Healthy Eats and Repeat Highlighting Food, Recipes, and Ideas for a Healthy Lifestyle Sun, 15 May 2005 13:02:08 -0500 Game for Garlic Scapes? Wed, 12 Jun 2019 09:00:00 +0000 Last summer, our office bought a share of a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). Each week of the season, we got a box of local fruits, veggies, and herbs. Garlic scapes were a unique addition one week.

In his article, fellow UI Extension educator, Grant McCarty, shares that "garlic scapes are the immature, flowering stems of hardneck garlic." Scapes have a milder flavor than cloves of garlic, and can be used in place of garlic.


USDA has no reference for nutritional values of garlic scapes. Like herbs, spices, and other seasonings, garlic scapes are used to add flavor to recipes, and many recipes will use a small amount of scapes.  So, garlic scapes, when used in typical amounts in recipes, should not add much of any calories, carbohydrates, or other nutrients.

  • Buy: If your local farmer offers garlic scapes, look for those that are firm without damage to the plant, such as broken stems, pest damage, or discolored stems.
  • Price: I have yet to find garlic scapes in a local store, so let me know if your stores carry them sometimes. Otherwise, price will vary by the farmer you buy them from.
  • Store: The University of Kentucky recommends storing scapes in the refrigerator for up to a month. From there, scapes can be frozen, either raw or blanched before freezing.
  • Prepare: Wash the scape. Cut off the "flower" end and discard. (And pull apart to see the seeds inside.) Cut the stem into desired sized pieces for your recipe. Depending on your recipe's texture, know that scapes are very firm and crunchy raw.
  • Eat: Use garlic scapes in place of garlic in your favorite recipes. Pesto and hummus are popular recipes to make using scapes. Try the salad recipe below using scapes in the dressing.


Broccoli-Kohlrabi Salad (Serves 4)

1 medium head broccoli, florets cut into bite-sized pieces
1 small kohlrabi, peeled and diced
1 small red apple, diced

1/2 cup lite mayonnaise
2 garlic scapes, minced (or 2 cloves of garlic, minced)
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

1. Add cut broccoli to a pot of boiling water for 2 minutes. Carefully move broccoli to ice for 5 minutes to cool. Drain water and ice from broccoli.
2. In a large bowl, combine broccoli, kohlrabi, and apple.
3. In a small bowl, combine all dressing ingredients. Pour over broccoli mixture and stir to coat. Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 120 calories, 7g fat, 410mg sodium, 13g carbohydrate, 3g fiber, 2g protein

Chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans): Hummus and Beyond Wed, 15 May 2019 09:00:00 +0000 Chickpeas or garbanzo beans? A different name for the same food, this member of the legume family has a firm texture and a nutty flavor that enhances a variety of recipes.

To see chickpeas in the fields and at harvest, watch these videos: Hinrichs Trading Company - Growing chickpeas from Washington Grown and Chickpea from How Does It Grow? Note that University of Illinois Extension provides this information for education and does not endorse any company, products, or services over another.


A half cup of cooked chickpeas – without salt – contains around 130 calories, 22g carbohydrates, 6g fiber, 7g protein, and 2g of fat. They also contain vitamins and minerals, including folate, potassium, and iron. Chickpeas are not a significant source of sodium, unless added.

  • Buy: Chickpeas are most often available dry (in bags or bulk bins) or cooked (in cans). As bags of dry legumes get tougher with age, look for packages with a "use-by" or "best-by" date as far off as possible. For canned chickpeas, look for reduced-sodium or no-salt-added varieties. You might also see chickpea-based pastas, and chips and puffed snacks made with chickpeas in your stores.
  • Price: Price will vary by brand and store. Pick one that fits your budget.
  • Store: Canned foods should be stored in cool, dry locations. Dry chickpeas can be stored this way too until cooked. Once cooked or cans are opened, store leftover chickpeas in a closed container in the refrigerator up to 4 days.
  • Prepare: Canned chickpeas are a great convenience item: open, rinse, and eat. Dry beans need to be cooked first. Eat.Move.Save. from University of Illinois Extension has a guide to cooking dry beans. These guides are for stovetop methods. I also like using my slow cooker to cook dry beans.
  • Eat: Hummus, a bean dip, might be the best-known use of chickpeas. While usually made with tahini (ground sesame seeds), try the nut- and seed-free hummus recipe below.
Also try some of these recipes from other Cooperative Extensions:


Easy Hummus Dip (serves 6)

1 can (15 ounces) garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drain and save liquid, rinse beans
1.5 tsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp ground cumin
2 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp 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.

Tip—For a smoother consistency, may need to add additional small amounts of bean liquid or water.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 100 calories, 6g fat, 100mg sodium, 10g carbohydrate, 3g fiber, 3g protein
Source: Eat.Move.Save. Illinois Nutrition Education Programs. University of Illinois Extension

Get Warm and Smoky with Cumin Wed, 10 Apr 2019 09:00:00 +0000 Part of the parsley family, cumin is an annual plant that produces seeds. These seeds can be used as a spice – often ground up – when cooking. To see cumin go from seed to powder, watch the short video, Grinding Cumin at The Spice House, from chicagospiceboss. Note that University of Illinois Extension provides this information for education and does not endorse any company, products, or services over another.


Like most herbs and spices, for the amount used, cumin does not provide a significant amount of nutrients, like carbohydrates or vitamins. But its warm, smoky flavor provides plenty of spice in recipes!

  • Buy: If buying ground cumin, look for packages that are well sealed and have a "use-by" or "best-by" date as far off as possible.
  • Price: Price will vary by brand and store. Pick one that fits your budget.
  • Store: Dried herbs and spices store best in dark, cool places, like a covered pantry. Remember to tightly seal the container to prevent air or moisture from getting inside and shortening cumin's shelf life. Like other dried herbs and spices, cumin does not usually spoil, but rather loses potency and flavor over time. Smelling to see if the strong aroma is still there is one way to test potency.
  • Prepare: If buying whole cumin seeds, consider toasting for a few minutes to enhance flavor. Then grind with a mortar and pestle or even a coffee grinder. Move into an airtight container and keep in a dark, cool place.
  • Eat: Cumin adds depth to many savory dishes, such as chili, hummus, and roasted vegetables.


Chili Cornbread Casserole (Serves 8)

1 lb. lean ground beef
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1/2 cup green bell pepper, chopped
1 can (15 oz.) kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (14.5 oz.) no added salt diced tomatoes, drained
1 cup frozen corn
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp garlic powder

Cornbread Topping

1/2 cup yellow corn meal
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp baking powder
1 cup skim milk
1 egg or 1/4 cup egg substitute
1 Tbsp olive oil

1. Brown beef with onion and pepper until no longer pink. Add beans, tomatoes, corn, chili powder, cumin, and garlic powder. Simmer for 5 minutes.
2. In separate bowl, mix cornmeal, flour, sugar and baking powder. Combine milk, egg and oil and pour into flour mixture, stirring until just moistened.
3. Spread beef mixture into 8x8 baking dish. Then spread cornbread over top. Bake at 425ᵒF for about 10-12 minutes or until cornbread is browned.

Nutritional Information per serving: 280 calories, 7g fat, 170mg sodium, 35g carbohydrates, 5g dietary fiber, 19g protein
Source: Jenna Smith, Nutrition & Wellness Educator, 2012

Blog Special: Facebook LIVE on Diabetes Wed, 20 Mar 2019 10:00:00 +0000 It's March! And it's National Nutrition Month! To celebrate, join us at noon CST for mini discussions throughout the month on Facebook LIVE. Part 4 will talk about diabetes. If you miss the live event, watch the recording, and check back on this blog post for updates from viewer questions.  Thanks so much to our guest co-host Ginny Kerwin, registered dietitian with Joslin Diabetes Center in Decatur.
We are doing a Q&A session.  See two of the questions here.  Check into the live stream for answers to other questions, and ask your own!

What is A1c?

A1c and stands for hemoglobin A1C or glycated hemoglobin. It shows the amount of glucose attached to red blood cells and is a useful measure of average blood glucose over around 3 months.

If you have diabetes, who is another healthcare provider you may want to see besides your medical doctor?

Dentists, doctors specializing in eye or foot care, and dietitians are just some of the healthcare providers who help you manage and track your diabetes.

To learn more about National Nutrition Month, hosted by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics,

Silken Tofu Sun, 17 Mar 2019 09:00:00 +0000 For all the soybeans grown in Illinois, the Illinois Soybean Association notes, "Animal ag is the No. 1 customer for soybeans. Of the soybean meal fed in Illinois, pigs consume 74%, poultry 13%, and beef and dairy cattle 12%."

Soy foods, like tofu, soy nuts, and edamame, are also uses for soybeans. Simply, tofu is coagulated soy milk, similar to how dairy milk is coagulated to make cheese. America's Test Kitchen has a short video showing how to make tofu.

For this blog, I want to focus on silken tofu, a custard-like, soft tofu that works well in recipes from smoothies to creamy soups to custard-like foods, including cheesecake and mousse.


A half cup (of half-inch cubes) of silken tofu contains around 75 calories, 9g protein, 5g fat, 2g carbohydrates, and <1g fiber. Tofu contain vitamins and minerals, including folate, vitamin K, calcium, and magnesium. Calcium-based salts are often part of the process of coagulating soy milk into a solid mass of tofu, making tofu a source of calcium. Tofu is not a significant source of sodium.

  • Buy: Silken tofu is likely available packed in water in a refrigerator case. Your store might also carry shelf-stable tofu.
  • Price: Price will vary by brand and store. If multiple brands are available, pick one that fits your tastes and budget.
  • Store: Store unopened silken tofu in the refrigerator. Once opened, drain water and use tofu in your recipe. For any unused tofu, add to a container with fresh water, cover, and refrigerate. Remember to change the water every day, for up to 5 days.
  • Prepare: Silken tofu can be used directly out of the package.
  • Baking Substitution: In baked goods, try 1/4 cup of silken tofu (pureed smooth) in place of 1 egg.
  • Eat: Silken tofu has many recipe options. Try the strawberry-banana smoothie recipe at the end of this post. Try it in Creamy Pumpkin Curry Soup from NDSU Extension or in this Instant Chocolate Mousse recipe from University of Illinois Extension.


Strawberry-Banana Smoothie (Serves 1)

1/2 cup sliced strawberries (fresh or frozen) (approx. 5 strawberries)
Half a peeled banana, sliced (approx. 5 banana coins)
One quarter (of a 14- to 16-ounce container) of plain, silken tofu

1. Add strawberries, bananas, and tofu to a blender. Blend 1-2 minutes, or until mixture is smooth.

Note: For a thinner smoothie, add up to 1/4 cup of soy milk or dairy milk.

Nutrition Information per serving (calculated without adding milk): 130 calories, 4 total fat, (4g unsaturated fat), 0mg sodium, 21g carbohydrates, 3g dietary fiber, 7g protein

Blog Special: Facebook LIVE on Heart Health Wed, 13 Mar 2019 09:00:00 +0000 Due to technical difficulties, this event will be rescheduled to March 27.
It's March! And it's National Nutrition Month! To celebrate, join us at noon CST for mini discussions throughout the month on Facebook LIVE. Part 3 will talk about heart health. If you miss the live event, watch the recording, and check back on this blog post for updates from viewer questions.  Special thanks to dietetic intern Abby and Crossing Healthcare in Decatur for co-hosting with us.
There are 2 main discussions about food and heart health: fat and sodium.

Tip 1: Reduce sodium. There are so many lower-sodium products available now. You have to keep your eye out.

The American Heart Association lists its top 3 high-sodium foods as:

  1. Breads and rolls. Yeast breads are not salty tasting necessarily, but sodium is needed to make these foods.
  2. Second is pizza. Pizza has a bread-based crust, along with cheese, which is a high sodium food. Plus, if you like cured meats, like ham or pepperoni, this adds sodium too.
  3. Number three on the list is sandwiches. We are back to bread again on a sandwich. Plus the filling of a sandwich, which might be cured deli meat, cheese, or condiments like mustard and mayo.

Tip 2: Choose healthier fats. Research shows that some fats help reduce blood cholesterol, making those fats more heart-healthy. These types of fats are called "unsaturated" fats. Generally, they are liquid at room temperature. These would include liquid oils. In foods, we find unsaturated or "liquid" fats in foods like fatty fish like salmon, avocado, and nuts and seeds and nut butters. Tell us some of your favorite ways to eat unsaturated fats in the comments.

To learn more about National Nutrition Month, hosted by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics,

Blog Special: Facebook LIVE on Meal Makeovers Wed, 06 Mar 2019 10:00:00 +0000 It's March! And it's National Nutrition Month!  To celebrate, join us at noon CST for mini discussions throughout the month on Facebook LIVE. Part 2 will talk about using the MyPlate as a meal planning model and 4 ways to make your meals healthier.  If you miss the live event, watch the recording, and check back on this blog post for updates from viewer questions.

Tips for Meal Makeovers
  • Tip 1: Mix up food groups at meals and snacks. Try to eat 3-5 food groups at meals, and if you eat snacks, pick from 1-2 food groups. Remember to mix those up throughout the day. If you do not have a fruit at your morning meal, eat a fruit as a snack or at a meal later in the day.
  • Tip 2: Eat all forms of fruits and veggies. This includes fresh, canned, frozen, and dried. Fresh is great when it is in season. Canned and frozen are budget-friendly, and since they are packed close to the field where they are picked, retain their vitamins and minerals. Dried is a great travel food. Tell us in the comments what canned, frozen, or dried foods you like to keep in your kitchen!
  • Tip 3: Swap in whole-grains at least 50% of the time. Whole grains add more fiber than their refined grain counterparts do. Try brown rice instead of white rice. Quinoa and oatmeal are already whole-grains. Look for the words "whole grain" on mixed products, like breads and crackers.
  • Tip 4: Mix in plant-based proteins sometimes. Plate-based proteins include foods like nuts and seed, soy products like tofu, and beans. Plant-based proteins often have less fat than animal proteins. They also add extra fiber to your day. You might try peanut butter on your toast sometimes, instead of cream cheese. Or make a soup recipe that has both animal and plant proteins, like white chicken chili.

To learn more about National Nutrition Month, hosted by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics,