Get Motivated to Move

April 23rd, 2014

letsmoveGetting bored with your workout? Want new ideas on how to get active? Check out Let’s Move! at http://www.letsmove.gov/.

February 2014 marked the fourth anniversary of Let’s Move!, an initiative to inspire families and communities to help children grow up healthy and reach their full potential. First Lady Michelle Obama celebrated the anniversary by encouraging people of all ages to show her how they move (through an everyday fitness routine, by making better food choices, or by moving their community toward a new norm) on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, etc., using #LetsMove.

Be inspired to take your own physical activity up a notch by following Let’s Move! on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/letsmove and follow the Let’s Move! blog at http://www.letsmove.gov/blog

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Scrambled Egg Muffins

April 16th, 2014

ScrambledEggMuffinsServes: 6 (Serving size: 1 muffin)

Ingredients
• 2 cups washed vegetables, diced (e.g. broccoli, peppers, onion, mushrooms, tomatoes, or spinach)
• 6 eggs
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
• 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
• 1/2 cup low fat cheddar cheese, shredded

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray muffin tin with nonstick spray.
2. Add chopped veggies to the muffin tin.
3. Beat eggs in a bowl. Stir in salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
4. Pour eggs into the muffin tin and bake 20-25 minutes. To add cheese, remove the tin from the oven during the last 3 minutes of baking. Sprinkle the cheese on top of the muffins and return the tin to the oven.
5. Bake until the internal temperature reaches 160°F or a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.

Meal Idea: Serve extras in tortillas or with a green salad and roll.

Nutritional information per serving
100 calories, 6 g total fat (2 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 215 mg cholesterol, 230 mg sodium, 3 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 1 g sugar, 9 g protein

Source: Spend Smart Eat Smart http://www.extension.iastate.edu/foodsavings/

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Spring: An Egg-citing Time of Year!

April 9th, 2014

eggs easter color dyeCooking, coloring, hiding, and eating eggs are a sign of the season. Follow these easy tips to ensure the safety of the eggs.

1. Use eggs that have been properly stored in the refrigerator and are not past their “use by date.” Uncooked eggs can be stored three to five weeks in the refrigerator.

2. To hard cook eggs, put eggs in a single layer in a pan; completely cover all eggs with cold water. Cover the pan and bring the water to a boiling point; then turn off the heat, and leave pan on the burner for 15-17 minutes. Cool under cold running water to stop the cooking process.

3. Refrigerate hard-cooked eggs in their cartons if you won’t be coloring them right after cooking and cooling. Refrigerate the eggs again right after you dye them. Cooked eggs can be safely stored in the refrigerator for one week.

4. Everyone who helps dye the eggs should wash his/her hands thoroughly (before and after handling eggs).

5. Eggs should not be left at room temperature for more than two hours if they will be eaten. If they will be hidden in an egg hunt or used as a centerpiece, they should be thrown away
after use.

6. Color only uncracked eggs. If you plan to eat your dyed eggs later, use food coloring or specially made food-grade egg dyes dissolved in water that is warmer than the eggs. If any eggs crack during dyeing or while on display, throw them away along with any eggs that have been out of refrigeration for more than 2 hours.

For more information contact ISU Extension and Outreach Answerline 800-262-3804 or email questions to answer@iastate.edu

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Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) Explained

April 2nd, 2014

GMO CornMisinformation about the safety of GMOs is widespread today, especially on the Internet. Dr. Ruth MacDonald, professor and chair of the department of food science and human nutrition at Iowa State University, answers some common questions about GMOs.

Why do we use GMO technology?
GMO technology allows farmers to use fewer pesticides and fertilizers on their fields and produce higher quality and greater yields of crops. This has the potential to result in less damage to the environment and in lower food prices.

How are GMO crops made?
To make a GMO crop like corn, scientists insert a very carefully selected section of DNA into the corn plant. The DNA is converted by the plant, as part of the corn’s own DNA, into a protein. That protein gives the corn plant the ability to resist a herbicide or prevent a pest from damaging the plant. The added DNA and protein affect only the pests and herbicides, not people or animals. The added DNA and protein are broken down when we eat them, just like all the other DNA and protein already in the plant.

Are foods made with GMO plants safe to eat?
We eat DNA and proteins all the time! Every living thing, including plants, animals, and bacteria contain DNA and protein. The added versions, such as those found in GMO foods, are not different. Since the beginning of agriculture, farmers have been combining and selecting varieties to improve crops. Using modern tools, scientists speed up this process and make it much more specific.
Most of the major health organizations including the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics have declared that foods from GMO plants are safe. Farm animals have been consuming GMO grain for many years and the meat, milk, and eggs they produce are safe and healthy for people to eat. Farmers in the United States have been growing GMO corn and soybeans for almost 20 years and these foods and ingredients have been part of our food system all along. To date, there have been no reported cases of sickness from or allergic reactions to foods grown using GMO technology.
Is the use of GMO technology monitored?
Before farmers can grow foods that contain GMO technology, rigorous testing is done to make sure the plants are safe for the environment, animals, and humans. Government agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), carefully examine the plants for safety and only those that pass are allowed to be grown.

Are GMO foods labeled?
FDA scientists are responsible for food labels, and they agree that foods produced with GMO technology are as safe and nutritious as other foods—and therefore do not need to be labeled. Some food companies have chosen not to use GMO ingredients in their products, like Cheerios©. General Mills, the company that makes Cheerios©, has said that they are not concerned about the safety of GMOs but believe some consumers might want to have
a choice.

For more information about GMOs visit: www.GMOAnswers.com and www.foodintegrity.org

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The Kitchen Workout

March 26th, 2014

woman in kitchenAre you having a difficult time getting 30 minutes of physical activity in during the day? Did you know that your kitchen could be a great place for you to get some physical activity while your meal is cooking?
Warm Up: March in place or walk briskly for one minute while breathing deeply (IN through the nose and OUT through the mouth).
Side Arm Raises: Hold cans of fruit or vegetables at your sides with palms facing inward. Slowly breathe out as you raise both arms to the side, shoulder height. Hold the position for 1 second. Breathe in as you slowly lower arms to the sides. Build up until you can repeat 10 to 15 times. Rest; then repeat 10 to 15 more times.
Toe Stands: Stand at your kitchen counter, feet shoulder-width apart, holding on to the counter for balance. Breathe in slowly. Breathe out and slowly stand on tiptoes, as high as possible. Hold position for 1 second. Breathe in as you slowly lower heels to the floor. Build up until you can repeat 10 to 15 times. Rest; then repeat 10 to 15 more times.

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Safe Home Food Preservation

March 19th, 2014

Preserve the Taste of Summer LogoInterest in home food preservation has increased due to the popularity of local foods and gardening. With more people preserving food, there is concern about whether the resulting food products are safe to eat. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report the most common cause of foodborne botulism in the United States is from home-canned vegetables because proper procedures were not followed. It is important to keep food safety in mind every step of the way when preserving foods at home.

  1. Follow food safety guidelines when preparing the recipe.
  2. Always use up-to-date tested recipes and directions from a reliable source because knowledge and recommendations change over time with scientific developments. Ignoring recommended procedures can result in home canned products that will make you and your family very ill.
  3. Use the appropriate canning method. The acidity of the canned food product determines whether or not it should be processed in a hot water bath canner or in a pressure canner.
  4. Have the dial gauge on your pressure canner checked each season. Weighted gauges remain accurate and do not need to be tested. Contact your local extension office for information on how to get your dial-gauge pressure
  5. canner tested.

ISU Extension and Outreach offers the Preserve the Taste of Summer (PTTS) program that provides a thorough review of research-based, safe home food preservation practices, includes eight online lessons as well as four hands-on workshops (requires completion of online lessons), and is available statewide. The cost ranges from $25 to $100 depending on the level you choose.
Participant evaluations show that the program increases knowledge of safe home food preservation practices and is well received by those who have participated. One participant said, “I would never have attempted home canning before the online lessons. Now I know how to do it correctly and will attempt home canning.” Another stated, “I plan to make homemade jams and can tomatoes. I wouldn’t feel confident in trying these out before taking this workshop. Great opportunity!”
To register for PTTS, visit www.ucs.iastate.edu/mnet/preservation/home.html.

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Quick Pad Thai

March 12th, 2014

Serves: 6 (Serving size: 1 1/4 cup)quick pad thai 2

Ingredients

  • 6 ounces thin, whole wheat spaghetti
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 24 ounces frozen vegetable mix
  • 3 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 pound boneless chicken breast, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 cup chopped peanuts

Directions

  1. Cook spaghetti according to package directions. Drain in colander and toss with 1 tablespoon oil.
  2. Defrost vegetables in microwave for 5 minutes and drain well (as spaghetti cooks).
  3. Combine soy sauce, water, peanut butter, and sugar in a small bowl. Stir until
  4. smooth and set aside.
  5. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large skillet over medium high heat. Add chicken pieces
  6. and cook and stir until no longer pink
  7. (heat chicken to at least 165 degrees F).
  8. Crack eggs into a small bowl and beat.
  9. Add to pan with chicken and scramble
  10. until firm. Add the vegetables and
  11. spaghetti to the pan with the chicken mixture. Stir to heat through.
  12. Add the soy sauce mixture to the pan and stir to coat veggies and spaghetti.
  13. Place in serving bowl and sprinkle peanuts on top.

Nutrient information per serving
420 calories, 8 g total fat (3 g saturated fat, 0g trans fat), 130 mg cholesterol, 450 mg
sodium, 45g total carbohydrate, 9 g fiber, 24 g protein

recipe

MARCH into Spring

March 5th, 2014

family eatingMARCH into spring armed with habits that help you become your healthiest self. Consider these tips:

Move every day – Get at least 30 minutes of physical activity daily for better blood pressure, stress reduction, and weight control. This can include three 10-minute bouts of physical activity throughout the day. Choose activities you enjoy, raise your heart rate, build strength, and increase flexibility. An activity buddy can help you stay faithful to your plan.

Avoid Skipping Meals – When making a shopping list and planning meals, consider MyPlate (http://www.choosemyplate.gov/). Include healthy snacks (e.g., low fat yogurt, vegetables with low fat dip, whole grain bread with peanut butter) to meet your family’s nutritional needs. Healthy snacks sustain energy levels between meals and help you stay on track with your health goals.

Read food labels – Aim high (20% or more) for vitamins, minerals and fiber. Aim low (5% or less) for total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium. For more information on how to read a food label, watch the “Label Reading for Health” video at http://www.extension.iastate.edu/foodsavings/page/online-lessons.

Choose foods carefully – Become a smart shopper by reducing the amount of convenience foods eaten, choosing fruit canned in juice, and buying no salt added canned vegetables. When you are choosing foods, make half your plate fruits and vegetables and watch portion sizes.

Have family meals – Make family meal time a priority. Research shows family meals promote healthier eating. Eat as a family a few times each week. Set a regular mealtime and turn off the TV, computers, and phones. Have all family members help in meal planning and cooking.

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HIIT Is a HIT!

February 26th, 2014

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) has listed High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) as its top fitness trend for 2014. HIIT involves short bursts of activity followed by a short period of rest or recovery. These exercise programs are usually performed in less than 30 minutes. Research suggests HIIT can boost metabolism and accelerate weight loss.

Although many people can safely participate in HIIT, it is not for everyone. This type of training does come with increased risk of injury and may not be safe for some. Michael Bracko, Fellow of the ACSM, recommends always warming up for five to ten minutes before starting intervals. If an individual has an injury or has not been cleared for exercise, he advises that those issues be resolved before beginning HIIT.

Once you have consulted with a physician and been given the green light to try HIIT, you might want to try it at home. Bracko does sprint intervals with his dog. “I throw a stuffed duck, she chases it, and I chase her. It’s a blast!”

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Dating 101

February 19th, 2014

Americans throw out billions of pounds of food every year due to confusion about food expiration date labeling practices, according to a recent report released by Harvard Law School’s Food Law and Policy Clinic and the Natural Resources Defense Council. This study found that over 90 percent of Americans prematurely toss food because they misinterpret dates on food labels as indicators of food safety.

For most products, date shelf life is determined by the manufacturer and is based on food quality, not food safety. The lead author of the study concluded that a standardized date labeling system providing useful information to consumers is needed. Until a new system is in place, use the guide below to help decipher codes on your next grocery store trip:

  • A “Sell-by” date tells the store how long to display the product for sale. You should buy the product before the date expires.
  • A “Best If Used By (or Before)” date is recommended for best flavor or quality. It is not a purchase or safety date.
  • A “Use-By” date is the last date recommended for the use of the product while at peak quality. The date has been determined by the manufacturer of the product.
  • “Closed or coded dates” are packing numbers for use by the manufacturer.

It is also important that you keep track of your food inventory at home. The acronym FIFO (first in, first out) can help you remember oldest food should be stored in front and used first, while newer items should be placed in the back of your fridge or cabinets.

A helpful resource is StillTasty. Here you can type in a food item and determine how long it will stay safe and tasty. The website provides storage recommendations for the fridge and freezer. An app for the iPhone is available as well, and even alerts you when food should be tossed! A good rule of thumb is “4 day throw away”; after four days leftovers should be eaten, thrown out, or frozen.

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