Posts Tagged ‘produce’

Are you starting to see these markets opening up in your area?  Farmers’ markets are a great place to get locally-grown vegetables, fruits, and other foods for you and your family.

As more and more locations open each year, it is important to follow basic food safety guidelines to ensure that the fresh food you are buying is safe.  Many markets have their own food safety rules, and vendors must comply with them, as well as any applicable government regulations.  However, it is a good idea to remember to use the guidelines.

Buying and preparing produce:

  • Select produce that is not damaged, bruised, or molded
  • Make sure fresh fruits and vegetables are bagged separately from your meat, poultry, and seafood products
  • Wash your hands for 20 seconds with warm water and soap before and after handling fresh produce
  • Wash produce thoroughly under running water before eating, cutting, or cooking
  • If you plan to peel the produce, you should still wash it first
  • Refrigerate any cut or peeled produce within 2 hours of preparation


  • Make sure that eggs are properly chilled. The FDA requires that untreated shell eggs must be stored and displayed at 45 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Before buying them, open the carton and make sure they are clean and not cracked

Meat and Poultry

  • Check to make sure the meat is kept in closed coolers or refrigerated to maintain cool temperatures
  • Keep meat and poultry separate from your other purchases so the raw juices do not come in contact with your other foods
  • Bring a cooler with ice or an insulated bag to keep your meat and poultry cool until you get home

Following these simple steps will help you keep your food and your family safe while supporting local growers in your area.


Ohio State University Extension, http://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/HYG-5353

United States Department of Agriculture, http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/safe-food-handling/basics-for-handling-food-safely/ct_index

U. S. Food and Drug Administration,


Writer: Tammy Jones, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Pike County, jones.5640@osu.edu

Reviewer: Jenny Lobb, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, lobb.3@osu.edu


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Many of us know we should be eating fruits and vegetables. However, few of us are actually getting the recommended intake.  In fact, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 76% of adults do not meet fruit recommendations of 1.5-2 cups per day. Additionally, 87% of adults do not meet vegetable recommendations of 2-3 cups per day. When the CDC examined children’s’ eating habits, they found 60% did not meet fruit recommendations and 93% did not meet vegetable recommendations.  One could say “the apple does not fall far from the tree. “No pun intended! However, these statistics suggest that neither adults nor kids are  getting an adequate intake of important nutrients found in fruits and vegetables such as fiber, vitamins A, C, and potassium.


Do you ever feel short on time to prepare fruits and vegetables to your meal?  I know for me this can be a struggle. However, the Produce for Better Health Foundation’s website has over 300 recipes that take 30 minutes or less. Why not check  out Produce for Better Health Foundation’s website today and add more produce to you and your family’s diet!

quick and easy roasted veggies


Another great resource for recipes is the United States Department Of Agriculture ” What’s Cooking ” USDA Mixing Bowl.

Baked Apples and Sweet Potatoes:

Makes: 6 servings

Total Cost: $4.54

Serving Cost: $0.76



5 sweet potatoes (cooked)

4 apples

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup margarine

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 cup hot water

2 tablespoons honey


1. Boil 5 sweet potatoes in water until they are almost tender.

2. After the sweet potatoes cool, peel and slice them.

3. Peel the apples. Remove the cores, and slice the apples.

4. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

5. Grease the casserole dish with butter or margarine.

6. Put a layer of sweet potatoes on the bottom of the dish.

7. Add a layer of apple slices.

8. Add some sugar, salt, and tiny pieces of margarine to the apple layer.

9. Repeat steps 6, 7, and 8 to make more layers of sweet potatoes, apples, and sugar/salt.

10. On the top layer of apples, sprinkle the rest of the brown sugar and margarine pieces.

11. Sprinkle the top layer with nutmeg.

12. Mix the hot water and honey together. Pour the mix over the top layer.

13. Bake for about 30 minutes until apples are tender.

Written by: Susan Zies, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Wood County. Erie Basin EERA

Reviewed by: Daniel Remley, MSPH, PhD, Assistant Professor, Field Specialist, Food, Nutrition and Wellness


  1. Moore LV, Thompson FE. Adults meeting fruit and vegetable intake recommendations – United States, 2013. Center for Disease Control Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. July 10, 2015; 64(26):709-713.
  2. Zies S. Fruits and vegetables are a convenience for busy people! Ohio State University Extension: Family and Consumer Sciences Fact Sheet.  

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Drinking a smoothie is an easy way to sneak in a serving or two of fruits and veggies towards your daily goal. A smoothie is great for breakfast, on the go meal, or a snack. Here’s how to blend a fruit- and veggie-packed smoothie that’s nutritious, satisfying and energizing.


  1. Choose a Base Start with a liquid base such as low-fat milk, soymilk, or nonfat Greek yogurt that delivers protein, vitamins, and minerals with a sensible amount of calories. If using juice, choose 100% grape, orange, apple, or cranberry varieties and try adding just a splash of it to a milk base so you don’t miss out on the protein. Remember juice adds extra sugar and calories so watch portion sizes.
  2. Add Fruit When adding fruit, most fresh, frozen and canned fruits shine in smoothies. For calorie control and to cap added sugar, choose plain, unsweetened frozen fruit and drain canned fruit packed in water or light syrup to reduce excess sugar. Slicing bananas and freezing them works really well.
  3. Yes…you can add veggies! Even vegetables can be added to smoothies. Just remember to use mild-tasting veggies so their flavor doesn’t overpower the other ingredients. If using a standard blender, you may need to chop them very finely or add a little water to help the blending process. Cucumbers, spinach, kale, and beets are popular options.
  4. Nutrient Boosters Super-charge your smoothie with flavorful and nutrient-packed blend-ins such as flaxseed, chia seeds, quick oats, spices (cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger), unsweetened cocoa powder, or powdered peanut butter.
  5. Less is More Remember to keep smoothie ingredients simple and take a ‘less is more’ approach. The more ingredients in a smoothie, the more calories it contains.

Kale Smoothie with Pineapple and Banana

1/2 cup coconut milk, skim milk, soymilk, nonfat Greek yogurt, or almond milk

2 cups stemmed and chopped kale or spinach

1 1/2 cups chopped pineapple (about 1/4 medium pineapple)

1 ripe banana, chopped

Water for desired consistency

  1. Combine the coconut milk, ½ cup water, the kale, pineapple, and banana in a blender and puree until smooth, about 1 minute, adding more water to reach the desired consistency.
  2. You can add a few almonds for extra protein if you would like!

For a great beet smoothie click here https://foodhero.org/recipes/un-beet-able-berry-smoothie.

Written by:  Melissa Welker M.Ed., B.S., Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Fulton County, Maumee Valley EERA, welker.87@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Donna Green, Family & Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Erie County, Erie Basin EERA, green.308@osu.edu





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Asparagus, a member of the lily family, is available from April to early June. It is fat and sodium-free, with about 35 calories per cup. This nutrient rich food is filled with folate; vitamins A, C, and K; potassium; and iron. These nutrients are shown to reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer. White asparagus is grown out of the sun and contains fewer nutrients than green, while purple asparagus contains additional anti-oxidants.

To select the best asparagus – look for straight and firm stalks. Avoid wilted or limp stalks. Selecting stalks that are uniform in size will assist with cooking. Asparagus is easily perishable, for optimum quality keep at 40 degrees or below and use within one to two days. Wash with cold water only before using, to prevent bacterial growth.

Asparagus is a versatile vegetable that can be used in salads, soups, or main dish recipes.1574360-SMPT

To steam: bring an inch of water to a boil, insert rinsed stalks, and cover pan. Stalks will be done in 2 to 5 minutes – based on thickness of stalks.

To microwave: rinse stalks and place on microwave safe plate with about 2 tablespoons of water, cover and microwave 2 to 3 minutes – until done.

To roast: preheat oven to 400 degrees and place rinsed stalks on foil-lined sheet. Drizzle with small amount of olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 5 to 10 minutes until tender-crisp. Parmesan cheese is also a tasty option on roasted stalks.

To grill: place stalks on grilling skewers or grill griddle, brush lightly with olive oil, grill 2 to 5 minutes – turning once.

To freeze asparagus for future use: sort stalks to similar size; blanch by placing in boiling water for 90 seconds – small stalks, 2 minutes for medium stalks, and 3 minutes for larger stalks; cool immediately in ice water; pat dry and place in freezer bags. Stalks may be left whole or cut into 2 inch sections before starting the blanching process.

Seasoning options for asparagus include soy sauce, sesame oil or seeds, lemon juice, parsley, or vinaigrette dressing.

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

Reviewer: Cindy Shuster, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Perry County.


Utah University Cooperative Extension, https://extension.usu.edu/admin/files/uploads/Viva%20Vegetables%20Asparagus%20Recipes.pdf.

Ohioline, Ohio State University Extension, B. Brahm, http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/5000/pdf/5508.pdf.

Washington State University Extension, http://county.wsu.edu/chelan-douglas/health/Documents/Asparagus%20Information%20and%20Springtime%20Warnings.pdf.

Photo credit: Gerald Holmes, Valent USA Corporation, Bugwood.org.

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With a range of medications available to help the 50 million Americans suffering from arthritis many may not know that what you eat can influence your symptoms and alsoartritis hands how the disease progresses.

Rather than supplements in the form of pills, food with certain nutrients can help.

·         Vitamin C about the amount in two oranges (152 milligrams a day) has been found to reduce the progression of osteoarthritis.  Vitamin C plays a role in the formation of cartilage, collagen and proteoglycans.  It also is an antioxidant which helps limit the free-radical oxygen compounds that can damage cartilage.

·         Vitamin D was shown to cut the progression of arthritis.  Living in the northern attitudes especially in the winter, makes it difficult to get enough Vitamin D.  This is the one vitamin that you may need to  supplement.  Vitamin D not only plays a role in bone building it seems to affect the production of collagen.

·         Beta-carotene reduced the progression of arthritis when 9,000 IU were consumed daily.  This was not seen when people consumed 5,000 IU.  Most Americans only get 3,000 to 5,000 IU a day of beta-carotene.  However, you can easily increase your amount by using orange vegetables and fruits.  One medium sweet potato contains 21,909 IU.  fruits-vegetables

·         Vitamin E – In a study with people who had knee osteoarthritis those that consumed 6-11 milligrams of Vitamin E daily (from food) saw a 60% reduction in the progression of the disease over 10 years compared to  those getting 2-5 milligrams daily.  Due to the increased risk of lung cancer, smokers should not take extra Vitamin E or beta-carotene pills.

·         Vitamin K is being studied now.  So far, the study suggests that Vitamin K may slow the progression of osteoarthritis.  Good sources of Vitamin K are spinach, broccoli, leaf lettuce, kale, asparagus and olive, soybean and canola oils.

·         Omega-3 Fatty Acids suppress inflammation in the joint.  This is what causes so much stiffness and pain.  Eating two or more servings of fish (baked or broiled) per week reduced the chance of developing arthritis.   Other sources of omega-3 are flaxseed and nuts.  Canola, soybean and olive oil have some omega-3s.   Best to avoid omega-6 fatty acids found in safflower, sunflower, cottonseed and corn oils.  These are usually also in processed foods and fried foods, so limit your consumption of them.

·         Limit consumption of sugar.   More inflammation has been linked with higher sugar consumption.

· Drink more water         Drink Water.  Water  helps all around from moisturizing, giving support to joints, carrying nutrients and removing wastes from the body.  Some medicines used for arthritis also change your thirst level.  Be sure to drink plenty of water, preferably 8 cups or more a day of liquids.

Eat a healthy diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and protein along with oils rich in omega-3s.  Limit sweets and other fats and oils.  Eating fruits, vegetables and whole grains will increase your fiber intake which the Arthritis Foundation says may keep inflammation down.

Author:  Pat Brinkman, Extension Educator Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Miami Valley EERA

Reviewer:  Elizabeth Smith, R.D., L.D. Northeast Region Program Specialist, SNAP-Ed, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension.


Tufts University, [2013]. Eating Right for Healthy Joints, Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter Special Supplement, June 2013.

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Have you tried grilling vegetables and fruit?  Grilling can bring out the flavors in fruits and vegetables, but watch out as they quickly burn.  It’s important not to get the food too close to the coals (or gas), so it heats before it starts to blacken.

Here are some suggestions from Julie Garden-Robinson, a food and nutrition specialist with North Dakota State University Extension Service, in her online column “Prairie Fare.”  She suggests trying these ideas to help add flavor, color, and fiber to your grilling menu with grilled fruits and vegetables.

  • Sprinkle wedges of apple or pear with cinnamon and a touch of brown sugar.  Grill for about five minutes per side.
  • Brush peeled, whole bananas with vegetable oil (preferably canola) and add to the grill just until it turns golden about five minutes.
  • Cut peaches or nectarines and remove the pit.  Place cut side down and grill.   You can use as a side dish with steak or pork tenderloin or cut the fruit up after grilling and make a salsa by adding fresh herbs, chili peppers, and lime juice.
  • Cut vegetables into large, pieces of even thickness and grill.  After grilling,  You can cut into smaller pieces, if desired.
  • Cut the top and bottom off of bell peppers.  Remove the core and then cut the pepper in half from top to bottom.  Grill skin side down.
  • Brushing vegetables with olive oil and seasonings can add delicious flavor.  Lay them in a single layer on a baking sheet and brush with oil and season as you start to grill.  Turn them over and repeat the other side.  Asparagus is delicious this way with some garlic and thyme.
  • Marinades can add flavor.  However, sugar-based marinades will cause the exterior of the vegetables to blacken.
  • Try this for dessert, cut a ¾ inch deep slit down the length of an unpeeled banana.  Carefully, open the slit to stuff it with 2 tablespoons of chopped dark chocolate or your favorite candy bar.  Wrap the banana in foil and grill for about five minutes on each side.

You can use both moist and dry heat to cook your grilled vegetables, by grilling and then placing them in a bowl or pot.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap to prevent the steam from escaping for five to ten minutes.  This will finish the cooking and keep the vegetables from drying out.

What suggestions do you have for grilling fruits and vegetables?   I hope you enjoy grilling out this season.

Submitted by Pat Brinkman, , Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Fayette County.

Reference: Garden-Robinson, J. North Dakota State University Extension Service, downloaded at  http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/news/columns/prairie-fare/prairie-fare-fire-up-your-grill-menu-with-more-fruits-and-vegetables/?searchterm=Grilling%20Fruits%20and%20Vegetables.

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Are you planning a cookout or family picnic for this weekend or a summer holiday? You probably heard the same data I did that almost 75% of us grill out on Memorial Day and up to 90% on 4th of July. Of course the survey was done by Weber-Stephen Products, so they love for us to grill out. A plus of grilling foods as it heats up outside, is that using a grill instead of your oven will help keep your home cooler and save on energy costs. Unfortunately with these cooked out foods we often also see an increase in food borne illnesses, so basic food safety practices are an important part of any cookout. Some of these food safety grilling guidelines include:

  • Wash hands thoroughly before, during, and after food prep – especially after touching raw meats or hot dogs.
  • Start with a clean grill; make sure you remove any charred food debris from the last time you cooked out.
  • Check the expiration date on any meat product, especially hot dogs or brat type meats, to ensure you are starting with a safe product.
  • Grill completely thawed meats to ensure even cooking.
  • If you are using a marinade on grilled meats, never use the marinade that has raw meat drippings in it on top of partially or fully cooked meats. Either save some of the mixture before adding meat to it, or make a new batch to add during grilling.
  • Use a food thermometer to make sure meat is completely cooked – ground meats like burgers should reach 160 degrees, poultry 165 degrees, and pork or beef 145 degrees.
  • Place cooked meats on a fresh platter, rather than the one you brought it out to the grill with.
  • Remember the old saying “Keep Cold Foods Cold, and Hot Foods Hot”, if it is over 90 degrees foods shouldn’t be left out for more than an hour – rather than the typical 2 hours.
  • If you are transporting foods to your cookout, ensure proper storage with coolers or warmers for already cooked foods.

In addition to safely preparing grilled foods, it is also a good idea to keep in mind the research on grilled meats and cancer. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research char grilled foods and those that are high fat have been shown to produce the cancer causing compounds heterocyclic amines or HCAs, and PAHs or polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Meats cooked at high temperatures, especially those that are charred, have been linked to high levels of HCAs. The PAHs are formed from the fat of grilled meats flaming up, so by selecting lower fat cuts of meat, you can reduce this risk. Marinating meat has been shown to reduce the risk of HCAs forming by over 90% – even marinating for less than 30 minutes. If you are planning to marinade your meats or vegetables before you grill consider your recipe before you start. While grilled foods are often more healthful than fried, marinades frequently contain ingredients that are high in sodium. Check the label on commercially prepared grilling or barbecue sauces for hidden sodium or fat. To make your own, add herbs and a drop of olive oil to fruit juices and toss in a little balsamic vinegar. Try the following: lemon or lime juice, low-sodium soy sauce, honey, garlic, vinegar, wines, mixed with your favorite herb.  Fruit or vegetable salsa is also a tasty and easy choice as a marinade. You may want to grill your vegetables in addition to meats, good choices are: peppers, zucchini, onions, mushrooms, potatoes, asparagus, eggplant, corn on the cob, tomatoes, and summer squash. Beets, carrots, and even radishes can be grilled too.

To grill safe choose vegetables or low-fat meat cuts that you marinade with juice and herbs and slow cook to prevent flare ups; use the proper grill tools; wash your hands and utensils; keep a water bottle handy to prevent flare ups; use a meat thermometer; and “Keep Hot Foods Hot, and Cold Foods Cold”. The University of Illinois Extension has a few easy grilling recipes for vegetable kabob, roasted corn, and banana boats at http://urbanext.illinois.edu/grilling/recipes.html.



American Institute for Cancer Research, AICR: http://www.aicr.org.

USDA, Food Safety & Inspection Service: http://www.foodsafety.gov/.

University of Illinois Extension, Carol Schlitt, “Keep Food Safe When Grilling” and Marjorie LaFont, “Outdoor Grilling Recipes”: http://urbanext.illinois.edu/.

WebMD, A Healthier Way to Grill: http://webmd.com.

Weber-Stephen Products: http://weber.mediaroom.com/.

Written by: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Ross & Vinton Counties.

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