Add Some Avocado to Your Meals

Avocados have been a great price at the grocery store lately. I love to make guacamole and cut them up to put on salads but there are many other ways that you can eat them.  Here are a few suggestions to add more avocadoes to your diet.

  • Slice and put on sandwiches.
  • Add avocado to a homemade salad dressing.
  • Mash it and spread it on toast.
  • Use avocado instead of mayonnaise to make chicken salad.
  • Spread on bagels.
  • Use as a topper for baked potatoes.
  • Add them to a smoothie.

Avocados are harvested before they are ripe so expect that they will be firm to touch at the grocery store. To tell when your avocado is ready to eat place them in your palm and they should yield to gentle pressure. Avoid using your fingertips to tell if it is ripe since that could cause bruising and dark spots on the inside.  If your avocado is still firm and you want to use it more quickly stick it in a brown paper bag with an apple in it at room temperature. That will speed up the ripening process.  Remember don’t put your avocado in the refrigerator until it is ripe. Once ripe they can be stored in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.

Once your avocado is cut and exposed to air it can start to turn dark. To help keep it from turning dark after you cut it sprinkle or brush lemon or lime juice or white vinegar over the exposed area.  Then wrap with clear plastic wrap and store in an air tight container in the refrigerator.  If it gets dark cut off the top layer and the green fruit underneath is perfectly fine to eat.

Hopefully these suggestions have given you some ideas on ways to add avocados to your meals. They are a healthy and tasty addition!  For a few tips on cutting and peeling watch this video from the California Avocado Commission.

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Beth Marrs

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Adult Home Economics Education. I love to cook and entertain and spend time with my family.

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Peanut Butter-Is it the enviable food?

Did you know that peanut butter, the “adored by millions, everyman’s staple”, contains neither butter nor nuts (peanuts are legumes) and originated as a health food of the upper classes?  First created by Dr. John Harvey Kellogg for use in his sanitarium, it satisfied the need for a protein-rich food that did not have to be chewed. Wealthy spa guests popularized it among the well-heeled.  A patent for peanut butter was granted to Dr. Kellogg on November 4, 1895 which is now celebrated as Peanut Butter Lovers Day in America.   After the boll weevil devastated cotton production, George Washington Carver encouraged southern farmers to adopt peanuts as a replacement crop.  With quantities of peanuts on the market, peanut butter was no longer just for the privileged and began to appear as a snack food.  It was featured at the St Louis World’s Fair in 1904. Hydrogenation in the 1920s gave rise to our modern day peanut butter by stopping separation of oil and solids and extending the shelf life.  The Food and Drug Administration gave peanut butter a food status in 1940.

Americans love peanut butter and consume approximately 65 million pounds of peanut butter each month. As beloved as peanut butter is, it has not escaped the perils of food industrialization with a spike in peanut allergies, deaths from salmonella contamination at processing plants, and concerns over its sugar, saturated fat, and sodium content.

With recent announcements from the National Institute of Health regarding peanut allergies in children, peanuts and peanut butter are back in the news and on the menu for infants and children.  Despite the concerns, peanut butter is heralded as a healthy food.  It’s packed with nutrition (protein, fiber, iron, Vitamins E and B6, potassium), has a high ratio of unsaturated to saturated fat ratio (heart-healthy monounsaturated fat), has a high satiety value, and potassium outweighs sodium in most. The downside to peanut butter might be the 190 calories, 16 grams (g) of fat, 7 g of carbohydrates for two tablespoons for those concerned about their waistline. If that is a concern, peanut butter powder may be a good alternative.  An article published by Michigan State University discusses the pros and cons of powder.  Further, studies show that peanut butter can actually help with weight loss.

Whether you’re a kid or otherwise, peanut butter is the perfect go-to food or on-the-go snack.  Because peanuts and peanut butter have the enviable combination of fiber and protein that fills you up and keeps you feeling full longer, they fuel a workout, a starving tummy, a meal, or even a dessert.

Peanut butter is a very versatile ingredient; as such, there is no shortage of delicious ways to pack peanut butter into you day.  Here are a few quick ideas for starters:

  • Add PB to smoothies
  • Make a PB and J (honey or fresh fruit) sandwich for lunch, workout, or after school snack
  • Stir PB into yogurt
  • Add PB to sauces or salad dressing
  • Add PB to oatmeal for breakfast
  • Spread PB on toast, pancakes, and waffles
  • Bake a batch of peanut butter cookies for dessert

One can find more creative ways to enjoy peanut butter at PB My Way sponsored by the Southern Peanut Growers.  For a fun twist on the everyday apple salad, try this family favorite:

Apple and Peanut Salad 
½ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup honey
¼ cup peanut butter
1 apple, cored and diced
1 carrot, grated
¼ cup celery, thinly sliced
¼ cup raisins
¼ cup chopped peanuts
Combine mayonnaise, honey and peanut butter.  Stir in remaining ingredients and chill.
Note:  half of the dressing mix is enough for our family and sometimes plain yogurt is substituted for the mayo.

What’s your favorite way to enjoy peanut butter?

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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Oranges!

One of my husband’s favorite fruits is the orange. Since we are in the middle of the orange season, I thought it might be interesting to learn a bit more about the different varieties of oranges that are available to us in Iowa.

There are 2 different types of oranges; the sweet orange and the bitter orange. Bitter oranges are mostly grown to provide root stock for different varieties of sweet oranges, to flavor tea, or for use in perfumes.  Grocers do not generally carry bitter oranges.

There are a few different varieties of sweet oranges.

  • Common oranges: These are the most widely grown types of oranges.  The varieties most available at our grocery stores in the mid-west are Valencia and Hamlin.
  • Pigmented oranges or blood oranges: There are two types of blood oranges, light blood oranges and deep blood oranges.  The deep blood oranges have a deep maroon interior and an orange or orange red exterior.  These oranges have a deep rich flavor; sometimes with a hint of berry.  They are easy to peel and are available from December through mid-April.  Only one orange can provide a full day’s supply of vitamin C.
  • Naval oranges: These are the most common orange sold by grocers.  The varieties that you are likely to find at the grocery store include Cara Cara, Bahia, Dream naval, Late naval, and California naval. The small formation that resembles a navel on the blossom end of the fruit is an easy way to know you are looking at a naval orange.  These are one of the most popular varieties of orange; they are available from November through June.  They are seedless and easy to peel.  They are an excellent source of vitamin C.

I had always known that there are many choices when shopping for apples; I did not realize that there were this many choices when choosing oranges.

 

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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A Look at 10 Food Trends for 2017

20161229_182918Likely you have noticed that food offerings, recipes, restaurant menus, and grocery products have changed a lot in the last ten years.  Health issues, dietary needs, convenience, consumer awareness, and waste reduction initiatives are just some of the factors that have driven changes in the culinary market.

If you like to keep up with food and nutrition trends or practices, here are some ‘expert’ predictions of what we will likely see more of in 2017. In their ‘crystal bowl’ they see:

Sunflower protein becoming the protein powder mainstay.  Sunflower protein is easier to digest than other protein powders and is soy- and dairy-free making it nearly perfect for any diet.

Watermelon water rivaling coconut water for hydration and antioxidants.  Watermelon water offers a refreshing taste and is packed with lycopene, potassium and natural sugar making it a great post-workout cooler or alternative to alcohol.

Butter making a comeback.  In light of scientific studies that point to the dangers of artificial butters and margarines, butter contains no chemicals and takes less to satisfy the appetite.  In small amounts, butter is now considered a healthy food.

Natural sweeteners replacing sugar.  Honey and natural syrups will take the place of processed sugar in many prepared foods.

Soups rivaling smoothies as the complete meal.  Besides the social element of sitting down and slowly eating soup, soups offer more fiber and whole foods that are often lost in juicing. The soup trend is also touted as part of the minimalism social movement.

Natural fats favored over low-fat.  “Good”, non-saturated fats in small portions like those found in avocados and nuts provide essential nutrients for energy and brain function and are replacing the ‘low-fat’ trend of many years.

Exotic all-fruit concoctions becoming the new dessert.  These new desserts are offering combinations of Asian and Indian fruits that may be new to the American palate and with them come added nutrition, less sugar, and less saturated fat.

Bowls replacing plated meals.  Again, a product of the minimalism movement, bowls offer an entire, simple meal in a single receptacle at home or in fine restaurants—one bowl, one meal.  Recipes and combinations are popping up everywhere.

Mexican, Caribbean, and Filipino cuisines replacing heavy and fat-laden corporate chains.  Authentic food from these regions or in fusion form offer countless, lower-calorie meal ideas for those who want to eat right and not pack on the pounds.

Waste reduction (and waist reduction) becoming the norm.  The food industry is committed to reducing portion sizes and to composting and donating food that otherwise would be waste as everyone ponders sustainability, the environment, and the long-term health of one’s self and the planet.

As trends come and go, it will be fun to look back a year from now and see how many of these predictions came true and how many of them will continue to gain traction.  Most seem like common-sense practices to me.

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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Cranberries!

The last few times I’ve been in the grocery store, I’ve noticed that cranberries are still available. I’m tempted to buy a bag or two since cranberries can be such a healthy addition to the diet. Cranberries are very high in vitamin C. In fact, only one cup of raw cranberries contains about a quarter of the daily recommendation for vitamin C. That same cup of cranberries supplies about 5 grams of fiber which is about 20% of the recommended allowance for an adult. Additionally, cranberry juice can help prevent urinary tract infections. Cranberry juice makes urine more acidic which can prevent bacterial growth. With all those great qualities, I should plan to use more cranberries.

Fresh bagged cranberries are in season from the end of September until January. They keep in the refrigerator for about a month. But if you buy more than you can easily use in a month, consider freezing the berries. Sort through the berries, discarding any soft berries that you find. Wash and pack the berries into a freezer bag and freeze. It really doesn’t get much easier than this. Thawed berries will be softer than before the berries were frozen. They will be most appropriate for using in baked foods or in making a cranberry sauce or relish. Frozen cranberries do NOT have to be thawed before using.

I have only used cranberries for making cranberry sauce. Since that is not one of my favorite dishes, I plan to look for some different recipes. I know that many recipes combine cranberries with other sweeter fruits. Cranberry applesauce or cranberry apple pies are two foods that I think my family might enjoy. A cranberry orange relish also sounds like a treat we may enjoy.

Cranberry orange relish is easy to make. Combine one pound of ground or chopped cranberries and one ground or chopped orange (include the peel). Add one cup of sugar and mix well. Serve immediately or store it for up to 2 weeks in the fridge.

I can also put some cranberries into a tossed salad or our breakfast oatmeal.

Cranberry sauce is not my favorite food, but in case it is one of your favorites, here is a recipe for making it:

Use 2 cups of cranberries to one cup of sugar and one half cup of water. Put ingredients into a pan and bring to a boil. Boil gently for about 10 minutes. You will hear popping and see the skins of the berries crack. Skim off the foam and pour into a serving bowl. You can serve cranberry sauce hot or cold.

If you made a resolution to eat healthier this year, enjoy some cranberries today.

 

 

 

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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“Dairy-Free”

dairy-freeI am hearing more and more these days about people having specific food allergies or intolerances. Most schools are now “peanut free zones” and there are so many more products on the market that are gluten-free than ever before. I recently had a question about a dairy-free diet for a child. According to the National Food Service Management Institute, milk allergies are found in two to five percent of children under the age of three. Cow’s milk allergy is the most common cause of allergic reactions in young children. This allergy is usually outgrown in the first few years of life but not always. And many people, as they get older, find it more difficult to digest dairy products.

Although many proteins in milk can cause an allergic reaction, the two main proteins in milk are Casein (found in the solid part) and Whey ( found in the liquid part). Avoiding milk and cheese on a dairy-free diet is what is expected but beware as many non-dairy products and processed foods contain casein and whey. In addition, the term “dairy-free” does not have an FDA-regulated definition, so there is no assurance the product does not contain milk proteins. It is important to always read labels. Even some brands of soy-based products may contain casein or are made in production facilities on equipment shared with dairy.

So, what can you substitute for various dairy products in cooking and baking? Water or fruit juice along with any of the commercially-produced cow’s milk alternatives (i.e. soy, rice, almond, coconut) can be substituted in equal amounts. Goat’s milk however should not be used as a substitute.

If substituting for butter in baked goods, use a dairy-free margarine with a low water content and a high fat content. Stick margarine usually contains less water than tub. If substituting for butter as a spread, I have had good results with the Earth Balance brand.

Cheeses are sometimes more difficult to find an agreeable substitute for as they do not taste or melt the same as traditional cheeses. Although there continues to be more milk-free cheeses available from different brands.

If your recipe calls for sweetened condensed milk or evaporated milk, you can make your own. Start by making evaporated milk which means the milk has had it’s water content reduced by 60%. Three cups of soy or rice milk simmered down to one cup will work for evaporated milk. To make sweetened condensed milk, add one and one-fourth cups sugar to that one cup of evaporated milk and heat until the sugar is completely dissolved. If your recipe calls for buttermilk, simply add one tablespoon vinegar to one cup of milk alternative.

Regardless of which food allergy or intolerance you or someone you are caring for may have, there are many options available to fit into your lifestyle/diet.

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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Electric Pressure Cookers

instant-pot

Recently one of AnswerLine’s Facebook followers asked about electric pressure cookers and Instant Pot.  Not knowing much about either myself, I promised to do some research and share what I learned.  This is a timely question as Electric Programmable Pressure Cookers (EPPCs) have increased in popularity in recent years and Consumer Reports has included an electric pressure cooker in its Holiday Gifts for the Family Chef  article. With anything new, there comes lots of questions:  are EPPCs safe, is pressure cooked food nutritious, does cost equate quality, and are these cookers/pots all they are cracked up to be? The noted promise of an EPPC is to save you time so you can eat well.  So if you are thinking about putting an electric pressure cooker on your holiday list, here are some things you will want to know.

Pressure cookers have long been noted to decrease cooking time, reduce energy consumption, and retain nutrient quality equal to or higher than that of foods cooked by other methods.  In today’s world, the consumer has a wide choice of pressure cookers ranging from the conventional stovetop pot to the EPPCs known as the Third Generation of pressure cookers which are safer and easier to use with the big advantage of convenience over stovetop models—you don’t have to watch the pot!  A Cook’s Illustrated article points out some disadvantages of EPPCs to stove top models which included capacity, non-stick coatings, inadequate handles, weaker heating elements, and storage issues.

Nearly all EPPCs these days are multi-cookers that include slow-cooking, searing, sautéing, simmering, steaming, yogurt making, and warming functions.  An Instant Pot is simply one of many multi-cookers designed to replace a slow cooker, EPPC, rice cooker, steamer, yogurt maker, sauté/browning pan, and warming pot.   These cookers may be touted as “6 in 1” or “7 in 1” which really mean very little.  The multi-cooker that does what you want it to do is the most important consideration.  While there are many websites that provide information and/or recommendations on EPPCs or multi-cookers, Utah State University Extension tested five different cookers and compared several consumer considerations including safety features, ease of operation, cleaning, and special features.  Based on their tests, the following features were deemed the most important to consider before purchasing an EPCC:

  1. Look for a safety valve that locks the appliance while still under pressure.
  2. A spring-loaded venting system (quick-release vent) delivers the best and most consistent performance.
  3. Look for a pressure setting of 10psi or above.
  4. Detailed trouble shooting/safety sections and thorough instructions on use and care in the User’s Manuel is a must.

Last, but not least, I must address the difference between a pressure cooker whether it is a stove top  model, an EPPC, or a multi-cooker AND a pressure canner.  A pressure cooker is not a pressure canner and should NEVER be used for canning.  Often, the two are used interchangeably in conversation and I want to make it clear that they are NOT!  A pressure canner is designed to CAN  low-acid foods for storage in canning jars at a temperature higher than boiling water.  Pressure cookers are designed to cook everyday foods and as such heat up and cool too quickly to adequately process canned food safely.  Articles by Oregon State University Extension Service, Michigan State University Extension, and the National Center for Home Food Preseration provide great and detailed information on the difference between pressure cookers and canners and why cookers cannot be used as canners.

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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Yam or Sweet Potato?

sweet-potato-a A question that AnswerLine often gets is “what is the difference between yams and sweet potatoes?”  And connected to that is “which one is more nutritious? of which should I use?”  To begin, what you see in most U.S . supermarkets labeled as yams are really sweet potatoes. So when you thought you were eating a yam, you were really eating a sweet potato; and likely, you have never eaten a true yam.  There are two types of sweet potatoes commonly grown and sold in the U.S.  One has a pale, yellowish skin and is labeled ‘sweet potato’ and the other has a brownish or brownish-red skin and is usually labeled ‘yam.’  To add to the confusion, canned and frozen sweet potatoes are frequently labeled as ‘yams.’  Despite labeling, either sweet potato variety is nutritionally identical containing the same vitamins, minerals, and calories varying only by growing conditions.  They are fat-free, low in calories, high in fiber and great for people who are carbohydrate sensitive.  In general, one large baked sweet potato will provide almost three times the vitamin A an adult needs daily and two-thirds the vitamin C requirements.  The pale sweet potato is not sweet and after being cooked, the pale variety is dry and crumbly, much like a white baking potato.  The darker variety has a vivid orange flesh; it is sweeter, and when cooked, is moist and tender.

purple-sweet-potatoA third kind of sweet potato is the flavorful, lavender-fleshed cousin of the familiar orange variety, the purple sweet potato.   It is higher in antioxidants than its orange cousin.  The purple variety is used in many of the same ways you’d use a regular orange or white potato, and the striking hue adds a colorful twist to mashed potatoes, home fries, and soups.  They retain their color best if baked.

Sweet potatoes in general do not store well unless the perfect conditions exist so they should be used quickly.  Do not refrigerate.  Sweet potatoes can be used in a wide variety of ways.

Yams (true) are a thick, tropical tubers popular in South and Central America, the West Indies, and parts of Asia and Africa.  They are related to lilies.  Yams are similar to sweet potatoes in size and shape, but yams contain more natural sugar and have a higher moisture content.  Yams are an excellent source of potassium, folic acid, zinc, and some B vitamins.  They are not as rich in Vitamin C as sweet potatoes and contain no Vitamin A.  Depending on the variety, a yam’s flesh may be various shades of off-white, yellow, purple, or pink, and the skin from off-white to dark brown.  They may be found in some Asian and Latin markets in the U.S. and are usually sold in chunks by the pound.  Like sweet potatoes, they do not store well, should be used quickly, and should not be refrigerated.  Yams may be substituted for sweet potatoes in many recipes.

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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How to Select, Peel, and Use Butternut Squash

20161013_071946aButternut squash is by far the favorite winter squash and with good reason. Its sweet, nutty flavor and smooth texture, reminiscent of buttered sweet potato, make it a great multi-use squash for fall dishes, including those that call for pumpkin.  Further, butternut squash stores well for several months in a root cellar or cool, dry location.  And last but not least, it is very nutritious (Vitamins A and C), including the seeds.

Like all winter squash, butternut squash have a thick, hard skin and a seed cavity inside with large seeds. If you’re new to squash, it might be a bit intimidating to select, peel, and turn a hard-shelled squash into something delicious.  It doesn’t have to be.  Here are some helpful hints:

Begin by selecting a squash that has a smooth, even tan colored skin free of blemishes, cracks or soft spots. The stem should be brownish and woody looking. Look for the ones with the longest, fattest necks as this is the “meaty” part of the squash; the seeds are found in the bulbous lower part. Butternut squash come in various sizes weighing between 1 ½ to 5 pounds.  One pound of squash becomes roughly 2 cups of cooked squash or 2 cups cubed.

There are a number of ways to peel it. The method really depends upon the intended use.  If it is to be used as a puree, it is not necessary to peel it at all.  It can be sliced in half length-wise, seeds removed, placed face-down in a lightly oiled baking dish, and baked in a moderate oven (350F) until tender; it can also be microwaved in the same manner.  After cooling, the soft flesh can be scooped out and used for pumpkin pie, soups, breads, and desserts. (The pulp can also be run through a food processor if desired for an even smoother texture.)  If the recipe calls for cubed squash, then the peel needs to be removed.  Good Housekeeping offers an excellent tutorial on peeling and cubing squash.  Cubed squash can be roasted, steamed, cooked, or pureed.  Cubed butternut is typically added to recipes raw and it cooks with the other ingredients.  However, roasting butternut squash adds a new level of caramelized sweetness and is so easy to do. Simply season squash cubes as desired, place on a lightly oiled baking sheet/dish, and bake a 400F oven until tender and lightly browned (approx. 25-30 min).

Butternut squash keeps well for four months in a cool dry, well ventilated location. Even greater success is assured when the squash has been “cured” post-harvest.  This involves approximately 10 days of air drying in warm temperatures (80-85F).  If you have more squash than can be used at one time, it will keep up to four days in the refrigerator (cooked or fresh) or can be frozen for later use as a puree or cubed.  To freeze cubed squash, blanch peeled cubes of raw squash for 3 minutes—just until heated through, drain, and chill in cold water.  Keep blanched cubes in a colander while chilling to avoid their breaking apart.  Drain thoroughly and spread on a cookie sheet in a single layer; place in the freezer for at least 4 hours and then transferred to an air-tight freezer bag (Nebraska Cooperative Extension) (photos at  http://www.livestrong.com/article/520339-how-to-freeze-chunks-of-butternut-squash/).  Frozen cubes can be added directly to your recipe.

There are a myriad of recipes and ways to use butternut squash. Some additional creative suggestions include:

  • Shave raw squash into ribbons (like carrots) and use in your favorite salad
  • Add a little puree to your breakfast oatmeal along with your choice of nuts, raisins, dried cranberries, flax seed, cinnamon, vanilla, maple syrup, etc
  • Blend puree or small chunks into your favorite hummus recipe
  • Add more texture to a soup by stirring in squash pureed in a blender
  • Add to smoothies, dips, or baked goods batter
  • Add cubes to pizza or make a pizza sauce with puree
  • Season cubes with cumin and/or coriander and top off your tacos

Lastly, don’t toss the seeds. They can be roasted as a garnish for soups or enjoyed as a snack.  Butternut squash seeds are smaller than pumpkin seeds so they are a bit faster and easier to prepare.  I learned a good tip from Elise Bauer at Simply Recipes to boil the seeds prior to roasting that really works well and seems to make the seeds easier to digest.

Butternut Squash is a member of the Cucurbita Moschata or “cheese” pumpkin family and as such other family members such as cushaw and winter crookneck can be prepared in the same way as the butternut.  Happy Fall and enjoy your squash!20161010_163428

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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Which apple to use?

applesIt is Apple Season! October is National Apple Month. There are so many varieties you may be wondering which variety is best for specific uses, how to store them for best quality, or how many apples are in a pound or bushel.

Apples are considered a great snack food as an average sized apple contains about 90 calories and is about 85% water. That makes them thirst quenching and a quick energy provider with their natural sugars, plus the bulky pulp makes the eater feel full.

Apples may be displayed in a fruit bowl at room temperature for a short period of time but that will dramatically reduce their usable life. Apples will last the longest when kept close to 32 degrees. For most of us that would mean the refrigerator. Apples stored near 32 degrees in perforated plastic bags or covered containers will last 8-10 times longer than if stored at room temperature.

One pound of apples equals 2 large, 3 medium, or 4 to 5 small which would make about 3 cups peeled and cut-up fruit. Two pounds of apples would be enough for a 9-inch pie.

One bushel of apples equals about 40 pounds. That would be enough for 20 nine-inch pies or 15-20 quarts of applesauce.

The best baking apples offer a balance of sweet and tart flavors as well as flesh that doesn’t break down in the oven. Granny Smith apples are generally thought of as the go-to baking apples but there are others that hold up under heat and balance the sweet-tart flavor. The crisp texture of the Honey crisp apple will hold firm when baked or caramelized. Pink Lady apples will retain a distinct shape when diced and added to coffee cake or muffins.  Jonathans are tart and tangy and have been pie favorites for many

years. Cooks Illustrated recommends the following six varieties of apples for pie baking: Sweet  – Golden Delicious, Braeburn, Jonagold; Tart – Granny Smith, Empire, Courtland.

Bred to be an eating apple, Red Delicious are unsuitable for baking. They are mild-flavored, sweet, and juicy. Other apples good for eating fresh are Gala, Fuji, and Braeburn.

Enjoy apple season this year and have fun experimenting with different variety combinations in your baking.

For more information go to the U.S. Apple Association for an apple usage chart.

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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