Potato salad in yellow bowl next to fork on blue wood table

Oh my, is it hot this week in Illinois! So, these five cold summer salad recipes will certainly taste great to help beat the heat. 

I like salads (and recipes like salsa with a mix of different fruits and veggies) for a couple reasons. One, there are multiple different nutrients in one bite. Two, sometimes these foods are more fun and enjoyable to eat than munching on plain carrot sticks or an apple.

Small white turnips with attached greens on a bamboo mat

I don't remember growing up eating turnips. And while turnips are not my go-to veggie, I enjoy grabbing an occasional bunch when I visit farmers markets or local farms each year, primarily to shake up my food routine. 

If you enjoyed turnips as a kid (or as an adult), how did your family cook and serve them? Write about your experience on social media and tag Illinois Extension.

Plate of sliced cucumbers with overlaying text of "Cucumbers: From pickles to salads to sandwich toppers to dippers." Photographs show a young Asian holding a cucumber, a pregnant women slicing cucumbers, and an African American father and child holding cucumbers on a cutting board

Is it a zucchini or a cucumber? I get this question almost every time I talk with kids about that long, green vegetable. (They do have some similarities. It would be easy to confuse.)

If you garden, cucumbers seem to keep coming and growing and expanding across the soil! So, when you are ready to eat, know you can do a lot with a cucumber. From pickles to salads and from sandwich toppers to dippers, cucumbers can be used in many ways.

Add celery as a supporting player in recipes. With tips on recipes, shopping, and storage. Dark wood background with whole head of celery off to the right and cut celery above whole head.

I'm ready for some green this spring! While you have lots of options with spring flowers and impending green blades of grass, let's talk about the humble celery. And we can celebrate that March is National Celery Month.

A Look Inside the Can: The Role of Canned Food Liners

A community member called my office  several years ago with a really interesting question: why does the liner of my can of pineapple look different from my canned beans? Until that question, I hadn't paid much attention to the inside of my cans, except to look at the food. I think about that question sometimes, so in honor of Canned Food Month in February, let's explore commercial canning and can liners (or coatings).

Roles of Canned Foods

A LOT of foods are canned, and for helpful reasons.

Image of family eating together and image of heart healthy foods, fruit, whole grain foods, oatmeal, waffles. Image of building wooden blocks with wellness images of blood, stethoscope, first aid, bandage. University of Illinois Extension branding and logo

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States for both men and women. Most of us know someone who has been touched, in some way, by heart disease. Sound a bit scary? It doesn’t have to be because heart disease can often be prevented by adopting simple lifestyle changes. First, we have to understand what puts a person at risk for developing heart disease.

How Do I Eat Kiwi Fruit? With Tips on Recipes, Shopping, and Storage. Left photo is a gold kiwi fruit cut in half sitting on a blue napkin. Right photo is a wood cutting board with a knife and green kiwi fruit cut in half.

What is a food you never grew up eating, but now enjoy as an adult? There are several for me, including pears, asparagus, cauliflower, and kiwi fruit. I've had strawberry-kiwi flavored drinks, but never a fresh kiwi fruit until several years ago. I'm so glad I tried them, with their soft, sweet, and a little tart fruit with crunchy little black seeds.

Use leeks in your autumn meals: with tips on recipes, shopping, and storage. Background includes leek tops and ends on light blue wood background

Leeks aren't an ingredient I use much at all myself, probably because I don't see them in my rural grocery store. When I shop bigger stores or farmers markets where leeks might be available, I'll keep an eye out. Particularly in autumn because leeks pair so well with many fall-inspired recipes.

Nutritious, delicious black walnuts

When I was growing up, we had an old black walnut tree next to our driveway that would drop walnuts, causing me to trip over them while chasing my brother. I loathed this tree, especially when it was my turn to mow the grass, as I had to first rake the walnuts, wasting more of my precious time. Little did I know that we could have used these annoying nuts for delicious food. However, they’re a hard nut to crack.

More Tricks than Treats this Halloween

Often a day of candy, treats, and sugar, a "healthy" Halloween might well be an oxymoron. By focusing more on getting dressed up and the fun of playing games and tricks, kids and adults can focus less on food and more on the festivities.

Get the 411 on Bone Health, Cute Halloween ghost, skeleton, black cat, bones and cobweb

Did you know throughout life, you are continually losing and rebuilding bone tissue? It's true. Now, children do make new bone at a substantially greater rate than adults because much more bone is being built than lost during childhood and adolescence, as their bones are growing in both size and density. However, adults are still rebuilding bone tissue throughout their lifespan. Unfortunately, the rate at which adults' bodies can rebuild bone tissue gradually decreases with age, often leading to the development of osteoporosis.

Acorn Squash Are Not for Squirrels: With Tips on Eating, Shopping, and Storage

The main winter squashes I see sold in grocery stores - and interestingly from a pumpkin patch near me selling both edible and ornamental varieties - are butternut, spaghetti, and acorn squashes.

Acorn squash are typically small, and if winter squash is new to you, they are a great one to try first. Plus they are packed with a variety of nutrients.

Image of jars of whole grain pastas and grains

Whole grains are an essential part of a healthy and well-balanced diet. They provide fiber and vital nutrients our bodies need, such as B vitamins, antioxidants, and trace minerals like iron and zinc.

Cooking with Squash Blossoms; open blossom on squash plant on right side, three cut squash blossoms on wood background on right

Just about every year I've been working, Sandy, one of our Master Gardeners, brings in squash blossoms around the office. He has offered them to me in the past, but I've never cooked with them before and never took him up the offer. This year, I was ready to explore how to clean, prepare, and cook with these edible flowers from Sandy's cushaw squash plant.

Older women sitting outside eating blueberries

I got to spend some time a few weeks ago picking blueberries! Put on my hat and UV shirt, brought a bottle of water, and got to pickin'. Thanks goodness for taller blueberry bushes so I could take a break from crouching down. Now the question is: what to do with all the fresh blueberries?

Nutritionally, a 1/2-cup of blueberries contains around 40 calories, 10g carbohydrates, 2g fiber, and is a good source of vitamin C, folate, and vitamin K. Blueberries do not have significant amounts of fat, sodium, or protein.  

farmers market vendors and produce

There is nothing in this world like eating truly ripe fruit, picked at the peak of nutritional freshness. You know when you bite into a truly ripe, locally grown strawberry that you are eating something special.  Oh my, I can almost taste one now! There is no comparison between a fully ripe local berry and the big hollow tasteless orbs found in our supermarkets year-round. Where can you find these luscious gems of early summer?

May is Mediterranean Diet Month: Golden retriever puppy saying Time to Explore the world's healthiest eating plan

If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed when trying to maintain a healthy diet, you are not alone. We all know a healthy diet is vital to our overall health, especially if you are attempting to slim down or manage a chronic health condition.

Eat a Radish from Top to Bottom

Radishes come in quite the variety: spicy to mild, small to long, round to straight, red to white to multicolored. This photo of a watermelon radish from University of California Cooperative Extension is a fun one.

Nutrition

A half cup of sliced raw radishes contains around 10 calories, 2g carbohydrates, and 1g fiber. While radishes do not contain much protein, fat, or sodium, they do have vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, folate, potassium, and calcium.

Text says "Get your fruits and vegetables in by sampling the seasons" and image is of carrots.

There’s something about going to the farmers market that just feels right. Maybe it’s the cool breeze and peek of sunshine in the morning, the calm gathering of people with their adorable babies and furry dogs, or the colorful array of foods that stand in front of the hard-working farmers. Supporting local agriculture and entrepreneurs is supporting the community you live and work in, and that is why your heart feels good after every purchase.

Turn strawberries into jam and fruit leather and salsa

The strawberries are coming! The strawberries are coming! May is National Strawberry Month so you might start seeing sales or promotions in grocery stores and locally grown strawberries will be available soon at local farmers markets and pick-your-own sites.

Like other berries, a wonderfully ripe strawberry just bursts with juice and flavor. You can find strawberries year-round in stores, but the best quality and lowest prices will be in late spring and summer months when the berries are in-season.

Puppy chewing on a rope. Chew on this... Practice self-care to manage stress

April is national stress awareness month. As we continue to face new seasons in life, let's take a few minutes to talk about stress and how we can better manage it. Everyone experiences stress. However, each of us experiences stress differently. Stress is how our brain and body respond to any challenge. When most people think of stress, they typically think of significant life changes, such as the birth of a child, moving to a new home, starting a new job, or a traumatic event, such as an unwanted diagnosis or losing a loved one.

What Onions (and Alliums) to Use When

Onions can serve as the star in a recipe like onion soup or play a supporting role. For today's post, I'll talk about more common bulb and spring onions, and others in the allium genus, including leeks, shallots, and chives.

Nutritionally, a single medium raw bulb onion contains around 60 calories, 14g carbohydrates, 3g fiber, and is a source of vitamins and minerals including folate, vitamin C, potassium, and phosphorus. Like many non-starchy veggies, onions are not a significant source of fat, protein, or sodium.

5 heart healthy breakfast items including oatmeal, protein smoothies, avocado salad on toast and egg scramble wraps

Do you feel pressed for time in the morning but still want to enjoy a heart-healthy breakfast? Well I’m here to help!

Breakfast is an important part of the day and an opportunity to fill your body with the fuel it needs to accomplish goals and complete daily tasks. The foods you choose influence your health so it’s wise to make smart choices early on. One healthy choice will surely lead to another.

Getting quality sleep and be ruff - puppy sleeping

Adequate, quality sleep is essential for our health and wellbeing. Sleep helps the body to heal and restore itself. It is vital for brain and heart health, mood and physical function, and a healthy immune system. 

Nutrition and Pumpkins

Whether used in a savory soup, added to quick breads, or your beloved family pie, pumpkins are a fall favorite for many, and very versatile.

This fruit is packed full of key nutrients our bodies need. Yes, I said fruit. Fun fact, although pumpkins have a nutritional profile like that of a vegetable, they are botanically a fruit since they contain seeds.

Photo of pregnant woman

Making healthy food choices will help you and your baby’s overall health. What you eat during pregnancy can affect your growing baby. Choosing nutritious foods will help ensure your baby has the best start in life. Eat a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fat-free or low-fat dairy and protein foods. The MyPlate guidelines can help you choose nutritious foods that are right for you.

During the first trimester, eat

photo of pickles

Sour, sweet, bread and butter, Kosher dills, spears, chips, sliced on a sandwich, or as a snack or side dish. Pickles are everywhere!

Pickling is an ancient form of food preservation, dating back to 2030 B.C. when cucumbers from India were pickled in the Tigris Valley. The word “pickle” comes from the Dutch pekel or northern German pókel, meaning “salt” or “brine.”

healthy immune system from eating fruits and vegetables

Psssst…. Did you hear? Word on the street is that pineapple juice is a cure for the COVID-19 virus!

Is that true? Can you reduce your risk of getting sick by choosing specific foods? Well, there is no such thing as a free lunch, and if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. That is the case with our bodies and how they fight illness.

You have heard that the best defense is a good offense and it is never more true than with our immune system. If we keep our bodies well fed, they are better able to fight off infections more effectively and efficiently.