Put It Away—The Right Way!

We are spending more money on our food lately than we have in past years. Properly storing food at home saves food dollars, preserves the quality and nutrients, and prevents foodborne illness caused by harmful bacteria.

Many staples and canned foods have a lengthy shelf life. However, foods stored for longer than recommended times or beyond package date may change quality, color, and flavor. Periodically check for expiration dates and discard foods showing any signs of spoilage.

Store perishable foods in the refrigerator at a temperature of 40°F or below. Items like meat, dairy, poultry, eggs, and fish should be in the coldest part of the refrigerator. Store them in airtight wraps or containers to prevent juices from dripping and contaminating other foods.

Freezer temperatures should be maintained at 0°F or below. Package items for the freezer in moisture- and vapor-proof wraps or containers, using freezer-grade foil, plastic wrap or bags, or freezer paper or containers. Label all freezer foods with the date, food item, and weight or number of servings. For more information on how long foods last, check the FoodKeeper App, www.foodsafety.gov.

EatRight, www.eatright.org
UNL Food, food.unl.edu
Texas Agricultural Extension Service, nchfp.uga.edu

Mediterranean Tuna-Spinach Salad

Serving Size: 1 cup tuna salad, 2 cups spinach, 1 orange | Serves: 1


  • 2 1-1/2 tablespoons tahini
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons water
  • 1 5 ounce can chunk light tuna in water, drained
  • 4 Kalamata olives(pitted and chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons feta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons parsley
  • 2 cups baby spinach, cleaned
  • 1 medium orange (peeled or sliced)


  1. Whisk tahini, lemon juice, and water in a bowl.
  2. Add tuna, olives, feta, and parsley; stir to combine.
  3. Serve the tuna salad over the spinach, with the orange on the side.

Nutrition information per serving:
376 calories; 21g fat; 5.2g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 46mg cholesterol, 664.8mg sodium, 26.2g carbohydrates, 5.8g dietary fiber, 14g sugar, 25.7g protein

This recipe is courtesy of EatingWell Magazine, March/April 2016.

Be in the Know—Don’t Throw! Tips to AvoidFood Waste

Did you know one-third of all food in the United States goes uneaten and ends up in the landfills or waste facilities? We can help achieve the national food-waste reduction goal of decreasing food waste by 50% by the year 2030 with a few tips.

Planning your weekly meals can save you time and money. Make a list of the foods you have in your refrigerator, freezer, and pantry and plan upcoming meals around them. Check the foods in your refrigerator often to be sure you use or freeze them before you need to throw them away. Leftovers and produce that are past their prime can be used in other dishes. Repurpose these into soups, casseroles, baked goods, or smoothies.

Wash your berries, cherries, and grapes right before you are ready to eat them to avoid molding. Be sure to store your produce properly for maximum freshness and less waste.

For more information download our free publication, Food Waste at Home, store.extension.iastate.edu/product/15386.

EPA, www.epa.gov
US Food and Drug Administration, www.fda.gov/food

Love Your Body

While scrolling through social media, do you compare yourself with people who appear physically fit? Does it make you feel bad about your body? You are not alone. Poor or distorted body image issues have increased and affect people of all ages. This can lead to unhealthy practices with food and exercise.

A positive body image increases confidence (self-efficacy), self-acceptance, and healthy behaviors. Changing how you think, see, and feel will help you to learn to love your body. Here are some ways to help achieve and maintain a positive body image.

  • Concentrate on what makes you special by exploring your unique skills and talents.
  • Make a list of positive things to say to yourself and repeat the affirmations daily.
  • Focus on appreciating and respecting your body. Plan time to relax and celebrate what your body can do.
  • Set goals to improve your overall health and well-being.
  • Speak out against unrealistic images of beauty portrayed in the media.

Source: National Eating Disorder Collaboration-NEDC Fact Sheet – Body Image, go.iastate.edu/FZSEW2.

Mobile Food Pantry

One in 14 Iowans is facing hunger. Iowa has many resources to help, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, dhs.iowa.gov/food-assistance, food banks, and food pantries—including mobile pantries!

Iowa Food Bank’s mobile pantry operates in 30 counties; many provide a drive-thru option. How does the mobile food pantry work?

  • Trucks deliver produce, meat, bread, and nonperishable items to the prearranged site.
  • Local volunteers set up a farmers market-style distribution system.
  • Food is given to people in need at the scheduled time.
  • Participants stay in the vehicle and unlock the trunk or backseat.
  • Volunteers safely place a prepackaged food box or bag in the designated area.
  • Volunteers reset the space to its original condition when the food is gone.

To see if there is a mobile food pantry near you, family, or friends who may be in need, visit Food Bank of Iowa, go.iastate.edu/RZLEVJ.

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Muffin

Serving Size: 1 muffin | Serves: 12


  • 1 cup old-fashioned or quick-cooking oats
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup oil (canola or vegetable)
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup white all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/3 cup mini chocolate chips


  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray a muffin tin with cooking spray or line it with muffin liners.
  2. Stir oats, milk, oil, and brown sugar together in a medium bowl. Let oats soak in wet ingredients for 10 minutes.
  3. Stir flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda together in a small bowl. Stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients until just combined.
  4. Stir in chocolate chips.
  5. Divide the batter into the muffin tins. Bake until the muffins are golden and a tester inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, about 14–16 minutes.
  6. Store leftovers in an airtight container.

Nutrition information per serving:
170 calories, 8g total fat, 1.5g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 200mg sodium, 23g total carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 10g 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 spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu

Understanding Food Date Labeling

Person holding bottle of milk

Almost all food has a food date label. The product date indicates food quality, appearance, and flavor, not food safety. Some unopened foods may be safe to eat past their product date if properly handled and stored at home. Below are some dates on a food product and what they mean.

  • “Best If Used By/Before” is how long the product will remain at its best quality while unopened. Foods not showing spoilage may be purchased, donated, and consumed beyond the date. (For donation information, contact your local food bank or use HS 142C Healthy Food Pantry Donation Guide, store.extension.iastate.edu/product/16109.)
  • “Use By” is the last date recommended for using a product at peak quality and is a required safety date for infant formula. Do not use infant formula beyond this date due to nutrient loss.
  • “Sell By” is the last day stores can display an item for sale while at peak quality.

USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service, go.iastate.edu/JSL1NT

Make Better Choices Easier

Old habits can be hard to break but through repetition, it is possible to form and maintain new habits! Building good habits can be achieved by putting yourself in situations where you are more likely to engage in the desired behavior. Below are a few suggestions on how to get started building these habits.

  • Plan. Identify unhealthy patterns and triggers. Set realistic goals and identify steps to help you achieve them.
  • Change your surroundings. Find ways to make healthy choices the easy choice. For example, precut vegetables so they are quick and easy to eat for snacks.
  • Ask for support. Find friends, family, neighbors, or coworkers to join you.
  • Track your progress. Record how things are going to help you stay on track.
  • Reward yourself. Give yourself a non-food reward, such as a new piece of workout clothing, a new cookbook, or a new notebook for tracking your progress, when you have achieved a small goal.

Things may not go as planned and that is okay. Improvement takes time and setbacks happen. Focus on progress being made rather than perfection.

The Joy of Physical Activity

Workout equipment

The weather outside may be frightful, but that does not have to make your winter any less delightful! Planning workouts ahead of time allows for consistent exercise habits. Setting goals and keeping track of your progress can be good motivators.

This time of year, there are many advertisements for workout challenges. You can even design your own 30-day challenge.

You can create your own 30-day challenge using free online videos on the ISU Extension and Outreach SpendSmart. EatSmart. website, go.iastate.edu/Q6EUYK. Aim for 150 minutes of moderate physical activity weekly using a variety of aerobic, strength training, and stretching routines.

Slow Cooker Pork Chili

Serving Size: 1 1/4 cups | Serves: 6


  • 2 pounds boneless pork butt, roast, or shoulder
  • 1 cup bell pepper (any color), diced
  • (1 medium pepper)
  • 1 cup onion, diced (1 medium onion)
  • 1 ½ cups salsa
  • 1 can (15 ounces) low sodium pinto beans
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) low sodium diced tomatoes


  1. Trim the visible fat from the pork. Cut into 2-inch chunks. Place in the slow cooker.
  2. Add the pepper, onion, and salsa.
  3. Cook on a low setting for 6 hours or a high setting for 3 hours.
  4. Pull the meat apart into shreds with a fork. You should have about 4 cups.
  5. Put half (2 cups) of the shredded pork in the refrigerator or freezer. This could be used for the Shredded Pork Sandwich, spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu. Freeze pork if it will not be used within 4 days.
  6. Return the rest of the pork to the slow cooker.
  7. Add the pinto beans and diced tomatoes.
  8. Cook another 30 minutes until hot.

Nutrition information per serving:
240 calories, 9g total fat, 3g saturated fat, 0g trans-fat, 40 mg cholesterol, 490mg sodium, 21g total carbohydrate, 7g fiber, 6g sugar, 18g 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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