Monthly Archives: February 2012

Preserve the Taste of Summer

canning jarsHave you been browsing the garden catalogs and planning your garden? What plans have you made for preserving the bountiful fruits and vegetables from the garden?

Now is the time to learn more about food preservation so that you are ready to “put it up.” Consider Preserve the Taste of Summer, an online and hands-on course that covers food preservation and food safety basics, canning, freezing, dehydrating, and jam and pickle making.

Learners can choose the level of participation they want and the topics that most interest them. A hands-on workshop is included for most levels of participation. To learn more go to  

The Preserve the Taste of Summer webpage includes information on registering for the Preserve the Taste of Summer course, dates, and locations of hands-on workshops, a food preservation resource list, and ISU Extension and Outreach food preservation publications that can be downloaded and printed.

Physical Activity: Break Time

work outNew research on physical activity supports the importance of Break Time— moving periodically throughout the day. Research done at Australia’s Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute, suggests that sitting for long periods of time is associated with health risks, including cancer risks. This even applied to people who are regularly active.

The studies showed that biomarkers for chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes such as waist circumference, insulin resistance, and inflammation can all be lowered with activity breaks as short as one to two minutes.

Practical tips for taking many movement breaks throughout the day:

  • Set a timer on your computer or phone to remind you every 60 minutes it’s time to get up and move.
  • “Walk with me.” Need to discuss something with a co-worker? Ask him or her to join you for a walk while you hash it out.
  • Keep light weights or a strength band in your office to use while talking on the phone or reading e-mail.
  • Use your office and/or office wall to do simple things like stretches, leg lifts, or marching in place.

Adapted from reports from the American Institute for Cancer Research Annual Research Conference, 11/ 3/2011.

Fruit Salsa & Cinnamon Chips

Fruit Salsa

strawberryServes: 4

  • 1 peach (or 1 cup juice-packed peaches, drained)
  • 1 apple (Granny Smith are excellent)
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen strawberries


  1. Wash and chop peach, apple, and berries into small pieces.
  2. Stir to combine.
  3. Serve with baked cinnamon chips.


  • Serve as a snack, appetizer, or dessert.
  • Use a variety of favorite red berries.
  • Add 1 Tablespoon brown sugar if desired.

*Enjoy this beautiful red dessert for Valentine’s Day. Serve in a clear glass dish surrounded by cinnamon chips.

Nutrient information per serving 39 calories, .2 g fat, 9.9 g carbohydrates, .6 g carbohydrates, .7 mg sodium, 1.9 g dietary fiber


Cinnamon Chips

 tortillaServes: 4 (8 chips per serving)

  • 4 flour tortillas
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 4-8 teaspoons water


  1. Spoon a small amount of water on flour tortillas (1-2 teaspoons water per tortilla).
  2. Combine cinnamon and sugar.
  3. Sprinkle tortillas with cinnamon sugar mix.
  4. Cut tortillas into 8 wedges (like a pizza). Place wedges in single layer on baking sheet.
  5. Bake at 350°F for 6 minutes.
  6. Cool and store in air-tight container.


  • These can be made in advance and stored.
  • Try whole wheat tortillas.

Nutrient information per serving 100 calories, 2.5 g fat, 18 g carbohydrates, 3 g protein, 190 mg sodium, 1 g dietary fiber

Source for recipes: Spend Smart, Eat Smart

Tracking Sodium Intake for Heart Health

salt shakerFebruary is Heart Month and one aspect of healthy eating for the heart is limiting salt and sodium intake. Salt plays a role in high blood pressure, which affects about one in three American adults. Everyone, including children, should reduce their sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day (about 1 teaspoon of salt). Adults age 51 and older, African Americans of any age, and individuals with high blood pressure, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease, should further reduce their sodium intake to 1,500 mg a day.

One easy way to track sodium intake (and so much more) is the new, free, online tool, SuperTracker, released December 2011 by the USDA. Foods eaten are entered and compared to a general nutritional recommendation (based on 2,000 calories per day) or can be personalized for the user. To personalize, the user enters his or her age, gender, weight, height and physical activity level; this generates personalized nutrition and physical activity recommendations for that user.

Super TrackerFive goals can be set in the categories of:

  1. Weight management
  2. Physical activity
  3. Calories
  4. Food groups
  5. Nutrients

For example, a goal of consuming 1,500 mg of sodium per day can be set by someone with high blood pressure. Weekly coaching messages related to goals are generated to help people move in the right direction. SuperTracker is a tool that can help users see what they are really eating, how much activity they are really getting, and help them set goals and track progress to improve their health.