What do sliced potatoes, whole kernel corn, peas, diced tomatoes, pinto beans, applesauce, grapefruit juice and instant milk all have in common?

The answer is that those items are the commodities given out July 30 by UCHRA and the Tennessee Nutrition and Consumer Education Program, a program for Tennessee families who receive Food Stamps or who are eligible for Food Stamps. The goal of TNCEP is to teach families how to choose and prepare nutritionally adequate diets and help them feel empowered to move toward self-sufficiency.

Paula Proffit, program assistant with Cumberland County's TNCEP, said there are around 600 families who get commodities in Cumberland County through UCHRA. Commodities are distributed every other month.

Why are these foods healthy? To begin with, potatoes contain many of the essential nutrients that the dietary guidelines recommend Americans increase in their diet. Potatoes eaten with the skin provide nearly half of the daily value for vitamin C and are one of the best sources of potassium and fiber. One medium-sized potato has 100 calories and provides complex carbohydrates needed to fuel our brains and bodies, giving us the energy we need for a busy lifestyle.

Corn contains beta-carotene, small amounts of B vitamins and vitamin C. It is a useful source of protein and is rich in fiber. Canned corn is less nutritious, higher in calories and usually much higher in added sodium.

Peas are a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, thiamine (B1), iron and phosphorus. As pulses (seeds of plants belonging to the family Leguminosae), they are rich in protein, carbohydrate and fiber and low in fat which is mostly of the unsaturated kind. Half a cup of frozen peas has only 5 percent of the daily value for sodium. Foods low in sodium are good for your heart. An 85 gram serving of peas, cooked, provides 50 calories, 4 grams of protein, 8 grams of carbohydrate (of which 3.5 grams are sugars), 3.8 grams of fiber, 17 mg of vitamin C (28 percent of the recommended daily allowance) and 0.2 mg Thiamine (B1) (15 percent of the recommended daily allowance).

A review of 72 different studies showed consistently that the more tomatoes and tomato products people eat, the lower their risks of many different kinds of cancer. The secret may lie in lycopene, the chemical that makes tomatoes red, said Dr. Edward Giovannucci, Harvard School of Public Health, Cambridge, MA. Among the studies he reviewed, 57 showed that the more tomatoes one ate, the lower the risk of cancer. “The evidence for benefit was strongest for cancers of the prostate, lung, and stomach,” he reported.

More about these different kinds of foods can be found online or by contacting your local TNCEP. The phone number for Cumberland County's TNCEP is 484-6743.

Everyone is encouraged to try these recipes. Happy cooking (and eating)!


Mexican Corn

1 17 oz. can tomatoes, chopped

2 15 oz. cans corn, whole kernel or cream-style

1 tbsp. vegetable oil

Pepper to taste

Green pepper (optional)

Mix all ingredients in a sauce pan and cook until thickened.

From the kitchen of Crockett County TNCEP

Main dish

All Commodities Stew

1 29 oz. can meat of choice

1 14 3/4 oz. can potatoes

1 14 3/4 oz. can whole kernel corn

1 14 3/4 oz. can green beans

2 17 oz. cans tomatoes with juice

1 can carrots

1 to 2 cups water or liquid from vegetables

Garlic or onion to taste

Drain meat. Throw juices away. Rinse meat with hot water to take off extra fat. Drain potatoes, carrots, corn and green beans. Chop potatoes and slice carrots. Put all ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring to boil, stir, then lower heat. Simmer 10 minutes before serving. Serve hot with cornbread. Try this with different combinations of vegetables for a nice change.

From the kitchen of Carroll County TNCEP

Side dish

Corn pudding

2 1/2 cups cream style or whole kernel corn

1 small onion, minced

1 cup milk

2 tbsp. flour

1/2 cup bread crumbs or crushed cereal

Dash of pepper

2 eggs, beaten

3/4 tsp. salt

1 tbsp. sugar

1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted

Combine beaten eggs with corn. Mix salt, sugar, flour, pepper, stir into corn mixture. Add milk, butter and onion; mix thoroughly. Pour into a greased 1 quart casserole; top with crumbs. Place casserole in a pan of hot water. Bake uncovered in 350 degree oven for about 50-60 minutes or until knife comes out clean when inserted in the center.

From the kitchen of Hawkins County TNCEP


Applesauce Dump Cake

1 15 oz. can apple sauce

1 cup all purpose flour

1 cup sugar

1 cup reconstituted nonfat dry milk powder

Mix flour and milk together. Add sugar. Mix well. Combine mixture with applesauce. Bake at 375 degrees for 35-40 minutes until crust forms and is golden brown. Serve hot.

From the kitchen of Carroll County TNCEP


Apple Crisp

2 cups peeled, sliced apples

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup regular or quick cooking oats

1/3 to 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg

3 tbsp. butter or margarine, softened

Place apples in a greased 9x5x3 loaf pan. Combine remaining ingredients; mix until crumbly and sprinkle over apples. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until apples are tender and topping is golden brown. Serve warm with whipped cream or ice cream if desired.

From the kitchen of Decatur County TNCEP


Peanut Butter and Applesauce Cookies

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup peanut butter

1 1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/2 tsp. salt

1 1/2 cups brown sugar, firmly packed

2 egg whites

2 tsp. vanilla

In a small bowl, combine flour, salt and soda; set aside. Thoroughly mix together remaining ingredients. Add dry ingredients to liquid mixture, mixing until combined. Drop by rounded measuring tablespoonfuls onto cookie sheet coated with non-stick vegetable spray. Bake in 375 degree oven about 10 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool on wire racks.

From the kitchen of Fentress County TNCEP

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