Fermented Foods Support Your Health

Bread

People have been fermenting foods for nearly 10,000 years. Fermented foods we eat today include sourdough bread, yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, and kombucha.

  1. In fermentation, Lactobacilli, which are natural bacteria found in fresh vegetables, feed on carbohydrates and excrete lactic acid. The lactic acid helps preserve the vegetables and gives foods a bright color and tangy flavor.
  2. Fermented foods have many health benefits. They give the body needed probiotics. Probiotics are microorganisms that live in the gut. They improve digestion, lower inflammation, and strengthen the immune system.
  3. To add more fermented foods in your diet, consider the following:
    • Eat yogurt for breakfast or a snack. Enjoy it alone, with fruit, or made into a smoothie.
    • You can also use kefir to make a smoothie. This tangy dairy beverage provides a different variety of Lactobacilli than most yogurts do.
    • Toss a little sauerkraut (fermented cabbage) into a sandwich or wrap.
    • Enjoy tempeh or miso, which are fermented soybeans. Tempeh has a nutty, hearty, mushroom-like flavor. Add it to a noodle bowl with vegetables.
    • Have naturally fermented dill pickles as a snack or a hamburger topping. Most pickles at the grocery store have been packed in vinegar and spices, not fermented. Be sure to buy “naturally fermented” pickles. You can also make your own fermented pickles. For recipes, see the ISU canning pickles instructions, https://bit.ly/3i7P4yQ.

Source: Taking a New Look at Fermented Foods, bit.ly/361haJI.

Santa Fe Stuffed Potatoes

Serving Size: 1 potato | Serves: 4

baked potato with toppings

Ingredients:

  • 4 medium potatoes
  • 1 cup black beans (drained and rinsed if canned)
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 1 cup corn (canned or frozen)
  • 1 cup cheese, shredded

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425ºF.
  2. Scrub potatoes and prick with fork. Bake for 1 hour or until cooked through.
  3. Stir together beans, salsa, and corn in a saucepan about 10 minutes before the potatoes are done. Heat over medium heat until simmering.
  4. Remove potatoes from oven. Cut in half lengthwise on plates. Spoon bean mixture over the top of each potato.
  5. Sprinkle 1/4 cup cheese over each potato.

Nutrition information per serving:

380 calories, 10g total fat, 6g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 30mg cholesterol, 730mg sodium, 59g total carbohydrate, 11g fiber, 5g sugar, 17g 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.

Thai Curry Chicken

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 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. (*This dish is spicy. For less spice, use less curry paste or add a little more coconut milk.)
  5. Simmer for 5–10 minutes until vegetables are tender, stirring frequently.
  6. Stir in spinach. Simmer for 3 minutes more, stirring frequently.
  7. Serve curry over brown rice.

Nutrition information per serving:

290 calories, 7g total fat, 3g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 85mg cholesterol, 390mg sodium, 29g total carbohydrates, 3g dietary fiber, 5g total sugars, 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

Take a Tastebud Adventure

Bowl of rice and vegetables

March is National Nutrition Month. This year the focus is “Celebrate a World of Flavors.” While food patterns are influenced by family traditions and ethnic or cultural groups, it is also wonderful to try and explore new foods. Here are four reasons to try new foods.

  1. Gain Appreciation for Other Cultures. Trying foods from other areas of the country or world can give you a greater appreciation and understanding of a different culture. Try nearby restaurants that serve cuisine you’ve never tried before. Go to a specialty grocery store (such as an Asian market or bodega) to buy something to try at home. Cook a new recipe. Explore the USDA Culture and Food website, https://bitly/3AR0Bek.
  2. Expand Your Options. By being adventurous and trying new foods, you’ll increase your meal options. This will help stop meal prep boredom of cooking the same meals or going to the same restaurants.
  3. Improve Nutrition. Eating and enjoying a wider variety of food also means that you’ll get more nutritional variety. This means finding new sources of essential vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients in which your current food patterns may be lower.
  4. Find Common Ground. A common social activity across nearly all cultures is eating. Mealtime is an opportunity for people to gather lowering feelings of loneliness and enhancing happiness.

Potato 101

Potatoes are a staple in many households. While potatoes may have a bad reputation, they’re versatile (baked, mashed, fried, boiled) and nutrient rich. They are an excellent source of vitamin C and potassium.

Potatoes

Keeping an eye on your blood sugar? You can still enjoy potatoes. Compared to many vegetables, potatoes may raise blood sugar quickly. However, the effect on your blood sugar is influenced by the type of potato and cooking method. For example, a white potato can increase blood sugar more quickly than a sweet potato, while a boiled russet potato raises blood sugar more slowly than a baked russet potato.

It’s also important to look at your entire meal versus just one food. When you enjoy potatoes with foods higher in protein and healthy fat, the potato is digested more slowly, which slows the rise of blood sugar.

FUN FACT: Don’t store potatoes with apples. Apples and many other fruits produce ethylene gas, which promotes sprouting.

Sources:
What Potatoes Have the Highest Glycemic Index?, nutritionletter.tufts.edu
7 Health and Nutrition Benefits of Potatoes, healthline.com
Produce Basics – Potatoes, spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu/cook/produce-basics/

Eat Protein for Good Health

FoodServing SizeProtein (grams)
Steak/Fish/Chicken 3 oz.21
Eggs1 large6
Milk1 cup8
Cheese1.5 oz.7
Yogurt1 cup11
Almonds1 oz.6
Beans1/2 cup8

Protein is essential to building our skin, hair, blood, bones, and so much more.

How much do you need? MyPlate, www.myplate.gov/, recommends eating about 5 to 6.5 ounces (~66 to 80 grams) of protein foods daily for adults ages 18 years and older.

Where do you get protein? Protein is found in meat, poultry, pork, fish/seafood, dairy products, nuts, beans, legumes, and some fortified grains. These foods provide B vitamins (immunity, eyesight), iron (blood health), zinc (immunity), and magnesium (muscle and bone health).

Do you need a protein supplement? Most healthy adults do not need a protein supplement. Those who may need a protein supplement are those with health conditions (e.g., cancer or major wounds [bed sores, broken bones, surgery]), that prevent their bodies from using the proteins they eat. When choosing a supplement, consider its purpose. If wanted for muscle development, try whey protein after exercising. If needed to prevent muscle loss, use casein protein before bedtime.

Before increasing your protein intake, be sure to talk with your health care provider.

To learn more, visit Stay Independent: A healthy aging series, www.extension.iastate.edu/humansciences/stay-independent.

Sources: The Scoop on Protein Powder, bit.ly/3EMmGvz.
Protein Supplements…Are They for You?, bit.ly/3bDUwGt.

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.

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.

September Is Breakfast Month!

Bowl of yogurt, granola, and blueberries

Breakfast is often considered the most important meal of the day. Yet many skip it. If you’re someone who skips breakfast, try to change that as you get into your fall routine.

Breakfast provides the following:

  • mental alertness
  • important nutrients
  • reduction of chronic disease risk

Remember, a meal is simply a combination of foods from at least three food groups. Thus, breakfast doesn’t have to be huge. Here are some simple, nutrient-rich ideas:

  • Yogurt parfait with berries and low fat granola.
  • Whole wheat tortilla spread with peanut butter rolled around a banana.
  • Coffee Cup Scramble with eggs, milk, and cheese (Recipe, iowaegg.org, from Iowa Egg Council). Enjoy with a slice of toast and a cup of juice.
  • Whole grain cereal, topped with fruit and low-fat milk.

Check out more ideas from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 6 Tips for Better Breakfasts, eatright.org.

Source: Breakfast in Human Nutrition: The International Breakfast Research Initiative, mdpi.com.

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