Roasting Vegetables 101

Oh, the smell of winter is in the air. The colder temperatures, snow, ice, winter coats, skiing, sledding and root vegetables. Can you tell this is an enjoyable time for me?

No, actually it isn’t. I don’t like cold, I don’t like skiing, and I’m not a big fan of snow. Yeah, yeah I know, I live in Illinois, but I’m still not use to it! However, I do love root vegetables because you can roast these vegetables and they are fabulous to eat. They are like a guilty pleasure, almost too good to be good for you! Plus, it is super, super easy to do.

Click here to print off Roasting Vegetables 101

Optional: Stir/turn the vegetables 1 to 2 times during the baking process.

When roasting vegetables, go easy on the oil, which is high in calories and fat. You may also consider substituting oil for balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, tamari, lemon, lime juice, etc.

When done roasting, serve them as a side dish, pile them on a sandwich, inside a panini, or puree them to make soup. Happy Eating!!

Do You Really Need to Wash Your Vegetables?

Do you really need to wash your vegetables

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has recently released the “Dirty Dozen” list of vegetables and fruits for 2016. The EWG analyzes test results of thousands of samples of vegetables and fruits taken by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to determine the amount of pesticide residue.

The list looks a little different this year as strawberries have moved into first place, meaning the majority of samples were found to have pesticide residue.  The EWG found that 98% of the non-organic strawberry samples had pesticide residue. Findings like this can be controversial, and other government agencies refute that the pesticides identified are harmful. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) responded by saying that the pesticide levels found are not harmful for consumption and they perform dietary assessments to establish tolerance and safety of pesticides. It is important to note that even organic products may have some pesticide residue.

We know a higher consumption of vegetables and fruits promote better health. Organic is usually more expensive, which leads many to purchase non-organic fresh, canned, and frozen vegetables and fruits. Regardless of buying organic or non-organic, both should be washed thoroughly. Incorporating vegetables and fruits on a daily basis promotes better health and a longer life, so we just need to be as knowledgeable as possible about where they are coming from, how to wash them, and how to prepare them safely.

2016 “Dirty Dozen”

  1. Strawberries
  2. Apples
  3. Nectarines
  4. Peaches
  5. Celery
  6. Grapes
  7. Cherries
  8. Spinach
  9. Tomatoes
  10. Sweet bell peppers
  11. Cherry tomatoes
  12. Cucumbers

Dirty Dozen

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Fruit and Nut Salad with Berry Poppy Seed Dressing

Fruit and Nut Salad

Fruit and Nut Salad

1 bag lettuce mix
½-1 bag of spinach
¼ cup dried cranberries
4-6 strawberries (sliced)
½  red onion (sliced)
1 apple (sliced)
¼ cup nuts (your choice: pecans, walnuts, etc.)

Optional Add-ons:
Croutons
Fresh grated parmesan cheese

Berry Poppy Seed Dressing

½-1  cup fresh berries (your choice: raspberries, strawberries, etc.)
1/8 cup honey
1 Tablespoon of olive oil
1 jar of poppy seed dressing 

Instructions

  • Mix lettuce and spinach in a large bowl.
  • Mix in dried cranberries, sliced strawberries, red onions, apples, and nuts.
  • Puree fresh berries with olive oil and honey.
  • Blend berry puree with 1 jar of poppy seed dressing.
Fruit and Nut Salad with Berry Poppy Seed Dressing
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Ingredients
  1. Fruit and Nut Salad
  2. 1 bag lettuce mix
  3. ½-1 bag of spinach
  4. ¼ cup dried cranberries
  5. 4-6 strawberries (sliced)
  6. ½ red onion (sliced)
  7. 1 apple (sliced)
  8. ¼ cup nuts (your choice: pecans, walnuts, etc.)
  9. Berry Poppy Seed Dressing
  10. ½-1 cup fresh berries (your choice: raspberries, strawberries, etc.)
  11. 1/8 cup honey
  12. 1 Tablespoon of olive oil
  13. 1 jar of poppy seed dressing
Instructions
  1. Mix lettuce and spinach in a large bowl.
  2. Mix in dried cranberries, sliced strawberries, red onions, apples, and nuts.
  3. Puree fresh berries with olive oil and honey.
  4. Blend berry puree with 1 jar of poppy seed dressing.
Optional Add-ons
  1. Croutons
  2. Fresh grated parmesan cheese
Something to Chew http://somethingtochew.com/

How to Pick a Good One

We want to feed our family the best quality fruits and vegetables to balance your plate. When you are at the grocery store or farmers’ market, how do you pick fresh fruits and vegetables? Here are some ideas to help.

How to pick a good one

Watermelon:

  • Pick a watermelon that has a yellow belly. These large yellow spots indicate the watermelon is ripe and ready to eat.

Tomatoes:

  • If you are wanting the tomato for immediate use, pick a bright red tomato, but if you are wanting the tomato for future use, pick a pale pink/orange tomato.
  • Don’t store your tomatoes in the fridge. The colder temperature from the fridge causes the tomato to undergo a change that weakens the flavor and texture, which in turn causes it to ripen faster.

Peppers:

  • Store peppers in the fridge, unwashed in a plastic bag. Typically, red, yellow and orange peppers can last 4-5 days and green peppers last about a week.

Sweet Corn:

  • Feel the cob to see how tight the husk is on the cob. When the cob feels tight, it usually means there is a high water content in the corn kernels. This means the corn is fresh. Also, older husks will start to brown and have a more wrinkled texture.

Cantaloupe:

  • Look for a golden-colored melon with a clean, round hole where the stem was.
  • A little fact about melon: 1 cup of honeydew melon provides the same amount of potassium as a banana.

Asparagus:

  • Avoid purchasing asparagus with ‘woody’ ends. A sign of aging is dry, split ends. The ends should be compact, firm and dry.

Mango:

  • Give the mango a squeeze. If it is ripe, the mango will give a little without being squishy.

In the end, if unsure about the produce item, ask the vendor to share the tips and tricks for that particular fruit/vegetable.

Visit us this summer at the Illinois Products Farmers’ Market!

Megan Klemm

Off to the Farmers’ Market

Off to the Farmers Market

Last night we kicked off another year of the Illinois Products Farmers’ Market at the Illinois State Fairgrounds! Time and time again, we share how important a well balanced diet with fresh fruits and vegetables is to you health. What better way to stock your shelves with fresh, local produce than by taking a trip to your local market?

The Farmers’ Market offers not only produce, but organic meat, eggs and plants for your own garden. Come on out and enjoy a night of fun and health. Stop by the Springfield Clinic tables on the following dates to meet us! For more information on the market, visit our website.

June9   |   July 14   |   Sept. 8   |   Oct. 13

Savor the Flavor of Eating Right

Happy National Nutrition Month! National Nutrition Month has evolved from a one-week celebration in March to a month-long observance. This year’s theme is “Savor the Flavor of Eating Right.” The idea behind this is to enjoy all aspects of food: taste, temperature, smells, texture and color. Many of us are busy and our food choices get put on the “back burner,” whether that means we skip meals entirely or we don’t take the time that we should to make healthy food choices. So many of us eat at our desk or while driving in our car. We do not stop and actually enjoy what we are eating!

So many of us eat at our desk or while driving in our car. We do not stop and actually enjoy what we are eating!

A huge component of the theme this year is “mindful eating.” What exactly does that mean? Mindful eating means eliminating distractions and enjoying the food in front of you! We have so many distractions on a daily basis—TV, phone, computer, etc. It is important to be aware of those distractions and eliminate as many as possible to be able to return to food and focus. Mindful eating can provide the opportunity to make changes in what we are eating and how we are eating. It can also help us change our relationship with food. Are we seeing food as a type of pleasure and comfort, or are we seeing food as fuel—nutrients that the body needs to function? Mindful eating provides us with an opportunity to become more “in tune” with physical hunger versus emotional hunger (stress, boredom, sadness, etc.).

A great goal for Nutrition Month (and every month!) is to make as many meals at home in the company of those in your home! Be mindful of what you are eating—McDonald’s hamburger and fries or shredded Italian Chicken and fresh veggies at home? Choose whole foods, like fresh vegetables, fruit, whole grains and proteins. Use olive oil, shallots, green onions, garlic, ground black pepper, and/or red pepper flakes to bring out robust flavors and smells in healthy dishes!

Alana Scopel