June is Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month

Asparagus, lettuce, radishes, rhubarb, spinach, and strawberries are just a few of the fresh fruits and vegetables available in June! They provide a range of colors to eat and enjoy. It’s important to get a colorful variety of fruits and vegetables into your diet every day.

Colorful fruits and vegetables provide a wide range of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals. Phytochemicals are compounds in food that your body uses to maintain good health and energy levels, protect against the effects of aging, and reduce the risk of some types of cancer and heart disease.

Phytochemicals may be considered just as important as protein, carbohydrates, fats, minerals, and vitamins. Many of the phytochemicals and other compounds that make fruits and vegetables good for us also give them their color. It’s important to eat the rainbow of colors every day to get the full health-promoting benefits of fruits and vegetables.

Fruits and vegetables

When planning meals, try to use colorful fruits and vegetables. Usually the darker the color, the higher the amounts of phytochemicals. When introducing children to a new fruit or vegetable, consider designating a color for each day or week.

Health Benefits of Walking

Fewer than 50% of Americans meet the minimum guidelines for moderate physical activity. Walking is the easiest and most affordable way to correct this problem. Walking can be done anywhere; all you need is shoes. Walking can be done easily and has huge benefits. Walking can be done by taking short breaks during the day; it doesn’t have to be one long walk. For example, three 10-minute walks during the day will count as 30 minutes of moderate physical activity for the day. Keep your pace brisk (3 miles per hour) to meet the moderate physical activity recommendations. Take your first step today!

Visit the Healthiest State Initiative (iowahealthieststate.com/5210) for more information.

Refrigerated Condiment Safety Tips

Catsup, Mustard, Mayo

  • Condiments, such as ketchup, mustard, and salad dressings, are often opened and forgotten on the door or shelf of your refrigerator. Although they may last a long time, they can become expired or spoiled before they are completely used. Tips to ensure safe condiments include the following:
  • Label foods with the date the container is first opened.
  • Use open condiments before opening a new one.
  • Check product quality and labeled date before consuming condiments (see below).
  • Throw away if spoiled or expired.

WHAT DO THE PRODUCT DATES MEAN?

Best by, use by, best if used by, best before – all indicate the date a product should be used for best quality, neither is a food safety/spoilage issue.

Shelf life of common condiments after opening

  • Olives: 2 weeks
  • Barbeque Sauce: 4 months
  • Pesto: 3 days
  • Gravy: 1–2 days
  • Pickles: 1–3 months
  • Horseradish: 3–4 months
  • Relish: 9 months
  • Hot Sauce: 6 months
  • Salad Dressing: 1–3 months
  • Jams and Jellies: 6–12 months
  • Taco Sauce: 1 month
  • Ketchup: 6 months
  • Soy Sauce: 1 month
  • Mayonnaise: 1–2 months
  • Worcestershire Sauce: 1 year
  • Mustard: 1 year

 

For more information, download Foodsafety.gov’s FoodKeeper App (www.foodsafety.gov/keep/foodkeeperapp)

Berry Banana Popsicles

Serving Size: 1 popsicle | Serves: 8Berry Banana Popsicles

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup strawberries, diced
  • 1 medium banana, diced
  • 2 cups nonfat vanilla yogurt

Instructions:

  1. Stir all ingredients together in a medium bowl.
  2. Pour mixture into popsicle molds.
  3. Freeze for at least 6 hours. Run molds under hot running water until popsicles can pull out easily to serve.

 

Nutrition information per serving:  50 calories, 0g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 25g sodium, 10g total carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 6g sugar, 2g 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.

 

MIND Your Diet

Brain filled with good foodMother always said you are what you eat. What we eat becomes more connected to our bodies every day. Now scientific evidence suggests diet plays a bigger role in brain health than we ever knew. Following a brain healthy diet (MIND diet) can reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia by 35–53%. MIND diet research at Rush University followed 923 individuals aged 58–98 for more than four years. Reduction in dementia risk among those who closely or moderately followed the diet was observed.

The MIND diet combines the Mediterranean diet pattern and the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet with mild calorie restriction. The MIND diet encourages minimally processed plant-based foods and limited consumption of animal foods high in saturated fat. It also encourages food found to be potentially brain protective such as green leafy vegetables, whole grains, lean meat, fish, poultry, and berries. Research continues on the effects of the MIND diet on cognitive decline in the brain.

Foods to Eat More:

  • Beans, every other day
  • Berries, at least twice per week
  • Fish, at least once per week
  • Green leafy vegetables, every day
  • Other vegetables, at least once per day
  • Nuts, every day
  • Olive oil
  • Poultry, at least twice per week
  • Whole grains, three times per day

Foods to Eat Less:

  • Fried food or fast food, less than one serving per week
  • Pastries and sweets, no more than five servings per week
  • Red meat, three 3- to 5-ounce servings per week
  • Butter and stick margarine, less than one pat a day
  • Whole fat cheese, one to two ounces per week

 

Source: Diet for the Mind, Dr. Martha Clare Morris, 2017.

Take a Time Out for Flexibility

While watching your favorite teams compete in March Madness, take a time out during commercial breaks to stretch. Flexibility is an overlooked component of exercise that improves your range of motion, which increases your ability to engage in all different types of physical activity. You do not need to go to yoga to improve your flexibility. The most recent physical activity recommendations suggest stretching as an easy and effective means to increase flexibility.

Follow these simple stretching tips to minimize injury and maximize flexibility benefits:

  • Relax by taking a few deep breaths during stretches.
  • Make smooth/slow movements instead of jerky/quick motions.
  • Stretch until feeling a gentle pull; if you feel any sharp pain or discomfort, you have stretched too far.
  • Hold stretches for a total of 15–30 seconds.

To get started, try these simple stretches as you wait for the basketball games to resume:

  • Forward Bend—When sitting/standing, reach your hands toward your toes. Hold for 15–30 seconds.
  • Wall Push—Stand 12–18 inches away from a wall; lean forward, pushing against the wall with your hands and keeping heels flat on the floor. Hold for 15 seconds; repeat 1–2 times.
  • Hip Flexor Stretch—With both knees on the floor, bring one leg forward placing your foot flat on the floor and your knee at a 90-degree angle. Push your hips forward until you feel a stretch in your front thigh, near the groin. Keep your torso upright and front knee behind your toes. Hold for 20-30 seconds on each leg.

Visit the American Heart Association for more stretches.

 

Sources: American Heart Association, Stretches for exercise and flexibility; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Active adults. Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans

Everything and the Kitchen Sink

Basket of cleaning suppliesWith spring cleaning right around the corner, it’s important to prioritize what needs cleaning in our homes. According to the National Sanitation Foundation, the kitchen is the dirtiest place in the household. This place where meals and snacks are prepared and served daily tends to have the most germs. The “germiest” area in the kitchen as well as the second “germiest” item in the household is the sink. This spring, clean everything and the kitchen sink to reduce germs in your home. Wash and sanitize the sides and bottom of the sink once or twice a week with disinfecting cleaner or in a solution of 1 tablespoon bleach to 1 gallon water. Clean kitchen drains and disposals every month by pouring a solution of 1 teaspoon bleach to 1 quart water down them.

Sources: Germiest items in the home. National Sanitation Foundation (www.nsf.org); Cleaning the germiest items in the home. National Sanitation Foundation (www.nsf.org)

St. Patrick’s Day Boxty (Potato Pancakes)

Serving Size: 2 pancakes | Serves: 8

Ingredients:

  • 2 slices uncooked bacon, cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup all-purpose baking mix
  • 1 cup green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup shredded hash browns
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup mashed potatoes
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

Instructions:

  1. In a nonstick skillet, cook bacon and onions until browned. Remove from skillet, reserve 1 tablespoon bacon grease, and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl stir together has browns, potatoes, baking mix, cheese, bacon, and onions. Stir in milk and eggs until mixture is moistened.
  3. Heat bacon grease in skillet over medium heat. Measure a generous 1/4 c. of potato mixture into a skillet and add three more 1/4 c. helpings into the skillet. Flatten into pancakes, and cook each side 2 minutes or until golden brown.
  4. Serve and enjoy!

These pancakes freeze well once prepared. To freeze, let pancakes cool completely, put in a single layer on a baking sheet, place in the freezer, and transfer to heavy-duty freezer bags when frozen.

Nutrition Information per Serving:

161 calories, 8g total fat, 3g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 38mg cholesterol, 412mg sodium, 17g carbohydrate, 1.5g fiber, 2g sugar, 6g protein

 

Source: Allrecipes.com  Irish potato pancakes 

Frozen Food Facts

March is National Frozen Food Month! To celebrate, try these nutritious and delicious options from and helpful tips for the frozen food section:

  • Frozen Produce–Frozen fruits and vegetables are an excellent option when purchasing out of season produce. Frozen varieties are packed with nutrients, sometimes more than fresh items, because they are packaged at the peak of harvest season. Frozen produce is a great way to save money without sacrificing flavor.
  • Frozen Meat, Poultry, Seafood–Fresh animal protein can be expensive behind the counter, but frozen options can be just as nutritious and delicious when carefully selected. Proteins not breaded or fried are the best options. The frozen section is also a terrific place to find several meat alternatives, such as plant-based burgers or tofu meatballs.
  • Check the saturated fat, sodium, and added sugar content on the Nutrition Facts Label; try to purchase products with less than 10% of the Daily Value.
  • Save frozen entrées and pizzas for busy nights; add other items to these meals and snacks, such as steamed vegetables, sliced apples with nut butter, or a side salad, to increase nutrient density.

To start stocking your freezer, here is a chart with recommended storage times for common frozen food items:

Food Storage:  Time in Freezer (0° or below)

Ground Meats:  3–4 months
Fresh Meat (steaks, chops, roasts):  4–12 months
Fresh Poultry:  9 months (pieces), 1 year (whole)
Cooked Meat or Poultry:  2–6 months
Soups and Stews:  2–3 months
Breaded Poultry (chicken nuggets/patties):  1–3 months
Pizza:  1–2 months
Frozen Dinners or Entrées:  2–3 months
Leftovers (casseroles, pasta):  2–3 months

 

Sources: Frozen food: Convenient and nutritious. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics; McDonald, L. (2012). Freezer foods. Supermarket savvy: Aisle-by-aisle teaching modules; Storage Times for the Refrigerator and Freezer

Citrus Infused Water

Fruit slicesIngredients:

• 1/2 orange
• 1/2 lemon
• 1/2 grapefruit
• 1 cup ice
• Cold water

Instructions:

  1. Add fruit to a two-quart pitcher.
  2. Gently press fruit with a spoon to release some of the juices.
  3. Add ice to the pitcher, then fill with cold water; stir.
  4. Serve immediately or chill, covered, in the refrigerator.

 

Get creative or try these seasonal combinations:
Apple + Cinnamon Stick
Cranberry + Orange

Recipe used with permission from West Virginia University Extension Service.

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