Tag Archives: Fruit & Veggies

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!

Show me more Fruits & Veggies of the Month!


May Veggie of the Month: Peas

The May Veggie of the Month is Peas!

To keep our diets and ourselves healthy, we need to eat a variety of protein foods including seafood, meat, eggs, nuts, seeds and legumes. You might wonder – what does this have to do with peas? Well, legumes include kidney beans, lima beans, pinto beans, lentils and, you guessed it…peas! Peas are a part of the protein food group AND the vegetable group!

Peas are high in fiber, Vitamin A, and Vitamin C. They’re also super sources of folate, a B-vitamin that helps maintain energy and form red blood cells. Folate is especially important for babies, adolescents, and pregnant women!

Did you know?

  • You can eat peas whether they’re cooked or raw.
  • Peas often grow on a vine supported by a pole.
  • Green peas are sometimes called sweet peas or English peas.
  • Snow pea pods are thin and tender. They’re eaten when there are still only tiny traces of peas inside. This type of pea is usually associated with Asian cuisine.
  • Sugar snap peas are eaten when the peas inside are nearly mature and the pods are tender and juicy, similar to snap beans.

Tips for pickin’ (and keepin’) peas

  • When picking peas in the garden, choose firm and bright peas that have no sign of decay or wilting.
  • Store peas in a perforated plastic bag for 3-5 days in the refrigerator. Shell them just before using.
  • Remove peas from the shell by pulling the string down the length of the pod and pushing out the peas with your thumb.

Five ways to pep up your meals with peas

  1. Snack it to me. Fresh raw peas are an easy on-the-go snack.
  2. Dish it out. Cooked peas are a great – and colorful! – addition to a hotdish.
  3. Presto, pesto! Toss some thawed frozen peas, mint, a few garlic cloves, black pepper, and grated parmesan cheese in the food processor. Add olive oil as you combine the ingredients and make an unexpected pesto to eat as a dip or spread.
  4. Go green. Add peas to any soup or stew to pump up the protein.
  5. Pasta pizzazz. Sprinkle some cooked peas into your favorite pasta dish.

Sources: Eat Well, Live Well Campaign, Pick It! Try It! Like It!Fruits & Veggies More Matters, Iowa State University Extension & Outreach, University of Minnesota Extension, & University of Maryland Extension

Show me more Fruits & Veggies of the Month!

April Fruit of the Month: Plums

The April Fruit of the Month is Plums!

They’re plum terrific! One medium-sized plum is a great source of Vitamin C. Vitamin C helps your body heal from cuts and wounds, and helps you absorb more iron from your food. Plums are also full of fiber and Vitamin A.

Dried plums are called prunes. The pit is removed and the fruit is dehydrated. Prunes are an excellent source of fiber. Dried fruit should be consumed in smaller portions than the fresh versions of fruit. Two medium size plums are a serving of the fresh fruit while ¼ cup of dried plums (prunes) is a serving in the dried version.

When buying plums, choose plump plums with smooth skins. Make sure to avoid bruises and soft spots! Store unripe plums in a paper bag until they’re ripe, then refrigerate them.

Fun Facts:

  • A “plumcot” is 50% plum and 50% apricot.
  • An “aprium” is 75% apricot and 25% plum.
  • A “pluot” is 75% plum and 25% apricot.
  • Wild plum trees are symbolic of independence.
  • Luther Burbank brought twelve plum seeds back from Japan, now almost all plums grown in the United States are related to those seeds.

Top 10 Ways To Enjoy Plums:

  1. Plum dippers. Choose the largest plums you can find and cut into thin slices. Dip in low-fat vanilla or honey yogurt for an easy finger food that your kids will love!
  2. Violet smoothie. Freeze pitted plums and toss them into a blender along with other frozen fruits. Add 100% fruit juice and blend away for a tangy frozen treat.
  3. Plums and couscous. Combine whole wheat couscous, apples, lemon juice, and dried plums to create an aromatic salad that can be served as a light main course for lunch or as a side dish with grilled steak or salmon.
  4. Trail mix. Cut dried plums into the size of raisins and create a trail mix with almonds, whole grain cereal, granola, and other dried fruits.
  5. Main course. Stir-fry meals pack all ingredients into one delicious main course. Combine a lean protein, walnuts, brown rice, celery, peppers, and other favorite fruits and vegetables, then mix in ginger and low-sodium soy sauce … and enjoy!
  6. By the bite. Enjoy plums as nature intended, right off the tree!
  7. Plum kabob. Ever tasted a warm plum? Layer plums with bell peppers, red onions, corn, and boneless chicken, then lightly coat with low-sodium soy sauce and heat on the grill or oven until chicken is cooked.
  8. Purple salad. Plums brighten up any salad! Combine them with strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, oranges, honey, and mint to make an appetizing salad for dessert or a snack!
  9. Drizzle ’em. For a late night treat or early morning delight, drizzle puréed plum sauce made with a small amount of 100% juice and vanilla extract over hot oatmeal, waffles, pancakes, or low-fat frozen yogurt or ice cream.
  10. Plum chutney. Chutney is great on whole wheat crackers, freshly baked bread, or with vegetables. Pack it for a picnic or serve it as an appetizer.

Learn more about plums with this Pick It! Try It! Like It! fact sheet.

Fact check: South Dakota Harvest of the Month, Fruit & Veggies: More Matters

Show me more Fruits & Veggies of the Month!

February Fruit of the Month: Cherries

The February Fruit of the Month is Cherries!

Did you know…

  • Cherries with stems still attached are less likely to mold quickly.
  • There are 2 kinds of cherries: sweet and sour.
  • The most commonly eaten sweet cherries are Bing, Rainier, and Lambert.
  • Maraschino cherries are sweet cherries processed with sugar.
  • Sour cherries, also known as tart cherries, are mainly grown for canning or making pies.
  • Cherries should be stored unwashed in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to 10 days. Wash just before use.

6 Ways to Enjoy Cherries…

  1. Sundae station. At your next party, set up an ice cream sundae station and combine the creaminess of low-fat ice cream or frozen yogurt with the sweetness of fresh fruit. Include cherries as one of the fruit toppings.
  2. A ruby salad. Add sliced or pitted cherries to any salad. Try this Fresh Cherry and Asparagus Salad recipe.
  3. Succulent substitute. Easily switch cherries with blueberries and strawberries in any of your favorite recipes.
  4. Cherry shake. Combine fat-free vanilla, banana, or plain yogurt along with cherries in a blender for a delicious drink!
  5. Fizzed up fruit. Bring on spring with a refreshing cherry spritzer made by combining ice, cold seltzer, water, and puréed cherries.
  6. Cherries on the Run. Rinse, dry, and enjoy whole cherries. They’re a great on-the-go snack!

Sources: Eat Well, Live Well Campaign & Fruits & Veggies More Matters.

Show me more Fruits & Veggies of the Month!

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!

December Fruit of the Month: Pears

The December Fruit of the Month is the pear!

Because of their many varieties and growing seasons, pears are available fresh and in abundance for most of the year including winter, when many other fruits are out of season. For a convenient alternative to fresh pears, canned and dried pears are also available year-round. Remember all forms of fruits and vegetables count; fresh, frozen, canned, or dried!

Did you know…

  • Pears grow on trees and come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors including green, golden yellow, and red.
  • The peel is good to eat and has many nutrients. Do not eat the seeds.
  • Pears are a relative of the apple. Pears rank second to the apple as the most popular fruit eaten in the US with Washington, Oregon, and California producing 97% of the pears in the country.
  • Pears have no cholesterol or sodium, are high in fiber and potassium, and are a good source of vitamin C.

Selection and Storage:

  • Choose pears with no bruises or dark brown spots.
  • To ripen pears, place in a loosely closed paper bag at room temperature until the flesh responds easily to gentle pressure at the neck with your thumb.
  • After pears are ripened, store them in the refrigerator and use within 5-7 days.
  • Always handle pears gently. They bruise easily, which can lead to rapid decay of the fruit.
  • Wash under clean, running water before eating.

6 Ways To Enjoy Pears:

  1. Poach Your Pears. Every tried it? They’re delicious! Check out this ‘Poached Pears’ video to learn how!
  2. Sweet Soup. Ever tried pears in soup? Check out this Sweet Potato-Pear Soup recipe.
  3. The Perfect Snack. Have a delicious fresh pear as a sweet, juicy snack.
  4. Pears Instead of Apples. For a change in flavor, use pears in any way you would usually use apples. For example, substitute pears for apples in your favorite cobbler recipe.
  5. Sweet Salads. Pear slices can change an ordinary salad into a flavorful work of art!
  6.  Grilled Cheese and … Pear? What flavor! Try adding thinly-sliced pears to a grilled cheese sandwich or on your favorite panini (don’t forget to use whole wheat!).

The featured Sioux Falls chef this month is Chef Shonna Haugen from Old Soul Cafe and Catering. Learn more about pears and get Chef Haugen’s Pear and Pecan Bran Muffin recipe with this Pick It! Try It! Like It! Fact Sheet.

Don’t stop there! Find ways to promote pears at your work, school, childcare, and in your community!

Sources: Live Well Sioux Falls, Fruits and Veggies More Matters, EatFresh.org, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Nutrition Education Program, & Ohio State University 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!

October Veggie of the Month: Tomatoes

The October Vegetable of the Month is Tomatoes!

This fruit is amazing…wait, fruit? That’s right, tomatoes are technically a fruit, but most people consider them part of the vegetable family because of their hearty flavor. Remember, whether it’s a fruit or vegetable, it’s good for you! Aim for 5 – 9 fruits and vegetables each day!

Did you know…
  • Tomatoes are chock full of essential Vitamins C, A, and B6, along with iron, potassium, manganese, and fiber.
  • One cup of canned tomatoes contains only 41 calories and no fat.
  • Tomatoes are rich in powerful antioxidants called carotenoids that protect against certain types of cancers and slow the development of atherosclerosis (plaque associated with hardening of arteries).
  • The most abundant type of carotenoid found in tomatoes is lycopene. Foods high in lycopene may help reduce the risk for prostate, digestive, and pancreatic cancers. Tomato products are responsible for more than 80% of the lycopene in the U.S. diet.
  • Tomato products also fight inflammation associated with chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease.
  • Check out these helpful tips about tomato selection, storage and prep.
9 ways to enjoy tomatoes
  1. Healthy tomato vinaigrette. In a blender combine a chopped tomato, 2 Tablespoons of vinegar (white wine or balsamic), 1 Tablespoon olive oil, ½ teaspoon dijon mustard and your favorite herbs (basil, thyme, etc). Enjoy!
  2. Quick tomato salad. Quarter tomatoes and marinate with onion in your favorite low-fat vinaigrette. Add some sliced cucumber for some extra crunch.
  3. Stuffed tomato. Stuff a tomato with low-fat cottage cheese or with tuna, shrimp or chicken salad. Use the pulp as part of the salad.
  4.  Stewed tomato side dish. Saute 1 small diced onion in 1 Tablespoon olive oil. Mix in dried or chopped fresh basil and a dash of salt and pepper. Add coarsely chopped, peeled tomatoes (about 6) and simmer for 5 minutes.
  5.  Tangy salsa. Make it yourself with chopped fresh tomatoes, finely chopped jalapeño peppers, chopped cucumber, 1 small onion, chopped cilantro and lime juice. Can also be used on top of greens or as a salad by itself. Be creative and add other ingredients such as black beans, corn or chopped olives.
  6. Baked tomato side dish. Slice tomatoes about ½ inch thick. Sprinkle with seasoned breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese. Bake at 350 until tomatoes are almost soft.
  7. Gazpacho. Finely dice fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, green onion, and green and/or red peppers. Add to tomato juice with 1-2 teaspoons of olive oil and a splash of cider vinegar. Ingredients can be added to a blender and pulsed one or two times.
  8. Beyond tomato sauce. Slice fresh tomatoes and top your pizza.
  9. Fresh and sweet. Right off the vine!

Learn more about tomatoes and get an authentic Mexican recipe for fresh tomato salsa with this Pick It! Try It! Like It! fact sheet.

Don’t stop there! Find ways to promote tomatoes at your work, school, childcare and in your community!

Sources: Eat Well, Live Well Campaign, Fruits & Veggies More Matters, & Penn State 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!

September Veggie of the Month: Rhubarb

The September Vegetable of the Month is Rhubarb!

The first thing to know about rhubarb is that only the stalks of the rhubarb plant can be safely eaten. Rhubarb leaves (cooked or raw) contain toxins that are poisonous.

Did you know…

  • Rhubarb is in season during the spring and summer.
  • The best stalks are firm and red, not curled or limp. Rhubarb is tart, but red stalks will taste sweeter and richer while green stalks may be more sour.
  • Rhubarb is often grown in gardens, but can grow successfully in most areas of a person’s backyard. It can also be spotted around farm buildings and barns.
  • It is most often cooked, but the stalks can be eaten raw.
  • 1/2 cup of cooked rhubarb equals 1 serving of vegetables—and remember, we want to get at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day!
  • Because of its tart flavor, sugar is often added. However, a serving of rhubarb without sugar is only 29 calories! An alternative to adding sugar is to combine with sweeter fruits such as strawberries.

Want to start growing rhubarb in your backyard or garden? Great! Rhubarb grows well in most of the United States. If planting in a garden, plant where it will not be disturbed as it will likely come back each year for five years or sometimes much longer! In South Dakota, it’s best to take a pre-established rhubarb plant and divide the roots. Well-established roots can be dug up and divided into 4 to 8 pieces and replanted in other areas as long as each piece has at least one strong bud. So share with your neighborhood and community! Planting seeds is not recommended except in extremely southern areas of the United States.

Find out more about when to plant, spacing, depth, care, and harvesting and check out this video for helpful tips on freezing for future use.

Learn more about rhubarb and get Avera McKennan’s Executive Chef Drew Laberis’ Easy Rhubarb Lentil Salad recipe with this Pick It! Try It! Like It! fact sheet.

Don’t stop there! Find ways to promote rhubarb at your work, school, childcare, and in your community!

Sources: Eat Well, Live Well Campaign, Pick It! Try It! Like It!Fruits & Veggies More MattersThe University of Maine Cooperative Extension, University of Illinois 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!

July Fruit of the Month: Watermelon

The July Fruit of the Month is Watermelon!

Did you know…

While most of us can’t think of watermelon without thinking of summer get-togethers, watermelon’s place at American picnic tables is only the most recent development in the history of this amazing fruit.

Originating in southern Africa (where it grows wild), watermelon eventually found its way to ancient Egypt, where it was first grown as far back as 2000 B.C. In fact, watermelon seeds were discovered in King Tut’s tomb! Spreading from Egypt, this fantastic fruit could then be found in the Middle East and India in the 7th century, and then as far away as Spain and China. Europeans eventually brought the watermelon to North, Central, and South America in the 16th and 17th centuries. Today, it’s one of the most popular fruits in the world.

In addition to being quite the well-traveled fruit, watermelon is incredibly good for you. It has a high water content and provides decent amounts of the electrolyte potassium—so not only will watermelon hydrate you, but it’s great for balancing the water content in your cells and fighting off cramps—yet another reason to have watermelon on hand at the beach, lake, or poolside! Watermelon also has plenty of vitamin A (good for skin, eyes, white blood cells), vitamin C (a natural antioxidant), and B6 (good for nerves, blood, antibodies, and protein digestion).

In terms of nutrition, watermelon claims one of the top spots for lycopene content (only guava and a few others have more lycopene per serving). Adding more watermelon to your diet is a surefire way to get more of this essential antioxidant.

So… “How do I pick the best melon?”

It’s actually easier than you think! First, check the field spot (the lighter part of the melon that rested on the ground during its growth). Is the field spot cream-yellow (good) or orange-yellow (better)? Then it’s ripe. And don’t shy away from “webbing.” The dark brown splotches that “web” over parts of some melons aren’t a bad sign—they’re actually proof of how many times the flower was pollinated by bees! More pollination, more webbing… better melon. Shape is important too—the rounder the melon, the less watery and more sweet it will be. The melon should also feel heavy for its size, and sound hollow when knocked or thwacked. Finally, pay attention to the stem. Larger, green stems indicate the melon was picked too soon. Look for a smaller, drier, brownish stem.

Learn more about watermelon, and grab a delicious watermelon smoothie recipe with this Pick It! Try It! Like It! fact sheet.

Don’t stop there! Find ways to promote watermelon and other amazing fruits & veggies at your work, school, childcare, and in your community!

Eat Well, Live Well Campaign, Pick It! Try It! Like It!Fruits & Veggies More Matters,
CDC’s table of most nutrient-dense fruits & veggies, National Watermelon Board

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!

Tips for Shopping at Farmers Markets

Farmers markets are a wonderful part of summer that give us the opportunity to enjoy fresh, local produce and meet the people who grow it! Shopping at a farmers market is a little different than the grocery store. Here are some tips to make your trip successful and fun:

1.) Plan ahead. Bring a list of what foods you need and scope out the market’s website or event guide to give you an idea of what is offered.

2.) Bring your own bag. Having a bag that can go on your shoulder will help keep your hands free. Or try a backpack!

3.) Get to know your local farmers. Take this opportunity to meet your local farmers and producers in a relaxed setting. Use this time to have a conversation with the people responsible for growing or making your food. Farmers enjoy getting to know you and appreciate your interest in their crops.

4.) Try something new and ask questions. Challenge yourself to try at least one new food item. Not sure how to incorporate that purple potato into a dish your family would like? Ask the individuals selling the foods; they are a wealth of knowledge for various ideas of how to use their food as ingredients in your recipes. Some even have recipes available for you to take home.

5.) Follow the MyPlate method. Most farmers markets offer a wide variety of foods: most are delicious and nutritious, but some are high in calories. When choosing foods, remember the USDA’s MyPlate method which emphasizes making half your plate fruits and vegetables, and the rest of your plate with whole grains and lean protein.

6.) Make a farm-to-table meal. Now, use a medley of what you gathered at the farmers market to prepare your meal.

Don’t forget to bring the kids! A trip to the farmers market can be a perfect way to introduce your family to new foods while learning where our food comes from. Get your child excited about what new foods will be there and ask your child what new things they would like to try.

Find a farmers market in your area. And if you live in the Black Hills there is a website just for you!

Find and enjoy a farmers market this summer and fall!

Sources:  Farmers Markets: Bringing the Farm to Table,  Be a Savvy Farmers Market ShopperSDSU Extension, & Iowa State University Extension & Outreach

March Veggie of the Month: Brussels Sprouts

Did you know: Brussels sprouts (a mini cabbage look-alike) get their name from Brussels, Belgium.

In the past, Brussels sprouts got a bad wrap. It’s likely they were served overcooked—which can make them a bit mushy and bitter. Luckily, new cooking methods have given them another chance.

Brussels sprouts are a great source of Vitamins A, B, and C, niacin, iron, and calcium. They contain about 30 calories per ½ cup serving. One pound of Brussels sprouts makes about 6 servings, so load your plate with this leafy goodness!

To maximize flavor, broil, steam, braise, or boil Brussels sprouts for a maximum of 7-10 minutes (less if you like your veggies on the crunchy side). Be sure not to exceed this time. If they have lost their bright green color, they may be overcooked and have lost most of their nutritional value.

When oven roasting, sprinkle with olive oil and salt. If the sprouts are larger than 1½ inches in diameter, cut them in half for cooking.

Tips for buying and preserving

  • Purchase sprouts that are bright green and uniform in size to allow for even cooking.
  • Small, firm, compact sprouts are the best choice.
  • To freeze, trim and remove the coarse outer leaves. Wash thoroughly and blanch 3-5 minutes depending on the size. Cool in a bowl of cold water and ice cubes, also referred to as an ice bath. Then drain and package, leaving no head space (meaning release as much air from the package as possible). Seal and freeze.
  • Make sure your sprouts are dry before you freeze. Getting rid of excess moisture will help keep them from getting mushy when thawed and recooked.

Fun fact: Not sure what blanch means? Check out this great 1 minute video on how to blanch vegetables from the American Heart Association.

Oven-roasted Brussels sprouts

  • 1-2 pounds Brussels sprouts
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Trim Brussels sprouts, then wash and pat dry. Place in a large resealable plastic bag with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Seal tightly and shake to coat. Or, toss in a bowl and coat with an even layer of oil.

Pour onto a baking sheet and place on center oven rack. Roast for 20-40 minutes (depending on your preference) stirring frequently to prevent burning. Serve immediately.

Brussels sprouts salad

  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1-pound Brussels sprouts, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries, chopped
  • 1/3 cup chopped pecans, toasted

Whisk together the first 4 ingredients. Gradually whisk in oil until blended. Place Brussels sprouts, onion, and cranberries in a large bowl. Toss with dressing. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Stir in pecans just before serving.

Learn more with this video from Penn State Extension about how to buy, store, cook, and enjoy Brussels sprouts.

Resources: USDA Snap-Ed, MSU Extension, University of Illinois Extension, Penn State Extension, American Heart Association

January Veggie of the Month: Spinach

The January Vegetable of the Month is Spinach!

Even though spinach has been grown for decades, it wasn’t until the availability of pre-cut bagged spinach that its popularity was boosted and made it a common grocery store purchase.

The spinach plant can be grown all year-round, but does best in the spring and fall due to cool, hydrated weather conditions. It thrives in sandy soil. California is considered the number 1 producer in the US of this nutritious vegetable. It can be supplied fresh from the garden or processed by canning, freezing, or pureeing for baby food.

Salads are the most common way spinach is used, in a savory mix with onions and mushrooms or sweet with berries and glazed nuts (like pecans). Spinach can be stirred into casseroles, stacked on a sandwich, served as a vegetable, or added to a fruit smoothie. Spinach is often undetected in most smoothies that are made with berries as the deep color of the fruit covers the blended spinach leaves.

Why is spinach good for you?

It is chocked full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, and only contains 7 calories per cup. The one cup portion provides 100% of your daily needs of lutein and zeaxanthin—carotenoids that work together to maintain eye health. It is an excellent source of vitamin A, providing 105% of your daily needs and is only beat out by kale when it comes to vitamin K content. Vitamin K plays a key role in blood clotting, so if you are on a blood thinner prescription, contact your doctor or dietitian before changing the quantity of leafy greens you consume. Other nutrients that are in spinach include folate, manganese, magnesium, copper, B vitamins, vitamin E, calcium, potassium, and iron.

Challenge yourself to use spinach in a new way at mealtime. Your body will thank you!

10 Ways to Enjoy More Spinach  

  1. Stuffed Chicken
    Stuff chicken with spinach, low-fat cheese, and onions. After the chicken is baked, use the spinach combination as a flavorful side dish.
  2. Spinach Smoothie
    Spinach has no flavor, so you can add in the vitamins and minerals without changing the taste. Just a handful of fresh spinach will amp up the nutrition in your favorite smoothie.
  3. Spinach Pesto
    Use spinach instead of basil leaves in your traditional pesto recipe.
  4. Spinach Dip
    Cook spinach [according to package], then mix in Parmesan cheese, pine nuts, and sliced cashews. Heat at 350°F for 10 minutes.
  5. Spinach Wrap
    Use spinach as a wrap. Place grilled chicken in a spinach leaf and dip into low-fat ranch dressing.
  6. Popeye-Approved Potatoes
    Mix cooked frozen spinach into mashed potatoes. Top with parmesan cheese for a twist on an old favorite.
  7. Omelettes
    Add spinach, mushrooms, onions, and low-fat cheese to make a nutritious and delicious filling for omelettes and frittatas.
  8. Spinach Fruit Salad
    Use fresh spinach to make a salad then toss in some strawberries, mandarin oranges, or apple slices.
  9. Spinach in Stir-Fry
    Cook spinach, bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, and broccoli in a little olive oil on high heat for a delicious vegetable medley.
  10. Salad On-the-Go
    Tear spinach leaves and toss into a whole wheat pita with your favorite salad toppings. Add low-fat dressing for a quick salad on the go.

Sources: Harvest of the Month, LiveWell Sioux Falls, SDSU Extension, USDA, Produce for Better Health, and LiveWell Nebraska

Fresh, Frozen and Canned ALL Count


Fresh fruits and vegetables don’t have to be expensive if you buy them in season and many are in season year round. To learn more, visit www.sdharvestofthemonth.com.


Frozen fruits and vegetables are packed and frozen within hours of harvest, so they don’t lose their flavor or nutritional value. Try steaming vegetables in the microwave or stovetop rather than boiling to keep in more nutrients.


Canned fruits and vegetables often get a bad rap but they are still nutritious. Choose 100% fruit juice with no added sugar and vegetables with no salt added. Remember to drain the water, juice or syrup and rinse with water to help remove some of the extra sugar and salt.

Eat 5 a day by filling half of your plate with fruits and vegetables each meal.

Promoting fresh, frozen and canned fruits and vegetables

Download images here.

Avocados Are Awesome!

There are lots of reasons avocados are so popular these days. Our guacamole certainly wouldn’t be the same, but they are also becoming a regular ingredient in salads, on sandwiches, as toast toppers, and have even been making consistent appearances in smoothies and brownies.

Part of the reason an avocado craze is sweeping the nation has to do with the fruit’s buttery rich flavor and versatile texture, and part of it has to do with the incredible nutrition that can be found beneath that green-ish tinged, soft leather-like skin.
For example:

  • One ounce of avocado contains a pile of vitamins and minerals like C, B6, E, K, and folate, to name just a few, as well as a heaping helping of phytonutrients which help your body prevent disease and infection.
  • Avocados are packed with monosaturated fats – the GOOD fat – the kind of fat that is essential for growing kids and pretty darn good for the rest of us too.
  • Cholesterol free… naturally.
  • Avocados are known as a “nutrient booster” because they help the body absorb fat-soluble nutrients from other foods eaten at the same time.

And, if that wasn’t enough, here are a few more reasons avocados steal the show in the kitchen and are such a family favorite:

  • The soft, creamy texture makes them a super nutritious first food for babies.
  • Adding a little avocado is an easy way to add color to your plate and nutrition to your diet.
  • They complement all kinds of cooking styles – from Asian and Mexican, to fancy French and All-American backyard feel-good recipes.
  • So good at so many things: avocados can be used as a main ingredient, a side, a spread, or mixed with everything from cooked whole-grains and salads, to breakfast smoothies and desserts.
  • Avocados pair well with sweet, savory, or spicy flavors.
  • Bake them, fry them, grill them or just enjoy them raw.
  • Never out of season, avocados are available all year round!

Avocados are a perfect after-school or on-the-go snack:

  • Arm those kids with a spoon and touch of their favorite seasoning: salt, soy sauce, hot sauce, balsamic vinegar, or a squeeze of lime or lemon.
  • For a heartier snack stuff your avocado with tuna, seafood, turkey, chicken, or cranberry salad, or even cheese, tropical fruit, pesto or salsa.
  • Throw a few chunks on a pretzel stick with some cheese and fruit.
  • Mash and serve with fresh veggies.

They can also be a late-night-craving buster… slightly mashed on toast and topped with a fresh slice of tomato or blended with a handful of berries, 1/2 a banana, and a touch of honey or a splash of agave.

Clearly, this magical fruit needs to be on your grocery list immediately! In the meantime, here are a couple of places to check for fun kid-friendly recipes and even more reasons to confirm the awesomeness of the avocado: California Avocados, Fruit & Veggies More Matters

Sources: California Avocados, Fruit & Veggies More Matters

Gardening with Kids: You Can Grow It!

Getting kids to eat more fruits and veggies can be challenging, but research shows that when kids help grow fruits and vegetables, they are more likely to eat more produce and try different kinds, too. Not only that, but gardening also provides a host of learning experiences that are good for little growing minds and bodies.

Here are just a few of the benefits of gardening with your kids:

Encourages healthy eating

  • kids are more interested in trying the different fruits and veggies that they’ve had a hand in growing
  • they are more open to tasting different types of food
  • reinforcing healthy eating habits at a young age will help them make better food choices as they grow older

Engages the senses and promotes responsibility and patience

  • digging in the dirt, sorting through seeds, and handling the plants piques their curiosity about the smells and textures of the earth
  • caring for plants by watering, weeding, and fertilizing helps encourage responsibility
  • in our instant-gratification digital age, gardening teaches children that they must practice patience while their plants to grow

Teaches new skills

  • kids will learn about cause and effect by seeing what happens if the plant doesn’t get enough water or sunlight
  • helps to refine their motor skills when they use spades, rakes, or other tools, place small seeds in soil, and pour water
  • they are introduced to basic scientific concepts of botany, biology, and chemistry
  • they can practice their math skills by measuring growth or counting the number of petals on a flower or beans on a stalk

Provides time outdoors

  • gardening is a great way to get kids out of the house, away from their screens, and engage in an activity the whole family can participate in
  • carrying pots, soil, and watering cans, pushing a wheelbarrow, and digging or raking can provide the physical activity kids need
  • research has shown that these types of activities—known as “heavy work”—can even help kids stay calm and focused

Here are some quick tips to get your kids out into the garden:

Start small and keep it simple

  • a small patch of earth, raised bed, or even a few containers are all the space you need to grow edibles
  • choose a few sure-bets such as carrots, zucchini, radishes, or herbs

Different tasks for different ages

  • have older kids do the more complicated tasks like planning and harvesting and keep the little ones to simple things like planting seeds or pulling weeds

Give them their own tools and space

  • tools and gloves that fit their hands will make it easier for them to accomplish their tasks
  • giving them a container or space in the garden that’s all their own will give them a sense of accomplishment when they see their plants growing

And if that wasn’t enough to get your family planning for all the delicious fruits and veggies they can grow, here are some more resources to get your green thumbs glowing:

Sources: EatRight.org; FillYourPlate.org; Mommy University

April Fruit of the Month: Strawberries

The April Fruit of the Month is the Strawberry!

The Romans prized wild strawberries for their medicinal properties. Today strawberries, much like the apple, are a treasured part of American history and still important for good health as a high source of Vitamin C and folate. In fact, ounce for ounce, strawberries have more Vitamin C than citrus fruit. According to the American Cancer Society, foods rich in Vitamin C may lower the risk of cancers of the gastrointestinal tract. Phytonutrients found in strawberries can have an anti-inflammatory effect within the body.

A Few Tips to Maximize Your Strawberry Experiences:

  • Select shiny, firm strawberries with a bright red color. The leaves, or caps, should be green and intact. Avoid shriveled, mushy or leaky berries.
  • Don’t wash your strawberries until just prior to consumption. Without an outer skin to protect the fruit, strawberries will spoil much faster if they’re washed and stored for more than a day before use. Make sure they’re thoroughly washed.
  • Strawberries are great by themselves as a snack or dessert. They can also be added to so many other foods to boost the nutritional content such as a yogurt, pancakes, ice cream, angel food cake, or even slice and add to your water to give it an extra bit flavor!
  • Strawberries are one of the most popular fruits to add to salads. The tart/sweet balance compliments meaty flavors like poultry and pecans, savory ones such as bleu cheese, and sharp ones found in vinaigrette dressings.

Summer is the best time to purchase fresh strawberries in South Dakota for price and quality. But don’t forget about frozen strawberries any time of the year! Simply look for frozen strawberries packaged without added sugar.

Sources: Eat Well, Live Well CampaignPick It! Try It! Like It!Fruits & Veggies: More Matters, Harvest of the Month, USDA Report on Food Availability and Consumption, University of Illinois Extension 

Show me more Fruits & Veggies of the Month!

May Veggie of the Month: Broccoli

Live Well Sioux Falls and the Sioux Falls Food Council is proud to present the Eat Well, Live Well campaign! Each month this campaign will highlight a new fruit and vegetable.

The March Vegetable of the Month is Broccoli!

Did you know…

  • Few people knew about broccoli in the United States until the 1920s, when the first commercially grown broccoli was harvested in Brooklyn, New York.
  • Today, more than 90% of broccoli grown commercially for the United States is grown in California.
  • Vegetables are organized into 5 subgroups: dark-green vegetables, starchy vegetables, red and orange vegetables, beans and peas, and other vegetables. Broccoli is a dark-green vegetable.
  • Broccoli can be eaten in a variety of ways – fresh, cooked, cooked from frozen, or even pureed. All forms count toward the daily recommended amount of vegetables. The amount that each person needs depends on age, gender, and physical activity level.
Age Range Daily  Vegetable Recommendation
2-3 1 cup
4-8 1.5 cups
9-13 2 – 2.5 cups
14-18 2.5 – 3 cups
19-30 2.5 – 3 cups
31-50 2.5 – 3 cups
51+ 2 – 2.5 cups
  • A ½ cup of cooked broccoli is an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, and folate; a good source of fiber; and a source of vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), riboflavin, and potassium.
  • A ½ cup of fresh broccoli is an excellent source of vitamin C and vitamin K, and a source of vitamin A and folate.
  • If you have an abundance of fresh broccoli and can’t get it eaten before it goes bad, blanch it and then freeze it! Blanch broccoli by boiling for 3 minutes or steaming for 5 minutes and then placing it in ice water immediately after. Blanching vegetables before freezing them is one of the best ways to preserve flavor, color, and nutrients.
  • Check out these videos for helpful tips on broccoli selection, storage, and preparation.

Try this flavorful dip to go with fresh broccoli:

1 cup fat free sour cream
2/3 cup salsa
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1 teaspoon garlic salt
4 cups broccoli, cut into small pieces

1. Combine sour cream, salsa, green onions, and garlic salt in a bowl. Stir well.
2. Makes 16 servings at ¼ cup broccoli and 2 tablespoons dip.

Nutrition information per ¼ cup broccoli and 2 tablespoons dip:
Calories 26, Carbohydrate 6 g, Dietary Fiber 1 g, Protein 1 g, Total Fat 0 g, Saturate Fat 0 g, Trans Fat 0g, Cholesterol 1 mg, Sodium 165 mg

The featured Sioux Falls chef and restaurant this month is Chef Shane Gilbertson, the kitchen manager for the new store kitchen at the recently remodeled Co-op Natural Foods.  Learn more about broccoli and get Chef Shane Gilbertson’s Sweet Broccoli Salad recipe with this Pick It! Try It! Like It! fact sheet.

Don’t stop there! Find ways to promote broccoli at your work, school, childcare, and in your community!

Sources: Eat Well, Live Well Campaign, Pick It! Try It! Like It!, Network for a Healthier California – Harvest of the Month, & Fruits & Veggies More Matters.

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 Veggie of the Month: Beets

Live Well Sioux Falls and the Sioux Falls Food Council is proud to present the Eat Well, Live Well campaign! Each month this campaign will highlight a new fruit and vegetable along with a healthy recipe developed by local Sioux Falls chefs and restaurants.

The February Veggie of the Month is Beets!

Did you know…

  • you can eat the whole beet plant! Beet tops (leaves) are cooked or served fresh as greens and are an excellent source of vitamin A. The roots may be pickled for salads or cooked whole, then sliced or diced. They can be eaten raw or cooked and are a good source of vitamin C.
  • young or small beets are best raw while medium and large-sized beets are better when cooked.
  • you should store the leaves and roots separately. Remove leaves, leaving about an inch of the stems. Store roots in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks. Wash before cooking.
  • red beets can stain your skin! Beets are deep red or white in color. Sugar is produced from one variety (Sugar Beets) and the red color is used in food coloring. When peeling beets wear disposable gloves to avoid staining.
  • Check out these videos for helpful tips on selection, storage and prep.

10 Ways to Enjoy Beets…

  1. Bake ‘em! Cut off the green tops, leaving an inch of the stem to prevent bleeding and flavor loss. Scrub beets, wrap them in foil, and bake at 400°F for 45-90 minutes, depending on size.
  2.  Eat the Leaves! Add beet leaves to salad greens for some additional vitamins and minerals.
  3.  Beet Juice? … Really? Yes! Just add some 100% orange or 100% apple juice as well. Use a juicer and combine the juice of a small beet with 1 cup of  the apple juice and/or orange juice.
  4.  Soup. Add beets and their leaves to homemade vegetable soup or minestrone. Clean and slice the beet into small pieces before adding to the soup.
  5.  Stir-Fry. Add sliced beets and their leaves to your favorite stir-fry veggie combo. If desired, mix in your meat of choice and enjoy.
  6.  Microwave Them! Place 2 to 3 small beets in a small amount of water and microwave for 8-15 minutes or until soft.
  7.  A Quick Snack Shaker. Pour sliced beets from a can (drain about 1/2 of the liquid) into a bowl you can cover. Add red wine vinegar and a little bit of olive oil and oregano. Cover and shake. Serve as a side dish or snack.
  8.  Couscous. It’s always fun to add new things to an old standby.
  9.  Beet Kabob. Add beets along with other vegetables to skewers and heat thoroughly on the grill.
  10.  A Bit O’ Bitter. Top off a salad with these bitter vegetables for a new and interesting twist. Just dice and toss!

The featured Sioux Falls chef and restaurant this month is Chef Kristina Kuehn, the chef and owner of K Restaurant at the 8th and Railroad Centre in Sioux Falls. Her love of beets started while attending culinary school in California. Her secret to turning people onto beets is to roast them, which adds richness and flavor. Learn more about beets and get Chef Kuehn’s Hearty Beet Salad recipe with this Pick It! Try It! Like It! fact sheet.

Don’t stop there! Find ways to promote beets at your work, school, childcare and in your community!


Sources: Eat Well, Live Well Campaign, Pick It! Try It! Like It!, Harvest of the Month, & Fruits & Veggies More Matters.

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!


Avocados: Good or Bad?

 The Good, the Bad & the Unsaturated

Here’s the good news: according to the American Heart Association both polyunsaturated and monounsaturated (which are both unsaturated) fats may help improve your blood cholesterol when used in place of saturated and trans fats.

Translation: eating foods that are rich in unsaturated fats – such as salmon, walnuts, and avocados – may lower your cholesterol and lower your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Not only do avocados contain high levels of the good fats our bodies need, but they are also a great source of lutein, which has been linked to improved brain health in older adults and improved cognitive function in young children. In fact, avocados took center stage in a recent study and the results showed clear benefits to the “brain health” of the older adults who ate an avocado a day. Now, that’s something to think about!

Of course, avocados aren’t a stand-alone miracle food but they do pack a nutritional punch.
For instance:

  • Avocados contain more than 20 vitamins and minerals per serving.
  • They are chock-full of fiber, folate, and antioxidants.
  • A single serving (about 1/5 of a medium avocado) contains only 50 calories.
  • Contains no cholesterol.

The bottom line is that avocados are a powerful source of vitamins and minerals and contain high levels of unsaturated fats. And, if you are trying to lower your cholesterol, reduce your risk of heart disease or stroke, or just want to improve your diet by adding more fruits and vegetables… including foods like avocados in your meal plan might not be a bad place to start.

Sources: American Heart Association, Fruits & Veggies More Matters, CDC

Finding Balance: Calories & Physical Activity

By balancing the calories you eat in healthy foods like fruits and vegetables with daily physical activity, you can maintain a healthy weight.

front of healthy weight palm card


Choose a variety of healthy foods, including low in fat and sugar, watch portion size and get at least 30-60 minutes of physical activity daily.

back of healthy weight palm card


Download images here.

Fruits & Veggies – More Matters!

The USDA recommends eating 5 – 9 servings of fruits and veggies per day. That might sound like a lot, but it’s easy if you follow MyPlate’s tips:

  • Eat the rainbow! Make sure at least half of your plate is full of fruits and veggies. 
  • Choose fruits and veggies as quick snacks. 
  • Try something new. You can find fresh choices at a farm stand or farmers market. 
  • Vary your veggies. Fresh or frozen? Cooked or raw? Red, orange, or green? Picking different options will keep meals interesting! 
  • You can cook frozen or fresh vegetables in the microwave for a quick side dish. 
  • Opt for whole fruits more than fruit juice. Fresh, frozen, canned, dried, and pureed all count! 
  • Add fruit to your cereal or yogurt at breakfast.

Why are fruits and veggies important to eat?

  • Low in calories—naturally!
  • May reduce disease risk, including heart disease, high blood pressure, and some cancers.
  • Rich in vitamins and minerals that help you feel healthy and energized.

Click on each nutrient to see a list of fruits & veggies that are “high” and “good” sources. Remember—beans and peas count as a vegetable, too!

  • Calcium: Calcium is essential for healthy bones and teeth. It is also needed for normal functioning of muscles, nerves, and some glands.
  • Fiber: Diets rich in dietary fiber have been shown to have a number of beneficial effects, including decreased risk of coronary heart disease.
  • Folate: Healthful diets with adequate folate may reduce a woman’s risk of having a child with a brain or spinal cord defect.
  • Iron: Needed for healthy blood and normal functioning of all cells.
  • Magnesium: Magnesium is necessary for healthy bones and is involved with more than 300 enzymes in your body! Low levels may result in muscle cramps and high blood pressure.
  • Potassium: Diets rich in potassium may help to maintain a healthy blood pressure.
  • Vitamin A: Keeps eyes and skin healthy and helps protect against infections.
  • Vitamin C: Helps heal cuts and wounds and keeps teeth and gums healthy.

What fruits and veggies are in season right now?

Choosing fruits and vegetables in season is a great way to stretch your food dollars. Learn more about seasonal fruits and vegetables:

Unsure how to cut up or use that fruit and vegetable you just bought?

Go to CookSmarts and watch videos that show you how to cut up and prepare most fruits and vegetables!

And remember 2 things…

1.) Fill half your plate with fruits & veggies at every meal and be sure to include healthy snacks when you get the munchies. For a fun way to teach kids about healthy snacks—get the FREE MunchCode App!

2.) All forms—fresh, frozen, canned, dried and 100% juice—count toward your daily intake.

Sources:  FNVFruits & Veggies More Matters, SD Harvest of the Month, CookSmarts, and South Dakota Department of Health Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey (BRFSS)

Harvest of the Month

Harvest of the Month is a FREE and versatile teaching program that can be used by parents, educators, student mentors, childcare providers and anyone interested in helping kids get excited about eating more fruits and vegetables!

Each fruit and vegetable featured on this site comes with a set of educational materials to make learning and sharing tasty and fun. Search by food or season for quick and easy access to the materials you are looking for.

Each presentation includes:

  • Fruit or vegetable history
  • Peak seasons
  • Vitamins & minerals
  • How to find it at the store

You’ll also get:

  • Presenter outline
  • PowerPoint for students
  • Presenter talking points that follow the PowerPoint for students
  • Stickers of the featured fruit
  • Student handout with recipes that can be taken home

These materials, combined with produce sampling in the classroom, make fruit and veggies interesting and fun. Kids get to play with new tastes and different textures, bring home ideas to use in the kitchen, and have a reason to ask for more fruit and vegetables.

The website features additional materials to help launch Harvest of the Month and healthy eating education programs, like a Program Overview, Strategies to Involve Parents, and other implementation ideas.

Lesson plans are available for teachers to use in individual classrooms, health classes, PE classes, school assemblies and after school programs, and are adaptable to almost any educational setting.

New fruit and veggies are being added all the time! Make learning easy… and tasting and eating more fruit and vegetables fun!


Munch Code! App

A Free App Designed for iPhone & iPad.

The Munch Code! Game is a fun way for kids, parents, and teachers to practice healthier between meal snacking. Based on a simple color code, similar to traffic lights, the player discovers which foods and drinks are “green” (eat a bunch) which ones are “yellow” (have just a little) and which are “red” (not so much).

The app comes in handy wherever and whenever people are making decisions about what to eat and drink “on the fly,” — especially grabbing snacks at concessions and convenience stores.

There are three levels to the game. The first is an array of food choices spread out in the foreground in front of a concession. The player’s job is to sort all the items onto the right colored shelves. It’s not as easy as it looks! But with a few prompts from the sound track and some outright graphic hints if needed, the player learns all the Much Code basics that will help them navigate the next two levels with relative ease.

The second level lets the player apply the basic principles learned in the first level by presenting a days worth of snacks laid out in a basket. The selection initially presented has some problems. There are too many selections from some Munch Code color groups, and not enough from some others. The player’s challenge is to balance the items in the basket so that the day’s array of snack items follows the Munch Code guidelines.

The final level of the game is a straightforward sort of a single day’s snack items into the proper colored food groups. This exercise reinforces the suggested proportions for the player and reveals the simple “math formula” behind it all.

The game is primarily intended for use by parents and teachers as an aid to teaching young children the recommended way to think about eating a healthy balanced diet on those busy days when the child has to make many, if not most of the food choices themselves.

Now you may think that just because you’re a parent or a teacher, you already know all the information the Munch Code game has to offer. Well… you might be in for a few surprises! Most of the adults we know still get a few things mixed up every time they play. So, come on, check it out! It’s easy. It’s fun. It’s funny. And the way!

Download today!

Why Fruits and Vegetables Matter for Men

Compared to people who eat only small amounts of fruits and vegetables, those who eat more generous amounts — as part of a healthful diet — are likely to have reduced risk of chronic diseases. Depending on age and level of physical activity, men should eat between 2 to 2 1/2 cups of fruit and 21/2 to 4 cups of vegetables every day. Eating more fruits and vegetables is a smart thing you can do for your health.

Fill up, not out
As part of a healthy diet, eating fruits and vegetables instead of high-fat foods may make it easier to control your weight. You may also feel full on fewer calories. That’s because most are also lower in calories and higher in fiber than other foods. To get a healthy variety, think color. Eating fruits and vegetables of different colors gives your body a wide range of valuable nutrients, like fiber, folate, potassium, and vitamins A and C. Some examples include green spinach, orange sweet potatoes, black beans, yellow corn, purple plums, red watermelon, or white onions. For more variety, try new fruits and vegetables regularly.

Download the PDF and read on to find out how eating fruits and vegetables is a smart thing you can do for your health.

Choose Smart, Choose Healthy

It’s your life. You’re in control. When you choose to eat right and stay physically active, you choose a healthy lifestyle. Including fruits and vegetables with every meal is a smart place to start, because they’re great for your body.

Most fruits and vegetables are fiber-rich, nutrient-dense foods — meaning they’re packed with valuable nutrients and are low in calories and fat. Compared to people who eat few fruits and vegetables, those who eat more generous amounts — as part of a healthful diet — are likely to have reduced risk of chronic diseases including stroke, type 2 diabetes, some types of cancer, and perhaps heart disease and high blood pressure.

Download the PDF and read on to find out how eating fruits and vegetables is a smart thing you can do for your health.

Mushrooms: Taste of the Earth

The Health Benefits and Culinary Uses of Mushrooms
Healthy, versatile mushrooms are an excellent addition to your plate. Mushrooms impart a fifth taste sense called umami, which is savory. Hearty meat-like mushrooms are an economical and nutritious way to enhance any meal.

Mushrooms are low in calories (one cup of raw sliced mushrooms has about 20 calories) and high in vitamins and minerals. A source of potassium, mushrooms can provide selenium and copper, depending on the variety. They have three B-complex vitamins: riboflavin, niacin and pantothenic acid, which help release energy from the fat, protein and carbohydrates in food.

Mushrooms also can be excellent sources of vitamin D if they have been exposed to ultraviolet light right before or after harvesting. Mushrooms provide plenty of opportunity in the kitchen. This is one vegetable you’re better off cooking as it releases more of the nutrients. Try grilling, stir-frying and sautéing to limit fat.

Choose mushrooms with a firm texture, even color and tightly closed caps. They can be refrigerated in a paper bag for up to one week, but they’re best used within a few days. Before preparing them, brush mushrooms off with your finger then rinse and pat dry with a paper towel (do not soak them). Some mushrooms, like shiitakes, should have their stems trimmed before cooking.

There are more than 2,000 varieties of edible mushrooms in all shapes, sizes and textures, but never eat mushrooms in the wild that you don’t know are safe — some are poisonous.

Agaricus (White or Button)
White button are the most common and least expensive mushrooms to appear on grocery store shelves. They have a mild taste and can be used in just about anything from salads to sauces. Button mushroom flavor intensifies when cooked, making them ideal for sautéing and grilling.

One of the most commonly harvested mushrooms in the Pacific Northwest, chanterelles are funnel- or trumpet-shaped mushrooms with a fruity, apricot-like aroma and mild, peppery taste. Most are yellow or orange. Chanterelles pair well with herbs like chives and tarragon, are delicious sautéed or roasted and are a good substitute for pricier morel mushrooms.

Crimini (Italian Brown)
Crimini look similar to the white button, but are a little darker in color and have an earthier, stronger taste. They’re actually a young portabella and are sometimes called “baby bellas.” Criminis are good eaten raw, roasted or sautéed. Pair with garlic, thyme or balsamic vinegar for the best flavor.

Enoki or Enokitak
Enoki mushrooms are often used in Asian cuisine (particularly soups). They are long stemmed, white and have a delicate flavor and a slight crunch. Trim off the root end of the cluster and separate the mushrooms before serving. Enokis add crunch to salads and sandwiches, and mild flavor to soups and stir-fries.

Its honeycomb-like shape and intense, deep woods flavor add to the morel mystique. Varying in color from light yellow to dark brown, fresh morels are available (and hunted) in spring and summer. Accessible year-round, dried morels are full of flavor and much less expensive than the fresh variety. Cook before eating by sautéing, stuffing or simmering morels to create flavorful sauces.

Oyster mushrooms are smooth, trumpet-shaped and have a light flavor. Though the color fades when cooked, oyster mushrooms can be yellow, pink or blue. Oyster mushrooms pair well with fish, seafood, poultry and red meat and are delicious simply sautéed or roasted whole.

Porcini mushrooms are reddish brown in appearance. Porcinis are some of the most sought-after wild mushrooms for their distinct earthy, nutty flavor. Less expensive dried porcini can be reconstituted and used to add robust flavor to sauces, soups, stews and stuffing. Try them in a classic Italian risotto.

A grown-up crimini, portabellas are large, firm and have a meaty taste and texture. With its steak-like texture, grilled portabellas make a satisfying vegan “burger.” Sauté, broil or roast portabellas and enjoy in fajitas, as a pizza topping or chopped into a hearty ragout. To prevent discoloration, remove the black gills before sautéing.

Shiitake mushrooms were originally cultivated in China and Japan. Like portabellas, shiitakes have a meaty texture. Cooking brings out their earthy, smoky flavor. With the tough stem removed, try shiitakes sautéed or add to stir-fries, soups or pasta dishes. For more intense flavor, try dried shiitakes in your recipes.

Source: EatingRight.org; Mushrooms: Taste of the Earth

Fun Fruit Kabobs

Try these kabobs for a quick and easy snack!

Prep time: 15 minutes

What you need:

  • 1 apple
  • 1 banana
  • 1/3 c. red seedless grapes
  • 1/3 c. green seedless grapes
  • 2/3 cup pineapple chunks
  • 1 cup nonfat yogurt
  • ¼ c. dried coconut, shredded

Equipment and supplies:

  • knife (you’ll need help from your adult assistant)
  • 2 wooden skewer sticks
  • large plate

What to do:

  1. 1. Prepare the fruit by washing the grapes, washing the apples and cutting them into small squares, peeling the bananas and cutting them into chunks, and cutting the pineapple into chunks, if it’s fresh. Put the fruit onto a large plate.
  2. 2. Spread coconut onto another large plate.
  3. 3. Slide pieces of fruit onto the skewer and design your own kabob by putting as much or as little of whatever fruit you want! Do this until the stick is almost covered from end to end.
  4. 4. Hold your kabob at the ends and roll it in the yogurt, so the fruit gets covered. Then roll it in the coconut.
  5. 5. Repeat these steps with another skewer.

How much does this recipe make?

  • 4 servings.
  • Serving size: 1 kabob

Nutritional analysis (per serving):

  • 141 calories
  • 3 g fat
  • 28 g carbohydrate
  • 3 g fat
  • 1 mg cholesterol
  • 2 g saturated fat
  • 52 mg sodium
  • 103 mg calcium
  • 0.5 mg iron
  • 3 g fiber
  • Note: Nutritional analysis may vary depending on ingredient brands used.

Variations and suggestions:

  • Roll your kabobs in something besides coconut. Try granola, nuts, or raisins, or use your imagination.

Reviewed by: Allison Brinkley, RD, LD/N

Source: KidsHealth; Fun Fruit Kabobs