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Simply Nutritious, Quick and Delicious

Jenna Smith, Extension Educator brings you helpful tips to make meals easy, healthy and tasty!
Healthy Snacks
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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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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Strawberry sorbet  4525439412

4th of July Sorbet

This weeks blog post is written by Illinois State University Dietetic Intern, Erin Fejes! With Fourth of July just around the corner, many people may be searching for a sweet treat to celebrate with. If you haven't tried sorbet made with fresh berries, it may be just the dessert you've been searching for. Sorbet is a frozen dessert made from fruit juice/puree or flavore...

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Papaya smoothie

Step into the Tropics with a Papaya

Step into the tropics by enjoying a sweet juicy papaya. A papaya resembles a melon on the inside, but it is botanically a berry. It has a green to yellow outer skin but is orange to pink on the inside. The cavity is filled with black, edible seeds with a peppery taste. Papaya is native to Mexico and Southern America, and may be found in the early summer and fall. Most of the papayas sold in the...

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Oat Chia Granola Bars

All About Oats!

This week's blog post is written by Illinois State University dietetic intern and graduate student, Erin Fejes! Have you ever wondered why oats have become such a popular food item in recent years? From overnight oats to homemade granola, oats seem to be in many recipes these days. Read on to learn all about oats and why you should add them to your diet, too! Types of o...

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Raspberry Lemon Angel Food Cake

Spring for Raspberries

I think the cold wet spring is finally behind us. And when the weather starts getting warmer, the desire for light and airy foods get stronger. Raspberries, among all berries, are just the pop of spring our meals and snacks need. Raspberries are a bramble, which is a prickly vine or shrub that belongs to the rose family. They come in red, black, purple and yellow fruit types. Raspberrie...

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blackeyed peas salad

Enjoy Black-Eyed Peas All Year

Eating a bowl full of black-eyed peas on New Year's Day is said to bring good luck and prosperity in the new year. However, why save it for just once a year? Black-eyed peas are low in fat and a great source of potassium, calcium, vitamin C, and fiber. With these great nutrients, they just may bring that prosperity to you in the form of good health! Black-eyed peas are actually a bean r...

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Egg-citing Egg Facts!

The sales of eggs notably increases around the Easter holiday. After all, the Easter bunny needs colorful eggs to hide for all boys and girls. However, eggs aren't just for springtime; they are a year-round staple in most people's refrigerators. Have you ever wondered why the egg is shaped like it is? The curved shape makes them less likely to break when applying pressure, explaining wh...

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Parsnip muffin

Parsnips: A Versatile Root Vegetable

Parsnips are a winter root vegetable and valued for their long, white root resembling a white carrot. Parsnips have a complex taste; they are sweet like a carrot, but have more starch and an earthy, nut-like flavor. Large roots tend to be more fibrous with a tough woody core, while smaller roots are sweeter and tenderer. Like other root vegetables, parsnips have a lengthy shelf life. To store,...

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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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Green Smoothies

Don't Fear the Green Smoothie

This week's blog post is written by ISU dietetic intern and graduate student, Nikki Zintak! Bring on the green! With St. Patty's Day just around the corner, what better way to celebrate than with some festive green smoothies! Smoothies are commonly made with fruit, but why not add some other healthful ingredients to get more bang for your buck? Let's pick apart a smoothie and g...

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Frozen Yogurt Bark

Frozen Yogurt Bark From Your Heart

I'm pleased to introduce this week's blog post author, Stephanie Sanderson! Stephanie is a student studying Food, Nutrition and Dietetics at Illinois State University. This early in the year, there are still individuals going strong on that New Year's resolution of being a "healthier you." However, with Valentine's Day just around the corner, chocolates, candies, and desserts...

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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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Berry Cheesecake Whip

Whipped Cream or Whipped Topping?

Many baked goods, such as pumpkin pie or gooey butter cake, taste even better with a hefty dollop of whipped cream, or as my grandpa used to call it: snowbanks. The slightly sweet and airy fluff makes any dessert just a little more decadent. But have you ever wondered what to actually buy for better health? Should you go for whipped cream in an aerosol can, frozen whipped topping, or make it yo...

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eggs ole

Five Foods to Fill You Up

It's that time of year where we try to forget about all the high-calorie goodies we stuffed into our mouths during the holidays and start anew. It's the season of trying out new diets, some of which yield success on the scale but hunger pains in the stomach. Many try to drastically restrict calories to lose weight, but research has shown that this merely slows metabolic rate, making it harder t...

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Peppermint Chocolate Truffles

The Flavor of the Holidays

Much like Thanksgiving is bombarded with pumpkin spice, the flavor of Christmas is most notably peppermint. There's peppermint mochas, chocolate peppermint bark, cool peppermint pies and delicious peppermint cookies. It's the chief mint chosen to flavor candies and gum, and it comes to good little boys' and girls' Christmas stockings in the form of a red and white candy cane. The herb p...

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Gingerbread snack cake

Catch that Gingerbread Man!

Somewhere packed between holiday shopping, stringing of lights and putting up the tree is a marathon day of cookie baking and candy making. A platter of goodies just wouldn't be the same without the famous gingerbread man. While this little guy may try to run away from being eaten, he's too tasty to escape and sadly is succumbed to getting his head bitten off. Gingerbread can be cookies...

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Radish Greens Chimchurri

Waste Not From Root to Stalk

Do you ever feel remorse when you toss out those broccoli stems or radish tops? With a growing fight to reduce food waste (it's estimated that America wastes 70 billion pounds of food each year!) even the so-called food "scraps" need a second look. Many of these stalks, stems, leaves and peels are edible and full of nutrition and flavor. Other than the leaves of rhubarb, which contain o...

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Should I Choose the Muffin?

Muffins are one of those breakfast foods that seem like the healthy choice. It's surely better than a doughnut or a bagel with cream cheese, right? Not so fast. A muffin found at a bakery can clock in around 550 calories and over 20 grams of fat. An original glazed doughnut, on the other hand, is 190 calories, and a bakery bagel with cream cheese is around 400 calories (less if it's plain). So...

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Rosemary Almond Cookie

All About Almonds

Your recipe calls for almonds but when you get to the store to quickly grab a bag you realize you have to choose between natural, blanched, unblanched, roasted or raw. Who knew there were that many choices for one little nut? More than likely, the only almond you've ever had was produced in California, since it is the only state to commercially produce almonds. Natural and raw almonds a...

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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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Banana-Berry Soft Serve

Guilt Free Ice

I would argue that there isn't much better in life than a cool and refreshing ice cream cone on a hot and humid day. I think everyone can agree that ice cream and summer-time definitely go hand-in-hand. Unfortunately, on average a ½ cup serving of vanilla ice cream weighs in at about 15 grams of added sugar, 5 grams of saturated fat, and 150 calories. Once you add in a cone and toppings these n...

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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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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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Chocolate Tofu Mouse

Tofu Shouldn't Scare You

Tofu anyone? Ok. Most people look at me like I'm a weirdo when the "t" word is mentioned. However, tofu is one of the ultimate convenience foods; it's quick and easy to use in a wide variety of dishes. Before you write it off, you must first know a little bit about it. Tofu is made by coagulating fresh soymilk to form curds, in much the same way cottage cheese is made from cow's milk. T...

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