Be Smart, Eat Well, Get Healthy Sun, 15 May 2005 13:02:08 -0500 Corn Dogs and Cotton Candy! Fri, 21 Jul 2017 13:31:00 +0000 Corn dogs and cotton candy---what trip to the fair would be complete without them? Ask anyone what they enjoy most about the fair and many will say ---THE FOOD! The once a year treat can pack some big calories into your regular diet, so here are a few tips.

Most of us know that the "Doughnut Burger" is probably a bad choice (1500 calories). However, we might be surprised by the better choices. Are you a sweet tooth person ? Or is it the salty snacks that you crave? Either way be prepared to amp up your exercise routine to "pay" for fair food. So, just what are we talking about? What's a few fair treats going to hurt?

Well, for example, the fried onion blossom will set you back 1320 calories! You can have one and then walk around the fairgrounds for 4 hours and 25 minutes to burn it off! Are funnel cakes your weakness? A plain one with powdered sugar topping has 760 calories; a measly 2 hours and 50 minutes will take care of its calories. At this rate the 620 calorie curly fries seem almost like health food! Pizza on a stick, fried butter, chocolate covered bacon, the list is endless.

What is a better choice at the fair? Remember anything you eat at the fair is classified as a "Sometimes" food, rather than an "Everyday" food—so know that you will consume some extra calories and fat. That being said you might opt for cotton candy at 171 calories or a chocolate covered banana with the benefit of a serving of fruit and 240 calories. Actually in the deep fried category, corn dogs weigh in at 250 calories—that's much better than a doughnut burger!

Am I saying that you shouldn't eat at the fair?---Absolutely NOT! The fair comes once a year, treat yourself to your favorite. Just remember to plan the days around your fair trip accordingly---increase your fruits and veggies along with exercise. When you go to the fair, walk around the grounds, visit the livestock and then the memory of your trip to the fair will not be a bigger pant size, rather a mental picture of a time well spent.

Canning your Garden Produce Fri, 14 Jul 2017 15:26:00 +0000 How does your garden grow? Are you struggling with baskets of green beans and bushels of cucumbers? You could give the excess away and that is a great idea. Or you could preserve the produce so your family can enjoy your garden long after the first frost of winter.

Yes, You Can! ! Everyone is doing it from Paula Deen to Alton Brown---canning is trendy. Eat local; reduce your carbon footprint is the battle cry from the home canning sector—and they are right.

Food is better when you grow it yourself or know who did. But, before you dust off Grandma's canner let's talk about safety. Make sure your canner has the UL seal of approval and follow the manufacturer's directions exactly.

Never use the open kettle or oven methods of canning---these methods are not safe! Do not "make up" recipes or add extra ingredients. Only use recipes from USDA, National Center for Home Food Preservation, name brand canning supply companies or Extension. Canning is a scientific process that can safely preserve the taste of summer, if you follow some basic guidelines.

Begin with wholesome, unblemished fruits and vegetables. Wash both the produce and your hands after coming in from the garden; it's best to use warm water. The deadly microbe Clostridium botulinum lives in the soil and on most fresh food surfaces—it really does not pose a threat until it is exposed to its favorite environment—the moist, low acid, no oxygen atmosphere inside a canning jar full of food. This deadly germ can be killed by using an approved canner and following research based recipes.

For more info go to:

Or call your local Extension office to register for "hands on" workshops!

Happy Canning!

Quick Fresh-Pack Dill Pickles

8 lbs. of 3- to 5- inch pickling cucumbers

2 gals. water

1 ¼ cups canning or pickling salt (divided)

1 ½ qts. vinegar (5%)

¼ cup sugar

2 qts. water

2 Tbsp whole mixed pickling spice

About 3 Tbsp whole mustard seed (1 tsp per pint jar)

About 14 heads of fresh dill (1 ½ heads per pint jar) or 4 ½ Tbsp dill seed (1 ½ tsp per pint jar)

Yield: About 7 to 9 pints

Wash cucumbers. Cut 1/16 inch slice off blossom end and discard, but leave ¼ inch of stem attached. Dissolve ¾ cup salt in 2 gallons water. Pour over cucumbers and let stand 12 hours. Drain. Combine vinegar, ½ cup salt, sugar, and 2 quarts water. Add mixed pickling spices tied in a clean white cloth. Heat to boiling. Fill hot jars with cucumbers. Add 1 tsp mustard seed and 1 ½ heads fresh dill per pint. Cover with boiling pickling solution, leaving ½ inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace if needed. Wipe rims of jars with dampened clean paper towel. Adjust lids and process as below.

At altitude 0-1,000 feet process pints for 10 minutes and quarts for 15 minutes in a boiling-water canner.

Herbs Fri, 30 Jun 2017 15:28:00 +0000 Did you bring some herb plants home from the garden center this spring? Herbs are wonderful plants, hardy, fragrant and beautiful. Many of us, me included, often bring herbs home, plant them and then rarely use them in cooking. Why not?

It's thyme, (pun intended), to cook with herbs. As a rule, use twice the amount of fresh as you would dry herbs in a recipe. Add herbs toward the end of cooking time to ensure a bright flavor. You can cut back on the salt in a recipe by using herbs to enhance flavor.

Try lemon balm with asparagus, or chives with cooked beet greens. Mint is good with any fruit and it even pairs well with sweet peas. Snip some tarragon into cooked rice and next time you cook eggs try adding parsley, thyme or marjoram.

Lay bunches of fresh herbs directly on hot coals when grilling to give meat a boost of flavor. Don't be afraid to experiment!

Preserve herbs by chopping and freezing them in ice cube trays, pop out the frozen blocks and store in freezer bags. If you have used them in cooking and frozen all you will need for next winter, you can always make a fresh bouquet—it will make your house smell great!


Fresh Herb Butter

1 cup margarine or butter 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary

1 Tablespoon chopped fresh green basil 1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 Tablespoon chopped fresh marjoram 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice

1 Tablespoon chopped fresh chives Salt and pepper (optional)

Chop herbs fairly fine. Blend all herbs, garlic, lemon juice and salt and pepper into margarine or butter with a spoon. Form into a roll and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate or freeze. Best prepared a day ahead to blend flavors. Use on baked potatoes, grilled or broiled steak, tossed with hot pasta, or spread on bread and enjoy.

Yield: 16 tablespoons.

Nutrient analysis per 1 tablespoon serving (approximately as analysis varies with type of low-fat margarine used): 51 calories, 0grams protein, trace carbohydrate, 6 grams fat, 0milligrams cholesterol, 120 milligrams sodium.

Lemon Balm Vinaigrette Dressing

3 Tablespoons olive oil

2 Tablespoons wine vinegar

6-8 lemon balm leaves, finely chopped

1/8 teaspoon salt

Black pepper to taste

Whisk together all ingredients. Stir or shake ingredients before serving. Store dressing in the refrigerator. Serve over lettuce salad, steamed vegetables, or use as a marinade for fish or chicken.

Vary dressing by choosing different oils, vinegars and herbs. Oils: Grapeseed, olive or peanut;

Vinegar: white, red wine or herb; Other herbs: tarragon, basil, thyme, marjoram.

Nutrient analysis per 1 Tablespoon Serving: 48 calories, 0 grams protein, 3 grams fat, 0 milligrams cholesterol, 5 grams carbohydrates, 0 milligrams sodium

Outdoor Cooking Thu, 08 Jun 2017 14:13:00 +0000 Ah, the smell of a campfire. Roasted marshmallows, hot dogs, fruit cobbler, foil packets of hobo stew…. there is nothing as good as simple food cooked over fire. I can almost taste it now! Whether it's a day at the park or a weekend camping trip, preparing and eating food outdoors takes some special consideration. Even if you are taking a dish to a family reunion, you need to follow some basic food safety steps.

We all know to keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot. If you are only going to be gone a few hours you can keep hot foods hot in an insulated container made for that purpose. It is unrealistic to expect foods to stay warm for more than two hours, so if you are planning to eat later in the day it is best to cook the food at the campsite or park. In order to ensure safe food, keep the food as cold as possible before you cook it. Freeze meat patties or steaks and wrap them tightly or place in freezer bags before putting them into your insulated cooler. A good idea is to pour marinade or dry rub over the meat before you put it into the cooler, that way the meat will absorb the flavors as it slowly thaws in the cooler. Place large blocks of ice in the cooler as they melt more slowly than cubes. You can make ice blocks by freezing water in clean plastic food grade containers leftover from ice cream, cottage cheese or other food items. This will slow the thawing process and ensure that even hours later, the temperature will not have risen over the 40 ° danger zone mark.

Use two coolers, one for meats and vegetables (wrapped separately) that will be cooked and another for fruits and vegetables that will be eaten raw, dairy products and beverages. When handling raw meat at the campsite make sure your hands and all surfaces touched by the meat are washed prior to and after preparation. It is very important that you do not cross contaminate other surfaces by simply wiping the raw meat juices with a dry towel. Wash everything with hot soapy water.

If there is not hot running water nearby make a hand washing station with an insulated drink cooler (heat the water before putting it in the cooler), some liquid soap and a roll of paper towels. After you have made sure everything is clean, it is time to cook. Bring a thermometer along—it is the only sure way to tell if the meat is "done" and always use a clean platter to serve the cooked meat.

Food borne illness is never a good thing and it is worse when it occurs away from home. Keep your family safe by keeping your campsite and your hands clean!


Safe cooking temperatures:

Poultry Products

165° F

Ground Meat

160° F

Prime Rib

130° F

Steak, roast, chops

140° F

USDA safe minimum cooking temperatures

To Safely Marinate Foods:

�� Marinate in a non-metal container in the refrigerator.

�� Do not marinate more than 24 hours. (Meat will become mushy if left too long.)

�� Save some unused marinade to baste food during cooking.

�� Throw away any leftover marinade.


Marinated Lemon Thyme Chicken or Pork

4 skinned chicken pieces (pork chops)

2 tablespoons oil

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon chopped thyme or 1 teaspoon dried

2 cloves garlic, minced

Mix oil, lemon juice, thyme and garlic. Place chicken/pork in shallow container and

cover with mixture. Let sit in refrigerator 30 minutes. Preheat grill or broiler. Cook

chicken/pork until tender and reaches an internal temperature of 165o F (chicken) or

140o F (pork). Serves 4.

Mexicali Marinade

1/3 cup oil 1 teaspoon chili powder

2 cloves garlic, crushed 1 teaspoon sugar

1/3 cup cider vinegar 1 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup apple juice 1/4 teaspoon pepper

In a small saucepan, heat oil and cook garlic 2-3 minutes. Stir in remaining ingredients

and heat through, stirring until smooth. Cool in refrigerator. Excellent for tenderizing

less expensive cuts of meat, pork or veal. Marinate strips/cubes of meat 2 hours, chops

or ribs 3 hours, and steaks at least 4 hours prior to cooking. Always marinate foods in

the refrigerator turning meat occasionally.

*recipes from Wellness Ways, University of Illinois Extension

School's Out! Fri, 19 May 2017 08:58:00 +0000 SCHOOLS…OUT…FOR…SUMMER…. Now what? The children are home and they need to be fed. Let's build those healthy food habits so our children can be the generation that changes the health of America! There is a common misconception that children (and others who are not overweight) do not need to make careful choices when eating. I have heard people say—"I can't believe my kids are eating my whole grain crackers—I told them to eat their chips—the crackers are for me because I need to lose weight". Nothing could be further from the truth. None of us need the chips! Chips and other fried salty snacks should be reserved for occasional consumption regardless of your position on the BMI chart. Just because children are not overweight does not mean that we should encourage them to eat unhealthy foods. "Eating behaviors evolve during the first years of life; children learn what, when, and how much to eat through direct experiences with food and by observing the eating behaviors of others. The Feeding Infants and Toddlers Study (FITS), which provided data on the dietary patterns of 3022 infants and toddlers, revealed that 4 to 24 month old children typically consumed significant amounts of developmentally inappropriate, energy-dense, nutrient poor foods. Of particular concern was the finding that 18% to 33% of infants and toddlers consumed no distinct servings of vegetables on a typical day."

Everyday matters, everyone needs to eat healthy, every day.

What does that mean? It means planning ahead, making choices in the grocery store that reflect MyPlate. Having fruits and vegetables, ready to eat, in convenient places for easy snacking. I know you have heard it all before, but with a little planning, eating a healthy snack can be as easy as opening a bag of chips. Keep apples in the refrigerator crisper drawer. Mix up some humus (recipe below). Prep vegetables once a week so they are snack ready. Cut whole grain tortillas into 6 wedges, spray lightly with vegetable oil spray and bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes for homemade chips. Make snack mix by combining whole grain cereals with dried fruit and lightly salted nuts. All of these suggestions can be made in advance in large enough quantities to last several days; simply place a single serving into a plastic bag and store.

Easy Humus Dip

1can (15 ounces)garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drain and save liquid, rinse beans

1.5tsp.minced garlic

1Tbsp.ground cumin

2Tbsp.olive oil

3Tbsp.reserved bean liquid


  1. Place all ingredients into a food processor or blender.
  2. Process together until a smoother consistency.
  3. Serve with whole wheat pita bread, pretzels, or veggie sticks.

Nutrition Facts:6 servings: Calories 100,Fat 6g,Sodium 140mg,Total Carbohydrates 10g,Fiber 3g,Protein 3g

Watch this video from to see what one family does to stay healthy!

source: National Center for Biotechnology Information,U.S. National Library of Medicine

Spring! Sat, 06 May 2017 08:53:00 +0000 Spring is here and the May showers will soon bring flowers …..and fruits and vegetables. According to half of our plate should be filled with fruits and vegetables. How can we make that happen?

Here in central Illinois we have rich soils that will produce wonderful fruits and vegetables with a minimal amount of work. Let's plant a garden. Or toss a few seeds into a pot on your patio. The benefits of gardening are twofold; great exercise and healthy food!

If you are unable to garden, visit your local Farmers' Market. Call your local Extension office for location, dates and times. By purchasing fresh food from your local Farmer's Market you not only benefit yourself and your family nutritionally, you benefit your local community.

According to Ken Meter, PhD. Crossroads Research, if each of us spend just $5.00 per week on local foods grown in Illinois we will create $441,000,000 in "new income" for our state. If you would like to learn more about locally grown produce go to .

We all know that we need to eat "better"; the easiest way to do that is to grow your own or buy local. Here is a quick and easy recipe—Spring is a precious and fleeting season—get out there and enjoy it!

Be Smart, Eat Well & Get Healthy

Sautéed Radishes

1 tablespoon butter or vegetable oil
1 to 2 bunches radishes (about 1 pound with tops), trimmed and each cut into quarters or halves if small
Salt and coarsely ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill (optional)

1. In nonstick 12-inch skillet, melt butter or oil. Add radishes, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper; cook 14 to 15 minutes or until radishes are fork-tender and lightly browned.

2. Remove skillet from heat; toss radishes with dill and transfer to warm serving bowl.

    (based on individual servings)
    Calories: 45
    Total Fat: 3 g
    Saturated Fat: 1 g
    Cholesterol: 0 mg
    Sodium: 210 mg
    Carbohydrates: 4 g
    Fiber: 2 g
    Protein: 1 g
Bee Well Community Gardens Fri, 28 Apr 2017 08:25:00 +0000 Have you always wanted to garden but need space or knowledge or tools? Come join the gardeners in the Bee Well Community Gardens where we learn and grow!

We have 3 locations this year--Paris, Kansas and Hume!

Informational meetings:
Saturday, April 29, 10:00am, Kansas Village Hall
Thursday, May 4, 6:00pm, Paris Bee Well Garden (behind Lake Ridge Church) * seedlings will be available
Hume garden site-contact Joanie at Front Street Market

Here is your chance to grow your own food--it's free, it's fun, it's awesome!!!!