Fiesta Skillet Dinner

Serving Size: 1 1/2 cups | Serves: 5


  • 1 can (15.5 ounces) Mexican style tomatoes
  • 1 can (15.5 ounces) black beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 cups cooked chicken, diced
  • 1 cup prepared instant brown rice (1/2 cup uncooked)
  • 1/2 cup 2% reduced fat cheddar cheese, shredded


  1. Mix the tomatoes, black beans, corn, chili powder, and chicken in a large skillet. Cook over medium heat until heated through.
  2. Add the cooked rice and stir thoroughly. Top with shredded cheddar cheese.
  3. Serve hot.

Nutrition information per serving:
330 calories, 7g total fat, 3g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 680mg sodium, 38g total carbohydrates, 8g fiber, 4g sugar, 29g protein. This recipe is courtesy of ISU Extension and Outreach’s SpendSmart. EatSmart. website. For more information, recipes, and videos, visit

Shut Off Your Screen for Health

woman looking at cell phone

Screens are part of daily life. Many people spend hours each day on computers, on phones, on tablets, and watching television. Too much screen time can lead to negative health effects.

Watching television for hours leads to sedentary activity and increases the risk of weight gain and type 2 diabetes. Spending time on social media decreases social connections with others, raises feelings of loneliness, and increases risk of depression. Too much screen time also causes eye strain due to long periods of blue light exposure, which may cause headaches, blurred vision, neck and shoulder pain, and lower melatonin levels. Melatonin helps the body feel tired and ready for sleep.

We can’t get rid of all screens, but we can take steps to limit our time on them. Use these tips to reduce your screen time.

  1. Limit screens outside of work or school to 2–4 hours or less per day. Consider using time limit controls on your devices.
  2. Take frequent breaks from screens throughout the day. You can download a free app,, to remind you to do so.
  3. Make time to be active and spend time outside when Iowa weather is nice.
  4. Avoid screens during mealtimes.
  5. Shut off screens for at least an hour before bedtime.

Association between screen time and depression among US adults,
Television Watching and Other Sedentary Behaviors in Relation to Risk of Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus in Women,
Sleep Foundation,

Immune Boosting Adaptogens


Stress can affect the immune system. Research suggests that adaptogens, a group of plant-based herbs, may help our immune system by calming our central nervous system, decreasing anxiety, and boosting overall health. Five common adaptogens are:

  • Astragalus Root. Increases the production of immune cells and boosts heart health.
  • Ginseng. May reduce inflammation, enhance strength and stamina, and improve blood sugar.
  • Holy Basil. Antioxidant that treats bacterial, inflammatory infections.
  • Licorice Root. Soothes the stomach, reduces stress, and cleanses the respiratory system.
  • Raw Cacao. Helps improve digestion, enhances learning, and balances mood swings.
  • Schisandra. Boosts the immune system by managing stress, protects against liver disease, and treats menopause symptoms.

Before adding any adaptogen, other herbal remedies, or supplements, consult with your health care provider to ensure they are safe for you.

Plant Adaptogens- History and Future Perspectives,
10 Adaptogens that Boost the Immune System,

Keep Your Picnic Safe

Eating outdoors in warm weather increases the chance of food becoming unsafe to eat. Pack only what you need. This will lessen food waste since foods kept out for more than 2 hours (1 hour if 90°+F) should be tossed. Follow these tips to keep food safe:

  • Wash your hands and surfaces before, during, and after handling raw food items. Use paper towels to clean up spills.
  • Avoid cross-contamination by keeping raw foods separated from cooked foods. Use separate cutting boards for meats and produce.
  • Check temperatures. Use a food thermometer to check the food’s temperature before serving. Watch the food thermometer video,
  • Keep cold foods cold. Keep cold foods chilled at 40°F or lower. Keep coolers filled with ice. Frozen bottles of water can serve as ice packs. Replace ice frequently if melted.
  • Keep hot foods hot. Keep hot foods hot at 140°F or higher. Wrap and cover foods and place in an insulated warming container until needed.

Learn more about ISU’s food safety programs,

Orange Dressing with Fruit and Greens

Bowl of salad

Serving Size: 3 cups salad, 2 tablespoons dressing | Serves: 4



  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons oil


  • 8 cups greens (romaine, lettuce, or spinach)
  • 2 cups vegetables, chopped (broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, etc.)
  • 2 cups fruit, chopped (apples, berries, grapes, or oranges)


  1. Combine dressing ingredients in a container with a screw top. Close tightly and shake until combined. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use (up to 1 week).
  2. For each salad, top 2 cups of greens with 1/2 cup vegetables and 1/2 cup fruit.
  3. Take dressing from the refrigerator and shake hard to combine ingredients again. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of dressing onto each salad.

Nutrition information per serving:
160 calories, 7g total fat, 0.5g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 60mg sodium, 21g total carbohydrate, 5g fiber, 14g total sugar, 3g protein.

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

Protect Your Eyesight

Man at eye exam

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of vision loss for adults over age 50. The macula is part of the back of the eye that detects light. When the macula breaks down, central vision becomes blurry. This affects the ability to see fine details.

Early signs and symptoms of AMD:

  • Increased blurriness of smaller print
  • Fuzzy appearance of straight lines
  • Increased difficulty adapting to dim light
  • Difficulty recognizing faces

AMD can be prevented and/or treated. To help lower your risk of AMD, keep the following in mind:

  • Wear sunglasses to prevent UV damage.
  • Choose lutein-rich foods. Lutein maintains eye health. The body does not make lutein, so it needs to come from the diet. Lutein-rich foods include egg yolks, dark green leafy vegetables, orange and yellow vegetables, and fruits such as kiwi and grapes. Check out your local farmers market,, for lutein-rich produce.
  • Don’t smoke. Smoking can advance AMD damage. If you are ready to quit, call the tobacco hotline at 1-800-784-8669. The hotline is open 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m. Monday through Friday.
  • Get regular eye exams. Early treatment is critical to prevent common eye diseases from causing permanent damage. EyeCare America,, provides free eye exams for adults ages 65 years and older.

Dry Macular Degeneration,
Age-Related Macular Degeneration,

Go SNAP, For Healthy Foods

More than 38 million adults and children in the United States are going hungry. In Iowa, 1 in 11 Iowans face hunger. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is the nation’s largest anti-hunger federal program. It fights poverty by improving access to affordable and nutritious food. SNAP allows individuals and families with limited income to buy food. It can also be used to buy seeds and plants to grow food.

People can use SNAP benefits at grocery stores, convenience stores, and even farmers markets,! Farmers markets sell fresh, local produce that help you enjoy the taste of summer.

If you need help completing the online or paper application, you may contact your local DHS office. You can also call the Iowa SNAP Hotline, 855-944-3663, to speak with someone who can help with the SNAP application. The hotline is open 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Food Bank of Iowa,
Food Security in the U.S.,

That’s My Jam!


June is prime strawberry time! Even after the season is over, you can enjoy the taste of fresh strawberries with freezer jam.

Freezer jam is delicious, easy, and quick to make. Jam is only as tasty as the fruit it is prepared with. So be sure to start with fresh, unblemished strawberries that have been washed.

Since it is not cooked, freezer jam tastes more like fresh strawberries. However, since it is not processed in a hot water bath, it does require temperature control like freezing or refrigeration. Try this research-based recipe to ensure the safety of your freezer jam: Uncooked Berry Jam,

Learn more about food preservation and Preserve the Taste of Summer programs at

Berry and Greens Smoothie

Berry and Greens Smoothie

Serving Size: 8 ounces | Serves: 8


  • 2 medium bananas
  • 2 containers (6 ounces each) nonfat vanilla yogurt
  • 3 cups leafy greens, washed (kale or spinach)
  • 1 package (16 ounces) frozen berries
  • 1 cup nonfat milk


  1. Put bananas, yogurt, and greens in the blender. Blend until smooth.
  2. Add berries to blender. Blend until smooth.
  3. Add milk to blender. Blend until smooth.
  4. Serve immediately or freeze in individual servings.

Nutrition information per serving:
90 calories, 0.5g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 50mg sodium, 20g total carbohydrate, 3g fiber, 12g 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

Menu Planning Tips and Tricks

5-Day Meal Planning Worksheet

Sticking to your budget while eating healthy is possible! Planning is the first step. Menu planning helps you save time, save money, and make healthier choices.

You can personalize your menu by choosing nutrient-dense foods you enjoy. Nutrient-dense foods are high in vitamins and minerals without much saturated fat, added sugars, and sodium.

Start with these tips below:

  • Check what you have on hand. Check your pantry, freezer, and refrigerator for foods that will soon expire or need to be used up. Make a note of how to use those ingredients in your planner. This can save you money at the grocery store and decrease food waste.
  • Don’t throw that away! Plan for leftovers. For example, if you make a spinach salad on Monday, use the leftover spinach to make a smoothie for breakfast. Another idea is if you make grilled chicken for dinner, use the leftovers in chicken salad.
  • Use MyPlate. Healthy meals can be simple and tasty. Plan a meal that has something from at least three MyPlate food groups. This is an easy way to make sure your meals are healthy and nutrient-dense.
  • Think ahead to your family’s schedules. Do you need quick and easy meals? Are you hosting company? Do you need to harvest your garden? Using a five-day meal planning worksheet can help you plan a menu based on your weekly needs.

Source: MyPlate,

Subscribe to Words on Wellness

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner