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Posts Tagged ‘fresh produce’

As we head into spring many of the wonderful green vegetables come into season and are readily available. These green powerhouse foods are the foods most strongly associated with reducing chronic disease risk and are described as green leafy and cruciferous. Plants produce phytochemicals like antioxidants, flavonoids, phytonutrients, flavones, and isoflavones. Green plants specifically produce the phytochemical lutein which has been shown to benefit eye health, cancer prevention, and heart health. Included in this food group are: kabr sproutsle, spinach, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, lettuces, artichokes, and collard greens. The phytochemical beta carotene is not only found in dark orange foods, it is also found in the rich green founds of spinach, collard greens, kale, and broccoli. As we have often heard, beta carotene benefits the immune system, vision, and skin and bone health.

Cruciferous vegetables like: broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, bok choy, arugula, collards, and watercress are members of the “Cruciferae or Brassicaceae Family”. Plants in the Cruciferae family have flowers with four equal-sized petals in the shape of a cross. Many of these cruciferous vegetables are found to be “cancer fighting machines”, according to Fruits and Veggies More Matters. Studies show they lower the rates of prostate cancer and may even stop the growth of cancer cells in the lung, colon, liver, and breast.

Another reason to fill up on colorful vegetables is they may help you to age well. Foods rich in antioxidants (like leeks, lettuce and kale) can help fight free radicals, the unstable oxygen molecules that contribute to the aging process.

Many of the power house green vegetables will soon be available in farmers markets but if you would like to start your own in a container garden follow these links to resources to get you started. http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/1000/1647.html or http://urbanext.illinois.edu/containergardening/herbveggie.cfm.

Try planting: spinach, leaf lettuce, Swiss chard, cabbage, peppers, herbs, or cucumbers to start your own patch of power house green foods. container garden

Writers: Lisa Barlage and Michelle Treber, Extension Educators, Family and Consumer Sciences.

Reviewer: Liz Smith, SNAP- Ed Program Specialist, Ohio State University Extension.

Photos by: Michelle Treber and Lisa Barlage.

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super foods

From Brussels sprouts and blueberries to salmon and sweet potatoes, there is a lot to learn about super foods! OSU Extension professionals will be sharing information on what makes some foods “super” and how to work super foods into your diet.

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Follow and chat with the Live Healthy Live Well team…

Lisa Barlage – Family & Consumer Sciences Educator @lbarlage

Linnette Goard – Field Specialist, Food Safety, Selection and Management @lmgoard

Polly Loy – Family & Consumer Sciences Educator @WellnessWakeup

Dan Remley – Field Specialist, Food, Nutrition and Wellness @remley4

hashtag super

 

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Smoothies continue to be a popular treat at restaurants; although special equipment is promoted to make them it is not necessary. While we think of them as a tasty way to increase our dairy and fruit consumption, they can also be a wonderful way to slide in a few vegetables. Yes, I said “vegetables”!

The perk with smoothies is you can add things that people may not usually think they like – yogurt or kale – and your children (or picky spouse or co-worker) won’t even know they are there. Vegetables that work well in smoothies are spinach, kale, steamed broccoli, romaine lettuce, cucumber, peeled avocado, and carrots. Using low fat dairy, skim milk and lite yogurt, a smoothie can provide calcium and protein in addition to the vitamins and fiber in vegetables and fruits.

Smoothie Tips:

  • While special smoothie machines aren’t necessary, a blender with a tight fitting lid is a must.green smoothie
  • To prevent damage to your blender, always use 1 cup of liquid, either skim or almond milk, or fruit juice.
  • Add a 6 ounce container of light yogurt, vanilla blends well with any combination, but all types work.
  • Choose your washed and chopped vegetable from the list above and add ½ to 1 cup. Remove stems from leafy veggies and add up to 2 cups.
  • Add 1 to 1 ½ cups assorted fruits like – bananas, strawberries, blueberries, grapes, pears, pineapple, peaches, or kiwi. To prepare fruit – wash and chop into smaller pieces for even blending. Freezing fruit ahead will give an icy consistency without the work on your blender of breaking up ice.
  • If you want to add ice – limit the amount to 4 cubes or no more than ½ cup.
  • Blend until smooth without over-blending. Vanilla extract and a dusting of cinnamon or nutmeg can be a tasty addition.

To make a green monster smoothie blend: kale, grapes, yogurt, skim milk, and bananas.

Smoothies can be a fun snack for families to make together, just supervise blending and limit servings to about 1 cup.

Sources:

University of Maryland Extension, http://extension.umd.edu/sites/default/files/_docs/Green%20Smoothie.pdf.

Michigan State University Extension, http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/smoothies_a_healthy_alternative .

Writer: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ross County.

Reviewer: Pat Brinkman, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Fayette County.

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Asparagus, a member of the lily family, is available from April to early June. It is fat and sodium-free, with about 35 calories per cup. This nutrient rich food is filled with folate; vitamins A, C, and K; potassium; and iron. These nutrients are shown to reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer. White asparagus is grown out of the sun and contains fewer nutrients than green, while purple asparagus contains additional anti-oxidants.

To select the best asparagus – look for straight and firm stalks. Avoid wilted or limp stalks. Selecting stalks that are uniform in size will assist with cooking. Asparagus is easily perishable, for optimum quality keep at 40 degrees or below and use within one to two days. Wash with cold water only before using, to prevent bacterial growth.

Asparagus is a versatile vegetable that can be used in salads, soups, or main dish recipes.1574360-SMPT

To steam: bring an inch of water to a boil, insert rinsed stalks, and cover pan. Stalks will be done in 2 to 5 minutes – based on thickness of stalks.

To microwave: rinse stalks and place on microwave safe plate with about 2 tablespoons of water, cover and microwave 2 to 3 minutes – until done.

To roast: preheat oven to 400 degrees and place rinsed stalks on foil-lined sheet. Drizzle with small amount of olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 5 to 10 minutes until tender-crisp. Parmesan cheese is also a tasty option on roasted stalks.

To grill: place stalks on grilling skewers or grill griddle, brush lightly with olive oil, grill 2 to 5 minutes – turning once.

To freeze asparagus for future use: sort stalks to similar size; blanch by placing in boiling water for 90 seconds – small stalks, 2 minutes for medium stalks, and 3 minutes for larger stalks; cool immediately in ice water; pat dry and place in freezer bags. Stalks may be left whole or cut into 2 inch sections before starting the blanching process.

Seasoning options for asparagus include soy sauce, sesame oil or seeds, lemon juice, parsley, or vinaigrette dressing.

Writer: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Ross County, barlage.7@osu.edu.

Reviewer: Cindy Shuster, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Perry County.

Sources:

Utah University Cooperative Extension, https://extension.usu.edu/admin/files/uploads/Viva%20Vegetables%20Asparagus%20Recipes.pdf.

Ohioline, Ohio State University Extension, B. Brahm, http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/5000/pdf/5508.pdf.

Washington State University Extension, http://county.wsu.edu/chelan-douglas/health/Documents/Asparagus%20Information%20and%20Springtime%20Warnings.pdf.

Photo credit: Gerald Holmes, Valent USA Corporation, Bugwood.org.

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After viewing a few television shows about the new trends in dining and hot eats – it got me wondering how it would influence my own choices as I prepared foods or choose to eat out in the coming months. Several of the trend lists I viewed were from surveys by the National Restaurant Association, insights from Technomic (a leading food service research firm), and The Food Channel. I found it interesting that a number of the trends fit well with the themes we are promoting through Ohio State University Extension. Here are my favorites:

  • Locally grown in all types of foods including produce, meats, and dairy. Extension has been promoting local foods for several years in Ohio. By buying local, you support your local economy, and you have the opportunity to learn from your local farmer or restaurant how the food was produced and harvested. To learn more about this effort go to http://localfoods.osu.edu/.vegetables
  • Children’s nutrition and more healthful meals for children. This goes back to more vegetables, fruits, and less processed foods. I hope that means restaurants will get on board with the work that many of us have been doing for years (Health Departments, State Government, and our First Lady included).  A national Extension team that I contribute to is working on this topic, so check out our work on eXtension at http://www.extension.org/healthy_food_choices_in_schools.
  • A Midwestern Food Movement is also found in restaurants and with newer television programming and recipe books. Of course growing up in Ohio, I know this is a true, we have good food! Think root vegetables, fresh foods from the garden, catfish, dairy products, pork (goes back to the Chicago hog processing from days past), and many of the traditional comfort foods.
  • Clean eating or not over processed foods is the final restaurant trend I want to focus on. Attempt to eat foods in their natural state; avoid preservatives; reduce salt and try herbs; eat whole grains rather than refined; and use natural fats like olive, canola, or walnut oil. This ties in well with locally grown and the Midwest movement.

This look at the new trends in food and dining has brought forward several messages that are good for all of us – look for foods in their natural state, buy fresh and local when you can, and encourage children to eat these foods by setting a good example. What are you doing to be part of this movement?

Sources:

Technomic, https://www.technomic.com/Pressroom/Releases/dynRelease_Detail.php?rUID=262.

The Food Channel, http://www.foodchannel.com/articles/article/2014-top-ten-food-trends-part-i/.

Ohio State University Extension, Local Foods, http://localfoods.osu.edu/ and Ohio Direct Marketing: Food and Agriculture, https://u.osu.edu/fox.264/.

Author: Lisa Barlage, MS, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Ross County, barlage.7@osu.edu.

Reviewer: Daniel Remley, MSPH, PhD, Assistant Professor, Field Specialist, Food, Nutrition, and Wellness, Ohio State University Extension, remley.4@osu.edu.


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With a range of medications available to help the 50 million Americans suffering from arthritis many may not know that what you eat can influence your symptoms and alsoartritis hands how the disease progresses.

Rather than supplements in the form of pills, food with certain nutrients can help.

·         Vitamin C about the amount in two oranges (152 milligrams a day) has been found to reduce the progression of osteoarthritis.  Vitamin C plays a role in the formation of cartilage, collagen and proteoglycans.  It also is an antioxidant which helps limit the free-radical oxygen compounds that can damage cartilage.

·         Vitamin D was shown to cut the progression of arthritis.  Living in the northern attitudes especially in the winter, makes it difficult to get enough Vitamin D.  This is the one vitamin that you may need to  supplement.  Vitamin D not only plays a role in bone building it seems to affect the production of collagen.

·         Beta-carotene reduced the progression of arthritis when 9,000 IU were consumed daily.  This was not seen when people consumed 5,000 IU.  Most Americans only get 3,000 to 5,000 IU a day of beta-carotene.  However, you can easily increase your amount by using orange vegetables and fruits.  One medium sweet potato contains 21,909 IU.  fruits-vegetables

·         Vitamin E – In a study with people who had knee osteoarthritis those that consumed 6-11 milligrams of Vitamin E daily (from food) saw a 60% reduction in the progression of the disease over 10 years compared to  those getting 2-5 milligrams daily.  Due to the increased risk of lung cancer, smokers should not take extra Vitamin E or beta-carotene pills.

·         Vitamin K is being studied now.  So far, the study suggests that Vitamin K may slow the progression of osteoarthritis.  Good sources of Vitamin K are spinach, broccoli, leaf lettuce, kale, asparagus and olive, soybean and canola oils.

·         Omega-3 Fatty Acids suppress inflammation in the joint.  This is what causes so much stiffness and pain.  Eating two or more servings of fish (baked or broiled) per week reduced the chance of developing arthritis.   Other sources of omega-3 are flaxseed and nuts.  Canola, soybean and olive oil have some omega-3s.   Best to avoid omega-6 fatty acids found in safflower, sunflower, cottonseed and corn oils.  These are usually also in processed foods and fried foods, so limit your consumption of them.

·         Limit consumption of sugar.   More inflammation has been linked with higher sugar consumption.

· Drink more water         Drink Water.  Water  helps all around from moisturizing, giving support to joints, carrying nutrients and removing wastes from the body.  Some medicines used for arthritis also change your thirst level.  Be sure to drink plenty of water, preferably 8 cups or more a day of liquids.

Eat a healthy diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and protein along with oils rich in omega-3s.  Limit sweets and other fats and oils.  Eating fruits, vegetables and whole grains will increase your fiber intake which the Arthritis Foundation says may keep inflammation down.

Author:  Pat Brinkman, Extension Educator Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Miami Valley EERA

Reviewer:  Elizabeth Smith, R.D., L.D. Northeast Region Program Specialist, SNAP-Ed, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension.

References:

Tufts University, [2013]. Eating Right for Healthy Joints, Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter Special Supplement, June 2013.

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When it comes to fruits and vegetables, vary your colors, cooking methods, and consumption for optimal nutrition. fruits-veggies

If you are concerned about preventing or controlling many of the chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, or diabetes, consider visiting MyPlate.gov and consume the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables recommended for your age, gender, and activity level. For example – 2 cups fruits and 3.5 cups of vegetables for active male. For additional health benefits, consider the three C’s: color, cooking, and consumption.

Consuming a variety of colors can make a difference to your health. Red fruits and vegetables, such as watermelon and tomatoes, contain lycopene which is a phytochemical, or plant chemical, that can lower the risk for certain cancers, especially prostate cancer. Anthocyanin, found in red raspberries and strawberries, and also in purple produce, such as blackberries, blueberries and eggplant, is a powerful antioxidant that can also lower the risk of cancers and heart disease. Orange fruits and vegetables, such as mangoes, squash, oranges, and carrots contain plant pigments called carotenoids which can also lower risk of certain cancers, heart disease, but also eye diseases. Dark green vegetables have phytochemicals such as lutein, which can protective of eye disease, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. Yes, even fruits and vegetables devoid of color can be beneficial to health. Onions, garlic, and parsnips, have pigments called anthoxanthins which are thought to be helpful with blood pressure.

In addition to consuming a variety of colors, consider how you consume and prepare fruits and vegetables. Many fruits and vegetables are healthiest when consumed fresh. There are exceptions however. However, the lycopene in tomatoes is more available to your body if you consume cooked tomatoes or if you consume tomatoes with a little bit of oil (try adding a little olive oil to your tomato soup!). For many vegetables, prolonged boiling can be detrimental to many phytochemicals that are heat unstable. Consider steaming or microwaving with a small amount of water to retain nutrients. Dried fruits and vegetables can add fiber to the diet, but they lose the health promoting phytochemicals during the drying process.

Sources:

Produce for Better Health Foundation, http://www.fruitsandveggiesmatter.gov

North Dakota State University Extension Service, http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/food

Writer: Daniel Remley, Field Specialist, Ohio State University Extension.

Reviewer: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension.

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