Tend a Garden to Make Your Health Bloom

Two people gardening

Spring is finally here, and many families are enjoying the warmer weather by planning their gardens. The fresh produce from gardens certainly improves our diets. As a bonus, gardening helps us be active! The Centers for Disease Control considers gardening a moderate intensity activity. Gardening helps get us the recommended 2 1/2 hours of activity we need each week. Working in a garden allows us to get vitamin D from the sun. It helps relieve stress. It might even lower our risk of dementia!

To learn more health benefits of gardening, listen to the Sow, Grow, Eat, and Keep videos, bit.ly/3JiahSB.

Tzatziki and Pita Chips

Serving Size: 1/4 cup tzatziki with 6 pita chips | Serves: 8

Ingredients:

  • 1 cucumber (cut in half lengthwise)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic (peeled and minced) (about 1–2 cloves)
  • 2 containers (6 ounces each) plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill and/or fresh mint
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Dried basil, parsley, garlic powder (optional)

Directions:

  1. Use a spoon to scrape out seeds from the cucumber. Dice the cucumber into small pieces or shred with a grater.
  2. Spread cucumber on paper towels on top of a clean kitchen towel. Roll up the towels and squeeze to remove excess liquid. Transfer dry cucumber to a large bowl.
  3. Add the garlic, yogurt, dried dill or fresh mint, salt, and olive oil. Mix. Cover and refrigerate until served.
  4. Serve with baked pita chips.

Nutrition information per serving:
210 calories, 7g total fat, 4g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 5mg cholesterol, 5mg sodium, 29g total carbohydrate, 4g fiber, 2g sugar, 8g 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

Dip with pita chip

Fermented Foods Support Your Health

Bread

People have been fermenting foods for nearly 10,000 years. Fermented foods we eat today include sourdough bread, yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, and kombucha.

  1. In fermentation, Lactobacilli, which are natural bacteria found in fresh vegetables, feed on carbohydrates and excrete lactic acid. The lactic acid helps preserve the vegetables and gives foods a bright color and tangy flavor.
  2. Fermented foods have many health benefits. They give the body needed probiotics. Probiotics are microorganisms that live in the gut. They improve digestion, lower inflammation, and strengthen the immune system.
  3. To add more fermented foods in your diet, consider the following:
    • Eat yogurt for breakfast or a snack. Enjoy it alone, with fruit, or made into a smoothie.
    • You can also use kefir to make a smoothie. This tangy dairy beverage provides a different variety of Lactobacilli than most yogurts do.
    • Toss a little sauerkraut (fermented cabbage) into a sandwich or wrap.
    • Enjoy tempeh or miso, which are fermented soybeans. Tempeh has a nutty, hearty, mushroom-like flavor. Add it to a noodle bowl with vegetables.
    • Have naturally fermented dill pickles as a snack or a hamburger topping. Most pickles at the grocery store have been packed in vinegar and spices, not fermented. Be sure to buy “naturally fermented” pickles. You can also make your own fermented pickles. For recipes, see the ISU canning pickles instructions, https://bit.ly/3i7P4yQ.

Source: Taking a New Look at Fermented Foods, bit.ly/361haJI.

Walk with Ease: A Program for Better Living

Tying walking shoes

A team at Iowa State University (ISU) is leading the statewide rollout of Walk with Ease (WWE). It is an evidence-based program to help older adults establish healthy patterns of physical activity. The ISU team is currently inviting adults over the age of 60 to take part in an enhanced version of the virtual, self-directed WWE program. This includes access to an online portal as well as personalized support to help older adults incorporate more steps into their daily lives. All programming, including a guidebook, is free for those willing to provide feedback on the enhancements. For more information and to enroll in the program, visit Walk with Ease, www.walkwitheaseisu.org.

Sources: Walk with Ease at Iowa State University, www.walkwitheaseisu.org.

Can You Outgrow a Food Allergy?

bowls of allergens - nuts, eggs, milk, flour

It appears age may affect a person’s ability to outlast a food allergy. In general, children may outgrow allergies to milk, egg, soy, and wheat. New research also shows that up to 25 percent of children may outgrow their peanut allergy. However, food allergies in adults tend to be lifelong. The most common food allergies for adults are shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, and fish.

Symptoms of an allergic reaction can include vomiting and diarrhea. These can sometimes be mistaken for the stomach flu or food poisoning. Currently, avoiding the food you are allergic to is the only way to protect against most food allergy reactions. Researchers are exploring treatments and therapies to help manage food allergies.

Source: American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology

Santa Fe Stuffed Potatoes

Serving Size: 1 potato | Serves: 4

baked potato with toppings

Ingredients:

  • 4 medium potatoes
  • 1 cup black beans (drained and rinsed if canned)
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 1 cup corn (canned or frozen)
  • 1 cup cheese, shredded

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425ºF.
  2. Scrub potatoes and prick with fork. Bake for 1 hour or until cooked through.
  3. Stir together beans, salsa, and corn in a saucepan about 10 minutes before the potatoes are done. Heat over medium heat until simmering.
  4. Remove potatoes from oven. Cut in half lengthwise on plates. Spoon bean mixture over the top of each potato.
  5. Sprinkle 1/4 cup cheese over each potato.

Nutrition information per serving:

380 calories, 10g total fat, 6g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 30mg cholesterol, 730mg sodium, 59g total carbohydrate, 11g fiber, 5g sugar, 17g protein

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

Meatless Meals

Quesadilla

Eating plant-based meals improves your heart health by lowering cholesterol levels and blood pressure. Eating meatless meals may also save you money at the grocery store. According to the American Heart Association, “People who eat less meat tend to consume fewer calories, and foods such as beans are one of the most cost-effective sources of protein available.”

Follow MyPlate, myplate.gov, to plan healthy meatless meals that include fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans and legumes, unsalted nuts, and/or lower fat or fat-free dairy foods. Eating one meatless meal a week is a great way to start. Visit the American Heart Association, www.heart.org, for more tips on keeping your heart healthy.

Easy meatless meal ideas include the following:

  • vegetable quesadillas
  • spaghetti with tomato sauce
  • macaroni and cheese
  • bean burritos
  • vegetable stir-fry with tofu
  • lentil tacos
  • stuffed potatoes

Source: American Heart Association, www.heart.org, and Spend Smart. Eat Smart., spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu.

Move It

chair workout web page

To promote health and well-being, healthy adults should get 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity weekly. Although spring is around the corner, it still may not be warm enough to get moving outside. Get moving in the comfort of your home with Spend Smart. Eat Smart.® physical activity videos. You can access these at Spend Smart. Eat Smart., https://bit.ly/3ol6oE6.

Put the Freeze on Spoiled Food

food in freezer

Freezing is quick and easy. It helps preserve the nutritive quality more closely to fresh food than any other food preservation method used today. When freezing foods, the goal is to keep ice crystals as small as possible. Large ice crystals can cause an undesirable soft, mushy texture.

Foods to be frozen must be packaged in a way that protects them from the dry freezer climate and excludes as much air as possible. Ideal containers for freezing must be

  • expandable or sealed with sufficient headspace for expansion;
  • moisture-vapor resistant;
  • durable and leak proof;
  • resistant to cracking and brittleness at low temperatures;
  • resistant to oil, grease, and water;
  • protective of foods from absorption of off flavors and odors; and
  • easy to seal and label.

Avoid using waxed paper, paper or cardboard cartons, any rigid carton with cracks or poorly fitting lid, or re-used plastic dairy containers (e.g., cottage cheese or yogurt containers). These do not resist moisture enough to be suitable for long-term freezer storage.

To learn more about freezing and other food preservation methods, register for Preserve the Taste of Summer 101, https://bit.ly/34pVRjQ.

Thai Curry Chicken

Serving Size: 1 cup chicken curry, 1/3 cup rice | Serves: 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup instant brown rice
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken
  • 1 onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 2 carrots, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste*
  • 1 cup light coconut milk (about 1/2 of 13.5 ounce can)
  • 1 cup chopped spinach

Directions:

  1. Cook instant brown rice according to package directions. Set aside.
  2. Cut chicken into 1-inch pieces.
  3. Spray a large frying pan with nonstick cooking spray. Add chicken, onion, carrots, ground black pepper, and salt. Cook over medium high heat for 8 minutes.
  4. Reduce heat to medium low. Stir in curry paste and coconut milk. (*This dish is spicy. For less spice, use less curry paste or add a little more coconut milk.)
  5. Simmer for 5–10 minutes until vegetables are tender, stirring frequently.
  6. Stir in spinach. Simmer for 3 minutes more, stirring frequently.
  7. Serve curry over brown rice.

Nutrition information per serving:

290 calories, 7g total fat, 3g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 85mg cholesterol, 390mg sodium, 29g total carbohydrates, 3g dietary fiber, 5g total sugars, 28g 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

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