August 22, 2019

Give your dish, drink or dessert a squeeze of fresh lime for an added sense of freshness and a pop of tartness. Limes grow on trees in warm climates. Similar to lemons, limes are a citrus fruit with a low pH; this means limes are very acidic, making them an influential cooking ingredient.

August 22, 2019

Fresh ginger is one of the most common spices used in the world. It’s believed that Indians and Chinese were the first to produce ginger root where it was primarily used to treat many ailments. While not really a root, ginger is in the same family as turmeric, both of which are grown for their rhizomes, an underground stem that sends out roots or shoots. The rhizome is the part you eat. 

pumpkin seeds
October 14, 2019

I recently ordered some pumpkin seeds online, but when I opened up the package, I realized that they were not the pumpkin seeds I had in mind. I was expecting to see cream-colored, oval-shaped seeds, like the ones you’d dig out of a jack-o-lantern, but instead I received greenish, small seeds without a cream-colored hull. They resembled a sunflower seed only a tad bigger. It dawned on me that I had actually ordered pepitas.

October 22, 2019

One of the most popular foods in the fall is named for a different season: winter squash, particularly acorn squash. While still a popular pick in the winter, acorn squash in Illinois is generally harvested in late summer to early November. It’s the first fall food I go for after decorating my house with pumpkins and fall décor.

October 25, 2019

Along with the Keto and Whole 30 diets, the Paleo diet is currently trending in popularity. Also called the “caveman” or “stone-age” diet, it’s based on the idea that today’s farming practices are not what they were when our ancestors ate 10,000 years ago. Paleo diet supporters believe in the hypothesis that our bodies have not been able to adapt to a modern diet, and thus is a contributing factor to the prevalence of diabetes, heart disease and obesity. However, there is no scientific evidence supporting these claims.

October 29, 2019

Pumpkin season is in full swing, and while great for decorating and carving, pumpkins are also considered a superfood, offering many health benefits. In fact, the seeds, fruit and greens have each been known to be used in herbal medicines. The pumpkin flesh is a valuable source of both vitamin A and fiber, which will help to boost immunity, support weight loss and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, cancer and arthritis. Just one-half cup of canned pumpkin provides 200% of daily vitamin A needs.

November 08, 2019

As many people are realizing the health benefits of plant-based diets, plant-rich proteins are becoming more popular. While tofu is more widely known as a meat substitute, tempeh is not far behind. Tempeh, like tofu, is made from soybeans. The soybeans are cooked, fermented and then formed into a firm block that resembles a nougat. While tempeh may not sound or look very appetizing, fans of this tofu cousin enjoy it for its versatility and nutrient density.

November 15, 2019

Turning fresh fall veggies into fabulous favorites can happen with roasting, a simple cooking technique. Roasting allows vegetables or other foods to develop a crispy crust on the outside while creating a subtle sweetness. This is due to the magic of caramelization.

November 27, 2019

Sour cream has so many uses that it’s often a refrigerator staple from January to December. It adds richness and acidity to both savory and sweet dishes. It’s similar to it’s substitutes, yogurt or crème fraiche, yet remains a distinctive ingredient.

December 06, 2019

The holidays come with much anticipation and excitement, as well as a little dread. The dozens of holiday cookies, the variations of fabulous fudge, and the finest candies around, are sure to excite the taste buds. But when these goodies have you surrounded each day from November to January, the dread of the holiday pounds weighs you down. Here are some holiday tips to help you gain control.

January 10, 2020

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.

soy sauce and chopsticks
January 17, 2020

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.

January 22, 2020

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.

orange and brown sugar
February 03, 2020

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?”

spoon with heart
February 07, 2020

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.

puff pastry
February 14, 2020

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.

February 28, 2020

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.

black bean burger
March 17, 2020

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.  

March 26, 2020

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

Garbage can with overflowing food
April 02, 2020

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

Milk pouring into glass set on wooden table
April 24, 2020

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?

Grass with sun coming through the trees.
May 01, 2020

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.

glass of milk with straw set on a picnic table
May 08, 2020

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.

May 14, 2020

Eggplants are more than a funny name with an odd shape. They are versatile, nutritious and quite tasty. And lucky for us, the eggplant season generally lasts until the end of October.

There are different varieties of eggplant, some of which are white rather than the more common purple color, and some of which are round or oval rather than elongated. Like many vegetables, eggplant is low in calories and has virtually zero fat, cholesterol and sodium. Plus, it’s abundant in antioxidants and rich in dietary fiber.

Chicken and vegetable recipe in gray bowl, set on table with fork and spooon.
May 15, 2020

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!  

Ice cubes
May 22, 2020

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.  

Hiking trail in the woods.
June 05, 2020

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.

Blue background, glass in the middle of picture with water being poured into it.
June 11, 2020

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?

Yellow weight on a barbell.
June 19, 2020

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.

Basil leaves on a wooden table.
June 24, 2020

Pesto isn’t just for the fine dining of the rich and famous. Rather, it can be a part of the regular ol' American family dinner. While it may seem like a fancy and unnecessary addition to an otherwise tasty meal, its bold taste can elevate a food to a whole new level. Take a simple grilled chicken, for example; even when seasoned with a dry rub, it is just ordinary chicken, but when pesto is spread on top, it creates a completely different dish. And the best part of pesto is its simplicity.

July 23, 2020

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.

Chopped tomatoes surrounding a knife
September 04, 2020

Every kitchen is sure to have a knife or set of knives. But let’s face it; these razor-sharp tools can be intimidating. How comfortable are you at using a knife, caring for your knife, and knowing which knife to use?

A wicker basket on a table filled with a dozen starfruit.
September 17, 2020

Starfruit may not be the most well-known fruit, but I bet you can figure out what it looks like. Shaped like a star when sliced, it’s also called carambola and is native to Southeast Asia. Carambola trees produce yellow to lime green fruit with a waxy rind on the outside and a juicy pulp on the inside.

Four quesadilla slices and pico de gallo on a blue plate
September 25, 2020

The school year certainly looks very different this year. While some children are eating lunches at school, many others are eating and learning from home. Suddenly parents or caregivers find themselves searching for quick, easy meals to fuel their children for an afternoon of learning.

Three slices of cauliflower on a cutting board.
October 02, 2020

Cauliflower is no longer just a side dish; it’s often the star of the meal. This cruciferous vegetable is like the underdog that has recently been discovered for it’s enormous talent. What’s it’s talent? Versatility.

Spiralized zucchini and carrot noodles on a black plate, with a whole carrot and zucchini off to the side.
October 09, 2020

This blog post was written by Illinois State University graduate student and dietetic intern, Kayla Kaspari.