When the sun shines less in fall and winter, that can depress our mood. Regular physical activity lifts our spirits by releasing feel-good endorphins. Aim for 30 minutes of activity three to fve days a week. You can engage in three 10-minute bouts of activity a day, if 30 minutes all at once is daunting. Try these ideas for indoor physical activity during the cold and icy months:
Turn on the radio and dance.
March in place while watching your favorite TV show.
Set an alarm to walk around your house or office every hour during the day.
Use workout videos.
Explore streaming channels to find those that are free.
When in doubt, throw it out! To keep your family safe, keep leftovers for only three to four days in the refrigerator. Label condiments with the date you open them. Below is a list of how long they can last.
This is a good reminder to either eat or freeze Thanksgiving leftovers within three to four days. To handle leftovers safely, use the following guidelines:
Refrigerate food within two hours after cooking to keep it safe.
Eat or freeze leftovers within four days.
Use labels or masking tape and a black marker to write dates on food for the refrigerator or freezer. If you label leftovers in the refrigerator with the four-day-later date, you will see right away the last day you can safely eat them.
Use Food Safety Charts, www.foodsafety.gov, to learn how long food can be safely stored in the refrigerator or freezer.
Learn more about leftover food, www.fsis.usda.gov.
November is Sweet Potato Awareness Month! Sweet potatoes are often a part of Thanksgiving dinner, but why not enjoy them all winter long? These nutritious tubers are very versatile.
Sweet potatoes come in a variety of colors, including orange, white, and purple. Orange and purple sweet potatoes are high in antioxidants, which help fght infammation and may protect against cancer. All sweet potatoes give you vitamins A and C, fber, and potassium.
One cup of cooked sweet potato with skin provides 6.6 g of fber, about one-fourth of your daily fber recommendation. The fber in sweet potatoes feeds the “good gut bugs” that are important for gut health and keep you regular. The vitamin A prevents vision loss and improves eye health. The vitamin C promotes healthy skin, helps heals wounds, and enhances immune function. Potassium helps maintain healthy blood pressure.
You can enjoy sweet potatoes in many ways—mashed, grilled, steamed, microwaved, even in pancakes. Try today’s Sweet Potato Fries recipe!
Working and homeschooling at home this fall? The structure of school and work can help limit our eating to designated meal times. When we’re all at home all day, though, we may graze on less-than-healthy choices. What to do?
Involve the whole family in planning meals and menus. Family members can suggest weekly menu items, including something new. The ISU Extension and Outreach Spend Smart. Eat Smart. (spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu/) website has planning tips and a Five Day Meal Planning Worksheet (tinyurl.com/yyhaf3w2).
Get the family involved in preparation and cooking. They may be more inclined to help if the menu was their suggestion. Children will learn colors, shapes, reading, math, and science as they cook, without realizing they are “learning.”
Make snack bins in your fridge and on your kitchen table for both perishable and nonperishable snacks. – Nonrefrigerated Snacks: peanut butter; washed fresh fruit such as pears or bananas; individual bags of nuts, seeds, dried fruit, whole-grain crackers, or trail mix; individual applesauce or fruit cups; or Apple Cinnamon Bread (see featured recipe). – Refrigerated Snacks: low-fat yogurt; precut vegetables and fruits such as apples, carrots, and celery; or high-protein foods such as cottage cheese, cheese sticks, hummus, or hard-cooked eggs.
Keep sweet and salty snacks out of sight.
Everyone “starving” right before a meal? Set cut-up raw vegetables out while the meal is being prepared. Watch Veg Out! (vimeo.com/419742344) for more on vegetables.
Remember you don’t have to be perfect at this. Do your best as a family and have fun.
Hiking is great for physical health. It also improves mental health! It can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. According to a Stanford study, walking for 90 minutes in nature, instead of an urban setting, decreases activity in the brain linked to depression.
The gardening and preserving season is winding down, but it is never too late to learn about safe home food preservation. Iowa State University Extension and Outreach is offering two online food preservation classes in October.
Preserve the Taste of Summer: Totally Tomatoes – Learn about canning and freezing tomatoes, salsa, and other tomato products. Canning includes both water bath and pressure canning. – Thursday, October 8, 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. – Monday, October 12, 10 a.m. and 7 p.m.
Preserve the Taste of Summer: All About Apples – Learn about canning applesauce and apple pie filling, as well as freezing and drying apples. – Thursday, October 22, 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. – Wednesday, October 28, 10 a.m. and 7 p.m.
These fun and interactive classes will benefit both newbies and experienced home preservers. All sessions are one hour and free of charge. Register on the Preserve the Taste of Summer website (extension.iastate.edu/humansciences/preserve-taste-summer).
With fall approaching, the new schedule for school and work has likely changed your routine. However, that doesn’t mean your exercise routine has to go. To keep yourself accountable, set a SMART goal for fall.
Specific—This is the “what” of your goal, describing exactly what you’re going to do and where. For example, “I will walk outside more often.”
Measurable—How can you measure your goal each day, month, or year? Add specific units and numbers to your goal. “I will walk outside 30 minutes a day.”
Attainable—Is this goal attainable for you? Think about your current fitness level and the competing demands on your time.
Relevant—Is this goal meaningful and beneficial to you?
Time-bound—What is the time frame of your goal? How many days a week, and for how long? For example, “In the month of September, I will walk outside for at least 20 minutes at least three days a week.” At the end of your time frame, you can evaluate your success and make a new SMART goal.
Whether you are back to school or work, packing a meal can have some amazing benefits! Packed meals may be lower in calories and provide more essential nutrients, such as fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals. Packing meals also saves money. It is important to remember lunch-box food safety when packing your meal. Follow these tips to prevent being ill when eating on the go.
Keep cold food below 40°F and hot food above 140°F.
Use an insulated lunch box. Some food is safe without a cold source, like whole fruits and vegetables, canned meat and fish, and peanut butter.
For perishable foods, keep foods cold by including at least two cold sources. Use two frozen gel packs or combine a frozen gel pack with a frozen juice box, fruit cup, or frozen bottled water. Place cold sources on top and bottom of perishable food items, including lunch meats, eggs, cheese, yogurt, and milk.
Clean your lunch box or bag regularly to avoid bacteria growing on the sides.