Turnip the Beet! Nutrition and Wellness Timely news, information, and innovative ideas to promote health and influence change. Sun, 15 May 2005 13:02:08 -0500 https://web.extension.illinois.edu/hmrs/eb327/rss.xml Make the Most of Your Oats https://web.extension.illinois.edu/hmrs/eb327/entry_13653/ Fri, 26 Oct 2018 11:19:00 +0000 https://web.extension.illinois.edu/hmrs/eb327/entry_13653/ Oats can be found in many cultural dishes such as Scotland's haggis and Muesli from the Swiss. Oats have been a popular addition to many recipes and a staple food source for centuries (printable recipes below).

Oats are an extremely versatile whole grain and can be added to many recipes from breakfast to beverages. Here are some of my favorite applications for oats:

  • As oatmeal- stove-top and overnight
  • As an addition to fruit smoothies
  • As a meat extender
  • As a thickener in stews
  • As a topping for yogurt and desserts
  • Non-food related uses: bath soak and face masks

Types of Oats

There are many types of oats that can be found at the grocery store. The nutritional value is similar between all the types but the fiber will be slightly lower in the quick variety. Quick oats tend to have more added sugar so make sure you check the label.

Oat Groats- all oat products start off as groats then they're processed. The groats contain all grain components- bran, germ, endosperm. These will take the longest to cook (over an hour).

Steel-cut oats- oat groats that have been cut into two or three pieces with a sharp metal blade. This variety takes about 15-20 minutes to cook on the stovetop.

Scottish Oats- the oat groats are stone ground, rather than rolled. This creates a creamy bowl of oatmeal and will take about 10-12 minutes to cook.

Rolled (old-fashioned) Oats- oat groats that are steamed and then rolled into flakes. Rolled oats take about 5 minutes to cook on the stovetop.

Quick (instant) Oats- oat groats have been steamed longer and rolled thinner than their old fashioned counterpart.

Oat flour- finely ground oats groats. Make your own at home by pulsing oat groats, steel-cut, Scottish or rolled oats in a food processor.

Since oatmeal is my #1 preferred way to eat oats, I want to share 5 of my go-to recipes for a satisfying way to start your day whether you have 5 minutes or 30. Check the ingredient lists to see what type of oat is recommended in each recipe.

Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal- it wouldn't be October without a little pumpkin! This recipe can be baked in the toaster oven but allow 20 min for bake time. You can be eating in 30 min.

Blueberry and Chia Overnight Oats- this is my favorite overnight oats recipe since I always have an abundance of frozen blueberries and blueberry jam. The great thing is you make it the night before so in the morning you just grab and go!

Savory Oats- this ultra-satisfying recipe is a twist on the usually sweet oatmeal dish. You can mix-and-match different savory ingredients such as egg, avocado, goat cheese, green onion, hot sauce and herbs. All of those ingredients would probably end up in my bowl.

Golden Oats- This an adaptation of a smoothie recipe I normally make but I wanted to try it in oatmeal form. You start by simmering your oats in coconut milk and turmeric so the oats take on a golden hue. You'll have to click the link to find out more!

PB&J Oats- this is a classic combination that tastes divine swirled into a warm bowl of oats. I personally like to use Scottish oats for this one but steel-cut or rolled would work as well.

Want more breakfast ideas? Check out these recipes!

September is Fruits and Veggies- More Matters Month https://web.extension.illinois.edu/hmrs/eb327/entry_13580/ Tue, 11 Sep 2018 11:08:00 +0000 https://web.extension.illinois.edu/hmrs/eb327/entry_13580/ With cooler temps moving in I have been itching to make pumpkin everything, homemade breads, soups and apple cider doughnuts. I love all of the fall flavors and visiting my local farmers' market to pick out seasonal produce to experiment with. I was at the market last weekend and bought some squash, mums, leeks and potatoes. You might be surprised by what you find, I always find something new that I haven't tried before or at least a new way of preparing the fruits and vegetables I'm used to. While picking out my squash I struck up a conversation with the woman next to me who happened to be chef at a local restaurant. She gave me some great cooking tips and encouraged me to try patty pan squash (yellow vegetable pictured above) because the skin and seeds are edible making it a great snack. I did and it was delicious!

If you're planning a trip soon to your local farmers' market, here is a list of some fruits and vegetables to keep an eye out for. If there are any you haven't tried yet, don't be shy to ask the farmer how he/she likes to prepare it. Sometimes they'll even have recipes you can take home.

Fall Finds in Illinois:







Brussels Sprouts








Celeriac/Celery Root














Green beans

Shelling beans

Green onions


Greens of all kinds


Herbs of all kinds






Fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables and make them the focal point of each meal. This will help you reach the recommended amount each day. So how much do we actually need? Read more about fruit and vegetable recommendations, recipes, quizzes and activities at www.choosemyplate.gov.

Also, check out these links for budget-friendly ideas and a pledge to keep you on track with your fruit and vegetable goals:

30 Ways in 30 Days to Stretch Your Food Budget (printable PDF)

Join America's Pledge to Eat More Fruits and Vegetables Every Day!

Getting Kids in the Kitchen, Developing Healthy Lifestyles https://web.extension.illinois.edu/hmrs/eb327/entry_13537/ Thu, 16 Aug 2018 10:05:00 +0000 https://web.extension.illinois.edu/hmrs/eb327/entry_13537/ When I was a child, I loved running errands with my mom. I especially loved going to the grocery store and picking out colorful produce and other staples we needed for the week. I would wander through the produce section eagerly anticipating a new fruit or vegetable sample. I'll never forget the day I tried star fruit for the first time; amazed that a plant could produce something so beautiful and sweet.

At home I enjoyed helping with meal preparations and remember wanting to whisk eggs just like my dad. He was so fast and made the best scrambled eggs. I probably made a mess but after some practice I was finally able to keep most of the eggs in the dish. Silly memories as they may be, my story is an example of the importance of getting kids in the kitchen.

Involving your children in the cooking and shopping experience will help them build valuable skills and learn the importance of their food choices as they get older. Talk about what you're eating and why you enjoy eating healthy foods. The skills I learned at a young age formed the foundation for a path that has brought me so much happiness- being able to help others develop these same skills and build healthy habits for years to come.

Cooking with your kids or grandkids is a great bonding activity but to avoid any stress, pick recipes that are kid-friendly and start slowly. Once they master the basics, give them more advanced tasks.

Here are some examples of how you can get your kids in the kitchen.

2-year-olds can:

  • Wipe tabletops
  • Wash fruits and vegetables
  • Tear lettuce or greens
  • Break cauliflower or broccoli into pieces
  • Carry ingredients from one place to another

3-year-olds can:

  • Knead and shape dough
  • Mix or pour ingredients
  • Shake liquids in a covered container to mix them
  • Apply soft spreads
  • Put things in the trash

4-year-olds can:

  • Peel oranges or hard-boiled eggs
  • Mash bananas or cooked beans with a fork
  • Cut parsley and green onions with kid-safe scissors
  • Set the table

5 to 6-year-olds can:

  • Measure ingredients
  • Use an egg beater

Let them be creative. For a healthy snack, let them choose what they want to create from a selection of colorful and nutrient-rich ingredients.

Start with:

  • A new kind of bread (whole grain or rye)
  • Whole grain crackers
  • Small bagels
  • Small pieces of whole-wheat pita bread

Spreads could include:

  • Fat-free or low-fat cream cheese or cheese spread
  • All natural peanut butter
  • Bean dip
  • Jelly with no sugar added

Toppings could include:

  • Slices of apple or banana
  • Dried fruit
  • Strawberries
  • Chopped vegetables
  • Spiralized zucchini

Getting your kids to model these healthy behaviors may take some time and they may need to see you modeling a behavior several times before they start copying it. Even if they don't remember specific behaviors, they will learn from the overall pattern of what you do. Encourage them to use their sensory tasting words and have fun!


Source: The Department of Health and Human Services

Stay Hydrated with Water-Rich Foods https://web.extension.illinois.edu/hmrs/eb327/entry_13448/ Fri, 22 Jun 2018 08:44:00 +0000 https://web.extension.illinois.edu/hmrs/eb327/entry_13448/ What on Earth would we do without a liquid supply of water? It would be impossible to exist since 60% of our bodies are made up of water (more or less depending on your age and body fat percentage).

Water is essential for so many bodily functions including:

  • Cell growth, reproduction and survival
  • Saliva formation
  • Digestion
  • Oxygen and nutrient transportation
  • Waste removal
  • Joint lubrication
  • Body temperature regulation

Each day we must consume a certain amount. The Food and Nutrition Board recommends 3.7 liters (125 ounces) for men and 2.7 liters (91 ounces) for women per day. This can come from foods and beverages.

Remember, many people don't feel thirsty until they're already dehydrated so thirst isn't always a reliable indicator of the body's need for water.

You need more water when you are in hot climates, more physically active, running a fever, or having diarrhea or vomiting. Water is the best beverage to hydrate. Try to limit drinks high in caffeine such as: energy drinks, coffee, tea, and soda which can affect your heart. Alcohol causes dehydration and increases the risk of heat illness.

If you find it difficult to drink enough water each day try incorporating more water-logged fruits and vegetables into your diet. Did you know vegetables typically contain more water than other foods including fruit? They are often over 90% water by weight; another great reason to eat your vegetables!

Here is a short list of fruits and vegetables with high water content so you can stay hydrated for all your summer activities:

Vegetables (% water):

  • Cucumbers (96.7%)
  • Lettuce (95.6%)
  • Celery (95.4%)
  • Radishes (95.3%)
  • Zucchini and Squash (94.8%)
  • Tomatoes (94.5%)
  • Bell Peppers (93.9%)
  • Asparagus (93.2%)

Fruits (% water):

  • Grapefruit (91.6%)
  • Watermelon (91.5%)
  • Strawberries (91%)
  • Cantaloupe (90.2%)
  • Lemons (89%)
  • Peaches (88.9%)
  • Nectarines (87.6%)
  • Pineapples (87.2%)

You might be wondering just how much water you'll get if you eat some of these fruits and vegetables. On average, 1 cup of the fruits and vegetables listed (chopped or sliced) will yield .5 cups of water. In addition, you'll be getting lots of fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals to keep you feeling fresh and at your best.

Don't worry, eating the recommended servings of fruit and vegetables can still be affordable. The Economic Research Service (using 2013 retail scanner data from Information Resources, Inc.) shows that a person on a 2,000 calorie diet can meet their needs for about $2.10 to $2.60 per day. This includes produce from a variety of sources- fresh, canned and frozen.

Stay hydrated this summer by choosing water-rich foods in addition to your beverages and watch for signs of dehydration:

Infant or young child
• Dry mouth and tongue
• No tears when crying
• No wet diapers for three hours
• Sunken eyes, cheeks
• Sunken soft spot on top of the skull
• Listlessness or irritability

• Extreme thirst
• Less frequent urination
• Dark-colored urine
• Fatigue
• Dizziness
• Confusion

Thousands have lived without love, not one without water.
― W. H. Auden


6 Healthy Energy Boosting Options

The Low-Down on High-Energy Drinks

Photo by Juja Han on Unsplash
Go Med this May https://web.extension.illinois.edu/hmrs/eb327/entry_13371/ Tue, 15 May 2018 11:28:00 +0000 https://web.extension.illinois.edu/hmrs/eb327/entry_13371/ Dietary patterns can help predict health later in life. Instead of saying 'diet' I like to use the term 'eating pattern' which refers to the quantities, proportions, variety or combinations of different foods and beverages that are habitually consumed over a long period of time.

The Mediterranean eating pattern is associated with a lower incidence of mortality from all causes in addition to a lower incidence of cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, certain types of cancer and neurodegenerative diseases. There are also positive associations with blood pressure, cholesterol, inflammatory markers and body mass index.

Mediterranean All-Stars- add these nutritional powerhouses to your meals more often.

  • Healthy Fats- this includes olive oil and avocados (monounsaturated fats) as well as nuts, nut butters and seeds (polyunsaturated fats).
  • Fish/seafood- a good goal is to eat fish twice a week to reach your omega-3 fat needs for heart health benefits. Good options include salmon, sardines, mackerel, herring, mussels, clams, oysters and shrimp.
  • Yogurt- look for Greek yogurt which delivers twice the protein of regular yogurt and can be used in place of butter, cream cheese, sour cream and oil in your favorite recipes.
  • Beans- a great source of protein and fiber, swap beans for meat a couple times a week for meatless meals.
  • Whole Grains- swap out white rice and pasta for nutrient-rich grains like farro, barley, bulgur and quinoa. They can be used in salads, stir-fry, soups and wraps. Since these are unrefined, you will be getting healthy fats, B vitamins, minerals, fiber and protein.
  • Vegetables- vary your veggies and eat a variety of colors. Instead of chips and dip try this Mediterranean inspired dip with raw vegetable strips for dipping.

Mediterranean Dip (PDF Version)

  • 17 oz. family size container classic hummus (or 2 smaller containers)
  • 5.3 oz. container Greek yogurt, plain (smaller individual serving)
  • 4 oz. container or 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled or cubed
  • 1 chopped and diced tomato
  • 1 cucumber, deseeded, diced
  • ¼ cup Kalamata olives cut in half
  • ¼ cup chopped red onion
  • 1 T. fresh or dried herbs (basil, thyme, dill, oregano)
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. freshly cracked ground black pepper
  • Dash of salt (optional)


In a small bowl, stir together hummus and Greek yogurt until well mixed. Transfer mixture to a serving platter. Spread mixture out, top with tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion and olives. Season with fresh or dried herbs, fresh cracked pepper and salt if using. Adjust seasonings according to taste. Drizzle with olive oil. Serve with carrot coins, celery, bell pepper strips, pretzels or pita bread.

Yield: 10 servings

Nutritional analysis per serving: (dip portion only) 81 Calories, 4.4 g fat, 4 mg cholesterol, 119 mg sodium, 6 g carbohydrate, 5.3 g protein, 1 g fiber (for more fiber, serve with whole grain pita bread and raw veggies)

Recipe adapted from: Susan Glassman, nutrition and wellness educator serving Bureau, LaSalle, Marshall and Putnam Counties.

Have You Had Your Green Today? https://web.extension.illinois.edu/hmrs/eb327/entry_13326/ Fri, 20 Apr 2018 11:31:00 +0000 https://web.extension.illinois.edu/hmrs/eb327/entry_13326/ Green is the color of spring, rebirth, renewal and represents balance and growth. If you're eating with the seasons it's time to focus on the green and restore your energy levels.

Greens are in season! Spring is peak season so pick some up at your local market or grocer. You can even grow some yourself in a matter of weeks. Leafy greens are versatile and can be cooked or eaten raw. They range in flavors from sweet to peppery and have many culinary uses. Try one of these today:

  • Collards*
  • Chard*
  • Arugula
  • Escarole*
  • Kale
  • Turnip and beet greens*
  • Spinach
  • Watercress

*Best when cooked (sautéed, braised, steamed, etc.). Young chard can be eaten raw in salads but mature chard will taste better when cooked. Sauté these greens with oil and garlic and a splash of lemon.

Since spring greens are packed with flavor, it's a good idea to dress your greens and not smother them.

Check out these simple Homemade Vinaigrettes (PDF Version)

Making your own vinaigrette is an easy way to add life to your salads. They can be sweet, savory, spicy and even warm or cold. For salad ingredients with a stronger flavor such as spicy greens, bacon, and eggs choose a vinaigrette that can stand up to those bold notes with an equally savory flavor (#1). For mild salad ingredients such as sweet lettuces and fruits choose vinaigrette that will complement them and not overpower (#2). Below are three examples to get you started.

1.4 Tbs extra virgin olive oil + 1 Tbs Dijon mustard + 2 Tbs red wine vinegar + 1/2 lemon, juiced + 2 Tbs chives, minced + 2 Tbs shallots, minced — (SAVORY)

2.1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil + 1/2 lemon, juiced + 2 Tbs honey + 1/4 cup fresh herbs, minced (ex: basil, parsley, oregano, chives) + salt and pepper to taste — (SWEET)

3.1 garlic clove, minced + 1 Tbs ginger, grated + 3 Tbs rice wine vinegar + 3 Tbs sesame oil + 3 Tbs low-sodium soy sauce + 1 Tbs scallion, chopped + 1 Tbs honey or orange juice — (ASIAN-INSPIRED)

Greens are NUTRIENT DENSE which means you can eat several bowls and get LOTS of nutrients but not many calories (5-40 calories per cup). Dark green leafy vegetables are rock stars when it comes to nutrition. They top the charts in:

  • Vitamins A, C, K
  • Fiber
  • Magnesium
  • Calcium
  • Potassium

Greens are also high in phytochemicals such as lutein which help protect the eyes from age-related macular degeneration.

How much should we get? The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend eating 1.5 cups each week so eat them often!

I eat something green every day. If I don't have a salad at lunch, I will most likely have one with dinner. They are digestive aids and keep my tummy happy.



You may also like this recipe- Honey, Greens and Goat Cheese Pizza

*Greens have a high vitamin K content. Large amounts may interfere with the effects of blood thinners like warfarin. Anyone taking these medications should consult with a doctor or registered dietitian nutritionist

Food Rescue at Home https://web.extension.illinois.edu/hmrs/eb327/entry_13210/ Tue, 27 Feb 2018 13:00:00 +0000 https://web.extension.illinois.edu/hmrs/eb327/entry_13210/ As we head into the month of March, let's all pause and reflect on our eating habits because after all, March is National Nutrition Month and a great time to reevaluate what is on our plates.

More importantly let's pay special attention to what we are scraping off our plates into the trash. It is estimated that 90 billion pounds of food is thrown away each year either at home or when eating out.

Did you know the average family loses $1,500 every year on wasted food? All of this waste adds up. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service, the U.S. spends more than $162 billion to grow, process and transport food that goes uneaten. Wasted food not only costs you money, it is also harmful to the environment as it decays in landfills.

The theme for National Nutrition Month this year is "Go Further With Food" with an aim to help families find ways to reduce waste at home while choosing healthy foods and staying active.

There are many things you can do but first, you may be interested to know how much is actually being thrown away in your household. It is easy to track waste at home with either a scale or measuring cup. At the end of the week, add up your totals and pay attention to trends in food waste. Maybe it was forgotten in the depths of the refrigerator or you accidentally bought too much leading to unintended waste. Download this Food Waste Challenge worksheet so you can track and measure your food rescue efforts over 4 weeks.

If we are to reach the U.S. Food Loss and Waste Reduction Goal (50% reduction in food waste) by 2030, we'll need everyone's commitment. Here are some tips to get you started:

1. Understand Date Labels- food packages will have a "best if used by" or "sell by" date. These don't necessarily mean they should be thrown away but their quality is best before this date. In many cases, they are safe to eat beyond the date listed as long as they were stored properly.

2. Make a Plan- try not to buy more than you need. Creating a weekly meal plan will help you stay focused when grocery shopping and avoid buying unnecessary items. If you're cooking for just 1 or 2, consider buying smaller portions and recycle any additional packaging as a result.

3. Get Creative with Leftovers- ½ an avocado and random vegetables hanging out in your fridge? Re-purpose the vegetables in an omelet or stir-fry and use the avocado as a sandwich spread or in a nourishing face mask. There are plenty of non-edible uses for food scraps like sugar-coffee body scrub (with spent coffee grounds) and combining citrus peels with vinegar for a refreshing counter cleaner. Also, avoid ordering large meals when dining out if you don't intend to eat the leftovers later. Share something instead! Poll- How Do You Handle Leftovers?

4. Compost food scraps- University of Illinois Extension's website, Composting Central, has lots of great resources for you to learn everything you need to know about composting at home.

5. Donate surplus foods to a local food pantry- if you have a extra shelf-stable foods or even surplus prepared foods from an event, check with your local food pantries and meal sites to see if they will take your food donations and days/times that they except donations. Worried about potential liability issues? The Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act protects good faith food donors from civil and criminal liability. This includes: individuals, corporations, partnerships, organizations, associations, governmental entities, wholesalers, retailers, restaurateurs, caterers, farmers, gleaners, nonprofit agencies, and more.

What will you do to divert food from the landfill this month? For more resources and ideas on how you can rescue food at home, contact the Milan Extension office at 309-756-9978.