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Articles written by Julie Garden-robinson


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  • Prairie Fare: Keep the tradition of family meals

    Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist, NDSU Extension Service|Jul 1, 2024

    “This is grotesque!” my husband exclaimed. I looked up from my magazine to see what had piqued his interest. I was watching a 1950s-era TV show and reading simultaneously. In the show, the father of the family was returning from work in his double-breasted suit and fedora. His smiling wife in a summery dress and heels walked away from the large bouquet of flowers she was arranging nearby. His neatly dressed children ran to the door to greet him as he hung his hat on the coat tree. I’m not sure...

  • Prairie Fare: Are flowers in my yard edible?

    Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist, NDSU Extension Service|Jun 24, 2024

    "I will have some hibiscus lemonade," I said. That sounded interesting to me as I perused the menu. Maybe the attractive flowers would translate to a pleasant flavor, I thought. The beverage was pinkish in color and had a cranberry-like flavor. I liked it. I have tried lavender lemonade and rose-infused beverages. Soup with floating squash blossoms was novel to me, too. I am seeing an increasing number of beverages and foods crafted with the addition of flowers. As I admired the colorful flowers...

  • Prairie Fare: Victory gardens make sense in modern times

    Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist, NDSU Extension Service|May 13, 2024

    During World War II, the "Basic 7" comprised the nutrition guidance of the time. The groups included 1) green and yellow vegetables; 2) oranges, tomatoes and grapefruit; 3) potatoes and other vegetables; 4) milk and milk products; 5) meat, poultry, fish and eggs; and 6) bread, flour and cereals. I was a little surprised by group 7: butter and fortified margarine. Yes, butter was a food group. The early nutritionists did say to "use in moderation." Interestingly, in those early years, people...

  • Prairie Fare: How to get a handle on food waste

    Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist, NDSU Extension Service|Apr 8, 2024

    I always feel bad when I throw away food, even when it is no longer edible. Unfortunately, lots of food in the U.S. gets wasted every year. “Food waste” means that food is not eaten and is discarded. “Food loss” happens before food reaches us, and can happen during storage, processing and transportation. Food waste can happen anywhere along the way in the food chain, including homes, grocery stores and restaurants. Let’s try a quiz to see what you already know. These questions and answers are ba...

  • Prairie Fare: Consider using reusable grocery bags

    Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist, NDSU Extension Service|Apr 1, 2024

    I noticed a plastic bag high in the tree outside my home. I wanted to hire a squirrel to get it out of the tree. Squirrels are not very helpful, unfortunately. As we drove around doing errands, I was tuned into the presence of plastic bags. I saw plastic bags trapped in bushes and against fences and buildings. I saw other trash, too, but that’s another story. When I arrived home with a few bags of groceries, I was happy I had remembered to bring reusable bags to carry our groceries to the c...

  • Prairie Fare: Snooze your way to better health

    Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist, NDSU Extension Service|Mar 25, 2024

    I pushed “snooze” on my alarm clock. Eight minutes later, I pushed “snooze” again. On the first day after the spring time change, I was struggling to awaken. In my fogginess, I wondered how many times you can push “snooze” before your alarm clock stops working. When the alarm went off for the third time, I figured I had better get moving. Time changes get me every time. Traveling to other states in other time zones and then returning home for another round of time change is an ongoing adj...

  • Prairie Fare: Health screening can save your life

    Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist, NDSU Extension Service|Mar 18, 2024

    Many of us have heard those instructions, or something like it, when being screened at the airport prior to a flight. The screening attendants always used to check my wristwatch. It's a plain old metal watch, nothing fancy. I now put it in the bin with my shoes to avoid getting stopped in the line and searched. Screening protects passengers from potentially dangerous travelers. Most of us regularly walk through department store exits that screen our bags when we leave. Sometimes, the alarms may...

  • Prairie Fare: Nuts are a healthy addition to your food

    Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist, NDSU Extension Service|Mar 4, 2024

    I added a mixture of walnuts and dried fruit to a mixed green salad I was making in my home. I smiled as I thought about my changing eating habits. As a kid, I would have eaten the salad greens and dried fruit, but nuts were off limits on my personal menu. I was not allergic to nuts. I just did not like their taste. I did not appreciate their texture, either. My mother added nuts to nearly every baked good, from brownies to cookies to quick breads. She probably knew they were good for us. Guess...

  • Prairie Fare: Onions provide layers of flavor

    Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist, NDSU Extension Service|Jan 29, 2024

    "Mom, do you have a mandoline?" my son asked. I wasn't sure if he was asking about a mandolin stringed instrument or a mandoline food slicer. He was in the kitchen. I figured he wanted to slice some vegetables thinly and not serenade our family. He was in luck on the culinary side. I had a mandoline slicer in the cupboard. We do not have a mandolin musical instrument, but we have a ukulele, viola, banjo and guitar. He found the slicing tool very helpful as he made burgers with all the fixings. H...

  • Prairie Fare: Inspire your menus with ruby red cranberries

    Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist, NDSU Extension Service|Dec 18, 2023

    I bought a garland of fake popcorn and cranberries a couple years ago. It reminded me of a party I attended as a kid, when we strung popcorn and cranberries on string to make holiday décor. We wrapped the garland around a staircase. We also pulled taffy that day. I probably still have scars from the hot mixture, but it was fun. Cranberries are widely used in menus at the end of the year, especially as a side dish for turkey dinners. Cranberries are primarily harvested in the fall. Besides...

  • Prairie Fare: Exploring nature while mowing can promote health

    Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist, NDSU Extension Service|Jul 31, 2023

    "You're doing a good job," my husband commented. I needed the positive reinforcement. I was mowing the lawn with a push mower, which typically is on my husband's task list. I usually weed and tend the flowers and vegetables. Unfortunately, he has an injured shoulder. He is sidelined from physical labor for several months. Lucky me. Despite his compliment, I knew my mowing was not living up to my husband's standards of perfect diagonal cuts. I was mowing like a mouse running around a maze, going...

  • Prairie Fare: July is National Grilling Month

    Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist, NDSU Extension Service|Jul 10, 2023

    The aroma of food on a grill and the scent of freshly mowed lawns signal summertime to me. Even if mowing lawn is not part of your regular summertime routine, enjoying grilled food probably is. July is National Grilling Month, so we have plenty of time to celebrate the great outdoors with delicious food, well into colder months. Do you have an outdoor grill in your household? If so, what are your favorite foods to prepare? About 100 million grills are present in U.S. households according to a ma...

  • Prairie Fare: Enjoy the season's fresh fruits and veggies

    Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist, NDSU Extension Service|May 22, 2023

    I look forward to May because I know that high-quality, rosy red strawberries will be available in my local grocery store. Strawberries are among my favorite fruits. You may have heard the recommendation about “eating in season.” What does that mean anyway? Seasonal produce varies by where we live, but we do have the advantage of seasonal produce from other locations reaching our grocery stores. I do not have a greenhouse in my backyard. If I were to eat what is growing in my garden in ear...

  • Prairie Fare: May is Melanoma Awareness Month

    Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist, NDSU Extension Service|May 8, 2023

    Are you cold?" someone asked me as I walked into a conference room. "I'm OK," I replied. Yes, wearing a coat into the hotel conference room was a bit odd. In my defense, I was pulling a suitcase, holding a purse and carrying a large bag. I think he was just giving me a bad time. Being from the north, I often receive some references to temperature. I removed my light winter coat and settled into my seat. I was wearing a sweater because a person has to be prepared for cold conference rooms. Grante...

  • Prairie Fare: What would you call these foods?

    Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist, NDSU Extension Service|Apr 17, 2023

    Whenever I travel, I enjoy the "local foods" and recipes. I often bring another cookbook home in my suitcase. Besides having many flavors and forms, food has many meanings. Some foods bring promises of fortune and reminders of religious holidays. Others spark memories of our relatives. For example, cake is traditionally served after many wedding celebrations. In fact, some references say that wedding cake dates back to ancient Rome. Back then, a soft cake was broken above a bride's head for...

  • Prairie Fare: Are you eating for your brain health?

    Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist, NDSU Extension Service|Apr 3, 2023

    When our kids were young, we read to them every night before bedtime. Some of their books put us to sleep. Often, I'd find my husband and child sound asleep in a chair with a half-read book. Our kids liked a book named "Don't Forget the Oatmeal." It was a very long book. I know our kids were delaying their bedtime when they requested this book. Unfortunately, the "oatmeal book" was lost. We hid the book in a closet until they could read it by themselves. The book told the story of a grocery...

  • Prairie Fare: Spring greens will be a welcome sight

    Julie Garden-Robinson, Food & Nutrition Specialist, NDSU Extension Service|Mar 27, 2023

    “My daffodils are coming up!” one of the people said. We were talking about what we like about springtime on a recent video call. We were from cities throughout the U.S. “I have a bunch of crocuses blooming,” another person commented. “We had 13 inches of snow, with more on the way,” I said. That certainly put a dark cloud over the conversation. Yes, I wanted some pity after numerous blizzards. Some of my colleagues were reporting temperatures in the 60s. “But I am looking forward to flowers at...

  • Prairie Fare: Stay motivated to maintain your fitness

    Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist, NDSU Extension Service|Jan 2, 2023

    Every morning when I arrive at work, I come to a fork in my path. It’s not a real fork. This week’s column is not about food. As soon as I walk into my building, I have to make a choice. I can take the elevator, which is a few steps directly to my right. Or, I can walk up the stairs, which are directly ahead of me. My office is on the third floor of my building. Accumulating some steps when taking the stairs is better for my health. Some days, the elevator wins. After navigating the som...

  • Prairie Fare: Don't break the bank this holiday season

    Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist, NDSU Extension Service|Dec 19, 2022

    "I am only going to put up a few decorations for the holidays," I mentioned to my husband. "We will keep it simple." I don't think he believed me. "OK, I'll bring up the tubs," he said. As I began looking through about eight large tubs, the items made me think about our kids' younger years and their early crafts. Soon the handprint reindeer was on our tree, along with lightbulb snowmen with goofy grins. I added numerous ornaments with their smiling school pictures. During my trip down memory...

  • Prairie Fare: Phones, tablets may spread germs

    Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist, NDSU Extension Service|Nov 28, 2022

    "You can take the new phone," my husband said to me. We were on the way to the airport. I put the palm-sized phone in my purse along with the charging cords. I really had no idea how to use this little phone. I wasn't exactly an "early adopter." On Sept. 10, 2001, my plane landed in Dallas, Texas. Our conference began the next morning. The beginning of our conference was cut short when we were advised to go to our rooms and turn on the news. We all remember that day. On the way to the elevator,...

  • Prairie Fare: Keep food safety in mind during holidays

    Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist, NDSU Extension Service|Nov 21, 2022

    My first attempt at cooking our Thanksgiving meal bordered on disaster. I was newly married, and I had not flown solo on cooking a holiday meal. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a large enough pan for the turkey. The turkey was wedged into my roasting pan clutching its breast with its wings. The turkey appeared golden brown when I hoisted the pan out of the oven. I was feeling successful. When I put the bird on a cutting board, its wings flopped open and revealed a pinkish-white underbelly. Then I...

  • Prairie Fare: Prepare and store wild game safely

    Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist, NDSU Extension Service|Nov 14, 2022

    “Watch out for deer!” my parents would say when I left after a weekend at home during college. I knew to drive slowly and be observant, especially at dawn or dusk. I looked for glowing eyes in the ditches along wooded areas on my drive back to college. If you see one deer, most likely that deer has some companions. Sometimes I would see a herd of 100 or more deer looking at me from a corn field. They were eating well. We had a couple of near misses when deer jumped in front of our vehicles. By...

  • Prairie Fare: Is your evening meal 'dinner' or 'supper'?

    Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist, NDSU Extension Service|Nov 7, 2022

    When I was in grade school, I used to walk the short distance home for dinner around noon. After school, I was really hungry, so I had lunch at 3 p.m. About 6 p.m., we had supper. When I went away to college, I began referring to "dinner" as "lunch" and "supper" as "dinner." My family thought I had turned in to a "city slicker" with my change in the names of our meals. After all, we had a supper club in the next town, and church suppers drew a large crowd. "Breakfast" was always named...

  • Prairie Fare: Celebrating 25 years with a prize drawing

    Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist, NDSU Extension Service|Oct 31, 2022

    What were you doing in 1997? Some of you may not have been born yet. Others may remember the year well. The “Titanic” movie was in theaters, and the first Harry Potter book was released. The Mars Pathfinder arrived on Mars. The Hale Bopp comet was visible in 1997. Sports enthusiasts may remember that the Green Bay Packers defeated the New England Patriots in the Superbowl. Pete Sampras and Martina Hingis each won Wimbledon. Mother Theresa, Princess Diana, John Denver and James Stewart were amo...

  • Prairie Fare: Keep your immune system strong this fall

    Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist, NDSU Extension Service|Oct 24, 2022

    Most of us get a cold or the flu on occasion. What's the difference, anyway? I visited the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for some clarification. Flu is caused by influenza viruses, while colds can be caused by rhinoviruses, parainfluenza and seasonal coronaviruses. COVID-19 is caused by SARS-CoV-2, and that illness is different from the common cold or the flu. Colds and flu share some symptoms such as fatigue, sneezing, cough, stuffy nose and sore throat, but the symptoms...

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