July is National Watermelon Month!

“Watermelon—it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face!”—Enrico Caruso

watermelon

Watermelon is delightful, no doubt. It’s a sweet, low-calorie, fat-free food. Did you know watermelon is also a good source of vitamins A, B6, and C? Vitamin A promotes good eyesight. Vitamin B6 helps make antibodies and maintains blood sugar and nerve function. Vitamin C helps heal wounds.

Watermelon is a good source of potassium and magnesium, which aid in muscle and heart function. It’s 92% water, making it an excellent thirst quencher. Finally, watermelon is high in lycopene. Lycopene reduces blood pressure and cancer risk and maintains healthy skin.

Easy ways to enjoy watermelon:

  • Cut up bites of fresh watermelon.
  • Dip in yogurt.
  • Blend into a slushy or smoothie.
  • Freeze and enjoy as a fruit popsicle.

Source: Wide World of Watermelon—Registered Dietician Toolkit, www.watermelon.org

Walk Abouts

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.

Labels Lead to Food Waste

Trash and trash can

Many Americans throw away perfectly good food due to label confusion. This contributes 398,000 tons of food waste each year. “Best by” labels indicate when the manufacturer believes the food should be used for best quality, NOT food safety. “Use by” and “sell by” dates are similar for shelf stable foods; these dates tend to reflect quality, not food safety. However, “use by” and “sell by” dates on refrigerated items do indicate when the food may begin to spoil. Don’t use refrigerated foods that are past the “use-by” or “sell-by” date. If a food product is nearing the indicated date, you may be able to freeze it to extend its life.

Sources:
National Resources Defense Council, www.nrdc.org/food-waste
U.S. Food and Drug Administration, www.fda.gov

Chewy Granola Bars

Serving Size: 1 bar | Serves: 24

Ingredients

  • 2 cups quick cooking oats
  • 2 cups crispy rice cereal
  • 20 mini pretzels, crushed
  • 3/4 cup pancake syrup, maple syrup, or honey
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Combine oats, cereal, and crushed pretzels in a large bowl. Set aside.
  2. Pour syrup or honey into a microwave safe bowl and heat in the microwave for 1 minute. Stir in peanut butter until combined. Microwave for 1 minute more. Stir in vanilla.
  3. Pour syrup mixture over oat mixture. Stir until completely coated.
  4. Spray a 9×13-inch pan with cooking spray and pour mixture into pan. Press mixture firmly into the pan using waxed paper or the back of a spoon.
  5. Allow mixture to cool completely to room temperature. Cut into bars and enjoy!

Nutrition information per serving: 100 calories, 3.5g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0.5g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 85mg sodium, 15g total carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 3g sugar, 2g 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

June Is Hunger Awareness Month

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).

Source: Feeding America, www.feedingamerica.org.

Need a Workout Partner? Check out the Spend Smart. Eat Smart. Physical Activity Videos.

Exercise mat and tennis shoes

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.

Two Rules for Safe Outdoor Meals

When cooking and serving meals outdoors, remember to make food safety part of your planning. Keep these two guidelines in mind:

Grilling meat and using a food thermometer
  1. 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.

Use a thermometer to test for doneness:

  • Fish—145°F
  • Steaks, chops—145°F
  • Ground meat—160°F
  • Poultry—165°F

Lemon Chia Seed Muffins

Serving Size: 1 muffin | Serves: 12

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose white flour
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1 cup nonfat milk
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a muffin tin with liners or spray with cooking spray.
  2. Stir together whole wheat four, white flour, sugar, baking powder, and chia seeds in a medium bowl.
  3. Mix together milk, oil, eggs, and lemon juice in a small bowl.
  4. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Stir until just combined. Divide the batter into muffin tins.
  5. Bake until the muffins are golden and a tester inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. This should take about 16–18 minutes.
  6. Store leftovers in an airtight container.

Tip: Use 1 tablespoon lemon zest and 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice in place of the 1/3 cup lemon juice.

Nutrition information per serving:
180 calories, 8g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 30mg cholesterol, 80mg sodium, 26g total carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 10g 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

Fun Ways to Eat Chia Seeds

Breakfast including chia muffins, eggs, fruit, and milk

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.

Source: American Oil Chemists’ Society (AOCS), https://www.aocs.org/.

High-intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

Runner

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.

Visit the American College of Sports Medicine, www.acsm.org, for more information on finding an HIIT program that is right for you.

Source: American College of Sports Medicine Fitness Trends, www.acsm.org

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