet sauce on grilled or broiled seafood or poultry, pancakes or French toast.

6. Flip your dessert! Serve sliced fruit and berries with a shortbread garnish on top, rather than shortbread with a spoonful of fruit. You also can serve a bowl of fruit with a dollop of low-fat frozen yogurt or ice cream on top.

7. Peach salsa! Salsa makes a delicious topping to many different meats or can be spooned over grilled chicken or fish.

Screen Shot 2015-08-07 at 10.19.33 AM

Peach and Avocado Salsa


  • 2 – 3 fresh peaches, peeled and diced
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • ½ cup diced jicama 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons minced red onion
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • Pinch of salt

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Cover and chill until ready to serve. Yield: 3 cups

Enjoy peaches, and enjoy summer!

-Carmen Schroeder, RD

Tart Cherries: Healthy, Local and Delicious

“Healthy food doesn’t taste good.” Is that what you think? As a registered dietitian at Ministry Door County Medical Center, I’d like to help change your mind. And Door County tart cherries might help!

Tart cherries are the smallest members of the stone fruit family. This “family” includes plums, apricots, nectarines, and peaches. Here in Door County, we grow two of the most popular varieties of tart cherries: Montmorency and Balaton. Cherries are a good source of vitamin A. They also contain anthocyanins, a compound found to block two enzymes which play a role in inflammation. Since inflammation has been linked to many chronic diseases, consuming cherries may play a role in prevention and treatment.

What we know for sure is that cherries are DELICIOUS. You can use them in all parts of a meal from appetizer to beverage, salad to bread, main dish to dessert. Dried, frozen or fresh, add cherries to your favorite recipes for an added boost of flavor and possible health benefits. The Wisconsin Cherry Growers website has many recipes using cherries in a variety of ways. This recipe combines two Door County favorites: Salmon and Tart Cherries. The salsa would also be great over poultry or pork.


Caramelized Salmon with Cherry Salsa   

Makes 4 servings

1-1/2 pounds fresh for frozen salmon fillet with skin

3 Tbsp. Brown Sugar

1 Tbsp. grated orange peel

½ tsp. coarsely ground pepper

1 ripe mango or papaya (seeded, peeled, and chopped)

1 cup frozen tart cherries, thawed, drained and halved

2 Tbsp. chopped fresh mint, basil, or cilantro

2 tsp. balsamic vinegar

¼ tsp. crushed red pepper


Thaw fish, if frozen. Stir together brown sugar, orange peel and pepper. Place fish, skin side down, in a shallow pan. Rub sugar mixture over fish. Cover and refrigerate 2-8 hours.

Remove fish from pan, draining off any juices. Place salmon, skin-side down, on gas grill over medium heat or on charcoal grill 4-6 inches from medium-hot coals. Grill for 20-25 minutes or until fish flakes easily. Do not turn fish.

Meanwhile, toss together mango or papaya, cherries, herb, vinegar and red pepper. Spoon fruit salsa over warm fish. Serve immediately.

Nutrition Information per serving: Calories 373, Carbohydrate 16 grams, Protein 34 grams, Fat 19 grams, Fiber 1 gram, Sodium 100 mg

-Judi Sowl, RD

Roasted Mexican Corn Salad

It’s high season for fresh corn, and Ministry’s cafeteria has been using a lot of it lately in this most-requested side dish from Chef Eric VanAlstine.

Says Chef Eric, “This is our version of a traditional Mexican method for serving corn.  Typically, you would see these ingredients applied to a freshly grilled ear of corn immediately after it is removed from the flame.  Our recipe can be made in summer with fresh corn, or year-round by substituting frozen, whole kernel corn. I make it at home and here in Ministry’s kitchen. It’s a great picnic dish, and complements just about any meal.”

corn salad

Roasted Mexican Corn Salad

·         2 pounds of frozen, whole kernel corn, or fresh corn off the cob

·         ½ cup mayonnaise

·         1 cup grated Cotija or Parmesan cheese

·         1-2 Tablespoons chili powder

·         Juice of one lime

Heat oven to 375 degrees.  Spread corn evenly on a baking pan.  Toss corn once or twice while baking to help with even browning, roasting corn to desired doneness.  Remove from oven and let rest in pan until just warm.  (This will help loosen any brown “bits” stuck to the pan)

Move warm corn to a mixing bowl.  Add all ingredients and mix well.  Add mayo, and chili powder to taste.  Top wish chopped fresh cilantro, if desired.

Reheat if needed to serve warm, but it is also good at room temperature.

Keep Your Heart Healthy, Deliciously

February is American Heart Month, a chance for me to remind you that keeping your heart healthy starts with what you eat. Did you know there are two types of fiber in foods, soluble and insoluble? As a dietitian here at Ministry, I like to remind my patients to do their hearts a favor and increase the amount of soluble fiber they eat…it’s been found to lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol.

Here are some surprisingly simple ways to get more soluble fiber in your diet:

  • Sprinkle oat bran or rice bran on cereal
  • Eat oatmeal for breakfast
  • Choose more vegetables, such as brussel sprouts, acorn squash, broccoli, okra and eggplant
  • Use garbanzo beans, black beans or other beans in soups, casseroles and mexican dishes
  • Eat whole grain breads, cereals and pasta
  • Have hummus (bean dip) and veggies for a snack

Here’s one of my favorite soup recipes using heart-healthy barley, courtesy of Quaker Oats:

Hearty Vegetable Barley Soup


      • 1/2 pound Lean Ground Beef
      • 1/2 cup chopped onion
      • 1 clove Garlic, minced
      • 7 cups Water
      • 1/2 cup Medium Quaker® Barley*
      • 1/2 cup sliced celery
      • 1/2 cup sliced carrots
      • 1/2 teaspoon basil
      • 1 bay leaf
      • 1 9-oz bag of frozen vegetables



In 4-quart saucepan or Dutch oven, brown ground beef. Add onion and garlic. Cook until onion is tender; drain. Add remaining ingredients except frozen vegetables. Cover, bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 50-60 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add frozen vegetables; cook about 10 or until vegetables are tender. Add additional water if soup becomes too thick upon standing.

Questions about a heart-healthy diet, or how to include more soluble fiber in your meals and snacks? Ask your Health Care provider for a referral to a Registered Dietitian.

-Judi Sowl, R.D., C.D., Clinical Dietitian

Making Bacon: Culinary Invention in Ministry’s Kitchen

Ministry’s culinary services department not only feeds hundred of employees, patients and visitors each day, but they also believe they can lay claim to the title of the only hospital in Wisconsin to cure and smoke their own bacon. Chef Eric VanAlstine leads a talented team of chefs, and he encourages them to do what they do best. That means pastry chefs Rebecca McDowell and Sandy Smith are always mixing up a creative dessert, while Chef John Vreeke uses homemade stocks to make mouthwatering soups. And Doug Meyer is curing the bacon.


“We acquired this wonderful Combitherm oven that roasts meats and keeps them moist. It’s great for leaner cuts such as pork butt,” says VanAlstine. One day Doug got the idea to smoke some of the pork’s “cap” to make “leaner” bacon, and it was a hit with patrons. He currently has 80 pounds of bacon curing in the walk-in cooler in preparation for Ministry’s holiday party. “We’ll use it for rumaki (bacon-wrapped water chestnuts), and to flavor other dishes as well,” he says. He will also smoke cheeses such as English cheddar and gouda to add extra flavor.

Doug’s ingenuity has led to ideas such as using the oven’s smokebox to smoke poblano peppers right on top of some of the pork bellies.  “This yielded some nice smoked poblanos, but we also tried to impart some of the pepper’s heat into the meat,” says Doug.


VanAlstine says that keeping things fresh in the kitchen is the key to keeping his employees engaged and pleasing his customers. “We really emphasize fresh-locally, made foods,” he says. And because VanAlstine has gathered culinary talent from some of Door County’s finest restaurants, there’s no shortage of creativity. “I can truly say that there’s not a restaurant I’ve worked at where I enjoyed working as much as I do here.”

Chef John Vreeke was inspired by Doug’s bacon to create this sandwich that was a hit during a recent lunch hour at the Ministry Cafeteria.


Grilled Apple, Bacon, and Cheddar Sandwich

Makes two sandwiches


4 slices bread of your choice (we use sourdough)

3 Tablespoons butter

8 oz. cheddar cheese, grated

1 apple, peeled and cored, sliced thin (about ¼ inch)

6 slices cooked, high quality bacon (or even better: Doug’s bacon!)

Butter one side of each slice of bread.  Place bread butter side down on a medium hot griddle or pan.  Top each slice of bread with 2 oz. of cheese.  Add a layer of sliced apple to two of the slices of bread, and three strips of cooked bacon to each of the other two slices.

When cheese begins to melt, combine an apple-topped slice with a bacon topped slice to make two sandwiches.  Continue to cook until golden brown, flipping once, for a total cook time of 5-8 minutes.

The Ministry Cafeteria serves breakfast from 7:00 am -9:30am (Mon-Fri), lunch from 11:30 am – 1:30pm (Daily) and supper from 5:30 pm -6:30pm (Daily). The public is welcome!

Corn Cakes and Customer Care in the DCMC Kitchen

The first thing you notice when you tour Door County Medical Center’s spotless, well-appointed kitchen with food service director Eric VanAlstine is you’re introduced to every single member of the department staff. “I’d like you to meet Lori, she’s been with us for 10 years,” says VanAlstine, “she’s the gatekeeper to this place and it wouldn’t run without her.” Lori laughs and talks about her favorite part of the job. “It’s definitely the people,” she says.

The 24-person kitchen crew keeps things running smoothly, supplying food to 25 hospital patients and 30 nursing home residents. But the bulk of the kitchen’s work is to feed the hundreds of staff and visitors who come through DCMC’s cafeteria each day.

photo copy“I look forward to the salad bar every Thursday,” says Robin Hamm-Jackson of the DCMC Foundation, who often stops in the cafeteria for lunch on the days when the chefs offer fresh salad with cheeses, veggies, meats and homemade dressings. “It’s so affordable and so tasty.”

Chefs offer up freshly made soups, pasta salads, and wholesome entrees. “We’re really all about promoting a healthy lifestyle for our employees and customers,” says VanAlstine. “And of course we like to give people what they want.”

photo 2Last week, that included fresh tuna steaks with Pico de Gallo (diced vegetable salsa). “You just don’t see that kind of food in cafeterias very often,” says VanAlstine, who is a graduate of the prestigious Culinary Institute of America. “We run this kitchen like a restaurant kitchen, not an institutional one.”

VanAlstine’s commitment to quality is evident in the feedback they receive from patients and customers. Currently, nutritional services boasts 99% customer satisfaction. But that’s never enough for VanAlstine. “We’re always looking at ways to improve,” he says. “And we all contribute ideas though our daily meetings.”

VanAlstine and his team can often be found making rounds and delivering food to patients. “It’s a great opportunity for us to ask patients how they’re enjoying their stay, and to find out if there’s anything we can be doing better.”

Team members are a constant source for creative menu ideas. Here’s one developed by Chef Jason Nimmer. These corn cakes would be equally delicious as a brunch or lunch item served with a tossed green salad, or as a side dish with dinner.

Screen Shot 2014-11-17 at 12.55.55 PM

Jason’s Corn Cakes

  • 2 cups frozen whole-kernel corn, thawed
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon Sriracha (prepared chili sauce, available in grocery stores)
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup chopped roasted red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped scallions or green onions
  • 1 teaspoon roasted garlic paste (or ¼ teaspoon garlic powder)
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs
  • 2 Tablespoons grated Parmesan
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper



Roast corn in 400 degree oven until it begins to turn brown. Remove and cool.

Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl. (if substituting garlic powder for garlic paste, add garlic powder to the dry ingredients)

Whisk the buttermilk and eggs until smooth. Whisk in Sriracha, mustard, and garlic paste. Stir in corn, peppers, and scallions. Add to dry ingredients and mix well.

Heat a small nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium heat. Pat about 1/3 cup mixture into cakes about ½ inch thick. Add to the hot skillet. Turn the cakes when the edges are browned. Cook until both sides are brown.

Serve topped with salsa.