Ingredient of the Month Archives


November 2016 - Cranberries

Cranberries are a group of evergreen dwarf shrubs or trailing vines. They are low, creeping shrubs or vines up to 7 feet long and 2 to 8 inches in height. They have slender, wiry stems that are not thickly woody and have small evergreen leaves. The flowers that bloom from these plants are dark pink, with very distinct reflexed petals, leaving the style and stamens exposed and pointing forward. Cranberry shrubs and vines are pollinated by bees. Complete the quiz on to earn one hour of continuing-education credits toward ACF certification.

October 2016 - Cheese

Cheese is a food product that is created from milk that is produced in a wide array of flavors and textures by the thickening of the milk protein casein, which is a protein precipitated from milk, and forms the basis of cheese. It comprises proteins and fat from cows’ milk predominantly, but other types of milk are used as well, such as buffalo, goat or sheep’s milk. During production, milk is acidified and an enzyme called rennet is added to cause coagulation. Complete the quiz on to earn one hour of continuing-education credits toward ACF certification.

September 2016 - Coconuts

Coconuts are technically considered a drupe, or a fruit with a central stone surrounded by a husk. Depending on the variety, the husk turns from green, red or yellow to brown as the coconut ripens. The coconut flesh is covered by a hairy hard brown shell. The hollow part inside the shell is filled with coconut water. The sweet-tasting coconut flesh goes from juicy and tender to slightly tough and fibrous as the fruit ripens. Young coconut water is refreshing and sweet with a slightly acidic taste. Coconut is available year-round with a peak season from October to December. Complete the quiz on to earn one hour of continuing-education credits toward ACF certification.

August 2016 - Blackberries

Blackberries are typically a dark shade of purple and have a sweet, slightly tart and earthy flavor. Depending on the variety, they come in oval, round and elongated shapes. Blackberries can be enjoyed raw or cooked and are in season in the summer. Complete the quiz on to earn one hour of continuing-education credits toward ACF certification.

July 2016 - Prickly Pear

Prickly pear is an oval-shaped fruit that ranges in skin color from yellow to purple. It has soft, spongy flesh that can be found in many different colors—white, green, yellow, red or purple—with edible black seeds. It has a sweet flavor similar to a blend of tropical fruits and is considered a superfruit. Complete the quiz on to earn one hour of continuing-education credits toward ACF certification.

June 2016 - Asparagus

Asparagus is a nutrient-dense vegetable that comes from the early shoot of a plant in the lily family. The spears are commonly 6–8 inches tall and range in diameter from pencil-thin to jumbo-thick, depending on variety. They have a succulent taste and tender texture, and come in green and purple varieties. Complete the quiz on to earn one hour of continuing-education credits toward ACF certification.

May 2016 - Dill

Full of vitamins, minerals and other health-promoting nutrients, dill is an aromatic herb that belongs to the carrot family. Dill leaves have a delicate grassy flavor, while dill seeds have a stronger, slightly bitter flavor. Enhance the flavor of your dishes by adding dill to sauces, potato salads and fish. Complete the quiz on to earn one hour of continuing-education credits toward ACF certification.

April 2016 - Dragon Fruit

High in antioxidants, dragon fruit is considered a super fruit with vitamins and minerals that keep the body healthy and protect against aging, cancer and disease. The juicy red or white flesh has a mildly sweet flavor and is full of crunchy, edible seeds. Add dragon fruit to fish or shrimp tacos for a healthy, refreshing dish. Complete the quiz on to earn one hour of continuing-education credits toward ACF certification.

March 2016 - Pecans

Did you know that pecans are technically considered a drupe? The pecan fruit has a green, fleshy outer husks that splits into four sections to reveal a single large seed, or “nut.” They are heart healthy and full of healthy nutrients. Complete the quiz on to earn one hour of continuing-education credits toward ACF certification.

February 2016 - Black Rice

Black rice, also known as forbidden rice, is similar to brown rice and has a chewy texture with a rich, earthy and nutty flavor. It is considered a superfood and contains one of the highest levels of the antioxidant found in food. Complete the quiz on to earn one hour of continuing-education credits toward ACF certification.

January 2016 - Adzuki Beans

Adzuki beans are not well-known in the U.S. market, but they are gaining popularity as an easily digestible bean full of healthy nutrients. The small red/brown beans have a sweet, nutty flavor and can be used as a dry bean, fresh in the pod or as a crunchy sprout. Complete the quiz on to earn one hour of continuing-education credits toward ACF certification.


December 2015 - Rutabaga

Rutabagas are thought to be a cross between a wild cabbage and a turnip. They are larger, rounder and denser than turnips and have crisp, juicy flesh with a sweet, slightly bitter flavor. Rutabagas offer a range of nutritional benefits and are a great addition to soups, stews and casseroles. Learn more, including a tasty recipe for Cider Braised Pot Roast with Maple Baked Root Vegetables.

November 2015 - Eggs

We may never know which came first—the chicken or the egg. But we do know that the egg is a versatile and nutritious ingredient that can be incorporated into dishes or prepared on its own. It is a good protein source and contain several vitamins and minerals for optimal health. Learn more, including a delicious recipe for Greek egg soup and Mexican frittatas.

October 2015 - Honey

Sweet and silky, honey is nutritious alternative to sugar for adding sweetness to dishes. It comes in a variety of colors, but the darker the color, the more intense the flavor. Raw honey contains a small amounts of particles with antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties to keep the body healthy. Learn more and try different recipes, including Honey Citrus Salad and Lentil Panna Cotta.

September 2015 - Salmon

Salmon is a fatty fish with a strong, rich flavor, however, farm-raised salmon doesn’t have the same intense flavor as wild-caught salmon. It is an excellent source of selenium and protein, as well as omega-3 fatty acids. Learn more, including a recipe for Pink Salmon Shepherd’s Pie and Grilled Salmon on a Citrus Pistachio Couscous Salad.

July 2015 - Eggplant

Although used as a vegetable in the kitchen, eggplant is botanically classified as a berry. While raw eggplant can taste bitter, when cooked, it becomes tender and sweet with a meaty, spongy quality. Low in saturated fat and cholesterol, eggplant contains vitamins and minerals to improve overall health and enhance resistance to various diseases. Learn more, including a delicious recipe for Eggplant Fiesta Ragout.

June 2015 - Parsley

Parsley is more than just a decorative garnish. It adds a slightly peppery, fresh taste to dishes and is packed with many healthful nutrients. Curly-leaf is bitterer and Italian, or flat-leaf, is slightly sweeter and more pungent. Learn more, including a tasty recipe for Parmesan Malfatti.

May 2015 - Lamb

Lamb is a flavorful and nutrient-rich protein that can be used much like beef in most recipes. It is an excellent source of protein and has a lower total fat content compared to other meats. Lamb is quite common in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine, and is gaining popularity in the U.S. Learn more, including a tasty recipe for American Lamb Tacos with Mango/Jicama Slaw.

April 2015 - Ricotta Cheese

Used in both sweet and savory dishes, ricotta cheese is high in health-promoting vitamins and minerals, such as calcium to support bone health and zinc for a healthy immune system. Italian ricottas typically come from sheep’s milk, but can also be made from cow’s, goat’s or Italian water buffalo’s milk. American ricottas are commonly made with a combination of whey and whole or skim milk, which produces a wetter, creamier ricotta than Italian versions. Learn more, including recipes for Italian Pear Cheesecake and Crab Spinach Mousse.

March 2015 - Common Mushrooms

Common mushrooms have a meaty texture with an earthy flavor that intensifies as they mature. Low in fat and cholesterol, they contain nutrients that act as antioxidants and anti-inflammatories and are a good source of energy-producing vitamins and mineral. Learn more, including recipes for Mashed Potato-Stuffed Mushrooms and Middle Eastern Meatballs.

February 2015 - Millet

Millet is a gluten-free, nutrient rich grain packed with vitamins and minerals for optimal health. It has a slightly nutty flavor with a crunchy texture similar to brown rice. Blend cooked millet into a creamy mixture for a healthy alternative to mashed potatoes. Learn more, including a tasty recipe for a Super Salad with with Yuzu Soy Dressing.

January 2015 - Cabbage

Low in saturated fat and cholesterol, cabbage contains an abundance of vitamin K for bone health, as well as high amounts of vitamin C for immune health. Add chopped cabbage to lasagna, shepherd’s pie and other casserole dishes for a sweet, earthy flavor. Learn more, including a delicious recipe for Chop Chae.


December 2014 - Hazelnuts

Also known as cobnuts or filberts, hazelnuts have a firm, crunchy texture and a sweet, buttery flavor profile. They may be small, but they are full of vitamins, minerals and healthy fats that support heart, bone and skin health. Include ground hazelnuts in stuffing and breads and sprinkle over vegetables for a subtle nutty flavor. Learn more, including a tasty recipe for Grecian Pasta. Provided in partnership with Oregon Hazelnut Industry Office,

November 2014 - Sweet Potato

Sweet potatoes are grouped into two categories based on texture when cooked. The pale sweet potato has light-colored beige skin with light-yellow flesh and has a firm, dry and crumbly texture that is not as sweet. The darker sweet potato has thicker skin with dark-orange to purple flesh and has a sweeter, softer and moister texture. Fat-free and cholesterol-free, sweet potatoes are packed with antioxidant-rich vitamins and minerals, as well as dietary fiber, for optimal health. Learn more, including a recipe for Gingered Sweet Potato-Pork Satay.

October 2014 - Carambola (Star Fruit)

Low in fat, sugar and calories and high in antioxidants, the carambola is considered a superfruit packed with flavonoids and vitamin C. The whole fruit is edible, including skin and seeds, and has a sweet flavor with a tangy undertone. Available year-round, the main season for carambola is late summer to midwinter. Learn more, including a recipe for Creamy Starfruit-Kale Smoothie.

September 2014 - Sweet Peppers

Sweet peppers have crispy, juicy flesh with a mild, sweet flavor. They contain trace amounts of capsaicin, the substance that controls spice or heat in peppers, making them not as overpowering as chile peppers. Sweet peppers are considered a super food with a range of health-promoting nutrients. One bell pepper has twice as much vitamin C as an orange. Snack on them with a healthy dip or add them to salads for a burst of colorful nutrition. Learn more, including a tasty recipe for Curried Caribbean Rice Pilaf.

August 2014 - Chives

Chives, an herb that grows in clusters, has long green, hollow stems with pale purple flowers. The stems have an onion flavor that can range from mildly sweet to pungent. Chive blossoms are flavorful and aromatic with a delicate onion taste. Learn more, including a tasty and delicious recipe for German Potato Salad.

July 2014 - Zucchini

Zucchini grows on a small bush and has dark-green skin with creamy white flesh and soft seeds. It should be eaten in its entirety to enjoy the nutritional benefits. Zucchini is an excellent source of manganese and vitamin K, which promote strong bones, and of vitamin C, which boosts the immune system. It contains additional vitamins and minerals to promote healthy vision, help cognitive function and control blood pressure. Learn more, including a recipe for Zucchini Muffins and Squashy Chili.

June 2014 - Kiwifruit

The most common kiwi variety has fuzzy dull-brown skin, bright-green flesh and a tangy sweet flavor. There is also a golden variety with smooth skin that is milder in flavor and softer in texture than the green kiwi. Although not typically consumed, the skin is edible in both varieties. Kiwi is considered a super fruit with a range of health-promoting nutrients. Learn more, including a recipe for California Kiwi Sandwich and Kiwi Vegetable Medley.

May 2014 - Chocolate

Dark chocolate, when eaten in moderation, is beneficial to health and contains nutrients that release energy and improve brain function. It is made from the seeds of the cacao tree and goes through a long process to become chocolate. In store-bought chocolates, chocolate liquor should be the first ingredient to be most favorable to health. Learn more, including a recipe for delicious, gluten-free chocolate-kissed cupcakes.

April 2014 - Gingerroot

Gingerroot is a rhizome, or underground stem, of the ginger plant. It is botanically considered a vegetable but is often used as a spice in the culinary world. With a peppery and slightly sweet flavor and spicy, pungent aroma, gingerroot is used to treat a wide range of health problems from the common cold to nausea to arthritis. Learn more, including a tasty recipe for Crunchy Hawaiian Chicken Wrap.

March 2014 - Pineapple

Available year-round, pineapple is a tropical fruit native to South America with a tough, waxy rind and juicy, sweet flesh. Each plant produces only one fruit per year, and one fruit takes two to three years to develop. Pineapple is rich in immune-supporting vitamin C and contains high amounts of bromelain, an enzyme with digestive-aiding and anti-inflammatory properties. Learn more about pineapple, including recipes and tools to create awareness about developing a healthy lifestyle.

February 2014 - Carrots

Carrots have a crunchy texture with a sweet aromatic taste and can be paired with sweet and savory dishes. One serving of carrots contains over 300 percent of the daily requirement of vitamin A, which is essential for healthy eyes, bones and teeth. Use these “Farm-to-Fit” tools in community events to create awareness about developing a healthy lifestyle.

January 2014 - Cinnamon

The sweet and warm taste of cinnamon makes it the perfect spice to use during the cold winter months. Smelling cinnamon stimulates brain activity and eating it helps reduce inflammation in the body. Cassia cinnamon has a spicy-bitter flavor and has high levels of coumarin, a toxin that may cause kidney and liver failure. Ceylon cinnamon has a mild sweet taste and has only trace amounts of coumarin. Find out more, including a healthy recipe for tasty Oatmeal Cookies and Cinnamon-Poached Chicken and Rice.


December 2013 - Apples

Low in calories and free of fat, sodium and cholesterol, apples are a versatile fruit that can be used in both sweet and savory dishes. Apples are grown in almost every state making the United States the world’s second-leading producer after China. Find out more about different varieties and uses, as well as a healthy recipe for Apple Pie Smoothie and Hot Apple Flapjacks.

November 2013 - Cranberries

Cranberries are small, nutritional powerhouses high in antioxidants that help protect against tooth decay, urinary tract infections and inflammatory diseases. They can easily be added to a variety of dishes for an extra boost of nutrition. Use these “Farm to Fit” tools in community events to create awareness about developing a healthy lifestyle.

October 2013 - Winter Squash

Grown during the summer, winter squash is harvested in fall and winter. There are many varieties, from acorn to pumpkin to spaghetti squash, with a tough, inedible skin and sweet, rich flesh. These “Farm-to-Fit” tools encourage children to develop a healthy lifestyle by reinforcing the idea from the classroom to hands-on chef activities to the playground.

September 2013 - Peas

Peas are one of the most nutritious legumes, rich in vitamins and minerals, and high in protein in fiber. Use these tools to educate children about peas in a fun and engaging way. Share the classroom toolkit with teachers to integrate peas into the lesson plan.

August 2013 - Okra

Okra, also known as lady’s fingers, is a vegetable high fiber and is also a good source of potassium and vitamins A and C. It is often used as a thickener in vegetable soups and gumbo and can also be sliced and oven-roasted for crunchy okra fries.

July 2013 - Blueberries

Although miniature in size, blueberries add flavor and health benefits to a variety of dishes. Juicy and sweet, they are high in antioxidants that help protect against cancer, heart disease and other age-related diseases. Fresh blueberries are available year-round, but they can also be enjoyed frozen, canned and dried.

June 2013 - Swiss Chard

Swiss chard is a leafy vegetable with an earthy, slightly tangy flavor, much like beets or strongly flavored spinach. It is most often cooked like other greens and can be eaten plain or mixed in main dishes such as pastas, quiches or warm salads. Swiss chard is available year-round and is high in nutrients.

May 2013 - Mango

Mangoes are considered sacred in India, its country of origin, and legend says that Buddha meditated under the cool shade of a mango tree. The fragrant golden-yellow flesh of a mango is soft and juicy with a sugary rich, slightly tart flavor. It can be eaten plain, but is also a great addition to fruit salads, smoothies, and salsas.

April 2013 - Rhubarb

Is it a fruit or a vegetable? While technically a member of the vegetable family, rhubarb is commonly mistaken to be a fruit through its association with desserts. Learn more about the health benefits and culinary uses of rhubarb in this month’s article. Use these new tools to educate kids about rhubarb in a fun and engaging way.

March 2013 - Artichokes

The artichoke plant was known by the Greeks and Romans as a delicacy, as well as an aphrodisiac. While they are harvested on the West Coast all year long, peak seasons are March and October. They are high in fiber, contain no dietary fat and are a good source of potassium, vitamin C and magnesium.

February 2013 - Goat Cheese

Goat cheese generally has less fat and fewer calories than cheese made from cow’s milk. It can be unripened or ripened, with textures that range from moist and soft to dry and semi-firm. Find out more in this month’s article. Full Article

January 2013 - Tempeh

Tempeh is a soy-based protein food and is considered the “meatiest” of soy proteins. It is made from the whole soybean and therefore has a greater content of protein, fiber and vitamins than most soy products. Find out more about its varieties and uses, as well as a recipe for Barbeque Tempeh Pizza. Full Article