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Simply Nutritious, Quick and Delicious

Jenna Smith, Extension Educator brings you helpful tips to make meals easy, healthy and tasty!
Fruits and Vegetables
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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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 its nickname, "guac," it's made by mashing avocados with salt and adding traditional ingredients, such as tomatoes, garlic, onion and lime juice. It's...

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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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Grilled Eggplant Panini

The Perfect Panini

When a cold sandwich just won't do, upgrade to a warm panini. Panini's originated in Italy and refers to a grilled sandwich made with a baked roll or anything other than sliced bread. The bread is what makes this sandwich stand-alone. It's not a grilled cheese; it's a panini! Artisan bread, such as a French baguette, ciabatta, focaccia or a bagel are dense, hearty breads that make a goo...

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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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nectarines

A Look at Nectarines

Nectarines are often confused with peaches, but when given a second look nectarines are easy to spot because they don't have the fuzzy outside that peaches have. Nectarines are similar in taste to the peach and both exhibit a pit on the inside. A clingstone does just that: the flesh clings to the stone-like pit, while a freestone separates easily from the pit. Nectarines may be purchase...

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Picnic Potato Salad1

Picnic Potato Salad

Need a Fourth of July side dish? Potato salad is a popular item at a picnic or potluck, but it is also the first to blame when foodborne illness comes to play. Homemade mayonnaise made with eggs is typically the true danger, but most potato salads nowadays are made with commercial mayonnaise, which contains pasteurized eggs to destroy any harmful bacteria. Nevertheless, this isn't to say that y...

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Loaded Vegan Sweet Potato Fries

Is a Vegan Diet Healthy?

This week's blog post is written by Illinois State University graduate student and dietetic intern, Samantha Concha! You may be aware of the current vegan craze that has been circulating around social media and probably some of your favorite weekly magazines and newspapers. But are you still a little confused of what defines someone as a "vegan?" In short, veganism can be defin...

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Orange Shrimp Quinoa Bowl

What's in Your Bowl?

Meals in bowls are trending. There are bowls called burrito bowls, noodle bowls, power bowls, smoothie bowls and so much more. For whatever reason, it's just more interesting to eat a meal out of a bowl than on a plate. Meals in bowls can offer a variety of important nutrients, while including a bowl full of flavor. Most are packed with lean protein, whole grains and colorful vegetables...

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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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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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Lentil Tomato Mix

Lent and Lentils

This week's blog post is written by Illinois State University graduate student and dietetic intern, Michael O'halloran. For those that abstain from eating meat on Fridays during the Lenten season, it can sometimes be difficult to come up with meatless meals. Even with a fish dinner, consuming enough protein can be a challenge. Fortunately, lentils can help fill the protein gap...

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soup

Food Waste in America

This weeks blog post is written by Illinois State University's dietetic graduate student, Erin Fejes! As a dietetic graduate student and future registered dietitian, I am concerned that so many Americans are food insecure. The Environmental Protection Agency states that 42 million Americans are currently food insecure, while the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) re...

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Cauliflower Fried Rice

Cauliflower Rice Craze

It's always interesting to hear about the latest craze in the food industry. One that exploded in 2017, is cauliflower rice, and its popularity isn't slowing down. Cauliflower rice isn't truly rice at all. In fact, the label of "rice" is understandably upsetting for rice farmers. However, it has a solid concept: substitute rice for cauliflower rice to increase vegetable intake. With more and mo...

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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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Orange Sweet Potato Pork Chops

Just a Pinch

A pinch of this, a dash of that. The more experienced cooks can often get by without properly measuring ingredients. Their skill and experience guides them to know how much to add, but many novice cooks struggle at knowing when is enough to give flavor and when is enough to push it to the edge of inedible. Anyone who has ever read a recipe has probably come across some vague terms. A pi...

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Wheat Berry Salad

Wheat Berries, A True Whole Grain

Wheat berries are the simplest form of wheat. In fact, wheat berries are the original source of all wheat products before any processing. Stored wheat berries can be milled into flour, cooked or sprouted. Wheat is classified based on color, hardness of the wheat kernel, and the growing season. The hard red wheat (spring and winter) varieties are produced in dry temperature climates and...

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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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