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Posts Tagged ‘fresh produce’

October is celebrated as the Great Lakes Great Apple Crunch month, an opportunity to promote both local foods and healthy snacks. The Apple Crunch encourages schools, clubs, or employers to choose a day in October and serve fresh local apples. In southern Ohio many of our schools have already, or will be, participating in the Apple Crunch by serving apples from our local orchards. children grabbing apples

Apples are a healthy snack which provides both soluble and insoluble fiber in one food. Soluble fiber helps to prevent cholesterol buildup, reducing the risk of heart disease; and insoluble fiber helps move food through your digestive system. The Vitamin C in apples is an antioxidant; important for skin, bones and healing. Vitamin A, also in apples, plays a role in vision, bone growth, and our immune system. A small to medium apple is a low-calorie snack with only 75 to 80 calories per apple. Apples are also fat, sodium, and gluten free.

Select firm apples that are free of decay, bruises, broken or shriveled skin with an intact stem. Store apples in the refrigerator in a perforated, plastic bag away from other fruits. Apples produce ethylene with may cause other fruits to prematurely ripen. Use within three weeks. Before serving wash under running water.

fresh applesWith over 7,500 varieties of apples it may be hard to decide which apple to select. Each variety has different qualities, think about how you plan to use the apples to help you in the selection process. Apples can be sweet, tart, soft and smooth or crisp and crunchy. Some varieties are perfect for baking, others work better in salads, and some are best for eating fresh – like those we will select for the “Great Apple Crunch”. For example, Jonathans are tart and great for baking. Galas (my personal favorite) are sweet and good for eating or salads. Granny Smith apples are tart and great for baking. The Ohio Apple website has a great guide to provide information about varieties, their taste, and what they are best used for. Go to http://ohioapples.com  to find out more. Apples fortunately have a great shelf life and can be used in numerous ways when cooking – think salads, cake, muffins or bread, in pancakes, sandwiches, oatmeal, or hot in chili, stuffing, or with sweet potatoes or squash. Apples are a very versatile fruit. The USDA What’s Cooking Mixing Bowl has over 140 recipes that are economical and most are healthy, find them at http://go.osu.edu/applerecipes .

If you have the chance, select locally grown apples to have optimum flavor, prevent loss of nutrients, support the local economy, promote a safe food supply, and know where your food was grown. If you would like to join the Great Lakes Great Apple Crunch purchase local apples, possibly from an orchard or your local Farmers Market, and eat them as a snack or with a meal. Apples are inexpensive to serve as part a program with youth at a school or in a club, or as a treat at your next staff conference. Consider bringing along an apple an apple slicer/corer – as some people find it difficult to eat the skin of an apple (especially young children who may not have their front teeth.) Post your own photos on social media showing your students, co-workers, or family members crunching apples in October and use the hashtag #GreatAppleCrunch or #OhioAppleCrunch. Feel free to email me your apple crunch pictures to Lisa at barlage.7@osu.edu.

Writer: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Ross County, barlage.7@osu.edu.

Reviewer:  Pat Brinkman, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Oho State University  Extension Fayette County, brinkman.93@osu.edu

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“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.”  – Audrey Hepburn

We’re moving into fall and eventually those long winter days and nights, so what better time to “Plan” a Vegetable Garden?”  According to Rory Lewandowski, Extension Educator, Agriculture/Natural Resources, Wayne County Ohio State University Extension, “The potential benefits of home vegetable gardening are numerous.  Successful gardens are the result of good planning, management, and careful workmanship.”

Interested in learning more about the various activities required for a successful home vegetable garden?  If you said “yes,” then you’ve come to the right place!

Why Have A Garden?

  • A well planned and a properly cared for garden can provide considerable food for family use from a small plot of land.  planting garden
  • Most home gardeners agree that “home grown” vegetables, freshly harvested, prepared, and eaten are the ultimate in fine vegetable flavor.
  • Fresh or preserved homegrown vegetables can help reduce family expenditures for food and make a valuable contribution to family nutrition.
  • Vegetable gardening can be an educational and fun activity for all individuals, families, and communities.
  • You can create real-life experiences and connections between gardening, health, cooking, food preservation, local foods, grocery stores, farmers markets, and community kitchens.
  • Good gardening results can be shared with others through vegetable exhibits at local, county, and state fairs. Gardeners find these activities exciting, fun, and challenging.

The “Favorite Fives” for a Successful Home Vegetable Garden!

  • Location – A good location provides adequate plant exposure to sunlight, fertile and well-drained soil, a nearby source of water, is close to the house, and is appropriate to the service area of the home landscape.
  • Soils – Vegetable plants grow best in a fertile, well-drained soil of loamy texture. However, most gardeners do not have such soil. Don’t overlook the aspect of soil preparation as less desirable soils can be modified with soil conditioners such as peat moss, compost, sawdust, or other available organic materials.
  • Garden Size – The garden should not be so large that the crops fail to receive proper care. Often times more high quality vegetables are obtained from small, well cared for plots than from large, neglected gardens. Don’t have any available ground?  Don’t forget about container gardening and/or community/rent-a-garden space.
  • What to Grow – More than 40 different vegetable crops can be grown in Ohio. If you’re from another state or location, check with your local cooperative extension service and/or agencies to see what’s available to you. The choice of crops depends largely upon the needs and tastes of the family and the amount of available growing space. If space is limited, consider planting crops that will be more productive.
  • The Fall Garden – Late summer or early fall plantings of vegetables that make rapid growth and mature crops before extremely cold weather sets in will enable the home gardener to extend the gardening season and get best use of the garden area.

Please refer to an excellent publication titled “Planning for the Garden” by Rory Lewandowski, Extension Educator, Agriculture/Natural Resources, Wayne County Ohio State University Extension.

Adapted by:  Janet Wasko Myers, Program Assistant, Horticulture, Ohio State University Extension, Clark County, myers.31@osu.edu

Reviewed by:  Jami Dellifield, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Hardin County, dellifield.2@osu.edu

Sources:

Planning for the Garden.  Rory Lewandowski, Extension Educator, Agriculture/Natural Resources, Wayne County Ohio State University Extension.
https://wayne.osu.edu/sites/wayne/files/imce/Program_Pages/ANR/Garden/Planning%20and%20Planting%20%20the%20Garden.pdf

Ohioline.  Ohioline is an information resource produced by Ohio State University Extension. Through Ohioline, you have access to hundreds of OSU Extension fact sheets covering a wide array of subjects such as agriculture and natural resources, family and consumer sciences, community development, and 4-H youth development.
https://ohioline.osu.edu/about

Food Safety in Gardens.  Sanja Ilic, PhD, Assistant Professor and Food Safety State Specialist, Department of Human Sciences, Human Nutrition and Melanie Lewis Ivey, PhD, Assistant Professor, Fruit Pathologist, Department of Plant Pathology.
https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/hyg-1153

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Spaghetti squash is a vegetable that can be used in place of traditional spaghetti pasta with your favorite sauce. It is full of folic acid, potassium, beta carotene, fiber, and Vitamins A and C – with a one cup serving coming in at 42 calories, versus the almost 200 calories a traditional cup of pasta contains. Photo of spaghetti squash

Spaghetti squash is an oblong winter squash that is ivory-yellow in color and weighs 2 to 3 pounds. A mature squash will be 4 to 5 inches in diameter and about 8 to 9 inches long with rounded ends. When selecting squash, look for a hard rind, free of bruises, and heavy in comparison to others. Squash can be stored at a mild temperature (50 – 60 degrees) for up to 6 months.

To prepare spaghetti squash, cut the squash in half lengthwise, and scrape out seeds. Place cut side down on a roasting pan in a 375 degree F oven for 45 to 60 minutes. Hull will be soft to the touch and beginning to brown when ready. Let cool about 30 minutes and spoon squash strands out, separating to form spaghetti like strands. Microwaving is also an option – place cut squash in a glass dish (cut side down) with ½ inch of water and microwave for 10 to 12 minutes. Cool and remove squash strands.

Try serving your spaghetti squash with a Roma tomato sauce or your favorite jar sauce for a quicker meal. Ohio State University Heart Hospital has a wonderful Oven Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Roma Tomato Marinara if you are looking for an option. To see a video of how to prepare spaghetti squash go to http://go.osu.edu/spaghettisquash.

Let us know your favorite way to eat spaghetti squash!

Writer: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Ross County.

Reviewer: Michelle Treber, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County.

Sources:

The Ohio State University Heart Hospital, https://wexnermedical.osu.edu/

University of Illinois Extension, http://web.extension.illinois.edu/ccdms/facts/140218.html

Michigan State University Extension, http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/spaghetti_squash_also_called_vegetable_spaghetti

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Fruits & Veggies

We are entering that wonderful time of the year when local farmers’ markets are open, roadside stands pop up and even local grocery stores offer plentiful displays of fresh, local fruits and vegetables. With all of this bounty, sometimes the question arises on how to choose the most flavorful, ripe product. You will want to choose fruits and vegetables at the peak of their freshness for the best flavor and nutritional value.

Here are some helpful hints to remember when you are shopping:

  • Look for fruits or vegetables that have the shape, size and color that are usually thought of for the item. Remember though, they don’t have to be perfect to be good! That tomato or pepper that is slightly misshapen should be just as tasty and nutritious as its perfect neighbor.
  • Avoid fruits/vegetables with obvious bruises or discoloration. These spots will spoil quickly. If you notice a spot after you bring the produce home, cut out the bad spot and use as soon as possible.
  • Feel the item. If it is very soft it may be overripe; if it is too hard, it hasn’t ripened enough to eat yet. Melons can be especially difficult to choose. Here is great information on choosing ripe melons.
  • Smell! Fruits/vegetables that have the characteristic aroma associated with the item should be ready to eat. Think fresh peaches!

Not all vegetables and fruits will continue to ripen once they have been harvested.

  • Tomatoes, unripe melons, and tree fruits such as pears, peaches and nectarines should be kept at room temperature to ripen. They will get sweeter and more delicious.
  • Grapes, berries, and cherries won’t get better while sitting out, so they should go into the refrigerator right away.
  • Other fruits, like citrus, could sit out for a day or two but then should also be put in the refrigerator.
  • Most vegetables should be refrigerated when harvested or purchased. Some exceptions would be onions, garlic and potatoes.

Don’t forget about food safety with your fresh produce!

  • Always wash your fresh produce before using.
  • Some fruits and vegetables are better stored in the refrigerator before you wash them. Items such as beans and berries are more likely to spoil if stored damp. Be sure and brush off as much dirt as possible before storing. Place them in bags to keep them from contaminating other food in your refrigerator and them wash well when you are ready to eat them.
  • All produce should be rinsed under cool running water. Do not use soap or bleach as the residue left on the produce could make you ill.

Fruits and vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet. By buying fresh, seasonal items at the peak of their freshness and having them available to eat makes it easier to incorporate them into our daily diet.

Written by:  Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, OSU Extension, Franklin County. Rabe.9@osu.edu

Reviewed by:  Michelle Treber Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, OSU Extension, Pickaway County. treber.1@osu.edu

https://articles.extension.org/pages/19886/storing-fruits-and-vegetables

http://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/HYG-5523

https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/safe-food-handling/washing-food-does-it-promote-food-safety/washing-food

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Is your garden overflowing with zucchini or another type of summer squash? Lucky you!  Summer squash is a warm season vegetable that can be grown throughout the frost-free months.  Varieties of summer squash can be found in grocery stores year round, but they are most plentiful during June, July, and August.  Summer squash is harvested while the vegetable is still immature.  As a result, the skin of the squash is tender and is edible, unlike its fall and winter counterparts.

zucchini-1637435_640

 

What are the health benefits?

  • Summer squash is low in calories with only 16 calories per cup of raw squash. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables is high in fiber and low in calories which can help you maintain a healthy weight.
  • Summer squash is free of sodium and cholesterol. A diet low in sodium and cholesterol decreases the risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • Summer squash is high in vitamins A and C. Vitamin A is important for healthy skin, vision, cell growth, and fighting infections. Vitamin C helps to fight infections, build new body tissue, heal wounds, and eliminate cancer causing substances.
  • Summer squash also contains potassium, manganese, folate, riboflavin, and vitamin B6. These help the body turn food into fuel as well as ensure proper contraction of the heart and skeletal muscles.

How do I select a summer squash at the grocery store?

  • Choose summer squash that has a firm, glossy/shiny skin that is free of cuts, bruises, and blemishes.
  • The summer squash should be heavy for its size. If comparing two of the same size, buy the heavier squash.
  • Choose small to medium varieties. Smaller squash is more flavorful than larger ones.

How do I store summer squash?

  • Store summer squash unwashed in plastic bags in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator. Any water on the squash will promote decay while in storage.
  • Summer squash can be stored for up to a week in the refrigerator.

How should I prepare summer squash?

  • Summer squash should be washed well right before it is used in a meal.
  • Cut off both ends of the summer squash, but do not peel off the skin. Most of the vitamins and minerals are found near the skin. The skin of summer squash is very tender and easily eaten.
  • Summer squash can be enjoyed either raw or cooked.
  • Slice the squash and sauté, grill, steam, boil, roast, or microwave.

Top 5 ways to enjoy summer squash:

  1. Grate zucchini using a cheese grater and use it to make delicious zucchini bread or zucchini muffins.
  2. Chopped, raw summer squash can be added to a salad of lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, cucumber, onion, and chickpeas to make a colorful, refreshing dish on a hot summer day.
  3. Use squash as part of a summer chili.
  4. Use summer squash to make a delicious veggie lasagna.
  5. Use summer squash to make vegetable kabobs on a summer night. Toss summer squash, red bell peppers, and onions in olive oil, add salt and pepper, place on a skewer, and grill to perfection.

Sources:

https://extension.illinois.edu/veggies/ssquash.cfm

https://www.whatscooking.fns.usda.gov/sites/default/files/factsheets/HHFS_SUMMERSQUASH_900151Dec2012.pdf

http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/summer-squash-nutrition-selection-storage

Author: Jennifer Even, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences/EFNEP Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Hamilton County.

Reviewer:  Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences/EFNEP Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County.

 

 

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zucchini.jpg

As my family gardened this week we noticed that we have an abundance of zucchini. It’s that time of year where everyone is getting more than they anticipated and they are trying to find ways to use it up, preserve it, or give it away.

When picking zucchini look for firm and wrinkle free zucchini that is about 6 to 8 inches long and 2 inches in diameter. If you are anything like me, you likely have zucchini in your garden that’s 12 inches long and 4 inches in diameter. The larger the zucchini the tougher it will be and it will also contain more seeds. These zucchini are best for baking. Scoop out the seeds and pulp, grate the zucchini and use in your favorite recipes.

Zucchini have a high water content which makes them lower in calories. They provide us with vitamin C, fiber, vitamin K, riboflavin, vitamin B6, folate, magnesium, and potassium. This makes them a fantastic vegetable to eat. However, not all children are big vegetable eaters. If you are like me, you sneak them into things when they don’t notice. Zucchini bread is always a good option but if you have a picky eater like I do, the green flecks in the bread can quickly turn them away. Have you ever put it in your chocolate cake or finely shredded in spaghetti sauce? My kids don’t know it’s there and I get them to eat a vegetable! I count it as my mom super power! The below recipe is a great one to try from USDA’s Mixing Bowl recipe collection. You can also check out some of their other zucchini recipes.

The big zucchini that I picked from my garden will make a lot of Chocolate Squash cake. I won’t use all of my grated zucchini before it goes bad so I will be freezing my leftovers. For proper freezing procedures please check out these safe instructions by the National Center for Home Food Preservation. Make sure you blanch zucchini before freezing to ensure quality.

Eating the squash cake is not as healthy for you as eating the raw vegetable itself but we all have to start somewhere.

Aunt Barbara’s Chocolate Squash Cake

Makes: 12 Servings

Instructions

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 package cake mix, dark chocolate

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3 eggs

1 1/4 cups water

1 cup squash (shredded or finely chopped)

1/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 10″ tube or bundt pan.
  2. In a large bowl, combine cake mix and cinnamon.
  3. Add eggs, water, and oil. Blend until combined, then beat with an electric mixer for 2 minutes on medium speed.
  4. Fold in squash. Add nuts if you like.
  5. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, until cake springs back when lightly touched.

Other Ideas:

  • Use a greased 9×13-inch pan. Bake for 45 minutes.
  • To lighten cake, try 6 egg whites in place of whole egg.
  • Replace 1/2 cup oil with 1/2 cup applesauce.

WRITTEN BY: Amanda Bohlen, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Washington County.

REVIEWED BY: Lisa Barlage , Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension,  Ross County.

SOURCES:

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IMG_5553One fourth or 25% of a typical person’s daily calories come from snacking. It’s simple to see why choosing healthful snacks are important for all ages.  Smart snacking can help curb hunger between meals and prevent overeating during meals. According to the NPD Group’s Snacking Research study, Baby Boomers outweigh Millennials when it comes to eating ready-to-eat snacks. Boomers consume ready-to-eat snacks 20% more often than Millennials. NPD’s research shows, “annual consumption of ready-to-eat snacks per Boomer is about 1,200, for a total of 90.4 billion annual snack eating events. Boomers tend to eat snacks versus a big meal, because many may not want to eat alone. Whereas Millennials consume the ready-to-eat snacks because they are hungry.

Both groups’ top picks for ready to eat snacks were fruit, chocolate, and potato chips. Fruits are an excellent choice for snacks.They are low in calories, rich in nutrients and fiber, and can be economical especially when purchased in season from a local market.   A calorie comparison was done among 20 fruits and vegetables with 20 conventional snack food items (such as chocolate, cookies, potato chips). Results showed that fruits and vegetables provided an average of 56 calories per snack size portion, compared to a whopping 180 calories for the conventional snack foods. Fruits and vegetables had three times LESS calories!

Here is an easy 10 minute snack recipe that will appeal to both Millennials and Baby Boomers! It has 118 calories, 1 gram of fat, 4 grams protein and 3 grams fiber.

BATIDO SMOOTHIEusdarepci

Prep time: 10 minutes

Makes: 4 Servings

This refreshing smoothie is a blend of papaya, banana, and yogurt and makes a satisfying part of breakfast or any time of day. Mix in frozen or fresh berries for a variety of flavors.

Ingredients

2 cups papaya chunks (fresh or frozen)

2 bananas (overripe, sliced)

1 cup plain low-fat yogurt

1 cup ice cubes

Directions

  1. Put all the ingredients in the blender.
  2. Put the lid on tightly. Turn the blender to a medium setting and blend until the ice is chopped and the mixture is smooth, about 1 minute.
  3. Serve right away or cover and refrigerate up to 4 hours.

Notes

  • One cup of low-fat milk, soy, rice, almond or coconut milk can be used instead of yogurt.
  • Strawberries, blueberries, or raspberries can be used in addition to or instead of papaya.

Sources:

https://www.npd.com/wps/portal/npd/us/news/press-releases/2016/millennials-have-nothing-on-boomers-when-it-comes-to-snacking/

https://www.whatscooking.fns.usda.gov/recipes/myplate-cnpp/batido-smoothie#

Written by: Susan Zies, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Wood County, zies.1@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Dan Remley, Field Specialist, Family Nutrition and Wellness, Ohio State University Extension, remley.4@osu.edu

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