According to the website, Foodimentary™ February is "National Return Shopping Carts to the Supermarket" month. Laugh now, but you will be thankful when you have a flurry of carts to choose from, especially when they are lined up in the cart corral and not rolling down the parking lot with the wind. Grocery shopping can sometimes be an unpleasant experience, often one that creates moans and procrastination. Here's a few tips to make the task go smoother and faster.

It's always interesting to hear about the latest craze in the food industry. One that exploded in 2017, is cauliflower rice, and its popularity isn't slowing down. Cauliflower rice isn't truly rice at all. In fact, the label of "rice" is understandably upsetting for rice farmers. However, it has a solid concept: substitute rice for cauliflower rice to increase vegetable intake. With more and more consumers trying to decrease their intake of foods in the bread and pasta food group, vegetable "rice" is appealing.

Whether you spell it catsup or ketchup, you've likely squirted this popular condiment on a variety of foods. The first documentation of the product dated back to the 1600's when Europeans brought back the sauce from China. However, this wasn't the ketchup we know today. In fact, it was derived from fermented fish and lacked the main ingredient that makes this red condiment a crowd-pleaser: the tomato.

The holiday season tends to bring out traditions, or habits, if you will. While most are fun and harmless, others, while they may have the best intentions, need to retire. Here's my top five food-related habits that need to be broken:

This week's blog post is written by Illinois State University graduate student and dietetic intern, Michael O'halloran.

For those that abstain from eating meat on Fridays during the Lenten season, it can sometimes be difficult to come up with meatless meals. Even with a fish dinner, consuming enough protein can be a challenge. Fortunately, lentils can help fill the protein gap during Lent.

Autumn is an ideal time to savor the flavors of root vegetables, including turnips. Turnips belong to the cabbage family, and most often resemble their cousins, rutabaga and kohlrabi. They have a mild flavor and texture like potatoes, thus are delicious boiled and mashed or oven roasted. They're also ideal for soups, stews and casseroles.

This weeks blog post is written by Illinois State University's dietetic graduate student, Erin Fejes!

As a dietetic graduate student and future registered dietitian, I am concerned that so many Americans are food insecure. The Environmental Protection Agency states that 42 million Americans are currently food insecure, while the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported total food waste in the U.S. to be 161 billion dollars in 2010.

Spring has finally arrived and what better time than now to talk tomatoes? Tomatoes come in all different sizes and shapes, but in my house, it's the bite-size tomatoes, including grape and cherry, that are eaten as if they were candy. Although, you may be wondering what the difference is.

For some, the holidays are a time to get fancy. You wear your best dress or tuxedo to the corporate holiday party, you set out your grandmother's fine china, and you actually use that dining room table as a place to eat rather than a place to store all of life's daily belongings. It's also a time to serve fancier food. Flan, crème brulee and crème anglaise are three examples of a custard that simply spells "fancy."

This week's post is written by Illinois State University Food, Nutrition and Dietetic student, Madison McClurg!

No matter who you are rooting for at this Sunday's Super bowl game, we all are rooting for the delicious food that comes with it!

Mashed potatoes are a classic dish at most everyone's Thanksgiving dinner table. Whether you like them silky and smooth or hearty and chunky, they're a delicious accompaniment to roasted turkey. In simplest form, mashed potatoes are put together with just five ingredients: potatoes, milk, butter, salt and pepper. However, some people may say that if you want them creamy, you must add cream: heavy whipping cream, sour cream or even cream cheese! But are these high calorie, high saturated fat ingredients truly needed for a mouth-watering bowl of mashed potatoes?

Fixing foods for other children is not just about choosing yummy kid-friendly foods anymore. We now need to think about the possibility of children having food allergies. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in thirteen children have at least one food allergy. If you think this number has grown, you're right. Between 1997 and 2011, the prevalence of food allergies increased by 50 percent.

This blog post is written by University of Illinois Extension intern, Amanda Dieugenio. Amanda is a student at Illinois State University!

As summer comes to a close, (I know, what a bummer!) it is time to start welcoming that fall weather, and along with it, some healthy new fall-inspired recipes! Today, we are going to focus on the sweet potato.

My mother-in-law always put a variety of whole nuts in the bottom of everyone's Christmas stockings. It's a tradition that has been passed down in her family, and I'm sure other families do the same. But why do we serve whole nuts for the holiday season?

Sadly, currants do not seem to get the respect and admiration that they deserve. However, in Europe, their love for currants is like our love for blackberries or raspberries. In fact, the purple candy in a bag of Skittles® is flavored grape in the U.S., but tastes like black currant in the U.K. Why is there a resistance to loving this berry, you ask?

Today's blog post and recipe are written by Illinois State University students and dietetic interns, Amanda Dieugenio and Samantha Concha!

A pinch of this, a dash of that. The more experienced cooks can often get by without properly measuring ingredients. Their skill and experience guides them to know how much to add, but many novice cooks struggle at knowing when is enough to give flavor and when is enough to push it to the edge of inedible.

Nectarines are often confused with peaches, but when given a second look nectarines are easy to spot because they don't have the fuzzy outside that peaches have. Nectarines are similar in taste to the peach and both exhibit a pit on the inside. A clingstone does just that: the flesh clings to the stone-like pit, while a freestone separates easily from the pit.

Today's blog post is written by Illinois State University graduate student and dietetic intern, Michael O'halloran!

What if I told you that in your home, at this very moment, you likely have several antioxidant-dense foods hidden away? If you are thinking about your latest trip to the grocery store, the truth is that high antioxidant foods are right now hiding away in your spice cabinet; utilizing it more often can do wonders for your health and for your taste buds.

The smell of a light and fluffy waffle cooking in a waffle iron is sure to wake anyone up in the morning. Waffle batter is made with flour, sugar, eggs, milk and a leavening agent, similar in make-up to a pancake. However, while a pancake is thin and spongy, a waffle is thicker and crisp on the outside but soft and airy on the inside. Waffles tend to have a bit more oil or butter, as well as sugar, than pancakes.

When a friend gave me a recipe for tuna stuffed sweet potatoes, I thought it was on odd combination. My curiosity got the best of me, and soon my family was chowing down on this sweet-salty blend. Clean plates proved that it was victorious! The success continued when a week later we visited my sister-in-law who served smoked pulled pork stuffed in a sweet potato with coleslaw on top. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. This got me thinking about other possibilities to serve in a sweet potato.

For most children, the first few days of August is a reminder that it's soon time to head back to school. However, the start of school can also be the start of stress with hectic schedules to keep track of. Putting a healthy meal in the kids' bellies is just another thing to add to the growing list of things to do. Here's a few tips to help you manage the load and make back to school time a breeze.

As you carve frightening or charming faces in your jack-o-lanterns this Halloween, be sure to keep the seeds for a nutritious snack. Pumpkin seeds are truly one of the greatest rewards to this fall activity.

Pita bread is a type of flatbread that is a staple in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine. Thankfully, it's a bread that we can now typically find at most U.S. grocery stores, helping to expand our palate and broaden our horizons.

This Valentine's Day, show your loved one they're loved by making them an elegant treat. A crepe only takes a few minutes to prepare, but due to it's French heritage, it signifies a sort of "sophisticated romance" feel.

Sadly, only one in ten American adults meet the recommended amount of fruits (1 ½ - 2 cups) and vegetables (2 – 3 cups) each day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If you sheepishly think to yourself that this is you, start the autumn season off with a healthy start and a hearty bowl of ratatouille.

If it's your turn to host the family holiday dinner, you hopefully have your game plan ready. There's a lot to consider, including whether or not you have the space: dining table space, burner/oven space and refrigerator space. Not to mention, what foods you are going to prepare and what foods you want others to prepare. No one wants to be working hard over a hot stove while everyone else is mingling and having fun. To beat the holiday anxiety, you need a thoughtful line of attack.

A good deli sandwich is a typical go-to lunch for many Americans. While many health conscientious people are concerned with the carbohydrates in bread, others are more concerned with nitrates and nitrites in meat.

Bread, potatoes, rice: these carbohydrates tend to get a bad rap. But are carbohydrates really that bad for you?

Next to water, tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world. Here in the U.S., about 85% of tea consumed is black tea and iced. The heat of the summer is the perfect time to enjoy a tall glass of refreshing iced tea, but how you brew it is an important step to keeping you safe.

As many are embarking on calorie-restricted diets and wearing belly bands to lose weight this new year, others are taking a more simplistic approach: increase fruits and vegetables and shrink breads, pastas, goodies and meats.

Sauerkraut is the German word for "sour cabbage" and is most notably known for it's use in German-inspired dishes. However, it actually originated in China and has now become one of the most well known fermented products on the market.

The peanut butter and jelly sandwich, otherwise known as PB&J, is an all-American classic. It's a lunchbox staple for every kid and adult alike. It's the go-to entrée when the main meal didn't get planned or the back-up entree when the main meal fell apart. Aside from its mouthwatering taste, it's simplicity and ease is what makes this sandwich so great.

Is there really anything better than guacamole? It's a test to one's self-restraint to not eat the whole bowl of dip in one sitting. This mouth-watering avocado-based dip is a healthy snack when eaten in moderation.

Meals in bowls are trending. There are bowls called burrito bowls, noodle bowls, power bowls, smoothie bowls and so much more. For whatever reason, it's just more interesting to eat a meal out of a bowl than on a plate.

This Saturday is Cinco de Mayo (fifth of May), and many will be celebrating Mexico's victory over the French forces with a "fiesta" full of Hispanic cuisine. With so many mouth-watering foods to choose from, including quesadillas, chips and guacamole, and churros, the food is easy to plan. However, it's the drinks, or should I say non-alcoholic drinks, that may have your head spinning on what to serve.

What makes a really good sandwich? A cool, crisp, slightly sour dill pickle on the side, of course! There are many types of pickles on the market, including bread and butter, kosher dill and gherkins. Whatever your preferred pickle, you can learn to make these salty green snacks in your own home.

Even most children can tell you that excess sugar isn't healthy, unless of course they are bargaining for just one more piece of Halloween candy! A high sugar diet may lead to cavities and obesity and in turn, influence diabetes and heart disease. This may have you thinking about alternative ways to sweeten foods, such as agave nectar.

Do you remember when you used to order a coffee and you received just that: a cup of steaming hot coffee? Now you order a coffee and they ask "hot or cold?" Cold coffee and coffee beverages have jumped into the coffee arena at full speed, particularly with the introduction of cold brew coffee.

The stores are in full fledge Christmas mode, the Hanukkah or Christmas decorations are already up, and the holiday parties are marked on your calendar. It may be hard to believe that just a few days ago, many people were celebrating Thanksgiving. However, there may still be evidence of this autumn holiday left in your fridge, which brings up the important question: when should these delicious leftovers be eaten or discarded?

When a cold sandwich just won't do, upgrade to a warm panini. Panini's originated in Italy and refers to a grilled sandwich made with a baked roll or anything other than sliced bread. The bread is what makes this sandwich stand-alone. It's not a grilled cheese; it's a panini!

Wheat berries are the simplest form of wheat. In fact, wheat berries are the original source of all wheat products before any processing. Stored wheat berries can be milled into flour, cooked or sprouted.

Did Santa bring you a food vacuum sealer for Christmas? While probably not on everyone's wish list, many people love the advantages of a food vacuum sealer. Home vacuum sealers are small appliances that remove oxygen from the package of food before sealing, which can increase storage time, preserve the flavor and color and reduce food waste. However, there are risks with vacuum sealed foods, making it important to be "in-the-know" before vacuum sealing or using vacuum sealed products.

This week's blog post is written by Illinois State University graduate student and dietetic intern, Samantha Concha!

Need a Fourth of July side dish? Potato salad is a popular item at a picnic or potluck, but it is also the first to blame when foodborne illness comes to play. Homemade mayonnaise made with eggs is typically the true danger, but most potato salads nowadays are made with commercial mayonnaise, which contains pasteurized eggs to destroy any harmful bacteria. Nevertheless, this isn't to say that your potato salad made with commercial mayonnaise is automatically safe.