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Simply Nutritious, Quick and Delicious

Jenna Smith, Extension Educator brings you helpful tips to make meals easy, healthy and tasty!
Healthy Snacks
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Holy Guacamole!

Is there really anything better than guacamole? It's a test to one's self-restraint to not eat the whole bowl of dip in one sitting. This mouth-watering avocado based dip is a healthy snack when eaten in moderation. Occasionally called by it's nickname, "guac," it's made by mashing avocados with salt and adding traditional ingredients, such as tomatoes, garlic, onion and lime juice. It'...

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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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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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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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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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cherry tomatoes

Is it a Grape or Cherry Tomato?

Spring has finally arrived and what better time than now to talk tomatoes? Tomatoes come in all different sizes and shapes, but in my house, it's the bite-size tomatoes, including grape and cherry, that are eaten as if they were candy. Although, you may be wondering what the difference is. Grape and cherry tomatoes are actually from the same plant species, Solanum lycopersicum var....

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Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

When a friend gave me a recipe for tuna stuffed sweet potatoes, I thought it was on odd combination. My curiosity got the best of me, and soon my family was chowing down on this sweet-salty blend. Clean plates proved that it was victorious! The success continued when a week later we visited my sister-in-law who served smoked pulled pork stuffed in a sweet potato with coleslaw on top. My mouth i...

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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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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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Buffalo Chicken Meatballs

Healthy Half-Time

This week's post is written by Illinois State University Food, Nutrition and Dietetic student, Madison McClurg! No matter who you are rooting for at this Sunday's Super bowl game, we all are rooting for the delicious food that comes with it! Super Bowl Sunday does not usually come with the healthiest of options on the field, even though we need as much energy and nutrie...

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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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Reindeer Food

Feeding Santa's Reindeer

The holiday season is a magical time of year. The lights are twinkling, snowflakes are falling, and Santa's sleigh is soaring through the sky. The love of a child and the joy of watching their eyes light up is the reason many families choose to participate in holiday traditions. One such tradition is laying out cookies for Santa to eat as he stacks presents under the tree. However, we must not...

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chocolate peppermint popcorn

Healthier Holiday Stockings

Holiday traditions create lasting memories, but have you ever wondered how these traditions got their start? Whoever thought to hang hosiery on the fireplace and stuff it with goodies? While we can't say for sure how it began, the legend has it that St. Nicholas heard a man talking about not having enough money to get his three daughters married, so he secretly slid down the man's chimney and p...

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Baked Holiday Pear

Nutmeg: A Holiday Spice

Nutmeg is a common spice known to flavor a flurry of holiday foods and beverages. It's a key ingredient in pumpkin spice, a must-have in eggnog and a flavor booster in custards. Nutmeg is not actually a nut, but rather a drupe. This means it's a fruit with a single seed, similar to an apricot. It's grown on a female tree with most of the production coming from Indonesia and Grenada. The...

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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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4th of July Sorbet

This weeks blog post is written by Illinois State University Dietetic Intern, Erin Fejes! With Fourth of July just around the corner, many people may be searching for a sweet treat to celebrate with. If you haven't tried sorbet made with fresh berries, it may be just the dessert you've been searching for. Sorbet is a frozen dessert made from fruit juice/puree or flavore...

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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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blackeyed peas salad

Enjoy Black-Eyed Peas All Year

Eating a bowl full of black-eyed peas on New Year's Day is said to bring good luck and prosperity in the new year. However, why save it for just once a year? Black-eyed peas are low in fat and a great source of potassium, calcium, vitamin C, and fiber. With these great nutrients, they just may bring that prosperity to you in the form of good health! Black-eyed peas are actually a bean r...

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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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