Tips & Videos

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While looking at a tablet, a woman and girl prepare foil packs of chicken, green beans, and carrots.

Tips & Videos


We're here to show you how simple it is to shop for fresh fruits and vegetables, cook them easily and quickly, and serve your family their favorites the HappyHeathy way! The videos here will help you do all these things better than ever before. Check here often for new videos about easy ways to cook at home, how to be a HappyHealthy shopper, how to save money when you buy fresh fruits and vegetables, and how to handle food safely. Soon, you'll be a HappyHealthy expert!

 

All Purpose Seasoning

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A woman places seasonings in a clear bowl on a white cutting board to prepare the all purpose seasoning.

INGREDIENTS


  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 2-3 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

DIRECTIONS


  1. Wash hands with soap and hot water.
  2. Measure all ingredients.
  3. Combine all spices in small bowl.
  4. Mix together well.
  5. Keep in airtight container.
  6. Sprinkle on fish, chicken, and vegetables.

Chop, Slice, Dice, Mince, Peel, and Crush

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Hands chopping yellow squash on chopping board

How to Chop, Slice, Dice, Mince, Peel, and Crush


Wash your hands with soap and hot water.

To chop:

  1. Lay the fruit or vegetable on a cutting board and use a sharp knife.
  2. Remove the top and bottom.
  3. Cut the food in half so it can lie flat.
  4. Hold the food steady with your free hand.
  5. Curl your fingers into a claw.
  6. Tuck your knuckles underneath.
  7. Hold the flat side of the knife against your knuckles, with the entire knife lifted above the cutting board.
  8. Press downward and move the knife slightly forward as you cut.
  9. Lift the blade up and repeat.

To slice:

  1. Rinse the fruit or vegetable with water.
  2. Lay it on a cutting board and use a sharp knife.
  3. Remove the top and bottom.
  4. Cut it in half so it can lie flat.
  5. Hold the food steady with your free hand. 
  6. Curl your fingers into a claw.
  7. Tuck your knuckles underneath.
  8. Hold the tip of blade against the cutting board, with the handle of the knife positioned upward.
  9. Continue by pressing down and forward, using full length of the blade to slice through the food.

To dice:

  1. Lay the fruit or vegetable on a cutting board and use a sharp knife.
  2. Remove the tips.
  3. Hold the knife parallel to the cutting board.
  4. Cut the food vertically, without cutting all the way through.
  5. Cut across the slices you just made. This will give you several pieces.

To crush:

  1. Place the fruit or vegetable on a cutting board.
  2. Use a heavy knife, such as a chef’s knife, and place the blade of the knife flat on the food, with the sharp side of the knife facing
  3. away from you.
  4. Use the heel of your hand to press the blade down on the food

To mince:

  1. Place the fruit or vegetable on a cutting board. 
  2. Cut the food into thin slices.
  3. Turn the food and cut across the slices.

Cook Dried Beans in a Crock Pot

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Wooden spoon positioned over a crock pot of beans, garlic, jalapenos, and onions

How to Cook Dried Beans in a Crock Pot


  1. Wash hands with soap and hot water.
  2. Place dried beans in a bowl.
  3. Add water to cover beans by 3 to 4 inches.
  4. Let beans soak overnight or 6 hours covered on the counter.
  5. Use colander to drain and rinse beans before cooking.
  6. Place soaked beans in crock pot.
  7. Add any seasonings: salt and pepper, garlic, jalapenos, onions (to taste).
  8. Cover with water by about 2 inches.Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 6 hours.

 

Cooking in the Oven

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Hand with meat thermometer checking one of four foil-wrapped pieces of meat on baking sheet in oven

Cooking in the Oven


Baking:

Baking means to cook food in an over at a moderate temperature. Almost anything can be baked. 

  1. Always preheat the oven.
  2. 350°F is used most of the time for baking.
  3. Follow directions in the recipe for oven temperature and baking time.

Roasting:

Roasting means cooking food in an uncovered pan in the oven. You can roast at low, medium or high temperatures. 

  1. Use a heavy roasting pan.
  2. Cooking times:
    • Vegetables usually roast at 400°F.
    • Large roasts at 250°F to 375°F.
    • Small cuts of meat 350°F to 375°F.
  3. Check temperature using a meat thermometer.
  4. Always let meat rest 10 to 20 minutes before slicing.

Broiling:

Broiling means quick cooking at a very high heat.

  1. Move over rack to highest position in the oven, about 3 to 4 inches from the top.
  2. Set oven to Broil.
  3. Preheat 5 minutes before cooking.
  4. Use a broiler pan, cast iron skillet or baking sheet.
  5. Leave oven door open slightly while broiling.
  6. Most foods will be done in 5 to 10 minutes

Cooking on the Stovetop

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wooden spoon stirring greens in cast iron skillet on stove

Cooking on the Stovetop


Steam:

Good for vegetables, potatoes, rice, fish, and seafood

  1. Put a small amount of water in a sauce pan.
  2. Bring the water to a simmer.
  3. Place food in a steam basket over the water and cover saucepan with lid.
  4. Steam until food is done or desired tenderness.

Sauté:

Good for meats, onions, and peppers

  1. Preheat skillet at medium-high heat.
  2. Add one Tablespoon of oil to pan.
  3. Add food to pan.
  4. Stir until lightly browned.

Caramelize/Brown:

Good for onions, apples, and carrots

  1. Use a pan or skillet.
  2. Set the stove to high heat.
  3. Add oil to pan.
  4. When pan gets hot, add the food.
  5. Once you begin cooking, keep the temperature at low.
  6. Stir often to make sure it does not burn.
  7. Cook until food is deep golden brown.

Simmmer:

Good for vegetables, soups and stews, and even large cuts of meat

  1. Cook food in skillet or sauce pan in liquid at medium heat.
  2. Food has bubbles gently rising to the surface, but not fully boiling.

Boil:

Good for pasta, some grains, and green vegetables

  1. Use a large pot with water or other liquids.
  2. Cook at high heat until bubbles break through and pop on the surface.
  3. Add food to the water or liquid to cook it.

Blanch:

Good for vegetables in salads so they will be softer to chew and to get fresh vegetables ready for freezing

  1. Food is put in boiling water just a few minutes.
  2. One you take it out, food is put into a mixing bowl with an ice water bath to stop the cooking process.

How to Freeze Fruits & Vegetables

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packages of frozen fruits and vegetables is freezer

How to Freeze Fruits & Vegetables


Freezing Vegetables:

To freeze many vegetables, you have to blanch them first.

  1. Use one gallon of water for every pound of vegetables.
  2. Pour vegetables in a pot of boiling water.
  3. Cover with a lid.
  4. Bring to boil again.
  5. Let vegetables cook for a few minutes.
    • Corn, small ears—7 minutes
    • Whole kernel corn—4 minutes
    • Okra—3-4 minutes
    • Green Beans—3 minutes
    • Summer squash—3 minutes
  6. Remove pot from heat.
  7. Quickly place vegetables into large bowl filled with ice water.
  8. Allow vegetables to drain and store in heavy weight, air tight containers or freezer bags.
  9. Fill containers to top and remove as much air as possible from freezer bags.

Freezing Fruit:

Always rinse fruit and allow time to dry before freezing.

Apples and Pears

  • Core, peel and cut in quarters or slices.
  • Toss in lemon juice diluted with water (1 Tablespoon lemon juice in 1 cup water) so they don’t brown.

Blueberries and Blackberries

  • Leave whole for freezing.

Melons

  • Cut in cubes or slices.

Peaches

  • Peel, take out pits, and slice.

Strawberries

  • Cut off green caps, cut in halves or quarters.

Bananas

  • Cover baking sheet with wax paper or foil.
  • Spread fruit slices in single layer on baking sheet.
  • Please flat in freezer for several days.
  • Place frozen slices in freezer bags with label and date.
  • Press out as much air as possible to seal.
     

How to Keep Food Safe

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Two hands scrubbing potato with a brush in a sink with running water over a colander

How to Keep Food Safe


Step 1- CLEAN

  • Wash hands the right way—at least 20 seconds with soap and hot running water
  • Wash counter tops and utensils every time you use them
  • Wash fresh fruits and vegetables under running water; drain in colander

Step 2-SEPARATE

  • Use one cutting board for fresh fruits and vegetables; use a different cutting board for raw meat, poultry, or seafood
  • Use separate plates and utensils for cooked and raw foods
  • Wash all plates, utensils, and cutting boards that were used for raw meat, poultry, seafood, or eggs
  • Keep meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs separate in your shopping cart, grocery bags, and refrigerator

Step 3-COOK

  • Cook food to the right temperature
  • Use a food thermometer; place the thermometer in the thickest part of the food to see if it’s done
  • Keep food hot after cooking at 140°F
  • Microwave food to 165°F

Step 4-CHILL

  • Refrigerate food within 2 hours
  • Don’t overfill your refrigerator; give your food some room
  • Keep refrigerator set between 40°F and 32°F
  • Freezing keeps food safe until you can cook it
  • Set freezer at 0°F or below
  • Never thaw or marinate food on the counter top
  • Thaw food in refrigerator, microwave, or in cold water
  • Always marinate food in the refrigerator

How to Measure Food Using Your Hands

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two open hands palm up beside a bowl of spaghetti noodles

How to Measure Food Using Your Hands


Control your portions even when you don’t have measuring cups or spoons. Judge the size of your serving by using your hand.

  • ½ cup = cupped hand

Measure grains, brown rice, whole wheat pasta, beans, cooked vegetables

  • 1 cup = 2 cupped hands

Measure grains, brown rice, whole wheat pasta, beans, cooked vegetables

  • 3 ounces = open palm of hand

The perfect serving of beef, poultry, pork or fish

  • 1 teaspoon = fingertip

Butter, mustard, mayonnaise, sauces

  • 1-2 Tablespoons = thumb

Salad dressing, peanut butter, hard cheese

  • 1 cup = clinched fist

Cereal, fresh fruits, salads, casseroles

 

How to Prepare Winter Squash for Cooking

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hands scooping out squash over a bowl.

How to Prepare Winter Squash for Cooking


Choose your favorite from many types of winter squash

  • Spaghetti Squash
  • Acorn Squash
  • Butternut Squash

 

  1. Wash your hands with soap and hot water.
  2. You need:
    • Cutting board
    • Large sharp chef knife
  3. Cut a thin piece off bottom or side of squash to keep squash from rolling.
  4. If recipe says to peel squash, peel it in thin strips with knife.
  5. Cut squash in half. Be careful to keep knife from slipping and cutting your hand.
  6. Use spoon to take out seeds. Discard seeds.

How to Store Fruits and Vegetables

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baskets of onions and potatoes in pantry.

How to Store Fruits and Vegetables


When you select or purchase fruits and vegetables from a garden, farmers market or grocery store fresh fruits and vegetables the right way:

  • For best flavor
  • To last longer 
  • To stretch your food dollars

Store these fruits in the refrigerator:

  • Apples (to keep them more than 7 days)
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Grapes
  • Strawberries

Store these vegetables in the refrigerator:

  • Green Beans
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Greens (collards, mustard, turnip)
  • Summer Squash
  • Sweet Corn
  • Cucumbers
  • Lemons
  • Peppers

Keep these fruits on the counter until they’re ripe, then store in the refrigerator:

  • Peaches (until soft to touch and fragrant)
  • Pears (until soft to touch)
  • Plums (until soft to touch and fragrant
  • Persimmons
  • Melons (until ripe)

Keep these on the kitchen counter:

  • Apples (no longer than 7 days)
  • Bananas
  • Eggplant
  • Oranges
  • Melons
  • Tomatoes
  • Winter Squashes

Keep the following in the pantry, a cabinet or box, away from light where air can get to them:

  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Potatoes
  • Sweet Potatoes
     

HappyHealthy Top Tips

How to make fresh fruits and vegetables last longer

Tip #1

Remove rubber bands and twist ties to allow for circulation.

Tip #2

Use fruits and vegetables within 1-3 days for maximum flavor and freshness.

Tip #3

Always store your fruits and vegetables separate from raw meat.

Tip #4

Always rinse fresh fruits and vegetables under running water before using.

Tip #5

Wash

  • Leafy Greens
  • Spinach 
  • Lettuce

Tip #6

Store vegetables separate from fruit.

Tip #7

It is not necessary to wash fruits and vegetables labeled “ready to eat,” “washed,” or “triple washed.”

Prepare Leafy Greens

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A woman cutting washed, leafy greens that have been rolled for slicing on a white cutting board.

How to Prepare Leafy Greens for Cooking


It's easy to cook your favorite leafy greens!

For greens like cabbage, kale, spinach, collard greens, and others:

  1. Take off outside leaves, if needed. Remove wilted or brown leaves and dispose.
  2. Rinse completely under cold running water.
  3. Place in colander to drain.
  4. Place leaves in a plastic bag with a paper towel and store in refrigerator until you want to cook them.

When ready to cook kale:

  1. Cut out the hard stems.
  2. Stack about 3-4 leaves on top of each other. Roll them up.
  3. Use sharp knife and cut rolls into thin slices.

For iceberg lettuce:

  1. Hit the head on the counter to loosen the core and remove.
  2. Run cold water over lettuce head
  3. Place lettuce head in colander to drain.
  4. Store lettuce in a plastic bag with paper towel in refrigerator until ready to use.

Preparing to Cook

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Various utensils used for cooking including measuring cups and spoons, a spatula, spoon, knife, and glass container.
  1. Put Everything in Place
    Professional chefs call this Mise en Place (Pronounced meez on plahs)
    • Before you cook, gather all the tools and equipment you need.
    • Gather all the ingredients.
    • Wash, trim, cut, prepare, and measure all the ingredients.
    • Prepare the equipment—preheat the oven, line baking sheets, etc.
    • Now, you’re ready to go!
       
  2. To Measure Liquids
    • Use a glass measuring cup with measured amount indicated on the side of the cup.
    • Place cup on flat surface.
    • Look at it at eye level as you fill the cup to the needed line.
       
  3. To Measure Dry Ingredients
    • Use a measuring cups set.
    • The measuring cups will have the measurement on it.
    • Spoon or scoop the ingredient lightly into the measuring cup.
    • Run a knife across the top of the powder to level the surface.
    • Scrape off excess.

Roast Vegetables

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foil-covered baking sheet with salt and peppered squash slices

How to Roast Vegetables


Ingredients


  • 1 to 2 pounds of any vegetable

  • 1 Tablespoon oil

  • ½ teaspoon salt

  • ½ teaspoon pepper

Directions


  1. Wash your hands well with soap and hot water. 
  2. Preheat oven to 400° F.
  3. Wash vegetables under cold running water.
  4. Drain vegetables in colander.
  5. Cut vegetables into bite-size pieces, all about the same size.
  6. Place vegetables in large bowl or plastic bag.
  7. Pour oil on top of vegetables.
  8. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  9. Stir or shake until all vegetables are coated with oil, salt and pepper.
  10. Spread vegetables on baking sheet in an even layer.
  11. Place baking sheet in oven. Cook soft vegetables 20-25 minutes. Cook hard vegetables 30 minutes or longer.
  12. Check vegetables and turn once. Cook longer if you need to.
  13. Vegetables are done if soft when stuck with a fork.
  14. Refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours.

Sharpen Your Knife Skills

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Hands chopping sweet potato on chopping board with knife

How to Sharpen Your Knife Skills


The two most useful knives are:

  • Chef knife
  • Paring knife

Chef Knife

Use to cut and dice fruits, vegetables, meat and fish.

To hold the chef knife:

  • Make sure the knife is sharp.
  • Place your thumb on the inside of the handle.
  • Place first finger on outside of handle, and last three fingers under handle.
  • With your other hand, hold what you are about to cut.
  • Make sure all your fingers are standing up facing down to prevent getting cut. 
  • Cut down through food onto board and push blade out forward.  Down and through.
     

Paring Knife

Use for cutting, slicing and peeling smaller things like garlic or strawberries.

To use the paring knife:

  • Make sure the knife is sharp.
  • For slicing:
    • Place fruits or vegetable on cutting board.
    • Place knife near one end and push it straight down as you slide the blade across.
  • For peeling:
    • Hold food with your first finger and your thumb.
    • Hold paring knife in your stronger hand with three fingers.
    • Place first knuckle of first finger against dull side of knife blade.
    • Place edge of knife at the top of food below your finger.
    • Cut into food just a little bit, putting knife between the food’s skin. 
    • Peel skin downward toward thumb.
    • Repeat until all the skin is removed.