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Go ‘Bananas’ for Summer Treats

July is National Ice Cream month and even has its own day on July 17th in 2016! Ice cream as we know it is made from dairy products, sweeteners, gelatin, flavorings, fruits and other ingredients. America loves ice cream. In fact, the average American consumes nearly 22 pounds of this delectable dessert per year (IDFA.com).

But look out ice cream, there’s a new ‘one ingredient ice-cream’ in town and it’s taking the internet and media by storm! It’s low in fat, cholesterol, and sodium, and is a great source of dietary fiber, potassium, and manganese. Further, it’s perfect for those looking for a guilt-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, nut-free, soy-free, egg-free, or vegan treat with no added sugar. What is it?

If you guessed BANANAS, you are right!! Thanks to banana’s high pectin content and a bit of kitchen wizardry, bananas make a wonderful soft-serve treat. And because it’s a simple, make-it-yourself treat, you can personalize it with additions of other fruits, nut butters, chocolate chips, nuts, cocoa, spices, or any other add-in desired. Or, bananas can be the only ingredient.

Besides bananas (and any other fruit or add-in desired), you will need a high-powered processor to pulverize the fruit. There are designated frozen dessert soft-serve processors on the market which work very well such as the Yonanas, Big Boss, and Dessert Bullet. However, a blender or food processor will usually work equally as well as long as it is powerful enough to pulverize frozen bananas.

So how do you make this magical treat? It starts with the bananas. Always use bananas that are ‘cheetah spotted’ or over ripe. 20160531_223140These bananas are the sweetest and have developed their pectin potential. 20160531_223509

 

Peel the bananas and cut into ¼-inch coins if using a food processor or blender; if a designated dessert processor is used, follow the manufactures directions.20160531_223744

Place the banana pieces in an airtight freezer bag and freeze for at least 2 hours before using; 24 hours is best. Do the same with other fruits you intend to use with your bananas. Remove bananas and other fruit from the freezer and let thaw for 10-15 minutes before making your treat.

One large banana will make two servings especially if additional fruit is used. The ratio of banana to other fruit is about one banana to 3/8 cup fruit. You can make a bigger batch as long as the food processor or blender is big enough and powerful enough. If using a designated dessert processor, follow the manufacturers’ directions for preparing your soft-serve treat by feeding the fruit through the tube into the pulverizing part of the machine.

20160609_203407If using a blender or food processor, follow these instructions: place the frozen banana pieces (and other frozen fruit , if using) in the blender or food processor and pulse. At first the banana pieces will look crumbled, then mushy and gooey something like oatmeal, and suddenly they will magically become smooth and creamy. You will have to stop occasionally and scrape down the sides and help move the fruit into the blades. After the magic happens, continue to blend for a few more seconds to add a little air and blend in any nut butters, cocoa, flavorings or spices desired. 

20160609_204819The banana soft-serve is now ready to eat. Stir in any additional whole or chopped add-ins or top off as desired. OR, put it in an airtight container and freeze until solid or for later use.

Recipe ideas are endless. To get started, check out Banana “Ice Cream”, Chocolate Banana Ice Cream, and the Yonanas recipe website and let your imagination go. Enjoy your ______-free treat!

 

Marlene Geiger

Marlene Geiger

I am a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a BS in Home Economics Education and Extension and from Colorado State University with a MS in Textiles and Clothing. I enjoy spending time with family and friends, gardening, quilting, cooking, sewing, and sharing knowledge and experience with others.

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Too many berries? Freeze a pie!

imageMy family loves pie! My son, who lives on the east coast, firmly believes you can’t find a pie there that equals what you can find in the Midwest. With berry season here, you may want to consider making some extra pies now to freeze for later use.

If freezing an UNBAKED filled pie, add an extra 1-2 Tablespoons flour or ½ Tablespoon cornstarch to compensate for the extra moisture that will exude while baking. Do not cut vents in the top of double crust pies before freezing. Wrap, label, and freeze for up to three months. Bake unthawed pies at 425 degrees 15 minutes, reduce heat to 375 degrees, and bake an additional 25-35 minutes. For easier clean-up, bake the pie on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

BAKED and filled double-crust pies may be frozen up to 6 months. Be sure to wrap them well and label them before freezing. When ready to eat the pie, loosen the wrapping, and thaw in the refrigerator. Warm thawed pies in a 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes. Cover the edges of the crust with foil to prevent burning if necessary.

I plan to freeze some pies for my son for the next time he comes home!image

Marcia Steed

Marcia Steed

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Home Economics Education. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and traveling.

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Am I saving money by canning my own food?

Home food preservation has been pretty popular during the time that I’ve been working at AnswerLine.  We certainly get lots of calls about it; but one question is rarely asked. I think BWB1callers assume that they are saving lots of money by preserving food at home.  If you are canning or freezing food only because you think you are saving lots of money, you may want to take a deeper look.

There really are many reasons to preserve your own food.  Gardeners really enjoy tasting produce from their gardens year round.  Some people with health issues are happy to spend time and energy ensuring that the food they have is free from added salt or sugar.  Some people are committed to the idea of local foods, and some people really just enjoy the process of canning or freezing food.

Both of the common forms of food preservation, canning or freezing can provide a lot of entertainment.  However, if you are only interested in the financial aspect of the process then we should consider all the “hidden” costs of preserving your food at home.

You will need to consider:

  1. The cost of buying the freezer and maintaining it
  2. Electricity to run the freezer
  3. Material costs for freezer containers or freezer bags
  4. Ingredients such as water, fruit juice, sugar, anti-darkening solutions
  5. You may also want to consider your time, unless it is a hobby that you truly enjoy
  6. The cost of a canner
  7. The cost of the jars, rings, flats
  8. Electricity or gas for you stove
  9. Canning tools, such as funnels and jar lifters
  10. Repair to the canner, including gasket replacement or gauge testing
  11. The actual cost of the produce you are preserving–either seeds or purchase price
  12. The cost of your recipe books for safe, tested recipes

If you add up all the costs and compare them with the cost of food purchased at the grocery store, you may find you are not saving much money after all.  If you want to calculate the cost of freezing food, Colorado State University has a handy chart to help you calculate.

I’ve always enjoyed the process and using my home preserved foods.  I’ve never really worried about saving money; we just enjoy the food.  Happy canning!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Liz Meimann

Liz Meimann

I received both my undergraduate and graduate degrees in Food Science at Iowa State University. I love to quilt, sew, cook, and bake. I spent many years gardening, canning, and preserving food for my family when my children were at home.

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Salad tips plus a dressing recipe

saladSummertime is Salad Time! Here are some tips for making a delicious salad:

First, buy the freshest greens you can find and buy a variety to add interesting tastes and textures. Farmers Markets are a great source for greens this time of year.

Store your salad greens correctly. Remove any excess water from the greens when you bring them home. Head lettuces can be shaken out, wrapped in paper towel, and stored in a plastic bag. Loose greens can be put through a salad spinner or wrapped in a kitchen towel and shaken. Storing all greens in a plastic bag with a paper towel in the crisper keeps them fresh longer.

Make homemade dressing if possible. Many take five minutes or less to make and do not contain preservatives. Spend Smart. Eat Smart. has a wonderful video and some dressing recipes.

Use your hands to toss the salad to prevent bruising and crushing tender greens.

Toss vegetables separately and place on top of tossed greens. This prevents them from ending up on the bottom of the salad bowl where they may or may not get coated with dressing very well.

If you prepare your favorite protein to add to the salad you have a quick and easy Summertime meal!

 

Marcia Steed

Marcia Steed

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Home Economics Education. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and traveling.

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Experiment with White whole wheat flour!

white whole wheat flourAre you looking to increase the servings of whole grains in your diet but don’t enjoy the strong flavor that comes with whole wheat flour? You may want to try white whole wheat flour. It is milled from 100% hard white wheat and has the same nutritional value as traditional whole wheat but is lighter in color and flavor. It has a softer feel and sweeter taste. Because of its milder taste it is often called “sweet wheat” by the farmers who grow it. What white whole wheat is missing is the pigment that makes the outer layer of bran the traditional reddish color. That pigment contains an acid which is associated with the stronger, astringent taste of whole wheat.

How do you bake with white whole wheat flour? For best results substitute 100% in recipes calling for whole wheat flour; 50% in any recipe calling for all-purpose flour; and 25% in light-colored baked goods like cake and bread.

Whole grains are a great source of antioxidents, vitamin B, magnesium, iron and fiber. You might want to buy a bag and store it in your freezer and experiment! I experimented with some cookies this week and everyone in the office is enjoying them!S'mores cookies

 

Marcia Steed

Marcia Steed

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Home Economics Education. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and traveling.

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Make your own Biscuit Mix or Master Mix

sourdough starter pictureWe sometimes get calls this time of the year from people who want to make their own baking mix.  It is readily available at the store, but much more economical to make it yourself.  Just remember to use clean surfaces and measure carefully.  These mixes are great for a camping vacation or a weekend at the cabin.

 

 

 

BISCUIT MIX

This baking mix contains less sodium than the commercial kind.             Yield:  15 cups

10 cups flour

1 2/3 cups nonfat dry milk powder

1/3 cup baking powder

2 1/2 teaspoons salt (optional)

1 2/3 cups vegetable shortening

In a 6 to 8 quart container thoroughly mix the flour, dry milk, baking powder, and salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in shortening until well mixed.  Store tightly covered in a cool dry place and use within 3 months.  Stir lightly before measuring.

Recipe from  Homemade Convenience Foods Made with Nonfat Dry Milk, Pm-1183 March 1985.

 

MASTER MIX                                                                                     Yields 13 cups.

9 cups sifted flour

1/3 cup baking powder

4 teaspoons salt

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons instant nonfat milk crystals

1 3/4 cups vegetable shortening

Stir baking powder, dry milk and salt into sifted flour. Sift all dry ingredients together until well mixed.

Cut fat into flour mixture until all particles of fat are thoroughly coated and mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Store in tightly covered container.  Mix will keep for 6 weeks in refrigerator.

 

To make Muffins use 3 cups master mix

1 egg or 2 1/2 tablespoons dried egg mix plus 1 tablespoon warm water

1 cup milk or water

2 tablespoons sugar

To make Pancakes use 2 cups master mix

1 egg or 2 1/2 tablespoons dried egg mix plus 1 tablespoon warm water

1 teaspoon sugar

butter or margarine for the skillet

Recipe from the USDA

Remember to store either mix in an airtight container.  It should be kept in a cool, dark place.

Liz Meimann

Liz Meimann

I received both my undergraduate and graduate degrees in Food Science at Iowa State University. I love to quilt, sew, cook, and bake. I spent many years gardening, canning, and preserving food for my family when my children were at home.

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Selecting and ripening melons

imageMelon season will soon be upon us.  It is so disappointing to buy what looks like a great melon, take it home, and discover that it isn’t ripe enough to enjoy.  Be prepared that after purchasing a melon you may need to allow it to ripen at room temperature. Melons are ripe when there is a softening at the blossom end and an aroma of ripe melon. Ripe melons should be stored in the refrigerator below 40 degrees F until ready to serve.  They will not continue to ripen after being refrigerated.

Wash melons thoroughly with tap water before cutting. A vegetable brush is helpful for melons with netting.  Even though you will not be eating the skin of the melon, the knife used to slice it will cut through both the melon rind and flesh.  This can possibly contaminate the melon if there is bacteria left on the outside of the melon that contacts the melon flesh during cutting.

Always use a clean, sanitized knife and cutting board and wash and sanitize again after using.

Discard cut melon portions that have been at room temperature for four hours or longer.

Now prepare to enjoy all the fresh melon available at the store.

Marcia Steed

Marcia Steed

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Home Economics Education. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and traveling.

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Roasting Bananas

How many times have you wanted to make banana bread, but the bananas were not quite ripe baking banana breadenough? Did you know you can roast them? Roasting the bananas will soften them so that they can be mashed and added to your banana bread batter. The roasting process also intensifies the flavor of the bananas so you will not know that they were initially not quite ripe enough to use in banana bread.

If you want try this for yourself, simply roast thembananas roasted in their skins on a baking sheet until black  This should take about  20 to 30 minutes.

 

I was curious so I tried it over the weekend with great success!  Try this the next time you want to make banana bread but don’t have any ripe bananas on hand.

Marcia Steed

Marcia Steed

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Home Economics Education. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and traveling.

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Artichokes

photo by Sharon VanHorn Reuter

photo by Sharon VanHorn Reuter

A goal for many people in the summer is trying a new fruit or vegetable they have not seen or eaten before. If you have not tried an artichoke, I encourage you to do so. In a study done by the USDA, artichokes rank as the number one vegetable in antioxidant count. Production occurs year round but 1/3 of the crop is harvested between March and May. 99% of all commercially grown artichokes are grown in California.

The artichoke is considered an edible thistle and was prized by ancient Romans as food of the nobility according to The New Food Lover’s Companion book. Artichokes are native to the Mediterranean region of the world.

When purchasing artichokes choose those that have a tight leaf formation, a deep green color and that are heavy for their size. In general, the smaller the artichoke the more tender it will be and the rounder it is, the larger its heart. Artichokes are best used the day of purchase but can be stored unwashed in a plastic bag in the refrigerator up to 4 days. Wash just before cooking.

Cook artichokes in stainless steel, glass, or enamelware only to prevent discoloration and off flavors. Artichokes can be steamed, boiled, or microwaved and are done when the bottoms can be pierced with a knife tip.

Artichokes are low calorie, fat and cholesterol free, low in sodium, and a good source of fiber, vitamin C, folate and magnesium.

Try some this week.

Marcia Steed

Marcia Steed

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Home Economics Education. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and traveling.

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Help with Party Planning

Are you planning a graduation party, baby shower, or family reunion? At AnswerLine, we get many calls from people working on menus or other party ideas.  We are always glad to help you

Smorgasbord with a variety of choices

Smorgasbord with a variety of choices

with your planning

If you have someone graduating, It isn’t too early to start thinking about your celebration. At Iowa State University, graduation is scheduled for May 6 and 7.  High school graduation parties start in May and continue through early June.  If you are planning some sort of gathering of family or a party for friends and family, we are happy to help answer any questions.  We have lots of experience and resources that can help people know how much food will be needed for the celebration.  We also have almost any color punch recipe you could want to serve.

Some of the questions we answer often for party planners:

  • How much fruit do I need to buy to make fruit salad?
  • How many potatoes will I need for potato salad?
  • What size serving should I use for ______ food?
  • Do I have enough food on my menu for my party of ____ people?
  • How many servings do I need to feed _____ people?
  • What food can I make ahead?
  • How can I be sure not to run out of food?
  • How do I keep my food safe for 2-3 hours?

 

Please call us. We love to help!

 

 

Liz Meimann

Liz Meimann

I received both my undergraduate and graduate degrees in Food Science at Iowa State University. I love to quilt, sew, cook, and bake. I spent many years gardening, canning, and preserving food for my family when my children were at home.

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