I wonder how often barley ends up in meals? I see it on occasion listed as an ingredient in different ready-to-eat cereals and granola bars, usually as barley flour. Besides beef-barley soup, I rarely think about using it to cook with. For me, it is still not a common food choice, but I have a couple recipes I use it in. What do you do?

Nutritionally, 1/4 cup dry pearl barley contains around 180 calories, 1g fat, 40g carbohydrate, 8g fiber, 5g protein, and is a source of vitamins and minerals, including niacin, folate, magnesium, and zinc. Barley contain almost no sodium.

If you have onions or peppers in your garden right now, time to use them with this summer salad. Grain salads are gaining popularity, although tabbouleh, an old standby, has been around for a long time.  (Try this Rice Tabbouleh from UI Extension.)

If quinoa ("keen-wah") is not part of your pantry, it is time you make it part. It is a whole grain that cooks in about fifteen minutes. Not many whole grains are so quick.

There are a lot of quintessential summer foods. I think potato salad falls into that category. However, they can be very calorie-heavy because of the dressing and other fat-containing ingredients. Mayonnaise, bacon bits, eggs, and cheese. When table salt and relish are ingredients, sodium may be high as well.

If you cannot bear to part with your family recipe for potato salad (heavy with calories and fat), consider making it over one ingredient at a time until it is lighter and still tasty. Or keep your portions small.

A big part of this blog is encouraging you, my reader, to sample new foods and recipes. If winter squash is not something you include on menus – let alone consider at the store – give is another try this season.

See a video of how this brightly colored soup is made step-by-step, as well as below.

And happy late Thanksgiving from UI Extension!

Butternut Squash Soup (serves 4)

This cozy side-dish soup packs lots of nutrient-rich vegetables and will warm you up on a cold day.

As I have said before, a big part of this blog is encouraging everyone to sample new foods and recipes. Winter squash is a veggie with lots of nutrients and inexpensive (unless you buy an enormous, heavy one).

If the Butternut Squash Soup recipe from the last blog special was not for you, do not give up on winter squash yet. How you prepare a food can make a big difference between liking and disliking it.

Give this spiced squash casserole a try and watch the steps in the video too.

How are your gardens doing? This summer, I have heard a mix of folks who have a great crop of tomatoes, while others are struggling.

Consider trying these stuffed tomatoes this summer for a quick dinner. Since the tomatoes will soften with cooking, try stuffing these tomatoes in advance and only cooking what you want to eat.

With lots of veggies (and a kick of heat), watch how to prepare this recipe in the video.

Tuna-Stuffed Tomato Melt (Serves 4)

Are you enjoying the blog specials? The videos have been an exciting addition to the "Healthy Eats and Repeat" blog. I hope it has inspired you to try some new recipes, foods, and ingredients.

For the month of July, we are showcasing summer salads. For the 4th of July weekend, enjoy this fun, colorful Jicama Summer Salad. The recipe is below, and the video shows it all put together.

The United Nations declared 2016 the International Year of the Pulse. Now the question is, what is a pulse? These are a variety of different leguminous plants, including dry beans, dry peas, and lentils. Black beans are included. (For information on black eyed peas, see the post from January.)

In case you had not heard, avocados are good in other recipes besides guacamole. This chips and salsa accompaniment has taken life with many new recipes and an appreciation for its healthy fats.

Nutritionally, 1 medium avocado contains around 325 calories, 30g fat, 17g carbohydrate, 13g fiber, 2g protein, and is a source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, E, and K, folate, phosphorous, and potassium. Avocados contain almost no sodium.

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, from pureed soups to roasted, and from sandwich toppers to dippers, cucumbers can be used in many ways.

Welcome to 2016! I wish that this be a great year for you, and that this blog be a guide to encourage you to try new foods.

What food is good to start the year with? I picked black eyed peas, since they are considered a "lucky" food in the new year. (They must be, since black eyed peas are the only dry legume (besides lentils) I have luck cooking successfully.)

Whether they bring you luck this year, black eyed peas are a nutritious and economical choice worth adding to your plate.

Phew, hot summer, yes! Remember to drink water and be hot weather-safe. Berries feel like a light, summery treat, so this month will be about blackberries. Many storage and preparation recommendations are similar to raspberries.

Nutritionally, 1 cup of blackberries contains around 60 calories, 14g carbohydrate, 8g fiber, 2g protein, and is a source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin K, folate, and potassium. Blackberries contain almost no fat or sodium.

A winter squash is an intimating veggie. Not for its looks – winter squashes are so interesting and festive. But from a cooking perspective, home cooks may avoid them.  Fortunately, produce sections of many stores have pre-cut squash for you to use.

If you want to prep a winter squash, try these tips to make the process easier, and pick the way that makes sense for you. Along with the directions below, watch the video showing how to do each technique.

A. Cooking a winter squash whole

A focus of "Healthy Eats and Repeat" is to highlight different foods and encourage you to try new foods or familiar foods in new ways. I anticipate this month's topic – turnips – may be in the "new" foods category for many readers. (Look for a future post on turnip greens.)

There are so many foods that remind us of summer. What is yours?

While raspberries may not be on your list or high on it, consider them: sweet, tart, juicy, delicate, finger-staining raspberries to enjoy in a bowl on your patio in the summer sunshine.

Nutritionally, 1 cup of raspberries contains around 64 calories, 15g carbohydrate, 8g fiber, and is a source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, folate, and potassium. Raspberries contain almost no fat, protein, or sodium.