Tai Chi for Health

Woman doing Tai Chi

If you’re looking for a way to reduce stress, consider tai chi (tie-chee). Often described as meditation in motion, tai chi promotes serenity through gentle, flowing movements. Practicing tai chi helps to improve balance and stability in older people and in those with Parkinson’s disease. It reduces back pain and improves quality of life in people with heart disease, cancer, and other chronic illnesses.

Although you can rent or buy videos and books about tai chi, consider seeking guidance from a qualified tai chi instructor to gain the full benefits and learn proper techniques. To find a class near you, contact local fitness centers, health clubs, and senior centers.

Sources: Mayo Clinic, mayocl.in/3oqFDiu, and NIH, bit.ly/3uDmhI0.

Food Safety Tips for Your Thanksgiving Turkey

Roast turkey
  1. Thaw your turkey safely: Plan ahead, since thawing may take days in the refrigerator. Do NOT thaw it on the counter, in a bathtub, on the porch, or in the garage.
  2. Handle your turkey safely: Before touching the turkey, wash your hands for 20 seconds. Do not wash or rinse the turkey. This may spread poultry juice to other foods and lead to foodborne illness. Use a clean cutting board. Wash the board with warm soapy water after use and before preparing the next item.
  3. Cook your turkey safely: Set oven temperature to at least 325°F. Cook to a minimum internal temperature of 165°F. Find cooking times at USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service, bit.ly/3kZeP6D. Use a food thermometer to check in at least two of the thickest parts of the breast, thigh, and wing joint. After cooking, the turkey should rest for 20 minutes to let juices settle.
  4. Chill your turkey safely: Divide leftovers into small portions and refrigerate or freeze within two hours after cooking. Use refrigerated leftovers within 3–4 days and frozen cooked turkey in 2–6 months for best quality. For more Thanksgiving-friendly food safety tips, visit FoodSafety. gov, bit.ly/3A55oqt.

Source: FoodSafety.gov, bit.ly/3A55oqt.

Vegetable Frittata

Frittata, toast, and fruit on plate

Serving Size: 1 slice | Serves: 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups vegetables, chopped (mushrooms, onions, peppers, tomatoes)
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/4 cup nonfat milk
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese

Directions:

  1. Heat an oven-proof skillet over medium heat. Spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Add vegetables and sauté until tender (3–5 minutes). Reduce heat to medium low.
  3. While vegetables are cooking, beat eggs and milk together in a medium sized bowl.
  4. Stir cheese into eggs.
  5. Turn oven broiler to high.
  6. Pour egg mixture over vegetables. Cover with a lid. Cook until eggs are nearly set—about 6 minutes. Do not stir and do not remove lid.
  7. Remove lid from skillet and place skillet in the oven. Broil until eggs are completely set and lightly browned (2–3 minutes).

Nutrition information per serving:
190 calories, 12g total fat, 5g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 295mg cholesterol, 210mg sodium, 5g total carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 3g sugar, 14g 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.

The Mixed-up Plate

Casserole

Fall is the time for mixed dishes—salads, casseroles, stir fries, soups, and stew—in which everything is tossed together. This is how to make mixed dishes healthy and delicious.

First, make sure to include at least three different food groups from MyPlate, myplate.gov/.

Then add color. Brightly colored fruits and vegetables add visual appeal as well as favor and texture to casseroles and stews. Add sautéed vegetables to your grilled cheese sandwich. Toss in dried berries and roasted vegetables to your salad. Or sauté your favorite vegetables (such as bell peppers, mushrooms, or onions), add eggs, and bake.

Mix it up. Look for recipes in which half the ingredients are nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, or beans. Use whole-grain pastas. Have meat play a supporting role.

Change up your protein. Try different types of ground meats in meat loaf and in pasta sauce. Add seafood (like shrimp, tuna, or salmon) to a stir-fry or pasta dish. Mix up your chili with beans and vegetables in place of ground meat.

Source: Adapted from Tufts University Health and Nutrition Letter, bit.ly/3mjg0gC.

Physical Activity Primer

Putting on tennis shoes

Feeling tired, slow, and sluggish? People often don’t feel their best when they are not getting enough physical activity. But how much is enough? Experts say, for most of us, at least 150 minutes of physical activity every week promotes health and well-being. For the best results, aim for a combination of aerobic, muscle-strengthening, and flexibility activities each week.

Ideally, we need 150 minutes of aerobic activities weekly. Aerobic activities increase your breathing and heart rate and improve heart and lung fitness. Jogging, brisk walking, biking, and swimming are examples.

Muscle-strengthening activities build and maintain both muscles and bones. Lifting weights, using a resistance band, or doing weight-bearing activities such as push-ups, squats, or yoga are all examples. Aim to do these twice weekly, in addition to your aerobic activity.

Flexibility activities help joints to move through their full range of motion. You should enjoy stretching exercises such as yoga and Tai Chi two to three times weekly.

Source: Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Spend Smart. Eat Smart., spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu/physical-activity/.

Fall Home Food Preservation

Apples, winter squash, and pumpkin may still be on your home food preservation to-do list.

Jar of canned vegetables
  • Always use tested recipes and procedures. Use publications from the National Center for Home Food Preservation, nchfp.uga.edu/,and ISU Extension and Outreach’s Preserve the Taste of Summer, store.extension.iastate.edu/.
  • Canning apple pie filling requires Clear-Jel. This is the only thickener that holds up to canning. It is not available in stores but you can purchase it online. Do not substitute Instant Clear-Jel or any other thickener for home-canned pie filling.
  • You can pressure-can squash and pumpkin safely if you cut them in cubes. However, you cannot safely puree squash and pumpkin. The density of the pureed squash/pumpkin can prevent adequate heat processing, even in a pressure canner.
  • There are no tested recipes for home-canned pumpkin butter. You can freeze pumpkin butter or store it in the refrigerator.

Thai Chicken Curry

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 a 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. Simmer for 5–10 minutes until vegetables are tender, stirring frequently.
  5. Stir in spinach. Simmer for 3 more minutes, stirring frequently.
  6. Serve curry over brown rice.

Nutrition information per serving:
290 calories, 7g fat, 3g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 85mg cholesterol, 390mg sodium, 29g total carbohydrate, 3g fiber, 5g sugar, 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

Craving Comfort Foods

Casserole with meat and potatoes

In the fall, we crave warm, hearty foods like cheesy casseroles and hearty soups. Often, though, these “comfort foods” are high in fat, sodium, and calories.

The next time you make your favorite “comfort foods,” try these tips to make them healthier and even more enjoyable:

  • Add extra vegetables of all types—dark green; red and orange; beans, peas, and lentils; starchy; and other vegetables—without added sauces, fats, or salt. Double the vegetables in a soup or casserole recipe to add extra vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
  • Switch up your grains, making at least half of your grains whole grain. Like rice? Try replacing white rice with brown rice in your recipe. This month’s recipe uses brown rice.
  • Choose reduced-fat dairy foods, including fat-free or low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese, in casseroles and cream soups. Reduced-fat cheeses, for example, have less fat but just as much favor and melt just like full-fat cheese.
  • Use lean protein foods, including lean meats, poultry, and eggs; seafood; beans, peas, and lentils; and nuts, seeds, and soy products. Cooking on a budget? Canned meats are just as nutritious, cheaper, and easier to use in casseroles.

Source: Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025, bit.ly/3kf72S4.

No Excuses to Moving More

Many people say they don’t have the time, energy, or resources needed to be active. Here are ways to overcome these barriers:

Workout equipment
  • Lack of time. Find two or three time slots of 10–15 minutes each day to schedule short bursts of activity, such as going for a walk. You can even find time to get active while you are at your desk. Try Desk Fit, 20 Essential Desk
  • Exercises, nasa.gov.
  • Motivation. Make activity a social event. Ask friends or family to join an activity. Encourage each other! This will benefit everyone, both physically and emotionally.
  • Low energy. Many people feel tired after work or doing household chores. Consider being active at the start of your day. This will keep other things from crowding out the opportunity later in the day. Moving your body first will improve your ability to manage whatever daily tasks you have ahead of you.
  • Fear of injury. Visit your health care provider to make sure activity is safe. Look for activities with low risk, such as walking or riding a stationary bicycle. SpendSmart. EatSmart has a chair workout, strength training, and stretching videos to use at home. See Physical Activity Videos, spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu.
  • Cost. Look for outdoor fitness equipment and recreation trails in your community. Libraries may offer exercise DVDs. Senior centers sometimes have free programs or equipment.

Source: Overcoming Barriers to Physical Activity, cdc.gov.

Vegetable Safety Tips

Vegetables are part of a healthy diet. However, they can also be a source of bacteria that can cause foodborne illness. Use these food safety tips to protect yourself and your family.

Washing carrots in sink
  1. Always wash hands with soap and water before you start to prepare vegetables.
  2. Use clean equipment, including cutting board and knives.
  3. Wash all produce even if the skin will be peeled. If a produce item is labeled ready to eat, washing is not recommended and could increase risk of illness.
  4. Wash produce under running water. A scrub brush can help in cleaning produce. Soap and vegetable rinses are not necessary. If soaking is required to loosen dirt, make sure to finish by rinsing under cool or warm running water.
  5. Store any washed produce in the refrigerator.

Source: Fresh Vegetable Guide, store.extension.iastate.edu/product/12599

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