During summer months, select public health departments participate in the WIC Farmers' Market Nutrition Program. DHEC and the S.C. Department of Agriculture encourage you to add more fresh fruits and vegetables to your diet. As a WIC participant*, you'll receive checks that may be used for fresh produce at approved local farmers’ markets and farm stands. You will also learn how to choose, store and prepare fresh produce by attending nutrition education classes.
Approved fruits and vegetables
Farmers’ Market checks may be used to purchase only S.C. grown, unprocessed fruits, vegetables and herbs.
See our Authorized Markets and Farm Stands map for location details—address, hours of operation, etc.
Fruits and vegetables: How to select and store; Nutrition and recipes
- Apples (contains award-winning recipe)
Choose apples that are free of bruises and firm to the touch. Overripe apples will feel soft and the texture will be mealy.
Store apples in the refrigerator. They are best if used within 2 weeks.
Apples are a good source of fiber, and Vitamins A and C. Fiber may reduce “bad” cholesterol.
Award-winning recipe - 1st place in the Columbia Famously Hot and Healthy Recipe contest (2012)
This recipe was created for the IMARA Health Ministry Impowerment Tour. The contest was a collaboration between USCís Arnold School of Public Health and the City of Columbia. It is part of the First Ladyís Letís Move initiative.
- 1 small Apple chopped
- 1/4 cup Celery chopped
- 1/4 cup Grapes cut in half
- 2 tbsp Walnuts
- 3 tbsp fat free Vanilla Yogurt
Combine all ingredients. Chill and serve. Spice it up: Add your familyís favorite - cinnamon, nutmeg or ginger. Donít have apples? Try pears, bananas, grapes or any other fruit. You can also use any kind of nut or yogurt. Yields 2 servings.
- 4 large apples
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 2 Tbsp. sugar
- 1 Tbsp. cinnamon
- 4 Tbsp. butter or margarine
- ¾ cup boiling water
- 4 large marshmallows
Preheat oven to 375°. Wash and remove apple cores to ½ inch of bottom. Combine brown sugar and cinnamon and fill centers of apples. Top each apple with 1 Tbsp. of butter. Place apples in baking dish with boiling water and sugar. Cover and bake for 40 minutes or until tender, not mushy. Remove cover, top with marshmallow, sprinkle with cinnamon, and baste with juice from pan, re-cover. Serve hot or chilled. Makes 4 servings (1 apple)
- Bell Peppers
How to choose a bell pepper:
Bell peppers should be firm, fresh looking and brightly colored. Avoid peppers that are shriveled, dull or pitted. Peppers are sold by color (red, yellow, or green) and all are green before they ripen.
Bell peppers are great on vegetable trays. They can be chopped and added to salads. Peppers can also be used for taco fillings.
Bell peppers can be stuffed or used in stir-frys, casseroles and omelets. Peppers taste best when allowed to retain some of their crispness.
Bell peppers are naturally fat-free, saturated fat-free, sodium-free, cholesterol-free, low in calories and high in vitamin C. They also contain calcium and fiber. One medium pepper contains about 190% daily value of vitamin C.
Heads should be solid and heavy compared to their size and have green outer leaves (unless you are buying red cabbage).
Cabbage should be stored in the refrigerator and used within 2 weeks.
Cabbage is a good source of Vitamin K and potassium. Foods in the cabbage family may boost the body’s ability to fight off cancer.
- 1 small head of cabbage
- 2 Tbsp. butter or margarine
- ½ tsp. salt
- ¼ tsp. paprika
- ½ tsp. minced garlic
- 1 cup light or fat free sour cream
Preheat oven to 375°. Shred cabbage and sauté in butter. Add salt, paprika and garlic. Place in buttered baking dish. Pour sour cream over cabbage and bake for 20 minutes. Makes 4–6 servings
How to choose a ripe cantaloupe:
Look for a yellowish tint to the rind and a melony smell. Use your thumb to press on the cantaloupe rind, you should be able to softly press in the rind slightly.
To ripen a cantaloupe at home, leave it at room temperature for two to four days.
It’s sweet flavor makes it a treat for children at mealtime or snacktime.
Wash the cantaloupe before cutting as you would any fruit. Harmful bacteria can live in the rind. Cut the cantaloupe in half and scoop out the seeds. The rest of the rind can then be removed and the cantaloupe cut into slices or cubes.
Cantaloupe can be eaten by itself or with a mix of other melons or fruit. It can be topped with yogurt or sherbet. Blueberries are a good complement for cantaloupe’s sweet flavor.
Cantaloupe is a fat-free, cholesterol-free food that is very low in sodium. It offers large amounts of vitamins A and C and is a good source of folate.
Look for carrots that are firm, smooth, evenly shaped and have a bright orange color. Do not choose carrots that are flabby, shriveled, rough or cracked.
Carrot greens (if still attached) should be removed immediately after purchase. Carrots should be stored in the refrigerator wrapped in plastic and are best if used within 1 to 2 weeks.
Carrots are a good source of Vitamins A, C, K and Potassium. Carrots may help protect against cancer, fat build-up in the arteries and blood clots.
- 2 pounds carrots, sliced
- 1 medium onion
- ½ green pepper, sliced
- 1 (10¾ oz.) can condensed tomato soup, undiluted
- ½ cup vinegar
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 Tbsp. mustard
Cook carrots until tender. Combine carrots, green pepper and onion; set aside. Combine soup, vinegar, salad oil, sugar and mustard. Stir until well mixed. Pour over vegetables, toss lightly. Refrigerate overnight. Makes 8 servings
Collards are the South Carolina State Vegetable
How to select and store:
Look for collard greens that have firm, unwilted leaves that are deep green in color with no signs of yellowing or browning. Leaves that are smaller in size will be more tender and have a milder flavor. Place collard greens in a plastic bag, removing as much of the air from the bag as possible. Store in the refrigerator where they should keep fresh for about three to five days.
Collard greens are an excellent source of vitamin K, vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene), vitamin C, manganese, folate, calcium, and dietary fiber. In addition, collard greens are a very good source of magnesium, iron, vitamins B2 and B6. They are a good source of vitamin E, protein, omega-3 fatty acids, potassium, vitamin B1, vitamin B5, niacin, zinc, and phosphorus.
- 1 bunch collards
- 1 can low-sodium chicken broth
- 1½ cups water
- 2 tablespoons Oil
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
Combine all ingredients in a pot. Bring to a boil. Cover pot; reduce heat to medium heat for 30 minutes or until desired tenderness. Adjust seasonings to taste.
Spice it up with a little vinegar or red pepper flakes!
Choose bright, shiny, green, firm, well-shaped cucumbers.
Once picked, a cucumber should be refrigerated and used within 3-4 days.
Cucumbers are a fair source of Vitamin A and folate. Since cucumbers are usually eaten raw, they also provide fiber.
- 2 cucumbers
- 1 bell pepper
- 1 tomato
- 2 small onions
- 1 carrot
- 1 cup light mayonnaise
- 1 envelope plain gelatin
Chop vegetables until fine and drain juice (reserve). Mix gelatin into 2 Tbsp. of vegetable juice and dissolve gelatin. Add vegetable mix and mayonnaise. Add salt and pepper to taste. Put into refrigerator until firm (improves flavor after sitting overnight). Spread onto bread and cut into desired shapes. Number of servings varies.
Choose bright, fresh-looking peaches. Skin color should be creamy or yellow with some amount of red blush. Avoid bruised or discolored peaches. Green color tells that the peach is not ripe. Overripe peaches will be shriveled or very soft.
To ripen peaches, store at room temperature. Ripe peaches should be stored in the refrigerator.
Peaches are a good source of Vitamins A and C. Including peaches in your diet may reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer.
- 4 whole peaches
- 2 cups berries (any type)
- 6 Tbsp. sugar
- 1½ Tbsp. lemon juice
- ¼ cup slivered almonds
Peel and halve 4 peaches; chill. Combine berries, sugar and lemon juice. Pour berry mixture over chilled peaches. Top with almonds. Makes 8 servings
How to select crookneck squash:
Look for small- to medium-sized squash, no bigger than 8 inches around. Choose squash that is firm and feels heavy for its size. The skin should be even colored and slightly shiny. Avoid squash with nicks, bruises, or soft spots.
Store unwashed in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up
to a week.
Squash is an excellent source of vitamin C.
- 4 cups cooked yellow squash
- 2 tbsp. butter or margarine
- 1 tsp. salt
- dash black pepper
- 2 tbsp. sour cream
- 1 egg
- 2 tbsp. fine dry bread crumbs
Cook squash in little water until tender.
Combine all ingredients. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes.
Yield: 8 servings.
How to choose fresh strawberries:
Strawberries have more flavor if they are bright red in color or have small seedy areas. They are overripe if they have shrunk or are too soft. Those with mold should be avoided because mold spreads quickly. When choosing strawberries, take a peek at the bottom of the container to make sure there are no hidden bruises or rotting. Small to medium strawberries are usually sweeter than the larger sizes.
Strawberries should be kept cold once they are purchased. They tend to last 5 to 7 days in the refrigerator. They should be washed just before using.
Strawberries are naturally fat-free, saturated fat-free, cholesterol-free, low in calories and high in vitamin C. One cup of strawberries contains about 150% daily value of vitamin C.
Quick Yogurt Dip
- 4 cups fresh strawberries
- 1 cup vanilla yogurt
Rinse strawberries and drain thoroughly. You may leave the caps on for color or take them off. When ready to serve, spoon the yogurt into a pretty container and place in the center of a plate. Arrange the fresh strawberries around the dip. Yield: 8 servings.
- 1 cup fresh strawberries
- 1 cup non-fat yogurt (could use strawberry flavor)
- 1 cup ice cubes
Wash and remove caps from strawberries. Add strawberries, yogurt and ice to blender. Blend about 3 minutes or until smooth. Stir with spoon and pour into glasses. Makes 2 servings
How to choose a tomato:
Use your nose. Smell the blossom (not stem) end. The most flavorful ones will have a rich tomato scent. Select tomatoes that feel full and are heavy for their size, with no bruises. The skin should be tight and not shriveled. Tomatoes come in many shapes and colors like Roma, Beefsteak, Cherry and Yellow.
Store fresh ripe tomatoes in a cool, dark place, stem-side down, and use within a few days. Do not put tomatoes in the refrigerator because they will lose their flavor and the flesh will turn mealy.
Tomatoes are naturally fat-free, saturated fat-free, cholesterol-free, low in calories and high in vitamins A and C. Tomatoes are also a good source of potassium. One cup of tomatoes also has about 15% daily value of vitamin K, which is good for hair, skin and nails.
- 4 tomatoes, halved horizontally
- ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
- Freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 450° F.
Place tomatoes cut-side up on a baking sheet. Top with Parmesan, oregano, and pepper. Drizzle with oil and bake until the tomatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.
Yield: 8 servings.
- 2½ cups chopped, fresh tomatoes
- ¼ cup sliced onions
- ½ cup chopped celery
- 2 Tbsp. butter or margarine
- 2 Tbsp. flour
- 2 cups canned bouillon
- ½ tsp. sugar
- 1/8 tsp. paprika
Simmer tomatoes, onion and celery covered for 15 minutes. Melt butter and blend in flour until smooth. Add bouillon, sugar, paprika and strained tomato mixture. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer until smooth. Makes 4 servings
How to select a watermelon:
Choose symmetrical watermelons with dried stems and
yellowish undersides, heavy for size.
Store whole watermelons at room temperature.
Refrigerate cut watermelons in airtight container for use within 5 days.
Watermelon is naturally fat-free, saturated fat-free, sodium-free, and cholesterol-free. Watermelon is high in vitamins A and C and is a good source of potassium. Just one cup of watermelon provides 18% daily value of Vitamin A and 21% daily value of Vitamin C. It is a great fruit to eat when it is hot outside to help keep you hydrated.
- 1 cup cubed watermelon
- 1 cup diced, fresh or frozen strawberries
- 1 cup pineapple chunks, fresh or canned packed in natural juice: do NOT drain.
Stir fruit together in a medium size bowl.
Cover and chill. Serve as soon as possible. Refrigerate or freeze leftovers.
Try freezing fruit for slush or smoothie!
Yield: 6 servings.
Farmers Markets: Fresh, Nutritious, Local and Kids Rock Nutrition in the Kitchen are Nutrition.gov videos available online with new supporting web pages and resources:
- Farmers Market Food Safety
- Seasonal Produce
- Cooking Methods & Recipes
- Health & Development
- Food & Nutrition
- Kids Corner
- Kids Food Safety
These videos are also now available on DVD, so if you are looking for an educational tool to use with your clients and the public, you can request a copy by emailing email@example.com.