During the holiday season, don’t forget to make time for family meals. Children who often eat dinner with their families are more likely to do well in school, have positive peer relationships, and resist the harmful effects of substance abuse. In addition, regular family mealtime improves communication and nutrition, builds stronger family bonds, and is an opportunity for parents to teach important skills to their children. Furthermore, meals prepared at home are often less expensive and more nutrient rich.
Here are ways to enjoy family mealtime during busy holiday schedules:
- Make family mealtime a priority. Set aside specific times of the week when family members will eat together.
- Be creative and flexible about when and where you eat. Make the most of opportunities instead of worrying about following a strict timetable.
- Make mealtime pleasant. Children learn social skills from listening and watching their parents. Parents can set a positive tone for family meals and set a good example by listening and sharing.
- Eliminate distractions. Turn off the electronic devices (cell phones, television, etc.). Commit to device-free meals on or during the week of December 3, 2018, by participating in the initiative “Dining In” for Healthy Families, from the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences.
- Keep meals simple and easy. Use a slow cooker to prepare a meal that can be ready to eat when the family is ready to eat.
- Use family mealtime Conversation Cards.
Source: Adapted from PM 1842, Say “Yes” to Family Meals, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, March 2015
Not a big fan of warm or hot yoga? Don’t sweat it! A new study published in the Journal of Experimental Physiology showed that participants who worked up a sweat in hot yoga got the same heart health benefits as those who did yoga at room temperature.
Bikram (hot) yoga has been increasing in popularity. It consists of 26 yoga poses done in a room heated to 105oF. Researchers compared adults who took three 90-minute yoga classes a week (either hot or at room temperature) over 12 weeks. These adults were also compared with a control group of people who did no yoga at all. The hot-yoga group did decrease their body fat more than the room-temperature yoga or control groups. However, people in both yoga groups showed improved heart health. So, if health and vitality are your goals, you can choose either form of yoga.
Source: Hunter SD, Laosiripisan J, Elmenshawy A, Tanaka H. Effects of yoga interventions practiced in heated and thermoneutral conditions on endothelium-dependent vasodilation: The Bikram yoga heart study. Experimental Physiology. 2018;103:391–396.
Serving Size: 1 burger | Serves: 4
- 1 can low sodium black beans (drained and rinsed)
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1/2 cup bread crumbs
- 1/4 cup onion, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1 tablespoon oil
- Optional: cheese slices, lettuce leaves, mushrooms, onion, tomato, whole wheat bread or hamburger buns
- Mash beans with a fork.
- Stir mashed beans, egg, bread crumbs, onion, pepper, and oil together until combined. Shape into 4-inch patties. Wash hands.
- Heat a skillet over medium heat. Spray with nonstick cooking spray.
- Place patties in the skillet and cover with a lid. Cook patties for 5 minutes on the first side. Flip patties and cook for 4 more minutes on the other side.
- Serve with optional ingredients.
Nutrition information per serving:
200 calories, 6g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 45mg cholesterol, 260mg sodium, 28g total carbohydrate, 8g fiber, 2g sugar, 10g protein
Recipe courtesy of ISU Extension and Outreach’s Spend Smart. Eat Smart. website. For more information, recipes, and videos, visit spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu.
A new term in the world of diets is the Flexitarian Diet. The mission of the Flexitarian Diet is to add more plant-based foods to your diet. Flexitarians eat less meat than they used to, but don’t give it up completely. The Flexitarian Diet has benefits like those seen with vegetarian diets—a reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer. The American Heart Association encourages the Flexitarian Diet as a good compromise to promote heart health. This way of eating can be fun—and may save you money!
Try these simple tips:
- Find ways to replace meat at your meals with legumes or soy products. For example, have a black bean burger instead of a hamburger.
- Start out small, by making just one meal each week meatless. You may find you enjoy the variety.
- Visit the Extension Store to download a free copy of Dried Beans, Peas, and Lentils Can Help You Save $$.
- Find vegetarian recipes on the American Heart Association website.
- When you do eat meat, select a lean cut. Lean cuts of meat include the words “loin” or “round.” After cooking, rinse ground meat with water and drain to reduce fat content. Limit your daily intake to 6 ounces.
Melina V., Craig W., Levin S. Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Vegetarian Diets. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2016;116(12):1970–1980.
American Heart Association. Vegetarian, Vegan and Meals Without Meat. Last Reviewed January 27, 2017.
Sarcopenia is the decline of skeletal muscle tissue, or muscle mass, as we age. The loss of this muscle progressively impairs the strength and balance of older adults until they can no longer perform daily activities independently.
You can prevent or reverse sarcopenia by staying physically active, particularly with resistance training and weight-bearing exercises. Resistance training (using resistance bands or lifting weights) has shown the best results for building and maintaining muscle. However, other weight-bearing exercises, such as walking, hiking, jogging, climbing stairs, dancing, or tennis, are beneficial as well.
The more we use our muscles, the bigger they grow! It’s never too early—or too late—to start strengthening our muscles to stay independent for life. To find out more, download “Stay Independent, Prevent Sarcopenia”.
How often do you wash your cloth kitchen towels? In a recent study, researchers examined the bacterial content of 100 kitchen towels that families used for one month without washing. They found significant bacterial growth on 49 of these towels, including bacteria that can cause serious illness, such as Staphylococcus aureus and E. coli. The towels most likely to harbor bacteria were made of cotton. Because cotton is more absorbent than nylon and other synthetic fabrics, it’s better able to hold the moisture bacteria need to grow. Towels used for just one purpose, such as only wiping utensils, held much less bacteria than multipurpose towels used for drying dishes, wiping hands, and cleaning up spills.
To prevent illness, toss reusable dish towels into the laundry after each use. A damp dish towel, especially, should not be reused before laundering. Air-dry dishes and utensils in a rack rather than wipe them with a cloth towel. Be sure to wash and sanitize sinks, counters, and refrigerator handles daily to reduce the risk of bacteria transferring from these surfaces to your clean towels.
Sources: www.medpagetoday.com/meetingcoverage/asmmicrobe/73401; www.healthline.com/health-news/your-kitchen-towels-are-probably-full-of-bacteria#1
Intermittent fasting (IF)—the practice of abstaining from food for limited periods—is growing in popularity as a dieting fad. Two main types of IF are the 5:2 diet and time-restricted feeding. On the 5:2 diet, a person eats normally five days of the week and then eats just one meal a day on two nonconsecutive days. Time-restricted feeding involves fasting for about 16 hours a day, with an 8-hour eating window, usually from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Some people are attracted to IF as a way to lose weight because it doesn’t require calorie-counting. However, fasting can cause headaches, fatigue, and lightheadedness. Fasting at certain times may lead to overeating at other times. This practice is dangerous for people with certain health conditions, such as diabetes.
In the short term, according to the American Heart Association, IF does not help people lose weight or lower their cholesterol levels any more than conventional methods of dieting do. The long-term effects of this way of eating are unknown.
If you are interested in exploring proven and safe methods of weight control, visit the Weight-control Information Network (WIN). Consult your doctor before beginning any weight-control program.
Sources: www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/0218p34.shtml; www.webmd.com/diet/a-z/intermittent-fasting; www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/not-so-fast-pros-and-cons-of-the-newest-diet-trend
Each year, Iowans celebrate RAGBRAI in July. Iowa cities and towns hold mini festivals for the bicycle riders—complete with food stands, entertainment, and displays of Iowa culture. However, the focus is still on the cyclists.
Live longer by bicycling. Getting 30 minutes of physical activity daily contributes to longevity. By making physical activity a regular habit, one can greatly reduce blood pressure, control blood sugar, improve cholesterol levels, and prevent sarcopenia (muscle wasting) in older age.
Bicycling is ideal for any fitness level, and there are different types of bikes to fit one’s style (road, mountain, and hybrid). Has it been several years since you enjoyed this activity? The American College of Sports Medicine provides recommendations for beginning a bicycling routine. You can also order a map of bike trails through the Iowa DOT.
Summer is here, and it’s time to fire up the grill and enjoy fresh foods! Grilling is a healthy, quick, and easy way to
prepare meals. You can use little or no fat when grilling meats and vegetables, without sacrificing flavor. You can even reduce dirty dishes by grilling veggies in foil! Summer squash, like zucchini, tomatoes, corn, and peppers, are all typically ready to harvest in July—and are great on the grill. Here are some fun ways to grill healthy meals:
- Grill a vegetable pizza (there are many recipes online).
- Chop two or three veggies (summer squash, onion, tomato) and a lean meat into cubes, layer on a kabob, and grill.
- For a grilled “stir-fry,” cut up chunks of onion, pepper, and lean beef. Toss together with low sodium soy sauce and spices such as garlic powder and ginger. Grill in foil pan and serve with brown rice.
The Cardio Pyramid, created by Colorado State University, is a fun, upbeat workout that you can do at home. Instructional videos are available that break down each move in the pyramid, including warm-up and strength-building exercises, into simple steps so that you can learn the proper form necessary to complete each move.
To do the Cardio Pyramid, do the exercises in this order:
- March in place, 2 counts of 8
- Step touch, 2 counts of 8
- Hamstring curls, 2 counts of 8
- V-step, 2 counts of 8
- High knees, 2 counts of 8
- March in place, 3 counts of 8
Then repeat the exercises in the opposite order. To access the instructional videos to learn how to do each exercise, go to this eating smart being active website.