October is a glorious month of the year to enjoy outdoor activities in Iowa. The cool, crisp air is ideal for invigorating hikes or bike rides. The trees are ablaze with orange, red, and yellow leaves. You can spot hawks gathering in the sky for migration. And there are no mosquitos!
Adults should have 30 minutes of moderate activity five days weekly and youth should have 60 minutes daily. When was the last time you visited your local state park?
Most Iowa state parks offer miles of scenic trails for hiking, birding, and mountain biking through woodlands and prairies or along river bluffs.
Visit the Iowa Department of Natural Resources State Parks site to plan your next fall outing. Here you can download trail maps and read about the scenic delights and wildlife each park has to offer.
Serving size: 1 cup
- 5 cups assorted vegetable pieces cut in chunks (potatoes, sweet potatoes, winter squash [e.g., pumpkin], turnips, carrots, onions, mushrooms)
- 1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil
- 2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- Heat oven to 425° F.
- Line a 9×13-inch pan with aluminum foil.
- Spread vegetables in pan. Sprinkle oil on vegetables. Stir. Sprinkle with seasoning, pepper, and salt. Stir.
- Bake uncovered 45 minutes. Turn every 15 minutes.
- Serve while hot.
Nutrient information per serving: 90 calories, 3 g total fat (0 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 0 mg cholesterol, 95 mg sodium, 16 g total carbohydrates, 3g fiber, 2 g protein
For more recipes, visit Spend Smart Eat Smart.
When jack o’ lanterns were first used as holiday decorations in Britain, they were made out of carved turnips. In the United States, the pumpkin—native to North America—is carved into scary faces for Halloween.
The type of squash we call pumpkin is so well associated with jack o’ lanterns and holiday pies that not everyone realizes it is a nutritious vegetable that makes a spectacular side dish. One cup of cooked pumpkin provides 245 percent of your daily need for Vitamin A for only 49 calories!
Why not “treat” your family to savory roasted pumpkin throughout the fall? Sweet “pie” pumpkins are best for roasting…
- Scrub the pumpkin thoroughly, dry it, and cut it in half.
- Scrape out the seeds and membrane.
- Cut each pumpkin into eighths, to make wedges.
- Put a tablespoon of vegetable oil or olive oil in a shallow baking pan. Turn the wedges in the oil until lightly coated. Sprinkle with salt.
- Place the wedges evenly spaced, skin side down, on the sheet. Roast at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 45 minutes or until fork tender. The edge of the wedges should be caramelized.
- Serve with a sprinkle of parsley.
The incidence of people preserving food by canning in the oven or in the dishwasher is increasing as many gardeners and home cooks are looking for a shortcut to preserve their fresh produce at home. However, these are unsafe canning practices. Using unsafe canning practices can cause a deadly foodborne illness called botulism, which is virtually undetectable.
It is estimated that there are 55 actual cases of botulism annually in the United States. Although this is small in comparison to other foodborne illnesses, the death rate associated with foodborne botulism is as high as 17.3 percent. The cause for each case was inappropriate home canning methods, not recognizing the signs of food spoilage, and unawareness of the risk of botulism from home canned foods.
Signs of food spoilage in home canned products include:
- Bulging lids and unsealed jars
- Dried food starting at the top of the jar
- Rising air bubbles and unnatural color
- Unnatural odors
- Spurting liquid
- Cotton-like mold growth on top of the food surface and underneath the lid
Botulism causes a very deadly type of foodborne illness that begins usually within 72 hours after consuming the contaminated food. Symptoms can include digestive upset, blurred or double vision, difficulty swallowing or breathing, paralysis, and eventually death.
Canning in the oven and dishwasher does not heat the food in the jars to a temperature high enough to kill any and all pathogens that may be present in the food. It is important to remember that a sealed jar does not mean food inside the jar is safe to eat. It takes less heat to seal a jar than it takes to make the contents safe. Depending on the type of food, ALL canning must now be canned in a boiling water canner (high acid foods) or a pressure canner (low acid foods).
To ensure that your home canned goods are safe, be sure you are using recipes that follow the most current canning guidelines. Significant changes were made in 1994 that are critical to the safety of some processes. These included changes in canning tomatoes, pickles, and meat processing. Also, other recipes were reviewed and updated for safety and food quality. In 2006 and again in 2009, canning guidelines were reviewed and revised. For this reason, all recipes should be 1994 or later.
Some recommended resources include:
food preparation, food safety
The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that Americans reduce their intake of “added sugars.” About 16 percent of the total calories in the American diet comes from added sugars. The leading sources of these added sugars include soda/energy/sports drinks, grain-based desserts, sugar-sweetened fruit drinks, dairy-based desserts, and candy.
A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that men consume more calories per day from added sugars (335 calorie average) than women (239 calorie average). Also, this study reported that young adults ages 20 to 39 consumed the most calories from added sugars compared to other age groups.
Added sugars are sugars added to foods during processing, preparation, and when eating. Natural sugars, on the other hand, are those found in fruit or white milk. Both are digested and used by the body in the same way. The difference is foods containing natural sugars typically have other health-promoting nutrients whereas foods with added sugars provide extra calories with few to no health-promoting nutrients.
By limiting your intake of foods with added sugars you will also decrease the amount of calories in your diet.
Examples of added sugars on food labels include:
- anhydrous dextrose
- brown sugar
- confectioner’s powdered sugar
- corn syrup
- corn syrup solids
- fructose sweetener
- high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
- invert sugar
- liquid fructose
- malt syrup
- maple syrup
- nectars (e.g., peach nectar, pear nectar)
- pancake syrup
- raw sugar
- white granulated sugar
Gardening is a great way not only to enjoy some fresh air and grow your own vegetables and fruits, but also to get some exercise.
Gardening activities—such as pulling weeds, removing rocks, trimming shrubs, digging, planting, and raking—require you to expend energy (burn calories). Physical activity can help strengthen bones and joints, lower blood pressure, and help manage stress.
Gardening is a fun, creative, and healthy activity with positive health benefits.
(30 minutes for 150 lb person)
|Digging/pulling weeds, removing rocks
|Trimming trees and shrubs
|Mowing (using push reel mowers)
|Walking (slow to fast)
Want to grow your own vegetables or herbs? Check out the many Yard and Garden publications at the ISU Extension and Outreach Online Store.
Makes 3 one-cup servings
- 2 tablespoons vinegar
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon mustard (Dijon or other)
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg (optional)
- 2 cups spinach (washed), (more if you like)
- 1 15-ounce can black beans (unsalted or drain and rinse)
- 2 tomatoes (chopped)
- 1 red onion (small, chopped)
- In a large bowl, combine vinegar, oil, mustard, garlic, oregano, basil, and nutmeg.
- Wash, drain, and chop spinach.
- Add spinach, black beans, tomatoes, and onions to vinegar and oil. Toss well and serve.
Source: Connecticut Food Policy Council, Farm Fresh Summertime Recipes
- Top your salad with other vegetables (cucumbers, mushrooms, peppers,yellow squash, red onions, zucchini, etc.).
- Add cooked chicken, egg, or tuna for more protein.
- Add cubes of cheddar, Swiss, or smoked Gouda cheese.
- Fruit makes a great addition—try dried fruit (cranberries, raisins, cherries, apricots) or fresh berries in season.
Nutrient information per serving: 284 calories, 5 g total fat (less than 1 g saturated fat), 201 mg sodium, 51 g carbohydrates,10 g dietary fiber, 10 g protein
Last week we talked about the distinctive flavor of spices and herbs. Here’s some information on how to use them when cooking fruits and veggies and details on how to substitute fresh for dry or vice versa.
Can I substitute fresh for dry herbs and spices?
- ¼ teaspoon powdered = ¼ to 1 teaspoon dried crumbled = 2 to 3 teaspoon fresh
- Chop fresh herbs fine to allow for more flavor to be released.
|If you are cooking:
||Try flavoring it with:
||Caraway, mustard, nutmeg, tarragon
||Bay leaf, caraway, cloves, ginger
||Cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, vanilla
||Mustard, nutmeg, oregano, tarragon
||Caraway, celery seed, cumin, curry, fennel
||Cinnamon, cloves, dill, ginger, marjoram
||Cayenne, celery seed, chili powder, nutmeg
||Celery seed, cumin, curry powder, onion, parsley
||Chives, dill, garlic, mint, parsley, vinegar
||Dill, curry powder, oregano, tarragon, thyme
||Cardamom, ginger, mint, pepper
||Cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg
||Anise, cinnamon, mint, nutmeg
||Dill, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage
||Cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, vanilla
||Cinnamon, mint, nutmeg, oregano, sage, thyme
||Cloves, curry powder, nutmeg, rosemary, sage
||Basil, bay leaf, dill, onion, oregano, parsley
How long should I keep spices and herbs?
As a general rule, keep herbs or ground spices for 1 year; keep whole spices 2 years.
- Buy a smaller container until you know how fast you’ll use a spice or herb. If it smells strong and flavorful, it’s probably still potent.
- Rub a small amount of an herb or ground spice in your hand. If the aroma is fresh, rich, and immediate, it can still flavor foods.
- Check a whole spice—such as a clove or cinnamon stick—by breaking, crushing, or scraping it before smelling it. Avoid smelling pepper or chili powder as they can irritate your nose.
- Label date of purchase on container with a permanent marking pen and store away from any sources of heat (e.g., oven, stove top) to maintain their quality.
Source: University of Delaware College of Agriculture and Natural Resources
healthy living, recipe
What is known about cancer prevention is still evolving, but we do know that chances of developing cancer are affected by the lifestyle choices we make. Some simple changes can make a big difference – such as eating a healthy diet and getting regular screenings.
The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) recommends we fill at least two-thirds of our plates with vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and beans. Research shows that vegetables and fruits likely protect against a range of cancers.
Vegetables and fruits may protect against cancer because they contain vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. Vitamins and minerals help strengthen our immune system. Phytochemicals (a.k.a. antioxidants) protect cells in the body from damage that can lead to cancer. Typically, phytochemicals are found in the pigment, which is why eating a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables is important.
Enjoy vegetables and fruits with less sugar and salt—season with herbs and spices. Herbs (leaves of low-growing shrubs) and spices (come from the bark, root, buds, seeds, berry, or fruit of tropical plants and trees) are recommended in place of table salt. The key is understanding how and when to use them.
Each spice or herb has a distinctive flavor, but certain spices and herbs can be grouped together according to a type of flavor:
- Strong or dominant—Includes bay leaf, cardamom, curry, ginger, pepper, mustard, rosemary, sage.
- Medium—Includes basil, celery seeds and leaves, cumin, dill, fennel, tarragon, garlic, marjoram, mint, oregano, savory, thyme, turmeric. Use in moderate amounts (1 to 2 teaspoons for 6 servings).
- Delicate—Includes chervil, chives, parsley. May be used in large quantities and combined with most other herbs and spices.
- Sweet—Includes cinnamon, cloves, allspice, ginger, cardamom, anise, fennel, mint. Combined in sweet dishes, these may let you reduce sugar.
- Savory—Includes oregano, tarragon, chives, dill.
- Peppery—Includes red pepper, mustard, black pepper, paprika. Use with care because their flavors stand out (approximately 1 teaspoon for 6 servings).
food preparation, recipe
Healthy and Happy Outdoors (H2O) is a new initiative designed to connect Iowans with the outdoors as a means to reduce stress and improve health.
The H2O website provides information on more than 30 types of outdoor activities at over 1,600 state and county parks and recreation areas. Each time you complete an outdoor activity, you can have your name entered into a drawing for recreational prizes, including bikes, binoculars, and vacation getaways.
This is a great way for families to enjoy Iowa outdoors while being physically active.
fitness, healthy living