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Potatoes, pumpkins, apples, and other produce arranged in buckets at a farmers market.

HappyHealthy Broccoli Newsletter

Broccoli

Broccoli is a super vegetable that can be enjoyed raw or cooked, alone as a yummy side, or added to salads or cooked dishes like pastas, soups, stir-fries, and casseroles. If you are not a fan of raw broccoli, try blanching, which makes broccoli more tender and less bitter. Use the following tips to help your family enjoy more broccoli!

Select

  • When selecting broccoli, look for tight, dark green florets and firm stems.
  • Avoid broccoli with an odor or yellow, opening buds.
  • In Mississippi, purchase fresh broccoli in April and May or October and November when it is less expensive and more available.
  • During the off-season, choose frozen broccoli, which may cost less than fresh.

Prepare

  • Make bite-sized pieces by cutting below the top and removing the stem. Cut the florets and stem into pieces.
  • Rinse bite-sized pieces just before using.
  • Be careful not to overcook broccoli! Crispy, tender broccoli is what you are looking for, not mushy, soft broccoli.

Store

  • Keep fresh broccoli in an open plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to five days.
  • If you have produce drawers in your refrigerator, keep vegetables in one and fruits in another.
  • Fresh broccoli can be blanched and frozen to keep color, flavor, and nutrients longer.

To learn more about storing, blanching, and freezing broccoli, visit HappyHealthy.MS and click on Tips and Videos.

  • How to Store Fruits and Vegetables
  • How to Freeze Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

Fun with Food

Children can help:

  • At the grocery store, allow children to select broccoli.
  • In the kitchen, children can wash broccoli and prepare an ice bath to place broccoli in after blanching.

Children can learn:

  • Raw or blanched broccoli makes a quick and easy snack and is fun to eat with healthy dips.
  • The florets are the flowers of the broccoli plant, so they are eating flowers!

Enjoy

Broccoli and Vegetable Dip

  • ½ cup low-fat sour cream
  • ⅓ cup chunky salsa
  • 3 tablespoons green onions, cut into small pieces
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  1. Wash your hands well with soap and hot water.
  2. Rinse green onions under cool water. Cut roots off white ends of onions. Cut tips off green ends. Cut onions into small pieces.
  3. Place the sour cream, salsa, green onions, and garlic powder into a small bowl. Stir until they are mixed together.

Chicken Broccoli Skillet

  • 2 teaspoons oil
  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken thighs (1½ pounds)
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 14.5-ounce can low-sodium chicken broth
  • ¾ cup water
  • 1 10.5-ounce can low-sodium condensed cream of
  • chicken soup
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
  • 2 cups small shell pasta, uncooked
  • 2 cups chopped frozen broccoli
  • ½ cup (4 ounces) cheese, optional
  1. Wash your hands well with soap and hot water.
  2. Heat oil in skillet on medium-high heat.
  3. Cut chicken into 1-inch cubes; add to skillet and sprinkle with black pepper. Turn chicken until cooked thoroughly, about 3–5 minutes.
  4. Wash hands well with soap and hot water after handling raw chicken.
  5. Sanitize cutting board and knife used to cut the chicken.
  6. Add chicken broth, water, cream of chicken soup, garlic, pasta, and frozen broccoli. Stir gently to mix.
  7. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes or until pasta is tender.
  8. Sprinkle cheese on top before serving.
  9. Refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours.

How to Blanch Broccoli

  1. Wash your hands well with soap and hot water.
  2. Use one gallon of water for every pound of broccoli.
  3. Pour rinsed broccoli pieces in a pot of boiling water. Bring to boil again.
  4. Let broccoli cook for 1 to 11/2 minutes until bright green. Remove pot from heat.
  5. Quickly place broccoli into a large bowl filled with ice water. Leave broccoli in the ice water for 2–3 minutes.
  6. Transfer the broccoli to a colander and allow to drain.

Publication 3395 (10-19)

By Samantha Willcutt, Regional Registered Dietitian, Extension Northeast Region.

Mississippi State University is an equal opportunity institution.

Extension Service of Mississippi State University, cooperating with U.S. Department of Agriculture. Published in furtherance of Acts of Congress, May 8 and June 30, 1914. GARY B. JACKSON, Director

HappyHealthy Greens Newsletter

Helping Mississippians live happier, healthier lives!

Greens are a Southern tradition, found on most lunch special menus throughout Mississippi. There are many types of greens, but the most popular greens in our state are collards, mustard, turnips, Swiss chard, kale, and spinach. Kale and spinach can be enjoyed raw or cooked. These plants grow well in Mississippi and can be found year-round at grocery stores. There are many healthy and tasty ways to prepare greens, and greens are rich in nutrients!

A small bunch of leafy greens.

Grow

  • Greens are cool-season vegetables, which means they grow best in Mississippi during the spring and fall.
  • Mustard greens, spinach, and turnip greens need only 2–4 inches between plants, making them great choices for container gardens.
  • For more information about growing greens in Mississippi, pick up a Garden Tabloid at your local Extension office.

Select

  • One pound of fresh greens cooks down to about one or two cups.
  • Pre-washed and packaged greens save time but cost more.
  • Pick greens with full leaves that are not wilted or spotted.
  • Don’t forget about frozen or canned greens, which may be more convenient.
  • Choose “no salt added” or “reduced sodium,” and avoid “seasoned” canned greens when possible to limit salt intake.

Prepare

  • Remove any wilted or yellow leaves before cleaning fresh greens.
  • Wash greens under cold running water or in a large bowl filled with cold water; then drain and repeat if necessary.
  • Remove hard stems; stack large leaves and roll them up; then cut into thin strips.
  • To learn more about preparing greens, visit HappyHealthy.MS and click on Tips and Videos, then Prepare Leafy Greens.

Benefit

Greens are packed full of vitamins, minerals, and fiber but are low in calories. Eating a variety of greens can:

  • Support your immune system (being sick is never fun).
  • Help your muscles to work better (remember the heart is a muscle).
  • Protect your cells from damage (think better eyesight and healthier looking skin and hair).

Enjoy

Egg and Spinach Casserole

A square of greens casserole with cheese melted on top.

  • 1 16-ounce bag frozen chopped spinach
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon shredded cheese
  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Wash your hands well with soap and hot water.
  3. Thaw the spinach in the microwave or under cool running water.
  4. Put the spinach in a strainer in the sink. Squeeze as much water out of the spinach as you can.
  5. Crack the eggs into a small bowl. Stir the eggs with a fork until they are all bright yellow.
  6. Add the cheese, onion powder, salt, and black pepper to the eggs. Stir until all the ingredients are mixed together well.
  7. Spray a medium-sized baking dish or a pan with high sides with nonstick cooking spray. The pan should be about 8 inches square. Make a light coating.
  8. Spread the dry spinach in the bottom of the baking dish. Make an even layer.
  9. Pour egg mixture over the spinach.
  10. Stir gently to make sure the spinach is still spread evenly in the pan.
  11. Put the pan in the oven. Bake for 15–20 minutes, or until the eggs are done and the top is lightly browned.
  12. Cut the casserole into 6 even pieces. Serve the casserole while it is hot.
  13. Refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours.

Slow-Cooked Southern Greens

A bowl of cooked greens.

  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 small white onion, cut into small pieces
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 smoked turkey wing
  • 1 bunch of greens (turnip, collard, or mustard)
  • 1 32-ounce container of low-sodium chicken broth
  1. Wash your hands well with soap and hot water.
  2. Put the greens in a large bowl and run water over them to wash away any dirt or grit. If greens are still dirty, repeat this step. Tear or cut off the stems. Cut the leaves into strips about 2 inches wide.
  3. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat or in a slow-cooker set on high.
  4. Add the onion to the pot. Cook the onion until it looks clear and is starting to brown, about 5 minutes.
  5. Add the black pepper and the smoked turkey wing to the pot. Stir to coat the onion with black pepper.
  6. Add the greens in 3 or 4 handfuls. After each handful, stir to coat the greens with onion, pepper, and oil.
  7. After all the greens are added to the pot, add the chicken broth.
  8. Put a lid on the pot. Cook on low until the greens are tender, about 2–3 hours.
  9. Add shredded meat from the turkey wing (optional).
  10. Serve the greens while they are hot.
  11. Refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours.

Publication 3411 (01-20)

By Samantha Willcutt, Regional Registered Dietitian, Extension Northeast Region.

Mississippi State University is an equal opportunity institution.

Extension Service of Mississippi State University, cooperating with U.S. Department of Agriculture. Published in furtherance of Acts of Congress, May 8 and June 30, 1914. GARY B. JACKSON, Director

HappyHealthy Sweet Potatoes Newsletter

Helping Mississippians live happier, healthier lives!

Sweet potatoes are a favorite holiday dish in the South, and Mississippi plants over 20,000 acres of sweet potatoes each year. Sweet potatoes are a great vegetable to add to any meal or snack. They can be prepared in a variety of ways, such as grilled, boiled, sautéed, steamed, microwaved, and served raw. Sweet potatoes are rich in nutrients that help keep us healthy. Use the following tips to prepare and serve sweet potatoes at your next meal!

Select

  • When selecting sweet potatoes, look for small to medium size with firm, smooth, even-colored skin.
  • Avoid sweet potatoes with cracks, bruises, soft spots, or sprouting.
  • In Mississippi, purchase fresh sweet potatoes from August through November when they are less expensive and more available.
  • During the off-season, choose frozen or canned sweet potatoes to enjoy all year.

Store

  • Store fresh sweet potatoes in a cool, dry, dark, and well-ventilated space. Properly stored sweet potatoes can last for several weeks.
  • Don’t store uncooked sweet potatoes in the refrigerator. This will cause a hard center and change the flavor.
  • Cooked sweet potatoes can be frozen for ten to twelve months or refrigerated for four to five days.

Prepare

  • Wash under cool water and scrub with a vegetable brush just before using.
  • When baking whole sweet potatoes, leave the skin on and prick all over with a fork to allow steam to escape. The skin can be eaten and is rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
  • For a quick side dish, peel and cube, then roast or cook on the stovetop.
  • To learn more about cutting sweet potatoes and other vegetables, visit HappyHealthy.MS and click on Tips and Videos.

Enjoy

Chicken, Sweet Potato, and Green Bean Packets

  • 2 boneless chicken breasts, each cut in half lengthwise to make 4 pieces
  • 1­–2 sweet potatoes (depending on size), washed, peeled, and cut into thick slices
  • 1 14.5-ounce can green beans, drained (or frozen)
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
  2. Wash your hands well with soap and hot water.
  3. Cut washed and peeled sweet potatoes in half long ways. Place flat side down. Cut into slices.
  4. Lay four large pieces of aluminum foil on your work surface. Lay them out flat.
  5. On one piece of foil, divide the sweet potato pieces and the green beans between packets.
  6. Put one piece of chicken on top of the vegetables.
  7. Sprinkle the Italian seasoning, garlic powder, and salt over the top of the chicken and veggies.
  8. Fold the foil up over the chicken and veggies. Fold the edges together to make a sealed packet.
  9. Repeat steps 4–7 for the other three pieces of foil. You will have four foil packets.
  10. Place the foil packets on a large baking sheet and place in the oven.
  11. Bake for 30–45 minutes, until the chicken is completely cooked.
  12. Check temperature of chicken with a meat thermometer. Make sure it is completely cooked. It should be 165ºF.
  13. Refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours.

 

Roasted Red and Sweet Potatoes

  • 6 red potatoes
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
  2. Wash your hands well with soap and hot water.
  3. Wash the potatoes under running water. Scrub off any dirt.
  4. Cut the potatoes into bite-sized pieces.
  5. Spread the potato pieces onto a large baking sheet.
  6. Pour the oil over the potatoes.
  7. Mix them with your hands until the potatoes are covered with oil.
  8. Spread the potatoes into a single layer on the baking sheet.
  9. Put the baking sheet in the oven.
  10. Bake until the potatoes are brown and tender, about 25–30 minutes. Turn them twice while they are cooking.
  11. Serve the potatoes while they are hot.
  12. Refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours.

 


Publication 3407 (12-19)

By Kelli Whitten, Regional Registered Dietitian, Extension Delta Region.

Mississippi State University is an equal opportunity institution.

Extension Service of Mississippi State University, cooperating with U.S. Department of Agriculture. Published in furtherance of Acts of Congress, May 8 and June 30, 1914. GARY B. JACKSON, Director

HappyHealthy Zucchini Newsletter

Helping Mississippians live happier, healthier lives!

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Zucchini is a vegetable that can be eaten raw, steamed, grilled, roasted, or sautéed. Bake it into a bread or eat the flowers from the zucchini plant … now that’s tasty!

Select

  • Choose zucchini that is small and firm, with bright green, glossy skin.
  • Avoid zucchinis that are very large, bruised, soft, or dull on the surface.
  • Large zucchinis have more seeds and are tougher.

Prepare

  • Rinse zucchini under running water. Scrub with a vegetable brush to remove heavy dirt or wax.
  • Leave the skin on fresh zucchini.
  • Cut off the stem.
  • Slice the zucchini lengthwise into strips or crosswise into coins.
  • For large zucchini, remove seeds and shred for baking muffins or bread.

Store

  • Keep zucchini unwashed in an open plastic bag in the vegetable crisper drawer in your refrigerator for up to 4 days for the best quality.
  • To freeze fresh zucchini for baking, wash, grate, and steam blanch. Pre-measure amounts for baking recipes and place in freezer bags or containers in the freezer. Frozen zucchini stays fresh for 3–4 months.
  • To learn more about cutting and roasting zucchini, visit HappyHealthy.MS and click on Tips and Videos.
    • How to Store Fruits and Vegetables
    • How to Freeze Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

Fun with Food

Children can help:

  • In the garden, children can help with preparing the soil, planting, weeding, and harvesting.

  • In the grocery produce section, children can help select zucchini.
  • In the kitchen, children can help rinse the zucchini and gather the cooking utensils.

Children can learn:

  • Zucchini can be eaten as a snack or part of a meal.
  • Cooking skills working with fresh zucchini.

     

Sliced and roasted yellow squash.

Roasted Zucchini or Yellow Squash

  • 1¼ pounds zucchini or yellow squash
  • 2 teaspoons oil
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon black pepper

 

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Wash your hands well with soap and hot water.
  3. Line a large pan or cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Set it aside.
  4. Wash the squash. Trim ends and cut in half lengthwise. Then cut each piece into half-moon pieces about ½-inch thick.
  5. Put the zucchini or squash pieces into a large plastic storage bag.
  6. Add the oil, garlic powder, oregano, salt, and pepper.
  7. Shake the bag until the pieces are coated with oil and spices.
  8. Place the pieces on the pan lined with foil. Spread them out into an even layer.
  9. Put the pan in the oven. Bake for about 20 minutes. When the squash pieces are light brown and tender, but still a little crisp, they are done.
  10. Refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours.

     

A plate of breaded zucchini sticks and and small bowl of ranch dip.

Baked Zucchini Sticks

  • 2 medium zucchini
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • ¾ cup bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning

 

  1. Wash your hands well with soap and hot water.
  2. Wash zucchini and trim off top and end.
  3. Cut zucchini in half and then cut each half lengthwise.
  4. Lay flat side of zucchini down and cut into three sticks.
  5. Microwave zucchini sticks for about 2 minutes, then pat dry with a paper towel.
  6. Crack egg into a bowl.
  7. Add water to bowl with egg mixture and mix well using a fork.
  8. Mix cheese, bread crumbs, and Italian seasoning together in a bowl.
  9. Preheat oven to broil.
  10. Dip zucchini sticks first into the egg mixture and then into the bread crumb mixture.
  11. Arrange zucchini in rows on a greased baking pan. Broil zucchini sticks for about 10–12 minutes, turning once while cooking.
  12. Refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours.

NOTE: Serve with low-fat ranch dressing or spaghetti sauce for dipping.

 


Publication 3408 (12-19)

By Dottie Kenda, Regional Registered Dietitian, Extension Southwest Region.

Mississippi State University is an equal opportunity institution.

Extension Service of Mississippi State University, cooperating with U.S. Department of Agriculture. Published in furtherance of Acts of Congress, May 8 and June 30, 1914. GARY B. JACKSON, Director