Exercise Clothing Basics

November 25th, 2015

Being physically active is important, and the right clothes and shoes can help reduce injury and make physical activity more comfortable. It’s all about the fabric and fit with clothing, so you don’t have to worry about the labels or latest fashions.

Fabric: Choose fabrics that pull sweat away from the skin and dry quickly. Most of these fabrics are made of polyester or polypropylene. These fabrics don’t soak the clothing. Look for terms such as Dri-fit, moisture-wicking, Coolmax, or Supplex. Cotton, on the other hand, absorbs sweat and leaves you feeling sweaty and uncomfortable.

Fit: Choose the fit that is most comfortable to you while not getting in the way of your activity. Loose clothing is fine for activities like running, basketball, and strength training. Form-fitting clothing works best for activities where clothing can get caught, like biking.

Shoes: Just as with clothing, your shoes should match the activity. Walking shoes are stiff, while running shoes are more flexible. For strength training, choose shoes that have good support. If you have issues with your feet or are unsure of the type of shoe you need, a store specializing in fitting shoes would be recommended. They are trained to determine the best shoe for you based upon your activity, gait, and feet.

Source: MedlinePlus

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USDA’s Meat and Poultry Hotline

November 18th, 2015

If you have a question on buying, storing, preparing, or cooking your turkey this Thanksgiving, the USDA’s Meat and Poultry hotline can help you. The hotline, which recently celebrated its 30th year, is available to answer any question on food safety.

Call 888-674-6854 Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. On Thanksgiving Day, the line is open from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., but it is closed other government holidays. The hotline is available in Spanish as well. Recorded food safety messages are available 24 hours a day in English and Spanish. Or you can send questions to mphotline.fsis@usda.gov; use their virtual food safety representative at askkaren.gov or live chat during specified weekday hours. In addition, the USDA’s FoodKeeper app available on Android and iOS provides information on storage times for foods.

Source: www.fsis.usda.gov

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Butternut Squash Enchiladas

November 11th, 2015

butternut-squash-enchiladasServing Size: 1 enchilada | Serves: 8

•2 1/2 cups butternut squash (or other winter squash), cooked
•1 can (15 ounces) black beans (drained and rinsed)
•1/2 cup onion, diced (1/2 medium onion)
•1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped, or 3 tbsp. dried cilantro
•2 tsp. garlic powder
•1/2 tsp. cumin
•1 cup 2% fat cheese, shredded (like cheddar or Mexican blend), divided
•8 tortillas (6”)
•1 cup salsa or 1 can (10 ounces) red or green enchilada sauce
•1/2 cup Greek yogurt

1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
2. Mix the squash, beans, onion, cilantro, garlic powder, and cumin in a bowl.
3. Mix 3/4 cup of the cheese into the squash mixture.
4. Put a 1/2 cup strip of filling on each tortilla. Roll the tortilla around the filling. Put the tortilla into a greased 9” x 13” baking dish with the seam down.
5. Cover the tortillas with the salsa or enchilada sauce. Put the rest of the cheese (1/4 cup) on the salsa or sauce.
6. Bake for 25 minutes.
7. Serve each enchilada with 1 tablespoon of Greek yogurt.

Nutrition information per serving: 220 calories, 3.5g total fat, 1.5g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 5mg cholesterol, 660mg sodium, 35g total carbohydrate, 6g fiber, 7g sugar, 10g protein

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

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Sprouted Foods

November 4th, 2015

A new trend showing up in the cereal, bread, pasta, and snack aisles is products made with sprouts. Most people have heard of bean sprouts, but other foods that can be sprouted include grains, legumes, radish seeds, broccoli seeds, and nuts.

The health benefits touted include being higher in vitamins such as B and C and minerals such as zinc and iron, as well as increased digestibility. Currently there is little research on sprouted foods, and the results of these studies show the benefits to be small compared to nonsprouted foods. The few studies that have been done show that vitamin C is slightly higher in sprouted grains, and iron and zinc may be more easily absorbed. In regard to digestibility, sprouting does break down the seed, which means less work for your digestive system.

If you are considering adding raw sprouts to your diet, first look at food safety. To reduce the risk of a foodborne illness, the Food and Drug Administration recommends the following:

• Children, elderly, pregnant women, and people with compromised immune systems should avoid eating raw sprouts.
• Refrigerate any sprouts you buy.
• Cook sprouts thoroughly to kill any potentially harmful bacteria.

Sources: chnr.ucdavis.edu/faq/, www.webmd.com/food-recipes/sprouting-food

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Walk Your Way to Fitness

October 28th, 2015

elderly couple walking fitness activeThe American Heart Association says that a 30-minute walk a day can reduce your risk of coronary heart disease, osteoporosis, breast and colon cancer, and Type-2 diabetes.

The following tips can help you start walking with maximum safety and the most success.

  • Talk to your doctor. Consult a health care professional before starting a workout routine if you are not physically active.
  • Wear appropriate attire. This includes supportive shoes, good socks, breathable active wear, and a hat or cap to shield you from the sun or keep your head warm.
  • Remember to stretch. Avoid sore muscles and injury by stretching before and after you walk.
  • Start slow. Progressively increase the intensity and length of your walking regimen over time.
  • Plan a route. Use www.mapmywalk.com or another similar website to plan a walking route. There are also many free online walking videos that can be used indoors with no equipment other than shoes such as START! Walking at Home American Heart Association 3 Mile Walk (www.youtube.com/watch?v=DYuw4f1c4xs).

Sources: American Heart Association, “Why Walking?” www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/PhysicalActivity/Walking/Why-Walking_UCM_461770_Article.jsp; eXtension Network, www.extension.org

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Leftovers Don’t Last Forever

October 21st, 2015

leftoversSometimes “leftover night” can be a fun game of take-your-pick for dinner! However, it might not end up so enjoyable if the food is no longer safe to eat. Follow these tips for safe leftovers:

  • Set your refrigerator temperature at 40°F or below. When storing hot foods, store them in shallow containers no more than 2” deep, so that the food cools to 41°F (or lower) quickly.
  • Follow the “4-Day Throw Away” rule: if the leftovers are not eaten on the fourth day after storing, throw them away! Download the 4-day Throw Away app at www.4daythrowaway.org for your smartphone.
  • Leave a pen and sticky notes near the fridge. Label leftovers with the date when you prepared them.
  • Make a “use-up” list. List the leftovers you have in the refrigerator and the freezer. Post it on your fridge. Create meal combinations to use up the leftovers while they are still safe to eat.

Sources: ISU Extension and Outreach Spend Smart. Eat Smart. website, www.extension.iastate.edu/foodsavings

ISU Extension and Outreach Food Safety website, www.extension.iastate.edu/foodsafety

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Sweet Potato Fries

October 14th, 2015

sweet-potato-friesServing Size: 2/3 cup and 1 T dip | Serves: 6


  • 1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes (about 4 medium)
  • 1 tablespoon oil (canola or vegetable)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt


  • 1/4 cup light mayonnaise or salad dressing
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, chili powder, or paprika


  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. Rinse potatoes under running water. Scrub potatoes well and peel, if desired.
  3. Cut the potatoes in half lengthwise.
  4. Lay each potato half flat and slice into half-round shapes about 1/4” thick.
  5. Combine potatoes, oil, and salt in a bowl. Stir so potatoes are covered with oil.
  6. Grease cookie sheet with oil and lay potato slices in a single layer.
  7. Bake for about 30 minutes, turning after 15 minutes.
  8. Mix the dip ingredients while potatoes are baking.
  9. Serve immediately.

Nutrition information per serving: 150 calories, 4g total fat, 0.5g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 5mg cholesterol, 220mg sodium, 26g total carbohydrate, 3g fiber, 6g sugar, 2g protein

This recipe is courtesy of the Spend Smart. Eat Smart. website of ISU Extension and Outreach, www.extension.iastate.edu/foodsavings.

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Save Money, Eat Well

October 7th, 2015

woman grocery store shopping produceWhen grocery prices go up, it may not seem possible to eat healthy foods while on a budget. However, eating healthy on a budget is possible when following a few tips.

Five tips to save money while eating nutritiously:

  1. Look for deals and plan your meals! Plan your meals around weekly ad specials and what you have on hand in the refrigerator, freezer, and cupboards.
  2. Buy in season. Seasonal produce often costs less and has better taste. Visit snap.nal.usda.gov/nutrition-through-seasons/seasonal-produce to find out which foods are in season.
  3. Schedule a day to cook. Cook large batches of your favorite recipes to portion out and freeze for quick-fix meals throughout the week. For easy recipes to freeze, order the cookbook Healthy in a Hurry—14 Main Dishes for Now or Later from the ISU Extension Online Store (store.extension.iastate.edu).
  4. Get creative. Make it a game with leftovers to find ways to incorporate them into meals and snacks before they are no longer safe to eat. Use fruit in smoothies, put leftover vegetables in pasta, or use leftover meat in a stir fry.
  5. Shop smart. Check the unit price on items and compare brands to get the best value. Use unit prices to not only compare brands and product sizes but also to compare forms of a food like fresh, frozen, and canned. Visit the ISU Extension and Outreach Spend Smart. Eat Smart. website (www.extension.iastate.edu/foodsavings) for more information on unit prices.

Source: Choose My Plate Tip Sheet: Eating Better on a Budget, www.choosemyplate.gov/ten-tips-eating-better-on-a-budget

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Get Moving in Your Community

September 23rd, 2015

young kids bike summer active fitnessStudies show that individuals are more physically active if the environment provides them with opportunities to do so. Examine your neighborhood, workplace, or school to identify ways to make your surroundings more inviting for walking or exercise. Here are four ideas to consider:

  • Start a walking group in your neighborhood or at your workplace.
  • Make the streets safe for exercise by driving the speed limit and yielding to people who walk, run, or bike.
  • Participate in local planning efforts to develop a walking or bike path in your community.
  • Share your ideas for improvement with your neighbors or local leaders.

Source: Opportunities Abound for Moving Around, May 2015, newsinhealth.nih.gov/issue/May2015/Feature1

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Superfoods: More than Kale and Quinoa

September 16th, 2015

Though there is no legal or medical definition for “superfoods,” the term is typically used to describe foods that are high in nutrients and antioxidants and low in fat, sugar, and sodium. Eating these foods may reduce the risk of some chronic diseases. The following “superfoods” are packed with vitamins and minerals and are versatile in recipes.

Cruciferous Vegetables – This category includes broccoli, brussels sprouts, and cabbage, which are good sources of fiber and vitamin C and are easily added to a stir fry or a casserole. Substitute shredded cabbage for iceberg lettuce on tacos. Broccoli is also great for snacking raw with a low-fat dip.

Citrus Fruits – Oranges, grapefruit, lemons, limes, clementines, tangerines, and the ugli fruit are included in this group. Citrus fruits are high in vitamin C. These fruits can be enjoyed as a snack or tossed in a fruit salad or a leafy green salad. Squeeze the fruit to make fresh juice and to replace the flavor of salt in recipes.

Green, Leafy Vegetables – Spinach, kale, collard greens, mustard greens, watercress, arugula, and other dark green lettuces are nutrition powerhouses. They are packed with fiber and are a high source of vitamins A and C. Enjoy these greens shredded in a salad, sautéed with olive oil and garlic, or added to soup or casseroles.

Berries – Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries are good sources of fiber and vitamin C. Add them to cereal or oatmeal or enjoy them for a snack. Try adding them to a leafy green salad for a different twist.

Beans – Garbanzo beans (chickpeas), kidney beans, black beans, black-eyed peas, lentils, lima beans, pinto beans, and navy beans are a few of the more popular bean varieties. Beans are fat free, high in dietary fiber, and a good source of folate and potassium. Enjoy them in bean burritos, black bean burgers, bean salads, or bean soups.

Source: Fruits and Veggies More Matters, www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/

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