Your Brain on Exercise?

ThinkstockPhotos-122413055Exercise can boost brain health! A recent study by researchers at UC Davis Health System shows people who exercise have better mental fitness. Vigorous exercise increases the level of two brain chemicals: glutamate and gamma-aminobutyric acid, known as GABA. These chemicals help defend against depression.

Richard Maddox, a professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, states, “Major depressive disorder is often characterized by depleted glutamate and GABA, which return to normal when mental health is restored. Our study shows that exercise activates the metabolic pathway that replenishes these neurotransmitters.”

Although results are preliminary, rigorous exercise may now become an important part of treating major depressive disorder and other mental illnesses because it naturally increases the level of these two chemicals. Maddox, the study’s lead author, calls the findings “very encouraging.”

Source: www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/publish/news/newsroom/10798

Clean Your Way to a Safer Kitchen

ThinkstockPhotos-479870372 cleaning stove kitchenShake off winter by doing some spring cleaning. It is a great time to target harmful bacteria that can hang out on kitchen surfaces and even in your refrigerator. You can’t see bacteria, but they are everywhere! They especially like moist environments. A clean and dry kitchen protects you and your family from foodborne illness.

  • Always clean surfaces with hot, soapy water. After thoroughly washing surfaces with hot, soapy water, sanitize them with a disinfectant kitchen spray or diluted chlorine bleach solution (1 teaspoon bleach to 1 quart of water). Let the solution stand on the surface for a few minutes, then blot dry with clean paper towels.
  • Disinfect dishcloths often. Launder dishcloths and towels frequently using the hot water cycle of the washing machine. Then be sure they are thoroughly dry.
    Rid your refrigerator of spills, bacteria, mold, and mildew. Clean your fridge weekly to kill germs that could contaminate foods. Clean interior surfaces with hot, soapy water. Rinse well with a damp cloth; dry with a clean cloth. Some manufacturers recommend not using chlorine bleach because it can damage seals, gaskets, and linings.
  • Clean your kitchen sink drain and disposal. Pour a solution of 1 teaspoon of chlorine bleach in 1 quart of water down the drain once or twice per week. Food particles get trapped in the drain and disposal, creating the perfect environment for bacterial growth.

Sources: www.fightbac.org and www.foodsafety.gov

Summer Bounty Salad

SummerBountySaladServing Size: 1 Cup | Serves: 8

Ingredients:

  • 7 cups vegetables (chopped) (carrots, zucchini, radishes, green onions, broccoli, cauliflower)
  • 1 pepper (green, red, or yellow), sliced (1 to 1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 tomatoes (red, yellow, or mixed)
  • 2/3 cup light or fat free salad dressing

Instructions:

  1. Wash and prepare the vegetables. (Cut the carrots, zucchini, radishes, green onions, and pepper in slices. Make the broccoli and cauliflower into florets. Slice or chop tomatoes.)
  2. Combine all vegetables and salad dressing in a bowl, stirring to coat vegetables with dressing.
  3. Cover and refrigerate 1–3 hours to blend flavors. Store any leftovers in refrigerator and use within 3 days.

Nutrition information per serving: 60 calories, 2.5g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 220mg sodium, 10g total carbohydrate, 3g fiber, 5g sugar, 2g 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/.

Gardening: Top 10 Vegetables to Grow and Eat for Health

sb10062327dd-001Growing your own food doesn’t have to be difficult. If you have never gardened, start small using containers or a small plot of land. Plant vegetables you really like to eat.

Several vegetables that grow well in Iowa made it to the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach “Top 10 Vegetavcbles to Eat for Health” list. Choose to grow and eat the following vegetables to boost your health:

  • Broccoli
  • Brussels spouts
  • Carrots
  • Kale
  • Pumpkin
  •  Red bell peppers
  • Spinach
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Tomatoes
  • Winter squash

These vegetables earned their ratings by providing at least 20 percent of the recommended dietary intake for one or more nutrients such as Vitamin A or potassium.

Each vegetable was also rated for its oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC). This measures the total antioxidant power of foods and other chemical substances. Consuming high-ORAC foods may help protect cells from damage by oxygen radicals. This, in turn, may slow down the processes associated with aging in both the body and the brain.

Numerous publications are available to download and print as you plan and plant your garden. Go to the Extension Store at store.extension.iastate.edu and enter either the title or number of the publication of interest in the search box:

  • Planting a Home Vegetable Garden (PM 819)
  • Small Plot Vegetable Gardening (PM 870A)
  • Container Vegetable Gardening (PM 870B)

If you have further questions, contact your local county extension office or enroll in classes to become a “Master Gardener.”

What’s Keeping Americans from Moving More?

ThinkstockPhotos-87633673The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) promotes eating smart, moving more, and being at a healthy weight as the three top ways to reduce cancer risk. Cancer prevention research says that you should aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity every day and avoid sedentary habits like too much sitting, TV watching, or screen time.

Survey respondents said the biggest barrier toward meeting this recommendation is TIME! A key strategy to overcome this barrier is to start adding it in your schedule in small increments and slowly build up to 30 minutes daily.

  • Take a 5-minute walking break: After every hour of sitting, get up and walk around. Walk down the street, down the hall, up and down the stairs; just move for 3 – 5 minutes, building up to 10 minutes for every 60 minutes of sitting.
  • Make it a family affair: Create family activity challenges. Craziest dance moves, most jumping jacks in a minute, fastest running in place—whatever your family would find fun. Let the kids take turns leading an exercise break.
  • Try a new activity or get back to that thing you used to do: Maybe you used to bike, hike, or play tennis. Find a like-minded friend(s), join a class, and make it a social occasion.

Source: AICR’s eNews, February 4, 2016.

Food Safety Protection in Iowa: Did You Know…

  • ThinkstockPhotos-499289680No Bare Hands: The Iowa Food Code does not allow food handlers to touch ready-to-eat food with bare hands when serving the public. This means that foods like fresh produce (already washed and cut), sandwiches, pizza, deli meats, and bakery products are handled with tongs/utensils, deli papers, or gloves over clean hands.
  • Certified Food Protection Manager: The Iowa Food Code requires that at least one employee with supervisory responsibilities in a foodservice/restaurant operation be certified in food safety. This requirement became law in 2014. Existing restaurants have until January 1, 2018, to get at least one manager food safety certified.
  • Temporary Food Stands: Local food inspectors are busy during the summer months! They arrive before the food is served and inspect food stands at the farmers markets and at community events (Ice Cream Days, Watermelon Days, etc.). They check food temperatures and cleanliness, and they make sure the food handlers have a way to easily and correctly wash their hands.

Lentil Tacos

LentilacosServing Size: 2 Tacos | Serves: 6

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 cup dried lentils
  • 1/2 package (1.25 ounces) of 40% less sodium taco seasoning*
  • 3 cups water
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups shredded lettuce.

* Homemade taco seasoning mix: 1 tablespoon chili powder, 2 teaspoons ground cumin, and 1 teaspoon dried oregano

Instructions:

  1. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 4–6 minutes, or until they become soft and fragrant. Stir several times during cooking.
  2. Add the lentils and seasonings. Stir so that the seasonings are mixed in.
  3. Slowly add the water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and cover. Cook for about 30 minutes, or until the lentils are tender.
  4. Uncover and cook for 5 minutes more until the mixture has thickened and the liquid is absorbed. Mash slightly with a fork.
  5. Heat corn tortillas according to package directions.
  6. Spread 1/4 cup lentil mixture onto each tortilla.
  7. Serve with salsa, cheese, and lettuce.

Nutrition information per serving: 350 calories, 11 g fat, 480 mg sodium, 51 g carbohydrates, 8 g fiber, 16 g 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/.

2016 – International Year of Pulses

ThinkstockPhotos-512114678If you’ve never heard of pulses you are not alone. The United Nations declared 2016 the International Year of Pulses as a way to increase public awareness of the nutrition benefits of pulses as part of sustainable food production.

What is the difference between a legume and a pulse?

Legume: Legumes are plants whose fruit is enclosed in a pod like peas and beans, soybeans and peanuts, alfalfa, and clover. When growing, legumes fix nitrogen into the soil, reducing the need for chemical fertilizers.

Pulse: Part of the legume family, the term “pulse” refers only to the dried seed. Dried peas, edible beans, lentils, and chickpeas are the most common varieties of pulses. Pulses are high in fiber, protein, and other nutrients. They are naturally low in fat and sodium.

The 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend consuming 1.5 cups of dried beans and peas (pulses) per week for a 2,000-calorie eating pattern. This includes cooked from dry or canned beans and peas such as kidney beans, white beans, black beans, red beans, lentils, chickpeas, split peas, edamame (green soybeans), and pinto beans. It does not include green beans or green peas.

Ways to increase dried beans and peas in everyday eating:

  • Add dried beans to soup. Think beyond the traditional bean soup and chili and add to vegetable- and tomato-based soups. Try new soup recipes that include dried beans.
  • Experiment with beans you have never eaten and learn more about cooking dried beans. They can easily be cooked in a slow cooker and don’t necessarily require presoaking.
  • Add beans to salads. They are delicious added to any vegetable-based salad such as a tossed salads, slaws, and pasta salads.
  • Add to any taco/Mexican dish, casseroles, and even egg dishes.

Physical Activity Guidelines

ThinkstockPhotos-526789591The relationship between diet and physical activity contributes to calorie balance and managing body weight. A key recommendation of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines is to meet the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, which help promote health and reduce risk of chronic disease. Remember the following:

  • Regular physical activity offers health benefits for everyone!
  • Some physical activity is better than none.
  • Most health benefits occur with at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of moderate-intensity physical activity, such as brisk walking. You can get this amount in by being active 30 minutes 5 days a week.
  • For most health outcomes, additional benefits occur as the amount of physical activity increases through higher intensity, greater frequency, and/or longer duration.
  • Both aerobic (endurance) and muscle-strengthening (resistance) physical activity are beneficial.

Need some motivation? Not sure where to start? The free online USDA Physical Activity Tracker may be a good way to get new ideas for being physically active and help you track your movement. This is available at https://www.supertracker.usda.gov/physicalactivitytracker.aspx.

Leftovers and Food Safety

ThinkstockPhotos-506506152The first step in having safe leftovers is to cook the food safely. Cook the food to the proper temperature by using a food thermometer. Bacteria grow rapidly in the temperature danger zone (40°F to 140°F), so be sure your leftovers are safe by following these steps:

  • Refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours of cooking or holding it hot.
  • Throw away all cooked food that has been at room temperature for more than 2 hours.
  • Cool foods rapidly. To do this, large quantities of food should be cut in smaller pieces first or divided into shallow containers that will aid in cooling.
  • Cover leftovers well before refrigerating. This helps keep odors and bacteria out and moisture in.
  • Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or freeze for up to 4 months. Although leftovers are safe indefinitely when frozen, quality will deteriorate when stored longer.

For a chart on storage times, visit http://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/charts/storagetimes.html.