August is Peach Month

 

One thing that people always think about when the summertime arrives is how sweet the summer peaches will taste. Peaches have various recipes and can taste delicious in anything. Peaches can even be made into a salsa recipe! There are many health benefits to peaches and many interesting facts about them. Peaches can enrich skin health, heart health, eye health, and contain various vitamins and minerals. Peaches are actually members of the rose family and were initially grown in China. There are also different types of peaches depending on how the seed separates from the inner part of the peach. The peaches that don’t separate from the seed easily are called clingstone peaches. The other peaches that do separate from the seed easily are called freestone peaches.

There are many colors that a peach can be including yellow, white, or orange. The color also can indicate the acidity of the peach. The white flesh is less acidic than the golden yellowish orange color. Peaches are also produced in Italy and in China mostly. Peach season is from June until the end of August. Peaches are typically ripe when they are a creamy yellow color or a golden color. Checking peaches with your whole hand is recommended as compared to using your fingertips since peaches bruise so easily.

A large peach has less than 70 calories and has 3 grams of fiber in it. Peaches contain a wide variety of vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A and C. Peaches are not only tasty but nutritious as well and go great with a numerous amount of recipes. The most common food that people think of when it comes to peaches is a peach cobbler, but peaches can be used in very different recipes other than desserts. Peaches can be used to make a peachy chicken salad, peach salsa, and even in muffins! Peaches are great in many ways and can be delicious in various dishes! Here is a great healthy southern peach cobbler recipe for those of you who love peach cobbler and want a healthier recipe!

Healthier Southern Peach Cobbler:  (Makes 4 servings)

Ingredients:

  • 8 fresh peaches – peeled, pitted, and sliced into thin wedges
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8-teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • ¼ cup boiling water
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon


Directions:

Preheat oven to 425˚F.

Combine peaches, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, ¼ tablespoon cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon juice, and cornstarch in a large bowl. Toss to coat evenly, and pour into a 2-quart baking dish.

Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine flour, white sugar, ¼ cup brown sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Blend in butter with your fingertips or a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in water until just combined.

Remove peaches from oven, and drop spoonfuls of flour mixture over them.

Mix together 2 tablespoons brown sugar and 1-teaspoon ground cinnamon. Sprinkle entire cobbler with the sugar and cinnamon mixture. Bake until topping is golden, about 30 minutes.

For more information on peaches and peach recipes/dishes, please visit these links:

Serve and enjoy!

Taylor Davis

Taylor is a student intern working with EFNEP at N.C. Cooperative Extension, Pitt County Center.

Freezer Magic: 8 Tips for Freezing Fruits and Vegetables

We are in the peak of summer time produce. Often I buy a little extra since it is such a good price but can’t use it all fresh in one week. In search of ways to preserve what I bought and ensure that I can use for more meals, I came across this publication, Freezer Magic: 8 Tips for Freezing Fruits and Vegetables

Here are a few things I want to highlight for you:

  • Freeze ripe, high-quality fruits and vegetables. Freezing won’t magically fix any rot, lack of ripeness, or mold — it will just preserve those pesky problems.
  • Think about how you want your fruits and vegetables to appear when you reach for them in the freezer.
  • Consider the serving size. Freeze in “ready-to-eat” sizes that you and your family regularly consume.
  • Many vegetables need to be “blanched” or partially cooked before they are frozen. For a full list, see the publication.

Freezing fruits and vegetables can be a good way to save you money. Be sure to follow the instructions and use the produce, instead of letting them go to waste. Otherwise, you don’t end up saving money!

Enjoy!!
Emily

Emily is an Extension Associate for NC EFNEP.

Source: http://foodandhealth.com/freezer-magic-8-freezing-tips/

Shop the local market for fresh produce

Farmers Markets are packed with fresh summer fruits and vegetables.  Watermelons, cantaloupes, fresh corn, cucumbers, tomatoes and squash are just a few of the food items found at many local markets. While, I don’t frequent Farmers Markets often (mainly due to the location from my home and because my local market is not open year-round), I like to go at this time of the year. There are so many varieties of delicious, freshly grown foods (especially fruits and vegetables) and homemade goodies such as jams/jellies, pickles. There are also baked items, which are typically local favorites made by hometown residents. Visiting the market also allows for interaction with farmers, neighbors and friends.

During a recent purchase, a friend noticed that the strawberries he bought from the local grocery store were grown by a local farmer from the county. He was so excited to know that his purchase is helping to support the local farmer in our community.

While, I really like the offerings of a Farmer’s Market, there are some valid reasons to purchase foods there. Firstly, they’re local and local foods are usually fresher and more nutritious. Since a shorter distance is traveled to where the food is sold, most local fruits, vegetables, and dairy products are fresher. Some are harvested within 24 hours of being purchased! This freshness is directly related to its nutritional value, as nutritional quality degrades rapidly after harvest.

At a basic level, when you buy locally, more money stays in the community. Money that stays in the community circulates and benefits all sectors of the local economy and therefore increases the quality of life we enjoy in our communities.

Buying from local farmers helps to preserve farmland and rural culture. Whether it is directly at a farmers market or at the local foods section of a grocery store, buying a local farmer’s product helps keep that farmer farming and in business.

Food produced and marketed locally uses much less energy for transportation and storage. Reducing the energy used means less air and water pollution, which is another way we can help sustain our resources for future generations.

When food is marketed locally, farmers aren’t limited to growing varieties that are bred for long distance shipping and long shelf lives. Local foods are often heirloom varieties that have been passed down through generations, which are usually especially delicious!

Finally, since local foods are not stored for long periods of time or transported long distances, fewer post-harvest treatments are needed. Wax coatings to prevent water loss and fungicides to prevent decay are used to preserve fruits and vegetables that travel long distances.

Local foods are really a win-win and something we can all support.

I encourage you to be a patron at your local Farmer’s Market. If you are unaware of the Farmer’s Markets in your area, here is a helpful resource. The North Carolina Farm Fresh is a directory of pick-your-own farms, roadside farm markets, and farmers markets throughout North Carolina. It is designed to help you find the freshest locally grown fruits, vegetables, plants and other items. Click the following link to find a market in your area: http://www.ncfarmfresh.com/index.asp

Stephanie

Stephanie is the EFNEP Extension Associate for counties in the Southeast Unit.

Break the fast: Start the day off smart!

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Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. My mother always made sure we started our day with foods such as eggs, oatmeal, cereal, pancakes and breakfast meats like bacon and sausage. But, breakfast can be so much more than these traditional foods that can take more time to prepare that we often have in our rush to get out the door on a weekday morning.

Here are some tips from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to help you and your family get a healthy breakfast and still get out the door.

Plan Ahead

  • Get ready the night before: Set the table with bowls and spoons for cereal. Get out a pan for pancakes or a blender for smoothies. Slice up some fruit and cheese.
  • Keep it simple: Fancy breakfasts are wonderful when you have the time. On busy days, a sandwich, a slice of leftover pizza, or low-fat yogurt with fruit work just fine.
  • Pack to-go: If there is no time to eat at home, take your breakfast to-go. Pack a brown bag breakfast for the road – or see if your school offers a breakfast program.

Include Protein/Carbs

  • Carbohydrates: A high-octane carbohydrate energizes your body and brain for a busy day. Think cereal (hot or cold), bread, dinner rolls, tortillas, or even leftover rice or pasta. Choose whole grains for an extra nutrition punch (more fiber and nutrients).
  • Protein: This is the missing link in most morning meals. Protein is what we need to go strong until lunch. Think a slice of Canadian bacon, an egg, a slice of lean deli meat or low-fat cheese, a container of low-fat yogurt, a scoop of low-fat cottage cheese, or a handful of nuts.
  • Fruit: It’s quick and easy to add color and nutrition to your breakfast with your favorite fruits. Think fresh, frozen, canned, or dried fruit – like apples, berries, pears, bananas, grapefruit, kiwi, mangoes, oranges, or pineapple. Another great option is avocados. They are high in unsaturated (or “good”) fat and contain vitamin C, thiamin, riboflavin and beta-carotene, which forms vitamin A.

Eat well in the a.m. and you and your family will be on the nutrition fast track for a high-energy day.


Suzanne

Frozen Fruity Treats

What You Need:
  • 1 (8‐ounce) container nonfat lemon yogurt
  • 2 cups cubed, seedless watermelon
  • 1 pint fresh strawberries, tops removed
  • 1 medium banana, peeled and sliced

What To Do:

  1. Place yogurt and fruit in a blender. Cover tightly.
  2. Blend until smooth. Pour into muffin tin lined with paper cups.
  3. Freeze until frozen solid, at least 2‐3 hours.
  4. Remove from freezer, and let sit about 10 minutes. Peel paper cup off each treat and enjoy.

Tip: Add popsicle sticks or coffee stirrers to make it a little easier to eat. popsicle-sticks-350084_1280

Source: adapted from Cooking with EFNEP cookbook

Freezing fruits and vegetables for “plan-overs”

Let me tell you, I recently stumbled upon a few great resources for freezing fruits and vegetables.

Planning my meals has been a top priority, but with the abundance of local North Carolina produce here in the summer, it has become increasingly important to me to make the most out of my purchases.

Before I buy fruits or vegetables for the week at my local farmers’ market or the grocery store, I make a plan for what I’ll use for the week.

If the price is good, and the quality is what I want, I‘ll buy extra and make a plan to freeze it. I know I’ll end up using them in future recipes so it makes sense to me to make it part of my “plan-overs”.

One resource from Food and Health Communications, https://foodandhealth.com/freezer-magic-8-freezing-tips/, has given me a few pointers. Here are a couple I found especially important:

  • Freeze ripe, high-quality fruits and vegetables. Freezing won’t magically fix any rot, lack of ripeness, or mold — it will just preserve those pesky problems. (Tip 1) raspberries-422979_1280
  • Many vegetables need to be “blanched” or partially cooked before they are frozen. This will ensure good quality, color, and texture. (Tip 5)
  • Freeze your produce in sealed bags or containers. Bags are the preferred method because you can see what is in them and they take up less space. It is important to fold or roll items in the bags so that you reduce the amount of air in the bags. The less air, the better! (Tip 6)

Another great “how-to” resource from Oregon State can be found here: https://catalog.extension.oregonstate.edu/files/project/pdf/pnw214.pdf. This one details steps for how to freeze both fruits and vegetables. There are many videos you can find online to help you, too.

I’ve learned it is especially important to label and date whatever it is you freeze. Otherwise you might not know what it is. Also, remember to use it as part of your “plan-over” meals so you can avoid forgetting about them in the depths of the freezer (I might have done this a few times before!) Happy freezing!

Emily