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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




Ask an Expert // Give Beets a Chance

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.




Family Mealtime // Apple Cranberry Crisp

apple-crisp


Families who eat together have overall healthier diets, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t indulge in a sweet treat every now and then at end of your family meal. There are three healthy, delicious dessert recipes in the Live Well Utah Cookbook, Family Mealtime Edition. Today we’re sharing one of them- Apple Cranberry Crisp. This is a perfect dessert for autumn, as local apples are in season and abundant at farmers markets. 


Apple Cranberry Crisp

Filling

  • 5 cups apples, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 cup dried cranberries (or other dried fruit)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Topping

  • 1/2 cup quick cooking rolled oats
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

in a 2 quart baking dish, combine apples and cranberries. Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon, and toss to coat.

In a small bowl, combine oats, brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Using a fork, cut butter into topping mixture until crumbly. Sprinkle topping evenly over apple filling. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until apples are tender. Serve warm.


September is National Family Mealtime month. Each Friday this month we’ll be posting on that topic — specifically from the Live Well Utah Cookbook, Family Mealtime Edition. This publication is available for free at your local Extension office, or available digitally here. It features some great tips on the importance of family mealtime and meal planning, plus 21 quick, inexpensive, and nutritious recipes that are sure to please even the pickiest eaters. 




Ask a Specialist // 15 Ways to Save on Groceries

Save on Groceries

Follow these tips to save some extra money for the holidays!


Being a Frugal Foodie

Money spent on food is probably one of the biggest expenses in a household budget—perhaps even larger than a mortgage, depending on family size. Combine money spent on groceries with money spent eating out, and that number gets even larger.

Here are some tricks to save on food costs. And as a bonus, most money-saving tips will also help you eat healthier.

1. Make a meal plan and detailed shopping list. Together these will help you spend less time in the store, help you buy only what you need and help you avoid more frequent shopping trips. Remember to use foods in your cupboard and food storage as part of your meal plan instead of buying unnecessary duplicates.

2. Reduce the number of trips to the grocery store. Undoubtedly you’ve gone to the store to buy a gallon of milk and spent more than $10. Try to narrow store visits to once a week; if you shop more frequently than that, try twice a month. Buy as much milk, fruit, etc., as you need for that time, or try doing without an ingredient instead of making another trip to the store.

3. Shop when the stores are less crowded and NOT when you are hungry. Food originally not on your list suddenly appears in the cart when you’re hungry, which doesn’t save money. However, it is a good idea to make your meal plan when hungry because it’s easy to bring meal ideas to mind with a grumbling stomach.

4. Make food from scratch, or nearly from scratch. It is generally cheaper than buying pre-packaged foods. Buying a head of lettuce and a package of carrots and chopping it yourself will likely be cheaper and larger than buying a pre-packaged salad mix. But if you won’t chop the lettuce and carrots, it will be a waste of money. It’s almost always cheaper—and healthier—to choose more whole, fresh foods rather than boxed, bottled or frozen ready-to-eat options. Consider your options for saving money and compare that with your time and your family’s preferences. If you have time, options such as making homemade bread, tortillas and other bread products could save a lot of money over the long term.

5. Ditch the myth that healthy foods are more expensive. While some foods considered healthy are more expensive than less healthy foods, this is not always the case. For example, frozen salmon fillets could be considered healthier than sirloin steak, yet salmon is more expensive per pound. However, chicken is a lean meat, generally cheaper than sirloin steak and a healthier choice. Another example: for the price of a box of cereal (or cheaper), you could buy a large container of oatmeal, which has more servings than the box of cereal, provides 100 percent serving of whole grains, is naturally filled with fiber and nutrients and is free of added sugars.

6. Eliminate food waste. Healthy, fresh foods become expensive when they are allowed to spoil or age before they can be eaten. Carefully plan how you’ll use foods while they are fresh. List a few meals that use the same foods and refer to that when you have excess or when certain foods are on sale. Also try the “cook once, eat twice” idea where you make one large meal and repurpose it for a different meal the next day. Be sure to use the freshest foods first, then turn to frozen and canned foods. Another way to eliminate food waste and save on food is to carry leftovers or sack meals when on the go to avoid eating out.

7. Compare prices between generic and store brands. Generally foods higher or lower on the shelves will be cheaper than those at eye level. Also check unit pricing (most stores include this in the price tag on the shelf) and not just the price per container.

8. Use coupons carefully. If it is a product you usually buy and use, and the coupon will make the item cheaper than the generic brand, it is worth using. Check for online coupons that connect to your shopper’s card. Price matching can also be a great way to save money. Some stores require you to bring proof of the item price in another store, so be prepared.

9. Buy produce in season. The price of fresh produce can vary throughout the year, based on harvest season. Save money and vary eating habits by buying fresh produce in season. Watch for labeling of prices—most of the time, fresh produce is priced per pound, not per item. There could be a great difference between heads of cabbage that are .99 per pound versus .99 per head.

10. Don’t forget frozen and canned fruits and veggies. Most fruits and vegetables that are canned or frozen are processed quickly at their peak of ripeness and nutrition. Canned and frozen fruits and veggies without added sugars and salts are healthy options and can be less expensive than fresh options, especially for foods out of season or hard to find in your area. They also add an element of convenience since the chopping and/or peeling has been done, and they store well.

11. Since meat is costly, consider cheaper proteins including milk, eggs, peanut butter, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, edamame and beans. Reduce the amount of meat used in recipes. If a stir-fry recipe calls for 2 pounds of chicken, try the recipe with 1 pound and add more veggies. Save the other pound for later. Or add more whole grains and vegetables to your diet.

12. Shop sales and stock up on foods you use often. Track prices of foods you use most, and when prices go down, buy more. Use food storage to plan your meals and rotate the food. This helps keep costs down and reduces food waste. Many grocery stores in Utah have seasonal case lot sales when prices are lower for many pantry-stable foods, such as canned goods, flour, sugar, rice, beans and oatmeal. There are also baking sales in late fall before the holidays.

13. Buy from the bulk section. Not all bulk items will be cheaper than pre-packaged foods, so compare prices carefully. However, buying bulk, scoop-it-out-yourself foods is an excellent way to get food you use frequently or to get small amounts of foods to try in new recipes, such as quinoa, whole grain pasta noodles, nuts, steel-cut oats and ground spices.

14. Grow a garden and use the produce in your meals and snacks. Visit livewellutah.org and click “recipes” for ideas on using produce easily grown or purchased in most parts of Utah.

15. Consider preserving garden produce for later use. Freezing, dehydrating and canning are all great ways to preserve food and have the potential to save you money and avoid food waste. Canning supplies can be expensive, but can be accumulated over time, and with the exception of canning lids, they can be used repeatedly. For safe, scientifically tested canning and preserving information, go to extension.usu.edu/foodpreservation or contact your local Extension office. For classes near you that will give you more healthy, eating-on-a-budget tips, visit https://extension.usu.edu/foodsense/htm/calendar.


This article was written by Melanie Jewkes, Utah State University Extension associate professor, Salt Lake County

References

extension.usu.edu




November Menu Planning

November Menu Planning

November is a crazy month. Stay ahead of the game and plan your meals now!


Om Nom November

You might remember that we did a post on menu planning a little while back. Menu planning is an amazing way to save money and time! However, thinking of meals to make week after week can be a challenge.

To help you out with the month of November, bigbiteslittlebudget.com has put together a sample menu plan for you! Feel free to move meals around, swap meals out for ones you like better and completely change it up. The most important thing is that you make a plan and stick with it.

Don’t worry; if you have never tried menu planning, this is a great place start! Plus, bigbiteslittlebudget.com has included all of the dinner recipes you will need this month and every single one is absolutely delicious.

Here is one of the recipes you won’t want to miss!
Pumpkin Pie Bread

To find your handy-dandy November menu plan and all SIX delicious recipes, click here.
Happy planning!


References

Table for One




Menu Planning // The Tips, The Tricks and The Benefits

Weekly Menu Planning

Who knew that saving your time, your money and your health was this easy!


October Menu Planning

Picture this:

The clock strikes 5:00 and you are home free. Everything is wonderful until you remember you don’t have plans for dinner. All of a sudden you’re panicking about ingredients and recipes and if you have enough of everything to make a meal. Instead of dealing with the idea of cooking you decide to just grab takeout.

Sound familiar?

While this option can be convenient, it is expensive and definitely not the most healthy. No matter if you have a big family or live by yourself, taking time to create menu plans each week will save time and money.

Why plan a menu?

Planning a menu will help you avoid:
• Going to the grocery store, loading up your cart, spending $100 or more, returning home to put all the food away, and then realizing you still have nothing to make for dinner. Let’s be honest, we have all done it.
• Spending 30 minutes or more at night trying to figure out what to eat for dinner. Menu planning means you spend 30 minutes or less per week figuring out what to eat. That is quite a time savings.
• Spending $40 on take out because you couldn’t figure out what to make with ingredients in the pantry.
• Throwing out leftovers you forgot about in the back of your refrigerator.

How to plan a menu

The hardest part of planning a menu is making time to do it.
Use these simple and easy tips along with the menu planning template to make a menu in just minutes!

1. Schedule a time when you will have a few minutes to dedicate to the task.
2. Plan your menu around food items you already have on hand. This will not only make your grocery bill less, but also use up products before they spoil.
3. Choose a variety of meals that include family favorites, budget stretchers, and quick-fix meals.
4. Cook once, eat twice. Plan to use your leftovers. Putting leftovers into your menu plan will reduce the amount you have to cook and reduce the amount of food waste.
5. Picture your plate as you plan each meal. Remember to include veggies and fruits in the menu. Ideally half the plate will include vegetables and fruits, a quarter of the plate will have grains, and the other quarter will have protein. With a glass on the side for dairy, you will have all the food groups suggested by MyPlate: choosemyplate.gov.
6. Have the local store circulars available when you are planning. Always take advantage of sales on products you know you will use.
7. Create a thorough shopping list.
Use this handy Grocery Shopping Packet to assure you have a successful trip to the store.

Sample Menu Plan for October PLUS 7 Delicious Recipes.

Big Bites on a Little Budget has put together a sample menu plan for October to help you get started. Feel free to switch things around and get creative.

Here is one of their wholesome and delicious recipes. Click here to find 6 more!

Easy Lite Lasagna

Enjoy!


References

Mayo Clinic
mayoclinic.org

USU Extension
extension.usu.edu





You Can Can, But Can you Can Safely?

Can you Can?

Make sure you’re canning your food safely!


Three Simple Steps to Safe Canning

Preserving your own foods can save you money and is a great way to know what is in the foods you eat. It is important to follow the safest canning guidelines and use up-to-date equipment to ensure your product is safe.

1. Be sure to check the source of your recipe. Extensive research and testing have resulted in scientific-based guidelines, which are the safest. To ensure you are using a science-based resource, your recipe and guidelines should come from Utah State University Extension, The National Center for Home Food Preservation, University of Georgia or The Ball Blue Book. Information should have been released after 2009. No other sources, including recipes on the Internet, can be presumed safe.

2. Pressure canner gauges should be tested once a year. Low-acid foods should be canned using a pressure canner. Watch for pressure canner gauge testing by your local Extension office in your area.

3. Attend a class to ensure you are current on your canning techniques. Look for a MASTER FOOD PRESERVER Course in your area. This class is an in-depth series on food preservation for optimum food safety in all areas of food preservation including pressure canning, water bath canning, dehydrating, and freezing.

For more current information on canning and food preservation, visit the National Center for Home Food Preservation online at nchfp.uga.edu or extension.usu.edu/canning.


This article was written by SuzAnne Jorgensen, FCS Extension Agent, Garfield County





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
www.bountifulmainstreet.com.

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

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
www.ogdenfarmersmarket.com.

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

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
http://dining.byu.edu/farmers_market.html.

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
www.murray.utah.gov.

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

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

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

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

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
www.farmersmarketdowntown.com.

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
www.southjordanfarmersmarket.com.

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

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

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

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.