Vegetable Pasta Soup

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

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon oil (canola or vegetable)
  • 4 cups vegetables (like onions, carrots, and zucchini) (chopped or sliced)
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes with green chilies
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) low sodium vegetable or chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning or dried basil
  • 2 cups small whole wheat pasta (shell or macaroni)
  • 6 cups fresh spinach leaves* (about 1/2 pound)

Instructions:

  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until hot. Add onions and carrots. Cook until the vegetables are softened. Stir often. This should take about 3 minutes.
  2. Stir in zucchini and canned tomatoes. Cook 3-4 minutes.
  3. Stir in the broth, water, salt, and Italian seasoning or dried basil. Bring to a boil.
  4. Stir in the pasta and spinach. Return to a boil.
  5. Cook until the pasta is tender using the time on the package for a guide.

Nutrient information per serving:

130 calories, 2.5g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0g trans-fat, 20mg cholesterol, 370mg sodium, 23g total carbohydrate, 4g fiber, 5g sugar, 4g protein

This recipe is courtesy of ISU Extension and Outreach’s Spend Smart. Eat Smart. website. Visit the website for more information, recipes, and videos.

Go Green for Healthy Eyes

What we eat affects the health of our eyes. Dark green leafy vegetables are rich in the antioxidants lutein (pronounced loo-teen) and zeaxanthin (pronounced zee-uh-zan-thin). The Age-Related Eye Disease Study 2 (AREDS2) found that lutein and zeaxanthin, lowered the risk of developing age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) by about 25%.

AMD is the leading cause of vision loss in older adulthood. It affects nearly 10 million Americans. Both lutein and zeaxanthin are stored in the macula of the human eye. They help filter light and protect and maintain healthy eye cells

Since the body does not naturally make the lutein and zeaxanthin, it’s important that our diets provide it. Lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoids, the substances that give fruits and vegetables their deep green, yellow, and orange colors. Thus eating a variety of dark green, yellow and orange foods will help. Try to include these lutein-rich foods in your daily meal plans:

  • Kale
  • Collard greens
  • Yellow sweet corn
  • Spinach
  • Swiss chard
  • Green peas
  • Winter squash (e.g., butternut, acorn)
  • Arugula
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Broccoli
  • Pumpkin
  • Egg yolks
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Carrots
Greens  like spinach and swiss chard

Adapted from American Optometric Association (www.aoa.org/patients-and-public/caring-for-your-vision/diet-and-nutrition/lutein)

Workouts with a Buddy

It can be hard to stick to an exercise routine. The demands of work and family can ruin your good intentions. Research shows that exercising with another person may help you succeed.

One study found that married couples who exercised together did it more consistently than married people who exercised alone. A family member or friend who shares an activity with you provides support and motivation.

Water bottle and weights

Activities that go better with a buddy include partner yoga, dance classes, martial art classes, hiking, tennis, and many others.

Sometimes two people may not find the same activity enjoyable. For couples or buddies with different preferences, just committing to the same exercise time together may be beneficial. They might try the following:

  • Go to the same gym together.
  • Try activities that are new to both of them.
  • Sign up for a competition or fun fitness event.
  • Plan a group session with a personal trainer.

Having the support of a partner for both diet and exercise helps us stick to lifestyle changes.

Source: Today’s Dietitian

Ugly Fruits and Vegetables – Are They Safe?

Grocery shoppers tend to avoid fruits and vegetables that have odd shapes or unappealing spots. As a result, many tons of edible food go uneaten and wasted.

Although it’s true that bacteria can cause blemishes on produce, that doesn’t necessarily mean that blemished produce is unsafe to eat. “Ugly” fruits and vegetables are usually tasty and healthful. They provide the same—in some cases, more—nutrients as their more attractive cousins.

Several studies have shown some imperfect fruit and vegetables have higher amounts of phytochemicals. Phytochemicals are naturally occurring plant chemicals that give produce its color and flavor. Phytochemicals may also protect us from cancer and heart disease.

So go ahead and eat ugly produce! It usually costs less because of its appearance. The nutrients it gives you, though, are priceless to your health.

Source: Today’s Dietitian (www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/1216p10.shtml)

Autumn Soup

Serving Size: 1 1/2 cups | Serves: 6

Ingredients:

  • 1 butternut squash
  • 1 tablespoon canola or olive oil
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 2 cups sliced apples
  • 4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 4 ounces Neufchatel cheese, cubed

Instructions:

  1. Prick squash skin 6–8 times. Microwave for 5 minutes.
  2. When the skin is cool enough to touch, cut off the top and bottom of the squash. Peel and cut in half lengthwise. Scoop out seeds. Cut squash into cubes.
  3. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Add onion. Cook for 5 minutes.
  4. Add squash, apples, and chicken broth. Heat to boiling and then reduce heat to medium low. Cover and cook for 25 minutes until squash and apples are tender.
  5. Blend soup until smooth using a blender.
  6. Return soup to saucepan and add cheese. Cook and whisk until cheese is smooth.

Nutrient information per serving:

210 calories, 7 g total fat, 2.5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 15 mg cholesterol, 440 mg sodium, 35 g total carbohydrate, 6 g fiber, 12 g sugar, 6 g protein

Bowl of soup with vegetables, fruit, and milk

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).

Why You Might Need More Potassium

Vegetables

If you read Nutrition Facts labels, you may have noticed they now list the potassium content of foods. So why is potassium a mineral we need to pay attention to?

For starters, potassium controls your heartbeat, builds muscle, and helps your body make proteins. Potassium can protect you from heart disease, stroke, muscle wasting, osteoporosis, and kidney stones. If you get enough of it, you can lower your blood pressure and cut your risk of dying from all causes by 20%!

Potassium is in many common foods, such as bananas, citrus fruits, potatoes, broccoli, milk, yogurt, beans, and leafy greens. However, fewer than 2% of adults meet their daily recommended potassium requirement. Adults should aim for 4,700 mg of potassium a day.

For example, this is one potassium-rich meal that would fulfill 40% of that requirement:

1/2 cup Swiss chard480 mg
1 baked potato610 mg
3 ounces turkey breast249 mg
1 cup low-fat milk366 mg
1 cup fruit cocktail225 mg
Total1,930 mg

Please do not rush out to buy potassium pills. High-dose potassium supplements can disrupt heart rhythm. They are also dangerous for those who have undetected kidney disease. Enjoy your potassium by eating a variety of fruits and vegetables!

To find out more about potassium-rich foods, visit MedlinePlus (medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002413.htm)

Source:
Today’s Dietitian (www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/121112p50.shtml)

Yoga: Health Benefits Beyond the Mat

The purpose of yoga is to build strength, flexibility, and awareness. The muscle stretching in yoga can lessen arthritis pain, backache, and headaches. Yoga has many benefits for your heart and lungs as well. It lowers your blood pressure and slows your heart rate. Yoga may also help increase muscle strength, lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and improve breathing and energy.

Yoga mat

Aside from the physical benefits, yoga can help manage stress. Yoga involves paying attention to your breath, which can improve mental well-being. Regular yoga practice creates mental clarity and calmness. It relieves chronic stress patterns, relaxes the mind, and sharpens concentration.

More than 100 different types of yoga exist. There is a form of yoga for everyone! Your size or fitness level does not matter. Every yoga pose can be modified. Beginner classes are available in every style. If you’re new to yoga, practice these 12 basic yoga poses to get started at WebMD (www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/ss/slideshow-yoga-pose-basics).

Sources:
Harvard Health (www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/yoga-benefits-beyond-the-mat)
American Osteopathic Association (www.osteopathic.org/what-is-osteopathic-medicine/benefits-of-yoga)

Animals in the Kitchen

Owning a pet may be great for your mental health, but pets may also carry harmful germs through their fur, feces, and saliva. The risk of getting a foodborne illness from a pet is low for most people. However, young children, older adults, pregnant women, and those with weakened immune systems have an increased risk.

If you cannot keep pets entirely out of your kitchen, here are ways to guard the safety of your food:

  • Always wash your hands after touching your pet and before handling food.
  • Clean your pet’s paws after it plays outside or has been in the litter box before entering the kitchen.
  • Keep your pet off of counters and tables.
  • Don’t eat or drink while playing with animals.

We all love our pets, but it’s important to be aware of the risks that come with them.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (www.cdc.gov/healthypets/health-benefits)

Peanut Butter Balls

Serving Size: 2 balls | Serves: 25

Ingredients:

  • 1 can (15 ounces) great northern beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cups peanut butter
  • 1 1/2 cups quick cooking oats

Instructions:

  1. Mash the beans with a fork in a bowl until smooth.
  2. Add honey and vanilla. Stir.
  3. Add peanut butter. Stir until blended.
  4. Stir in the oats.
  5. Wash hands. Use a tablespoon to scoop up some of the peanut butter mixture. Shape each spoonful of the mixture into a ball (makes 50 balls).
  6. Store leftover balls in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Nutrient information per serving:
130 calories, 7g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 100mg sodium, 12g total carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 5g 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.

Let’s Talk Nuts

October 22nd is National Nut Day, so let’s talk nuts. Nuts are an excellent source of protein, minerals, and heart-healthy fats. So healthy that the FDA approved this health claim: “Eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease.”

Assorted nuts

The heart-healthy fats that make up as much as 80% of the nut are unsaturated fats, which include omega-3 fatty acids. These fats work to protect your heart by lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and increasing HDL (good) cholesterol levels.

Each type of nut has its own unique profile of nutrients. For example, one Brazil nut can meet 100% of your daily need for selenium, which can keep your mind and heart healthy. Eat a wide variety of nuts for the most benefit. Specific nutrition information about each variety can be found in the USDA article, Go Nuts! (www.ars.usda.gov/plains-area/gfnd/gfhnrc/docs/news-2013/go-nuts).

One serving of nuts is 1.5 ounces of whole nuts (a small handful) or 2 tablespoons of nut butter. Try these tips to add more nuts to your diet:

  • Choose nuts instead of your typical less-healthy crunchy snack.
  • Add nuts to yogurt, salads, or hot cereals for the perfect crunch.
  • Mix nuts into your favorite smoothie for a richer, creamier texture.
  • Put nut butter on your morning toast instead of butter or margarine.
  • Slivered almonds are a tasty addition to sautéed green beans.

Sources:

Mayo Clinic (www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/in-depth/nuts/art-20046635)
Harvard Health (www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/nuts-for-the-heart)

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