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Archive for the ‘healthy living’ Category

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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Milk Myths Busted!

June 4th, 2014

pitcher and glass milk drinks dairyJune is Dairy Month — a good time to consider the benefits of drinking milk and eating other dairy foods for calcium and Vitamin D. Drinking milk increases bone health, reduces risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and blood pressure. Despite these benefits, some milk myths prevent some people from drinking milk. Our ISU Extension and Outreach myth busters have “busted” a few of these myths below.

Milk Myth 1: Milk causes mucus
Myth Buster: For some, drinking milk may make mucus thicker than it is normally. However drinking milk for most people does not make your body produce more phlegm and will not worsen a cold.

Milk Myth 2: Organic milk is much healthier than conventional milk
Myth Buster: Cup for cup, organic and conventionally-produced milk contain the same nine essential nutrients such as calcium, vitamin D, and potassium. Both conventionally-produced and organic milk are routinely tested for antibiotics and pesticides and must comply with very stringent safety standards, ensuring that both organic milk and conventional milk are pure, safe, and nutritious.

Milk Myth 3: Fat-free milk has almost no nutritional value.
Myth Buster: Fat-free milk has the same amount of calcium, vitamin D, and protein as whole, 2%, and 1% milk. The only nutritional difference among the varieties of milk is the amount of fat and calories per serving. Another difference is that fat-free milk is often cheaper than the other varieties. A family of four changing from whole milk to fat-free milk could save $8 to $11 per week and shave off 5,040 calories and 518
grams of fat!

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Springtime Learning = Summer Safety

May 21st, 2014

young boy on tabletUse technology to introduce your children or grandchildren to food safety basics they can put to use all summer long. Below is a list of technology-based resources that can help make learning food safety fun. The first two are free apps for iPads, iPhones, or iPod touch that can be downloaded from iTunes:

Perfect Picnic Game: This app helps kids learn how to build and run a food safe picnic park.

Solve the Outbreak: This app allows kids to become a food detective and uncover the what, why, and how of foodborne illness outbreaks and to see the type of work that real-life “Disease Detectives” do. (Created by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Scrub Club: This interactive website teaches kids about hand-washing through the use of games, songs, videos, and other downloadable activities. (From the National Science Foundation International) Go to: http://www.scrubclub.org/home.aspx

For more information on these and other food safety applications, please visit: http://www.fightbac.org/kids

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GREEN—It’s the Color of the Season!

May 7th, 2014

spring saladAfter a long winter, the first, fresh vegetables of spring taste wonderful, whether from your garden, a farmer’s market, food co-op, or local grocery store! Lettuce is plentiful, being a fairly easy vegetable to grow, but many kinds of leafy greens are available.

Many people make iceberg lettuce the base of a fresh salad, but spring and summer bring many more options! This summer, try something new like arugula, frisée, kale, or spinach. The different colors, flavors, and textures make an attractive salad and the fresh greens are loaded with nutrients.

Arugula: This leafy green offers a spicy, peppery flavor which gives a zesty “punch” when added raw to salads. Arugula is rich in phytonutrients, which may reduce the risk of several kinds of cancers, including breast, stomach and colon.

Frisée: This frilly, funky-looking green adds fun to a fresh salad! It contains many vitamins and minerals and is especially high in folate, and vitamins A and K. The feathery leaves also can give a touch of elegance to a fresh salad.

Kale: Kale is considered a “powerhouse of nutrition,” with beautiful leaves that provide an earthy flavor. It is an excellent source for vitamin K, and helps lower cholesterol.

Spinach: This dark green leafy vegetable is fairly mild in flavor overall. It is one of the most nutrient-dense foods available, being packed with vitamins (especially A and C) and minerals (especially iron).

Jazz up your fresh salad by adding:
• Fruits: Use fresh or dried berries, apples, and oranges. Fruit juice could be part of the dressing.
• Grains: Try adding cooked whole grain pastas, brown rice, quinoa, barley, wheat berries, or bulgur.
• Protein: Include proteins like nuts, seeds, beans, tofu, lean fish, and meats.
• Dressing: Keep it light in both calories and saturated fat, yet high in
flavor with small amounts of juices, spices, herbs, flavored oils, and flavored vinegars.

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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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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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The Diet That Is All Fluff

February 5th, 2014

Many crazy diets appear in the headlines. Some recent offerings include the feeding tube diet and the tapeworm diet. The latest diet to make headlines is the cotton ball diet, and the science behind it resembles the structure of cotton—unsupportive fluff.

The diet involves consuming five cotton balls dipped in orange juice, lemonade, or a smoothie. The claim is that you will feel full without gaining weight. Some dieters consume these before their meal to limit calorie intake, while others rely exclusively on the cotton balls as their “food” intake.

Medical experts agree that nothing good can come of this diet, and in fact it is very dangerous for the following reasons:

  • Cotton balls may not be cotton—most are bleached polyester fibers that contain lots of chemicals
  • Eating synthetic cotton balls is similar to eating cloth, or even buttons or coins
  • Risks include choking, malnutrition, or even worse, a blockage in the intestinal tract, which can be life-threatening

A healthier and safer approach to feel full is to make sure you get plenty of fiber in your diet. Follow these tips to get the recommended 25 to 38 grams of fiber each day:

  • Eat fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes (beans and peas), which are all good sources of fiber
  • Look at the Nutrition Facts Panel for a product’s fiber content—20 percent or more is considered high
  • Include fiber-rich foods with meals and snacks

For more information on how to safely achieve and maintain a healthy weight, visit MyPlate

Want to know more about choosing high fiber foods? Check out these resources:

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Herbs and spices – part II

August 6th, 2013

Last week we talked about the distinctive flavor of spices and herbs. Here’s some information on how to use them when cooking fruits and veggies and details on how to substitute fresh for dry or vice versa.

Can I substitute fresh for dry herbs and spices?

  • ¼ teaspoon powdered = ¼ to 1 teaspoon dried crumbled = 2 to 3 teaspoon fresh
  • Chop fresh herbs fine to allow for more flavor to be released.
If you are cooking: Try flavoring it with:
Asparagus Caraway, mustard, nutmeg, tarragon
Beets Bay leaf, caraway, cloves, ginger
Berries Cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, vanilla
Broccoli Mustard, nutmeg, oregano, tarragon
Cabbage Caraway, celery seed, cumin, curry, fennel
Carrots Cinnamon, cloves, dill, ginger, marjoram
Cauliflower Cayenne, celery seed, chili powder, nutmeg
Corn Celery seed, cumin, curry powder, onion, parsley
Cucumbers Chives, dill, garlic, mint, parsley, vinegar
Green Beans Dill, curry powder, oregano, tarragon, thyme
Greens Onion, pepper
Melons Cardamom, ginger, mint, pepper
Peaches Cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg
Pears Anise, cinnamon, mint, nutmeg
Peas Dill, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage
Rhubarb Cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, vanilla
Spinach Cinnamon, mint, nutmeg, oregano, sage, thyme
Summer Squash Cloves, curry powder, nutmeg, rosemary, sage
Tomatoes Basil, bay leaf, dill, onion, oregano, parsley

How long should I keep spices and herbs?

As a general rule, keep herbs or ground spices for 1 year; keep whole spices 2 years.

  • Buy a smaller container until you know how fast you’ll use a spice or herb. If it smells strong and flavorful, it’s probably still potent.
  • Rub a small amount of an herb or ground spice in your hand. If the aroma is fresh, rich, and immediate, it can still flavor foods.
  • Check a whole spice—such as a clove or cinnamon stick—by breaking, crushing, or scraping it before smelling it. Avoid smelling pepper or chili powder as they can irritate your nose.
  • Label date of purchase on container with a permanent marking pen and store away from any sources of heat (e.g., oven, stove top) to maintain their quality.

Source: University of Delaware College of Agriculture and Natural Resources

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