It is fall and football season. Gathering to attend a game or watch one on television is part of life in the Northland. Food and football usually bring out pizza, potlucks and snacks. It's hard to keep healthy eating on track during fall weekends. But with a little creativity and menu-planning, you can fit heart-healthy options into the fun.
It is the A to Z time of summer: August brings an abundance of zucchini. Zucchini is exploding in our gardens and filling up stands at farmers' markets. What do we do with this green veggie, and its close cousin, the yellow summer squash? A popular option is zucchini bread. Recipes often add a lot of sugar and then we top the bread with high saturated fat butter. This tasty treat does not promote the health benefits of this summer garden gem.
July is National Blueberry Month, and this dark blue gem is worth celebrating. Blueberries are packed with nutrition. Their deep, rich color signals that they are high in antioxidants, which have the potential to reduce the risk of many illnesses and diseases caused by oxidative stress in our bodies.
The onion is a hardy vegetable that does well in cool climates and can be planted five to six weeks before the final spring frost date, which is early June here in the Northland. You can plant seeds or small starter bulbs. Onions are the third largest fresh vegetable industry in the United States, according to the National Onion Association. Per person consumption is about 20 pounds per year, which translates to more than 450 semi-truck loads of onions used each day.
Better health is one of the main reasons that people choose to eat a vegetarian or vegan diet. But they still need to make healthy choices because it can be easy to fall into a different kind of junk food diet. About 3 percent of American adults are vegetarian, meaning they never eat meat, fish or poultry, a nationwide poll in 2016. About 46 percent of vegetarians are vegan, which means they don't eat meat, poultry, fish, eggs or dairy.
A visit to our favorite grocery store can become routine. We know where items are located and we pick up our favorite brands. What we may not understand is why the grocery store is laid out the way it is. Why are some items displayed at the end of an aisle or at the cash register? Why do some brands get shelved at eye level while other brands get the bottom shelf or the very top one? The answer is food marketing.
With Easter around the corner, baskets are filling up with candy. Sugar-packed treats are also part of the celebration for many adults. Pop a Peep bunny or chick in your mouth and you've just enjoyed a teaspoon and a half of sugar. Sink your teeth into a Cadbury crème egg and you've had 5 teaspoons. Four jelly beans equal a teaspoon of sugar. It's easy to see how Easter candies quickly load up our diets with added sugars.
We're in the holiday season when parties challenge our commitment to healthy eating.
Tangy, fresh cranberries are adding vibrant color to the produce section in our grocery stores. The native North American fruit is harvested in September and October, which makes them a perfect addition to our holiday meals — 91 percent of Thanksgiving dinners include cranberry sauce in their menu, according to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture. Wisconsin produces about 50 percent of the nation's cranberry crop with more 3.6 million barrels of fruit. Each barrel weighs about 100 pounds. Wisconsin named the cranberry its state fruit in 2004.
With the holidays approaching, green bean casserole and advertisements for Campbell's cream of mushroom soup will be popping up all over. The iconic holiday side dish, created in 1955, remains popular today even amid the push to eat less processed foods.