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Whole Grains: Give Them the 3-step Test

February 11th, 2013

Less than 5 percent of Americans consume the minimum recommended amount of whole grains. Although Americans generally eat enough total grains, most of the grains consumed are refined grains rather than whole grains. Unfortunately, many refined grain foods also are high in solid fats and added sugars. There is evidence that suggests whole grain intake may reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer (e.g., colon) as well as help control body weight. Whole grains are a source of nutrients such as iron, magnesium, selenium, B vitamins, and dietary fiber. At least half of recommended total grain intake should be whole grains, which for many is about 3 ounce equivalents per day.

Not sure if a food is actually a whole grain? Use these three steps to help you decide:

  1. Front of package—Check the front of the package for key terms such as “100% whole grain,” “whole oats,” “made with whole wheat.”
  2. Ingredients—Read the list of ingredients; one of the first three should contain key terms such as “100% whole wheat,” “whole wheat flour,” “whole oats,” or “brown rice.”
  3. Extra claims and logos—Examine the other panels for extra whole grain health claims or whole grain stamps/symbols that will support your decision.

A new publication Whole Grains is now available. Whole Grains includes a wide variety of information about whole grains including how to use some of the newer whole grains such as quinoa, teef, and steel cut oats. An extensive whole grain chart includes nutritional and cooking information on many whole grains.

healthy living, nutrition

Tips for Healthier Holiday Meals

December 12th, 2012
Fill half your plate with vegetables and fruit. Select a variety of vegetables for a great way to add color to the meal. Dish up smaller portions of meat on your plate.
Cut back on sugar. Use non-nutritive sweeteners in place of sugar for pie fillings, puddings, and cranberry sauces. You can usually reduce the amount of sugar by 1⁄4 to 1⁄3 in recipes that are high in sugar.
Lower the fat.
  • Use egg whites or a nonfat egg substitute instead of whole eggs.
  • Substitute a nutty cereal for half the amount of pecans in pecan pie.
  • Substitute chopped vegetables for some of the bread in stuffing.
  • Omit butter and margarine from stuffing recipes.

Be dessert smart. Cut pies in smaller pieces. Serve a large platter of fresh fruit along with traditional desserts. Try the Hurry-up Baked Apples for dessert. Bake fewer varieties of
cookies and bars and make them smaller. Use fat free whipped topping.

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Hurry-Up Baked Apples

December 5th, 2012

Serves: 4hurry-up apple recipe
Serving Size: 1 apple half
Per Serving: $.45

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium-size tart apples (Granny Smith, Braeburn, Cortland, Jonathan, Fuji)
  • 1 teaspoon white or brown packed sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons oatmeal
  • 2 tablespoons (total) raisins, sweetened dried cranberries, chopped walnuts or other nuts
  • 1 (6-ounce) container lowfat vanilla yogurt

Directions:

  1. Cut apples in half lengthwise. Use spoon to remove cores and hollow out a space 1 inch or more deep.  Arrange apple halves, cut sides up, in microwavable dish.  Cut thin slices off bottoms to keep from tipping.
  2. Combine sugar, cinnamon, oatmeal, raisins, and nuts.  Fill each apple half.
  3. Cover with plastic wrap. Fold back one edge ¼ inch to vent steam.
  4. Microwave 3 to 3 ½ minutes, or until apples can be cut easily. Take from microwave. Let sit a few minutes.
  5. Spoon yogurt over the top.

Cooking Tips:

  • Great as a dessert, snack, or for breakfast.
  • Storage tip for raw apples: They keep best in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.

nutrition, recipe ,

The Appeal of Apples

December 5th, 2012
Winter brings to mind the aroma and flavor of spiced cider, apple crisp fresh from the oven, taffy apples, and the crunch of biting into a crisp, juicy apple. Enjoy our Hurry-up Baked Apples as a quick, tasty dessert, a snack, or side dish.

apples

How should I store apples to keep their quality as long as possible?
  • Apples like cool temperatures and high humidity. Refrigerate or store in a cool location.
  • Avoid storing apples with bananas or tomatoes. The ethylene gas these fruits naturally release causes apples to soften.
  • To store apples in an unheated shed or basement, leave them in a cardboard box out of direct sunlight.
  • Apples bruise easily so handle them gently to avoid fruit decay.

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Save Money and Calories on Thanksgiving Dinner

November 6th, 2012

With rising food prices, preparing Thanks­giving dinner can be expensive. In addition, large holiday meals with high calorie foods cause people to overeat. Here are some helpful tips to save both money and calories on the Thanksgiving meal.

Do not go overboard with variety. Do you serve mashed potatoes, stuffing, and sweet potatoes? Do you serve two meats? Remember, you do not have to have everyone’s favorite holiday food at one meal. Choose one meat, one starchy vegetable (mashed potatoes OR sweet potatoes), and one green vegetable that appeals to everyone. Doing so will help you save money and eat less.

Take guests up on their offer to bring a dish. Some of your guests would love to show off their cooking skills with a salad or dessert. Others with less time or ability could be asked to bring a dozen rolls from the bakery, a purchased dessert, or some type of beverage.

Simplify your recipes. Every dish does not have to be fancy. Try fresh or frozen green beans with a touch of olive oil instead of green bean casserole. Have a fruit salad with a mixture of canned and fresh seasonal fruits without lots of whipped topping or sweetened condensed milk.

Watch for sales. Many grocery stores put items frequently used for the Thanksgiv­ing meal on sale a few weeks before hand. Plan your meal ahead of time so that
you can buy items when they are on sale. Consider stocking up on some of these items that can be stored on the shelf or in the freezer and used throughout the year (e.g., fresh cranberries, canned pumpkin, turkey, brown sugar).

Know how many people are attending dinner. This is important so you do not end up making too much food and spending extra money. Make only as much as you need for the people who are attending unless you are deliberately planning for leftovers.

For more tips on saving money at the grocery store and budget friendly recipes, visit the Spend Smart. Eat Smart. website

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Get Ready to Rough It with Fiber!

October 3rd, 2012

You’ve probably heard it before: Eat more fiber! Do you know why fiber is so good for your health? Eating an adequate amount of fiber will lower your risk of diabetes, heart disease, and constipation. What a package deal! fiber

Current recommendations suggest that we consume at least 20 grams of dietary fiber per day from food, not supplements. The more calories you eat each day, the more fiber you need; teens  and men may require 30 to 35 grams per day or more. Eating a healthy diet rich in whole grains, vegetables, and fruits will usually provide most of the fiber you’ll need.

Here are some tips for choosing high fiber foods:

  1. Go with whole. Whole fruits are packed with more fiber and a lot fewer calories than their juice counterparts. Choose whole grains, such as whole wheat or whole oats. Select grain products that have a whole grain listed as the first ingredient–typically found just below the nutrition facts panel. Breads, cereals, crackers, and other grain foods should have at least 3 grams of fiber per serving.
  2. Break the fast with fruit. Get off to a great start by adding fruit, like berries or melon, to your breakfast every day.
  3. Eat more dried beans. It’s easy to forget about beans, but they’re a great tasting, inexpensive source of fiber that also provides protein and other important nutrients.
  4. Try a new dish. Test new recipes that use whole grains, like tabouli, cooked barley, dried beans, or lentils.

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Spaghetti Squash Supper

September 19th, 2012

Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 1 2-3 pound spaghetti squash
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 16-ounce jar spaghetti sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese

Directions

  1. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and remove seeds with a spoon.
  2. Place halves, cut side down, in a microwavable casserole dish. Add the water. Cover dish with plastic wrap, leaving corners uncovered. Microwave on high 15 minutes until squash is tender when pierced with a fork.
  3. While squash cooks, heat spaghetti sauce in saucepan over medium heat. When heated through, remove from heat, cover, and set aside.
  4. Remove squash from microwave and cool for 5 minutes. Remove plastic wrap.
  5. Using a fork, scrape the inside of the squash into long strings and place in a bowl.
  6. Add heated spaghetti sauce and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Serve warm.

Optional: Add 1/2 pound cooked lean ground beef or ground turkey.

Nutrient information per serving
Without ground beef: 223 calories, 8 g total fat, 2 mg cholesterol, 657 mg sodium, 38 g total carbohydrate, 4 g fiber, 5 g protein.
With ground beef: 373 calories, 19 g total fat, 45 mg cholesterol, 696 mg sodium, 38 g total

food preparation, nutrition, recipe ,

Back-to-school Nutrition

September 10th, 2012

Nutrition plays an important role in assuring your child has a successful school year. Many children do not eat breakfast every day; others grab a soda and high-fat, high sugar pastry—definitely not a “breakfast of champions” relative to cost or nutrition. breakfast

Studies have shown that those who eat a morning meal perform better in school;

  • they have higher test scores,
  • higher attendance,
  • less tardiness,
  • better concentration,
  • and more muscle coordination.

Also, children who eat breakfast are less likely to be overweight.

If your child doesn’t like traditional breakfast foods, don’t worry—breakfast can be most any food, even a slice of pizza. If your child claims not to be hungry, offer 100 percent juice and toast. If the school has a midmorning snack time, pack healthy snacks like yogurt, cheese stick, or bagel.  Remember to use an ice pack and insulated lunch bag to keep foods at a safe temperature.

As for lunch, school meal regulations are new this year and have improved the nutritional quality of lunch. School meals have always supplied one-third of a child’s nutrition needs; however, tighter regulations mean lower fat and sodium limits and a greater variety of fruits and vegetables (including fresh). If you choose to pack your child’s lunch, let your child help plan and prepare the lunch. Include meals that are easy to prepare and fun to eat as well as nutritious. A few examples are sandwiches, raw veggies, crackers, string cheese, whole fruit, and yogurt.

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Tracking Sodium Intake for Heart Health

February 7th, 2012

salt shakerFebruary is Heart Month and one aspect of healthy eating for the heart is limiting salt and sodium intake. Salt plays a role in high blood pressure, which affects about one in three American adults. Everyone, including children, should reduce their sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day (about 1 teaspoon of salt). Adults age 51 and older, African Americans of any age, and individuals with high blood pressure, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease, should further reduce their sodium intake to 1,500 mg a day.

One easy way to track sodium intake (and so much more) is the new, free, online tool, SuperTracker, released December 2011 by the USDA. Foods eaten are entered and compared to a general nutritional recommendation (based on 2,000 calories per day) or can be personalized for the user. To personalize, the user enters his or her age, gender, weight, height and physical activity level; this generates personalized nutrition and physical activity recommendations for that user.

Super TrackerFive goals can be set in the categories of:

  1. Weight management
  2. Physical activity
  3. Calories
  4. Food groups
  5. Nutrients

For example, a goal of consuming 1,500 mg of sodium per day can be set by someone with high blood pressure. Weekly coaching messages related to goals are generated to help people move in the right direction. SuperTracker is a tool that can help users see what they are really eating, how much activity they are really getting, and help them set goals and track progress to improve their health.

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Natural vs. Added Sugar

October 19th, 2011

SugarThere is a lot of confusion about sugar and its health implications. The main thing to remember is the body does not know the difference between natural or added sugar. Sugar found in fruits and milk products is considered natural sugar and is labeled fructose (fruit) and lactose (milk). Natural sugars are generally found in nutrient-rich foods that contain other health promoting nutrients such as dietary fiber, vitamins, or minerals.

Added sugars are generally found in nutrient-poor foods that do not contain other health promoting nutrients, including sodas, energy drinks, sports drinks, dairy, and desserts and candy. Added sugars are those added during processing and include high fructose corn syrup, maltose, dextrose, glucose, sucrose, white and brown sugar, raw sugar, malt sugar, invert sugar, corn syrup, fruit juice concentrates, molasses, and honey.

To avoid excess calories MyPyramid/MyPlate and the 2010 Dietary Guidelines recommend limiting foods with added sugars. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 6 teaspoons of added sugar for women and 9 for men per day; the current intake is 22-30 teaspoons.

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