Summer is the time to get out the camping gear and head outdoors. In addition to the hot dogs and s’mores, consider packing some of the following choices to balance out meals and snacks.
- Fruits and veggies. Sturdier fresh produce that holds up well includes apples, carrots, snap peas, and oranges. Dried fruit also makes a great snack.
- Whole grains. Popcorn is a whole grain and is an easy snack to take along. For cereal bars, check the nutrition label and choose those made with whole grain and that have a lower sugar content.
- Dairy. If you have adequate refrigeration, hard cheeses, cheese sticks, and yogurt tubes are much easier to pack than a carton of milk.
Preparing fresh produce can be easy when you have the information you need and a few skills. The Produce Basics information found on the Spend Smart. Eat Smart. website and app describe how to store, clean, and prepare various fruits and vegetables. Check out this link: spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu/cook/produce-basics/. Search for Spend Smart. Eat Smart. at your app store and download the free app today!
The claims sound believable, so it can be tempting to try the latest diet you hear about. While a diet plan may sound tempting, an eating plan should be the goal. To manage your weight and maintain a healthy nutritional status, it would be wise to consider these questions:
QUESTION: Does the plan promise weight loss without exercise?
For most healthy adults, the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends the following exercise guidelines:
- Aerobic activity – Get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic activity.
- Muscle-strengthening exercises – Two or more days per week.
Keep activity exciting by doing different things you enjoy.
QUESTION: Are there particular foods, or food groups, excluded or consumed excessively?
Use MyPlate (www.choosemyplate.gov) to guide your food intake. All food groups are important.
QUESTION: Does the plan require you to purchase pills, bars, or shakes?
A sustainable eating pattern is based on food readily available in grocery stores and farmers markets.
QUESTION: Does the plan promise weight loss of more than 1–2 pounds per week?
Losing 1–2 pounds or less a week is gradual, healthy weight loss. Weight lost more rapidly than this tends to be regained even faster.
QUESTION: Does the plan sound too good to be true?
If it does, it probably is.
Serving Size: 1 1/2 cups | Serves: 6
- 2 tablespoons oil (canola or vegetable)
- 1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
- 1 medium carrot (sliced 1/8 inch thick)
- 2 teaspoons garlic (peeled and minced; 3 cloves) or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 4 cups water
- 1 cup dry yellow or brown lentils
- 1 can (14.5 ounces) low sodium chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon dried basil or Italian seasoning
- 1 can (14.5 ounces) no sodium added diced tomatoes or 2 chopped tomatoes
- 1 bunch kale (about 7 ounces)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat.
- Add onion, carrot, and garlic. Cook 5 minutes.
- Add water to veggies in pot. Heat to boiling.
- Rinse lentils in colander with water. Add lentils to pot and simmer for 20 minutes. Do not drain.
- Add chicken broth, dried basil or Italian seasoning, and tomatoes. Cover and cook for 5–10 minutes.
- Rinse kale leaves; cut out the main stems and discard. Cut leaves into 1” pieces.
- Stir kale, salt, and pepper into lentil mixture. Return to boiling. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 3 minutes.
Nutrition information per serving: 200 calories, 5g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 170mg sodium, 29g total carbohydrate, 12g fiber, 4g sugar, 11g 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.
When it comes to fruits and vegetables, eating a variety of colors—red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, and white—provides the best mix of nutrients for your body, not to mention being more pleasing to the eye. Recommendations regarding how much people need depend on age, gender, and amount of physical activity. To learn more about your daily recommendations, visit www.choosemyplate.gov/MyPlate. Most Americans need to increase the amount of fruits and vegetables eaten every day. Remember, all product forms count—fresh, canned, frozen, dried, and 100% juice. By eating more fruits and vegetables, your risk of chronic disease is reduced.
Tips to increase fruits and vegetables in your diet:
- Prepare fruits and vegetables as soon as you get them so they are ready to eat. Consider dividing into individual servings so they are easy to grab and go.
- Have veggies and low-fat dip for a snack.
- Add vegetables to casseroles, stews, and soups.
- Choose fruit for dessert.
- Add veggies to sandwiches.
- Enjoy a fruit smoothie for breakfast or as a snack.
For more tips, visit SpendSmart.
Source: Fruits and Veggies – More Matters
Crumbs and spills aside, cooking with children is a great way to spend quality time and teach important skills like measuring, counting, and following directions. Here are ideas for cooking with children:
- Teach them to wash their hands. Provide a step stool or chair that children can stand on to reach the counter where you are working.
- Choose tasks that are appropriate for their age. Explain clearly, in simple instructions, what you would like them to do and show them. For tips on what children can do, watch How to Include Children in the Kitchen.
- Children can help plan menus and suggest foods they like. They can check the pantry or refrigerator for foods on hand.
- Children can help at the grocery store by looking for certain foods, shapes, and colors. Children can help put groceries away when you get home.
There are benefits when you involve children with meals and snacks!
- Children are more likely to eat foods they have helped plan and prepare.
- Children develop fine motor skills, self-confidence, and independence.
- Working with your children in the kitchen provides quality time together. You can teach them why nutritious foods are important.
- Food preparation is a great way to help them use their senses—look, touch, taste, smell, and listen.
Try child-friendly recipes such as Crunchy Apple Roll-up, Scrambled Egg Muffin, Fruit Pizza, and Pizza on a Potato.
Serving Size: 1/2 cup dry oats | Serves: 1
- 1/2 cup low-fat milk (or less for thicker oatmeal)
- 1/4 cup Greek yogurt, fat-free
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup uncooked rolled oats
- 1/4 cup raspberries, frozen
- Combine milk, Greek yogurt, honey, cinnamon, and vanilla extract in a container or jar with a lid.
- Add oats and mix well.
- Gently fold in raspberries.
- Cover and refrigerate 8 hours to overnight.
- Enjoy cold or heat as desired.
Tip: Frozen blueberries or strawberries may be used in place of raspberries.
Nutrition information per serving: 311 calories, 4g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 7mg cholesterol, 86mg sodium, 53g total carbohydrate, 9g fiber, 21g sugar, 17g protein
Source: USDA – What’s Cooking
When it comes to a quick and healthy breakfast, a jar of “overnight oats” is a great option. This popular instant meal is convenient, nutritious, and delicious. You simply mix raw oats with yogurt and fruit in a jar or other container, and then refrigerate it overnight.
The benefits are plentiful.
- It’s a whole meal. One serving provides you with food from three of the five MyPlate food groups.
- It’s satisfying. The fiber in the oats and fruit makes you feel fuller longer.
- It saves time. It takes two minutes to prepare overnight oats the night before and no time at all in the morning to grab a healthy breakfast.
- It’s versatile. Overnight oats have limitless flavor possibilities. Ingredients can range from berries and chocolate to peanut butter and bananas. Your oats will never have to become boring.
- It’s a whole grain. We should eat at least three servings of whole grains daily to reduce our risk of heart disease, diabetes, and certain forms of cancer.
To learn about more tasty ways to incorporate whole grains into your diet, visit the Extension Store.
Source: Michigan State University Extension
Wendy White, an associate professor in food science and human nutrition at Iowa State University, led a recent study that suggests eating salad greens and vegetables with added fat—in the form of soybean oil—enhances the absorption of various micronutrients that promote human health. Soybean oil is a common ingredient in commercial salad dressings.
Salad vegetables with added oil aided in the absorption of several micronutrients: alpha and beta carotene, lutein, and lycopene; two forms of vitamin E and vitamin K; and vitamin A. White said better absorption of these nutrients promotes a range of health benefits, including cancer prevention and eyesight preservation.
The study also found that the amount of oil added to the vegetables had a proportional relationship with the amount of nutrient absorption. White said, “The best way to explain it would be to say that adding twice the amount of salad dressing leads to twice the nutrient absorption.” This doesn’t mean salad eaters should drench their greens in dressing! White indicates that consumers should be comfortable with the U.S. dietary recommendation of about two tablespoons of oil per day.
The research study showed eating the same salad without the added oil lessened the likelihood that the body would absorb the nutrients.
Source: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
You may have heard or read of the movement in the food industry to create a clean food label. There is no legal definition to “clean” labeling, which increases confusion among consumers. Follow these tips when thinking about clean labeling.
Consider the source of the information. Be wary of advocacy groups using social media to push an agenda that may not be in the public’s best interest.
Food manufacturers quickly respond to changes in consumer preference. Before buying into the latest fad, think about whether it is market-driven or science-based.
Do not assume food label buzzwords such as “clean” or “all natural” are synonymous with nutritious or healthful.
For more information visit this website.