10 Tips for Better Tasting Fresh Produce

vegetable-tasteHow do you like your vegetables? If you’re looking for some delicious ways to get your family to eat more fruits and veggies, look no further!  We’ve got ten tips to help you pump up the flavor of your fresh produce.

We all know that fruits and vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet. We’ve learned ways to make them less expensive and more convenient, but what if you or your family members just don’t like the taste? This week we offer 10 tips to help everyone learn to love the taste of fruits and vegetables.

  1. Try fresh fruits or vegetables with a healthy dip or dressing. Try hummus, salad dressing or yogurt.
  2. Increase the amount of vegetables in flavorful, well-liked foods. Try extra tomatoes and beans in chili, carrots in tomato sauce, broccoli mixed into mac and cheese and peas in minestrone soup.
  3. Add shredded carrots or zucchini to meatloaf, casseroles and quick breads.
  4. Try eating your vegetables first, when you are most hungry. Things really do taste better when you are hungry! Put out fresh vegetables with dip before dinner, or start the meal with a salad or vegetable soup.
  5. Shop in season—fruits and vegetables that are in season taste better. Think of a wonderful tomato from the garden in summer vs. the ones you can buy from the store in January. Farmers markets, roadside stands and your local grocery store are great places to get seasonal produce.
  6. Try preparing vegetables in different ways: raw, steamed, roasted, etc. The flavor and texture can be very different, depending on how you cook them. If you don’t like them one way, you might like them another!
  7. I especially recommend roasting or grilling vegetables. You get wonderfully sweet vegetables that are soft and creamy on the inside and crisp on the outside.
  8. Make eating vegetables fun by playing with your food. Try ants on a log, rainbow salad or pizza faces.
  9. Use a small amount of sugar when cooking bitter vegetables like kale or Brussels sprouts. This will help you become more familiar with the taste of vegetables, and you will learn to like the flavor more, even without the sugar!
  10. Just keep trying! We tend to like foods that we eat often or have at least tried multiple times. If you don’t like the taste of a vegetable today, it doesn’t mean you won’t like it the next time you try it!

This article was written by Carrie Durward, Extension Nutrition Specialist

How to Eat More Fresh Produce // 10 Easy-Peasy Tips

eat-more-veggiesLooking for some easy ways to eat more veggies and fruits? We have 10 tips to help you do just that.

In the last article, we learned about ways to make fruits and vegetables part of your diet on a budget. This is important, because fruits and vegetables are full of essential vitamins and minerals. They are also low in calories, but they have lots of fiber and water. This means that when we eat fruits and vegetables, they fill our stomachs, but don’t add a lot of calories. Besides cost, another reason people often don’t get enough fruits and vegetables is time or convenience. Read on for 10 tips to make eating fruits and vegetables fit into your busy lifestyle:

  1. Keep frozen fruits and vegetables on hand. They have the same amount of nutrition as fresh, and they are all ready to go—no cleaning or chopping needed!
  2. Cook fresh or frozen vegetables in the microwave with a little water for a quick side dish.
  3. Make extra vegetable soup and freeze it for days when you don’t have time to cook. Then just defrost in the microwave.
  4. Don’t have time to defrost soup? Open a can of low-sodium soup, add a bag of frozen veggies and serve as soon as it is warm.
  5. Plan ahead—clean and chop fresh vegetables when you have time so they are ready to go. Then you can use them in recipes, eat them with dip or add them to a salad or wrap. Just be aware that chopped veggies may go bad faster, but most chopped veggies will keep for a few days or a week.
  6. Pre-package those chopped veggies in small bags, and then you have an instant snack ready to grab on the way out the door. Think beyond carrot and celery sticks—try bell peppers, cucumbers, broccoli, cauliflower and zucchini slices.
  7. Fruits like oranges, apples and bananas make great food on the go without any additional work from you.
  8. Just like with the vegetables, you can also clean and chop fruit ahead of time. I like to do this with berries, melons and stone fruits like peaches. Add a little lemon juice to sliced fruit, and package them in small containers so they don’t get squashed in your purse or bag.
  9. Dried fruit makes a great on-the-go snack, and since it keeps for a long time, you can stash some in your car, desk or bag for when you are hungry and don’t have a snack packed. Just make sure you stick to the portion size—you only need ¼ cup.
  10. Fruits and vegetables can also be a great part of a quick breakfast—try fresh fruit on your cereal, or pack fresh fruit, yogurt and granola in a container or glass jar for breakfast on the go. Most people don’t think of vegetables at breakfast, but many vegetables are great with eggs in an omelet, scrambled or even just on the side. My favorite is avocado and salsa!

This article was written by Carrie Durward, Extension Nutrition Specialist

How to Afford Fresh Produce // 10 Tips

fresh-produce-costHow do you balance eating healthy with your grocery budget? We’ve got ten tips to help you eat more fresh fruits and vegetables without breaking the bank.

Fruits and vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet because they provide essential vitamins and minerals. They are also high in fiber and water while low in calories, so they can help us feel full longer on fewer calories. The USDA MyPlate Guidelines tells us to make ½ of our plate fruit and vegetables, but many people find it difficult to put this into practice.

The three main reasons people give for not eating more fruits and vegetables are cost, time, and taste. This week we’ll talk about how to eat fruits and vegetables on a budget, and we will cover how to make fruits and vegetables more convenient and tastier in following weeks.

Many people think that fruits and vegetables are too expensive. However, it depends on how you think about it. Fruits and vegetables do tend to be more expensive per calorie, but less expensive than less healthy foods per gram or per portion eaten. This is because fruits and vegetables are higher in fiber, water, and vitamins and minerals, while being lower in calories. If you think about all of the nutritional benefits you get from fruits and vegetables, it is hard not to see them as a deal!

Here are 10 great tips to include fruits and vegetables in your diet at a lower cost:

  1. Shop in season! Fruits and vegetables are often on sale when they are in season, and usually taste better then too. Find out what vegetables are in season. 
  2. Some vegetables are available for a low cost year round, including potatoes, carrots, onions, and cabbage. Look for recipes online to find new ways to use these staples: http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/main-recipes
  3. Stock up on frozen fruits and vegetables when they are on sale. Frozen is just as nutritious as fresh, and they can keep 8-10 months in the freezer. Choose those without added sauces, fats, or sugar.
  4. Plan your meals ahead of time so fresh fruits and vegetables get used before they go bad. Learn more about meal planning
  5. To reduce waste, you can freeze leftover vegetables to add to casseroles or soups later, and overripe fruit is great in smoothies or baking.
  6. Canned vegetables are a great option, and are much more affordable than fresh or frozen. Choose fruit canned in 100% juice and vegetables that are low in sodium or have no sodium added. Stock up when they are on sale!
  7. When buying canned or frozen vegetables, try the store brand. The store brand is the same or a similar product at a much lower price.
  8. Check out your local farmer’s market. You can often find great deals on seasonal produce.
  9. If you find a great deal on fresh produce, try freezing or canning it for later use. Learn how from USU Extension
  10. Another way to reduce cost might be to grow your own produce. A backyard garden or patio planter can provide super-fresh produce all summer long. Visit garden.usu.edu for great resources.

Stay tuned for more tips on how to make fruits and vegetables more convenient and tasty.

This article was written by Carrie Durward, Extension Nutrition Specialist

Ask an Expert // Give Beets a Chance


Take home some beautiful red beets next time you’re at the Farmers Market or grocery store. Read on to find out the many nutritional benefits of beets and get some tips on how to prepare them.

When it comes to eating beets, there are those who love them and those who… well, don’t.  If you are in the group of beet lovers then you probably already have a favorite way to prepare them and use them in side dishes or salads. Other readers may need some convincing before taking steps to include beets in their diet.

Good For You

One of the best reasons to develop a taste for these bright red root vegetables is because they are a good source of folate which helps in the manufacturing of red blood cells and other genetic cells throughout the body. Beets are also a good source of the mineral manganese needed for normal body growth and health. Calcium and potassium are other beneficial nutrients found in beets. Of course, Calcium is known to strengthen bones and teeth. Older adults also rely on the help of calcium-rich foods and supplements to ward off osteoporosis.  Potassium works to keep blood pressure low helping the heart to function efficiently.

Color and Texture

Another reason to use beets is because they add beautiful color and texture to salads. Before slicing or beets for a salad, the outer skin or peel must be removed. It can be removed while the beet is raw but it will be to your advantage to slip on food handler gloves to avoid staining the skin on your fingers. Most find it easier to roast or boil the beets before peeling.

Beet Greens

Don’t give in to the temptation to discard beet greens. Beet greens are actually grown for use in commercially-bagged salads. They can be exchanged for Swiss chard or spinach in your own creative salad. The reddish veins in the leaves break up all the shades of green normally found in salads. To preserve the crispness of home grown beet greens, they should be harvested, washed and refrigerated quickly in a breathable plastic bag and then used within the next two-three days. Beet greens are nearly ready for harvest is most parts of Utah. Start looking for them at local farmer’s markets if you don’t have any in your garden.

Beet greens are a great source of lutein, an antioxidant that helps protect the eyes from age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. The greens also contain a wide variety of phytochemicals that may help actually improve the health of your eyes and nerve tissues.

Preserve for Later

Maybe fresh beets aren’t appealing to your palate. If that is the case, perhaps consider the benefit of having preserved beets as part of your home food storage. Home canned beets are good to have on hand to cut or shred for soups, salads and other side dishes such as borscht and gazpacho.

For approved recipes to use for home preservation of beets, contact your local USU Extension Office or visit the National Center for Home Food Preservation. There you will find recipes for whole, cubed or sliced beets, as well as pickled beets.

More About Beets

  • The color of beet roots can range from dark purple to bright red, yellow, and white. When cut transversely, the roots show light and dark rings, sometimes alternating.
  • The Chioggia beet is red and white-striped, and nicknamed the “candy cane” beet.
  • Beet juice is widely used as a “natural” dye to give pink or red coloration to processed foods.
  • Beets have the highest sugar content of any vegetable.
  • Small beets (about a half-inch in diameter) are good for eating raw. Medium and large-sized beets are best for cooking. Very large beets (more than three inches in diameter) may be too woody for eating.

Kathleen Riggs is the Utah State University Extension family and consumer sciences professor for Iron County. Questions or comments may be sent to kathleen.riggs@usu.edu or call 435-586-8132.

Ask an Expert: Three Ways to Prevent Wasted Food

Prevent Wasted Food Graphic

Don’t you hate it when you spend the time and money filling your fridge with delicious food, just to have it spoil before you get the chance to eat it? Try these three simple tips to use the food you buy and keep it from ending up in the garbage. 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is concerned about the amount of wasted food making its way from home garbage bins into landfills. The EPA website states: “About 95 percent of the food we throw away ends up in landfills or combustion facilities. In 2013, we disposed more than 35 million tons of food waste.” In addition, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that Americans waste over one-third of the vegetables and fruit purchased for home.

Granted, composting food scraps is not appealing to everyone nor is it practical for most apartment dwellers or residents in larger cities. However, learning to reduce waste can help make funds in the family budget available to meet other needs. To that end, EPA provides a few tips for helping families reduce wasted food through planning, storing and preparing food.

1. Planning

  • Keep a running list of ingredients for meals you know your family enjoys. That way, you can easily choose, shop for and prepare meals you know your family will eat.
  • Make your shopping list based on how many meals you’ll eat at home. Will you eat out this week? How often?
  • Plan your meals for the week before you go shopping and buy only the things needed for those meals.
  • Include quantities on your shopping list noting how many meals you’ll make with each item to avoid over-buying. For example: salad greens, enough for two lunches.
  • Look in your refrigerator and cupboards first to avoid buying food you already have, then make a list each week of what needs to be used and plan upcoming meals around it.
  • Keep in mind that buying in bulk only saves money if you are able to use the food before it spoils.

2. Storing

  • Freeze, preserve or can surplus fruits and vegetables, especially abundant seasonal produce. Visit your local USU Extension office or the National Center for Home Food Preservation (www.nchfp.uga.edu ) for guidance.
  • Many fruits give off natural gases as they ripen, making other nearby produce spoil faster. Store bananas, apples and tomatoes by themselves, and store fruits and vegetables in different bins.
  • Wait to wash berries until you are ready to eat them to prevent mold.
  • If you like to eat fruit at room temperature, but it should be stored in the refrigerator for maximum freshness, take what you’ll eat for the day out of the refrigerator in the morning.

3. Preparing

  • When you get home from the store, take the time to wash, dry, chop, dice, slice and place your fresh food items in clear storage containers for snacks and easy cooking.
  • Take advantage of your freezer:
    • Freeze foods such as bread, sliced fruit or meat that you know you won’t be able to eat before it spoils.
    • Cut your time in the kitchen by preparing and freezing meals ahead of time.
    • Prepare and cook perishable items, then freeze them for use throughout the month. For example, bake and freeze chicken breasts or fry and freeze taco meat.


Food in the United States is very affordable and takes only a small chunk out of most family budgets. However, mindless wasting of food should not become an acceptable norm. Pitching in by applying just a few of the above tips could go a long way in keeping food prices low, garbage pick-up prices affordable, landfills slower to be maximized and even make more food available to struggling families.

This article was written by Kathleen Riggs, Utah State University Extension family and consumer sciences professor, 435-586-8132, Kathleen.riggs@usu.edu

Fresh Eats // Zucchini Salad

Fresh Zucchini Salad

Do Onions Make You Cry? Not With These Harvesting Tips!

Do you love zucchini? Are you still looking for ways to use up the rest of the zucchini you harvested? Well then today is your lucky day!

Here is a recipe from Eat Well Utah to create a yummy, light, refreshing salad with raw zucchini. Do you love any other recipes that use raw zucchini? If so, make sure to comment below!

Click here for tips and the recipe!

Screen Shot 2015-10-16 at 12.10.17 PM

Resource Roundup // Local Farmers Markets

Local Farmers Markets

It’s not too late to enjoy fresh farm food and artisan goodies! To help you find a market near you, we have compiled a list of farmers markets around the whole state of Utah.

Farm Fresh Finds

Did you know it’s National Farmers Market Week??

This national week calls for some local celebration. To join the party, find the market nearest you and stop by and visit the next time it’s up and running. It’s never too late to enjoy fresh and delicious finds since most markets run through late fall!

9th West Farmers Market
Sundays, 10 am – 2 pm
Runs through October, International Peace Gardens, 1060 S. 900 West, Salt Lake City http://9thwestfarmersmarket.org.

Bountiful Farmers Market
Thursdays, 3 pm – dusk (or 8 pm)
Runs through October 29, 100 S. 100 East, Bountiful

Cache Valley Farmers Market
Saturdays, 9 am – 1 pm
Runs through October 17, Logan Historic Courthouse, 199 N. Main, Logan

Downtown Farmers Market
Sundays, 8 am – 2 pm
Runs through October 24, Pioneer Park, 350 S. 300 West, Salt Lake City www.slcfarmersmarket.org.

Downtown Harvest Market
Tuesday evenings, 4 pm – 9 pm
August 4 through October 20, Pioneer Park, 350 S. 300 West, Salt Lake City www.slcfarmersmarket.org.

Downtown Ogden Farmers Market
Saturdays 8 am – 1 pm
Runs through September 26, Ogden Historic 25th Street, Ogden

Gardner Village Farmers Market
Saturdays, 9 am – 1 pm
Runs through October 31, 1100 W. 7800 South, West Jordan

Heber Valley Farmers Market
Thursdays, 4 pm – 9 pm
Runs through August 27, Main Street Park, 250 S. Main St., Heber City. Additional parking at the Heber City Police Station, 301 S. Main St. www.ci.heber.ut.us/community/events/farmersmarket.

Kaysville — USU Botanical Center Farmers Market
Thursdays, 5 pm – 8 pm
Runs through September 24, Utah State University Botanical Center, 920 S. 50 West, Kaysville www.usubotanicalcenter.org/htm/farmers-market.

LaVell Edwards Stadium Farmers Market
Thursdays, 3 pm – 7 pm
Runs through October 29, LaVell Edwards Stadium, Brigham Young University campus, Provo

Long Valley Farmers Market
Saturdays, 9 am – Noon
Runs through October 31, Kane County North Event Center, 475 N. State St., Orderville www.facebook.com/pages/Long-Valley-Farmers-Market/1397811127154513.

Mapleton Farmers Market
Saturdays 8 am – 11 am
Runs through September 26, Mapleton City Center, 125 E. 400 North, Mapleton www.mapletonmarket.org.

Murray Farmers Market
Fridays and Saturdays, 9 am – 2 pm
Runs through October 31, Murray City Park, 200 E. 5200 South, Murray

Park City Farmers Market
Wednesdays, Noon – 6 pm
Runs through October 28, The Canyons, 4000 The Canyons Resort Drive, Park City

Park Silly Sunday Market
Sundays, 10 am – 5 pm
Runs through September 20, 900 to 200 Main St., Park City

Provo Farmers Market
Saturdays 9 am – 2 pm
Runs through October 31, Pioneer Park, 500 W. Center St., Provo

Rockhill Creamery Farmers Market
Saturdays, 10 am – 1 pm
Runs through October 17, Rockhill Farm, 563 S. State St., Richmond

St. George Farmers Market
Saturdays, 8 am – 12 pm
Runs through Oct. 31, Courtyard at Ancestor Square, Main Street and St. George Blvd., St. George

South Jordan Farmers Market
Saturdays, 8 am – 2 pm
August 1 through October 31, South Jordan City Hall, 1600 W. Towne Center Drive, South Jordan

Sugar House Farmers Market
Fridays, 4 pm – 8 pm
July 10 through October 16, 2232 S. Highland Drive, Salt Lake City

Thanksgiving Point Farmers Market
Saturdays, 10 am – 2 p.m.
Runs through September 19, 3003 N. Thanksgiving Way, Lehi

Wasatch Front Farmers Market
Sundays, 9 am – 2 pm
June 7 through October 26, 6351 S. 900 East, Salt Lake City

Wayne County Farmers Market
Saturdays, 4 pm
Runs through October, Center and Main streets, Torrey www.facebook.com/WayneCountyFarmersMarket.

Zion Canyon Farmers Market
Saturdays 9 am – 12 pm
Runs through Oct. 17, Bit & Spur Restaurant, 1212 Zion Park Blvd., Zion Canyon www.zionharvest.org/_includes/ZFM.htm.