Three Reasons to Have Soup for Supper!

Dinner of soup, salad, and bread
  1. People who eat more soup usually have a healthier diet. An Iowa State University study found that soup-eaters consume less fat and more fber and vitamins than nonsoup-eaters. This is probably because most soups contain a variety of vegetables.
  2. Soup is flling. Because most soups are high in water and fber, they help you feel fuller longer. For this reason, soup helps people maintain a healthy weight. To avoid excess calories, enjoy broth- or tomato-based soups, not soups with cream, cheese, or butter.
  3. Soup is easy. It can be as simple as opening a can and turning on the microwave. Even canned soup can be a healthy meal, if it’s low sodium. You can pep up the favor of low-sodium canned soup with onion or garlic powder, oregano, basil, turmeric, or a dash of hot sauce. You can also add your favorite frozen vegetables.

For more reflections on soup and the joys of healthy foods, visit Spend Smart. Eat Smart., blogs.extension.iastate.edu/spendsmart/tag/soup/.

Source: Soup consumption is associated with a lower dietary energy density and a better diet quality in US adults, lib.dr.iastate.edu/fshn_ag_pubs/120/

Geocaching—A treasure hunt around the corner

Geocaching device on a rock

Geocaching is a modern-day treasure hunt. It takes people to places they otherwise may have never gone. It’s a low-cost way for the whole family to stay active. You can enjoy outdoor adventures year-round. In fact, winter can be the best time to geocache—no bugs and fewer people!

To get started, set up a free account at Geocaching (geocaching.com/play). Download the app to your smartphone or purchase a GPS unit. In the app, you will see a map of all the caches. You can either choose to search for caches near you or browse for other locations you want to explore.

What you will find may be a very small pill container or a larger plastic container. Some will be harder to find than others, but they are never buried. Inside will be a log to sign. There might also be “swag” like geodes, stickers, patches, pins, marbles, keychains, lanyards, and geocoins. Visit geocaching.com for success tips and discover what is hiding near you!

Time to Spill the Beans

Variety of dry beans

If you have dry or canned beans in your pantry, you have the start to an easy, budget-friendly meal. Beans are high in iron, zinc, potassium, folate, and fiber—nutrients missing in the diet of many Americans. Beans are readily available and an inexpensive source of protein. Adults should eat at least 1 1/2 cups of beans per week. They come in many sizes and varieties, including kidney beans, pinto beans, black beans, garbanzo beans (chickpeas), black-eyed peas, split peas, and lentils. There is a type of bean to please everyone!

One of the easiest ways to prepare dried beans is in the slow cooker. Simply rinse beans and remove any small stones, dirt, or withered beans. Then combine 1 pound of dried beans (2 cups) with 8 cups of water in the slow cooker. Lastly, cook on low for 6–8 hours (or overnight), until beans are soft.

Sources:
USDA, Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015–2020, health.gov
Spend Smart. Eat Smart., spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu

Slow Cooker Mexican Chicken Soup

Serving Size: 1 1/2 cup | Serves: 8

Ingredients:

  • 2 cans (15 oz each) diced tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup dried black beans, rinsed
  • 1 bag (16 ounces) frozen corn, thawed
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 pound skinless boneless chicken breast, thawed
  • Optional—Baked tortilla chips, chili fakes, chopped cilantro, jalapenos, lime, chopped avocado, light sour cream, salsa, or shredded cheese

Directions:

  1. Add all ingredients to the slow cooker. Cook for 4–6 hours on high heat or 8–10 hours on low.
  2. Remove chicken right before serving. Shred using two forks. Stir shredded chicken into soup.
  3. Serve with choice of optional ingredients.

TIPS: Use Mexican diced tomatoes to add spice.

Nutrition information per serving:
210 calories, 3g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 35mg cholesterol, 270mg sodium, 28g total carbohydrate, 6g fber, 4g sugar, 19g 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

Slow Cooking, Safe Cooking

Pot of vegetable stew

January is National Slow Cooker Month, a perfect time to try out some new recipes or dig out your favorites. But first, here are some safety tips when using your slow cooker:

  • Thaw first. Always thaw meat or poultry, following safe thawing practices, before placing in a slow cooker.
  • Preheat cooker. If possible, preheat the cooker and add hot liquids.
  • Put vegetables on the bottom or sides. Vegetables cook the slowest, so place them near the heat.
  • Don’t cook on warm. Do not use the warm setting to cook food. This setting keeps food warm; it does not cook it.
  • Keep the lid on. Each time you raise the lid, the temperature drops 10–15 degrees and the cooking process slows by 30 minutes.
  • Check the temperature. Before taking a bite, use a food thermometer. Visit Foodsafety.gov for a chart on safe minimum internal cooking temperatures.
  • Cool properly. Do not leave cooked food in the crock to cool. Place leftovers in shallow containers and refrigerate.
  • Do not reheat food or leftovers in a slow cooker. Instead, reheat on stove top or microwave (165°F or above) and transfer to slow cooker to keep warm (140°F or above).

Source: USDA Slow Cookers and Food Safety, fsis.usda.gov

Home Gym Ideas

Workout equipment

Can’t go to the gym? Make your own at home, using these suggestions.

  1. Make your own weights. Use canned goods or fill recycled milk jugs with water or sand.
  2. Make your own resistance bands using old nylons or tights.
  3. Walk up and down your stairs to replace the step machine workout. Play some music to keep you going. Increase the workout by adding a new song each time.
  4. A jump rope is a great option for cardio workouts at home. It’s more affordable than a treadmill or exercise bike.
  5. Use free smart phone apps or computer programs to plan or track your workouts.
  6. Use an exercise ball instead of bench and exercise equipment. Use the ball to do crunches, push-ups, chest presses, and more.
  7. Need a yoga mat? Use a towel during stretching, yoga, or core exercises. It also prevents your hands and feet from sliding during exercises.

Sources:
Medline Plus, medlineplus.gov; Eat Smart, Move More, eatsmartmovemoreva.org

Please Pass the Potatoes

Baked potato

Baked potatoes are a popular vegetable dish during the holiday season and throughout the year. However, they become unsafe if you don’t prepare them correctly. Dangerous bacteria may grow in foil-wrapped baked potatoes if left out of the refrigerator for more than two hours.

First, don’t foil wrap your potatoes too tightly. This removes all air from the potato. Without air, the bacteria that makes botulism toxin can grow. Even a tiny taste of a food with this toxin can cause paralysis and even death. To prevent illness, remove the foil from baked potatoes right after baking. Then put leftover, unwrapped baked potatoes in the refrigerator right away.

Source: FoodSafetyNews.com, www.foodsafetynews.com

Slow Cooker Lentils

Serving Size: 1/2 cup | Serves: 6

Tacos on plate

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup dried lentils, rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon homemade Taco Seasoning Mix
  • 3 cups water

Directions:

  1. Spray slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. Stir all ingredients together in a slow cooker.
  2. Cook on high for 4 hours.
  3. Use cooked lentils as the flling for lentil tacos, burrito bowls, or taco salads.

Tips: Visit Spend Smart. Eat Smart., spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu, for a Taco Seasoning Mix recipe. Use 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder instead of 2 cloves garlic.

Nutrition information per serving:
120 calories, 0g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 15mg sodium, 23g total carbohydrate, 4g fber, 2g sugar, 0g protein

This recipe 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.

Pulse Flour: A Healthy Baking Alternative

Not all four is grain. “Pulse fours” are becoming more mainstream as plant-based diets gain popularity. These fours provide a good source of protein along with other nutrients. They are also gluten free. Pulse fours are made from pulses or the edible seeds of legumes, including dry beans, chickpeas,
lentils, lupin (lupini) beans, and multiple varieties of peas.

You can buy chickpea four plain or blended with other glutenfree fours. A 1/4-cup serving of chickpea four contains 120 kilocalories, 21 grams carbohydrate, 5 grams fber, 1.5 grams fat, and 5 grams protein. Key nutrients include folate, copper, and manganese. This four has a fne texture. The nutty, mild favor works well for sweet products.

Lentil four is the most nutrient-dense pulse four. You can combine it with other fours, such as almond or brown rice, in sweet and savory recipes. A 1/4-cup serving of lentil four contains 170 kilocalories, 29 grams carbohydrate, 14.5 grams fber, 0.5 grams fat, and 12 grams protein. Key nutrients include folate, iron, manganese, and potassium.

Green pea four has a mild, almost sweet favor. It is slightly lower in calories than other fours. A 1/4-cup serving of green pea four contains 100 kilocalories, 18 grams carbohydrate, 8 grams fber, 0 grams fat, and 8 grams protein. Key nutrients include folate, iron, thiamin, and zinc. Be aware that this four will turn baked goods green!

Lupin four is another good source of plant-based protein. A 1/4-cup serving of lupin four contains 110 kilocalories, 12 grams carbohydrate, 11 grams fber, 2.5 grams fat, and 11 grams protein. This four also promotes the “good gut bugs.” Individuals with peanut or soy allergies should be cautious about consuming items prepared with lupin four. This four should be blended with other fours to offset the bitter favor.

Source: The Ultimate Guide to Pulse Flours, www.todaysdietitian.com

Activity—A Natural Mood Booster!

When the sun shines less in fall and winter, that can depress our mood. Regular physical activity lifts our spirits by releasing feel-good endorphins. Aim for 30 minutes of activity three to fve days a week. You can engage in three 10-minute bouts of activity a day, if 30 minutes all at once is daunting. Try these ideas for indoor physical activity during the cold and icy months:

  • Turn on the radio and dance.
  • March in place while watching your favorite TV show.
  • Set an alarm to walk around your house or office every hour during the day.
  • Climb stairs.
  • Use workout videos.
    • Explore streaming channels to find those that are free.
    • Borrow an exercise video from your local library.
    • Visit Spend Smart. Eat Smart., spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu, for free physical activity videos.

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