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Simply Nutritious, Quick and Delicious

Jenna Smith, Extension Educator brings you helpful tips to make meals easy, healthy and tasty!
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Pasta Salad Eat

The Diversity of Pasta Salad

The school year has come to a close, which means now is the perfect time for picnics and barbeques. This kickoff to the unofficial start of the summer is also the debut of summer foods, including the ever-loving pasta salad. The best part about pasta salad is its diversity. Do you want a creamy white dressing or a vinaigrette? Olives or no olives? Meat or no meat? Cheese or no cheese? Macaroni,...

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Tired of the Same Foods? Try Jicama!

Jicama (pronounced Hee-kah-ma) may also be referred to as a Mexican Turnip. Native to Latin America, this vegetable is the root of a plant that produces seeds or "beans." However, these beans are not for eating. Other than the flesh of the jicama, the stems, leaves and seeds are toxic, which naturally wards off hungry insects. Peel the thick, brown skin with a sharp knife to get to the white fl...

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cottage cheese

What are Curds and Whey?

"Little Miss Muffet sat on her tuffet, eating her curds and whey…" Wait. What are curds and whey? If you answered cottage cheese, you're right. The curd is the lumps and the whey is the liquid. While it may not sound very appetizing, cottage cheese has some health benefits to consider. Cottage cheese starts out with pasteurized nonfat milk. Cultures and enzymes are added, which starts t...

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tomatillo MGD©

Are Tomatillos Tomatoes?

When Cinco de Mayo rolls around, the cravings of Mexican cuisine are in full force. Tomatillos are a staple in Mexican cooking, bringing a zesty tart flavor to many classic dishes. Despite the meaning of the name (tomatillo means "little tomato" in Spanish), tomatillos are not tomatoes, but rather a member of the solanaceae , or nightshade family. However, they are relatives of...

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Capers

The Bold Flavor of Capers

Power to the flower. Capers may not look like a beautiful flower, but they are in fact the flower buds of the wild bush, Capparis spinosa. They're actually picked before they bloom into white or pink flowers. Like olives, the caper bush is native to the Mediterranean region, and thus capers are a common ingredient in Mediterranean cuisine. Picked off the bush, capers are extrem...

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Pass the Peas, Please

Springtime is the perfect time to enjoy fresh peas. Experience the flavors of the three most common type of peas: English peas (also called garden or sweet peas), snow peas, and snap peas. The pods of English peas are firm and rounded. The little round green peas inside need to be removed and the pod discarded. The peas are sweet and can be eaten raw or cooked. Most store-bought peas th...

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What Exactly is Imitation Crab?

The fresh crab selection in Illinois is dismal. Head to the coast of Alaska, and you may have better luck finding this delectable species of seafood. However, the United States is still the largest importer of crab. That's no surprise as over 90% of the seafood consumed in the U.S. is imported from other countries, and due to its limited local availability, it comes with a hefty price tag....

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It's Morel Mushroom Time!

Morels are the mushroom hunter's prey. Depending on the weather and location, the first Illinois morels of the season may begin to appear in late March to early April and generally ends in May. Morels are difficult to cultivate, thus are generally gathered in the wild rather than farmed. It may be rare to find them in stores or even on a restaurant menu, and when you do, be prepared to pay a he...

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brussels-sprouts

A New Way to Fry

If you're a kitchen gadget guru, or just a person who wants to put quick, delicious meals on the table, you must be in love with all the new modern kitchen gadgets and appliances on the market. The air fryer is just one of the ways you can enjoy delicious food with a little help from modern science. The air fryer was first released in 2010 where it got it's start in Europe and Australia...

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The Bright Colors of Bell Peppers

While it may not feel like it now, spring is just around the corner. The avid gardener is already thinking about what type of produce they will plant in the garden. Bell peppers are a given for many, but what color? Mature bell peppers can be red, orange, yellow or green. However, all peppers start out green before turning color as they mature. The rate at which they will turn color and...

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Ramen Bowl

Grab a Spork for Ramen Noodles

Ramen noodles: You are so much more than the rectangular block of noodles and seasoning packet that lay in most college dorm rooms, waiting to be microwaved and eaten. You deserve the accolades that come with being the rich, intricate bowl of goodness that you are. Ramen is a noodle soup that originated in China and replicated in Japan. It consists of Chinese wheat noodles served in a f...

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Spiced Beef and Cabbage

Turmeric: A Trendy Spice

Used for more than 5,000 years, turmeric is native to Southern Asia and known as a major ingredient in curry recipes. This spice has been trending from food magazines to talk shows to social media, but what's all the buzz about? Turmeric is a member of the same family as ginger and cardamom. Like ginger, turmeric is grown for it's rhizomes, which are the edible root structure grown unde...

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matcha tea

Experience the Benefits of Matcha Tea

A few months ago, I had the privilege of participating in a traditional Japanese tea ceremony. It was a unique opportunity to gain new perspectives and an understanding of diverse cultures, but I must say, I particularly enjoyed the moment of quietude. It was here that I had my first sip (and slurps) of matcha tea. Like all teas, excluding herbal teas, matcha comes from the Camellia...

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Preparing the Meal for Thanksgiving

If it's your turn to host the family holiday dinner, you hopefully have your game plan ready. There's a lot to consider, including whether or not you have the space: dining table space, burner/oven space and refrigerator space. Not to mention, what foods you are going to prepare and what foods you want others to prepare. No one wants to be working hard over a hot stove while everyone else is mi...

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Is Agave Nectar a Healthier Alternative to Sugar?

Even most children can tell you that excess sugar isn't healthy, unless of course they are bargaining for just one more piece of Halloween candy! A high sugar diet may lead to cavities and obesity and in turn, influence diabetes and heart disease. This may have you thinking about alternative ways to sweeten foods, such as agave nectar. Agave nectar isn't truly a nectar, but rather a syr...

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sauerkraut

Shout for Sauerkraut!

Sauerkraut is the German word for "sour cabbage" and is most notably known for it's use in German-inspired dishes. However, it actually originated in China and has now become one of the most well known fermented products on the market. Sauerkraut is shredded cabbage that has been fermented to impart a tangy-tart flavor while preserving the cabbage for longer storage tim...

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Turnip Fries

Root for the Turnip!

Autumn is an ideal time to savor the flavors of root vegetables, including turnips. Turnips belong to the cabbage family, and most often resemble their cousins, rutabaga and kohlrabi . They have a mild flavor and texture like potatoes, thus are delicious boiled and mashed or oven roasted. They're also ideal for soups, ste...

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Ratatouille, the Food not the Movie

Sadly, only one in ten American adults meet the recommended amount of fruits (1 ½ - 2 cups) and vegetables (2 – 3 cups) each day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If you sheepishly think to yourself that this is you, start the autumn season off with a healthy start and a hearty bowl of ratatouille. Ratatouille is a French stew packed with vegetables, includin...

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coffeefrenchpress

Cold Brew is the New Cool

Do you remember when you used to order a coffee and you received just that: a cup of steaming hot coffee? Now you order a coffee and they ask "hot or cold?" Cold coffee and coffee beverages have jumped into the coffee arena at full speed, particularly with the introduction of cold brew coffee. Cold brew coffee is different from iced coffee. Iced coffee is brewed with hot water, in the s...

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Figuring Out Food Allergies

Fixing foods for other children is not just about choosing yummy kid-friendly foods anymore. We now need to think about the possibility of children having food allergies. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in thirteen children have at least one food allergy. If you think this number has grown, you're right. Between 1997 and 2011, the prevalence of food allergies in...

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mulberry sauce

Is it Ketchup or Catsup?

Whether you spell it catsup or ketchup, you've likely squirted this popular condiment on a variety of foods. The first documentation of the product dated back to the 1600's when Europeans brought back the sauce from China. However, this wasn't the ketchup we know today. In fact, it was derived from fermented fish and lacked the main ingredient that makes this red condiment a crowd-pleaser: the...

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Smoothie

An Appreciation for Currants

Sadly, currants do not seem to get the respect and admiration that they deserve. However, in Europe, their love for currants is like our love for blackberries or raspberries. In fact, the purple candy in a bag of Skittles® is flavored grape in the U.S., but tastes like black currant in the U.K. Why is there a resistance to loving this berry, you ask? Years ago, a federal ban prohibi...

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Stuffed Sweet Potato

When Summer turns to Fall, Sweet Potatoes are a Treat for All!

This blog post is written by University of Illinois Extension intern, Amanda Dieugenio. Amanda is a student at Illinois State University! As summer comes to a close, (I know, what a bummer!) it is time to start welcoming that fall weather, and along with it, some healthy new fall-inspired recipes! Today, we are going to focus on the sweet potato. Within the United State...

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Chocolate Banana PB Oats
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Making the Grade at Mealtime

For most children, the first few days of August is a reminder that it's soon time to head back to school. However, the start of school can also be the start of stress with hectic schedules to keep track of. Putting a healthy meal in the kids' bellies is just another thing to add to the growing list of things to do. Here's a few tips to help you manage the load and make back to school time a bre...

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Make Your Own Pickles

What makes a really good sandwich? A cool, crisp, slightly sour dill pickle on the side, of course! There are many types of pickles on the market, including bread and butter, kosher dill and gherkins. Whatever your preferred pickle, you can learn to make these salty green snacks in your own home. There are four types of pickled products: Brined/fermented, fresh pack pickles, fruit pickl...

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