All posts by Emelia Enquist

September Fruit of the Month: Apple

The September Fruit of the Month is the Apple!

Apples are a sure sign that fall is coming. Easy to prepare and even easier to enjoy, they’re smart solutions for a sugar craving. Their sweetness comes from naturally occurring sugar, so you can satisfy your sweet tooth without reaching for something processed or artificial.

Apples are great sources of:

  • Vitamin A for healthy eyes
  • Iron and potassium for healthy muscles
  • Vitamin C to keep your immune system strong
  • Fiber for digestive health

Why eat an apple a day?

  • One apple has more fiber than one bowl of most cereals.
  • Regularly eating apples can lessen your chances of being diagnosed with metabolic syndrome, a cluster of health problems linked to chronic diseases.
  • The skin of an apple contains an antioxidant that’s proven to protect brain cells.
  • Dentists call apples “nature’s toothbrushes” because they can fight bacteria in your mouth and help keep your teeth clean.
  • Compounds in an apple’s peel have potent anti-growth activities against cancer cells.

Did you know?

  • Apples are originally from the Caucasus, a mountainous area east of Russia.
  • There are more than 7,000 apple varieties grown worldwide, with 2,500 in the United States.
  • The average American eats 19.6 pounds of apples per year.
  • Apples’ best harvest season is from August through November.

Six ways to eat more apples

  1. Hack your breakfast. Mix apple chunks into oatmeal for a breakfast that’ll keep you going strong.
  2. Get a little fruity. Add chopped apples and raisins to chicken salad.
  3. Sauce swap. Applesauce can make your homemade baked goods a little healthier! Replace oils with an equal amount of applesauce, plus ⅓ of the oil called for in the recipe.
  4. Sand-what? Add apples to your sandwich! They’re especially tasty with cheddar cheese, ham, sprouts, or turkey.
  5. Take a dip. Sliced apples and peanut butter are a quick and filling snack. Plus, if you’re interested in trying other kinds of nut butters but not sure how to eat them, this is how! Swap out peanut butter for almond, sunflower, or cashew butter.
  6. Chip in. Make apple chips by cooking thin slices at 225 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour. When the edges begin to curl, they’re done!

Fact check: SDSU Extension, South Dakota Harvest of the Month, Healthline, University of Nebraska – Lincoln

Can’t get enough fruits and veggies? Be sure to check out Harvest of the Month, a downloadable educational program designed to make learning about fruits and veggies easy, tasty, and fun!

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August Vegetable of the Month: Sweet Corn

The August Vegetable of the Month is Sweet Corn!

If you live in South Dakota, you’re likely an old pro at that time-honored road trip conversation: how good (or not good) the cornfields look. Corn is South Dakota’s top-produced crop — and it’s not just food for cows or fuel for your car. It’s a healthy meal staple to bridge the culinary gap from summer to fall.

Corn is native to the Americas. The Native Americans passed it along to Christopher Columbus, who brought it back to Spain. Today, it’s still a great source of B vitamins for energy, fiber for better digestion, and antioxidants to reduce your risk of disease.

Sweet corn is harvested in August and September. Even though you can freeze it to enjoy all year long, it’s at its best when it’s fresh off the stalk!

Corn you believe it?

  • Ears of corn dating back 8,000 years have been discovered in Mexican caves.
  • Sweet corn wasn’t developed until the 1700s. Native Americans ate what we know now as field corn, or corn that wasn’t harvested until their kernels were dry. On the other hand, sweet corn is picked when the kernels are soft and the plant is still green.
  • People grow corn on every continent of the world except for Antarctica.
  • Most corn grown in the United States doesn’t feed people. It’s food for cattle, hogs, poultry, and sheep.
  • Each kernel of corn on a cob is actually a whole fruit! A kernel is a type of fruit called caryopsis — a fruit with one single seed.

Six ways to eat more corn

  1. Dice things up. Make your own salsa at home with whole corn kernels, diced onion and tomato, lime juice, cilantro, and jalapeños or chili powder if you’re feeling fiery.
  2. Tip-top toppings. Butter is a traditional corn on the cob topping, but you can make it even healthier by cutting the butter with roasted garlic, lemon zest, or spices like paprika or cumin.
  3. Fit in some fruit. Put together a surprisingly tasty salad with boiled corn, chopped apples, spinach, bell pepper. Mix in lime juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  4. Chow down. As the days get shorter and the weather gets cooler, keep the warmth going with some corn chowder.
  5. Corn-sider yourself prepared. Keep a bag of corn (whole or shucked) in the freezer for quick additions to soups, salads, or hotdishes all the time.
  6. Let’s taco ’bout it. Make corn an add-on at taco nights. Season it with salt and lime ahead of time, and boom! You’re cooking with gas — ethanol, that is.

Fact check: Mayo Clinic Health System, Healthline, University of Maine Extension, University of Illinois Extension, North Dakota State University

Can’t get enough fruits and veggies? Be sure to check out Harvest of the Month, a downloadable educational program designed to make learning about fruits and veggies easy, tasty, and fun!

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July Veggie of the Month: Cucumbers

The July Vegetable of the Month is Cucumbers!

Cool as a cucumber is a totally factual statement. The cucumber is a refreshing and delicious treat on a hot summer day! (Yes, vegetables can be treats!) And when the temperature gets too warm to spend hours in the kitchen, the cucumber is always there, no cooking required.

Cucumbers may be on the lighter side, but they’re still full of nutrients and health helpers. And a full cup of cucumbers has just 13 calories! 

Did you know…
  • Here in South Dakota, cucumbers can only be grown in summer. Now is the time to pick up some at your local farmers market
  • The inside of a cucumber can be up to 20 degrees colder than the exterior. 
  • Cucumbers are part of the Cucurbitaceae family. Their relatives include gourds, melons, pumpkins, and squashes. 
  • The thicker a cucumber is, the more seeds it has. Shop accordingly! 
  • Cucumbers are 96% water, so they’re a super ally in your summer quest for hydration. 
  • Leave a cucumber’s skin on! If you remove it, you lose out on fiber and VItamin A.

Six ways to eat more cucumber

  1. Get into a pickle. Check out this recipe from SDSU Extension about how you can make your own pickles at home. Four pounds of cucumbers generate 5 – 6 pounds of pickles!  
  2. Pining for you. If you’re feeling adventurous with your salad recipes, combine chunks of cucumber, pineapple, onion, and some cilantro. Drizzle with lime juice and salt. (Add cayenne pepper and chili powder if you’re feeling spicy).
  3. Crunch time. Sub in cucumber slices for chips or crackers as vessels for dips.
  4. Noodle on this. Lighten up a pasta salad with some cubed cucumber and lemon juice.
  5. Cucumber-ade. Toss some thinly sliced cucumber into your lemonade. Add some mint for an extra snap!
  6. Sushi you later. Thinly slice strips of cucumber and wrap them around avocado, carrots, shrimp, and whatever else sounds tasty.

Fact check: SDSU Extension, National Institute of Health, Healthline, University of Illinois Extension, University of Maine Extension, University of Kentucky Family & Consumer Sciences Extension

Can’t get enough fruits and veggies? Be sure to check out Harvest of the Month, a downloadable educational program designed to make learning about fruits and veggies easy, tasty, and fun!

Show me more Fruits & Veggies of the Month!

 

June Fruit of the Month: Cantaloupe

The June Fruit of the Month is Cantaloupe!

Juicy and sweet without overwhelming the taste buds, the cantaloupe is the perfect fruit for hot weather. Unlike pineapples and mangos, cantaloupes aren’t acidic, so they’re a gentle (but still tasty) partner to zingier summer fruit favorites.

Cantaloupes do a lot of heavy lifting for your whole body’s health! They are loaded with Vitamin A for healthy body tissues and vision and Vitamin C for healthy immune system. Cantaloupes also contain ample amounts of fiber for healthy digestion and folacin for cell growth.

Cantaloupes grow on a vine. The melon’s flowers grow to eventually become the fruit we eat. They’re at their best in summer and fall, so now is the right time to go on a cantaloupe spree.

While many cantaloupe connoisseurs typically scoop the seeds out before consuming, you can, in fact, eat them raw, roasted or blended in a smoothie!

Did you know?

  • The cantaloupe is also known as the muskmelon. It’s a close relative to the watermelon, honeydew melons, pumpkins, and cucumbers.
  • Cantaloupes are named after Cantalupo, Italy, where they were first cultivated in Europe.
  • Because cantaloupes can only ripen on the stem, make sure you’re choosing the right one at the grocery store or farmer’s market. Ripe cantaloupes are a shade of yellow, gold, or beige. They feel firm, with a sweet and slightly musky scent.
  • You can store whole melons on the counter for up to two days.

Six can’t-miss ways to use cantaloupe 

  1. Salad-tacular! Add cantaloupe to your salad. It’s especially handy as a complement to bolder tastes like olives, onions, or black pepper.
  2. Add some sizzle. Baste cantaloupe wedges with lime juice and honey. Pop them on the grill for about four minutes on each side, then top with just a little salt.
  3. Berry nice. Blend frozen cantaloupe and berries together for a naturally sweet smoothie.
  4. Go Greek. Put together a refreshing snack or side dish using cubed cantaloupe, feta, basil, salt, and pepper mixed with olive oil and balsamic dressing.
  5. Spice is twice as nice. Sprinkle tajin, a spicy and salty seasoning, on cantaloupe slices.
  6. Cool it, man. Freeze melon balls for a quick bite-sized dessert or snack.

And for all the dads (and dad joke aficionados) out there:

“Let’s run away and get married!”
“I’m sorry…but I cantaloupe!”

Fact Check: SDSU Extension, Smart Life Bites, Harvest of the Month, Delishably

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March Veggie of the Month: Garlic

The March Veggie of the Month is Garlic!

If someone says, “This tastes so good…what’s in it?!” – the answer is typically garlic! 

The flavor-packed bud is rarely served on its own because of its big powerful taste. Instead, you’ll find it in sauce, pasta, meat dishes, and anything else tasty. 

Don’t let this veggie’s potency scare you. It’s a fun addition to any dish, turning a simple “yum” into a big “wow!”

Garlic’s health benefits

Garlic reduces total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels. It can also help lower high blood pressure. 

Research suggests a connection between eating garlic and lower risk of gastrointestinal cancers. One study even found that folks whose diet included garlic had a 35% lower chance of colon cancer! 

Garlic is a naturally occurring antibiotic – so while it isn’t a cure-all for sickness, it boosts the body’s ability to stay healthy and fight disease. 

Even though you can find garlic supplements, it’s most effective when you eat it fresh. Luckily, we’ve got you covered!

Did you know? 

  • Onions and chives are closely related to garlic. What a fragrant family! 
  • Garlic was popular in Ancient Egypt in both cuisine and medicine. King Tut was even buried with some bulbs. 
  • Locals around the Hanging Gardens of Babylon called garlic a “rank rose.” 
  • During the 1918 flu pandemic, a French plant scientist used garlic to prevent the flu, so people wore garlic necklaces out in public.

Six ways to use garlic

  1. Bread you know? Slice a baguette in two and coat the inner part with a mix of minced garlic, pepper, salt, and butter or olive oil. Broil in the oven for a quick 3-5 minutes and tada – garlic bread right at home! 
  2. Leaf it up. Make a simple salad with garlic, tomatoes, and red onion. Toss in some basil, pepper, red wine vinegar, or pepper – whatever you feel like! 
  3. That’s amore! Pop garlic into any pasta for a little for a little zing. 
  4. Smashing mashed potatoes. Mix in a little garlic with your mashed potatoes to give them some extra flavor. 
  5. Guac this way. Add garlic to an easy guacamole with mashed avocado, tomato, onion, and lime juice.
  6. Hi, honey. Mix garlic and honey into a basting (or dipping!) sauce for a fun sweet and tangy fusion. 

Fact check: Healthline, National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health,, Cleveland Clinic, U.S. National Library of Medicine: National Institute of Health, Northwestern Medicine

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January Veggie of the Month: Cabbage

Cabbage’s Leafy Origin Story

The rough and rugged cabbage came to North America through eastern Canada in 1541 with Jacques Cartier, an explorer from France. (Cartier also named Canada! What an actual Renaissance man.)

Although cabbage is typically cooked to soften some of its toughness, you’ll recognize it as a key ingredient in coleslaw, a favorite picnic dish! 

Germans will recognize the veggie in its fermented form, sauerkraut (literally “sour cabbage”). But rumor has it that the crew working on the Great Wall of China also snacked on sauerkraut way back around 221 B.C. 

Cabbage is a lot easier to work into your meals than you might imagine! And it’s worth getting to know, because its health benefits and unique texture will have you hooked. 

Nutritious & Delicious Health Benefits

One cup of cabbage has 96% of the standard recommended daily dose of Vitamin K, which helps keep your brain, bones, and heart healthy.

In the Middle Ages, cabbage juice was considered a remedy for curing coughs and healing wounds. Those folks were a little bit right! Cabbage is rich in Vitamins C and A, two essential helpers in fighting infection.

Fun Facts

  • When cabbage is growing, it can handle temperatures as low as 15° F. Now there’s a hearty South Dakota veggie! 
  • Brussels sprouts, kale, cauliflower, and broccoli are all closely related to cabbage. 
  • More than 100 types of cabbage exist across the world. The three most common in the United States are purple (a great source of Vitamin C), green (full of Vitamin K), and savoy (a champ carrying calcium, potassium, iron, and Vitamin A). 
  • Cabbage’s shelf life extends way past other produce. Stored properly in the refrigerator, it can last from 3 weeks to 2 months! 

Cooking with Cabbage

  1. Go stir crazy. Add cabbage to any stir fry. Try it with peppers and onions! 
  2. Prep your pucker. Pickle cabbage at home to make your own sauerkraut. 
  3. Give them something to taco ‘bout. Shred for an unexpected taco add-on! 
  4. Soup it up. Boil cabbage, your favorite veggies, and broth for a quick and easy soup.  
  5. Slaw, queen! Make a coleslaw with red and green cabbage, carrots, and a mayonnaise, vinegar, and honey base. 

Fact check: University of Maryland Extension, Healthline, Farmers’ Almanac, Iowa Department of Public Health, Cedar Circle Farm & Education Center

Can’t get enough fruits and veggies? Be sure to check out Harvest of the Month, a downloadable educational program designed to make learning about fruits and veggies easy, tasty, and fun!

Show me more Fruits & Veggies of the Month!

November Veggie of the Month: Eggplant

Eggplant’s mild flavor makes it an easy, but often forgotten, addition to meals. It’s commonly shuttled to the sidelines because you might think you don’t know what to do with it. But you do! Or you will if you read on. Let us help! Take a peek into eggplant’s history and (quite tasty, if we do say so ourselves) uses.

Eggplants first appeared 2,000 years ago in India. The ancient Sanskrit language contained more than 30 names for the purple vegetable.

Through global trade, eggplants migrated from Asia and the Middle East to Africa during the Middle Ages, and then to Italy in the 1300s. Although the Europeans appreciated its lush color, shape, and blooms, they didn’t immediately buy into it as a food. They feared – incorrectly – that it was poisonous.

Founding father Thomas Jefferson first brought eggplants to the young United States in the 1800s, but it was Italian and Chinese immigrants who used their culinary skills to truly integrate them into American cuisine.

Did you know…

  • Eggplants got their name because the earliest kinds were white, so they looked like eggs hanging from the plant.
  • When you’re choosing your eggplant, pick one that’s heavy, firm, and shiny with a green stem. The smaller the eggplant, the less bitter it will be. If you do grab a bitter eggplant, you can always offset the flavor with some salt.
  • Eggplant is a great low calorie substitution for higher calorie recipe ingredients. It’s only 20 calories per cup! And that cup of eggplant has 10% of your recommended daily value of manganese, a mineral that keeps your brain, nervous system, and bones healthy.
  • Packed with antioxidants, eggplant may help prevent heart disease and cancer. It may also help lower cholesterol.
  • The high amount of fiber found in eggplant helps to keep your blood sugar levels steady.

8 ways to eat more eggplant

  1. Boom, roasted. Cut up eggplant into chunks and roast it for an easy side dish.
  2. Spin your salad. Sauté or roast, then pop it into salad.
  3. Meat cute. Grill up some thick chunks like a burger, or fry thinner slices like bacon to make your BLT an ELT.
  4. Mash up. After cooking the whole eggplant, puree or mash it into a dip. Pair with peppers, carrots, or crackers.
  5. How saucy! Make roasted or grilled eggplant the centerpiece of your pasta.
  6. Ice ice baby. Freeze slices so you can easily use them later in soups, sauces, and dips.
  7. That’s a wrap. Toss grilled or roasted eggplant into a wrap for a new take on lunch.
  8. Kebob ka-ching. Add cubed eggplant to amp up your kebobs. Try combining it with pineapple, zucchini, salmon, or peaches.

Sources: USDA, SDSU Extension, The Kitchn, University of Missouri, Healthline, Livestrong, Live Eat Learn

Can’t get enough fruits and veggies? Be sure to check out Harvest of the Month, a downloadable educational program designed to make learning about fruits and veggies easy, tasty, and fun!

Show me more Fruits & Veggies of the Month!

Show me more Fruits & Veggies of the Month!

August Veggie of the Month: Carrots

It’s true – carrots actually can help your eyesight! These crunchy critters get their bright orange color from beta carotene, the antioxidant our bodies turn into Vitamin A. Along with helping growth, development, and immunity, Vitamin A maintains eye health.

Late to the carrot trend? No worries. The “root” of the carrot’s legacy is long.

Carrot cultivation began in Afghanistan before the year 900. The earliest carrots were purple and yellow. In the first Arabic cookbook from around 950, Ibn Sayyar al-Warraq described the carrot as:

Juicy, tender, and delicious. Poets compare it to carnelian, rubies, flames of fire, and coral reefs.

Talk about a rave review!

Orange carrots weren’t intentionally cultivated until the 1600s in the Netherlands. Farmers may have created orange carrots to celebrate William of Orange, the Dutch leader freeing the country from Spanish control. Even though the historical accuracy of the story is debatable, the legacy and health benefits of carrots sure aren’t.

Did you know…

  • Carrots are full of complex flavors. They’re sweet, fruity, and sometimes piney.
  • Because carrots are great sources of fiber, they benefit healthy digestion and even heart health.
  • The Vitamin B6 in carrots keeps your energy levels up.
  • Carrots retain their nutritional value even when they’re cooked. Your body is able to use more of the nutrients in cooked carrots because cooking them releases beta carotene.
  • The Dakota name for wild carrots is “Pangi zizi.” Tribes would take the lead from rabbits to track down carrots on the plains.
  • The darker orange a carrot is, the more beta carotene it has. To get the most bang for your buck, choose the carrots in the deepest shades of orange.
  • You can store carrots for 1-2 weeks in the refrigerator.

7 ways to eat more carrots

  1. Get up and go. Chomp down on raw carrots plain. Dip them in hummus, peanut butter, or mustard for additional zip.
  2. Toss them up. Mix carrots into salads for a crunchy—and colorful—compliment.
  3. Stew on it. Take your favorite fall soups to a lush new level.
  4. Blend in. Use shredded or pureed carrots in any fruit or veggie-based smoothie for an easy nutritional boost.
  5. Add an unexpected zing. Roast carrots with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Then sprinkle them with orange zest, freshly squeezed orange juice, chili powder, or honey for a medley of tastes.
  6. Make them sizzle. Carrots will give your stir fry a crisp snap.
  7. Create surprising sweetness. Let vegetables sneakily take center stage at dessert with carrot cake or muffins.

Sources: SDSU Extension, Pick It! Try It! Preserve It!, Healthline, The World Carrot Museum, How Stuff Works, Nebraska Extension in Lancaster County, Eat Fresh

Can’t get enough fruits and veggies? Be sure to check out Harvest of the Month, a downloadable educational program designed to make learning about fruits and veggies easy, tasty, and fun!

Show me more Fruits & Veggies of the Month!

Show me more Fruits & Veggies of the Month!