Berry and Greens Smoothies

Serving Size: 8 ounces | Serves: 8

Glass of smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium bananas
  • 2 containers (6 ounces each) nonfat vanilla yogurt
  • 3 cups leafy greens, washed (kale or spinach)
  • 1 package (16 ounces) frozen berries
  • 1 cup nonfat milk

Directions:

  1. Put bananas, yogurt, and greens in the blender. Blend until smooth.
  2. Add berries to blender. Blend until smooth.
  3. Add milk to blender. Blend until smooth.
  4. Serve immediately or freeze in individual servings.

Nutrition information per serving:
100 calories, 0g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 50mg sodium, 23g total carbohydrate, 3g fiber, 12g total sugar, 4g 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

Good Gut Health

Bowls of fruit and grains

Did you know that your digestive system plays an essential role in your overall health? Nurturing a population of good gut bacteria is good for your health. What you eat may encourage the growth of good or bad bacteria. For example, avoiding processed foods, high-fat foods, and foods high in added sugars is important for maintaining a healthy gut. Eating high-fiber and fermented foods actively promotes the growth of good gut bacteria.

High-fiber foods are a good source of prebiotics. Prebiotics are the fuel for your good gut microbes. High-fiber foods include legumes, like black beans and chickpeas; whole grains, including whole wheat and oatmeal; vegetables; nuts; and fruits. Eating high-fiber foods may help build a strong immune system; improve digestion, sleep, and brain health; and support heart health.

Fermented foods are great sources of probiotics. Probiotics are living friendly bacteria. The goal is for these helpful organisms to take up residence in your gut and replace other less helpful or even harmful bacteria. Fermented foods include yogurt, sauerkraut, kefir, and kimchi.

This month’s recipe, Berry and Greens Smoothies, has both high fiber and fermented foods. Bananas, frozen berries, and greens are high in fiber and yogurt is a fermented food; try it today!

Sources:
Healthline, www.healthline.com/health/gut-health
Tufts University Health and Nutrition Letter, nutritionletter.tufts.edu/

Smartphone Apps and Fitness Trackers May Be Helpful Ways to Increase Physical Activity

If you are looking for ways to be more active, you may want to consider using an app or fitness tracker.

  • Look at different apps and decide if there is one best suited for the activity you enjoy. Consider asking a friend to join you in using the same app.
  • If you are competitive, a physical activity app might be effective at getting you moving and staying on track. Many apps include exercise role-playing games that use competition and exercise challenges to encourage and motivate users.
  • Social support can have a positive impact on increasing physical activity levels. Sharing your activity on social media platforms and receiving feedback from friends and followers can be encouraging.
Man with yoga mat

Forbes Health shares the following 2023 Best Apps:

  • Best Free App: Nike Training Club
  • Best Live Classes: FitOn
  • Best for Working Out Solo: GymShark Training
  • Best Personalized Training Plans: Adidas Training
  • Best for Modifications: Workout for Women
  • Best HIIT Workouts Freeletics: HIIT Fitness Coach
  • Best for Daily Challenges: 30 Day Fitness at Home
  • Best for Strength Training: Jefit
  • Best for Quick Workouts: Daily Workouts—Home Trainer

Source: British Medical Journal, www.bmj.com/company/

Tips to Avoid Food Poisoning When Eating Out

Hamburger and chips
  • Check inspection scores. Check a restaurant’s score on the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals website, iowa.safefoodinspection.com. Inspections are a “snapshot” of the day and time of the inspection.
  • Look for certificates that show kitchen managers have completed food safety training.Refrigerate your leftovers quickly.
  • Refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours of when the food was prepared (or 1 hour if the food is exposed to temperatures above 90°F, like in a hot car or at a picnic). Eat leftovers within 3 to 4 days. Throw them out after that time.

Source: CDC Food Safety and Eating Out, www.cdc.gov

Strategies to Help When Cooking for One or Two

Woman cooking
  1. Prepare Semi-homemade Meals. Semi-homemade is a combination of packaged foods and unprocessed foods. For example, you can use frozen stir-fry mix with canned chicken and instant rice. Grab a frozen chicken alfredo dinner and pair it with a salad and a cup of milk.
  2. Choose Simple Recipes. You can make delicious meals with just 5 ingredients for a quick meal. Benefits of choosing simple recipes include that they are easy, they take less time to prepare, and there is less food waste.
  3. Cut Recipes in Half. Cutting a large recipe in half is a great way to make cooking and preparation easier. Soups and casseroles are recipes that are easy to cut in half.
  4. Use Canned and Frozen Food. Choosing canned or frozen food is a quick addition to any meal. Add canned chicken in a chicken salad sandwich or prepare frozen veggies by microwaving them. Canned and frozen food items are budget friendly, provide smaller portions, have a longer shelf life, and reduce food waste, making them just as nutritious as fresh food items.
  5. Enjoy Leftovers. You can also cook once and enjoy a second meal later. Recipes serving more than two can be easily prepared, divided in half, and frozen to enjoy later. Sloppy Joes is an example of a recipe that freezes well.

Using Food Thermometers

Meat thermometer

Did you know 66% of people do not use food thermometers correctly? If food temperatures are not checked regularly, people are at higher risk of a foodborne illness.

Research by the USDA shows one out of four hamburgers turn brown before they reach the minimum internal temperature. The color of cooked food does not determine its doneness. Check meats in the thickest part of the food without touching any bone or fat. Clean thermometers before and after use with hot soapy water.

USDA Safe Minimum Internal Temperature Chart, go.iastate.edu/JAZA0S

  • Beef, Pork, Veal, Lamb—Steaks, Roast, Chops: 145 degrees F
  • Fish: 145 degrees F
  • Ground Beef: 160 degrees F
  • Egg Dishes: 160 degrees F
  • Turkey, Chicken, Duck—Whole, Pieces, Ground: 165 degrees F

Sources: USDA Food and Safety Inspection Service, www.fsis.usda.gov/

VITA—Volunteer Income Tax Assistance

Person working with computer and calculator

Need help preparing and filing your income tax return? The VITA program has been helping people for more than 50 years. VITA sites offer free services to people who need assistance.

You may qualify for the VITA program if you:

  • Make $60,000 or less per year
  • Have a disability
  • Are a limited English-speaking taxpayer

In addition to VITA, free tax help for persons 60 years of age and older is available. Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) specializes in questions about pensions and retirement.

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach offices provide services in some areas. Locate a
VITA site near you, go.iastate.edu/CGRZ9D, or call AARP volunteer tax preparers at 1-800-906-9887.

Source: Internal Revenue Service, www.irs.gov/individuals/

February Is American Heart Month

Meter on wrist showing heart rate

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. One out of every four deaths each year is caused by heart disease. Heart attacks occur when the flow of blood to the heart is severely reduced or blocked. Men are more likely to develop heart disease after age 45. Women have a higher risk after age 55 or following menopause.

Consider the following steps you can take to help protect your heart.

  1. Know your numbers: High blood pressure, cholesterol, and weight can increase your risk of heart disease. Talk to your provider about ways to improve your numbers.
  2. Stop smoking: To quit, contact 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669).
  3. Model your plate using the DASH Eating Plan, www.nhlbi.nih.gov/education/dash-eating-plan: Choose more plant foods including vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Eat lean dairy and proteins including fish, skinless poultry, and beans. Use heart healthy fats such as canola and olive or vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds. Limit sodium, sugar-sweetened drinks, and desserts.
  4. Physical activity: Set a goal of at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week. Sitting less can help control weight, decrease stress, and improve sleep quality.
  5. Prioritize sleep: Adults need 7–9 hours of sleep a night.
  6. For more information, download the resource 28 Days Toward a Healthy Heart, www.nhlbi.nih.gov/resources/28-days-towards-healthy-heart.

Sources: NHLBI, go.iastate.edu/MAGKP8

Win with Workplace Wellness

One way to improve our overall health is to be physically active on a regular basis. It is crucial for healthy aging, reduces risk of chronic diseases, improves mental health, and strengthens bones and muscles. Most Americans who work full-time are spending at least eight hours a day at their worksite, and most of that time is spent at a computer or desk. Here are five tips for increasing physical activity during the workday:

  • Take short 3- to 5-minute breaks every hour to get up and walk around your worksite.
  • Find your favorite exercise video from Spend Smart. Eat Smart., spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu, before or after lunch.
  • Invest in a standing desk or “treadmill desk” to increase standing or walking throughout the day.
  • Try stretches while sitting at your desk—such as chair squats, arm and elbow stretches, sit up and stretches, and overhead presses.
  • Find a colleague to walk with during your lunch hour. This can improve social and physical well-being.

Sources:
CDC, www.cdc.gov
New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station, njaes.rutgers.edu
Harvard Health Publishing, www.health.harvard.edu

What Is Intuitive Eating?

Woman in kitchen peeling vegetables

Intuitive Eating is an evidence-based, mind and body health approach. The ten principles of Intuitive Eating cultivate or remove barriers to body awareness. It’s a process of listening and responding to your body to meet physical and psychological needs.

The 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating:

  • Reject the Diet Mentality
  • Honor Your Hunger
  • Make Peace with Food
  • Challenge the Food Police
  • Discover the Satisfaction Factor
  • Feel Your Fullness
  • Cope with Your Emotions with Kindness
  • Respect Your Body
  • Movement—Feel the Difference
  • Honor Your Health—Gentle Nutrition

You are the expert of your own body. Use Intuitive Eating as an empowerment tool. You are the only one who knows what hunger, fullness, and satisfaction feel like! Check out this article that provides real-life examples of each principle, go.iastate.edu/MUBDLM.

Source: Intuitive Eating Pros, www.intuitiveeating.org/

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