1. Published

    Puff pastry and phyllo (or filo) dough produce amazing appetizers, breakfast pastries, and decadent desserts. While you can get out your French rolling pin and make them yourself, you can also settle for the convenience of grabbing a package from the frozen food aisle. Both doughs are flaky and delicious, but they shouldn’t be used interchangeably.

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    As Valentine’s Day approaches, you may find yourself reflecting on relationships. Positive relationships, whether with a partner, child, parent or friend, can be strengthened by doing activities together. This holiday, consider cooking a meal with your loved one, which can be just as nourishing for the relationship as it is for the body.

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    Brown sugar can give a rich caramel flavor to sweeten so many foods. As it sits in your pantry next to the canister of white granulated sugar, you may have wondered, “What makes brown sugar brown?”

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    While a persimmon will probably never be as popular as an apple in the U.S., this lesser known fruit packs a punch of sweet flavor. If you’ve ever seen a persimmon, you may have mistaken it for an unripe tomato, as they look and feel somewhat similar. A ripe persimmon is dense with waxy skin and jelly-like flesh.

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    If you enjoy Asian cuisine, you likely are a fan of soy sauce. This condiment originated in China over 2,000 years ago and is a staple ingredient in many Asian countries. This salty liquid is made from fermented soybeans, roasted wheat, and of course, lots of salt.

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    Elderberries have been used in folk medicine for centuries as a remedy for influenza and colds, but only recently have they become popular in the United States. The common elderberry (Sambucus var. canadensis) is a beautiful native shrub with white flowers and dark purple berries. It can be planted as a tall hedge in a beautifully decorated lawn, but can also be found growing wild in Illinois along roadsides. Black elderberry (Sambucus nigra) is native to Europe and is generally the berry used in elderberry products found on store shelves.

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    The New Year has many people thinking about change, and more often than not, it’s a change in eating habits that pursue. Intermittent fasting has become a popular way to lose weight, as many celebrities have taken it to the stage with the media in the front-row seat. The question you may be asking yourself: should I follow suit?

  8. Published

    The holidays come with much anticipation and excitement, as well as a little dread. The dozens of holiday cookies, the variations of fabulous fudge, and the finest candies around, are sure to excite the taste buds. But when these goodies have you surrounded each day from November to January, the dread of the holiday pounds weighs you down. Here are some holiday tips to help you gain control.

  9. Published

    Sour cream has so many uses that it’s often a refrigerator staple from January to December. It adds richness and acidity to both savory and sweet dishes. It’s similar to it’s substitutes, yogurt or crème fraiche, yet remains a distinctive ingredient.

  10. Published

    Turning fresh fall veggies into fabulous favorites can happen with roasting, a simple cooking technique. Roasting allows vegetables or other foods to develop a crispy crust on the outside while creating a subtle sweetness. This is due to the magic of caramelization.

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    As many people are realizing the health benefits of plant-based diets, plant-rich proteins are becoming more popular. While tofu is more widely known as a meat substitute, tempeh is not far behind. Tempeh, like tofu, is made from soybeans. The soybeans are cooked, fermented and then formed into a firm block that resembles a nougat. While tempeh may not sound or look very appetizing, fans of this tofu cousin enjoy it for its versatility and nutrient density.

  12. Published

    Pumpkin season is in full swing, and while great for decorating and carving, pumpkins are also considered a superfood, offering many health benefits. In fact, the seeds, fruit and greens have each been known to be used in herbal medicines. The pumpkin flesh is a valuable source of both vitamin A and fiber, which will help to boost immunity, support weight loss and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, cancer and arthritis. Just one-half cup of canned pumpkin provides 200% of daily vitamin A needs.

  13. Published

    Along with the Keto and Whole 30 diets, the Paleo diet is currently trending in popularity. Also called the “caveman” or “stone-age” diet, it’s based on the idea that today’s farming practices are not what they were when our ancestors ate 10,000 years ago. Paleo diet supporters believe in the hypothesis that our bodies have not been able to adapt to a modern diet, and thus is a contributing factor to the prevalence of diabetes, heart disease and obesity. However, there is no scientific evidence supporting these claims.

  14. Published

    One of the most popular foods in the fall is named for a different season: winter squash, particularly acorn squash. While still a popular pick in the winter, acorn squash in Illinois is generally harvested in late summer to early November. It’s the first fall food I go for after decorating my house with pumpkins and fall décor.

  15. Published

    I recently ordered some pumpkin seeds online, but when I opened up the package, I realized that they were not the pumpkin seeds I had in mind. I was expecting to see cream-colored, oval-shaped seeds, like the ones you’d dig out of a jack-o-lantern, but instead I received greenish, small seeds without a cream-colored hull. They resembled a sunflower seed only a tad bigger. It dawned on me that I had actually ordered pepitas.

  16. Published

    Sometimes it takes a culinary dictionary to read the recipes in a cookbook, particularly a cookbook that is a little more “fine dine and wine.” You may have come across terms, such as galette, crostata or tart and wondered what the difference is, if any. 

  17. Published

    Split peas look like lentils, but are they? Split peas are a member of the legume family, as are lentils. However, split peas are an actual field pea that is dried. Once dried, the outer skin of the pea is removed and the pea is split in half. Lentils, on the other hand, are the seeds found in the pods of a small annual plant.

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    Have you ever felt that you needed a guidebook when shopping at the grocery store? With so many different varieties of the same product to choose from, it can be difficult to know which one to buy. In the world of olive oil, many types stock the shelves; let’s find out which one is at the head of the class.

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    U.S. News and World Report gathered a panel of nationally recognized experts where they compared 41 different diets and ranked them based on how easy it is to follow, its ability to produce short-term and long-term weight loss, its nutritional completeness, its safety and its potential for preventing and managing diabetes and heart disease. Do you want to guess what diet took the top prize?

  20. Published

    Dieting is nothing new to the U.S., but various diets fly in and fade away. Atkins, South Beach, and the Zone are just a few of the fad diets that have come and gone. So what makes a diet stick around, and more importantly, how do you know if a diet is safe and effective?