COLUMNISTS

Prairie Fare: Celebrating 25 years of Prairie Fare with a prize drawing

Julie Garden-Robinson
North Dakota State University Extension
Julie Garden-Robinson, North Dakota State University (NDSU) Extension food and nutrition specialist and professor of health, nutrition and exercise sciences.

What were you doing in 1997? Some of you may not have been born yet. Others may remember the year well.

In 1997, Bill Clinton was the president. The cost of a postage stamp was 32 cents.

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 among the notable people who died.

Of course, many other events occurred in 1997. In North Dakota, we fought record flooding that year. We all built new “sandbagging muscles” as we gathered by the Red River. Automated sandbag-filling units were developed later.

On a personal note, my son was just two years old. In the next eight years, we would welcome two daughters.

Also in 1997, I began writing this “Prairie Fare” column.

“Writing a weekly column is a grind,” the editors warned.

I was perplexed. They were the ones who suggested that I write a column. I guess they were being realistic.

“I’ll give it a couple months and see if any paper runs the column,” I said. 

For the first couple of years, I was the co-author with an editor who had a background as a chef. Back then, the final edited columns were sent as printed copies through campus mail, not as emails.

My writing colleague left the university, and I was at a crossroads. I kept on writing the column solo. This week’s column is number 1,300.

I am throwing myself a little party. Unfortunately, I am the only guest at my party because I have a column to write.

I have potential gifts for you readers for inspiring my ongoing effort. Without readers, a column ceases to exist.

I am happy to report that at least 50 papers (online and print) have published this weekly column throughout the Midwest and in Canada.

Prairie Fare has been delivering weekly food and nutrition stories and information to readers for 25 years.

Here’s the gift opportunity. Our latest edition of a printed 2023 calendar is ready. I plan to give away at least 25 copies based on a random drawing by Nov. 25. This colorful calendar includes recipes, tips and information to explore. My student interns helped create the calendar, and I am proud of their efforts.

To enter the drawing, visit bit.ly/PrairieFare-drawing and answer the questions. I will not use your information for anything other than the random drawing. If the link does not work for you, please email me at julie.garden-robinson@ndsu.edu with “Calendar Drawing” as the subject. Please provide a topic of interest and your complete mailing address for a chance to win a free 2023 calendar.

This is a food and nutrition column, after all, so here are four tips for planning a healthy celebration.

  1. Try to incorporate three or more food groups into celebration menus.
    1. Provide a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables.
    2. Provide whole-grain options, such as whole-grain crackers or popcorn.
    3. Include a dairy food or other calcium source, such as mozzarella cheese cubes or yogurt parfaits.
    4. Include a variety of protein options, from lean meats to beans and other pulse foods in dips and appetizers.
  2. Be creative with your food displays. “Charcuterie” boards were not well-known 25 years ago, but people enjoy the artful arrangements of cheese, meat, nuts, fruits, vegetables, breads and crackers.
  3. As you prepare your celebration recipes, consider making healthful swaps. For example, nonfat yogurt can be swapped for sour cream or mayonnaise in dips. About half of the white flour in many recipes can be swapped with whole wheat flour. About half of the oil and other fat in some baked goods can be swapped with apple sauce.
  4. Don’t forget to include options for people with special dietary needs, such as gluten intolerance, lactose intolerance and allergies to nuts. For more information about food allergens, visit the NDSU Extension website at ndsu.ag/food-allergens.

I bet you are expecting cake for this celebration. I’m providing a chocolatey dessert dip to enjoy. The 2023 calendar has a fudgy black-bean brownie recipe, by the way. Any food can fit, in moderation, in a healthful diet. 

Chocolate Dessert Hummus

  • 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons water
  • Foods for dipping (fresh fruit such as strawberries, graham crackers, vanilla wafers)

Drain and rinse chickpeas, and place in a food processor. Place all other ingredients into the same food processor and puree until a smooth texture is visible. If needed, add additional honey one tablespoon at a time until desired sweetness level is met. Serve with fruit such as strawberries, graham crackers.

Makes 11 (2-tablespoon) servings. Each serving has 70 calories, 0.5 grams of fat, 14 grams of carbohydrate, 2 grams of fiber and 105 milligrams of sodium.

Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., R.D., L.R.D., is a North Dakota State University Extension food and nutrition specialist and professor in the Department of Health, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences. Follow her on Twitter @jgardenrobinson.