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SWEET POTATOES

29 Aug

Oh, the sweet potato…What an absolute delight! Discover the tasty treat hiding under that earthy brown skin…we bet you won’t regret it.

(image source: blogs.dickinson.edu)

Description

Sweet potatoes are tuberous root vegetables that have smooth skins. They can vary in color, depending on the variety, from pale yellow to deep purple to vivid orange. The flesh of sweet potatoes can range in color from light yellow to pink, red or orange. Sweet potatoes are often confused with yams (often because in the US a sweet potato variety is commonly marketed and sold as a yam).

Nutrition

  • Sweet potatoes are fat free, saturated fat free, and cholesterol free.
  • Sweet potatoes are also low in sodium.  
  • Sweet potatoes are a good source of dietary fiber and they contain complex carbohydrates, which means consumption will not cause spikes in blood sugar.  
  • Sweet potatoes are high in vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, potassium, and iron.  

Selection

Choose firm, small- to medium-sized potatoes with smooth skin.  Avoid cracks, soft spots and blemishes.

Preparation

Before cooking sweet potatoes, scrub skin with water and trim off any bruised or woody portions.

Ways to enjoy

  • Sweet potatoes can be baked, boiled, fried, broiled, canned or frozen. 
  • Sweet potatoes can also be cooked in the microwave oven.
  • Make sweet potato chips, fries, salad, or pancakes. 
  • Mash, roast, steam, or grill sweet potatoes.  Top with a little maple syrup, honey, brown sugar, or lime juice.  

Storage

Store sweet potatoes in a cool, dark place for use within 3-5 weeks.

Extras

If you’re eating out, make the switch to sweet potato fries. Numerous restaurants in Champaign-Urbana serve up excellent sweet potato fries. 

Recipes

http://www.ncsweetpotatoes.com/component/garyscookbook/

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipe-collections/sweet-potato/index.html

(image source: hort.purdue.edu) 

Sources

Produce for Better Health Foundation. (2011). Fruit & Vegetable Nutrition Database. Retrieved from http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/?page_id=164

North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission. (2011). About Sweet Potatoes. Retrieved from http://www.ncsweetpotatoes.com/


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Sweet Corn

22 Aug

Description

Sweet corn is a delicious vegetable grown right here in Illinois!  Nothing says late summer/fall like biting into a fresh ear of sweet corn.  You will see yellow corn, white corn, and bi-color corn!

Fun fact: the average ear of corn has 800 kernels, arranged in 16 rows. There is one piece of silk for each kernel.

Nutrition

  • Corn is low fat
  • Corn is saturated fat free, sodium free, and cholesterol free
  • Corn is a good source of vitamin C

Selection

Choose ears with green husks, fresh silks and tight rows of kernels

Preparation

Peel away the husks, remove silk, boil about 5 minutes, and enjoy!  Or leave the husks on and grill them!

Ways to Enjoy

  • Add corn to your soup
  • Add corn kernels and diced tomatoes to guacamole or salsa
  • Try this corn relish recipe

Corn, chopped red onion, chopped red and green peppers, pinto beans and tomatoes

  • Sauté cooked corn in a small amount of olive oil with green chilies and onions
  • Check out this video for a great way to prepare corn for kids:

http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/video/VideoCenter.php?Auto=1&start=0&Video=1&SuperSubID=1

Storage

Refrigerate corn with husks on for use as soon as possible or within 1-2 days.

Recipes

Grilled Corn on the Cob

http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/grilled-corn-on-the-cob/detail.aspx

Oven Roasted Corn on the Cob

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/tyler-florence/oven-roasted-corn-on-the-cob-recipe/index.html

                                                                                    (image source: tasteofhome.com)

(image source: foodnetwork.com)

Sources

Produce for Better Health Foundation (2011). Fruit & Vegetable Nutrition Database. Retrieved from http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org

Cantaloupe

15 Aug

Description

Cantaloupes are melons with a cream colored skin and orange inside!  They can range from 1 to 11 pounds!

Nutrition

  • Cantaloupe is fat free, saturated fat free, and cholesterol free
  • Cantaloupe is very low in sodium
  • Cantaloupe is high in vitamin A & C
  • Cantaloupe is a good source of folate

Selection

Choose fragrant, symmetrical cantaloupes, heavy for size with no visible bruises and yellow or cream undertone. Stem end should give to gentle pressure.

Preparation

Cut open the melon, scoop out the seeds & pulp, slice and enjoy!

Ways to Enjoy

  • Add cubes of melon to your skewers
  • Cantaloupe is a perfect addition to any salad
  • Place a peeled slice of cantaloupe on a plate, pile on slices of banana and your favorite berries, and top with a scoop of low-fat frozen yogurt
  • Try this easy summer salad

Combine cubed mangos, avocados, and cantaloupe with red onion, a splash of 100% orange juice, lime juice and                    cilantro

Storage

Store uncut cantaloupes at room temperature for up to 1 week. Refrigerate cut melon in airtight container up to 5 days.

Recipes

Cantaloupe Crunch

http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/cantaloupe-crunch/detail.aspx

 Tons of Cantaloupe Recipes can be found here:

http://www.cooks.com/rec/search/0,1-00,cantaloupe,FF.html

(image source: edibleblog.com)

Sources

Produce for Better Health Foundation (2011). Fruit & Vegetable Nutrition Database. Retrieved from http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org

Bell Peppers

8 Aug

Description

Bell peppers come in all sorts of colors- green, red, yellow, orange, and purple!  The deeper the color, the sweeter the pepper.

Nutrition

  • Bell peppers are fat free, saturated fat free, and cholesterol free
  • Bell peppers are low in sodium
  • Bell peppers are high in vitamin C

Selection

Choose firm, brightly colored peppers with tight skin that are heavy for their size.  Avoid dull, shriveled or pitted peppers.

Preparation

Check out this video on preparing bell peppers:

http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/video/VideoCenter.php?Auto=1&start=0&Video=152&SuperSubID=122

Ways to Enjoy

  • Stuff ‘em.  Make a mixture of beans, brown rice, vegetables, meat- you pick!… then stuff your bell peppers, bake, and enjoy
  • Dice any color bell pepper and top your pizza before baking
  • Add bell peppers to any stir-fry
  • Eat them raw- alone or add to a salad
  • Brush with olive oil and grill them

Storage

Refrigerate bell peppers in a plastic bag for use within 5 days.

Recipes

Check out these yummy recipes:

http://whatscookingamerica.net/SweetPepperRecipes.htm

(image source: sweetandsourspectator.org)

Sources

Produce for Better Health Foundation (2011). Fruit & Vegetable Nutrition Database. Retrieved from http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org

Stradley, Linda (2011). What’s Cooking America. Retrieved from http://whatscookingamerica.net

Tomatoes

1 Aug

Description

Nothing beats a fresh, juicy, red tomatoes right out of the garden!  But they come in other colors too- red, yellow, & orange!  Check out below for a fried green tomato recipe.  Tomatoes some in all shapes and sizes too.

Nutrition

  • Tomatoes are low fat & very low in sodium
  • Tomatoes are saturated fat free & cholesterol free
  • Tomatoes are high in vitamin A & C
  • Tomatoes are a good sources of potassium

Selection

Choose tomatoes with bright, shiny skins and firm flesh.

Preparation

Just wash & slice, dice, quarter, or cube!

Ways to Enjoy

  • Just slice and eat them fresh!
  • Try this healthy tomato vinaigrette

In a blender, combine a chopped tomato, 2 Tablespoons of vinegar (white wine or balsamic), 1 Tablespoon                                olive oil, ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard, and your favorite herbs (basil, thyme, etc)

  • Stuff tomatoes with a filling of your choice
  • Make salsa- here is one to try:

Chopped fresh tomatoes, finely chopped jalapeno peppers, chopped cucumber, 1 small onion, chopped                                       cilantro and lime juice.  Add black beans, corn, or chopped olives if you want!

  • Slice tomatoes about ½ inch think. Sprinkle with seasoned breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese. Bake at 350 until tomatoes are almost soft.

Storage

Store at room temperature away from direct sunlight, for use within 1 week after ripe. Tomatoes taste best if not refrigerated, refrigerate only if you cannot use them before they spoil.

Recipes

Fried Green Tomatoes

Fried green tomatoes are a southern tradition made famous by the movie of the same name. They are so popular in the south that gardeners plant extra slicing tomatoes to be harvested green for this recipe.

4 green tomatoes, cut in 1/4-inch slices
1 cup flour
1 egg beaten with cup skim milk
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 teaspoon each salt and black pepper
Canola oil for frying

1. Assemble ingredients. Spread flour on a sheet of waxed paper or on a plate. Put the egg wash in a shallow dish.

2. Spread the cornmeal on a sheet of waxed paper or plate, add salt and pepper, and mix well.

3. Dredge the tomato slices in flour and shake off the excess.

4. Dip each slice in the egg wash and drain off excess, and then coat with the cornmeal, shaking off excess gently. Place on a tray and set aside.

5. Heat the oil in a large heavy (preferably cast iron) skillet over a medium flame. When hot, add the tomato slices. Do not overcrowd the skillet. Cook several minutes, until golden, then turn. Drain on paper towels and serve while still hot. Makes 5 servings.

Grilled Tomato Kebabs

Small tomatoes such as cherry, current or pear tomatoes are best eaten raw or briefly cooked. They are perfect for skewering and grilling because they do not fall apart, unless overcooked. If you are using wooden skewers, soak them for 30 minutes in cold water before using.

36 small tomatoes, such as Cherry, Ping Pong, or Yellow Pear
1 tablespoon olive oil
teaspoon each, salt and black pepper
1 tablespoon dried oregano
Six wooden or metal skewers

1. Wash and drain tomatoes. Using a paper towel, dry each or spread on towels and allow to air dry so the oil will stick to the skins

2. Place the dry tomatoes in a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil, and season with oregano and pepper. Toss to coat tomatoes.

3. Thread 6 tomatoes, spaced at least an inch apart, on each of the 6 skewers.

4. Brush hot grill grate with oil to prevent sticking. Arrange skewers on grate. Grill 2 to 4 minutes. Turn and grill the other side for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove skewers and sprinkle with salt, if desired. Makes 6 servings

(image source: makeitfromscratch.blogspot.com)

Sources

Produce for Better Health Foundation (2011). Fruit & Vegetable Nutrition Database. Retrieved from http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org

University of Illinois Extension. (2011). Watch Your Garden Grow. http://urbanext.illinois.edu/veggies/tomato.cfm

 

Broccoli

27 Jul

Description

Broccoli is a hardy vegetable of the cabbage family this is high in vitamins A and D.  It develops best during cool seasons of the year.  Fun fact: BROCCOLI is worth 12 points in scrabble!

Nutrition

  • Broccoli is low fat & low in sodium
  • Broccoli is saturated fat free & cholesterol free
  • Broccoli is high in vitamin C & folate
  • Broccoli is a good source of dietary fiber & potassium

Selection & Storage

Choose odorless broccoli heads with tight, blush-green florets. Refrigerate broccoli and use within 3-5 days.

Check out this video of broccoli selection & storage:

http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/video/VideoCenter.php?Auto=1&start=0&Video=13&SuperSubID=19

Preparation

Just wash and cut broccoli into smaller pieces

Ways to Enjoy

  • Steam broccoli for 2-3 minutes- this is a great way to lock in all the nutrients!
  • Eat it raw- by itself or in a salad
  • The stalks are nutritious too!  Cut them up and add to your favorite soup or casserole
  • Add broccoli to your stir fry
  • Grate broccoli stalks and add them to your favorite cole slaw recipe
  • Try this easy pasta dish:

Blanche broccoli florets and add to your favorite whole wheat pasta salad before chilling, or toss with a little olive oil and add to hot pasta for a delicious and filling dish

Recipes

Steamed Broccoli with Lemon-Dill Dressing

1 bunch broccoli (about 2 pounds)

3 carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch strips

Lemon-Dill Dressing

6 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons lemon juice

Zest of one lemon, grated or minced

¼ teaspoon black pepper (optional)

1 teaspoon dried dill weed or 3 teaspoons fresh dill

Salt to taste

Wash, trim stems from broccoli and peel, cut into strips the same size as carrots. Cut florets into small uniform pieces and set aside. Prepare carrots and set aside. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. (Or prepare the steamer) Add carrots and broccoli stems. Cook for one minute. Add broccoli florets and boil two minutes longer. Do not over cook. Drain, and rinse under cold running water, drain again. Place in a large bowl and gently toss with dressing. Serve immediately. Makes six servings.

Broccoli Stir-fry

  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seed oil
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, broken or chopped coarsely
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions with tops (optional)
  • 4 cups broccoli florets
  • 1/4 cup red pepper strips
  • 2 tablespoons lite soy sauce

In a large heavy, skillet heat oil until hot. Add walnuts and onions and stir-fry for one minute tossing constantly. Add broccoli and continue to toss for three to four minutes. Add red pepper strips and soy sauce and continue to cook one minute longer. Serve immediately. Makes six servings.

(image source: urbanext.illinois.edu)

Sources

Produce for Better Health Foundation (2011). Fruit & Vegetable Nutrition Database. Retrieved from http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org

University of Illinois Extension. (2011). Watch Your Garden Grow. http://urbanext.illinois.edu/veggies/broccoli.cfm

PEACHES

11 Jul

If you were to only buy one thing at the farmers’ market in your lifetime…buy a peach. Take a big, juicy bite and see if you don’t agree. 

(image source: partyresources.blogspot.com)

Description

The peach is a member of the rose family, cousin to apricots, cherries, plums, and almonds. Peaches are a juicy, sweet, fragrant fruits that grow on trees.  Peaches can have yellow flesh or white flesh.

Nutrition

  • Peaches are low fat, saturated fat free, sodium free, and cholesterol free. 
  • Peaches are a good source of vitamin C, vitamin A, niacin, and potassium.  
  • Peaches are also a good source of fiber.  

Selection

Choose peaches with firm, fuzzy skins that yield to gentle pressure when ripe.  Avoid blemishes and overly firm peaches.

Preparation

Wash thoroughly and rub with a paper towel to remove the fuzz.

Ways to enjoy

  • The easiest way to enjoy a peach is to grab one for a fresh, delicious snack. No need to add flavor, peaches pack it all!
  • Peaches can be dried, canned, made into jams, jellies, and preserves, used for desserts, and used as an ingredient in many other dishes, including appetizers and entrees.
  • Peaches are great for smoothies or for adding to tea or lemonade.
  • Bake, broil, sauté, or grill peaches.  Try adding cinnamon or other fruit along. 
  • Peach fruit leather. Steps: Peal and pit peaches then purée in a blender. Pour the purée onto wax paper-lined cookie sheets and dry in a dehydrator or the oven at a very low temperature.
  • Add peaches to dessert…peach cobbler, peach pie, peach tarts, peach coffee cake.
  • Include peaches in your breakfast.  Slices on the side or on top of oatmeal, cereal, yogurt, or cottage cheese.  

Storage

Store unripe peaches in paper bag.  When ripe, store at room temperature for usewithin 1-2 days. Because fresh peaches are highly perishable, don’t buy more than you plan to use. Even when unripe, they spoil easily.

Extras

Peaches have been a popular fruit in the South since the Spaniards first brought them to North America, but they originate in China.

California, Georgia and South Carolina are the largest producers of peaches in the United States.

Recipes

http://allrecipes.com//Recipes/fruits-and-vegetables/fruits/peaches/Main.aspx

(image source: dcfud.smorgasblog.com) 

Sources

Fruitsinfo. (2011). Peaches. Retrieved from http://www.fruitsinfo.com/peaches.htm

Produce for Better Health Foundation. (2011). Fruit & Vegetable Nutrition Database. Retrieved from http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/?page_id=164

Watson, M. (n.d.) About.com Local Foods. All About Peaches. Retrieved from http://localfoods.about.com/od/summer/tp/AllAboutPeaches.htm


Eggplant

6 Jul

Description

Eggplant is a member of the nightshade or potato family, which also includes tomatoes and hot peppers.  Eggplants can be purple, green, white or striped, pear-shaped or cylindrical and the size of a golf ball to a football.  Eggplant grow in a manner similar to tomatoes, hanging from the vines of a plant that grows several feet in height.

 Nutrition

  • Eggplant is fat free, cholesterol free, and sodium free
  • Eggplant is a good source of dietary fiber

 Selection

Choose eggplants that are heavy for their size and without cracks or discolorations.

 Preparation

Wash the eggplant first and then cut off the ends.

 Ways to Enjoy

  • Cut eggplant into cubes, add curry sauce, and simmer until tender.  Serve over brown basmati rice
  • Add eggplant to your stir-fry early on so it cooks thoroughly
  • Roast a small eggplant. Cool. Peel and cut into cubes. Add to tomato sauce with fresh basil. Serve over pasta.
  • Slice an eggplant lengthwise into thin slivers and use in lasagna in place of noodles
  • Eggplant can be baked, roasted in the oven, or steamed.
    • To bake eggplant whole, pierce several times with a fork and bake at 350°F for 15-25 minutes

 Storage

Place uncut and unwashed eggplant in a plastic bag and store in the refrigerator crisper drawer.  Use within 5-7 days.

 Recipes

http://www.foodnetwork.com/topics/eggplant/index.html

                                                (image source: veggiegardeningtips.com)

 Sources

George Mateljan Foundation. (2011). Eggplant. Retrieved from http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=22

Produce for Better Health Foundation (2011). Fruit & Vegetable Nutrition Database. Retrieved from http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/?page_id=2469

Radishes

28 Jun

Description

Radishes are a root vegetable.  There are several varieties of radishes including: Red Globe, Black, Daikons, White Icicles, and California Mammoth White.  When you think of radishes, you probably think of Red Globe- the familiar small, round, red and white radish.  Radishes, especially white radishes, are often mistaken for turnips.  They may look similar but radishes have a very distinct taste! 

Nutrition

  • Radishes are fat free, cholesterol free, and low in sodium.
  • Radishes are high in vitamin C

Selection

Choose smooth, brightly colored, medium sized radishes.  Attached tops should be green and fresh looking.

Preparation

Scrub radishes and trim off the stem end and tip.  You can peel the radishes or leave the skin- up to you!

Ways to enjoy

  • Eat them raw- whole or sliced
  • Grate red radishes into pasta or a salad
  • Add a cup of chopped radishes to your soup
  • Slice and serve on a veggie tray
  • Eat them cooked- boil, steam, or roast
    • Boil radishes in water for 10-20 minutes
    • Steam radishes in a steamer for 5-15 minutes
    • Slice radishes, toss with olive oil, spread onto a baking sheet and roast at 425°F for 30-45 mintues

Storage

Remove tops and store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Recipes

http://allrecipes.com/recipes/fruits-and-vegetables/vegetables-n-z/radishes/top.aspx

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/rachael-ray/braised-radishes-recipe/index.html

 

                                                       (Image source: urbanext.illinois.edu)

Sources

Ehler, James T. (2011). Radish (Vegetables). Retrieved from http://www.foodreference.com/html/artradish.html

Produce for Better Health Foundation (2001). Fruit & Vegetable Nutrition Database. Retrieved from http://www.fruitandveggiesmorematters.org

BLUEBERRIES

20 Jun

Blueberries in pie. Blueberries in salad. Blueberries in muffins.  Blueberries in yogurt. Blueberries in pancakes.  Blueberries in cereal.  Blueberries all by themselves. When can’t you add blueberries? We dare you to be creative!

(image source: flickr.com)

Description

Blueberries are a native North American fruit (and there are only 2 others!) Blueberries are the fruit of a shrub bush and grow in clusters. Blueberries have a deep color, ranging from blue to maroon to dark purple, and they have a white-gray waxy protective coat.  

Nutrition

  • Blueberries are low fat, saturated fat free, sodium free, and cholesterol free. 
  • Blueberries are a good source of dietary fiber and an excellent source of vitamin C and manganese.  
  • Blueberries are also a good source of antioxidants (disease-fighting substances). 

Selection

Choose firm, plump, dry blueberries with dusty blue color and uniform in size.

Preparation

Wash blueberries with cold water before use and dry. 

Ways to enjoy

  • Mix with spinach or lettuce, nuts, strawberries and a light dressing for a salad. 
  • Add to pancake or waffle batter, or top with blueberries after cooking.
  • Top any cereal or oatmeal with a handful of blueberries.
  • Make your own fruit parfait. Layer blueberries with yogurt, granola, and another fruit of your choice.
  • Eat blueberries plain! Grab a handful on the go. Fill up a bowl while you read a book. 
  • Bake desserts for special occasions with blueberries in them to make celebrating more healthy. How about blueberry and lemon cheesecake bars? We recommend using reduced fat cream cheese.  http://www.blueberryrecipes.org/blueberry-cheesecake/    

Storage

Do not wash blueberries before storing.  Refrigerate blueberries for 10 days to 14 days.

Extras

The legend has it that the Native Americans gave blueberries to the pilgrims to help them make it through the first winter.

A single bush can produce 6,000 blueberries in a year. 

Recipes

http://www.blueberrycouncil.com/recipes-homestyle.php

(image source: blueberryrecipes.org) 

Sources

(2011). Preparing Blueberries for Cooking. Retrieved from http://www.recipetips.com/kitchen-tips/t–1439/preparing-blueberries-for-cooking.asp

Produce for Better Health Foundation. (2011). Fruit & Vegetable Nutrition Database. Retrieved from http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/?page_id=164

United States Highbush Blueberry Council. Nutrition. Retrieved from http://www.blueberrycouncil.com/