Is PB&J still one of the great sandwiches of youth? November celebrates peanut butter with Peanut Butter Lovers Month. Along with spreading on bread, let's explore other ways to eat with peanut butter.

Next time you fire up the grill think about grilling some fresh vegetables to complement your burgers or chicken. Grilling vegetables really intensifies their flavor and provides more opportunities to make sure you are eating your daily vegetable quota.

The holidays probably bring to mind other foods besides cranberries. While they will not take center stage to classics like turkey or mashed potatoes or pie, add cranberries to your meals for a pop of color, a unique taste, and added nutrition. Some research suggests drinking cranberry juice regularly can help reduce the risk of urinary tract infections.

Cranberries are available in a variety of forms. Raw cranberries are rarely found in stores outside of the holiday season, but canned, dried, and juiced varieties are common year-round.

Nutritionally:

Time to bring in some green for spring! With the white of winter, I enjoy talking about green produce this time of year. Celery is up for the role this month. (It helps, of course, that April is also National Fresh Celery Month.)

Nutritionally, a large stalk of celery contains 10 calories, 2g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, and small amounts of some vitamins and minerals, including potassium and sodium. Celery is not a significant source of fat or protein.

Welcome to spring! This time of year is great as the sun feels warmer, and the trees and grass start to turn green once again. It is also the time of year when we start to see another bit of green. Who guessed asparagus!? Yes, asparagus! It is one of those classically spring vegetables in Illinois, right up there with onions and green peas. (Incidentally, asparagus can also be white, pink, and purple in color.)

From a nutrition perspective, do I really need to convince you that vegetables – asparagus included – are full of healthful nutrients!?

Enjoy delicious crepes for your next breakfast, lunch, dinner or dessert!

Crepes are a delicious vehicle for appetizers, side dishes, main entrées and desserts. The French version of pancakes, you can find crepes served in restaurants around the globe.

Foods related to the crepe:

Tis the season for pears. This versatile fruit is a great one for your winter plates.

Nutrition

Pears are a classic fruit in terms of nutrition. A medium fresh pear has around 100 calories, 27g carbohydrates, 6g fiber, and is a source of vitamins and minerals including folate, other B vitamins, and potassium. Pears are not a significant source of fat, protein, or sodium. Pears canned in juice or syrups and dried pears will be higher in calories and carbohydrates, so read food labels to know what you are getting.

Are you looking for something new for dinner? Try hominy! Hominy is a food produced from dried corn kernels that have been treated with an alkali solution in a process called nixtamalization. During this process, the corn hulls are removed and the kernel is softened. The result is a plump, chewy kernel with an earthy-nutty flavor; triple the size of a raw sweet-corn kernel.

Happy New Year from University of Illinois Extension and Illinois Nutrition Edition! Welcome to 2017!

This is the time of year many gym memberships get purchased, inspired men and women make decisions to eat healthier, smokers set goals to stop smoking, along with other intentions.

In 2017, I encourage those of you with health and wellness goals to get REAL.

My birthday was last week and let's just say that I am now listed as "older". A friend sent me a picture of a tshirt that said "I thought getting older would take longer", yes, me too. But here we are. The good news is that the choices we make now, whether you are in your 20s, 30s, 40s or like me in your 50s, will determine your health in the next few decades. We always think there is more time…I'll exercise later, I'll eat healthy later….but the time is now.

Here are a few research-based tips to get you started on the path to a long healthy and active life!

From teaching a sauce-making class in 2016, I was pleased to hear that participants did not find sauces that intimidating and fairly simple to make. (And they all had ideas how to make the recipe theirs, which was great.)

Think about the sauces you use in recipes and take these three tips and ideas with you.

 

Just how important are family meals? Is it worth the time and effort?

The answer is a resounding yes! In fact, research has shown that the more often that families eat together the less likely teenagers are to engage in risky behavior. Eating and talking together can help children be happier, healthier, and more successful in school.

What are the benefits?

It's dad's turn to celebrate the joys of fatherhood. And what better way to thank him for all the whisker rubbing hugs and hours spent teaching us how to ride a bike, than with food? But not just any food: Dad food. Dad food is quite simply food that your dad loves. For many dads, that includes "man meats" like steak, ribs, smoked brisket, burgers, brats and hot wings. Side dishes must include cheese or bacon. Is your mouth watering yet?
Sure, these may just be stereotypes and perceptions that all men enjoy these types of foods.

With the blustery winter weather, a hot cup of tea, coffee, or cocoa is a favorite way to stay warm. America's second favorite beverage, aside from water is tea. January is also hot tea month. Tea whether it is black, green, white, or oolong, is a low calorie beverage choice with potential health benefits from the plant-based flavonoids it produces.

Potential Health Benefits

Waking up on a beautiful March day, you stretch, get out of bed, and start making your bed, when suddenly you feel a dull pain in your lower back. You simply shrug off the pain, associating it with the wrong sleeping position. The lower back pain becomes progressively sharper; eventually leading to an emergency room visit. This story is similar to my first experience with kidney stones. Nearly half a million Americans will end up in the emergency room this year due to the incapacitating pain associated with kidney stones.

When preparing for the holidays, the focus is often on cleaning the house, scheduling airport pick-ups and drop-offs, decorating, and purchasing gifts. For the host one of the most significant stressors can be making sure there is enough food, everyone enjoys the meal, and the food is prepared safely without the fear of someone getting sick. Foodborne illness may strike 20 minutes or up to 6 weeks later. Below are some suggestions and tips to ensure the entire family has a delicious and safe meal without the fear of undesirable repercussions that might hinder the holiday spirit:

October is National Pumpkin Month and a great time to celebrate this versatile fruit that grows close to home. Did you know that Illinois produces more than 90% of the processed pumpkins in the United States? This may seem surprising but 80% of all the pumpkins produced commercially in the U.S. are produced within a 90-mile radius of Peoria, IL. According to the Illinois Agricultural Statistics Service (IASS), over 17,000 acres were harvested in 2016.

Boosting physical activity is a great way to improve health long-term. The recommended amount is 150 minutes per week of moderate to vigorous activity which includes things like brisk walking (4 mph), jogging (6 mph), hiking, mowing th

How often do you, as a consumer, pay attention to the variety of nutrient content claims and labels on your food packages? It seems like there are more now than ever before. Food manufacturers recognize consumer interest in on-farm practices, production and processing methods and they use it to help market their products. Some producers will put multiple claims on their product even though one might do the job.

 

Heart healthy cooking starts at the grocery store. Our environment plays a key role in our food choices! We tend to eat what is convenient and what is in our presence. So, what do you think your chances of eating healthy are if your counter tops and refrigerator are full of unhealthy foods? Let's take a stroll through the grocery store and identify heart-healthy choices.

Fruits and Vegetables