1. Published

    Did you know that Illinois Extension works with local food pantries through our Illinois Nutrition Education Program (INEP)? This includes nutrition education with pantry clients and assistance to pantry coordinators with work called PSE (policy, systems, and environmental change).

  2. Published

    After a multiday team meeting, our group went out to dinner. A special at a local restaurant was a whole pumpkin, scooped out and filled with mashed pumpkin, seafood, veggies, and sauce. It was a hit!

    While they're tasty and make for festive decorating, I find winter squash intimidating to cut up since many varieties of winter squash don't have flat surfaces to place securely on a cutting board. Haven't cut myself yet, thankfully.

  3. Published

    After a long summer tending to your garden, you may be getting a little tired. However, if you want your pumpkins and other winter squash to last well past the growing season, take special care when bringing them in this fall. If you intend to keep your pumpkins around for a while and use them later this year, keep reading!

    The primary goal of food preservation, whether canning, freezing or dry storage, is to prevent food from spoiling before it can be consumed. Therefore, if you want your pumpkins to last, you must take steps to avoid spoilage.

  4. Published

    When writing about specific fruits and veggies, I like to look at recipes with that food. I know how I'd use eggplant, but how do others use it? It seems like eggplant pairs endlessly with so many flavors across so many cultures. While eggplant can be the center of the dish, it can also compliment other ingredients. It's definitely worth adding to your next recipe!

  5. Published

    Peaches are one of a handful of foods I don't buy fresh unless it's summertime and I can get them locally. The quality and flavor of peaches in summer from a local farm is just. so. good! My favorite way to eat them is on their own. No muss, no fuss. But there are lots of ways to prepare peaches, with three tasty recipes at the end of this blog post to give you inspiration.

  6. Published

    Oh my, is it hot this week in Illinois! So, these five cold summer salad recipes will certainly taste great to help beat the heat. 

    I like salads (and recipes like salsa with a mix of different fruits and veggies) for a couple reasons. One, there are multiple different nutrients in one bite. Two, sometimes these foods are more fun and enjoyable to eat than munching on plain carrot sticks or an apple.

  7. Published

    I don't remember growing up eating turnips. And while turnips are not my go-to veggie, I enjoy grabbing an occasional bunch when I visit farmers markets or local farms each year, primarily to shake up my food routine. 

    If you enjoyed turnips as a kid (or as an adult), how did your family cook and serve them? Write about your experience on social media and tag Illinois Extension.

  8. Published

    Is it a zucchini or a cucumber? I get this question almost every time I talk with kids about that long, green vegetable. (They do have some similarities. It would be easy to confuse.)

    If you garden, cucumbers seem to keep coming and growing and expanding across the soil! So, when you are ready to eat, know you can do a lot with a cucumber. From pickles to salads and from sandwich toppers to dippers, cucumbers can be used in many ways.

  9. Published

    I'm ready for some green this spring! While you have lots of options with spring flowers and impending green blades of grass, let's talk about the humble celery. And we can celebrate that March is National Celery Month.

  10. Published

    It is estimated that 37 million adults living in the United States live with chronic kidney disease, and unfortunately, most are undiagnosed.

  11. Published

    As a parent, providing safe, nutritious food for your little one is a necessity, but what do you do when the options run low? Many parents of infants are stressed and frustrated as the nation is currently facing infant formula recalls and shortages.

  12. Published

    A community member called my office  several years ago with a really interesting question: why does the liner of my can of pineapple look different from my canned beans? Until that question, I hadn't paid much attention to the inside of my cans, except to look at the food. I think about that question sometimes, so in honor of Canned Food Month in February, let's explore commercial canning and can liners (or coatings).

    Roles of Canned Foods

    A LOT of foods are canned, and for helpful reasons.

  13. Published

    Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States for both men and women. Most of us know someone who has been touched, in some way, by heart disease. Sound a bit scary? It doesn’t have to be because heart disease can often be prevented by adopting simple lifestyle changes. First, we have to understand what puts a person at risk for developing heart disease.

  14. Published

    Winter can be a shock to the system. Yes, it’s true, some of us live for the frigid temperatures and the snow and ice outside. But for the rest of us, we’d rather hunker down and wait for the Spring thaw. Whichever you prefer, though, the dramatic shift outdoors can have an impact on your body, including the micro-environments that your countless friendly microbes call home. That’s right, we’re talking about your microbiome(s).

  15. Published

    Keeping our bodies hydrated is important for our overall health and wellness. Dehydration can lead to both physical problems (headache, fatigue, weakness, loss of appetite) and mental/emotional problems (confusion or delirium, irritation, and anxiety). It can be scary, dangerous, and it won’t always be signaled by thirst—especially in the winter.

  16. Published

    What is a food you never grew up eating, but now enjoy as an adult? There are several for me, including pears, asparagus, cauliflower, and kiwi fruit. I've had strawberry-kiwi flavored drinks, but never a fresh kiwi fruit until several years ago. I'm so glad I tried them, with their soft, sweet, and a little tart fruit with crunchy little black seeds.

  17. 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. Curious about how pumpkin farming impacts Illinois? Check out this article from the Illinois Farm Bureau.

  18. Published

    Leeks aren't an ingredient I use much at all myself, probably because I don't see them in my rural grocery store. When I shop bigger stores or farmers markets where leeks might be available, I'll keep an eye out. Particularly in autumn because leeks pair so well with many fall-inspired recipes.

  19. Published

    When I was growing up, we had an old black walnut tree next to our driveway that would drop walnuts, causing me to trip over them while chasing my brother. I loathed this tree, especially when it was my turn to mow the grass, as I had to first rake the walnuts, wasting more of my precious time. Little did I know that we could have used these annoying nuts for delicious food. However, they’re a hard nut to crack.

  20. Published

    Often a day of candy, treats, and sugar, a "healthy" Halloween might well be an oxymoron. By focusing more on getting dressed up and the fun of playing games and tricks, kids and adults can focus less on food and more on the festivities.