Celebrate the summer bounty of Ohio local foods

These resources are shared as part of a 2019 Your Plan 4 Health webinar  presented by OSU Extension Educators, Melissa J. Rupp and Patrice Powers-Barker. Melissa works in the Fulton County office and Patrice works in the Lucas County office. Need to connect with your local Ohio State University Extension office?  Here’s the list for each county.

tabletop of fresh summer vegetables

Resources shared in the webinar:

Recipe ideas for seasonal, local produce (mentioned in webinar):

The following sites have recipes that are user-friendly for all ages:

Utah State University Extension asks, ” Have you ever wanted to be a person who could walk into the kitchen, look in the pantry and refrigerator, and create a delicious meal out of what you have on hand?” They share a “create” series such as: Create an Omelet, Create a Sandwich or Wrap or Create a Pizza. Check out all their suggestions.

Planting A Fall Vegetable Garden

Planning to plant a fall vegetable garden is a great way to extend the growing season and enjoy some cool weather crops after the heat of the summer fades away. Some vegetables love cooler weather!

It’s important to know about the average number of days to harvest for each crop,  the cold temperature tolerance of vegetables and the average anticipated date of the first frost in your area (around October 15th for Northwest Ohio)

The following resources are from neighboring states and share information about fall vegetable gardens:

For gardening in any season, it’s always helpful to start with a soil test. The University of Massachuttes has directions, order form and information about doing a home vegetable garden soil test (you can opt to do soil tests for other areas also). Click here to go to their website.

If you have any questions about your soil test, vegetables in the garden or other questions related to horticulture, please call the Horticulture Hotline at 419-578-6783 on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 am – 1 pm. Questions can also be emailed to lucascountymastergardener@gmail.com

Ohio Local Foods and “Dining In” on FCS Day, 2018

Welcome supporters of Ohio local foods and families eating together.

This page is designed as a starting point for information for OSU Extension to promote both Dining In Day on December 3rd and Ohio Local Foods. A few of these resources are dated from previous years but the content that is useful for 2018 is noted on this page.

OSU Extension Local Foods Signature Program (retired)

Because the program is retired, there is some dated information on the website but it also has lots of great resources for current projects. The following links are all part of the Local Foods website but this will highlight how they might be useful in 2018.

Adding A Youth Flavor to Extension’s Signature Programs

The 4 lessons on local foods were designed by 4-H youth as a resource for other older 4-H members to facilitate learning activities with their clubs and communities. This is also helpful for OSU Extension staff as an introduction to the topic of local foods. The introduction to this set of 4 lessons includes a few Frequently Asked Questions about Local Foods.

Description of Local Foods Week (note, this is from August 2017)  “Even during wintertime, Ohio local food is available, whether it is fresh produce grown with season extenders or crops that can be held for long periods of time in cold/cool storage as well as baked, canned, frozen and dried foods”.

How do you identify and find local foods? Ohio Local Food Directories  

Please note that all the links might not be up to date but there should be some good leads. “Just like there is no one definition for “local,” there is no one best way to search out local foods. Local foods are available for purchase at businesses like grocery stores and restaurants or purchased directly from growers at farmers’ markets, auctions, farm stands or CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture). This summary of online local food directories is not an exhaustive list but it is a starting point for Ohio consumers to locate favorite local foods. No endorsement is intended for products listed, nor is criticism meant for products not listed.  This summary lists the titles of the online directories in alphabetical order.”

Farm to Health Resources

Includes Farm to Health Series Cards with a focus on different Ohio produce with information and a recipe (note: carrots includes Carrots, Winter Squash and Sweet Potatoes, all crops that could be sourced locally during the wintertime). In addition, check out the Placemats on local foods that can be printed for the family table. All of the placemats focus on local foods but the one titled “Seasonality” shows a calendar of all 12 months and some foods that are local and available during that time of year. This might be useful for a December event like Dine In Day.

2015 Dine In Blog Post on Live Smart Ohio (and short background on Ellen Swallow Richards)

“Thank you Ellen Swallow Richards: You have reminded our modern families that science is valuable, history is fascinating and family wellness is meaningful.”

 2018 Dine In and Local Foods Questions

  • What foods are local to your area? Remember, there is no one definition for “local” in regards to food. What food connections are in your community, whether it’s directly in your county or state or region?
  • Who are potential community partners in relation to local foods and “Dining In” on Family and Consumer Sciences Day? Local farmers market? Stores that sell local foods? Emergency food pantries that are helping families put meals on the tables?
  • Who are community and individual leaders who grows and raises local foods?  Who grows a vegetable garden or farm? Who does home food preservation? Who raises livestock to freeze, dry or can? Can they help spread the word about Dine In Day?
  • Who are your colleagues who can help promote Ohio Local Foods and Dining In? ANR, 4-H, CD colleagues. Community partners like Farmers Bureau, schools, FFA, 4-H clubs, FCS teachers and FCCLA
  • What local foods do you dine on?

Connecting to Nature for Health and Wellness

Summer 2017:  On Reynolds Road, Toledo, OH I drove past a bill board from the US Forest Service and Ad Council with the title “Every Neighborhood has a Naturehood” The photo on the board shows a city skyline in the background with a river, bridge, trees and adult and child hiking in the foreground.

From their website: “More than 80 percent of Americans live in cities, but fortunately, families don’t have to leave the city to take their kids on an adventure to the forest. According to research done by Euro RSCG, 88 percent of children today say they like being in nature, and 79 percent wish they could spend more time there. Additionally, children who play outside have lower stress levels and more active imaginations, become fitter and leaner, develop stronger immune systems and are more likely to become environmentally conscious in the future.”

My colleagues have written a nice collection of blog posts like Get Unplugged. Get into Nature. and Can Green Places Make a Difference in our Health?


Weeds in the Parking Lot

My Facebook post on June 13, 2017: My reminder for the day: even the weeds serve an important role and (most) often it’s important to look past the mess to the blessings. This picture has the hidden blessing …. at this time of year when work is really busy, it’s really hot outside and lots of things in my life need “weeded” I pulled into one of our community sites and thought about how overgrown and ugly the landscaped island looked. When I parked I saw a bright yellow finch and then his less bright counterpart. In the middle of the city, in the middle of the parking lot … 2 finches enjoying the thistle. And then I found a lucky penny in the lot!

How do we best promote this connection to nature with the youth in Toledo? Fortunately, we have nice city parks and Metroparks as well as summer youth programs with community gardens and youth activities. For me, it’s important to remind the youth of our connection with nature, whether the program topic is gardening, eating healthy or overall health and wellness. It might be a small message but I try to use activities and reminders to get outside. I realize that a squirrel or grasshopper might not seem as exciting as the elephants or polar bears at the zoo but I’d like the kiddos to be aware of their natural surroundings and appreciate the antics of the wildlife around them.

A few resources that have influenced my youth summer programs:

  • Four, sea-life, calm down activities by an occupational therapist in Australia. My favorite (and the kids’ favorite) is the Puffer Fish Puff.
  • An old poem (I can’t find a current copy to link) “Be Like the Animals” by Mabel Watts. It was published by the American Heart Association Scholastic Program and it names a lot of different animals and their movements. We have the students act out the movements such as “dance like a poodle, or crawl like a crab …”   This would possibly be a good time to introduce youth to yoga moves that have names and actions that reflect animals and nature.
  • Dr. Hazel Harrison does a nice job of helping youth (and adults) understand the brain and what it means to “flip our lid”
  • The book, Mindful Monkey, Happy Panda by Lauren Alderfer.
  • Although this is called an “anger catcher” it could be useful for lots of “big” emotions
  • Dr. Dan Siegel Wheel of Awareness
  • More specific to connecting with nature, my colleagues and I designed a one page handout of “wildlife” that might be seen in urban areas of Northwest Ohio as a scavenger hunt for the youth we work with. Please email powers-barker.1@osu.edu for more information on that handout.

Connecting With Nature Summer 2017




Lucas County Celebrates The International Year of the Pulses


The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has named 2016 as The Year of the Pulses. Key Messages:

  • Pulses are highly nutritious
  • Pulses are economically accessible and contribute to food security at all levels
  • Pulses have important health benefits
  • Pulses foster sustainable agriculture and contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation
  • Pulses promote biodiversity

Great! Right? Do you know what a pulse is? (We’re talking about a food, not the heart rate). Even if you’ve never used the title “pulse” before, you are probably familiar with dried beans, peas and lentils. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations shares a one page Surprising Facts About Pulses You Might Not Know

So, how and why do we celebrate this #IYP2016 in our Northwest Ohio county? Although there might not currently be a lot of pulses grown in our county, they can grow here. From a community nutrition point of view, we value the nutrition, health benefits, accessibility and affordability of pulses. From an agriculture point of view, they promote biodiversity and from a social point of view, the diversity of pulses and recipes make them a valuable food item to many individuals and families.

To promote the value of pulses in our community we used the following poster about pulses in 2016: Pulse Poster, Lucas County

pulse Lucas Co 2016

We are so appreciative of our Master Gardener Volunteers! This summer they staffed the “pulse guessing game” at the Lucas County Fair and they featured pulses at their annual picnic. Can you guess the pulses in this picture?

guess the pulses game

For those interested in learning more about cooking with pulses, including the steps to take from dry seed to final product, a really helpful recipe book used by our Lucas County SNAP-Ed program is titled, The Bold and Beautiful Book of Bean Recipes by the Washington State Department of Health. The recipes are easy, tasty, healthy and low-cost!

2016 articles written by Ohio State University Extension professionals:

International Year of What? by Jenny Lobb, January 28, 2016

From International Celebration to Personal Favorites by Patrice Powers-Barker, February 16, 2016

Do You Eat Pulses? by Patrice Powers-Barker, The Sojourners Truth Newspaper, volume 37, no 1 (page 7)

Healthy Learning

Looking for fast, easy tips to encourage youth in their testing?

test day for students

Test day for students






Healthy Learning:Brain Breaks OSU Extension handout


Additional Brain Break Resources:

Eat Smart Move More Classroom Energizers (elementary school, middle school and afterschool)

ABC For Fitness A-B-C For Fitness™ stands for “Activity Bursts in the Classroom.”

American Heart Association In School Activity Breaks

Action for Healthy Kids

A set of twenty-one physical activity cards by Alliance for a Healthier Generation are ready to print with instructions for a variety of easy tasks to act out. A few of the tasks require a ball for students to complete the physical activity but most of them can be acted out without any props.

An online resource, GoNoodle is for teachers as well as parents. Anyone can create a free GoNoodle account and link to clips that lead youth in a variety of healthy activity games.

Infographic: Active Kids Learn Better


Water infused with fresh mint

Water infused with fresh mint





Water Infused with Ohio Produce OSU Extension handout


Additional Test Taking Resources:
“Test Anxiety!” Live Smart Ohio blog post


Ohio Local Foods Infused Water Experiment

OH Local Foods infused water samples

A recent story I mentioned in a Live Smart Ohio blog was about one of my first jobs at a restaurant located on Lake Erie where each table got a carafe of ice water with sliced lemons. I was charmed one day by a very young diner who announced that I made the best water ever! This past weekend my household helped “make” the best water ever with produce from Ohio.

 Full disclosure: not all of the following ingredients came from Ohio during this 4th of July weekend.  It’s still too early in our growing season to harvest watermelon, peaches and pears.  In order to compare the infused water flavors at the same time, all of those items were purchased from the grocery store. The strawberries and blackberries were from Northwest Ohio but they had been frozen. All of the herb, basil, sage and rosemary were fresh from the backyard garden.  All of these foods do grow in Ohio and I will be repeating these recipes when those other fruits are in season later this summer!

There is no one way to make infused water. There are infuser pitchers but you can make the infused water in a plain pitcher or a single serving in a glass. For this comparison (and space in our refrigerator) I used glasses. You can strain out the foods before serving or leave some of the whole fruits, vegetables and herbs in the class.  The fresh produce in the glass looks very pretty, compared to the frozen and then thawed berries.  For drinking purposes, it’s easier to have the produce strained out first.

This was a good “recipe” for my toddler since he could help wash the produce in cold, running water and “chop” it with his plastic knife and cutting board. The type and variety of fruit will make a difference in the color and amount of sediment in the infused water. For example, a soft pear was very strong in flavor and had more sediment than a firm peach. The berries were frozen from last year so they were not as beautiful as fresh berries but they added flavor as well as a nice color to the water.

Included are two different pictures of our five samples.  One photo shows the ingredients in the glasses and the other shows our numbered samples for a taste test.5 glasses of water infused with Ohio produce

  1. Strawberry Basil
  2. Peach Sage
  3. Blackberry Pear
  4. Watermelon Rosemary
  5. Pear Rosemary



Although we all had different choices in ranking our favorite, they were all good. All of the samples received a thumbs-up. The watermelon waters were very sweet, and the very-ripe pear had a dominate flavor.  I really liked the herbs in the infused water but like other produce, some herbs are going to taste much stronger than others so go lightly when experimenting.  Knowing that sage leaves could have strong flavor, I only used a couple in the Peach Sage infused water.  That one was my favorite!

Local Foods: Part of Your Plan for Health recipes

As part of a webinar Local Foods: Part of Your Plan for Health, here are some recipes used in the presentation to represent a few different ways to utilize local produce in your kitchen.

Modified Recipes

Have a favorite recipe that you would like to modify? This factsheet offers suggestions on ways to decrease fat, calories, sugar and salt and increase fiber.

New Recipes

My mom makes the best rhubarb crunch with fresh rhubarb from her yard.  She’s made it every spring for as long as I can remember.  As much as I love it, desserts shouldn’t be the only way I eat this spring vegetable. A new way for me to prepare the tart stalk was in Red Lentil and Rhubarb Soup. Guess what? It’s May and tonight for dinner and dessert I had Rhubarb Soup and Rhubarb Crunch.

 New and Modified Recipes

Years ago, I had a recipe from Fruits and Veggies, More Matters. Although the original recipe is not on the website, there are many other tasty recipes for produce.  The recipe was called Tomatillo and Mango Salsa. It tastes great with mango but we discovered that peaches are a wonderful, local substitute. This salsa can be eaten plain with tortilla chips or use it to top a grilled chicken or fish. (Note: if you are a gardener and you can grow tomatoes, you can probably grow tomatillos) 

Tomatillo and Peach Salsa


1 can of peaches, diced (or 2 large, fresh peaches, peeled)

10 tomatillos, husked and sliced

1 small pepper, seeded and sliced

¼ cup lime or lemon juice

¼ cup diced onion

¼ cup chopped cilantro

½ cup diced tomatoes


Combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl

Cover and chill for 2 hours before serving (optional)


The following three recipes were part of a fall salsa recipe sample at the Toledo Farmers’ Market.

Apple & Peach Salsa 

2 large peaches, washed and diced

1 tart apple, washed, cored and diced

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

3 Tablespoons honey

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, washed and chopped

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice or nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Mix ingredients. Cover and chill.


Apple & Pear Salsa

3 pears, washed, cored and diced

3 sweet apples, washed, cored and diced

¼ cup pineapple juice

2 small peppers (hot or sweet), washed, seeded and minced

2 tablespoons fresh mint, washed and diced

Mix ingredients. Cover and chill.


Apple & Tomatillo Salsa

12 fresh tomatillos, husked, washed and diced

2 tart apples, washed, cored, and diced

1 sweet pepper, washed, seeded and diced

1 hot pepper washed, seeded and minced

1 small onion, peeled, washed and diced

1/2 cup cider vinegar

1/2 cup fresh cilantro, washed and minced

1 T honey

Mix ingredients. Cover and chill


Although this recipe for Roasted Root Vegetables can be made any time of the year, I love making it in the early fall and winter. This is one way to meet the recommendations of “vary your veggies”.

Roasted Root Vegetables

Serves 6-8


  • 4 pounds of different root vegetables (like carrots, beets, turnips, potatoes, parsnips, onions, etc.)
  • 3 Tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
  • 3 Tablespoons chopped fresh herbs (like rosemary, oregano and sage)
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced


  1. Heat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Scrub vegetables under running water, cut off tops and root ends. Cut into 1-inch cubes.
  3. Toss vegetables with oil and spread on a baking sheet.
  4. Roast for 15 minutes.
  5. Stir vegetables, turn heat down to 375 degrees and continue to roast another 10 minutes.
  6. Add herbs and garlic, stir again and cook until vegetables are soft when pierced with a knife. (about 15 – 30 minutes)

Adapted From Asparagus to Zucchini


Home Food Preservation

 Find updated, researched recipes at the National Center for Home Food Preservation

Information on home food preservation resources and classes in Ohio