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Know How, Know More

Connecting You with Your Food, Farmers and Community

Fat: Beyond the Basics

It's still February and American Heart Month.  This week in "Know How, Know More" it is time to explore fats and heart health. Therapeutic Lifestyle Change (TLC) Eating Plan Heart-healthy choices and managing blood markers of cholesterol can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), such as high cholesterol and stroke. Learn more ab...

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Sodium: Beyond the Basics

In this "Know How, Know More" series, decide how you want to learn, be it reading, watching, and sharing content about sodium and heart health. (February is American Heart Month, by the way.) The DASH Diet - Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension High blood pressure (or hypertension) increases risk of heart events, such as heart...

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Recipe Rehab: Healthier Soups

January is Soup Month, and a great time of year to warm up with a bowl of your favorite soup. Or try a new recipe this month. Many soups are packed with protein, veggies, and grains, making them a great one-pot meal option on a busy night. You can easily adapt your recipes to make a healthier soup too. 1. Choose reduced-sodium or salt-free broth or stocks. Broths and st...

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peanut butter pumpkin dip

Take a (Holiday) Dip

A great way to have a healthier holiday is to include fruits and vegetables, with their important vitamins, minerals, and fiber.  Any of these three dips would make a great addition to a potluck or holiday party. Thanks to the Mt. Zion District Library for hosting us for a hands-on class making dips for the holidays.  With an unexpected combination of ingredients, the Peanut Butter Pum...

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Unfamiliar Fruit: Pawpaw

Consider starting your blog reading today with the agriculture perspective about pawpaws - Pawpaws, a Native Fall Fruit Taste Delight – from our Small Farms educator, Doug Gucker. A fun thing about being a dietitian is learning about new foods. Pawpaws are certainly not a fruit I was fami...

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Sausage Soup

One Pot Meals

One-pot meals have been my favorite cooking method lately. Put it all in – protein, whole grains or starchy veggies, and non-starchy veggies – and dinner is served! I try to make one-pot recipes that are full meals in themselves. Occasionally, I decide to make one-pot dishes and add some crackers, apple slices, raw veggie sticks, or another quick addition on the side to complete the mea...

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Blender Salsa

Salsa in the summer? Yes please! I like salsa as part of my lunch during summer as a way of getting vegetables in my diet in a different way from my usual bell pepper slices. My trouble with jarred salsa I buy is that the sodium amount is higher than I would like. I also prefer my salsa less chunky than I can usually find in jars, or even sometimes as fresh salsa in the deli. So making...

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hola hoop chicken salad

No Cook Meals

In looking towards our next hands-on food program in May, enjoy a preview of the No Cook Meals class. If you want to join the in-person class, register at 217.877.6042 or online at by May 18. Going into summer, when the temperature outside goes higher and higher, cooking with your oven or stove can make...

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MSW 2017 SS Challenge Logo

Savvy Savers - Money Smart Week

April hosts " Money Smart Week " (MSW) from April 22-29, an event started by Chicago-area agencies to bring awareness to money and finances. University of Illinois Extension holds events around the state to assist in this campaign, so look in your area. In DeWitt, Macon, and Piatt counties, take on the Savvy Savers Food Challenge! Downl...

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spanish omelet

5 Ingredient Fix

In looking towards our next hands-on food program in March, enjoy a preview of the 5 Ingredient Fix class. Recipes with five ingredients or less help you save money, spend less time preparing and cooking meals, and, in some cases, use a fewer number of dishes. These recipes do have limits on flavors, since few ingredients are used. Register today at 217.877.6042 or online at...

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Freezer Stir Fry

Freezer Meals - Made at Home

Have you noticed more hands-on food programming in UI Extension? I have been working to developing programs that involve participants in their learning in a new way. While several hands-on programs have been active, the freezer meal class was a new one. Thanks to our participants who made a freezer meal to take home. If you are familiar with freezer meals, think of taking out a frozen e...

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Drying Apples

This summer has been focused on freezing and dehydration programs, as part of our line of food preservation classes from UI Extension. The National Center for Home Food Preservation is a great resource for information on freezing and drying foods. If you still have summer crops giving their last, consider drying those for use in recipe...

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Salsa by Three

So many things make us feel summer. The heat of course, but all the different fresh fruits and vegetables you taste…ah, it is summer! In all the heat, salsa is a refreshing snack option, an addition to a recipe, and a way to use up extra ingredients. It is probably not a surprise that salsa has its own variations, and not all of them include tomatoes. Salsas can help you get in...

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Drying Tomatoes

The next line of food preservation classes from UI Extension are on freezing and dehydration. The National Center for Home Food Preservation is a great resource for information on freezing and drying foods. Past years, the focus has been on home canning. This summer is about preserving fruits and veggies in other ways. And sampling som...

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Simple Summer Kitchen

With so much produce growing in summer, this is a great time to enjoy the warmer weather, savor flavors, and keep recipes simple. The tastes of all those summer fruits and veggies will do most of the work in making your recipes shine. I recently taught the "Your Diet, Your Decade" class, designed to highlight nutrition needs across different age groups. Our 60+ year young crowd prepared...

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Burgers: Summer Cooking

Did you clean your grill for the season? If not, get to it soon. (Or maybe your oven needs cleaning.) It is National Hamburger Month! 3 Tips for Food Safety 1. Cook to Temperature. Hamb...

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Simple Sauces

Our unit's do-it-yourself (DIY) series has come to a close. So many classes, so many great activities, and in the case of classes I taught, so many recipes! The last in the series was making sauces – cheese sauce, barbecue, and tomato. Food Sciences and Sauces Rouxes and slurries are starting points for thickened sauces....

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Make it at Home: Sauerkraut

Our unit's do-it-yourself (DIY) series is still going strong. I am excited to report a successful sauerkraut class. Everyone was excited to get their hands in the cabbage and work together. There are still more classes in the series, so c heck out our remaining classes . What is...

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Winter Citrus

Happy New Year and welcome to 2016! I hope you will make this a healthy year – continuing the positive choices you already make and adding in new healthy habits. Winter brings a lot of different citrus fruits to grocery store shelves. Stocked with more oranges and grapefruits than usual, maybe you have noticed other interesting citrus as well: clementines, tangerines, mandarins, tangelo...

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Freezing - Mary Liz
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Freezing Fall Foods

If you are waiting on some fall crops to harvest or are able to find a great batch of seasonal fruits and veggies in your local stores, consider freezing them at home for longer storage. After a while, fresh produce eventually becomes soft, mushy, and will not be enjoyable to eat or use in recipes. Freezing can extend the shelf life of your foods and give you a nutritious option when fr...

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squash pile

Winter Squash: Not Just for Decorating

Not too long ago, the only winter squash that most people were familiar with were butternut, acorn, and spaghetti squash-- and of course Jack-O'Lantern pumpkins for Halloween. Today, a glance at even your average local grocery store or garden center is likely to reveal a wide variety of unfamiliar shapes, sizes and colors of winter squash. If you are a gardener, you may have noticed cat...

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Cold Storage: Fruits and Veggies

That bag of green beans was pretty wrinkled, and the container of kale started turning brown at the edges and had a strong smell. I forgot about these sitting in my refrigerator. Whoops! I certainly did not eat these in the state they were in (decomposing). As the season of bounty in gardens and farmer's markets slows, take a moment to reflect on fresh fruit and vegetable storage.  Plan...

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Crisp recipe

Celebrating Tomatoes with Dessert

This week, our office celebrated 10 years of the annual Tomato Taste Panel. Each year, participants get to sample multiple varieties of tomatoes, including some heirlooms.  Not only is tasting a must at this event, but many participants get ideas for tomatoes they want to grow. While sampling tomatoes raw off toothpicks is one way to eat them, many of us enjoy tomatoes combined with oth...

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Illinois Summer Complete with Corn

You cannot miss it, the fields upon fields of Illinois corn growing tall (and taller). With those packed acres and so many Illinois towns having corn festivals, it is time to talk corn. Vegetable or Grain? Corn is grown as a cereal grain, like wheat, rice, or barley. The current food guide – the...

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Another reason to love daylilies

Recently I presented a program with a colleague about using edibles in the landscape. Eating out of your landscape can challenge your definition of "ornamental" versus "edible" plant. One of my favorite ways is to use plants traditionally relegated to the vegetable garden as members of the flower or ornamental garden. Many vegetable plants are attractive in their own right; we j...

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