At first mention, carrot cake may not sound all that good. After all, who eats vegetables for dessert? Of course, if you've ever had carrot cake, you know that its added sugars and fat make it far from tasting like a vegetable. But the following recipe uses a mix of sugar substitutes to eliminate added sugars, while not producing an aftertaste. A bit of whole wheat flour for more nutrients and unsweetened applesauce to help cut the fat make this carrot cake a healthier version of the original.

There are so many good things about shrimp that it would be a shame to not include these tiny crustaceans in your diet. Shrimp are very lean with only 90 calories and 1.5 grams of fat per 3-ounce serving. They're also a good source of vitamin B-12, iron and zinc. And while shrimp have gotten a bad rap for their cholesterol content (a 3-ounce serving has 179 milligrams of cholesterol), researchers have found that moderate consumption does not have a detrimental effect on blood cholesterol levels since shrimp are low in fat and saturated fat.

It's been said that fondue originated in the 18th century in Switzerland as a way to feed hungry families during the winter when fresh foods were scarce. Aged cheese became delicious when heated with wine and herbs, and stale bread would soften when dipped. This method of having a communal pot for dipping, took until the 1960's to become popular in the United States but grew to become more than just cheese fondues.

Do you ever feel remorse when you toss out those broccoli stems or radish tops? With a growing fight to reduce food waste (it's estimated that America wastes 70 billion pounds of food each year!) even the so-called food "scraps" need a second look. Many of these stalks, stems, leaves and peels are edible and full of nutrition and flavor.

Your recipe calls for almonds but when you get to the store to quickly grab a bag you realize you have to choose between natural, blanched, unblanched, roasted or raw. Who knew there were that many choices for one little nut?

I would argue that there isn't much better in life than a cool and refreshing ice cream cone on a hot and humid day. I think everyone can agree that ice cream and summer-time definitely go hand-in-hand. Unfortunately, on average a ½ cup serving of vanilla ice cream weighs in at about 15 grams of added sugar, 5 grams of saturated fat, and 150 calories. Once you add in a cone and toppings these numbers only increase.

I'm pleased to introduce guest blogger and Illinois State University, Food Nutrition and Dietetics student, Austin Duffell!

With the New Year in full swing, many people are excited to try out their New Year Resolutions. When talking wi

I am pleased to introduce guest blogger and Illinois State University dietetic intern, Noel Konken!

Tired of your average cold sandwich with a smashed banana that barely survived your early-morning commute? Swap out your packed lunch for a capped lunch! Get creative with your lunch this summer with a vibrantly fresh Mason jar salad that will have your co-workers talking. Not only are these salads convenient, but they are an easy way to have a veggie-packed meal loaded with vitamins, minerals, and fiber to keep you feeling energized throughout the day.

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?

Most recipes make a family-sized portion, causing a weeks' worth of leftovers for someone who's only cooking for one or two people. While beef and noodles may be your favorite meal you probably hesitate buying a whole roast knowing you'll grow tired of

During spring, asparagus is everywhere! 

Not many people can bite into a lemon without emitting a puckered face. And, no, that is not some kind of lemon-challenge! While a lemon's flesh may be too sour to eat on its own, when combined with other ingredients, it can produce a flavor that is simply delightful. Lemons may be available all year round, but spring is the time for lemons to shine!

This week's blog post is guest written by Illinois State University student, Paige Meints. She is an undergraduate student studying Food, Nutrition, and Dietetics at ISU.

Move over coffee. According to the Tea Association of the U.S. Inc., total hot tea sales have increased more than 17% over the last five years and are expected to double over the next five. While Americans still drink far more coffee than tea, coffeehouses are offering more varieties of tea. The popular India drink, chai tea, has blended with the latte in many coffee shops, and store managers are beefing up their marketing to include these delicious tea concoctions.

Kale is the queen of greens. It's been hailed as one of the healthiest vegetables on the planet. We're talking about a green plant that provides 1,000 percent of your daily requirements for vitamin K and over 100% of your daily requirements for both vitamins A and C. Yep, it's super. But is it edible? Absolutely! But it depends on how you prepare it.

This week's blog post was written by our Nutrition and Wellness intern, Paige Meints. She is a student at ISU studying Food, Nutrition, and Dietetics.

This July 29th we celebrate an Italian classic: Happy National Lasagna Day all you lasagna lovers. A cheesy, gooey pan of carbs is what makes this meal a favorite of all ages. The ingredients are simple, inexpensive, and feeds an army, making the whole family happy.

Tofu anyone? Ok. Most people look at me like I'm a weirdo when the "t" word is mentioned. However, tofu is one of the ultimate convenience foods; it's quick and easy to use in a wide variety of dishes.

I'm pleased to introduce guest blogger, Noel Konken, Illinois State University Dietetic intern!

Memorial Day Weekend jump starts the season of cookouts, potlucks, and picnics. While these social gatherings are a classic American summer tradition, they are not always conducive to healthy eating. By following these simple guidelines, you can navigate your way through cookouts all summer long without adding that extra notch in your belt.

Much like Thanksgiving is bombarded with pumpkin spice, the flavor of Christmas is most notably peppermint. There's peppermint mochas, chocolate peppermint bark, cool peppermint pies and delicious peppermint cookies. It's the chief mint chosen to flavor candies and gum, and it comes to good little boys' and girls' Christmas stockings in the form of a red and white candy cane.

When the weather is warm and beautiful, there is nothing better than eating outdoors. Whether at a park, an outdoor event, or just in the backyard, a picnic can be a fun excursion for the whole family. There's no need for a picnic table; a blanket on the ground will do. You can use paper plates or fine china; there are no rules!

Weekday breakfasts' for working families may be a quick bowl of cereal, fruit and yogurt, or a granola bar on-the-go, but nothing beats a hot breakfast on a cold day. February is Hot Breakfast Month, a time to celebrate the wonderful warmth of eggs, pancakes, waffles, oatmeal and, of course, "b and g!" But a hot breakfast can be heavy and loaded with empty calories. What you need is a hearty but nourishing hot breakfast to start your day right.

Are you a late night snacker? While "eating after 8 p.m. is bad for your health," is a myth that has long been debunked, it doesn't mean that all foods in a late night kitchen spree should be on the table. However, late night snacking doesn't have to kick the curb as long as you follow these rules:

January 2nd was National Buffet Day. That's day number two in the start of most people's diets. Just who was the malevolent person who determined the need for Buffet Day to be celebrated at the beginning of News Year's resolutions? I guess the more important question is, "why is there a buffet day anyway?"

The 68th United Nations General Assembly declared 2016 the International Year of Pulses. What in the world are pulses you ask? Pulses are a subgroup of legumes; legumes refer to the whole fruit enclosed in the pod of the plant, but pulses refer to only the edible seeds within the pods. Common pulses include chickpeas, lentils, black-eyed peas and kidney beans.

Somewhere packed between holiday shopping, stringing of lights and putting up the tree is a marathon day of cookie baking and candy making. A platter of goodies just wouldn't be the same without the famous gingerbread man. While this little guy may try to run away from being eaten, he's too tasty to escape and sadly is succumbed to getting his head bitten off.

Many will celebrate St. Patrick's Day with Irish-inspired dishes like the classic corned beef and cabbage, but let's not forget the potatoes. Taters are a must on an Irish menu, whether it be in the form of shepherd's pie, colcoannon, champ, boxty, or hash. Not sure what any of those are? Don't worry; I'll get you up to speed!

Plump and juicy blueberries are one of nature's best treats. The blueish purple fruit is grown on bushes and typically in season all summer long from April to late September but peaking in June and July.

Blueberries are an excellent source of vitamin C and a good source of dietary fiber. They've repeatedly been ranked as having one of the highest amounts of antioxidants, natural substances aimed at protecting against heart disease, cancer and other diseases. This small but mighty fruit packs in just 80 calories and zero grams of fat per one cup serving.

In the world of cookie flavors, a chocolate chip cookie tends to win the battle of Americas favorite over its competitor, the oatmeal raisin cookie. However, this doesn't mean that the raisin doesn't have its use in our kitchens. Raisins are a versatile food that can be added to stews, sauces, desserts, baked goods, and salads.

If you're an enthusiastic cook, you probably don't even think twice when preparing a recipe that has twenty different ingredients and numerous steps. However, if you're not as comfortable in the kitchen, a large recipe like that may be very intimidating. Recipes with shorter lists of ingredients do have their advantages. Generally, the fewer the ingredients, the fewer the dollar bills you shell out at the grocery store. Plus, you commonly save time preparing and cooking the food, and in some cases you have less dishes to wash!

There's a new way to get your daily dose of veggies: veggie noodles. While there's nothing wrong with a whole grain noodle or pasta (certainly packs more nutrition than regular enriched), veggie noodles can offer a variety of nutrients with less calories. So grab your julienne peeler, vegetable spiralizer or mandoline and start "noodling!"

Muffins are one of those breakfast foods that seem like the healthy choice. It's surely better than a doughnut or a bagel with cream cheese, right? Not so fast. A muffin found at a bakery can clock in around 550 calories and over 20 grams of fat. An original glazed doughnut, on the other hand, is 190 calories, and a bakery bagel with cream cheese is around 400 calories (less if it's plain). So basically none are great options! However, with a little modification, muffins can easily be made healthier.

Have you ever wondered if there is a difference between noodles and pasta? Noodles are different than dry pasta, such as spaghetti or fettuccine, because noodles contain eggs or egg yolks while other pasta does not. As a matter of fact, the FDA rules that a noodle, except chow mein noodles, must contain 5.5% of the total solids as egg solids.

Much like its breakfast competitor, bacon, everything tastes better with sausage. Whether it's a sausage lasagna or sausage on top of pizza, Americans have grown accustomed to seeing the meaty protein in various dishes. While sausage is simply ground meat stuffed into a casing, different types of sausage can yield very different tasting cuisine.

Serve it for breakfast or dinner; polenta is a versatile dish. But with its yellow tint and slight grit, it looks a lot like cornmeal and grits. So what's the difference?

What was the first meal you ever learned to cook by yourself? Did it happen to be two slices of buttered bread with a slab of American cheese in between and toasted over a hot skillet? A grilled cheese sandwich is simple to make and scores high on a child's menu, but it's so gooey and comforting even adults can't turn it away.

We all know that oats are nutritious and good for our health. But for some, a bowl of hot oatmeal in the morning just doesn't sound appealing. Allow me to introduce you to the new craze: overnight oats! These uncooked oats are served cold with endless mix-in possibilities. It's a breakfast that sticks with you, fighting off morning hunger pains with its abundance of fiber and protein. And since you must prepare it the night before, it makes for a quick breakfast during the hustle and bustle of the morning. Plus, did I mention it's also easily portable?

Cinco de Mayo (fifth of May) is a celebration to commemorate Mexico's victory over the French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. So why is it celebrated in America? Much like Americans love to celebrate Irish culture for St. Patrick's Day, Cinco de Mayo is an opportunity for us to gorge ourselves in tacos and margaritas while paying respect to Mexican culture.

It's arguably the most common side dish at the Thanksgiving table: stuffing. Or is it dressing? Is there even a difference? Some refer to it as "stuffing" if it's cooked inside the bird and "dressing" if it's cooked outside the bird. However, according to Butterball, 78% of Illinoisans and those in the East North Central Region, call it "stuffing" no matter how its prepared. Whatever you name it, we can all agree: it's delicious!

Peanuts are an essential ballpark snack food, but they may also be an ingredient in mealtime cuisine, including appetizers, entrees, salads and desserts. Peanuts, also referred to as groundnuts, are actually a legume like beans and peas. This unique plant produces its fruit (nut) below ground, unlike tree nuts, such as walnuts or pecans, which produce their fruit above ground. India and China are the world's top producers of peanuts, while the U.S comes in third and are mainly grown in the south, particularly in the state of Georgia.

As the weather gets cooler and the days get shorter, the cravings of a warm bowl of soup get stronger. Of course, the same goes for bisque, chowder or stew. While your taste buds may not care, there is a difference between them.

Most people wouldn't think twice about buying a bag of beautiful orange carrots, but what if those carrots were white? Back in Roman times, wild carrots were actually white, not orange. According to Philipp Simon, research geneticist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, farmers prior to the 16th century living in what is now Afghanistan, domesticated the wild carrot and turned it yellow. Wait. Yellow? Yes, it wasn't actually until 600 hundred years later in Europe, farmers cultivated the orange rooted carrot we see today.