Celebrating 25 years of Prairie Fare with a raffle – Agweek

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 has arrived on Mars. Comet Hale Bopp was visible in 1997.

Sports fans may remember that the Green Bay Packers beat the New England Patriots in the Superbowl. Pete Sampras and Martina Hingis have each won Wimbledon.

Mother Theresa, Princess Diana, John Denver and James Stewart were among the notable people who died.

Of course, many other things happened in 1997. In North Dakota, we fought record flooding that year. We all built new “sandbag muscles” by gathering near the Red River. Automated sandbag filling units were developed later.

Julie GardenRobinson

Courtesy/NDSU Extension Service

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

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

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

I was puzzled. They are the ones who suggested I write a column. I guess they were realistic.

“I’ll give it a few months and see if there’s a newspaper that publishes the column,” I said.

For the first two years, I co-authored with an editor who was trained as a conductor. At the time, final edited columns were sent as printed copies via campus mail, not as emails.

My fellow writer left college and I was at a crossroads. I continued to write the column on my own. This week’s column is number 1300.

I’m having a little party. Unfortunately, I’m the only guest at my party because I have a column to write.

I have potential freebies for you readers to inspire my continued efforts. Without readers, a column ceases to exist.

I’m happy to report that at least 50 newspapers (online and print) have published this weekly column throughout the Midwest and Canada.

Here is the opportunity for gifts. Our latest edition of a printed 2023 calendar is ready. I plan to give away at least 25 copies based on a raffle by November 25th. This colorful calendar includes recipes, tips and information to explore. My student interns helped create the calendar, and I’m proud of their efforts.

To enter the drawing, visit


and answer questions. I will not use your information for anything other than the raffle. If the link does not work for you, please email me at [email protected] with “Calendar Drawing” in the subject. Please provide a topic of interest and your full 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.

  • Provide a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables.
  • Provide whole grain options, such as whole grain crackers or popcorn.
  • Include a dairy product or another source of calcium, such as mozzarella cheese cubes or yogurt parfaits.
  • Include a variety of protein options, from lean meats to beans and other legumes in dips and appetizers.

2. Get creative with your food displays. “Charcuterie” boards weren’t widely known 25 years ago, but people appreciate artful arrangements of cheese, meat, nuts, fruits, vegetables, breads and crackers.
3. When making your celebratory recipes, consider making healthy swaps. For example, fat-free yogurt can be replaced with sour cream or mayonnaise in dips. About half of the white flour in many recipes can be replaced with whole wheat flour. About half of the oil and other fats in some baked goods can be replaced with applesauce.

4. Don’t forget to include options for people with special dietary needs, such as gluten intolerance, lactose intolerance, and nut allergies. For more information on food allergens, visit the NDSU Extension website at



I bet you’re expecting cake for this party. I suggest a chocolate dip for dessert. By the way, the 2023 calendar has a black bean fudge brownie recipe. Any food can be integrated, in moderation, into a healthy diet.

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

Drain and rinse the chickpeas and place them in a food processor. Place all other ingredients in the same food processor and puree until a smooth texture is visible. If needed, add additional honey a tablespoon at a time until the desired level of sweetness is reached. Serve with fruits like strawberries, graham crackers.

Makes 11 servings (2 tbsp). Each serving contains 70 calories, 0.5 grams of fat, 14 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber and 105 milligrams of sodium.

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

Comments are closed.