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Simply Nutritious, Quick and Delicious

Jenna Smith, Extension Educator brings you helpful tips to make meals easy, healthy and tasty!
Nutrition at School
Agua Fresca

Try Agua Fresca for your Cinco de Mayo Celebrations

This Saturday is Cinco de Mayo (fifth of May), and many will be celebrating Mexico's victory over the French forces with a "fiesta" full of Hispanic cuisine. With so many mouth-watering foods to choose from, including quesadillas, chips and guacamole, and churros, the food is easy to plan. However, it's the drinks, or should I say non-alcoholic drinks, that may have your head spinning on what t...

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Waffles

Making a Fluffy Waffle

The smell of a light and fluffy waffle cooking in a waffle iron is sure to wake anyone up in the morning. Waffle batter is made with flour, sugar, eggs, milk and a leavening agent, similar in make-up to a pancake. However, while a pancake is thin and spongy, a waffle is thicker and crisp on the outside but soft and airy on the inside. Waffles tend to have a bit more oil or butter, as well as su...

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PBandJ

PB&J: A perfect pair

The peanut butter and jelly sandwich, otherwise known as PB&J, is an all-American classic. It's a lunchbox staple for every kid and adult alike. It's the go-to entrée when the main meal didn't get planned or the back-up entree when the main meal fell apart. Aside from its mouthwatering taste, it's simplicity and ease is what makes this sandwich so great. The cool factor is that ever...

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blueberry oatmeal

A Hidden Gem in Your Cabinets

Today's blog post is written by Illinois State University graduate student and dietetic intern, Michael O'halloran! What if I told you that in your home, at this very moment, you likely have several antioxidant-dense foods hidden away? If you are thinking about your latest trip to the grocery store, the truth is that high antioxidant foods are right now hiding away in your spic...

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strawberry crepe

A Crepe for Your Valentine

This Valentine's Day, show your loved one they're loved by making them an elegant treat. A crepe only takes a few minutes to prepare, but due to it's French heritage, it signifies a sort of "sophisticated romance" feel. A crepe is essentially a very thin pancake. Made with flour, milk, oil, eggs, and salt, the batter is pureed in a blender, forming bubbles on top. It then needs a good r...

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melonbananaberry

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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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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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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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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French Toast Casserole

A Toast to Mom this Mothers Day

Each year leading up to Mother's Day I see numerous advertisements of local restaurants taking reservations for Mother's Day brunch. Many families take part in honoring their mother by treating her to a meal that she doesn't have to cook or clean up. Whether it's eating out with family and friends or served at home after sleeping in, your mother will be sure to enjoy the pampering. Brun...

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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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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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Apricot Almond Mueseli

All About That Fruit: Apricots!

Many people in the U.S. enjoy eating apricots, albeit its generally in the dried fruit form. But fresh apricots are equally delicious. Native to Asia, they are widely popular in the Middle Eastern countries with Turkey and Iran being the top producers. In the United States, California grows nearly 85% of all apricot production. Apricots range from a cream to a bright orange color. They...

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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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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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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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California Summer Wrap

Summer is for blueberries!

Plump and juicy blueberries are one of nature's best treats. The blueish purple fruit is grown on bushes and typically in season all summer long from April to late September but peaking in June and July. Blueberries are an excellent source of vitamin C and a good source of dietary fiber. They've repeatedly been ranked as having one of the highest amounts of antioxidants, natural substan...

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A Simple Sandwich Fav: Grilled Cheese

What was the first meal you ever learned to cook by yourself? Did it happen to be two slices of buttered bread with a slab of American cheese in between and toasted over a hot skillet? A grilled cheese sandwich is simple to make and scores high on a child's menu, but it's so gooey and comforting even adults can't turn it away. Simply start with two slices of whole wheat sliced bread. Sl...

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st-patricks-day-1452011236WEW

Luck of the Irish Potato

Many will celebrate St. Patrick's Day with Irish-inspired dishes like the classic corned beef and cabbage, but let's not forget the potatoes. Taters are a must on an Irish menu, whether it be in the form of shepherd's pie, colcoannon, champ, boxty, or hash. Not sure what any of those are? Don't worry; I'll get you up to speed! Shepherd's pie is traditionally a ground lamb filling with a...

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Polenta Steak Fries

Polenta: A Better Word for Mush

Serve it for breakfast or dinner; polenta is a versatile dish. But with its yellow tint and slight grit, it looks a lot like cornmeal and grits. So what's the difference? Cornmeal may be made from blue, white or yellow corn and ground into fine, medium or coarse textures. Cornmeal is the traditional ingredient in cornbread, but can be used in other dishes for texture and sweetness. Grit...

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whole wheat pancakes 2

A Hot Breakfast to Start Your Day

Weekday breakfasts' for working families may be a quick bowl of cereal, fruit and yogurt, or a granola bar on-the-go, but nothing beats a hot breakfast on a cold day. February is Hot Breakfast Month, a time to celebrate the wonderful warmth of eggs, pancakes, waffles, oatmeal and, of course, "b and g!" But a hot breakfast can be heavy and loaded with empty calories. What you need is a hearty bu...

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