Animals in the Kitchen

Owning a pet may be great for your mental health, but pets may also carry harmful germs through their fur, feces, and saliva. The risk of getting a foodborne illness from a pet is low for most people. However, young children, older adults, pregnant women, and those with weakened immune systems have an increased risk.

If you cannot keep pets entirely out of your kitchen, here are ways to guard the safety of your food:

  • Always wash your hands after touching your pet and before handling food.
  • Clean your pet’s paws after it plays outside or has been in the litter box before entering the kitchen.
  • Keep your pet off of counters and tables.
  • Don’t eat or drink while playing with animals.

We all love our pets, but it’s important to be aware of the risks that come with them.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (www.cdc.gov/healthypets/health-benefits)

Peanut Butter Balls

Serving Size: 2 balls | Serves: 25

Ingredients:

  • 1 can (15 ounces) great northern beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cups peanut butter
  • 1 1/2 cups quick cooking oats

Instructions:

  1. Mash the beans with a fork in a bowl until smooth.
  2. Add honey and vanilla. Stir.
  3. Add peanut butter. Stir until blended.
  4. Stir in the oats.
  5. Wash hands. Use a tablespoon to scoop up some of the peanut butter mixture. Shape each spoonful of the mixture into a ball (makes 50 balls).
  6. Store leftover balls in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Nutrient information per serving:
130 calories, 7g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 100mg sodium, 12g total carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 5g sugar, 4g protein

This recipe is courtesy of ISU Extension and Outreach’s Spend Smart. Eat Smart. website. For more information, recipes, and videos, visit spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu.

Let’s Talk Nuts

October 22nd is National Nut Day, so let’s talk nuts. Nuts are an excellent source of protein, minerals, and heart-healthy fats. So healthy that the FDA approved this health claim: “Eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease.”

Assorted nuts

The heart-healthy fats that make up as much as 80% of the nut are unsaturated fats, which include omega-3 fatty acids. These fats work to protect your heart by lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and increasing HDL (good) cholesterol levels.

Each type of nut has its own unique profile of nutrients. For example, one Brazil nut can meet 100% of your daily need for selenium, which can keep your mind and heart healthy. Eat a wide variety of nuts for the most benefit. Specific nutrition information about each variety can be found in the USDA article, Go Nuts! (www.ars.usda.gov/plains-area/gfnd/gfhnrc/docs/news-2013/go-nuts).

One serving of nuts is 1.5 ounces of whole nuts (a small handful) or 2 tablespoons of nut butter. Try these tips to add more nuts to your diet:

  • Choose nuts instead of your typical less-healthy crunchy snack.
  • Add nuts to yogurt, salads, or hot cereals for the perfect crunch.
  • Mix nuts into your favorite smoothie for a richer, creamier texture.
  • Put nut butter on your morning toast instead of butter or margarine.
  • Slivered almonds are a tasty addition to sautéed green beans.

Sources:

Mayo Clinic (www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/in-depth/nuts/art-20046635)
Harvard Health (www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/nuts-for-the-heart)

Any Movement Is Better Than No Movement!

Crunched for time? Any workout is better than no workout! It is recommended adults get at least 150 minutes of cardio training (i.e., walking, biking, swimming) a week and at least two days of muscle-strengthening activities (i.e., weight training) to promote living a healthy lifestyle. Working out and getting the blood pumping has many health benefits—including reducing the risk of chronic diseases, improving sleep, enhancing mood, relieving stress—and it can be fun! At-home circuit workouts, biking, walking, gardening, jogging, and bodyweight exercises (strength-training exercises that use your own body weight to provide resistance against gravity) are some easy ways to incorporate extra movement into your busy day. To reach the goal of 150 minutes per week, spread out your workouts into 30 minutes a day and bring a family member or friend along too!

Visit Spend Smart. Eat Smart. (spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu/move-your-way-activity-planner) to find more ideas to increase your daily activity.

Herbs and Spices Have an Expiration Date

Herbs and spices do not spoil; however, they do lose their flavor and potency over time. Next time you go through your spice cabinet, look at the expiration dates!

Rows of spices

Typically spices last 2–3 years, but make sure to check the “best by” date. Try the fresh test:

  • Smell: aroma should be strong
  • Taste: flavor should be potent
  • Color: should look vibrant and not dull

Average Shelf Life of Common Fresh, Ground, and Dried Household Spices

SpiceFreshGroundDriedWhole
Allspice2-3 Years2-3 Years
Basil5-7 Days2-3 Years2-3 Years3-4 Years
Bay Leaves5-7 Days2-3 Years2-3 Years3-4 Years
Black Pepper2-3 Years2-3 Years5-6 Years
Cayennne
Pepper
5-7 Days2-3 Years2-3 Years
Celery Seed5-7 Days2-3 Years1-2 Years2-3 Years
Chili Powder2-3 Years2-3 Years
Chives7-10 Days2-3 Years2-3 Years
Cilantro5-7 Days2-3 Years2-3 Years4-5 Years
Cinnamon2-3 Years2-3 Years4-5 Years
Cloves5-7 Days2-3 Years2-3 Years4-5 Years
Coriander5-7 Days2-3 Years2-3 Years
Cumin2-3 Years

Sources:

Eat by Date (www.eatbydate.com/other/how-long-do-spices-last)

McCormick (www.mccormick.com/toss)

Croutons

Serving Size: 1/2 cup | Serves: 6

Ingredients:

  • 4 slices whole wheat bread
  • 1 tablespoon oil (canola, olive, or vegetable)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Cut bread into one inch cubes.
  3. Stir bread and oil together in a medium bowl.
  4. Sprinkle garlic powder and dried basil on top of bread cubes. Stir until the bread is evenly coated with garlic and basil.
  5. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Spread croutons evenly on the baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Stir. Bake for up to 5 minutes more or until croutons are golden brown.
  6. Let croutons cool and store in an airtight container for up to one week.

These croutons are wonderful on top of your favorite soup or salad. To add extra tang to your salad, add some fresh herbs to the mix like basil or mint. They add extra flavor and are a great way to use up those herbs!

Nutrition information per serving:

70 calories, 3g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 85mg sodium, 8g total carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 1g sugar, 2g protein

This recipe is courtesy of ISU Extension and Outreach’s Spend Smart. Eat Smart. website. For more information, recipes, and videos, visit spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu.

You Herb It Here First!

Herbs and spices can turn a bland, flavorless dish into a mouthwatering meal full of flavor the whole family will love! Not only do they add flavor, but they add health benefits too. Herbs and spices are full of nutrients and antioxidants that can make your meals more nutritious. For example, the antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties in garlic help reduce inflammation and provide immune system support.

In addition to adding flavor and health benefits, using herbs and spices to season your food can help reduce excessive salt intake. Those following a Heart Healthy diet, DASH (Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension) diet, or simply monitoring their sodium intake will benefit from the addition of herbs and spices when cooking. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend consuming no more than 2,300 mg of sodium each day. On average, Americans eat more than 3,400 mg of sodium a day! Incorporating herbs and spices to season foods can decrease sodium intake and help you stay within the recommended sodium guidelines.

Have fun experimenting with different herb and spice blends and discover your family’s favorites! Try using different blends for different food items, and even make your own blends by drying fresh herbs from the garden.

Pots of herbs

Herb and Spice Recommendations by Food

  • Poultry: parsley, thyme, marjoram, sage
  • Beef: cloves, hot pepper, marjoram, rosemary, cumin, garlic
  • Fish: fennell, dill, tarragon, thyme, parsley, garlic
  • Vegetables: chives, basil, tarragon, mint, parsley, rosemary, dill
  • Eggs: curry, dry mustard, paprika, parsley, basil

For more information on herbs, check out ISU Extension and Outreach’s Seasoning Savvy publication.

Make Waves for Your Health’s Sake

Swimming sign

As adults, we need two and a half hours (150 minutes) of aerobic physical activity per week. Swimming is the fourth most popular sports activity in the United States. While you’re trying to cool off this summer, try to incorporate some water exercises.

When you hop in the water—whether a lake, river, or pool—try one of these “cool” exercises:

  • Walk forward, backward, and sideways in the water. Start slowly for 1–2 minutes in each direction and work up to 3–5 minutes. A water belt may be helpful to maintain buoyancy.
  • Water squats are a great strength exercise. Be sure your feet are on the bottom of the pool, lake, or river and you can wiggle your toes. Do two sets of 10 repetitions.
  • Grab a water noodle and use it as an oar. Begin to row as if you were in a boat, using the noodle as your oar in the water. Do two sets of 10 repetitions.

Sources:
Centers for Disease Control
Unity Point

Fair Food Safety

There is nothing more fun than attending a summer fair or celebration with your family. There are so many things to see, do, and enjoy—especially the food. To make safe food choices and reduce the chances of you or a family member getting food poisoning, here are some food safety tips:

  • Before choosing a food vendor, look at their workstations and note if they are clean and tidy. Does the vendor wear/use disposable gloves when preparing food?
  • Are there handwashing sinks/stations for the vendor/employees?
  • Are gloves or tongs used to serve food to customers?
  • If the vendor provides single service utensils, are they individually wrapped? (Unwrapped eating utensils have the potential for contamination from dirt, air, flies, and even customers.)
  • Be sure your hot food is hot and cold food is cold. If not, tell the vendor.
  • Choose a clean place to sit and eat your meal.
  • Wash your hands before you eat.
  • Bring hand sanitizers or hand wipes in case it is difficult to wash your hands.

Following these tips will keep you on your way to a safe and happy summertime event!

Source: Centers for Disease Control

Mexican Corn Salad

Serving Size: 1/2 cup | Serves: 8

Ingredients:

  • Cooking spray or oil for grill grates
  • 4 medium ears of corn (husks and silks removed) (or 16 oz. frozen whole kernels, thawed)
  • 1/4 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/3 cup chopped scallions
  • 1 tablespoon minced jalapeño pepper (seeds removed)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

Instructions:

NOTE: If using frozen corn, skip to third instruction below.

  1. Spray grill grates with nonstick cooking spray or brush them with oil. Heat grill to 400°–450°F.
  2. Place corn on the grill and cook 15–20 minutes, turning every 5 minutes until evenly grilled and kernels are tender. Remove corn from the grill and set aside to rest until cool enough to handle. Using a serrated knife, cut corn kernels off cob and place in a large bowl.
  3. While corn is cooking, whisk together yogurt, garlic, lime juice, and chili powder.
  4. Add scallions, jalapeño pepper, cilantro, and cheese to corn. Toss with yogurt sauce and season with more chili powder if desired.

Nutrient information per serving:
78 calories, 3g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 9mg cholesterol, 119mg sodium, 11g total carbohydrate, 1g dietary fiber, 3g sugar, 4g protein


Adapted from Today’s Dietitian

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