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Pumpkins: the fall fruit mascot

pumpkins

Every fall we see pumpkins brightening up our yards and our front porches; a sure sign that Halloween and Thanksgiving are just around the corner. Pumpkins, a type of squash, are usually orange but come in all different shapes and sizes. While most people consider pumpkins vegetables, pumpkins are actually considered a fruit.

There are two types of squash: winter squash and summer squash. Summer squash are harvested and eaten when the skin is thin and tender. They tend to have a shorter storage span due to the thin skin and must be eaten promptly. Zucchini and yellow summer squash are just a couple of several varieties of squash you can enjoy during the summer months.

Pumpkins are included within the winter squash category along with butternut, spaghetti and acorn squash. Winter squash are known for their hard, thick skin, which is what makes carving pumpkins so challenging. The thick skin also contributes to a long shelf life, allowing these winter squash to be kept for months when stored in a dark and cool place such as a basement or in a garage. Continue Reading »

Fresh Fruit and Yogurt Popsicles

freshfruitpopsicle

If you are looking for a healthy and refreshing treat, look no more. These simple treats are nutritious and delicious.

Ingredients

1 ½ cups of fresh berries of your choice (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries)
½  banana
2 cups plain or vanilla Greek yogurt
¼ cup white sugar
8 small paper cups
8 Popsicle sticks

Preparation

Place berries, banana, yogurt and sugar in a blender. Blend until smooth. You can also use a mix of berries.

Fill paper cups ¾ full with the fruit and yogurt mixture. Cover the top with aluminum foil. Poke a Popsicle stick through the center of the foil of each cup.

Place the cup in the freezer for 5 hours. To serve, remove foil and peel off the paper cup. Continue Reading »

Delicious and nutritious: corn – summer’s candy

corn

Zea mays. Maize. Maiz.

All of these terms refer to what we typically call corn. There is perhaps no other food that says ‘summer’ like fresh corn on the cob.

Aside from being delicious, corn has a very important role in the history of the Americas, especially in Mesoamerica, the region that is now known as Mexico and Central America. It was also an integral part of Native American history and cuisine. Although corn is not so much revered as a sacred food today, it is still common in our modern diet. American farmers grow about 40 percent of all corn that is consumed. Much of this comes from the ‘corn belt,’ the region made up of Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska, Minnesota and parts of Kansas, Missouri and the Dakotas.

Corn comes in varieties of yellow, white, red, pink, black, purple and blue. No matter what color it is, corn contains antioxidants such as carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin. Antioxidants are substances found in plant foods that help repair the cellular damage that occurs due to environmental pollutants and normal wear and tear of our bodies. They are in effect the “anti-rusting” agents for our cells.

Corn is also an excellent source of fiber, providing an estimated four to five grams of fiber per cup. In addition, it contains vitamins such as B1, B5 and folic acid and has about five to six grams of protein per cup.

Aside from being nutritious, corn is also versatile! It can be steamed and eaten right off the cob or grilled, roasted or included in soups and stews. It can top salads, be ground up and made into tortillas or creamed corn. It can be popped and enjoyed as a snack in the ever popular popcorn that we enjoy so much.

I enjoy eating corn on the cob with a little bit of butter, salt and pepper. How do you enjoy eating/preparing corn?

Hydrate with Color

It’s hot outside, so make sure to stay hydrated this summer. Add fresh fruit to your water for a unique flavor burst. Fill up pitchers of ice water and flavor it with fresh, in-season fruit, such as peach slices and raspberries.

You can also try slices of apples, oranges, pears, strawberries, lemons or limes. Feel free to add a handful of mint leaves or cucumbers for a refreshing taste that’s not as sweet.

Adding single-serve flavor packets may also add sugars, calories and other additives. Opt for flavoring your water naturally.

Fruits and vegetables contain a lot of water in relation to their weight. Grapefruit, watermelon and strawberries have a high percentage of water. So do cucumbers, radishes, tomatoes, zucchini and celery. Eat plenty of these on warm summer days. Continue Reading »

Healthy barbecuing tips

Everyone loves a good barbecue in the summer, but grill outs can quickly turn into unhealthy meals. However, there are ways to make a barbecue a healthy meal.

If you are planning to grill meats, choose a healthier meat option such as lean or extra lean ground turkey; ground sirloin beef; boneless, skinless chicken breast; salmon, cod or Mahi-Mahi; or lean or extra lean steak. If you’re making burgers, try layering tomatoes, lettuce and onion or other vegetables. Try making kabobs by combining pieces of fish and fruit or shrimp and vegetables.

Consider a meatless grilled meal by focusing on vegetables. Since cholesterol is only found in animal products, by choosing a meatless option you will reduce the intake of dietary cholesterol. You can also opt for a black bean burger or other patties made from legumes.

You can colorize your grilled meal by grilling vegetables. Cut vegetables in equal sizes so all pieces cook evenly. To help prevent sticking and to enhance flavor, you can lightly drizzle the vegetables in olive oil prior to grilling. Many vegetables do well on the grill, but some that stand out include asparagus, corn, eggplant, mushrooms, peppers, onions or cabbage. Try grilling a quartered fennel bulb for a unique taste. Continue Reading »

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