The Garden: Mother Nature’s Gym

April 22nd, 2015

Boost your activity level, burn some extra calories and lower stress by gardening. Gardening activities are great ways to boost physical activity. Experts recommend a minimum of 2 1/2 hours of physical activity per week.

activity chart WOW

Reference: William D McArdle, Frank Katch, Victor L. Katch, Exercise Physiology: Energy, Nutrition, and Human Performance (Lippincott Williams & Wilkins) (2001); taken from eXtension.org

Don’t have a garden yourself? Offer to help a neighbor or volunteer in a community garden. Go dig in the dirt and enjoy the healthful benefits of gardening!

To learn more about gardening, contact your local county ISU Extension and Outreach office or visit the online ISU Extension store at https://store.extension.iastate.edu/ to check out these and other gardening publications:

PM 870B—Container Vegetable Gardening
PM 819—Planting a Home Vegetable Garden
PM 534—Planting and Harvesting Times for Garden Vegetables

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Are You Cooking Food Safely?

April 15th, 2015

man microwave foodDo you reach for a quick microwave meal when you’re hungry? Do you read and follow the cooking instructions on the package?

Not following package cooking instructions can result in undercooked food, which can lead to foodborne illness. Follow these steps to keep food safe:

Read and follow cooking directions on packaged and convenience foods.
Not following package instructions can lead to undercooked foods, which means the temperature may not be high enough to kill harmful bacteria.

Know when to use a microwave or conventional oven.
Cooking instructions are calibrated for a specific type of appliance and may not be applicable to all appliances.

Know your microwave wattage before microwaving food.
The higher the microwave wattage, the quicker the food cooks. Compare your own microwave wattage (found on the inside of the microwave door or in the owner’s manual) with that mentioned in the cooking instructions.

Always use a food thermometer to ensure a safe internal temperature.
Take the temperature of the food after cooking to be sure it is fully cooked.

Source: http://www.fightbac.org/cookitsafe

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Make-ahead Breakfast Burritos

April 8th, 2015

breakfast-burritosServing Size: 1 burrito | Serves: 8

Ingredients:
1 cup diced potatoes (1 medium potato)
1/2 cup diced onions (1/2 medium onion)
1 cup diced bell peppers (1 medium pepper)
8 beaten eggs
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup shredded 2% reduced-fat cheddar cheese
8 flour tortillas (8 inch)

Instructions:
1. Spray a large skillet with nonstick cooking spray. Cook the potatoes for 6 to 10 minutes over medium heat.
2. Add onions and peppers to the potatoes. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes until the potatoes are browned.
3. Add beaten eggs to the vegetable mixture. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes over medium heat. Stir off and on until there is no liquid.
4. Stir in the garlic powder and pepper.
5. Make each burrito by placing 2 tablespoons of cheese and 1/2 cup of the egg mixture on the tortilla and rolling up. Serve or freeze.

Nutrition information per serving: 270 calories, 9 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 31 g carbohydrates, 14 g protein, 190 mg cholesterol, 500 mg sodium, 2 g fiber

This recipe is courtesy of ISU Extension and Outreach’s Spend Smart. Eat Smart. website. For more recipes, information, and videos, visit http://www.extension.iastate.edu/foodsavings/.

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Reconsidering the Egg

April 1st, 2015

dv1897034Experts have warned against diets high in cholesterol for years and have suggested, for example, limiting egg yolk intake. The previous Dietary Guidelines for Americans* stated that Americans eat too much cholesterol and that high-cholesterol foods like eggs should be limited. Preliminary reports, however, indicate that the 2015 guidelines may no longer consider cholesterol as a nutrient of concern for overconsumption.

New research suggests that dietary cholesterol intake may not significantly increase blood cholesterol levels or increase the risk of heart disease in healthy adults. Saturated fat and trans fat in the diet are of greater concern for keeping blood cholesterol levels down than the actual cholesterol content of food. However, it is still recommended that we consume limited amounts of foods high in saturated fat or trans fat (e.g., butter, margarine, fats in meat, and high-fat dairy).

Eggs are an inexpensive protein food that is relatively low in total fat and saturated fat and rich in vitamins and minerals. Therefore, eggs can be part of a healthy diet. It is still recommended to eat them in moderation and prepare them with low-fat cooking methods like boiling or poaching.

*The Dietary Guidelines for Americans are updated every five years by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services. They provide dietary and physical activity recommendations for Americans ages two years and over to reduce risk of chronic disease and promote overall health.

Sources: http://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015.asp; http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/dietaryguidelines/

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What’s Hot—Bikram Yoga

March 25th, 2015

woman yogaYoga is a good way to be physically active because it promotes increased flexibility, muscle strength, and tone, as well as improved respiration, energy, and vitality. Yoga can also help with weight reduction and circulatory health. There are more than 20 different types of yoga! One variation gaining in popularity is Bikram yoga, often referred to as “hot yoga” because this style specializes in using a heated environment.

Bikram yoga is 90 minutes long and consists of 26 postures, including two breathing exercises, and takes place in a room 104 degrees with 40% humidity. The caution with hot yoga is the room temperature and the potential health risks it poses. Hot yoga may increase the risk of heat exhaustion if your body is no longer able to regulate its usual temperature. Heat exhaustion can lead to heavy sweating, dehydration, decreased blood pressure, and increased heart rate. These effects on your body may make you feel weak, dizzy, or nauseated.

Before starting hot yoga, or any physical activity program, it’s always a good idea to consult your health care provider to make sure it is safe for you to do so, especially if you are pregnant or have a serious health condition. For more information, visit http://www.berkeleywellness.com/fitness/injury-prevention/exercise/article/hot-yoga-scary-or-good-you.

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Keeping it clean—To wash your hands or to use hand sanitizer?

March 18th, 2015

washing hands soap waterWhenever possible, it’s best to wash your hands with warm soapy water for 20 seconds (sing “Happy Birthday” twice) and rinse thoroughly. Hand sanitizing gel (at least 60% alcohol), foam, or wipes can be used for quick sanitation, but these products are not designed to replace hand washing because sanitizers do not adequately remove all bacteria, dirt, and debris. When hands are dirty, hand sanitizers are not effective.

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Chicken Alfredo Pasta

March 11th, 2015

Serving Size: 1 1/3 cups | Serves 6chicken alfredo pasta

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 1/2 cups whole wheat penne or rotini pasta
  • 1 package (16 ounces) frozen chopped broccoli
  • 1 cup nonfat milk
  • 8 ounces low-fat cream cheese, cubed
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Directions:

  1. Cook the pasta according to package directions. Add the frozen broccoli the last three minutes of cooking. Drain the water from the pasta and broccoli. Return food to the pot.
  2. Remove fat from chicken on a cutting board and cut meat into bite-sized pieces. Wash hands.
  3. Heat oil in a large skillet on medium high. Add chicken cubes to skillet and stir to coat with oil. Cook the chicken until it is done (165oF, about 7–9 minutes).
  4. Remove chicken from skillet when it is done cooking and cover to keep warm.
  5. Add the milk and cream cheese to the skillet. Stir the mixture constantly over low heat. The mixture will thicken and be smooth.
  6. Add the garlic powder, parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper. Stir mixture. Then add cooked chicken and heat mixture.
  7. Combine meat mixture with the pasta and broccoli mixture. Serve.

Nutrition information per serving: 340 calories, 12 g total fat, 5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 75 mg cholesterol, 390 mg sodium, 29 g total carbohydrate, 4 g fiber, 4 g sugar, 30 g protein

This recipe is courtesy of ISU Extension and Outreach’s Spend Smart. Eat Smart. website. For more recipes, information, and videos, visit http://www.extension.iastate.edu/foodsavings/.

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The Paleo Diet—A look at a popular eating plan

March 4th, 2015

A popular trend making headlines is the Paleolithic (Paleo) diet, also called the “Caveman” or “Stone Age” diet. This diet is based on the belief that if we eat like our ancestors did 10,000 years ago, we’ll be healthier, lose weight, and have less disease. The table below compares the Paleo diet recommended intakes to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines and the typical Western diet.

Paleo Diet Chart

The Paleo diet promotes a higher intake of protein and fat. The carbohydrates included with the Paleo diet are not from grains, but rather from fruits and vegetables (not including white potatoes or dry beans). The 2010 Dietary Guidelines recommends eating carbohydrates from grains, fruits, dairy, and starchy vegetables. Excluding key food groups like dairy and grains makes it likely that key vitamins and minerals such as calcium and vitamin D, will be missing. Decreasing the intakes of added sugar and process foods have health benefits; however, there is no scientific evidences showing the Paleo diet prevents disease.steak and vegetables

Since the Paleo diet omits foods from different food groups (e.g., dairy, peanuts, legumes, cereal grains), its long-term sustainability is questionable. We live in a society where it is not possible to eat exactly as our ancestors ate. You might consider a modified Paleo eating plan like lowering your intake of added sugars and processed foods while eating more fruits and vegetables. Balance is best whether you’re trying to lose weight, gain weight, or stay just as you are. For more information, visit Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Jan 2015, and http://www.webmd.com/diet/paleo-diet?page=2.

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Top Fitness Trend for 2015—Getting Back to the Basics

February 25th, 2015

group push ups fitnessThe American College of Sports Medicine has named bodyweight training as the top fitness trend for 2015. Dr. Walter Thompson states, “These kinds of exercises provide the benefit of requiring little to no equipment and are incorporated into many fitness programs that are currently popular.”

Bodyweight training involves exercises where the body is used as resistance. This type of training uses little equipment, making it a very affordable option! Below are some bodyweight training exercises you can try at home. Click on the highlighted ones for instructional videos or visit http://www.acefitness.org/acefit/fitness_programs_exercise_library_list.aspx?equipment=10.

Push-up, Plank, Pull-up, Squat, Single leg stand, Wall sit, Mountain climber

Sources: http://www.acsm.org/about-acsm/media-room/news-releases/2014/10/24/survey-predicts-top-20-fitness-trends-for-2015

http://journals.lww.com/acsm-healthfitness/Fulltext/2014/11000/WORLDWIDE_SURVEY_OF_FITNESS_TRENDS_FOR_2015_.5.aspx

http://sportsmedicine.about.com/od/tipsandtricks/a/basictraining.htm

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Making the Cut

February 18th, 2015

cutting board veggiesWhich is better at preventing a foodborne illness outbreak—a wooden or plastic cutting board? This is a long-standing food safety question. Some research suggests wood is a better option, because the pores in the wood can trap and immobilize bacteria, which then die. Other studies, however, suggest bacteria absorbed in wooden boards can in fact survive and could possibly multiply and recontaminate the surface in the future, making plastic seem superior.

The take-away message is that all cutting boards, plastic or wooden, can be sources of contamination. To help prevent contamination, your cutting board needs to be clean and in good condition.

  1. After each use, scrub your cutting board in hot, soapy water, then rinse and allow to air dry.
  2. Using the dishwasher to clean plastic and solid wooden boards is fine, but laminated boards can crack in the dishwasher.
  3. Wooden and plastic cutting boards can be disinfected with a bleach solution (1 tablespoon traditional regular chlorine bleach [6% sodium hypochlorite] per gallon of water or 2 teaspoons concentrated bleach per gallon of water). Pour solution over the surface and let sit for at least one minute; then rinse well and air dry.
  4. It is time to get a new cutting board if your board has cracks, crevices, chips, or grooves where bacteria can hide.
  5. Designate one cutting board for raw meat, poultry, and seafood, and another for vegetables, fruits, breads, and other ready-to-eat foods to avoid cross-contamination.

For more information, visit the Iowa Food Safety website: http://www.extension.iastate.edu/foodsafety/

Sources: University of California, Berkley Wellness Letter (December 2014) Food Safety Tips for Food Event Volunteers SP 452: https://store.extension.iastate.edu/Product/Food-Safety-Tips-for-Food-Event-Volunteers

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