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Posts Tagged ‘food choices’

Does your family go through boxes and boxes of store-bought snacks faster than you can replenish them? Do you feel like you’re spending a majority of your grocery budget on sugar-filled, processed snacks that don’t seem to last more than a few days at your house? There is an answer to this madness. Make your own snacks!

You might be thinking, “I don’t have time for that!” and while that may be true, you’d be surprised how much time you’d actually be saving. Yes, making your own snacks involves some planning and prepping. However, this planning and prepping stage might not involve the lengthy process of taking a trip to the grocery store. You can make various snacks for you, your kids, and whoever else may be at your house from foods you likely already have on hand. For example, you could try the Homemade Peanut Butter Granola Bars shown below. In addition, recipes like these make large enough batches to provide snacks lasting up to two weeks if stored properly. Many store bought boxes of granola bars provide only 5 servings, so why not whip up homemade bars that yield about 24 servings per batch.

Find a recipe for snacks that fits your own personal schedule. On a time crunch this week? Throw together a big batch of trail mix using those nuts you bought in bulk that have been taking up space in your cupboard. Add in cereal, raisins, seeds, or chocolate chips and seal in an air-tight container. Scoop into sandwich-sized bags for an easy, balanced, and healthful snack for any time or place.

Buying ingredients in bulk at your favorite grocery store can help make an abundance of different snacks that add variety to your daily routine. Stock up on versatile foods like oats and nuts and you’d be surprised at your options for snacks and meals as well as how much more full your wallet feels. The recipe below, found on the What’s Cooking? USDA Mixing Bowl website provides a snack that costs $0.30 per serving. No, that’s not a typo; $0.30 per serving. These homemade granola bars yield 24 servings making the total cost of the recipe about $7.15 according to USDA. You could get about 2 boxes, or 10 servings, of your average granola bars for that price.

Health bonus: Snacks like these provide more than just dollars in your pocket and variety to your pantry. The nutrition in homemade snacks like these is worth more than all of the previous reasons combined. The carbohydrate and protein provided in healthful, homemade snacks will offer the energy you need along with satisfaction until your next meal. On the plus side, you know exactly what ingredients are going into your snacks without paying for processed sugars and ingredients you can’t pronounce.

 

 

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Homemade Peanut Butter Granola Bars

From “What’s Cooking? USDA Mixing Bowl

Makes: 24 servings

Total Cost: $7.15

Serving Cost: $0.30

Ingredients

  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 3 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup carrot (grated)
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Peel and grate the carrots.
  3. Put the honey and peanut butter in a large saucepan. Cook on low heat until melted. Remove pan from the heat.
  4. Add oatmeal, raisins, carrots, and coconut to the saucepan. Stir well, and let it cool until you can safely touch it with your hands.
  5. Press the mix firmly into the bottom of the pan.
  6. Bake for 25 minutes.
  7. Cool and cut into 24 bars.

Authors: Susan Zies, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Wood County, and Allision Doriot , Dietetic Intern with Wood County Extension.

Reviewer: Cheryl Barber Spires, RD, LD, SNAP-Ed Program Specialist, West Region, Ohio State University Extension, spires.53@osu.edu

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After 21 years, I no longer resolve to be a morning exerciser. I have tried and failed numerous times. If others can do it, why can’t I? Simply because I AM NOT, nor ever will be a morning person.  Keeping New Year’s Resolutions realistic can be difficult for many people. We set goals to lose weight, start exercising, train for a marathon, stop smoking, have a cleaner house, pay off debt, spend more time with friends and family, sleep more, eat healthier….the list could go on and on, yet we achieve very few. New Year’s Day is a time to reflect back on our behaviors in the previous year and to take a look at small changes we would like to make. Promising yourself to overhaul your life will just result in frustration, disappointment and hopelessness by the end of January or February during the cold, grey winter months.

How can you prevent “failure” and achieve your goals? Consider these tips:

  • Start small. Aim for progress, not perfection. If you want to increase your exercise, start out with 3 times per week, not every day. Don’t punish yourself by taking goals to the extreme, this is not about deprivation. Saying you will never eat a cookie again is just not realistic!
  • Change one behavior at a time. This is not the time to seek out a total life transformation or overhaul. Choose one behavior to work on. Want to spend more quality time with your family? Agree to spend an hour 3 times a week in a tech-free zone.
  • Talk about it. Open up and share what your goal is. You might find others who want to achieve the same goal. Having others to share your struggles and success with makes achieving that goal easier.
  • Don’t beat yourself up. Minor missteps are part of the journey. The most important aspect is to get back on track. We all make mistakes!
  • Have specific, measurable, attainable goals. Set a deadline for yourself. Track your progress so you have a visual indicator of your achievements. review your goals periodically and adjust if necessary.

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It’s ok if you choose not to have any resolutions surrounding January 1. It’s important to always be working on small goals at all times of the year, which will alleviate some of the stress and pressure.  Incorporating small changes in everyday life is much more manageable. Here’s to 2015-Happy New Year!

 

Writer: Melissa Welker, M.Ed., B.S., Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Fulton County, Maumee Valley EERA , welker.87@osu.edu

Reviewer: Donna Green, MA, Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Erie County, Erie Basin EERA, green.308@osu.edu

Sources:               www.apa.org

www.webmd.com

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buffetAs we enter the holiday season, we are often participating in pot-luck celebrations at work and dinners with family and friends. What are some steps we can take to help avoid food borne illnesses at these happy occasions?

If you are the one preparing the food, remember the four basic food safety rules: Clean, Separate, Cook, Chill. By following these four simple rules, you can help prevent the spread of harmful bacteria which could make your family ill and make your holidays less than jolly!

  • Clean. Begin by washing your hands for 20 seconds with soap and warm water before and after handling food. Be sure that countertops, cutting boards and utensils are clean by washing with hot soapy water. Rinse fruits and vegetables that are not being cooked under cool running water.
  • Separate. Help prevent cross contamination by keeping raw meat, poultry and seafood away from ready to eat foods in your shopping cart and your refrigerator. Use one cutting board for these raw foods and another for salads and ready to eat food.
  • Cook. Use a food thermometer to tell if a food is cooked to a safe temperature – just going by color is not sufficient. Always bring sauces, soups, etc to a rolling boil when reheating. If using a microwave oven, cover, stir and rotate the food to ensure even cooking.
  • Chill.  Remember the “danger zone” where bacteria can grow rapidly, 40° – 140°F. Keep the refrigerator below 40°F., use an appliance thermometer to check the temperature. Thaw meat, poultry and seafood in the refrigerator, not on the counter. After the meal, chill leftover foods within 2 hours and put food into shallow containers to allow for quick cooling.

If you are participating in a pot-luck lunch at work or school, there are some things to keep in mind for food safety. The most important rule to follow is to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold! Avoid the “danger zone”! It is often a good idea to appoint one person to make sure that foods are being kept at a safe temperature.

  • Foods that are to be served hot should be kept above 140°F.
  • Cold foods should be kept below 40°F.
  • Make sure that the surfaces where food will be served are clean.
  • Do not allow food to sit out for over 2 hours.
  • Any food that has not been kept at a safe temperature should be discarded after 2 hours.

So enjoy the holidays and the events that accompany them while keeping yourself, your family, friends and co-workers safe from food borne illness.

Sources:

Safe Food Handling Factsheets http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/safe-food-handling

Be Food Safe   www.befoodsafe.org 

EXTENSION CONNECTION: Keeping Food Safe (pot luck party tips) http://www.crestviewbulletin.com/news/community/extension-connection-keeping-food-safe-potluck-party-tips-1.56092?page=2 

Author: Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County

Reviewer: Linette Goard, Field Specialist, Food Safety, Selection and Management, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension

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Need more energy? Have this energy drink. If you are playing a sport, you need a sports drink. Really, do we need sport or energy drinks, vitamin waters, or fruit flavored drinks? The advertisers claim we need them. What is truth and what is hype? sports beverages

• Sports drinks are not necessary unless you are engaging in continuous, vigorous activity for more than 60 minutes in hot weather. Most sports drinks have lots of sugar and calories. Most of us don’t need the extra nutrients, electrolytes and/or protein as your diet usually provides what is needed. Water is the best drink for rehydrating, which is what your body needs. Sports drinks increase the risk of obesity, metabolic syndrome, dental caries and cardiovascular disease. Low-fat or fat-free milk can be a better option to drink when engaging in sports or physical activity to regain what you have lost.

• Energy drinks are not needed and may over-stimulate the cardiovascular and nervous system causing some detrimental effects. Most energy drinks have high amounts of caffeine and other stimulates. Energy drinks can be dangerous for people with unknown heart issues. Energy drinks are not safe for youth. In fact, studies have shown youth who drink energy drinks are less able to concentrate and may have a slower reaction speed. Extra vitamins in energy drinks do not really help your body. Energy drinks have been associated with many health concerns such as increased blood pressure, sleep problems, seizure activity, heart arrhythmia and others. Avoid powdered caffeine which is very dangerous.

• Vitamin waters have added vitamins which are better obtained by eating vegetables and fruits. These drinks also contain added sugar and sodium. Don’t pay the high price tag for these which also increase the risk of obesity. Eat a healthy diet and drink water.

• Fruit flavored drinks tend to be high in added sugar and other ingredients. Some of the herbal fruit flavored drink ingredients have not been researched on children. These drinks also increase the risk of obesity, metabolic syndrome, dental caries and cardiovascular disease.glass of iced tea

• Sweetened teas and coffee drinks have added sugar and carry the same health risks as sports drinks. They also can cause sleep disturbances and nervous problems in youth and adults.

Beverage manufactures are trying to convince us that they are providing us with “ready-to-go” attractive beverages. Most of the health claims on the bottles cannot be proven true and the added sugars increase the risk of diabetes and obesity.

Drink water!
It is the best drink. Other recommended choices include nonfat or low-fat milk and 100% fruit or vegetable juice in small amounts. Eat a healthy diet, and you will have the vitamins and minerals you need to stay healthy.

Writer: Pat Brinkman, Extension Educator Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension
Reviewer: Susan Zies, Extension Educator Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension

References:
Center for Weight and Health, (2014). Hiding Under a Health Halo, University of California at Berkeley, Available at: http://www.publichealthadvocacy.org/healthhalo.html
Nelson, J. and Zeratsky, K. (2010). Milk Joins the Roster of Sports Drinks, Mayo Clinic, Available at http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-blog/sports-drinks/bgp-20056125
Nutrition Action, (2014). Caffeine in Food – Caffeine Content of Drinks Revealed! Available at http://nutritionaction.com/daily/caffeine-in-food

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Next to football, my favorite thing about fall is apples!  I have my personal favorite variety; what’s yours? Here are a few facts about apples:

  • Nutrition – We all know, “An apple a day, keeps the doctor away.”, but do you know why? Apples are delicious, easy to carry for snacking, low in calories (about 80), and they are still very inexpensive. Apples have 4 grams of fiber, including both soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber actually helps to prevent cholesterol buildup in the lining of blood vessel walls, thus reducing the incident of atherosclerosis and heart disease. The insoluble fiber in apples provides bulk in the intestinal tract, holding water to cleanse and move food quickly through the digestive system.  It is best to eat apples with their skin. Almost half of the vitamin C content is just underneath the skin and eating the skin also increases insoluble fiber content.  For complete apple nutrition facts, check out this site: http://urbanext.illinois.edu/apples/nutrition.cfm
  • Varieties – Did you know there are more than 7,500 varieties of apples worldwide? How do you ever decide which one becomes a favorite or which one is best for a particular purpose? Apple varieties have different qualities. Apples can be sweet, tart, soft and smooth or crisp and crunchy, depending on the one you choose. Some are perfect for baking, others work better for salads, and some are ideal for eating fresh off the tree. For example, Jonathans are tart, great for baking or eating. Honeycrisps are sweet, crisp, and delicious for eating. Galas are sweet, good for, eating, or salads.  Granny Smith apples are tart and great for baking.  Here is a  wonderful guide to help you know which varieties are best for what you plan to do: http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/1000/1402.html
  • The Best Place to Buy Apples – If you have the chance, there are benefits to buying your apples locally.
    • Locally grown food is full of flavor.
    • Eating local food is eating seasonally.
    • Local food has more nutrients.
    • Local food supports the local economy.
    • Local food benefits the environment.
    • Local foods promote a safer food supply.
    • Local growers can tell you how the food was grown.

When you know where your food comes from and who grew it, you know a lot more about that food. To find a Farmer’s Market in your area that sells apples, the Ohio Proud website will allow you to enter your county and find a place to buy apples close by. See: http://ohioproud.org/searchmarkets.php

  • A Recipe – Fall is a good time to enjoy this recipe for Apple Salad:

3 med apples (unpeeled), cut in chunks

1/2 cup crushed pineapple, drained

1/4 cup celery, diced

2 T raisins

3 T plain yogurt

2 t mayonnaise

1 T pineapple juice

1/8 t cinnamon

Combine apples, pineapple, celery, and raisins. Mix yogurt, mayonnaise, pineapple juice and cinnamon together and blend into other ingredients. Yield: Four 1 cup servings. Calories: 121 per serving.

Written by: Kathryn K Dodrill, MA, CFCS, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Washington County

Reviewed by: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ross County

Sources:

Apple Nutrition, http://urbanext.illinois.edu/apples/nutrition.cfm

Apple Varieties, http://www.bestapples.com/varieties/index.aspx

Suggested Uses for Ohio Apples, http://www.ohioapples.com/ohio_apples_uses.htm

Apples: A Guide to Selection and Use, http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/1000/1402.html

5 A Day Roadside Market Project, http://ohioline.osu.edu/5-a-day/apples.html

Find a Farmer’s Market, http://ohioproud.org/searchmarkets.php

7 Benefits of Eating Local Foods, http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/7_benefits_of_eating_local_foods

 

 

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Fall Challenge 2014

Join Ohio State University Extension for a six-week personal wellness challenge. This fall the Live Healthy Live Well challenge for better health will run from September 8-October 19. This is an online challenge designed to help adults get fit by encouraging regular physical activity, healthy eating and wellness tips. This is a free event. Participants will receive e-communications twice weekly sent directly to you from your local OSU Extension Family & Consumer Sciences Professional. This challenge focuses on:

• Organic/natural foods
• Calcium and fiber in your diet
• Superfoods
• Gluten-free and whole grains
• Incorporating fitness into your day
Sign up by following this link to enroll: http://go.osu.edu/Mahoningfall14
Once you register, you will be enrolled and begin receiving e-communications starting the week of September 8, 2014.
We look forward to taking this fall challenge journey together!

Written by: Beth Stefura M Ed, RD,LD, Ohio State University Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Mahoning County, Crossroads EERA, stefura.2@osu.edu
Reviewed by: Michelle Treber, MA, LD, Ohio State University Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Pickaway County, Heart of Ohio EERA, treber.1@osu.edu

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Grocery store shelfAre you being tricked at the grocery store? Are you sure products you are buying really are as healthy as they claim?

Many consumers are tricked by words on the label and ingredients in food into making choices which cost more money but may not be the healthiest choices. Watch out for these tricks of the trade by companies:

• Companies add vitamins and minerals to junk food or plain water. Thus, junk food appears healthier. Skip expensive waters and drink plain water. If you need vitamins and minerals take a daily vitamin pill.

• Companies use flavorings, colorings and other ingredients to create fake berries or other fruit. Check ingredients to make sure real fruit is in the product.
• Colorings and flavorings are also used in beverage drinks so you will pay more and not realize you are not getting fruit or very little fruit. Read labels to find and buy only 100% juices.

• Monosodiumglutate and hydrolyzed vegetable protein are used so companies can skimp on the real food. These usually help with meaty flavors. Check ingredients to avoid or limit these.

• Transglutaminase (enzyme) allows companies to put some pieces of meat together so it appears as a larger steak. Make sure your steak is one piece of meat.

• Companies want you to drink more soda so they add caffeine as it is mildly addictive. Drink water.

• Carotenoid Colorings such as canthaxanthin and astaxanthin are added to make farmed salmon pinker, so it looks more like expensive wild salmon. Check the ingredients or ask if “wild caught” or “farmed.”

Beware of some words such as “real, fresh, simple, premium and artisanal. “ These words do not have defined meanings in the food industry.

Real conveys the image of no fake or chemical ingredients. However, real doesn’t have to be chemical-free or not be processed food.

Fresh does not have a time period associated with it according to the Food and Drug Administration. Fresh means the food cannot have been frozen or preserved.

Simple can have multiple meanings. We think it means less processed and less ingredients. However, the food can include sugar and fat as part of the ingredients.

Premium is another word that does not have a meaning. It can trick you into thinking you are getting a better product or deal than you are.

Artisanal conveys the image of handcrafted baked goods and cheeses. Many grocery store products labeled “artisanal” are not produced by small-batch producers and may have many ingredients only used by larger producers. Check the ingredient lists.

Author: Pat Brinkman, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension Fayette County

Reviewer: Susan Zies, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension Wood County

References:

Jacobson, M. [2014]. Food Safety: Learn More about Food Additives with this Helpful Infographic What are additives used for and which should you avoid? Downloaded from Nutrition Action.Com Downloaded at http://www.nutritionaction.com/daily/food-safety/food-safety-learn-more-about-food-additives-with-this-helpful-infographic/?mqsc=E3775989&utm_source=WhatCountsEmail&utm_medium=Nutrition_Action_Daily_Tips+Nutrition%20Action%20Daily&utm_campaign=2014.07.19%20Daily%20Tip:%20Food%20Safety

Consumer Reports, [2014]. Consumer Reports: New food label gotchas, Downloaded at http://articles.courant.com/2014-07-12/business/hc-ls-consumer-reports-food-gotchas-20140712_1_new-food-label-consumer-reports-food-packaging

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