Assortment of green herbs laid out on a wooden cutting board.

One of my favorite ways to use fresh herbs is to add them to different drinks. It brings a completely new dimension to what may already be a familiar drink. It can be as simple as adding mint to your iced tea, basil to your lemonade or rosemary to your orange juice.

Various pieces of food creating a bunny face (pretzel sticks for whiskers, kiwi slices for ears) on a white plate.

Originally discovered in China, kiwifruit found it’s way to producers in New Zealand, Italy, Chile and in the United States, California. While today’s generation is growing up with kiwi available at the grocery stores all year round, many generations had never heard of this funny looking fruit. It wasn’t until the 1980’s that kiwifruit started becoming popular in the U.S.

Which condiment do you grab? Sriracha, classic chili sauce or maybe a sweet red chili sauce? These are all examples of different kinds of chili sauce, some of which are excellent for dipping our favorite finger foods. Chili sauce is a blend of puréed or chopped chili peppers, vinegar, sugar and salt. Each type has their own unique taste that compliments certain foods.

Chicken salad sandwich with lettuce and bread, set on a napkin on top of a table.

Summer is a good time to enjoy a meat salad or egg salad sandwich. A cold sandwich that differs from the standard deli meat or pb&j, is a welcomed item on the lunch menu. Of course, the classic diner favorite can be a high calorie offender, depending on the ingredients used.

A bundle of thyme sprigs in a white bowl set on a white wooden table.

Now is the thyme to enjoy fresh herbs. I have been enjoying the bounty of my herb garden, which my husband and I planted in a garden box made out of a recycled wooden pallet. It sits just outside our back patio for easy access. Thyme is an herb that we plant every year, as I use it in so many dishes. 

Calendar with the 18th circled in red marker

If you’ve ever been confused about the dates stamped on food products, you’re not alone. A United States consumer survey appearing in the Waste Management journal reported 84% of consumers discard food near the package date at least occasionally. However, the package date rarely has anything to do with the safety of the food product. This contributes to a lot of food unnecessarily wasted.

Yellow weight on a barbell.

While you may be pumping iron at your gym, your body is pumping iron every day. Most of the iron that our bodies absorb is used to make hemoglobin, a part of red blood cells that transport oxygen and carbon dioxide throughout the body. Since our bodies cannot make this essential nutrient, we need to make sure that we are eating foods high in iron to avoid iron deficiency anemia.

Blue background, glass in the middle of picture with water being poured into it.

This blog post is written by Illinois State University graduate student and dietetic intern, Jesi Thome.  

Have you ever wondered why people say water is so important? We grow up hearing “make sure to drink plenty of water” for everything! If it’s hot outside, drink water. If it’s cold outside, drink water. If you’re sick, better drink water. If you wake up, drink! But why water?

Hiking trail in the woods.

Many people are ready to enjoy more than the four cornered walls of their homes, which is why there has been more of an interest in forest bathing (this does not involve actual bathing!) Quite simply, it is the conscious connection with the natural environment. Whether it’s a hike to strengthen the physical body or a hike to strengthen the mind, it’s important to be prepared with meals, snacks and drinks.

Pile of bread loaves.

Baker’s yeast has had such a rapid increase in consumer sales that manufactures have had a hard time producing enough to keep it stocked on store shelves. More time at home means more time to create homemade bread, no longer a thing in the past. If you’re new to bread making, start by learning about the different types of yeast.

Ice cubes

Other than breastmilk, I can honestly say I have never stored milk in the freezer…until now. This is the time to put that freezer to good use. Freezing is one of the easiest ways to store food for longer periods of time. Before you go to the store, check your freezer(s) to make sure you have the space. If you don’t already have a freezer thermometer, add it to the grocery list, and maintain the freezer temperature at 0°F or below.  

Chicken and vegetable recipe in gray bowl, set on table with fork and spooon.

As my household has been stocking up on canned foods like never before, I had to laugh when my husband brought home a can of fruit cocktail. It’s been years since I had fruit cocktail, and it immediately made me think of my dad and his fruit cocktail cookies that he used to make. While I would always be disappointed that the cookies weren’t chocolate chip, I still ate them!  

glass of milk with straw set on a picnic table

Some of you may have noticed a new milk on the market, known as “A2 milk.” This is not one of those alternative milks, such as almond, rice, or soy, but rather it is an alternative type of cow’s milk. The claim is that A2 milk is “easier on digestion.” A2 milk supporters recommend it for those who think they are lactose intolerant. They believe that for some people, it may not be the lactose in the milk that is giving them gastrointestinal distress, but rather a type of protein called A1 beta casein found in regular and lactose-free milk.

Grass with sun coming through the trees.

As the weather is growing warmer and more and more people are itching to get out of the house, picnic meals may be the answer to those craving a change in scenery. Whether it’s a picnic in your backyard or at an open park, keep both food safety and fun in mind when planning.

Milk pouring into glass set on wooden table

An estimated 30-50 million American adults experience lactose intolerance, many of which completely avoid all dairy products. However, is abstinence from dairy products necessary?

Child and parent arms around table with carton of eggs.

This blog post is written by Illinois State University graduate student and dietetic intern, Jessica Schultz. 

One of the greatest life skills you can teach kids is how to cook. It is something they will need to use every day, since we need to eat to survive! Getting them in the kitchen early is a great way to expose them to a variety of foods, ultimately setting them up for a lifetime of healthy eating.

fresh fruit in the first image, an arrow pointing to canned foods in the second image.

This blog post is written by Illinois State University graduate student and dietetic intern, Jessica Schultz. 

During times of crisis and change, some foods may be a little harder to find in the store, and if you are lucky enough to find them, there may be a limit on how much you can purchase. To help with this, use these tips and recipe alternates to limit the amount of essential ingredients you use.

Meat

Garbage can with overflowing food

This blog post is written by Illinois State University graduate student and dietetic intern, Alyssa Laing.

Casserole

This blog post is written by Illinois State University graduate student and dietetic intern, Alyssa Laing.

black bean burger

It looks like a burger. It tastes like a burger. It even “bleeds” like a burger. However, this burger is not made of meat. Plant-based burgers and meat alternatives are the trendy new food that have hit the market in response to consumer’s eco-friendly demands.  

spices

Paprika is the dash of red color that usually tops deviled eggs. It’s a spice that some cooks would consider more of a garnish than a powerful flavoring agent. However, paprika comes in three different types, each with its own tasty purpose.

puff pastry

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.

spoon with heart

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.

orange and brown sugar

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?”

persimmons

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.

soy sauce and chopsticks

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.

elderberry

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.

clock

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?