July is National Grilling Month

Nothing says “summertime” quite like grilling out! Having a cookout or barbecue in the summer is a great way to connect with your friends and family, play outdoor games, and enjoy each other’s company. While we often think of meat like hamburgers, hot dogs, and chicken when we grill, you can also try grilling fruits and vegetables!

Grilling fruit brings out fruits’ natural sweetness. Try grilling fresh fruit like pineapple, peaches, pears, watermelon, apples, and mango. Canola oil has a mild flavor and makes a good choice for brushing on fruit when you’re grilling to ensure it doesn’t stick to the grill. You can cut fruit like peaches and apples in half for grilling. Grilled pineapple cut in rings is great served over fish. Serve grilled fruit with low-fat frozen yogurt for a delicious dessert sure to please the whole crowd!

Grilled vegetables have a distinct flavor, which might make children (and adults!) more willing to try them, so a cookout is a great time to explore new vegetables! To grill fresh vegetables, rinse the vegetables under running water. Chop vegetables into large chunks. If you’d like, you can put vegetables on grilling skewers. Brush vegetables with oil and seasoning or a marinade of your choice, such as this Olive Oil Lemon Marinade. Turn vegetables once during grilling and brush with additional oil and seasonings or marinade to ensure they stay moist and flavorful.

Vegetables like bell peppers, mushrooms, corn, summer squash/zucchini, tomatoes, and onions are popular grilling choices, but you can also grill other vegetables like artichokes, asparagus, beets, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, eggplant, green beans, potatoes, and turnips. 

Tell us what your family thinks of any grilled fruits and vegetables you try!

-Cara Mowery

Fruit Salsa and Cinnamon Crisps

Fruit Salsa

1 cup strawberries, diced

1 cup blackberries or raspberries

1 apple, cored and diced

2 Tablespoons lemon juice

¼ cup sugar

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

Directions:

  • Wash your hands!!!
  • Combine fruits in a medium mixing bowl and add lemon juice
  • Store in sugar, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Mix Well.
  • Refrigerate until serving time.

NOTE:  You can use ANY fruit for your salsa, such as peaches, oranges, blueberries, kiwi, bananas, pineapple, mango.  Create your own favorite!

Cinnamon Crisps

10 whole wheat tortillas, cut into 8 wedges

2 Tablespoon of sugar with 1 teaspoon of cinnamon

cooking spray

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  • Cut tortillas into wedges. Arrange wedges in a single layer on a baking sheet and lightly spray.
  • Bake in the preheated oven until crisp, about 15 minutes.
  • Remove from oven.
  • Place spiced sugar in a 1-quart plastic bag.
  • When tortilla pieces are still warm, gently toss 3-4 at a time in the sugar mixture.
  • Remove and let cool.

Are canned fruits and vegetables healthy?

 

My husband, who grew up in rural North Carolina spent many of his summers with his grandfather. He saw acres of farmland with fresh vegetables including cabbages, collards, green beans, okra, field peas, squash, corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, watermelons, cantaloupes, Muscadine grapes, peaches, etc. He and his grandfather would get up early in the mornings to gather the crops. Some would be used for daily meals while others were canned and frozen by his grandmother, sold at the farmer’s market, and given to needy families. They would do this every day until it was time to replant for the next season.

While many of us don’t have access to a large family garden for fresh fruits and vegetables, there are still many available healthy canned options.

Researchers at Michigan State University found that canned fruits and vegetables are just as nutritious as frozen or fresh. For canned tomatoes in particular, canning improves the content of B vitamins, vitamin E and carotenoids compared to fresh. Fiber in beans becomes more soluble through the canning process,  and thus more useful to the human body. Additionally, a nationally represented survey of American adults found that adults and children who frequently eat canned foods (6 or more items over 2 weeks) have healthier eating habits compared to those who eat 1-2 canned food items in the same time period.  

Eat the fruits and vegetables you prefer whether canned, fresh, frozen or dried. Canned foods simply make healthy eating easy. Canned fruits and veggies are convenient to have in your pantry for times you can’t get to the store; they can even be kept at work (with a can opener) for a quick lunch or an afternoon snack. Since they don’t expire quickly, you won’t waste money when buying canned veggies – which sometimes happens with fresh produce that goes bad. Here are a few tips when buying canned fruit and vegetables:

Watch for sodium:
Sodium is usually added to canned foods to preserve them. Look for low-sodium, reduced-sodium or no-salt-added labeled foods. Compare the sodium content on the Nutrition Facts label and choose the product with the lowest amount. Drain and rinse canned veggies to reduce sodium even more.

Watch for added sugar: Look for fruit that’s canned in water, its own juice, or light syrup (drain and rinse).

Delicious uses:

  • Add drained cans of corn, tomatoes and pinto beans or any other vegetable to low-sodium chicken broth for a super-fast and filling vegetable soup.
  • Use a blender, food processor or a fork to smash drained and rinsed garbanzo beans, northern beans, or any beans into a bean dip for baby carrots; add a little lemon juice and garlic powder for some zip.
  • Serve canned fruit as a dessert topped with low-fat, no sugar-added yogurt; or top whole grain cereal with canned fruit.

You can feel confident that canned fruits and vegetables are nutritious, safe and full of flavor. Fill up your pantry with your favorite canned produce to help you prepare nutritious, quick everyday meals for your family more often while saving time and money.

ENJOY!!
Stephanie

Sources: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/HealthyCooking/Fresh-Frozen-or-Canned-Fruits-and-Vegetables-All-Can-Be-Healthy-Choices_UCM_459350_Article.jsp#.Vp0xBVMrJmA
http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/canned-fruits-and-vegetables-are-good-for-you

 

 

Oats Make a Meal: How do you eat yours?

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Did you know Saturday October 29th is National Oatmeal Day?

Why do we love Oatmeal? Oatmeal contains fiber, which stays in the stomach longer and helps us feel fuller, longer. This can help kids easily get through the school morning until lunchtime, help prevent overeating and help maintain a healthy weight.

Once cup of oatmeal contains only 150 calories, 4 grams of fiber, and 6 grams of protein. In addition to the fiber and protein, oatmeal is rich in thiamin, manganese, phosphorus, zinc, selenium, and iron.

There are three types of oatmeal, steel-cut oats (whole oat grain), rolled oats (also called old fashioned oats), and instant oats (most processed and frequently loaded with sweeteners). As good rule of thumb is to choose the less processed because they will have more fiber and health benefits.

Oatmeal should be a pantry staple because it’s so versatile. Oatmeal can be prepared minimalistic with just milk and honey or you can jazz it up with berries and nuts. Sprinkle some dried oatmeal to your yogurt for extra texture and fullness. Out of breadcrumbs; oatmeal can be used to crust baked chicken for dinner. Check out more ways to prepare oatmeal: http://www.healthyeating.org/Healthy-Eating/Meals-Recipes/Browse-Search-Recipes.aspx?kWord=oatmeal

To learn more about oatmeal’s history, health benefits, fiber, and ways to mix up the oatmeal bowl click here: http://www.healthyeating.org/Healthy-Eating/Healthy-Living/Weight-Management/Article-Viewer/Article/208/Health-Benefits-of-Oatmeal.aspx

Jasmine

Jasmine is an EFNEP intern.

Splash Through Summer with Peaches

Sweet and juicy peaches are one of North Carolina’s finest summer time fruits. Though they are available year round, they taste best and are less expensive during the summer. In our state, the peach industry is unique because it sells 90 percent of its crop on the fresh market, directly to the consumer, just days after being picked off the tree.

In 2014, North Carolina produced 4,380 tons of peaches (1,100 acres grown) totaling $6.2 million in value to the state’s economy. While our state may not the biggest grower, it is surely one of the best. (source: NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Sciences)

NC peaches are available from the end of May through August. They can be found at roadside stands, farmers markets and retail outlets.

Besides their great taste, peaches are full of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, vitamin C, riboflavin and beta-carotene. Peaches are also low in calories, fat free, sodium free and cholesterol free. One medium peach contains the following nutritional value:

 

Calories 40
Protein 0.6g
Carbohydrates 10g
Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 0mg
Dietary Fiber 1.5g
Vitamin A 47RE

Peaches can be eaten fresh in salads and smoothies, as a topping for yogurt, ice cream, cereal, pancakes, or waffles, and as a filling for pies, tarts, cobblers, or strudels. They can also be grilled and served as a unique side dish with meat, fish or poultry. Peaches are also available dried, frozen, canned, and as nectar, jam or jelly.

For best quality, select peaches that are firm to slightly soft and free from bruises. The best sign of ripeness in a peach is a creamy or golden undertone, often called “ground color.” The rosy “blush” on a peach is not a good indicator of ripeness and differs from one variety to another. Fresh peach fragrance also indicates ripeness. Avoid peaches with a green ground color as they lack flavor and usually shrivel and become tough rather than ripen. Peaches that are picked green may develop more juice, but they will not become sweeter. When selecting canned peaches look for those that are labeled “packed in its own juice,” “lite,” or “no sugar added.” These are healthier choices.

When cleaning and preparing peaches, wash them by rubbing them gently under running water. If a recipe calls for peeled peaches, dip peaches into boiling water for about 30 seconds, then plunge them immediately into iced water. The skins will slip right off.

Fresh peaches darken quickly when exposed to air. Prevent browning of fresh cut peaches by dipping fruit into a mixture of 1 cup water and 1 tablespoon lemon juice. A commercial ascorbic acid mixture like Fruit Fresh can also be used to prevent browning. Store fully ripe peaches in the refrigerator, and for the best peachy taste, serve ripe peaches at room temperature. The next time you’re in the mood for a healthy and delicious fruit, grab a peach! Summer just wouldn’t be the same without the sweet taste of North Carolina peaches.

Try this easy and delicious peach recipe:

Peach Splash

Yield: 4 servings

  • 1½ cups peaches peeled and sliced or 1½ cups
  • frozen peach slices
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg or cinnamon
  • 2 cups milk
  • 8-10 ice cubes (omit ice is using frozen peaches)
  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender and mix well.
  2. Gradually add ice cubes and mix until finely
  3. crushed. Garnish with a dash of nutmeg.

For more Peach Pointers, check here: https://youtu.be/_37xcn1ImSM

Sources: Food Sense, Utah State University Cooperative Extension and North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Community Science

Stephanie

Buy local, eat local at the farmers’ market

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Over the years, local Farmer’s Markets have become increasingly popular. They are great sources for purchasing fresh fruits, vegetables and other food items such as homemade jams, etc.

Depending on where you live (rural or urban town/city), farmer’s markets vary in size, location, times in which they are open and products sold. Some are very small while others are huge. Both offer the opportunity for consumers to purchase freshly grown food items from local farmers. What a great concept!

So, you may ask yourself, why should I shop at a local farmer’s market. There are many different reasons to shop at your local farmer’s market. Here are a few:

  • Buying from a local farmer supports local agriculture. This means that the foods we eat come from nearby, and does not require us to waste lots of energy and petroleum to ship the food halfway around the world.
  • You can find a variety of fresh, organic produce at more affordable prices than in a supermarket. Many farmers carry products that are not technically “organic,” but have many low-priced foods that are pesticide and herbicide free. The advantage at a farmers market is that you can actually talk to the farmer, learn about their methods, and then decide for yourself.
  • Buying locally also means that you are supporting farmers and the local economy. Not only will your money stay in your area, but you will happily please the farmer that worked to grow the food.
  • The food from your local farmers market is fresher. Because it was grown locally, there is a good chance that the apple you buy from the farmer was picked a few days ago. This is virtually impossible in a big supermarket.
  • There is usually an amazing variety of fruits and veggies at your local farmers market. Each farmer may have his own method for growing tomatoes or peppers. This is something that never happens at a grocery store.
  • There is no doubt that locally-grown foods just simply taste better. You will never be able to eat a carrot from the grocery store again!
  • There’s just no way around it, eating fresh, locally-grown fruits and veggies are great for your health.
  • Lastly, farmer’s markets are just plain fun for the entire family. Meeting your local community is an excellent way to feel connected to the world around you.

For more information on farmer’s markets and other local food topics, go to the following link: https://localfood.ces.ncsu.edu/

Stephanie