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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
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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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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IMG 1917

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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