Planks for a Strong Core

Fitness training athletic sporty man doing plank exercise in gymNeed a way to strengthen your core muscles? Try planks. They hit all major abdominal muscles while also working the muscles of your back, chest, shoulders, glutes, and quads. Planks help to improve posture, increase flexibility, and improve balance. They can be easily modified based on your fitness level and abilities.

Traditional plank:

  1. Lay stomach-down on the ground and press your chest up until your shoulders are directly over your elbows.
  2. Your body should be in a straight line from your head to your heels.
  3. Engage your core muscles to maintain this position.

Plank for beginners:
If you are new to exercise, try these modifications that will allow you to build up to achieving the traditional plank. Rather than placing your hands on the floor, you can hold on to a variety of objects, such as a bench or a platform. The further away your upper body is from the ground, the easier the exercise. Your elbows and shoulders should be in a line with each other. Make sure you engage your core to keep your hips and shoulders from dipping.

Plank for people who use a wheelchair:
Transfer onto a low bench, table, or platform. Your toes, knees, or hips can be supported by the bench depending on your level of function. This is called the pivot point. Your body should form a straight line from your head to the pivot point. Your shoulders should be directly over your elbows.

Source: Planks 101, National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability, http://www.nchpad.org/1391/6235/Planks~101

The Real Deal on Raw Flour

Rolling Pin on Woooden Floured BackgroundYou may be aware of the dangers related to eating raw dough because of the presence of raw eggs and the associated risk with Salmonella. However, did you know that there may be harmful strains of E. coli in flour?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are investigating E. coli O121 outbreaks related to raw flour. General Mills is conducting a voluntary recall on its three brands of flour: Gold Medal, Signature Kitchens, and Gold Medal Wondra. The varieties include unbleached, all-purpose, and self-rising flours. A person doesn’t need to consume the raw flour to become ill. You can become ill if you handle it and forget to wash your hands.

Follow these food safety tips from the FDA when handling flour and raw dough:

  • Do not let young children handle “play” clay that is homemade from raw dough.
  • Do not eat any raw cookie dough, cake mix, batter, or any other raw dough or batter product that is supposed to be cooked or baked.
  • Follow package directions for cooking products containing flour at proper temperatures and for specified times.
  • Wash hands, work surfaces, and utensils thoroughly after contact with flour and raw dough products.
  • Keep foods made with raw flour separate from other foods during preparation to prevent any contamination that may be present from spreading. Be aware that flour may spread easily because of its powdery nature. Follow label directions to chill products containing raw dough promptly after purchase until baked.

For more information, please visit: http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm508450.htm

Carver Dip

carver dipServing Size: 1/4 cup
Serves: 8

Ingredients:

  • 1 can (15 ounces) sweet potatoes
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon sugar

Instructions:

  1. Drain the liquid off the sweet potatoes.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a microwave-safe bowl.
  3. Cook in microwave for 1 1/2 minutes or until heated through.
  4. Stir until smooth.

Nutrition information per serving: 70 calories, 0g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 20mg sodium, 16g total carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 5g sugar, 1g protein

This recipe is courtesy of ISU Extension and Outreach’s Spend Smart. Eat Smart. Visit the website for more recipes, information, and videos.

Healthy Choices for Healthy Events

Fresh fruits and vegetablesEveryone has a role in helping to create and support an environment for healthy eating. Try these tips to encourage healthy choices at meetings, conferences, parties, and other events.

  • Strive to provide half of the food served from a variety of fruits and vegetables. Fruit makes a great dessert. Beans and legumes, such as black beans and chickpeas, are vegetable-based protein sources.
  • Provide 100% whole-grain products in a variety of forms such as breads, rolls, crackers, or tortillas. Include whole-grain pasta, brown rice, quinoa, and other whole grains as part of healthful salads, mixed dishes, and casseroles.
  • Serve smaller portion sizes such as mini bagels, 6-oz. bottles or cartons of 100% juice, or 3 oz. of meat, fish, or poultry. For more information about portion sizes, visit https://store.extension.iastate.edu to download publication PM 3024, How Much Are You Eating?
  • Limit availability of processed foods, which tend to be higher in sodium and added sugars. Instead choose less-processed snack options like raw or dry-roasted nuts, fresh fruit, whole-grain chips with healthier dips (e.g., salsa, guacamole, or bean dips), or whole-grain baked products.
  • Go green; provide pitchers and cups for drinking water during the event. If needed, offer non- or low-calorie beverages (40 calories per 12-ounce serving). Try water infused with fresh fruit, vegetables, or herbs.

Sources:
Tips for Offering Healthier Options and Physical Activity at Workplace Meetings and Events, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/downloads/tips-for-offering-healthier-options-and-pa-at-workplace.pdf

Safe Preserving Using a Steam Canner

Home canned peachesThe University of Wisconsin–Madison published research saying that an Atmospheric Steam Canner is safe to use for home canning of acidic foods such as fruits, or acidified foods such as salsa or pickles, as long as the following guidelines are observed:

  • Foods must be high in acid, pH of 4.6 or below.
  • A research-tested recipe developed for a boiling water canner must be used with the Atmospheric Steam Canner. Do not rely on the recipes that come with the steam canner.
  • Jars must be heated prior to filling with hot liquid, the steamer must be vented so that the jars are processed in pure steam at 212o F for 45 minutes or less. Cooling must be minimized prior to processing.
  • The steam canner may be used with recipes approved for half-pint, pint, or quart jars.

For further information: fyi.uwex.edu/safepreserving/2015/06/24/safe-preserving-using-an-atmospheric-steam-canner/.

DESKerWhat?

occupational disease prevention - exercise in officeSitting is the new smoking. Long periods of sitting, even if you get the recommended 30 minutes of physical activity in during the day, can be harmful to your health. If you have a sedentary desk job, you may find it difficult to move throughout the work day.

Try to “deskercise,” which refers to exercise that can be done during the workday right at your desk. The National Center for Health, Physical Activity and Disability (NCHPAD) has a deskercise poster you can download at no cost. Choose two exercises on the poster and do them twice a day. The exercises include cardio, strength, and flexibility. Challenge your coworkers as well to get active at their desks. Here is the link to download the poster: www.nchpad.org/fppics/deskercise%20poster_updated.pdf.

Apricot Pops

ApricotPopsServing Size: 1 pop (1/2 cup)
Serves: 8

Ingredients:

  • 1 can (15 ounces) apricots, packed in juice or light syrup
  • 2 cartons (6 ounces each) of low fat, sugar free vanilla yogurt

Supplies:

  • 8 small paper cups
  • 8 plastic spoons or wooden sticks (for handles)

Instructions:

  1. Drain apricots.
  2. Chop the apricots finely and mix with the yogurt or blend the fruit and yogurt until smooth with a blender or food processor.
  3. Pour mixture into 8 small paper cups and put in freezer. After half an hour (when they start to freeze), stand a plastic spoon or wooden stick in the pops.
  4. Freeze 3–4 hours or until pops are solid.
  5. Remove from cup to serve. Place bottom of cup under hot running water for 20 seconds. Peel off paper cup.

Nutrition information per serving: 60 calories, 0.5g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 30mg sodium, 12g total carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 8g sugar, 2g protein

This recipe is courtesy of ISU Extension and Outreach’s Spend Smart. Eat Smart. Visit the website for more recipes, information, and videos.

Surfing the Web for Accurate Nutrition and Health Information

tablesThe internet can be a great information resource that is quick and easy to use. You can find breaking nutrition news, healthy recipes, and sound nutrition advice. Like other media outlets, however, the web can also be crowded with misinformation and poor nutrition guidance. Here are tips to help make you a whiz on the web in searching for credible nutrition and health information.

Perform an “advanced search” to help limit the search to be more specific to your needs. For instance, you can search within a specific site or domain. The three-letter suffix on a website address such as “.com” or “.edu” is the domain. Some domains may be more credible than others.

Remember, dependable sources often state where information is coming from, who funds the studies or organization, and what credentials and education qualify the writers on the topic. For more information, download the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach publication.

Survivor’s Guide to Healthy Web Surfing and Phone Apps (N 3418), store.extension.iastate.edu/Product/N3418

Sources:

Foam Roll Your Way to Better Fitness

What Does It Do?

Foam rolling uses a process called “myofascial release” to stretch out tight muscles and release tension that causes an area to feel sore. The goal is to break up the tissue that connects the muscles called fascia. This long, cylindrical fitness tool is used by directly applying pressure to the target muscle area.

The Benefits

  • Increased Range of Motion: During exercise, muscles constrict and create tension, decreasing mobility. Using a roller promotes more flexible muscles, allowing them to fully reach their potential range of motion.
  • Strength and Balance: Foam rollers are not only used for stretching, but as a component of an exercise program. Yoga and Pilates utilize this tool to strengthen the core by creating instability.
  • Feeling of Relief: After exercise, muscles can feel sore and tight. Rolling out the knots relieves some of the pain created by this built-up tension.
  • Increased Circulation: Foam rolling allows more oxygen to circulate to the target muscles, assisting with recovery and performance.
  • Easy and Affordable: Foam rollers can be purchased for as cheap as $10 and are lightweight and easy to transport.

Explore exercise ideas and check out types of foam rollers to purchase for your active lifestyle.

Sources:

Frozen Fruit Cups

frozen fruit cup

Serving Size: 1/2 cup
Serves: 6

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups fresh strawberries, sliced
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 medium to large banana, sliced
  • 2 kiwi, sliced

Instructions:

  1. Mix strawberries with sugar in a bowl. Let mixture sit 20–30 minutes while strawberries make juice.
  2. Add banana and kiwi to strawberries.
  3. Scoop 1/2 cup of the mixture into each of six muffin cups lined with paper liners.
  4. Freeze. Remove from freezer about 20–30 minutes before serving.

Nutrition information per serving: 50 calories, 0g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 0mg sodium, 13g total carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 8g sugar, 1g protein

This recipe is courtesy of ISU Extension and Outreach’s Spend Smart. Eat Smart. Visit the website for more recipes, information, and videos.