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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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A Halloween Treat for Fall – Roasted Pumpkin

October 8th, 2013

When jack o’ lanterns were first used as holiday decorations in Britain, they were made out of carved turnips. In the United States, the pumpkin—native to North America—is carved into roasted pumpkinscary faces for Halloween.

The type of squash we call pumpkin is so well associated with jack o’ lanterns and holiday pies that not everyone realizes it is a nutritious vegetable that makes a spectacular side dish. One cup of cooked pumpkin provides 245 percent of your daily need for Vitamin A for only 49 calories!

Why not “treat” your family to savory roasted pumpkin throughout the fall? Sweet “pie” pumpkins are best for roasting…

  1. Scrub the pumpkin thoroughly, dry it, and cut it in half.
  2. Scrape out the seeds and membrane.
  3. Cut each pumpkin into eighths, to make wedges.
  4. Put a tablespoon of vegetable oil or olive oil in a shallow baking pan. Turn the wedges in the oil until lightly coated. Sprinkle with salt.
  5. Place the wedges evenly spaced, skin side down, on the sheet. Roast at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 45 minutes or until fork tender. The edge of the wedges should be caramelized.
  6. Serve with a sprinkle of parsley.

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“Added Sugars” Add Up in Our Diets!

September 28th, 2013

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that Americans reduce their intake of “added sugars.” About 16 percent of the total calories in the American diet comes from added sugars. The leading sources of these added sugars include soda/energy/sports drinks, grain-based desserts, sugar-sweetened fruit drinks, dairy-based desserts, and candy.sugars

A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that men consume more calories per day from added sugars (335 calorie average) than women (239 calorie average). Also, this study reported that young adults ages 20 to 39 consumed the most calories from added sugars compared to other age groups.

Added sugars are sugars added to foods during processing, preparation, and when eating. Natural sugars, on the other hand, are those found in fruit or white milk. Both are digested and used by the body in the same way. The difference is foods containing natural sugars typically have other health-promoting nutrients whereas foods with added sugars provide extra calories with few to no health-promoting nutrients.

By limiting your intake of foods with added sugars you will also decrease the amount of calories in your diet.

Examples of added sugars on food labels include:

  • anhydrous dextrose
  • brown sugar
  • confectioner’s powdered sugar
  • corn syrup
  • corn syrup solids
  • dextrose
  • fructose
  • fructose sweetener
  • high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
  • honey
  • invert sugar
  • lactose
  • liquid fructose
  • malt syrup
  • maltose
  • maple syrup
  • molasses
  • nectars (e.g., peach nectar, pear nectar)
  • pancake syrup
  • raw sugar
  • sucrose
  • sugar
  • white granulated sugar

nutrition

Storing Whole Grains Safely

February 19th, 2013

Because whole grains retain their healthful oils, they are more susceptible to oxidation and need to be stored to prevent deterioration. Heat, light, and air can trigger storing grainsoxidation of the oil in the germ of whole grains.

If you’re shopping in the bulk section, don’t be afraid to sniff the grains, which should have a light sweet scent or no scent at all. If the bin smells oily or moldy, the grains may be rancid.

Once you bring your whole grain home, store it directly in the refrigerator or freezer. You can either keep it in its unopened package or transfer it into an airtight container or plastic zip-top bag.

Since different grains vary in fat content (from about 1.7% for wheat to about 6.9% for oats), the shelf life of the flours made from them varies. In general, most whole grain flours keep well in the refrigerator for 2-3 months, and in the freezer for 6-8 months. It is recommended to keep flour in a sealed container to prevent picking up stray odors and tastes from the refrigerator or freezer.

Grains, because their oil is sealed in the original grain kernel and cannot easily oxidize, can keep much longer than flour. Most will keep for several months in a room- temperature cupboard, and for a year in the freezer. Commercially processed whole grain products such as breads, crackers, and pasta are commercially processed to be shelf stable and can be stored in the same manner as those that are not whole grain. General advice on grains and flour: try to buy what you’ll use in 2-3 months.

Safe Storage, Grain by Grain

Whole Wheat Flour – airtight seal, freezer, 6 months
Oats – airtight seal, freezer, 3 months
Oat Flour – airtight seal, freezer, 2 months Cornmeal – airtight seal, freezer 4-6 months Kernels or Popcorn – airtight seal, freezer, 1 year Rye Flour – airtight seal, freezer, 6 months
Spelt Flour – airtight seal, freezer, 6 months Buckwheat Flour – airtight seal, freezer, 2 months Barley Flour – airtight seal, freezer, 4 months
Brown Rice – airtight seal, cupboard, 5-6 months; freezer, up to a year
Brown Rice Flour – airtight seal, refrigerator, 4-5 months; freezer, up to a year

healthy living, nutrition ,

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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