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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Beef and Vegetable Stir Fry

February 11th, 2015

beef-and-veggie-stire-fryServing Size: 1 1/2 cups stir fry, 2/3 cup instant brown rice | Serves: 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 pound lean beef or pork, sliced thinly
  • 2 cups uncooked instant brown rice
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 7 cups chopped vegetables or 24 ounces frozen stir fry vegetables, thawed
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch

Preparations:

  1. Create ginger mixture by mixing ginger, garlic powder, soy sauce, and water. Pour 1/4 cup of the mix into a sealable plastic bag and save the rest. Add meat to the bag. Seal the bag and set it in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes.
  2. Prepare brown rice according to directions on the package for 4 servings.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large frying pan. When oil is hot, add meat from plastic bag and stir until brown. This will take 1 to 3 minutes. Discard liquid from the bag.
  4. Remove meat from pan and cover it. Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan.
  5. Add chopped vegetables. Stir and cook until tender, about 5 minutes.
  6. Add cornstarch to the saved ginger mixture and stir until smooth.
  7. Return meat to the pan when vegetables are tender. Add cornstarch mixture and cook for about 2 minutes until bubbly.
  8. Serve over brown rice.

Nutrition information per serving: 470 calories, 13 g total fat, 2 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 50 mg cholesterol, 610 mg sodium, 60 g total carbohydrate, 6 g fiber, 5 g sugar, 27 g protein

Source: http://www.extension.iastate.edu/foodsavings/recipes/beef-and-vegetable-stir-fry

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Will Activated Charcoal Activate your Health?

February 4th, 2015

activated charcoal pillsTake a look around your local health market shelves or smoothie bar menu and you may notice products containing activated charcoal (also called activated carbon). Before you jump to try this latest fad, take a moment to understand what this product is, its intended uses, and health implications.

Activated charcoal is not found naturally in foods. It is made when coal, wood, or other substances are placed under high heat with a gas or an activating agent to expand the surface area. Activated charcoal has been used by medical professionals to manage poisonings and overdoses.

There are several other activated charcoal health claims that are far less studied include the following:

  • treating cholestasis (a condition of pregnancy affecting normal bile flow)
  • reducing high cholesterol
  • preventing a hangover
  • preventing gas (flatulence)

There is limited scientific evidence to support the use of activated charcoal as treatment for these conditions.

Activated charcoal is often marketed as a way to detox and eliminate harmful toxins from our bodies. Although the use of activated charcoal may be warranted in the case of poisonings or overdoses, general detoxification is done by our bodies naturally with the help of our kidneys and liver. Additionally, activated charcoal can absorb food nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that our bodies need. It is also important to remember that the Federal Drug Administration does not regulate the sale of dietary supplements, including activated charcoal.

Side effects are more likely when activated charcoal is used on a long-term basis; these include black stools, black tongue, vomiting or diarrhea, and constipation. Activated charcoal can also react with certain medications you may be taking. Always talk with your doctor before you begin taking any supplement, including activated charcoal.

The bottom line is that further research needs to be done to determine how effective activated charcoal is for the treatment of various conditions and what doses should be used.

Sources/more information: http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/activated-charcoal-uses-risks

http://blogs.extension.iastate.edu/wellness/?s=cleanse

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Increase Your Physical Activity Level with Tai Chi

January 26th, 2015

woman tai chi figureTai chi is a martial art developed in ancient China that is now practiced for health improvement. Tai chi combines slow, graceful movements flowing into the next with focused mental concentration.

Tai chi requires very little in terms of equipment or props. This slow and gentle movement of body weight and deep breathing requires nothing more than comfortable clothes and flat, flexible shoes. It is suitable for all ages and can be done indoors or outdoors, alone or with a group. The whole family can learn and practice tai chi together.

People who practice tai chi several times weekly may experience several health benefits such as improved balance (which helps to reduce risk of falling), flexibility, strengthened muscles, stress relief, lower blood pressure, better sleep quality, and improved sense of well-being, to name a few.

Before beginning tai chi, as with any exercise program, consult your physician if you have a chronic health condition.

Sources: www.extension.org/pages/32340/tai-chi:-movment-for-health-benefits/print/ and http://nccam.nih.gov/health/taichi/introduction.htm

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What’s For Dinner?

January 19th, 2015

ground beefThe day has somehow gotten away from you—it’s later than you think; the family is hungry and you haven’t begun to fix dinner, let alone think about what to fix. One look in the freezer and you spot a frozen brick of ground beef. What’s the quickest way to turn the brick into a quick and delicious beef meal? Here is what you need: microwave-safe storage bag (gallon size), microwave, four minutes, and these simple steps.

  1. Transfer your frozen ground beef from its packaging to the gallon-size storage bag.
  2. Seal the storage bag, leaving a small opening for steam to escape (about 1/2 inch or size of a pencil).
  3. Heat the bag in the microwave on a microwave-safe plate for one minute on HIGH.
  4. Flip the bag over.
  5. Heat on HIGH for one more minute; wait for one minute.
  6. Remove the beef from the microwave and massage the bag
  7. for 10 seconds.
  8. If needed, heat on HIGH for 30 seconds longer, followed by 30 seconds of rest. The leaner the ground beef, the less time in the microwave. TIP: the beef should not be HOT to the touch; just thaw it enough to form it into a shape.
  9. Immediately cook your beef to 160°F.
  10. Enjoy!

Source: www.beefitswhatsfordinner.com/groundbeefthawing.aspx

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