Gardening: Top 10 Vegetables to Grow and Eat for Health

sb10062327dd-001Growing your own food doesn’t have to be difficult. If you have never gardened, start small using containers or a small plot of land. Plant vegetables you really like to eat.

Several vegetables that grow well in Iowa made it to the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach “Top 10 Vegetavcbles to Eat for Health” list. Choose to grow and eat the following vegetables to boost your health:

  • Broccoli
  • Brussels spouts
  • Carrots
  • Kale
  • Pumpkin
  •  Red bell peppers
  • Spinach
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Tomatoes
  • Winter squash

These vegetables earned their ratings by providing at least 20 percent of the recommended dietary intake for one or more nutrients such as Vitamin A or potassium.

Each vegetable was also rated for its oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC). This measures the total antioxidant power of foods and other chemical substances. Consuming high-ORAC foods may help protect cells from damage by oxygen radicals. This, in turn, may slow down the processes associated with aging in both the body and the brain.

Numerous publications are available to download and print as you plan and plant your garden. Go to the Extension Store at store.extension.iastate.edu and enter either the title or number of the publication of interest in the search box:

  • Planting a Home Vegetable Garden (PM 819)
  • Small Plot Vegetable Gardening (PM 870A)
  • Container Vegetable Gardening (PM 870B)

If you have further questions, contact your local county extension office or enroll in classes to become a “Master Gardener.”

2016 – International Year of Pulses

ThinkstockPhotos-512114678If you’ve never heard of pulses you are not alone. The United Nations declared 2016 the International Year of Pulses as a way to increase public awareness of the nutrition benefits of pulses as part of sustainable food production.

What is the difference between a legume and a pulse?

Legume: Legumes are plants whose fruit is enclosed in a pod like peas and beans, soybeans and peanuts, alfalfa, and clover. When growing, legumes fix nitrogen into the soil, reducing the need for chemical fertilizers.

Pulse: Part of the legume family, the term “pulse” refers only to the dried seed. Dried peas, edible beans, lentils, and chickpeas are the most common varieties of pulses. Pulses are high in fiber, protein, and other nutrients. They are naturally low in fat and sodium.

The 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend consuming 1.5 cups of dried beans and peas (pulses) per week for a 2,000-calorie eating pattern. This includes cooked from dry or canned beans and peas such as kidney beans, white beans, black beans, red beans, lentils, chickpeas, split peas, edamame (green soybeans), and pinto beans. It does not include green beans or green peas.

Ways to increase dried beans and peas in everyday eating:

  • Add dried beans to soup. Think beyond the traditional bean soup and chili and add to vegetable- and tomato-based soups. Try new soup recipes that include dried beans.
  • Experiment with beans you have never eaten and learn more about cooking dried beans. They can easily be cooked in a slow cooker and don’t necessarily require presoaking.
  • Add beans to salads. They are delicious added to any vegetable-based salad such as a tossed salads, slaws, and pasta salads.
  • Add to any taco/Mexican dish, casseroles, and even egg dishes.

Get Your Brain in Shape

ThinkstockPhotos-122581849 smallNew Year’s resolutions often center on self-improvement. The number-one cited resolution is to lose weight. Instead of focusing on weight loss, for 2016 focus on eating well for your brain! What we eat can influence how well our brain functions!

Eating a diet rich in vegetables, fruit, and omega-3 fatty acids is linked with better cognitive function (ability to process thoughts), memory, and alertness.

Suggestions from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics for a healthy brain include:

Put veggies on your plate. Consuming vegetables—especially broccoli, cabbage, and dark leafy greens—may help improve memory. Try a broccoli salad or using fresh spinach on your next sandwich.

Bring on the berries. Dark-colored berries—like blackberries, blueberries, and cherries—are a rich source of anthocyanins and other nutrients that may boost memory function. Enjoy them mixed into cereal, in a smoothie, or with yogurt as a parfait. Buy berries fresh, frozen, or dried; they’re all healthy choices.

Don’t overlook omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids may help improve memory in healthy younger adults. Seafood and fatty fish—like salmon, tuna, and sardines—are some of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids and are readily available. Choose fresh, frozen, or canned. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans encourages us to eat fish twice a week. Grill, bake, or broil fish to reap the most health benefits.

Try to add these foods to your daily menu. They will not only be good for your brain, but for your heart as well.

Source: Eat Right

Butternut Squash Enchiladas

butternut-squash-enchiladasServing Size: 1 enchilada | Serves: 8

Ingredients:
•2 1/2 cups butternut squash (or other winter squash), cooked
•1 can (15 ounces) black beans (drained and rinsed)
•1/2 cup onion, diced (1/2 medium onion)
•1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped, or 3 tbsp. dried cilantro
•2 tsp. garlic powder
•1/2 tsp. cumin
•1 cup 2% fat cheese, shredded (like cheddar or Mexican blend), divided
•8 tortillas (6”)
•1 cup salsa or 1 can (10 ounces) red or green enchilada sauce
•1/2 cup Greek yogurt

Instructions:
1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
2. Mix the squash, beans, onion, cilantro, garlic powder, and cumin in a bowl.
3. Mix 3/4 cup of the cheese into the squash mixture.
4. Put a 1/2 cup strip of filling on each tortilla. Roll the tortilla around the filling. Put the tortilla into a greased 9” x 13” baking dish with the seam down.
5. Cover the tortillas with the salsa or enchilada sauce. Put the rest of the cheese (1/4 cup) on the salsa or sauce.
6. Bake for 25 minutes.
7. Serve each enchilada with 1 tablespoon of Greek yogurt.

Nutrition information per serving: 220 calories, 3.5g total fat, 1.5g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 5mg cholesterol, 660mg sodium, 35g total carbohydrate, 6g fiber, 7g sugar, 10g protein

This recipe is courtesy of ISU Extension and Outreach’s Spend Smart. Eat Smart. website. For more recipes, information, and videos, visit www.extension.iastate.edu/foodsavings/.

Superfoods: More than Kale and Quinoa

Though there is no legal or medical definition for “superfoods,” the term is typically used to describe foods that are high in nutrients and antioxidants and low in fat, sugar, and sodium. Eating these foods may reduce the risk of some chronic diseases. The following “superfoods” are packed with vitamins and minerals and are versatile in recipes.

Cruciferous Vegetables – This category includes broccoli, brussels sprouts, and cabbage, which are good sources of fiber and vitamin C and are easily added to a stir fry or a casserole. Substitute shredded cabbage for iceberg lettuce on tacos. Broccoli is also great for snacking raw with a low-fat dip.

Citrus Fruits – Oranges, grapefruit, lemons, limes, clementines, tangerines, and the ugli fruit are included in this group. Citrus fruits are high in vitamin C. These fruits can be enjoyed as a snack or tossed in a fruit salad or a leafy green salad. Squeeze the fruit to make fresh juice and to replace the flavor of salt in recipes.

Green, Leafy Vegetables – Spinach, kale, collard greens, mustard greens, watercress, arugula, and other dark green lettuces are nutrition powerhouses. They are packed with fiber and are a high source of vitamins A and C. Enjoy these greens shredded in a salad, sautéed with olive oil and garlic, or added to soup or casseroles.

Berries – Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries are good sources of fiber and vitamin C. Add them to cereal or oatmeal or enjoy them for a snack. Try adding them to a leafy green salad for a different twist.

Beans – Garbanzo beans (chickpeas), kidney beans, black beans, black-eyed peas, lentils, lima beans, pinto beans, and navy beans are a few of the more popular bean varieties. Beans are fat free, high in dietary fiber, and a good source of folate and potassium. Enjoy them in bean burritos, black bean burgers, bean salads, or bean soups.

Source: Fruits and Veggies More Matters, www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/

Water Is Key to Life

water glasses drinksWater is the key to life — every system in our body depends on it. Water helps carry nutrients to our cells, helps rid toxins from our organs, and keeps our nose, ears, and throat moist. If we don’t drink enough water, we become dehydrated. Dehydration can lead to dizziness, fatigue, and confusion. We lose water on a daily basis by breathing, urinating, and sweating. Because we constantly lose water, we must repeatedly replace what we lose.

The Institute of Medicine states that an adequate daily intake of water for men is about 13 cups and about 9 cups for women. Water comes from more than just fluids; it is a major component of many foods. In fact, it is estimated that 20 percent of our water needs are met through food.

Foods with high water content add volume but minimal calories to the diet. Eating foods high in water can promote a feeling of fullness. Fruits and vegetables are two food groups that have generally high water content. Fruits, vegetables, and dairy products like milk and yogurt can help you reach your daily water recommendations.

Fruits and vegetables high in water

Fruit: Watermelon, citrus fruits, grapes, apples, papaya, strawberries, apricots, cherries

Vegetables: Carrots, bell peppers, lettuce, tomato, cucumber, squash, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach

Use these helpful resources to better understand the role water plays in your health.

Eat to Compete: What You Should Know about Fluids
https://store.extension.iastate.edu/Product/Eat-to-Compete-What-You-Should-Know-About-Fluids

Bottled Water—Know the Facts
https://store.extension.iastate.edu/Product/Bottled-Water-Know-the-Facts

Food Safety Mythbusters

We all do our best to serve our families food that’s safe and healthy, but some common myths about food safety may surprise you.wash produce

Myth #1: I don’t need to wash fruits or vegetables if I’m going to peel them.
Fact: Because it’s easy to transfer bacteria from the peel or rind when you’re cutting to the inside of your fruits and veggies, it’s important to wash all produce, even if you plan to peel it.

Myth #2: To get rid of any bacteria on my meat, poultry, or seafood, I should rinse off.
Fact: Rinsing meat, poultry, or seafood with water can increase your chance of food poisoning by splashing juices and any bacteria they might contain onto your sink and counters.

Myth #3: If I really want my produce to be safe, I should wash fruits and vegetables with soap or detergent before I use them.
Fact: It’s best not to use soaps or detergents on produce since these products can linger on foods and are not safe for consumption. Using clean, lukewarm, running water is actually the best way to remove bacteria and wash produce safely.

Myth #4: I saw on the Internet that I can cook my whole meal in my coffee maker.
Fact: Cooking your meal in a coffee maker is not an approved or tested method for safe preparation of foods. Besides, the coffee flavor residue would transfer to anything placed in the coffee maker.

Easy Roasted Veggies

Serves: 5
Serving size: 1 cup

Ingredients:

  • 5 cups assorted vegetable pieces cut in chunks (potatoes, sweet potatoes, winter squash [e.g., pumpkin], turnips, carrots, onions, mushrooms)roasted veggies
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 425° F.
  2. Line a 9×13-inch pan with aluminum foil.
  3. Spread vegetables in pan. Sprinkle oil on vegetables. Stir. Sprinkle with seasoning, pepper, and salt. Stir.
  4. Bake uncovered 45 minutes. Turn every 15 minutes.
  5. Serve while hot.

Nutrient information per serving: 90 calories, 3 g total fat (0 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 0 mg cholesterol, 95 mg sodium, 16 g total carbohydrates, 3g fiber, 2 g protein

For more recipes, visit Spend Smart Eat Smart.

Cheesy Pasta with Summer Vegetables

Serves: 6Cheesy Pasta & Summer Veggies
Serving Size: 1 1/2 cups
Per Serving: $1.07

Ingredients:

  •     4 cups sliced, assorted vegetables (zucchini, broccoli, peas)
  •     1 cup grape or fresh tomatoes, chopped and seeds removed
  •     8 ounces whole-wheat pasta (rotini, bow tie, penne)
  •     1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
  •     2 medium garlic cloves, minced or 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  •     1/2 cup onion, chopped (about 1/2 medium onion)
  •     1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
  •     1/4 teaspoon salt
  •     1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  •     1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  •     1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions:

  1. Wash and prepare vegetables.
  2. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain water from cooked pasta and save 1/4 cup of water.
  3. Heat oil in a large skillet as pasta cooks. Add garlic and onion to skillet. Sauté over medium heat about 1-2 minutes or until soft.
  4. Add any uncooked hard vegetables and cook for 3 minutes. Add soft vegetables and continue to cook. Add Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Add tomatoes last and cook until warm.
  5. Add cooked drained pasta to the vegetables. Add a little of the water from the pasta if needed.
  6. Add cheeses to mixture. Stir until cheese is mostly melted.
  7. Serve immediately.

Nutrient information per serving: 250 calories, 8 g total fat (2 g saturated fat), 10 mg cholesterol, 240 mg sodium, 35 g carbohydrates, 5 g dietary fiber, 10 g protein

Source: Spend Smart. Eat Smart.

 

Harvest and Store Vegetables at Peak Quality

squashHarvesting vegetables at the right stage of maturity results in nutritious, high quality products. You can capture the peak flavors of vegetables by harvesting and storing them under optimal conditions.

Find detailed information for storing more than 30 types of garden vegetables, including winter squash, in Harvesting and Storing Vegetables. This handout also includes recommended storage temperatures, relative humidity, storage life for fresh vegetables, suggested methods for extended preservation, and types of storage facilities.

Unlike its summer counterparts, winter squash is harvested at a mature age, which makes the skin hard and inedible. The skin, however, is protective and increases the storage life.

Winter squash can be stored for three months or longer. The yellow and orange colored flesh of winter squash tends to be more nutritious and richer in vitamins, such as beta-carotene, than summer squash. Winter squash is always served cooked and, because of the tough skin, only the inner flesh is eaten.

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