Swimming is the fourth most popular sports activity in the United States and a good way to get regular aerobic physical activity. Just two and a half hours per week of aerobic physical activity, such as swimming, can decrease the risk of chronic illnesses like heart disease and diabetes. For people with arthritis, swimming and other water-based exercises can improve the use of affected joints and decrease pain from osteoarthritis.

Source: www.cdc.gov/healthywater/swimming/swimmers/health_benefits_water_exercise.html

Facts about the Date on Your Food Package

The dates provided on food products can be confusing. This confusion often leads to unnecessary food waste. Manufacturers provide dating to help consumers and retailers decide when food is of the best quality. To determine quality dates, manufacturers consider the length of time the food has been held during distribution and the holding temperature, the characteristics of the food, and the type of packaging used.

For example, fresh beef packaged in a reduced oxygen packaging system will stay fresh longer than meat not packaged this way. The quality may deteriorate after these dates, but the product is still safe to eat if handled properly. Open dating is used on most food, such as meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy. Closed or coded dating is a series of letters and/or numbers that typically appears on shelf-stable products like cans or boxes of food. Common phrases used are the following.

  • ‘Best if used by/before’ indicates when a product will be of best flavor or quality. It is not a purchase or safety date.
  • ‘Sell by’ tells the store how long to display the product for inventory management. It is not a safety date. You should buy the product before the sell-by date, but you can still store it at home beyond that date as long as you follow safe storage procedures.
  • ‘Use by’ is the last date recommended for use of the product at peak quality. It is not a safety date.

For more information, check out this website: stilltasty.com.

Teriyaki Rice Bowl

Serving Size: 1 cup
Serves: 6


  • 2 teaspoons oil (canola or vegetable)
  • 3/4 pound boneless chicken, beef, or pork (cut into strips)
  • 2 cloves minced garlic or 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup low sodium teriyaki or soy sauce
  • 2 cups instant brown rice, uncooked
  • 1 package (14 to 16 ounces) frozen stir fry vegetables)


  1. Heat oil in large nonstick skillet on high heat. Add meat and garlic. Cook and stir 5 minutes.
  2. Add water and teriyaki or soy sauce and stir. Bring to a boil. Stir in rice. Return to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in frozen vegetables. Heat until vegetables are hot, about 5 minutes.
  4. Let stand 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

Nutrition information per serving: 230 calories, 3.5g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 30mg cholesterol, 510mg sodium, 33g carbohydrate, 3g fiber, 7g sugar, 19g 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

Tracking for Health

“What gets measured, gets managed”—Peter Drucker, management consultant and author.
Weight loss is a common goal many people share. Research suggests that tracking what we eat and how much we move can help us reach and maintain a healthy weight. Apps can make this tracking easier and more fun.

Check out these apps to help you achieve your health goals:

MyFitness Pal—This is a free calorie-counting app with more than five million foods in the data base and featuring a bar-code scanner option for ease and accuracy in tracking food intake. Users are able to set goals and track progress toward daily intake targets. Recipes and videos are shared when users log in to track food intake. Myfitnesspal.com

Spend Smart. Eat Smart.—You can carry Spend Smart. Eat Smart. in the palm of your hand at the grocery store with the Spend Smart. Eat Smart. mobile app*. The app tools make shopping for healthy foods a breeze. Produce Basics helps you choose, clean, store, and prepare fresh vegetables and fruit with ease. The Recipe Finder helps you keep track of your favorite recipes from the website. The Unit Price Calculator compares products to help you find the best price. *The Spend Smart. Eat Smart. app will be available soon. Watch the website, spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu, and Facebook page for announcements about the release.

Dine Safe—This is a free app that allows users to identify restaurants that cater to allergies and restrictions using a sort menu that compares allergies to allergens in each menu. Dinesafeapp.com

Epicurious—This free app offers cooking tips, recipe collections, and holiday menus. Epicurious is adding original video and features a seasonal ingredients finder and smart kitchen timer. Epicurious.com

Reference: Akers, J. D., R. A. Cornett, J. S. Savla, K. P. Davy, and B. M. Davy. 2012. Daily self-monitoring of body weight, step count, fruit/vegetable intake and water consumption: A feasible and effective long-term weight loss maintenance approach. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics 112 (5): 685–692,
dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jand.2012.01.022 (27 January 2017)

Wearable Technology Tops 2017 Fitness Trends

Wearable technology tops the list of fitness trends for 2017 according to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). Wearable technology includes activity trackers, smart watches, heart-rate monitors, and GPS tracking devices. Lead author of the study, Walter R. Thompson, PhD, ACSM, stated, “The health data collected by wearable technology can be used to inform the user about their current fitness level and help them make healthier lifestyle choices.”

Studies done by the American Council on Exercise (ACE) and Iowa State University have examined the accuracy of activity trackers. In the ACE study, the Jawbone UP was the top performer, whereas the BodyMedia Core came out first in the Iowa State study. Researchers in both studies say that even more important than accuracy is the fact that people get up and actually move. They encourage consumers to do whatever it takes to be active—activity tracker included or not.

Sources: www.acsm.org/about-acsm/media-room/news-releases/2016/10/26/top-fitness-trend-for-2017-is-wearable-technology

Safe Food on the Big Screen?

Flip to your favorite cooking show and you may observe the chef licking their fingers or even cutting vegetables on the same surface as raw meat. Cooking shows are fun to watch—but do they demonstrate safe food handling practices? A recent study from the University of Massachusetts–Amherst suggests there is room for improvement.

The study involved a panel of state regulators and food practitioners completing a 19-question survey that measured safe food practices, use of utensils and gloves, protection from contamination, and time and temperature control. The panel completed the survey while watching ten popular cooking shows. Lead author Dr. Nancy L. Cohen stated, “The majority of practices rated were out of compliance or conformance with recommendations in at least 70% of episodes, and food safety practices were mentioned in only three episodes.”

A number of safe food handling behaviors were not being done by TV chefs, which could lead to a foodborne illness and make someone sick. Areas for improvement include wearing clean clothing, using a hair restraint, handling raw food safely, and washing hands. Additionally, fruits and vegetables are the leading sources of foodborne illness in the United States, yet less than 10% of the shows demonstrated proper washing of produce. Don’t be a “TV chef” at home; always make sure you’re following safe food handling practices. For food safety tips, visit www.extension.iastate.edu/foodsafety.

Source: www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/11/161108123824.htm

Zesty Whole Grain Salad

Serving Size: 1 1/2 cups
Serves: 6


  • 2 cups cooked whole grain (brown rice, kamut, quinoa)
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 apples, chopped
  • ½ cup chopped nuts
  • ½ cup dried fruit (cranberries, cherries, raisins)
  • 1 bunch kale or 10-ounce package spinach (about 6 cups), torn into bite-size pieces


  1. Cook whole grain according to package directions. Cool.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, honey, salt, and pepper.
  3. Stir apples, nuts, dried fruit, and whole grain into dressing.
  4. Toss greens with other ingredients.


  • Substitute 2 cups of chopped fruit (strawberries, grapes, oranges) for the apples.
  • Do not give honey and nuts to infants under one year of age

Nutrition information per serving: 300 calories, 12g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 65mg sodium, 45g total carbohydrate, 5g fiber, 16g sugar, 5g 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



Build a Better Bowl

“Meals in a bowl” are a popular trend in the food world, providing both sweet and savory options. Look around at your local restaurants or browse through Pinterest and you will see burrito, rice, salad, and even smoothie bowls!

Bowls are a good way to incorporate a variety of food groups, but the calories can add up quickly. Consider the tips below to help you build a healthier bowl.

Bulk up the “bowl” with fruits and veggies

  • Fruits and vegetables are naturally low in fat and calories, and eating them can reduce your risk for chronic disease.
  • Aim to have at least two color groups represented in your fruit and vegetable selection.

Incorporate a whole grain

  • Whole grains pack a nutritional punch by providing fiber, B vitamins, and phytochemicals (compounds produced by plants that may help prevent disease).
  • Easy whole grain options include brown rice, oatmeal, whole grain pasta, kamut, quinoa, or bulgur.
  • Check out our Whole Grains publication, store.extension.iastate.edu/Product/FAM12, for additional ideas.

Choose a lean protein

  • Protein in your bowl means you will stay full longer.
  • Eggs, lean meats, tofu, beans, Greek yogurt, and nut butters are great go-to options.

Top wisely

  • Select toppings low in added sugar and sodium, such as dried fruits with no added sugar or plain nuts and seeds.

Source: www.cbsnews.com/media/diet-paleo-low-carb-low-fat/9/

Keep Movin’ in the New Year

The cold weather, along with snow and ice, can make it hard to move outside. Don’t let the cold winter months discourage you into cutting back on your exercise routine. If you don’t currently have an exercise routine, there is no time like the New Year to get started.

  • Consider these indoor activities:
  • Walk at your local maPortrait of smiling people doing power fitness exercisell or your building’s hallways during lunch or coffee breaks.
  • Take the stairs whenever possible.
  • Follow an exercise DVD rather than watching a movie.
  • Do chair exercises while watching the television

Whatever activity you choose, you’ll burn extra calories instead of storing them. The key to an active family is finding fun things to do in every season. Aim for a goal of 30 minutes of moderate activity daily for adults and 60 minutes for kids—no matter the weather!

Information from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics:

Deep Clean in the Deep Freeze

Wiping new freezerWhen spring arrives, we typically deep clean for the coming season. With the cold weather outside, it’s a good time to clean the freezer. It’s important to keep the freezer clean of frost and food debris. Here are some tips for cleaning and maintaining your freezer:

  • Remove all frozen food items.
  • Check items for expiration dates and for freezer burn.
  • Consider throwing out any food that appears old and dried out. It may still be safe to eat, but the quality may be poor. Ice crystals on the inside of packages may indicate thawing and refreezing—those packages may need to be thrown out. Frozen food can be stored up to 1 year.
  • Pack food items you are keeping in another freezer or a cooler until you can return them to the freezer.
  • Wipe down the freezer with one tablespoon of baking soda in one quart of water. Then wipe with clean water before turning the freezer back on.
  • Let the freezer cool down for about 30 minutes before placing the frozen items back into it.
  • Put a freezer thermometer near the door of the freezer and check it periodically. Adjust the temperature control as needed to keep foods at or below 0°F.

You can see a video on how to clean your refrigerator on the Spend Smart. Eat Smart. website, spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu/cook/organize-your-space/.
Source: Michigan State University Extension, www.msue.msu.edu.

For more information, visit www.FoodSafety.gov.