Chicken Fajitas

September 10th, 2014

chicken fajitas meals dinnerMexican-inspired dishes are a great way to combine foods from many of the food groups. This recipe includes foods from the grain, dairy, protein, and vegetable groups! Serves 6

Ingredients:
• 1 pound boneless, skinless
chicken breast*
• 2 teaspoons chili powder
• 2 teaspoons garlic powder
• 1½ tablespoons vegetable oil
• 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
• 1 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
• 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
• 6 whole-wheat tortillas, 8-inch
(or corn tortillas)

Optional Toppings:
• 6 ounces low-fat shredded cheddar cheese
• 1 cup chopped tomato
• Cilantro, chopped
• Jalapeno, sliced

Directions:
1. Freeze chicken 30 minutes until firm and easier to cut. Cut chicken into 1/4-inch strips. Place in a single layer on a plate. Sprinkle both sides of strips with chili and garlic powder.
2. Add oil to a 12-inch skillet. Heat to medium high. Add chicken strips. Cook about 3–5 minutes, stirring frequently.
3. Add bell peppers and onion. Stir and cook until vegetables are tender and chicken is no longer pink. (Heat chicken to an internal temperature of at least 165°F.)
4. Scoop chicken mixture (2/3 cup each) onto tortillas. Top with your favorite toppings.
5. Serve flat or rolled.

*Can replace chicken with 1 can (15 ounces) black beans (drained, rinsed), beef, or pork.
Nutrition Information per Serving: 290 calories, 9g fat, 0.5g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 50mg cholesterol, 270mg sodium, 28g carbohydrate, 3g fiber, 4g sugars, 21g protein.

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Cleanse Diets: How to Protect Yourself from Fad Diets

September 3rd, 2014

diet on chalkboardIt seems as though you can’t go on Facebook or pick up a magazine without reading about how a high school classmate or a famous actress lost a lot of weight in a short amount of time by going on a “cleanse diet.” Cleanse diets claim to be a natural way to remove toxins from the body through fasting followed by a strict vegetable- and fruit-only regimen. It often includes raw vegetables, fruit juices, fruit, and water. More extreme versions of a cleanse diet entail the use of herbs and other supplements that help cleanse the colon (e.g., enemas). There is no scientific evidence that cleanse diets work to detox the body. The kidneys and liver naturally remove most of the toxins we ingest. The benefits most associated with cleanse diets may actually result from the removal of processed foods, solid fats, and added sugars from the diet. There are many concerns regarding following a cleanse diet for an extended period of time, including fatigue due to limited protein, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and dehydration.

Fad diets are popular because they promise fast results, which is why it is a billion dollar industry. It is important to remember that if you’re overweight, you didn’t put that weight on overnight and it’s unrealistic to think it can be removed overnight or in 10–20 days.

Protect yourself from fad diets by avoiding diet plans, supplements, or products that make the following claims:

1. Promise of fast weight loss: Slow and gradual weight loss is more sustainable than plans that cause drastic weight changes. A healthy weight loss plan promotes ½ to 2 pounds weekly. If you lose weight too quickly, you can lose water, muscle, and bone!

2. Quantities and limitations: Avoid diets that eliminate or severely restrict food groups. Each food group provides essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that a multivitamin cannot replace.

3. Promotes specific food combinations: There is no scientific evidence to support that eating at specific times during the day or combining certain foods will cause foods to turn to fat.

4. No need to be physically active: Physical activity is essential for good health and weight management and should be part of your daily routine.
For more information about how to better manage your weight safely, use Iowa State University Human Sciences Extension publication “How Much Are You Eating?” (PM 3024), available at https://store.extension.iastate.edu/Product/How-Much-Are-You-Eating.

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Pet Food and Food Safety

August 27th, 2014

pet dogWe know to wash our hands before eating dinner and after using the bathroom, but what about after handling pet food?

You’re running late again, and just as you head for the door, you remember Fido still needs his breakfast. After serving him a hearty scoop of kibble, you’re in the car and on the road, and along for the ride may be the foodborne bacteria Salmonella.

Most pet food and pet treats are processed and handled properly so they’re Salmonella free and safe for your pet to eat and for you to touch. But sometimes pet food and pet treats become contaminated with Salmonella and you won’t know by looking at the food. If you touch contaminated pet food or treats, you may become ill from Salmonella or pass the bacteria on to other people.

The foodborne illness caused by Salmonella is called salmonellosis. The illness may be life threatening in some groups, such as children, older adults, and people with compromised immune systems (e.g., those with cancer).

Symptoms of salmonellosis in pets include vomiting, diarrhea, fever, decreased appetite, and decreased activity.

Washing your hands with warm, soapy water after handling pet food is the best way to reduce your risk of foodborne illness from contaminated pet food. Washing your hands is also the best way to reduce your risk of passing foodborne illness on to others. Take time to wash your hands after feeding Fido, even on rushed weekday mornings.

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Investigate the Outdoors This Summer

August 20th, 2014

kids outdoors playing natureSpend your late summer and early fall exploring the nature of Iowa! The U.S. Forest Service and the Ad Council public service campaign, Discover the Forest (available in Spanish, Descubre el Bosque), aims to inspire 8- to 12-year-olds and their parents to reconnect with nature. The program offers numerous helpful resources, including The Book of Stuff to Do Outside. This book shows how to have a scavenger hunt, find directions using a compass, and keep a nature journal. It can be downloaded for free at http://www.discovertheforest.org/pdf/book-of-stuff.pdf.

Another Forest Service program that helps children connect with nature is the Junior Forest Ranger program. Children can complete the activities in the 18-page book to qualify for the Junior Forest Ranger pin and card. And when the summer is over, they can get ready to qualify for their Junior Snow Ranger designation.

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Grilled Peaches

August 13th, 2014

grilled peaches fruitQuick cooking on a grill brings out the natural juiciness and sweetness in a peach. Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 2 large peaches
  • 1 teaspoon canola oil
  • Ground cinnamon to taste

Directions

  1. Grilled peaches are great served with meat, fish, or poultry.
  2. Start with peaches that are firm with just a little give when you gently squeeze them with your whole hand.
  3. Cut the peaches in half and pit them.
  4. Brush the cut sides of the peaches with canola oil.
  5. Clean and oil the grates.
  6. Prepare a gas or charcoal grill to medium heat (you should be able to hold your hand about an inch above the cooking grate for 3 to 4 seconds).
  7. Cook the peaches on all cut sides until grill marks show and the peaches are tender but not falling apart. Total grilling time is about 6 to 8 minutes.
  8. Sprinkle with cinnamon.

Nutrition information per serving
88 calories each; 2 g fat; 0 g sat fat; 0 mg cholesterol; 17 g carbohydrates; 2 g protein; 3 g fiber; 0 mg sodium

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Nothing Says Summer Like Peaches

August 6th, 2014

peachEach year, the summer season signals the arrival of juicy, sweet peaches. In the United States, most peaches are grown in California, Georgia, and South Carolina. Unfortunately, our cold temperatures in Iowa are not suited for growing this wonderful fruit tree.

There are three general types of peaches:

• Clingstone—Flesh clings tightly to the pit. The early season fruit is generally clingstone and is best used for cooking and canning.

• Freestone—Flesh readily separates from the pit. These are good for eating fresh, as desserts, and for cooking and freezing.

• Semi-freestone—Flesh is a little harder to separate from the pit. These are also good for eating fresh, as desserts, and for cooking and freezing.

Peach Nutrition Facts

• Good source of vitamin A, which promotes good vision, especially in low light. It also helps maintain healthy skin, bones, and teeth.

• Excellent source of vitamin C, which promotes healing and helps the body absorb iron.

• A medium (2.66-inch diameter) peach provides 59 calories, 2 grams fiber and is naturally fat-free, sodium-free and cholesterol-free.

When Buying Peaches

• Choose peaches with a strong, sweet smell.

• Look for skins that show a background color of yellow or warm cream. Avoid fruit with green around the stem (they aren’t fully ripe) or that have shriveled skin (they’re old). A red blush is not a reliable indicator of ripeness.

When Storing Peaches

• Keep them on a counter at room temperature until they are the ripeness you prefer.

• When ripe, move the peaches to the crisper bin of your refrigerator.

When Cooking with Peaches

• If a recipe calls for peeled peaches, dip peaches into boiling water for about 30 seconds, then plunge them immediately into ice water. The skins will slip right off.

• If peeling or cutting up peaches for a recipe, keep them from turning brown by sprinkling with lemon or orange juice.

• If you have more peaches on hand than you can eat or bake up right away, consider freezing, canning, or making extra into a fruit spread. The following Extension and Outreach publications may be useful:

o Canning—Fruits (PM 1043) store.extension.iastate.edu/Product/PM1043

o Freezing—Fruits and Vegetables (PM 1045) store.extension.iastate.edu/Product/PM1045

o Canning—Fruit Spreads (PM 1366) store.extension.iastate.edu/Product/PM1366

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Cool Off While Working Out!

July 23rd, 2014

fitness active pool water workoutStay cool in the summer, yet still break a sweat! There’s more to do in a pool than swim laps. You burn as many calories walking or jogging in the water as you do on land if you move your arms and legs at the same pace. You also can burn calories in shoulder deep water while using a kickboard or while performing push/pull movements with a pool noodle. The water resistance exercises your muscles but reduces stress on your joints.

Find more exercises you can perform in the water. Watch this video for other pool workout ideas https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qBy0xZPoWzM.

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Buying and Selling Local Foods

July 16th, 2014

produce farmers market vegetablesFarmers market and food stand season brings many opportunities to sample “pride of Iowa” foods. Most people assume that foods “allowed” to be sold require inspection. Regulatory agencies (e.g., Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals Consumer Food Safety Bureau) have the responsibility to inspect foods that present a greater risk for foodborne illness, rather than all foods.

For example, at farmers markets, vendors of meats and cheeses will have prepared their foods in a licensed processing facility. Fruit-based jams and jellies can be home-processed whereas vegetable-based jams, such as pepper jam, must be processed in a licensed facility. The difference is due to ingredients that increase the risk of foodborne illness if the product is not properly prepared. Most baked goods are okay for sale, but vendors must have: a list of ingredients, preparer’s contact information, place where food was prepared, notice of common food allergens (like peanuts or soy) that may have been present when the item was made.

When a food stand is preparing or selling what are considered “higher risk” foods (e.g., not pre-packaged foods), it should have a temporary food establishment license. This means the Department of Inspection and Appeals Consumer Food Safety Bureau or a county-level counterpart has inspected the food stand and issued the temporary license.

Are you interested in starting your own home-based food business?

Read “Starting a Home-Based Food Business in Iowa” (https://store.extension.iastate.edu/Product/Starting-a-Home-Based-Food-Business-in-Iowa). This publication provides an overview of what should be considered, including regulatory aspects.

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Infused Water

July 9th, 2014

fruit water strawberry lemon drinksMake drinking water more fun by flavoring it with fruits, vegetables, or herbs.

Cucumber and Mint Cooler
Ingredients

  • 6 cups chilled water
  • 12 thin slices cucumber
  • Few sprigs of mint

Directions
In a 2 to 2½ quart pitcher, combine water, cucumber, and mint. Chill for 30 minutes. Add ice cubes just before serving.

Strawberry and Mint Cooler
Ingredients

  • 18 strawberries (medium size) sliced thin
  • 8 sprigs of mint
  • 1 quart water and ice

Directions
In a 2 to 2½ quart pitcher, combine water, ice, strawberries, and mint. Chill for 30 minutes before serving.

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Water Is Key to Life

July 2nd, 2014

water glasses drinksWater is the key to life — every system in our body depends on it. Water helps carry nutrients to our cells, helps rid toxins from our organs, and keeps our nose, ears, and throat moist. If we don’t drink enough water, we become dehydrated. Dehydration can lead to dizziness, fatigue, and confusion. We lose water on a daily basis by breathing, urinating, and sweating. Because we constantly lose water, we must repeatedly replace what we lose.

The Institute of Medicine states that an adequate daily intake of water for men is about 13 cups and about 9 cups for women. Water comes from more than just fluids; it is a major component of many foods. In fact, it is estimated that 20 percent of our water needs are met through food.

Foods with high water content add volume but minimal calories to the diet. Eating foods high in water can promote a feeling of fullness. Fruits and vegetables are two food groups that have generally high water content. Fruits, vegetables, and dairy products like milk and yogurt can help you reach your daily water recommendations.

Fruits and vegetables high in water

Fruit: Watermelon, citrus fruits, grapes, apples, papaya, strawberries, apricots, cherries

Vegetables: Carrots, bell peppers, lettuce, tomato, cucumber, squash, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach

Use these helpful resources to better understand the role water plays in your health.

Eat to Compete: What You Should Know about Fluids
https://store.extension.iastate.edu/Product/Eat-to-Compete-What-You-Should-Know-About-Fluids

Bottled Water—Know the Facts
https://store.extension.iastate.edu/Product/Bottled-Water-Know-the-Facts

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