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Healthy Cooking

Slow cooker with kidney beans

Kidney Beans and Slow Cookers

Slow cookers, commonly known by one of the brand names Crock-pot®, are a popular kitchen appliance used to make a variety of soups, stews, desserts, or one-pot meals. One common ingredient in soups and stews is kidney beans. Purchasing dry beans and soaking them at home is an excellent way to save...
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images of beans, lentils, peas and chickpeas

Eating more plant-based proteins

Plant-based diets are becoming more popular The 2023 National Nutrition Month campaign encourages people to eat with the environment in mind and to consume more plant-based foods. This means meat is seen rather as a sidekick than a main attraction. With plants being the center of...
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images of foods used in baking as egg replacements

Egg substitutes when baking

No eggs? No Problem! You can use a variety of other foods when cooking and baking. It’s good to know how much egg substitute you need when replacing eggs in your recipe. 1 egg is roughly 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons/2oz) so you need to replace that volume in your recipe. Depending upon the recipe and...
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Wood baskets filled with delicate, acorn, and butternut squashes

8 winter squash recipes to make this autumn

After a multiday team meeting, our group went out to dinner. A special at a local restaurant was a whole pumpkin, scooped out and filled with mashed pumpkin, seafood, veggies, and sauce. It was a hit! While they're tasty and make for festive decorating, I find winter squash intimidating to cut up...
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Flat metal pot with 3 eggplant on wood background

Eggplant is a recipe centerpiece and a team player

When writing about specific fruits and veggies, I like to look at recipes with that food. I know how I'd use eggplant, but how do others use it? It seems like eggplant pairs endlessly with so many flavors across so many cultures. While eggplant can be the center of the dish, it can also compliment...
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Tan wood background with whole and halved peaches with a few peach leaves

Summertime is the best time to enjoy peaches

Peaches are one of a handful of foods I don't buy fresh unless it's summertime and I can get them locally. The quality and flavor of peaches in summer from a local farm is just. so. good! My favorite way to eat them is on their own. No muss, no fuss. But there are lots of ways to prepare peaches,...
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Potato salad in yellow bowl next to fork on blue wood table

5 summer salads to help you cool down in hot weather

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,...
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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

Cucumbers make tasty salsas, salads, and pickles

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

Let's look inside the can

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...
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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.

How do I eat kiwi fruit?

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,...
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9 sweet and savory pumpkin recipes

9 sweet and savory pumpkin recipes

Fun fact I think many people have started to learn over the years: the cans of pumpkin puree on grocery store shelves are from "processing pumpkins" or "canning pumpkins," while the pumpkins we decorate with and carve are "ornamental pumpkins." Fun fact number two: Illinois is a top state for...
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Use leeks in your autumn meals: with tips on recipes, shopping, and storage. Background includes leek tops and ends on light blue wood background

Use leeks in your autumn meals

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

Acorn (squash) are not for squirrels

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...
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Title text of 10 Recipes for the Zucchini and Summer Squash Overflow, with photo of young Caucasian boy holding very large zucchini in kitchen

10 recipes for the zucchini and summer squash overflow

Who has made the "mistake" of planting too many zucchini or summer squash plants, and then scrambled to find doorsteps to drop off extras? Take them please! There are too many! Or is it just time to eat a whole LOT of summer squash in the next month? Nutritionally, 1 cup of chopped zucchini...
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Older women sitting outside eating blueberries

Rounding up some fresh blueberry recipes

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?...
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Summer Food Safety image of chicken, corn, grilled veggies, watermelon

Grilling and summer food safety

Summer is officially here! If you haven’t already gotten your grill out, you should consider doing so. Grilling is a great way to keep the kitchen cool and enjoy many of your favorite summer foods. Whether you are grilling meat, poultry, seafood, or vegetables, it is important to food safety at...
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Make Meals and Messes with Kids in the Kitchen this Summer

Make meals and messes with kids in the kitchen this summer

School is out for the year and kids everywhere are excited to start their summers! Whatever the kids are doing, let them practice making meals and snacks for themselves this summer. This gives them autonomy with their food choices, lets them develop self-sufficiency, and may encourage them to...
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Text says "Get your fruits and vegetables in by sampling the seasons" and image is of carrots.

Get your fruits and vegetables in by sampling the seasons

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....
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Turn strawberries into jam and fruit leather and salsa

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...
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What Onions (and Alliums) to Use When

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...
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Increasing Broccoli's Appeal

Increasing broccoli's appeal

Along with green peas, broccoli might be tied as the most unpopular veggie with kids. I was an exception. As a kid and adult, broccoli is one of my favorite veggies - cooked at least. Raw broccoli doesn't appeal to me. Even a dietitian has food preferences, so this is a reminder that how food is...
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5 heart healthy breakfast items including oatmeal, protein smoothies, avocado salad on toast and egg scramble wraps

5 heart healthy breakfasts under 5 minutes

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...
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gifts from the kitchen including pomander balls, chai, homemade tea bags and roasted nuts

Holiday DIY: Gifts from the kitchen

When I think about the holidays, I think about getting crafty in the kitchen. Making food-related gifts for friends and family is a fun way to share your creative side and put a personal touch on the holiday season. In the past I have gifted home-preserved cranberry-orange chutney, herb ornaments,...
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oat-based recipes including overnight oats, savory oats, and oatmeal bars.

5 wholesome ways to add more oats to your day

Oats can be found in many cultural dishes such as Scotland’s haggis and Muesli from the Swiss. Oats have been a popular addition to many recipes and a staple food source for centuries. Oats are an extremely versatile whole grain and can be added to many recipes, from breakfast to beverages. Here...
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