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Simply Nutritious, Quick and Delicious 2022

Enjoy the versatility of plums

Do you have visions of sugar plums dancing in your head this holiday season? If you have no idea what this classic poem is referring to, don’t feel bad; I don’t either. Some history buffs will say that it referred to anything sweet and round in the 16th century, not just plums. Regardless of this Christmas mystery, plums truly can be a sweet treat. The plum is a stone fruit, and it comes in many varieties and colors, such as red, purple, yellow or green. They have smooth edible skin, and most...
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Keeping food gifts safe for the holiday

The holidays are a wonderful time to experience the joy of giving. While store-bought gifts are nice, homemade gifts offer a more personal touch. When you’re famous in your family and friends circle for your homemade caramels, pecan pie or barbecue sauce, it’s a welcomed gift to give. However, whenever gifting food, you must first consider the means to keep it safe.   Always start by cleaning and sanitizing kitchen counter surfaces. Wash hands with soap and warm water before preparing the...
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Stewing over the differences between soup and stew

Comfort food is what I crave on cold, dark evenings and for me that includes a bowl of warm, hearty stew. While both soup and stew will provide the warm nourishment I desire, there is a difference between the two. Soup generally refers to ingredients, such as meat and vegetables, cooked in a large amount of liquid like broth or tomato juice. Soups may be clear, like chicken noodle, or thick, like any cream soup. Stew, on the other hand, includes solid ingredients, such as potatoes and meat,...
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Holiday foods from the garden

No matter what holidays you celebrate, there is bound to be food around the table. Some of that food may have even come from your garden or local farmer. What cool season crops can you locally source for your holiday gathering? Think potatoes, carrots...
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For a good gravy, you need a thickening agent

To make a good cheese sauce or gravy, you need a thickening agent. Cornstarch and flour are two common thickening agents in the home kitchen. Both are cereal starches and when they’re mixed with a liquid and then heated, they gelatinize. While cornstarch and all-purpose flour can often be substituted for each other, the two have their differences. Cornstarch is pure starch made from corn. Flour, on the other hand, is made from wheat and contains starch and gluten, a protein responsible for...
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The fuel to fight cancer

Most of us know at least one person who has been affected by cancer. As we age, the risk of getting cancer increases. In fact, eighty percent of those diagnosed with cancer are 55 years of age or older. While we may not be able to prevent every cancer, we can help lower our risk. Our diet and food choices are a protective factor, along with physical activity, breastfeeding, HPV and Hepatitis B vaccines, and limited exposures to smoking, alcohol and the sun. Research shows that a diet of mostly...
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Six tips to lower your sodium intake

Do you typically lean for salty or sweet? Salt cravers might get their salty kick from potato chips, fries, or popcorn. These savory snacks are an obvious source of sodium. However, even sweet lovers get more sodium than they think when considering their meals. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 40 percent of the sodium we eat each day comes from just 10 types of foods: breads, pizza, sandwiches, cold cuts, soups, tacos/burritos, savory snacks, chicken, cheese,...
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Healthier ways to enjoy the comforts of casserole

Casseroles are the essence of comfort food. They’re warmth on a cold autumn day, solace in time of mourning or sickness, and simplicity when needing to feed the family. Loosely defined, a casserole can be any food prepared in a casserole dish. A casserole dish is a deep, oven-safe dish, such as a 13x9-inch baking pan or stoneware of any shape or size. Most people, however, would conclude that a casserole contains at least three or four of these elements: protein, vegetable, a binding element,...
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How to prepare butternut squash

Butternut squash is a favorite fall food of mine. However, I must admit that it’s odd shape and hard surface can sometimes make it frustrating to deal with. Here’s how I handle this rock-hard squash. First, decide how you are using the squash: mashed or cubed? If it doesn’t have to be cubed, ignore any recipe that says to peel and cube it, as that takes too much work! Skip cutting the squash altogether and simply place the whole washed squash directly in a slow cooker. No water is necessary,...
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Explore National Hispanic Heritage Month with these Latin American foods

National Hispanic Heritage Month runs September 15 through October 15. It’s a special time to recognize and celebrate the cultures, traditions, and contributions of Hispanic and Latino/a/x individuals. While Hispanic and Latino are often used interchangeably, they have two different meanings. Hispanic refers to those whose descendants are from a Spanish-speaking country, while Latino refers to those from Latin America. Latino can include males or all genders, Latina includes females and Latinx...
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How to make bruschetta

Bruschetta (pronounced ‘broo skeh tuh’) is a classic appetizer that will impress the guests with it’s beautiful color and fresh taste. Originating in Italy, this popular starter dish is straight out of the garden. Fresh tomato, basil and garlic are the stars, served on a toasty baguette. As many are still gathering fresh tomatoes out of the garden, bruschetta is one way to put them to use. Roma, or a similar paste tomato, is a good variety to use since it’s meatier and less juicy, but most any...
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Easy hacks for quick, healthy meals

With school in full swing and the kids’ activities encroaching on mealtime, it can be hard to find the time to prepare a healthy family dinner. Sometimes made-from-scratch meals just aren’t happening. However, a little bit of time to cook is better than no time, and using pre-packaged and previously cooked foods is better than constantly running through the drive-thru. So, take a deep breath and use some of these hacks to get quick, healthy meals on the table! Pizza: Making...
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Cooking with heart-healthy sesame oil

Back when I was living on my own with my first big job, my confidence in the kitchen grew and my food repertoire became bigger. It was then that I realized my love for Asian cuisine revolves around one main ingredient: sesame oil. If you’ve cooked with sesame oil, you know of its distinct aroma and flavor, offering a nutty, toasty profile. A little goes a long way, so many recipes may only use a teaspoon or less and combine it with other oils. There are mainly two varieties of sesame oil:...
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Rosemary adds a strong, assertive flavor to your plate

Rosemary is an herb I always have growing in my herb garden. Native to the Mediterranean region, it makes a beautiful addition to the landscape. It’s green needle-like leaves have a hint of evergreen taste. Its strong assertive flavor may not work well with other strong flavored herbs, such as mint or cilantro, as they may compete against each other. Therefore, start with a small amount of fresh rosemary and add more as needed. If using fresh rosemary instead of dried in a recipe, use 1...
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Yogurt offers many health benefits with probiotics

Yogurt is a cold, creamy treat that’s delicious anytime of the day. It’s a fermented food made by heating milk, combining it with a culture of bacteria, specifically Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus, and letting it sit at a warm temperature for several hours. As the cultures grow, the milk thickens leaving a tangy, smooth texture that so many enjoy. Yogurt offers many health benefits, particularly yogurt that contains live, active bacteria known as probiotics. Probiotics...
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Raspberries add a pop of color and nutrients to your plate

Red raspberries give most any dish a pop of color, generally causing my mouth to water. Buy raspberries all summer long, but don’t let them sit in your fridge for long! Freshly picked raspberries should be consumed soon after harvest and stored in the refrigerator for only 1-2 days. These highly perishable berries should not be washed until you’re ready to eat them. Freeze them for longer storage by simply placing washed berries on a tray and freezing until hard. Then pack into freezer...
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Making homemade barbecue sauce

Barbecue sauce is a classic condiment for summertime grilling. If you’re asking others for the best barbecue sauce recipe, the answers will likely differ depending on what part of the U.S. they’re from. There are different styles of barbecue sauce, often associated with different regions, but most fall into either a tomato, vinegar, or mustard base. Tomato base barbecue sauces generally use tomatoes, tomato sauce or ketchup. Surprisingly, the first barbecue sauces recorded in America didn’t...
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Burrito bowls are fresh, nutritious, and easily customizable

Burrito bowls are fresh, nutritious, and easily customizable for all who partake. In fact, it’s probably my favorite thing to serve when having company over for dinner because with a little prep work, it’s easy to lay everything out for the guests to assemble themselves. Burrito bowls are the inner fillings of a burrito, just without the tortilla. Choose your protein, grain, and vegetable, and add fruit or dairy as you wish. I love meals that include all the food groups in one dish! Select...
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Lowering your costs at the grocery store

By this time, I’m sure you already know that food prices have gone up, yet it can still be a shock to the system as the grocery store clerk tells you what you owe. How can we lower our food bill without sacrificing good nutrition? While it may be tempting to simply go out to eat or order take-in for every meal, you’ll likely be paying more than before. Restaurants too, feel the economic burden and many places have had to raise their prices. While it’s good to support local when you can,...
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Grilling brings a whole new flavor to food

Firing up the grill is one of my favorite ways to enjoy delicious meals in the summer. Grilling allows you to experience the outdoors, and it pairs well with summer activities, such as swimming, camping, and picnics with friends. Outdoor grilling can use gas or charcoal, both of which has pros and cons. Nothing beats the flavor of using a charcoal grill. Gas grills simply don’t give the same distinct “grilled” taste that charcoal does. Charcoal grills are also cheaper and generally more...
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