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What is a Zucchini? An experience from our Mobile Farmers Market in DeKalb Extension

28 Aug

market 1

The afternoon was sunny and hot and I was working at one of the stops of our mobile farmers market at an apartment complex where a diverse group of seniors live. One of our clients came to our group and after checking all the products that were available for sale that day asked us the following question: What is a zucchini? According with his own words he didn’t know and has never tasted before.

You can imagine our surprise! Zucchini is one of the most abundant produce during summer, and is one of those we eat as a vegetable when in reality is a fruit.

Zucchini taste better when is about 6 to 8 inches long and 2 inches in diameter. When we buy it like that we can enjoy it when is tender and has a delicious flavor even if we eat it raw. You can shred the larger pieces and use them to bake zucchini bread and other bake goods.

Zucchini, with its intense green color is an excellent source of fiber, vitamins A, B and C and other nutrients. One cup of zucchini has approximately 35 calories, making it a perfect addition to a healthy eating diet.

Our friendly client left very pleased for visiting our mobile market that day. He left with a good supply of zucchini, learned something new about it and had the opportunity to taste one of our most popular recipes: Zucchini Italian Style. We invite you to prepare this quick and delicious recipe before summer goes away and take advantage of the plentiful zucchini at its best! Enjoy!


Cucurbita_pepo_Summer_Squash_Yellow_and_Green_Zucchini_zucchineZucchini Italian-Style


2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup chopped onions

4 medium zucchini trimmed

1 canned stewed tomatoes, regular or low sodium

1/4 teaspoon mixed Italian herbs

1/4 teaspoon coarse—ground black pepper

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese


Wash hands and assemble clean equipment. Heat oil in skillet. Add onion and zucchini; stir-fry for about 1 minute.

Add tomatoes, Italian herbs, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Cover and steam 4 to 5 minutes or until zucchini is still slightly crisp.Stir in cheese and stir-fry for about 30 seconds.


Servings Per Recipe: 4

Amount Per Serving: 1 cup

Calories 132

9 g of carbohydrates, 5 g of protein, Cholesterol 5 mg,

2 g fiber

Sodium 365 mg or 153 mg with low sodium stew tomatoes


The Incredible ONIONS!

19 May

I cook almost every day at home, and when cooking I use onions as the main ingredient in my recipes. Besides the great flavor this vegetable add to my meals, it also provides wonderful nutrients. I want to share with you the information I found about the nutritional value of onions. I know that after reading this information you will cook more with onions:

One of the most significant sources of antioxidants in the human diet is onions, reports Cornell University Associate Professor Rui Hai Lui. These antioxidants provide this vegetable with its sweet flavors and distinct aroma. Consuming onions supplies your body with soluble fiber and flavonoids, antioxidant compounds that fight free radicals. These flavonoids assist in thinning your blood, decreasing inflammation and fighting cancer.  fotolia_14367447_XS[1]

The Western Yellow type contains 11 times more antioxidants than the Western White type and provides the strongest protection against the production of liver cancer cells. The Western Whites contain the least amount of antioxidants among onion varieties and offer the least protection against cancer cells. Shallots, Western Yellow, Northern Red and pungent yellow onions assist in inhibiting the growth of cancer cells, which may protect against the development of colon and liver cancer.

Inflammation in your body can cause and exacerbate symptoms of asthma, arthritis and heart disease. According to a 2010 study published in “Molecular Aspects of Medicine,” regular consumption of organosulfur compounds from onions and garlic can prevent the development of cardiovascular disease.

Onions may assist in thinning your blood, as they contain thiosulfinates – the agents that provide an onion with its pungent odor and cause teary eyes when you come in contact with this vegetable. Additionally, this sulfur compound prevents platelets in your blood from aggregating and operates as a natural blood thinner. When platelets cluster in your blood, your risk for experiencing a stroke or heart attack significantly increases. Eat your onions raw for maximum thiosulfinate content, as cooking onions significantly decreases the quantity of this compound. If you take a prescription blood thinner, consult with your physician about consuming onions in conjunction with your medication, as you do not want your blood to become too thin.

Onions also contain a special form of soluble fiber known as fructan. When you consume fructan, this soluble fiber turns into a gel-like substance in your colon and converts to fatty acids. These fatty acids act as a natural laxative, stimulating bowel movements. The fructan in onions, inulin fructan, promotes the growth of good bacteria in your intestines, which may combat any infections in your colon.

So, what do you think? I think onions are amazing!


Preparing meals at home is the first step for a healthy lifestyle

11 Apr

Prepimages[4]aring and eating meals at home is an important step toward eating healthy. You can have easy, quick, and healthy meals at home. Just keep it simple with these four steps: Plan, shop, fix, and eat.


  • Keep a list of the things your family likes to eat. Set aside 30 minutes to plan for the next week.
  • Make a list of the main dish and the side dishes that you will serve for each day of the week. Select recipes that have few ingredients and that use quick cooking techniques.
  • Post the menu on the refrigerator.
  • Get input from your family members. Use your list of everyone’s favorite foods, including main dishes, salads, vegetables, fruits, and desserts.
  • Look in cookbooks, newspapers, Web sites, or magazines for quick main dish and side dish ideas. Add them to the list. File recipes in a file, box, or loose-leaf notebook.


  • Shop regularly, whether once a week or once a month. This saves time, gas, and money.
  • In-season fruits and vegetables are less expensive and taste better.
  • Visit local farmer’s markets or farm stands for lower prices and better quality.
  • Stick to the list. You are less likely to overspend and less likely to forget ingredients you may need for your week’s menus.
  • Don’t shop hungry. Eat a snack, or go shopping after eating a meal.
  • Get the kids involved by letting them choose a new fruit or vegetable that they’d like to try or an old favorite.

Fix salad-istock-TaylorLittle[1]

  • Stick to your plan.
  • Wash and prepare fruits and vegetables in advance.
  • Make extra of a main dish for another meal.
  • Add a favorite canned or frozen fruit or vegetable to any main meal.
  • Check your meal plan each evening, and take out frozen meats the night before. Place them in a dish in the refrigerator to thaw safely for the next day’s dinner.
  • Get the kids involved. Fixing meals can be fun for the whole family. Children are more likely to try new foods if they help get them to the table. Safety comes first. Encourage good hand-washing.


  • Eat together: Make eating together a family priority. Mealtime is a great opportunity for parents and kids to be together. Remember that kids often take more time to eat than adults do. Take your time through dinner, and enjoy the extra few minutes sitting at the table before cleaning up.
  • Turn off the TV: Turn off the television, radio, cell phone, and beeper so everyone can focus on the conversation without distraction. Let the answering machine pick up calls, or turn off the phone ringer to avoid dinner interruptions.
  • Share events of the day: Ask each person at the table to talk about a fun activity or something good that happened that day. It is a wonderful time to catch up on special school events or achievements of the kids in your family.
  • Make healthy choices: It is easier to make healthy choices when meals are prepared at home and families sit at the table together to share that meal. It is a good time to talk about and model healthy eating, portion sizes, and trying new foods.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids: An Essential Contribution

24 Feb

Our body must get the Omega-3 fatty acids from food. Foods high in Omega-3 include fish, vegetable oils, nuts (especially walnuts), flax seeds, flaxseed oil, and leafy vegetables.

Omega-3 fats are special because they provide the starting point for making hormones that regulate blood clotting, contraction and relaxation of artery walls, and inflammation. Omega-3 fats have been shown to help prevent heart disease and stroke, may help control lupus, eczema, and rheumatoid arthritis, and may play protective roles in cancer and other conditions.

Omega-3 fats are a key family of polyunsaturated fats. There are three main omega-3s:

  • (EPA) and (DHA) come mainly from fish, so they are sometimes called marine omega-3s.
  • (ALA), the most common omega-3 fatty acid in most Western diets, is found in vegetable oils and nuts (especially walnuts), flax seeds and flaxseed oil, leafy vegetables, and some animal fat, especially in grass-fed animals.

The human body generally uses ALA for energy, and conversion into EPA and DHA is very limited. So you really need to eat fish to obtain the healthy benefits of the marine omega-3.  teriyaki-salmon-hl-523893-x[1]

Due to the benefits of marine omega-3 fatty acids, it is important to eat fish or other seafood one to two times per week, particularly fatty (dark meat) fish that are richer in EPA and DHA. This is especially important for women who are pregnant or hoping to become pregnant and nursing mothers. From the third trimester until the second year of life, a developing child needs a steady supply of DHA to form the brain and other parts of the nervous system. Many women shy away from eating fish because of concerns that mercury and other possible contaminants might harm their babies, yet the evidence for harm from lack of omega-3 fats is far more consistent, and a balance of benefit vs. risk is easily obtained.

Teriyaki Salmon with Zucchini


Low-sodium teriyaki sauce

2 (6-ounce) salmon fillets

Sesame seeds

2 small zucchini, thinly sliced

4 scallions, chopped

Canola oil


Combine 5 tablespoons teriyaki sauce and fish in a zip-top plastic bag. Seal and marinate 20 minutes. Toast sesame seeds in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, and set aside. Drain fish, discarding marinade. Add fish to skillet, and cook 5 minutes. Turn and cook for 5 more minutes over medium-low heat. Remove from skillet, and keep warm. Add the zucchini, scallions, and 2 teaspoons oil to skillet. Sauté 4 minutes, or until lightly browned. Stir in 2 tablespoons teriyaki sauce. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, and serve.

Yield: Serves 2 (serving size: 1 salmon fillet and about 1 cup zucchini)

Calories per serving: 376, Fat per serving: 16g, Saturated fat per serving: 3g, Monounsaturated fat per serving: 6g, Polyunsaturated fat per serving: 7g, Protein per serving: 40g, Carbohydrates per serving: 11g, Fiber per serving: 3g, Cholesterol per serving: 87mg, Iron per serving: 5mg

Sodium per serving: 375mg, Calcium per serving: 53mg

Recipe from

Spices Galore for the Holidays, read to the end for a special surprise

20 Dec

Spices_in_an_Indian_marketspices 2

During a recent class with senior adults I had the opportunity to ask them about one behavior they changed  related to their nutrition practices in 2014. After much of a discussion, the very bubbly Maria, remember one! Yes, she said, “I remember what you said about using garlic powder instead of garlic salt.” And why is that? , I asked. Well “We all know that we need to reduce the amount of salt we consume every day, especially those who like me have high blood pressure and diabetes”. She continued to say: “You know that we know what to do, but it is hard, but now when I go to the store I prefer the garlic or onion powder instead of the salt versions”. The rest of the group started to make comments about the class we had earlier about cutting the salt….. I was very please to noticed what  they learned about sodium and that they were willing to make changes.

During the Holidays we will prepare all of our favorite recipes and some of them will call for salt. Try to reduce the amount you use by a 1/4 or a 1/2 There are many spices we can use instead, for food preparation. Some examples include the following: allspice for tomatoes, cayenne for vegetables, cloves for winter squash and holiday drinks, ginger for poultry, basil for vegetables and pasta salad, oregano for pork, rosemary for cauliflower and tarragon for potatoes. Which one is your favorite?

A couple of hints should be considered. If you are trying new spices to prepare your recipes make few changes until you discover if you like the taste. Buy a few, especially because they tend to be expensive. Consider a  visit your local dollar store where you can find a good variety at a good price.  Keep your spices in a dry place and try to use them within a year. They will  also last longer  if you store them inside the freezer. Prepare your stews, soups, salads and sauces a day ahead so the flavors can blend. Since we are about too celebrate the holidays I have a little treat for our readers. If you post  a comment on our blog  mentioning which one is your favorite spice and how you use it, you will be enter in a drawing of a set of spices, courtesy of bilingualopinions! Let’s the spices flow and happy cooking!!!

Keep it hot or keep it cold!

9 Nov

bolsa caliente y fria

For many this is the favorite time of the year. The leaves are changing, and for the most part the weather is gorgeous. Also is that time of the year when we go to festivals, family events and celebrations. There are not meaningful celebrations without food! We are probably getting ready to cook for a big crowd and even thinking about sending food to relatives and friends who live far away from us.
One of the most common requests for information we received at the Extension office is related to food handling and preparation. We would like to review very important tips in order to keep our food safe and prevent getting sick during the holidays.
• Cooked food can last in the refrigerator for about four days. If you are planning to use it longer than that you should freeze it.
• The best way to freeze our food is to store it in shallow airtight containers, use the food within three to four months.
• If you thaw meat or poultry in the refrigerator you can re-freeze it. The quality might decrease, but it will be safe to eat.
• If you are buying any foods over the mail, make sure that is sent to you following the appropriate recommendations. The most important one is to keep the food out of the danger zone: between 40F and 140F. If is cold keep it lower than 40 degrees and if is hot it should be kept higher than 140F.
• When you keep your food hot for too long, it might get dry. It is better to refrigerate it and reheat it when is time to serve it. If you are preparing a delicious stuffed turkey and the guests don’t get to your house on time, it is better to remove the stuffing and refrigerate it until is dinner time.
• Do not leave food at room temperature for more than two hours, if the temperature is above 90 then put the food away at one hour.
Enjoy the holiday season and don’t forget to handle your food safely. For more information contact your Extension office at 404-298-4080.

Children as decision makers

10 Jun


The United States is facing an obesity epidemic. In Georgia alone, 70% of adults, and 40% of children are obese. In general, obese people die 20 years earlier than those who are not. The messages have been everywhere, establishing that we all need to begin taking better care of ourselves and our loved ones. Sometimes, it may feel like this epidemic is refusing to loosen its grip on our society. Recently Danielle Comer, a student intern from Georgia Southern University, working at our Extension office in DeKalb County attended a conference with the Department of Human Development and Family Sciences, at The University of Georgia. The conference entitled “Family and Community as Pathways for Health: Obesity Prevention and Intervention Strategies”, allowed several well renown speakers to present the most recent approaches to tackle the obesity problem. Dr. Jerry Gale, a professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Sciences, desired for the conference to encourage people to take immediate action.

Danielle reported back to us with great enthusiasm about her experiences at the conference. A summary of the presentations include the emphasis speakers made about the importance of good nutrition and physical activity as ways to fight obesity. If you have children, it is a great idea to involve them in meal planning by giving them several options. When parents buy healthy options they can give the children healthy options to choose from. They will not need to worry about the whole process and the children still have a say in what the family will eat; and the parents know that it will be nutritious. Using the “” website can help with finding healthy selections and portions.

Later in the conference, Dr. Diane Bale, a professor of Human Development, Extension specialist in early childhood care and education, and co-creator of the Eat Healthy, Be Active initiative, spoke about activity and staying active, with a focus on children. She reminded the audience that children are naturally active and should be encouraged to stay active, in order to prevent obesity. Being active does not necessarily mean “exercising.” She admits that sometimes when children are told to exercise they do not always seem to be engaged and view exercise as a chore. Instead, she recommends playing in ways that keep children moving. Activity can and should be made fun, to avoid discouragement and negative mindsets about movement.

So let’s take action! Eat right, Move and Play.

Time is running out …..get your health coverage before March 31!

20 Jan



       When a new year starts, many of us will make plans to complete many goals related to our life, health and well-being. Having appropriate health insurance is  important when we consider the resources we have  to pay for healthcare services. The Marketplace is the available tool we can use to determine the options we have to pay for health coverage.(

With the new healthcare law, it is important that every individual and every family makes a definite decision before March 31 of 2014, about the status of their healthcare coverage. March 31 marks the end of the open enrollment period. After March 31, you could only apply if an specific situation occurs in your life like marriage, divorce, and changes in your income, among others.  When you visit the Marketplace you can review plans, rates and receive information about low cost coverage that might be available for you.

 If you are employed and you are satisfied with your health plan you can keep it, or you can review your options at the Marketplace to determine if the plans you are eligible for are a better fit for your own situation. It is important to remember that if you don’t have coverage during 2014 you may have to pay a fee. On the other hand if you have Medicare you are already covered and don’t need to make any changes.

There are several organizations providing assistance to the public for this process and the University of Georgia is one of those. We have a group of health navigators who can assist you with the process and are able to offer you valid information you will need to complete your application when needed. We invite you to contact the navigators at or to call the UGA Navigators helpline at 1-877-7Navigate (1-877-762-8442).

Sodium Reduction

11 Jan

I know that thereimages[2] are several good reasons to reduce the amount of sodium I consume, including protection from high blood pressure, reducing headaches and occasional dizziness, and avoiding the bloated feeling that comes from fluid retention. Still, when I learned that the recommended maximum consumption per day per person is 2,300 milligrams, and then found out that the average daily intake per person of sodium in the U.S. is nearly 5,000 milligrams per day, I was amazed!

Where does all this sodium come from? It turns out it’s not all from the salt shaker at the dinner table.  About a quarter of the sodium we consume comes from sprinkling salt on food, from condiments such as ketchup, and from natural sources. The majority of our sodium consumption, however, comes from processed foods. The list of significant sodium sources includes fast foods, canned and frozen vegetables, canned and dried soups, frozen convenience foods, canned tuna, cured meats such as bacon and ham, and chips and other salty snacks. Sodium is even found in ready-to-eat breakfast cereals—it turns out that we may be consuming sodium without even tasting its presence!

Many of the foods on that list are a part of my every day diet—and probably part of yours, too. In 2014, I’m going to reimagesCAL4QSDGduce the amount of sodium I consume. I will eat more fresh and unprocessed food, start making my own soups, and commit to eating more veggies.

Yes, I know this means I’ll be spending a little more time in the kitchen, but considering the health benefits for myself and my family, I think it’s worth it. I’m also going to break the habit of adding salt to my food at the dinner table. To make sure that food still tastes delicious, I plan to use more herb seasoning and other salt substitutes–that way I won’t miss the salt shaker so much. At the grocery store, I’m going to take the time to read the nutrition labels, looking out for foods that contain less than 500mg per serving and trying out low sodium alternatives to the products I usually buy.

By the end of this year, I expect that I will have very much reduced my daily consumption of sodium, and helped my family to do so, too. It might be a little difficult at first, but I know that we’ll all feel a little better for it!

Extension reaches out to the Burmese population

12 Dec


Jessica Hill demonstrate different spices participants can use instead of salt, to prepare healthier meals.

DeKalb County is the third most populated county in the state of Georgia. County officials usually highlight the fact that DeKalb has been recognized as one of Georgia’s most culturally diverse communities. More than 64 languages representing Asian, Hispanic, European, and African cultures are spoken. The county has also become a shelter for Asian, African, Iraqi and Latino people who seek asylum due to difficult circumstances in their home countries.
DeKalb County recently delivered a cancer prevention class to a group of Burmese women and children in collaboration with the county’s Women’s Refugee Center. The class, presented with the assistance of an interpreter, provided a great opportunity to educate these new comers and expose them to Extension and the University of Georgia. Funded in part by the American Cancer Society, this class provides crucial information to participants about the importance of early detection, screening activities, and nutrition practices in the prevention of cancer. The group enjoyed tasting new recipes that were low in fat and rich in fiber and nutrients. This class is offered to the community at no cost. For more information, please contact your local Extension office. In DeKalb County, call 404-298-4080 and in Gwinnett County, call 678-377-4014.