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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

A Thanksgiving Meal Scaled Down

Thanksgiving is a holiday where food and family come together: A big feast for a big family. However, not everyone will have a large gathering. In fact, for many, the table may be set for just one or two. Despite this, a traditional Thanksgiving meal can still be enjoyed. First, you must decide on whether or not you want to cook. You could go full speed ahead and prepare many dishes in...

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lima beans

Lima Beans or Butter Beans?

It's funny how memories of our loved ones are often linked with food. I fondly remember my Grandmother making the best fried chicken, but I also remember her always dishing up my least favorite dish: lima beans. It's true. I wasn't a lima bean lover. However, I've learned that they are actually delicious when prepared in different ways. Lima beans get their name from Lima, Peru...

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Mushroom Leek Orzo

Loving Leeks

There are many choices when it comes to bringing an onion flavor to your dish: red, white and yellow onions, scallions, shallots, chives and leeks all bring a different intensity of flavor. Leeks have a milder taste and resemble an oversized scallion. Their stalk is a bundle of leaf sheaths, which are white on the bottom and green on top. Use the white and lighter green area for recipes, but sa...

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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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Ham Horseshoe

Cheese Sauce Comfort

A gooey cheese sauce is a comfort food classic that makes nachos unstoppable, mac and cheese a must-have, and (to some) vegetables edible. But it takes a bit of know-how to make the perfect cheese sauce. The type of cheese used is an important factor to making a sauce. Some cheese melts well, while others simply clump in a bowl of warm milk. Melting champions include cheddar, mozzarella...

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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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Roasted Rutabaga

Rutabaga for the Win!

Rutabagas can be an intimidating root vegetable due to its ugly looks and unfamiliarity. However, it should sit proudly in your kitchen's root cellar right next to the more popular roots, like sweet potatoes and carrots. And here's why. Rutabagas are a cross between the turnip and the cabbage. While similar to a turnip, rutabagas are harvested at a larger size and have more of a yellowi...

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Butternut Squash Ground Turkey Skillet pg

Butter Up to Butternut Squash

Butternut squash is one of the most popular winter squash varieties. It has a pale peach color on the outside but yields a yellow-orange flesh on the inside. It's flavor is reminiscent of a buttered sweet potato, and it's a versatile ingredient in many fall dishes. Butternut squash ranks high on the nutritional list. One cup of squash has only 82 calories but 6 grams dietary fiber, 580...

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What is Hominy?

Your eyes may have skimmed past it. The canned beans and canned vegetable aisle in the supermarket usually houses the small, medium and very large cans of hominy. With the look of wet mini marshmallows, you may wonder what exactly this stuff is. Hominy is a product of field corn, called maize. Maize is dried and then soaked in an alkaline solution, usually lye or lime, to soften the tou...

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Soba noodles

Soak up the Flavor of Soba Noodles

Soba noodles are a Japanese noodle made from buckwheat flour. They're found in many Asian dishes served either hot or cold. If you've ever passed up a recipe because you didn't know what soba noodles were or didn't know where to find them, you must try it again! Soba noodles are found in Asian markets but may also be found in larger grocery stores in the Ethnic section....

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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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Enchilada Stuffed Poblano

Pick Your Pepper

Peppers are a common ingredient in so many recipes. Whether you play it safe with a bell pepper or throw in a punch of heat with a hot chile pepper, you are sure to find a pepper that brings a depth of taste to your dishes. The most popular mild peppers are the bell and banana varieties. They can be slightly sweet and will give a sandwich or salad a boost of flavor. Poblano peppers are...

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Baked Beans for your Cookout

Tis the season of summer cookouts, where family and friends gather for an outdoor meal. Whether you're the host or the guest, you'll need an outstanding side dish to accompany the usual grilled entrée. A pot full of baked beans will round out your meal and keep your friends happy and well fed. There are baked beans and then there are Boston baked beans. Baked beans are traditionally mad...

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Freezer Meals in a Flash

In the heat of the summer, "busy" tends to take on a whole new meaning. Aside from the everyday chores, there are now baseball games to attend, swimming lessons to pack bags for, and summer camps to chauffer the kids to. Putting a healthy meal on the table is just another "chore" that can seem daunting, even for a super hero parent. However, with a little prep work, a freezer, and the magic of...

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Quinoa Pixabay

Crazy for Quinoa

Today's blog post is written by Illinois State University dietetic student, Allyson Weier! Switch up your usual side dish with one that is bursting with nutrients and flavor; try quinoa (pronounced keen-wah)! Quinoa looks like a grain and is typically prepared like one, but it is actually a seed. It is native to South America, but because of its high tolerance to differ...

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caprese salad

Tomato and Basil: The perfect match

Like Mickey and Minnie, there are certain foods that just simply belong together. Tomato and basil are the perfect match. The slightly sweet aromatic flavor of basil complements the savory juiciness of a tomato. And the world has taken notice; there are countless dishes that highlight these two stars. Tomato basil soup, margarita pizza, bruschetta and caprese salad are just a few of my favorite...

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Lemon Basil Vinagerette

Lemon Flavored Herbs

On a recent trip to a garden center, I bought what I had thought was sweet basil only to bring it home to realize that it was lemon basil. After pondering what I was going to do with lemon basil, I realized that it really was not much different from other lemon fragranced herbs, such as lemongrass, lemon balm, lemon verbena, or lemon thyme. All are known for their lemon aroma that can bring a r...

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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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Fried plantains

It's Not a Banana, It's a Plantain

Plantains are a cousin to the banana, but you don't want to make the mistake of peeling a plantain and eating it raw like a banana. Not only will your teeth not sink through it, frankly, it won't taste anything like a banana. Plantains are grown in tropical regions, including Africa and the Caribbean. It's a staple in most Latin American countries. Plantains may be purchased at various...

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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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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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Ceviche

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with Ceviche

Cinco de Mayo (fifth of May) is often celebrated with delicious Mexican fare, including tostadas, enchiladas and margaritas! Mexico has many cuisine influences, including the popular Latin American dish, ceviche. But is ceviche safe to include in your celebratory meal? Ceviche is raw seafood that has been marinated in an acid (usually lime or lemon juice), turning the color and texture...

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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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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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