Did you know Iowa has more than 70 state parks? Iowa State Parks celebrated their centennial in 2020. Didn’t make it to the celebration? That’s okay! The Iowa Department of Natural Resources still has “20 Walks in 2020” mapped routes, www.iowadnr.gov, to help you explore 20 of Iowa’s state parks. These routes are ideal for one or a small group or family.
Iowa By Trail is an app providing interactive maps for 2,000+ miles of Iowa trails. Users can fnd the closest trail to their current position. The app also provides other points of interest along the route, including museums, natural resources, and local restaurants.
What are you waiting for? Get out and walk or bike the trails this summer! You can also enjoy these other activities in Iowa parks:
We have heard a lot about the benefits of walking, but sometimes it seems boring to walk the same route all the time. There are ways to make it more interesting for everyone. Examples include the following:
Research community history and explore it on a walk.
Have you wondered about an interesting house or building in your community? Check with your local public library; they may have information about community history.
Another idea is to listen to a podcast or an audiobook on your walk. There are many interesting podcasts—some are educational, inspiring, or entertaining. Audiobooks are also available through most public library apps, including Libby and Overdrive, as well as paid services.
Keep these safety tips in mind when walking:
Let someone know where you are going.
Take a cell phone.
Be aware of your surroundings.
Take a walking buddy for companionship.
Keep the volume of your headphones at a reasonable level so you can hear others, cars, etc.
In 2019, more than 35 million people in the United States struggled with hunger. Hunger is the physical sensation of discomfort due to not getting enough food. Every community in the country has families who struggle with food insecurity. Food insecurity is the lack of money or other financial resources for food. The pandemic has only increased the number of people facing food insecurity and hunger.
Living with food insecurity and hunger affects our mental and physical health. For children, hunger makes it difficult to concentrate and learn at school. Long periods of food insecurity can negatively impact growth and development in children and accelerate aging in older adults. Food insecurity increases the risk of infectious disease, chronic disease like diabetes or heart disease, and anxiety and depression.
Ways you can help:
Donate—If you are able, donate money and/or healthy foods to your local food bank or food pantries. Check out options for healthy food pantry donations at https://bit.ly/38Gmmkv.
Host a Food Drive—Contact your local food pantry for information on how to start a food drive.
Volunteer—Food banks and pantries can always use extra help. Spending just a few hours once or twice a month volunteering will make you feel great, too.
Spread the Word—Many people are unaware of the resources available in their community or how they can fight hunger.
If you or someone you know needs help, these resources are available:
Iowa Food Assistance Hotline, 855-944-FOOD (3663), to speak with someone about the Food Assistance Application. 2-1-1 connects callers to resources such as food pantries and support for older adults and persons with disabilities (such as home health services).
The Spend Smart. Eat Smart. website has new physical activity videos. These are a great way to learn some new exercises. They can even serve as your virtual workout partner. They allow you to explore several types of workouts.
Like any good workout partner, these videos will also supply you with motivational tips to keep you going!
Go to Spend Smart. Eat Smart., spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu/video-category/physical-activity/, to check them out.
When cooking and serving meals outdoors, remember to make food safety part of your planning. Keep these two guidelines in mind:
Don’t Cross Contaminate
When marinating food for grilling, refrigerate during the marinade process.
Keep your raw fish, meat, and poultry away from any cooked or ready-to-eat foods.
Have a clean plate to carry food to and from the grill.
Wash and sanitize all surfaces and utensils after they have been in contact with raw fish, meat, or poultry.
Be sure to have an extra clean utensil to remove cooked food from the grill.
2. Use a Food Thermometer
Experienced cooks may think they know when food is done just by looking at it, but this may not be the case. Burgers can turn brown before they are fully cooked. Germs that cause foodborne illness are not killed until a safe internal temperature is reached. This is where a food thermometer comes in. Using a food thermometer is the only way to know your food is done and safe to eat.
Chia seeds are tiny black seeds of the chia plant, Salvia hispanica. They are a fun way to add fiber, texture, and extra nutrition to your foods.
Chia seeds contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for heart and brain health. They also have antioxidants that may reduce your risk of chronic illnesses. The seeds contain lots of calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and magnesium. The mature seeds are white or black. Brown seeds are immature seeds and don’t have the same nutrient composition.
Chia seeds are versatile. They have little favor of their own, so they don’t compete with the other favors in a dish. They swell up and form a gel, yet they continue to have a slight crunch. Prepare chia seeds by first soaking a quarter cup of them in one cup of water for 20–30 minutes. Then try one of the following:
Adding chopped fruit to them
Sprinkling them on salads or stirring them into yogurt
Adding them to smoothies or juice
Making chia muffins (see recipe) or chia pudding
Explore other fun ways to eat chia seeds at Healthline, https://www.healthline.com.
Have you heard about HIIT workouts? High-intensity Interval Training (HIIT) alternates bursts of high-intensity effort with short recovery periods. It improves overall fitness, heart health, and body fat. People of all fitness levels can try this type of training. You can use it in cycling, walking, swimming, and group exercise classes. Workouts are generally shorter. They also burn more calories in the two hours after the workout.
The newly updated MyPlate website can help you put the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020–2025 into practice. To get started, go to MyPlate, www.myplate. gov. Find out if you are making every bite count by taking the MyPlate Quiz. You will receive the following free, personalized resources:
Start Simple with MyPlate app will help you build healthier eating habits by setting goals. You can also sync your quiz results with the app.
MyPlate Plan provides a personalized plan for what and how much to eat from each food group. Join challenges, track your progress, and earn badges to celebrate successes.
MyPlate Kitchen puts your MyPlate plan into action using healthy, budget-friendly recipes.
Make Every Bite Count and Start Simple with MyPlate at MyPlate, www.myplate.gov.
Our bodies are built to move. There are many benefits to being active throughout the day. Moving your body for just 3–5 minutes every 30–60 minutes improves nearly every system in the body.
Studies show that moving for a few minutes every 30 minutes or so
Increases energy levels,
Promotes better blood flow,
Improves posture, and
Get your body moving by taking a stroll away from your work area. Stretch muscles that feel tense. Shake your arms and legs or do simple exercises in your workspace. For example, you could do wall push-ups, repeatedly standing from your chair.
One in six people get food poisoning—also known as a foodborne illness—every year in the United States. Young children, pregnant women, and older adults have a higher risk of foodborne illness.
Pregnant women are at high risk for listeriosis, a type of foodborne illness that causes miscarriage. Lower the risk by doing the following:
Cook meat, seafood, poultry and eggs thoroughly.
Do not eat cold deli meats or hot dogs. Heat sliced deli meats and hot dogs to 165°F or until steaming.
Avoid raw bean sprouts, unpasteurized milk, or cheese made from unpasteurized milk.
Adults ages 60 years and older are at higher risk for foodborne illness because the immune system weakens with age. Likewise, young children are at higher risk because their immune systems haven’t fully developed yet.
Keep everyone safe by following these food safety practices.
Clean: Wash your hands thoroughly. Clean and sanitize food preparation surfaces.
Separate: Keep raw meats apart from other foods that may be eaten without cooking, such as fruits and vegetables.
Cook: Cook foods to the correct temperature. Use this handout on food thermometers, bit.ly/2YXooHu, for more information.
Chill: Don’t leave food out of the fridge for more than two hours.