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The way you plan to serve them determines how they should be prepared. Artichoke hearts can be braised, steamed, marinated, roasted or put into pasta dishes. One of the more common ways to prepare whole artichokes is to first cut off the stem, remove the outermost leaves and trim the sharp barbs off the ends of the remaining leaves with scissors; open the flower and spread the leaves out. Cook them in boiling water; you can add a little bit of lemon juice, salt or herbs, if desired. Simmer, covered for 30 to 40 minutes (depending on size) or until leaves pull out easily. Whole artichokes are a good source of fiber, vitamin C and folate, yet many people prefer to eat just the heart. Once the heart is separated from the rest of the artichoke, you can prepare them in many ways and they add a wonderful flavor and texture to many dishes. Try adding artichoke hearts to a pizza. Separate the heart from the rest of the artichoke, slice into quarters or eighths, depending on size, then place around a pizza crust along with other vegetables, then bake and enjoy! Remember, you can also find artichokes in jars and cans.


Cooking is a great way to get kids involved and kids love eating their own creations! When cooking with kids, make sure they know the rules of the kitchen: always wash your hands with soap and water before touching any foods, and let an adult handle sharp knives and hot dishes. For quick treats and snacks, try "no-cook" ideas such as fruit kabobs, trail mixes with dried fruits or bananas on a stick dipped in low-fat yogurt. We have lots of kid friendly recipes at


There is not an absolute amount of carbs allowed in a day.  Depending on calorie needs, which are different for each of us, the amount is a percentage that ranges from 40%-65% of total calorie needs.  What is more important is the type of carbohydrate that is chosen.  Your best choices are the carbohydrates that come from fruits, vegetables, beans, and unprocessed whole grains (such as brown rice, barley, 100% whole wheat or whole grain breads, regular oatmeal, or unsweetened granola).  The carbohydrate that is in milk is also considered as part of the total carbohydrate intake.  Carbohydrates from highly processed foods (such as sweetened or instant cooked cereals) and from added sugars (table sugar, sucrose, corn syrup, honey, etc. in baked goods, sodas, etc.) should be kept to a minimum.


Hi, Mckenzie. The answer to your question is very simple – Any and all of them!  Variety is the key to choosing fruits and veggies. Choosing a wide variety will provide you with a wide range of different nutrients that work together for health.  As a guide to variety, think color! Fruits and veggies come in all colors, so brighten your plate with a variety of different fruits and vegetables every day. Also, remember that all forms of fruits and vegetables count – canned, frozen, dried, 100% juice and fresh.


As part of the Agricultural Research Service section of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), a public national nutrient database has been established listing nutrient information for many common raw and processed foods.  The National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference (or “SR19” for short) can be found at the following link:   While this database is a wealth of information and a great resource for people interested in very detailed, specific nutrient information—such as dietitians, researchers, etc., it may be a little confusing or overwhelming for the general public.  Still, it is a credible resource for this type of information that is available to all.

It appears that your interest in nutrient information is for nutrition labeling.  Please be aware that if you are developing a food product—as a food manufacturer, you are bound by Federal laws governing food products under the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) jurisdiction.  FDA is responsible for assuring that foods sold in the United States are safe, wholesome and properly labeled. 

The Nutrition Labeling and Education Act (NLEA) requires most foods to bear nutrition labeling and requires food labels that bear nutrient content claims and certain health messages to comply with specific requirements.  Regulations pertaining to food labeling are published in the Federal Register prior to their effective date and compiled annually in Title 21 of the Code of Federal Regulations.

Also be aware that FDA assigns the manufacturer the responsibility for assuring the validity of a product label’s stated nutrient values.  While the source of the data used to calculate nutrition label values is the prerogative of the manufacturer, FDA has very specific recommendations for the process.  A publication entitled, Guidance for Industry: FDA Nutrition Labeling Manual – A Guide for Developing and Using Data Bases, would be advised reading if you are embarking on food product manufacturing or distribution.


It can be very frustrating to not see the scale move when you are trying very hard!  However, since many factors can affect weight change, it is difficult to pinpoint an exact reason why you are not seeing the scale budge.  The best way to identify what possible factor(s) are affecting your weight would be to see a dietitian who can determine what your calorie intake and expenditures are, and make individualized recommendations for you. You can find a local dietitian in your area by going to

Some general tips you might consider would include:

Monitor your portion sizes to be sure they are consistent with what is recommended for your age.  You can use to determine how many calories you need per day to maintain your weight, how many servings of each type of food you should consume and what the portion size is for that food.  It’s a good idea to measure your foods occasionally to make sure your portions are what they should be. 

Identify possible sources of calories that you may not be aware of.  Keeping a food diary is a great way to do this.  Sometimes we are not aware of how much we are really nibbling, and how the calories can add up. Don’t forget the calories that may be added to food in cooking and seasoning.

Read food labels to identify the calories in the foods you are eating, making sure you are counting calories for the portion that’s given on the label.

If possible, try to incorporate different activities into your exercise program, or change your walking program to be a little more strenuous, such as walking a little faster or including hills in your walk.    




Diets rich in potassium may help to maintain a healthy blood pressure.  Many fruits and vegetables are considered dietary sources of potassium, and some are even considered good or excellent sources.  Check out our Fruit & Veggie Nutrition section of the website and to see these lists:  As far as how much you would need, you would need to discuss those specifics with your healthcare provider. 


All fruits and vegetables consumed count toward your daily total regardless of if you repeat the same food at a subsequent meal or snack.  For example, if you have a cup of salad at lunch and 2 cups of salad at dinner, that gives you 3 cups—doesn’t matter that it all came from salad—it all adds up.  Think in terms of cups of fruits and vegetables every day—check out our website to determine how much you need for your age, gender and activity level.  Do strive for a colorful variety of fruits and vegetables every day to get the maximum health benefit possible.  You’ll find lots of delicious tips and recipes here on our website to help you do just that—Enjoy!


Raisins are classified as a “blue/purple” fruit, and as such they do contain some of the phytonutrients that tend to be found in blue/purple fruits and vegetables, specifically some of the flavonoids.  There is not a specific ‘requirement’ for blue/purple fruits and vegetables; the suggestion to include different colors each day is to encourage consumption of a wide variety of different fruits and vegetables.    



Raisins are the dried form of grapes, and prunes are dried plums.   Although they are two different fruits, their nutrition content is actually remarkably similar in terms of most nutrients. One area that they differ is in fiber content. Five prunes provide 3 grams of fiber, compared to 1.5 grams of ¼ cup of raisins. It is difficult to say that one is better than the other.  Including both for variety would be key to meeting nutritional recommendations.

The Expert: Dr. Elizabeth Pivonka, a mother of two and a registered dietitian, shares years of experience in getting people to eat more fruits and veggies.
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