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Simply Nutritious, Quick and Delicious

Jenna Smith, Extension Educator brings you helpful tips to make meals easy, healthy and tasty!
Eating Outside the Home

A Thanksgiving Meal Scaled Down

Thanksgiving is a holiday where food and family come together: A big feast for a big family. However, not everyone will have a large gathering. In fact, for many, the table may be set for just one or two. Despite this, a traditional Thanksgiving meal can still be enjoyed. First, you must decide on whether or not you want to cook. You could go full speed ahead and prepare many dishes in...

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Baked Beans for your Cookout

Tis the season of summer cookouts, where family and friends gather for an outdoor meal. Whether you're the host or the guest, you'll need an outstanding side dish to accompany the usual grilled entrée. A pot full of baked beans will round out your meal and keep your friends happy and well fed. There are baked beans and then there are Boston baked beans. Baked beans are traditionally mad...

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French Toast Casserole

A Toast to Mom this Mothers Day

Each year leading up to Mother's Day I see numerous advertisements of local restaurants taking reservations for Mother's Day brunch. Many families take part in honoring their mother by treating her to a meal that she doesn't have to cook or clean up. Whether it's eating out with family and friends or served at home after sleeping in, your mother will be sure to enjoy the pampering. Brun...

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Sweet Potato Fries

Happy National Nutrition Month

This week's blog post is written by ISU dietetic intern and graduate student, Nikki Zintak! "Put Your Best Fork Forward" is an empowering, uplifting phrase that draws attention to something us humans can control: choosing what we put into our bodies. While we have that choice, it is important to realize we also have the ability to choose foods that will benefit our health. The...

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Carmalized Onion Bites

How to Caramelize Onions

I love how produce can taste so differently depending upon how it is prepared. Steamed cauliflower is delicious but when it is roasted, it takes on a slightly nutty sweet flavor. Sautéed kale is soft, but baked kale turns into a thin crisp chip. An onion eaten raw is pungent and crunchy, but when caramelized, it is tender and sweet, yet savory. If you've never caramelized an onion there...

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Overnight Oats

Wake Up to Overnight Oats

We all know that oats are nutritious and good for our health. But for some, a bowl of hot oatmeal in the morning just doesn't sound appealing. Allow me to introduce you to the new craze: overnight oats! These uncooked oats are served cold with endless mix-in possibilities. It's a breakfast that sticks with you, fighting off morning hunger pains with its abundance of fiber and protein. And since...

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corn salad

Packing for a Picnic

When the weather is warm and beautiful, there is nothing better than eating outdoors. Whether at a park, an outdoor event, or just in the backyard, a picnic can be a fun excursion for the whole family. There's no need for a picnic table; a blanket on the ground will do. You can use paper plates or fine china; there are no rules! When choosing what foods to pack, cold items are usually a...

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Herbed Turkey Burger

Cookout Survival Guide

I'm pleased to introduce guest blogger, Noel Konken, Illinois State University Dietetic intern! Memorial Day Weekend jump starts the season of cookouts, potlucks, and picnics. While these social gatherings are a classic American summer tradition, they are not always conducive to healthy eating. By following these simple guidelines, you can navigate your way through cookouts all...

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Caprese Salad Jar

Lunch in a Jar!

I am pleased to introduce guest blogger and Illinois State University dietetic intern, Noel Konken! Tired of your average cold sandwich with a smashed banana that barely survived your early-morning commute? Swap out your packed lunch for a capped lunch! Get creative with your lunch this summer with a vibrantly fresh Mason jar salad that will have your co-workers talking. N...

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Luck of the Irish Potato

Many will celebrate St. Patrick's Day with Irish-inspired dishes like the classic corned beef and cabbage, but let's not forget the potatoes. Taters are a must on an Irish menu, whether it be in the form of shepherd's pie, colcoannon, champ, boxty, or hash. Not sure what any of those are? Don't worry; I'll get you up to speed! Shepherd's pie is traditionally a ground lamb filling with a...

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Vegetable Dip with Dill

Healthy Snacking for the New Year

I'm pleased to introduce guest blogger and Illinois State University, Food Nutrition and Dietetics student, Austin Duffell! With the New Year in full swing, many people are excited to try out their New Year Resolutions. When talking with different people about their resolutions, one that seems to come up often is a change in eating habits. Lifestyle changes, such as eating a mo...

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Chai Tea

Hot Tea is a Hot Trend

Move over coffee. According to the Tea Association of the U.S. Inc., total hot tea sales have increased more than 17% over the last five years and are expected to double over the next five. While Americans still drink far more coffee than tea, coffeehouses are offering more varieties of tea. The popular India drink, chai tea, has blended with the latte in many coffee shops, and store managers a...

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How to Avoid Buffet Binging

January 2 nd was National Buffet Day. That's day number two in the start of most people's diets. Just who was the malevolent person who determined the need for Buffet Day to be celebrated at the beginning of News Year's resolutions? I guess the more important question is, "why is there a buffet day anyway?" It's nothing new to hear that buffets are most notably diet busters. W...

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The Best and Worst Holiday Foods

First of all, there really are no "good" foods and "bad" foods. While certainly, there are many foods that severely lack nutritional value, it doesn't mean that you have to wave goodbye to them forever. Even the worst of foods can still make their way into a healthy diet as long as they are surrounded and overtaken by healthier foods. But the holidays bring an uneven weight toward unhealthy foo...

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Sloppy Joes

Sloppy Joes: A Quick Dinner Meal

There's probably not too many school cafeterias that aren't serving the classic, sloppy joes. What kid doesn't like a sandwich that has the name "sloppy" in it? But these beefy rolls aren't just for youngsters. They're perfect when needing a quick meal. It's been suggested that the name, 'sloppy joe', likely came from a chef named Joe who created the loose meat sandwich. Traditionally,...

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Sweet Potato Grilled Cheese

Is that a Sweet Potato or a Yam?

Unless you're a foodie like me, it's probably unlikely that your Thanksgiving dinner conversation entailed a hot debate of whether or not you were eating sweet potatoes or yams. "Why isn't it called a yam casserole?" asks my aunt. "Because it's made with sweet potatoes, not yams," I answered. "No, it's not; the label at the grocery store said yam," argued my aunt. "Yes, but it's a sweet potato,...

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candycorn

Limiting Scary Amounts of Sugar

If you have children at home you're probably all too familiar with the loads of candy you're child receives in the month of October. While we all know that overloading our children with sugary treats isn't the healthiest, how can we lessen the temptations, but still not deprive our children of the fun? While candy will undoubtedly be in the house, you may be surprised that it's not what...

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Walk Your Way Through a Healthy Day

Holiday decorations are already crowding the stores, which means all the holiday foods and treats will soon be crowding our tummies. But if we start a healthy routine now, we just might be able to make it through all the temptations and traditions without gaining a pound. We've all heard the advice to get fit, eat right and stay healthy, but how exactly do we do that in this busy world? Follow...

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Back to School, Back to Healthy Eating

By now you and your children should be in the routine of being back in school. This is the perfect time to re-evaluate your family's meals. Ask yourself, "How will we make time to eat together as a family now that school is back in session?" and "are my family's meals nutritionally balanced or could they use some tweaking?" Tweaking is often needed considering all the activities that happen in...

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Angel Cake with Berries

What Makes the Food on Your Plate So Colorful?

Do you ever wonder why spinach is green, why strawberries taste sweet, or why basil smells so good? It's all thanks to the plants phytochemical composition. Phytochemicals are a variety of compounds produced by plants that may be responsible for its unique color, taste, and smell. Researchers believe there are over 4,000 different phytochemicals, but to get into the 4 th of July spiri...

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Grilling Up Kebabs (or Kebobs!)

There's just something about eating food on a stick that brings out your inner child-being. Popsicles, corndogs, and cotton candy were kid-favorites, but now that you're an adult, you may have a bit more refined tastes. Kebabs (or kebobs) can satisfy your fun-loving nature and grown-up taste buds. Popular in Turkish cuisine, shish kebabs refers to "gobbets of roasted meat." Traditional...

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Making the Perfect Sandwich

Sandwiches can be a quick go-to meal when there's nothing else in the cabinets to fix. They're ideal to pack in lunch bags but can also be the perfect fill-you-up food at a local sandwich shop. Americans are crazy about their sandwiches. But how do we make one of these creations delicious without tightening the waistbands? Ban the big bread. A foot-long bread rol...

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Spinach Artichoke Bites

Healthy, Festive, and Easy: Quick Nutritious Appetizers for Your Holiday Parties

I'm pleased to introduce guest blogger, Virginia Luchini! Virginia is an undergraduate student at Illinois State University studying Food, Nutrition and Dietetics. While we would all love a relaxing, peaceful holiday season that's rarely ever the case. There are too many things to do, presents to purchase, people to see, and food to prepare. And when you're the one hosting the...

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There's Always Room For a Gelatin Salad

Does Aunt Bethany's green Jell-O® mold with bits of cat food in it on "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" make you turn up your nose to gelatin salads? Well, most gelatin salads aren't filled with pet food but rather various fruits, vegetables, nuts, marshmallows, whipped topping, pretzels and more. Jell-O® has a long standing history, stemming back to the late 1800's. Flavo...

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jalopeno pepper

How Hot is Your Jalapeno?

My husband and I grew jalapeno peppers in our garden this year and made bowl after bowl of fresh salsa. After making a perfectly medium salsa and then a "so fiery hot you want to dip your whole head in a glass of milk" salsa, it made me realize how one type of pepper can have quite a long range in heat. That heat is measured in Scoville Heat Units (SHU). A jalapeno pepper can have a score of 2,...

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