1. Published

    A few years ago, our office purchased a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) share from a local farm. In one weekly box, there was a sweet potato. A huge one! As tall as a plastic water bottle, weighing between 2 and 3 pounds. While Illinois is not a top commercial sweet potato producer, varieties do grow here.

  2. Published

    There are three things I appreciate about cabbage. One, a single cabbage gives a lot of cut or shredded pieces. Two, it has great shelf life. If I only need part of a cabbage for a recipe, the remaining cabbage seems to last for weeks in my fridge. (Yes, there are varieties of cabbage that are exceptions to this long shelf life.) Three, as I will share later in the post, cabbage is economical (read: cheap).

  3. Published

    Are you nuts for nuts? If so, you probably have some favorites. Maybe pecans or walnuts? Peanuts or almonds? Fortunately, no matter your favorites, nuts are a nutritious choice!

    Nutritionally, 1/4 cup of just about any nut contains around 200 calories, 14-18g fat, 5-7g protein, 2-4g fiber, and are sources of vitamins and minerals including vitamin E, some B vitamins, magnesium, zinc, potassium, and iron. On their own, nuts are not a significant source of carbohydrates or sodium. 

  4. Published

    Fun fact I think many people have started to learn over the years: the cans of pumpkin puree on grocery store shelves are from "processing pumpkins" or "canning pumpkins," while the pumpkins we decorate with and carve are "ornamental pumpkins."

    Fun fact number two: Illinois is a top state for processing of edible pumpkins. Check out more details from the Illinois Farm Bureau.

  5. Published

    Visualize the experience of eating an apple. Hear the crunch. Feel the juice dripping on your chin. Taste the sweet and tart flavors. Ah, it feels like fall!

    Nutritionally, 1 medium apple (around 3-inches across) contains around 95 calories, 25g carbohydrate, 4g fiber, and is a source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, folate, and potassium. Like other fruits, apples are not a significant source of fat, protein, or sodium.

  6. Published

    My CSA (community supported agriculture) farmer offered me a bundle of small beets. For this CSA, I can pick from a variety of available foods each week. Beets are not a go-to food for me, but the registered dietitian in me enjoys learning about foods, so I took the beets home.

  7. Published

    Cabbage comes in many more shapes than light green or dark purple globes. Bok choy – or pak choi – is one of the looser leaf styles of cabbage, and one of the foods in my CSA (community supported agriculture) share for late spring this year.

    Like other cabbages, bok choy is a source of vitamins and minerals, including several B-vitamins, calcium, and iron. It does not have much in the way of macronutrients. In fact, 1 cup of shredded raw bok choy contains just 10 calories, 2g carbohydrates, 1g protein, and very little fat.

  8. Published

    Winter is the season for citrus fruits. Today, let's look at citrus that are available almost all year round in grocery stores: limes, lemons, and orange juice. For a long list naming other citrus fruits, along with shopping and storage tips for citrus fruits, check out How Many Citrus Fruits Can You Name?

  9. Published

    Some foods I pick for blog posts are from my own curiosity of foods I have never cooked with much. In the case of this blog post, a fellow Extension educator made the request. She was working with a food pantry that had yellow split peas and wanted some recipe options for the pantry clients.

  10. Published

    Citrus is a big family, like apples. Let’s see how long of a list I can name: lemons, limes, navel oranges, grapefruit, ugli fruit, cara cara oranges, blood oranges, pomelos, tangerines, and mandarin oranges. 

    While there are a lot of different types of citrus, nutritionally they are similar: a source of vitamin C, folate, potassium and other vitamins and minerals, a source of carbohydrates and fiber, and no significant amount of sodium, fat, or protein. One medium navel orange contains around 60 calories, 15g carbohydrates, and 3g fiber.

  11. Published

    Dill is an interesting plant. In the kitchen, cooks have a choice of fresh and dried dill weed (the leaves) or dill seed for their recipes. Each provide their own flavors and preferred applications. Dill weed is generally more mild than the seeds, adds color to dishes, and provides better flavor when added towards the end of cooking. Dill seeds can stand up to long cooking times and tend to have a stronger flavor. From pickles to soups and salads to dips, dill is one versatile plant.

    Nutrition

  12. Published

    Jerky is a dried meat product that comes in as many different flavors and uses as many different meats as you can probably think of. While jerky can be made at home, this post will focus on prepared jerky.

    Nutrition

    The nutrition of jerky will vary based on the type of protein used and any flavorings. For nutrition information on your specific jerky, check the food label.

  13. Published

    Check out Parts 1 and 2 of this series for more. Part 1 covers an introduction to deer meat and flavors. Part 2 shares information on cooking with venison. And check out the recipes videos on social media.

    Venison & Root Vegetable Stew (Serves 8)

  14. Published

    Partnerships are a big part of Illinois Extension programs.  This one started with a conversation about deer hunting and turned into recipe videos and a blog series.  So many ‘thank you’s to Sara Wade, MS, RD, LDN, with Kirby Medical Center for sharing her experiences.

  15. Published

    Where do you often see paprika? Sprinkled on egg salad or cottage cheese? Added to a recipe like chicken paprikash for that red color?

    Paprika is made by drying and grinding varieties of mild red peppers. This powdered spice can be used to garnish foods and add color and unique flavors. A blend of different peppers creates the varieties, flavors, and heat levels of paprika you see on shelves, such as sweet paprika, Hungarian paprika, Spanish paprika, and smoked paprika.

    Nutrition

  16. Published

    Last summer, our office bought a share of a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). Each week of the season, we got a box of local fruits, veggies, and herbs. Garlic scapes were a unique addition one week.

    In his article, fellow UI Extension educator, Grant McCarty, shares that "garlic scapes are the immature, flowering stems of hardneck garlic." Scapes have a milder flavor than cloves of garlic, and can be used in place of garlic.

    Nutrition

  17. Published

    Chickpeas or garbanzo beans? A different name for the same food, this member of the legume family has a firm texture and a nutty flavor that enhances a variety of recipes.

  18. Published

    Part of the parsley family, cumin is an annual plant that produces seeds. These seeds can be used as a spice – often ground up – when cooking. To see cumin go from seed to powder, watch the short video, Grinding Cumin at The Spice House, from chicagospiceboss. Note that University of Illinois Extension provides this information for education and does not endorse any company, products, or services over another.

    Nutrition

  19. Published

    For all the soybeans grown in Illinois, the Illinois Soybean Association notes, "Animal ag is the No. 1 customer for soybeans. Of the soybean meal fed in Illinois, pigs consume 74%, poultry 13%, and beef and dairy cattle 12%."

  20. Published

    Pomegranates are simple looking on the outside, and offer an unexpected surprise inside. If you have never opened one, I encourage you to take a look.

    Nutrition

    A half cup of pomegranate arils – the seed and juice sacs – contains around 70 calories, 16g carbohydrates, 3g fiber, and 1g each of fat and protein. They also contain vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, folate, and vitamin K. Pomegranate is not a significant source of sodium.