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Simply Nutritious, Quick and Delicious

Jenna Smith, Extension Educator brings you helpful tips to make meals easy, healthy and tasty!
Food Safety
Lentil Tomato Mix

Lent and Lentils

This week's blog post is written by Illinois State University graduate student and dietetic intern, Michael O'halloran. For those that abstain from eating meat on Fridays during the Lenten season, it can sometimes be difficult to come up with meatless meals. Even with a fish dinner, consuming enough protein can be a challenge. Fortunately, lentils can help fill the protein gap...

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Beef Kotas Pitas

Stuff That Pita

Pita bread is a type of flatbread that is a staple in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine. Thankfully, it's a bread that we can now typically find at most U.S. grocery stores, helping to expand our palate and broaden our horizons. Pita bread is not much different from many flatbreads, including pizza crust, tortillas, naan or matzah. However, pita bread is unique in that it has its...

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Food Waste in America

This weeks blog post is written by Illinois State University's dietetic graduate student, Erin Fejes! As a dietetic graduate student and future registered dietitian, I am concerned that so many Americans are food insecure. The Environmental Protection Agency states that 42 million Americans are currently food insecure, while the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) re...

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Cauliflower Fried Rice

Cauliflower Rice Craze

It's always interesting to hear about the latest craze in the food industry. One that exploded in 2017, is cauliflower rice, and its popularity isn't slowing down. Cauliflower rice isn't truly rice at all. In fact, the label of "rice" is understandably upsetting for rice farmers. However, it has a solid concept: substitute rice for cauliflower rice to increase vegetable intake. With more and mo...

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Be a Super Speedy Shopper

According to the website, Foodimentary™ February is "National Return Shopping Carts to the Supermarket" month. Laugh now, but you will be thankful when you have a flurry of carts to choose from, especially when they are lined up in the cart corral and not rolling down the parking lot with the wind. Grocery shopping can sometimes be an unpleasant experience, often one that creates moans and proc...

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Orange Sweet Potato Pork Chops

Just a Pinch

A pinch of this, a dash of that. The more experienced cooks can often get by without properly measuring ingredients. Their skill and experience guides them to know how much to add, but many novice cooks struggle at knowing when is enough to give flavor and when is enough to push it to the edge of inedible. Anyone who has ever read a recipe has probably come across some vague terms. A pi...

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Wheat Berry Salad

Wheat Berries, A True Whole Grain

Wheat berries are the simplest form of wheat. In fact, wheat berries are the original source of all wheat products before any processing. Stored wheat berries can be milled into flour, cooked or sprouted. Wheat is classified based on color, hardness of the wheat kernel, and the growing season. The hard red wheat (spring and winter) varieties are produced in dry temperature climates and...

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A Resolution That Sticks

As many are embarking on calorie-restricted diets and wearing belly bands to lose weight this new year, others are taking a more simplistic approach: increase fruits and vegetables and shrink breads, pastas, goodies and meats. There's no reason to cut out any one food or food group and doing so only sets you up for failure and possibly depletes your body of certain nutrients. Rather, fi...

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Reindeer Food

Feeding Santa's Reindeer

The holiday season is a magical time of year. The lights are twinkling, snowflakes are falling, and Santa's sleigh is soaring through the sky. The love of a child and the joy of watching their eyes light up is the reason many families choose to participate in holiday traditions. One such tradition is laying out cookies for Santa to eat as he stacks presents under the tree. However, we must not...

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Pacific oysters

Oysters for the Holidays

If you're going for a traditional holiday meal this season, oysters must be on the menu. The early colonists found oysters to be abundant along the coastal shores, and they were a popular addition to the holiday feast. With oysters being plentiful, they really weren't considered much of a delicacy like in today's world. Oysters can be prepared in many ways. My husband's family makes it...

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chocolate peppermint popcorn

Healthier Holiday Stockings

Holiday traditions create lasting memories, but have you ever wondered how these traditions got their start? Whoever thought to hang hosiery on the fireplace and stuff it with goodies? While we can't say for sure how it began, the legend has it that St. Nicholas heard a man talking about not having enough money to get his three daughters married, so he secretly slid down the man's chimney and p...

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Baked Holiday Pear

Nutmeg: A Holiday Spice

Nutmeg is a common spice known to flavor a flurry of holiday foods and beverages. It's a key ingredient in pumpkin spice, a must-have in eggnog and a flavor booster in custards. Nutmeg is not actually a nut, but rather a drupe. This means it's a fruit with a single seed, similar to an apricot. It's grown on a female tree with most of the production coming from Indonesia and Grenada. The...

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IMG 1917

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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lima beans

Lima Beans or Butter Beans?

It's funny how memories of our loved ones are often linked with food. I fondly remember my Grandmother making the best fried chicken, but I also remember her always dishing up my least favorite dish: lima beans. It's true. I wasn't a lima bean lover. However, I've learned that they are actually delicious when prepared in different ways. Lima beans get their name from Lima, Peru...

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Mushroom Leek Orzo

Loving Leeks

There are many choices when it comes to bringing an onion flavor to your dish: red, white and yellow onions, scallions, shallots, chives and leeks all bring a different intensity of flavor. Leeks have a milder taste and resemble an oversized scallion. Their stalk is a bundle of leaf sheaths, which are white on the bottom and green on top. Use the white and lighter green area for recipes, but sa...

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glazed carrots

The Wonders of Maple Syrup

Maple syrup is the true essence of eating from nature. It's made with just one simple ingredient: the sap from a maple tree. Maple trees are tapped by drilling a hole and inserting a tube to collect the sap as it slowly drips out onto a bucket or storage tank. The clearer the sap, the richer in taste it will be. Once the sap is collected, it's boiled and filtered to evaporate much of th...

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Ham Horseshoe

Cheese Sauce Comfort

A gooey cheese sauce is a comfort food classic that makes nachos unstoppable, mac and cheese a must-have, and (to some) vegetables edible. But it takes a bit of know-how to make the perfect cheese sauce. The type of cheese used is an important factor to making a sauce. Some cheese melts well, while others simply clump in a bowl of warm milk. Melting champions include cheddar, mozzarella...

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Apple Cider Pulled Chicken

Apple Cider: A Midwest Treat

Visiting an apple orchard on a beautiful fall day is a lasting memory for many people, including myself. Besides a peck or two of apples, I always remember bringing home a half-gallon or more of apple cider. And it's about this time of year when I get the question: what's the difference between apple juice and apple cider? Apple cider is typically defined as a beverage made by grinding...

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Roasted Rutabaga

Rutabaga for the Win!

Rutabagas can be an intimidating root vegetable due to its ugly looks and unfamiliarity. However, it should sit proudly in your kitchen's root cellar right next to the more popular roots, like sweet potatoes and carrots. And here's why. Rutabagas are a cross between the turnip and the cabbage. While similar to a turnip, rutabagas are harvested at a larger size and have more of a yellowi...

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Butternut Squash Ground Turkey Skillet pg

Butter Up to Butternut Squash

Butternut squash is one of the most popular winter squash varieties. It has a pale peach color on the outside but yields a yellow-orange flesh on the inside. It's flavor is reminiscent of a buttered sweet potato, and it's a versatile ingredient in many fall dishes. Butternut squash ranks high on the nutritional list. One cup of squash has only 82 calories but 6 grams dietary fiber, 580...

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What is Hominy?

Your eyes may have skimmed past it. The canned beans and canned vegetable aisle in the supermarket usually houses the small, medium and very large cans of hominy. With the look of wet mini marshmallows, you may wonder what exactly this stuff is. Hominy is a product of field corn, called maize. Maize is dried and then soaked in an alkaline solution, usually lye or lime, to soften the tou...

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Soba noodles

Soak up the Flavor of Soba Noodles

Soba noodles are a Japanese noodle made from buckwheat flour. They're found in many Asian dishes served either hot or cold. If you've ever passed up a recipe because you didn't know what soba noodles were or didn't know where to find them, you must try it again! Soba noodles are found in Asian markets but may also be found in larger grocery stores in the Ethnic section....

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spaghetti pie Nebraska Extension

Battle of Butter versus Margarine

Butter versus Margarine: it's a hot topic debate that has been battled over the decades. Health professionals tout that margarine is a heart healthy alternative to butter, while others claim that margarine is not "natural" and therefore, should not be eaten. You know, the whole "margarine is one molecule away from plastic" theory. If you haven't heard the "margarine is nearly plastic th...

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Mug Muffin

A Meal in a Mug

Everyone has their favorite mug, and on days that the mug is actually clean, it gets filled to the rim with coffee or tea. However, this favorite mug wants to be used for more than just a warm jolt in the morning. Microwave mug meals are the latest craze to hit the kitchen. Microwave mug meals are ingredients put in a single mug that are cooked in the microwave. They are the perfect fix...

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Discover What's Wild About Wild Rice

Unbelievably, wild rice is not actually rice at all. It's a seed of a wild water grass found around the Great Lakes region. Every September, during the Wild Rice Moon, Anishinaabeg people, and other Great Lakes Native American tribes, harvest wild rice in canoes using wooden ricing sticks to knock the rice grains into the boat. It's a long, labor-intensive process, but it is a tradition that ha...

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