Posts Tagged ‘Fruits & Vegetables’

There are numerous reasons we are encouraged to eat a variety of vegetables and fruits every day.  Several of the more important include: they are fairly low in calories, reduce the risk of some chronic diseases, and they provide daily fiber.  You often hear eat “5 a Day”, but what does that really mean?  Does it mean we are to eat 5 portions of fruit and 5 portions of vegetables daily?  How about four helpings of fruits and one helping of vegetables – is that right – will that work?  Can we just eat 5 servings of the same vegetable and 5 servings of the same fruit all of the time?

MyPlate forkveggie

So how many fruit and vegetables really are needed for each of us every day?  The answer is…the amount you need to eat depends on your age, sex, and level of physical activity.  Recommended are shown in the charts below – from http://www.choosemyplate.gov/.  Note – these amounts are appropriate for individuals who get less than 30 minutes per day of moderate physical activity, beyond normal daily activities.

       Daily Vegetable Chart

Children               2-3 years old          1 cup

                            4-8 years old          1 1/2 cups 

Girls                     9-13 years old        2 cups

Boys                     9-13 years old        2 1/2 cups 

Girls or Women  14-50 years old        2 1/2 cups

                             51+ years old         2 cups 

Boys or Men        14-50 years old       3 cups

                             51+ years old          2 1/2 cups


       Daily Fruit Chart

Children                2-3 years old            1 cup

                             4-8 year olds            1 to 1 1/2 cups

Girls                     9-18 years old           1 1/2 cups

Boys                     9-13 years old           1 1/2 cups

                            14-18 years old          2 cups

Women                19-30 years old          2 cups

                             31-50 years old         1 1/2 cups

                             51+ years old            1 cup

Men                      19+ years old            2 cups

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans encourages us to eat more nutrient-rich foods. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables every day – versus five servings of one fruit and five servings of one vegetable – provides you withMyPlate forkfruits different nutrients. This is where the “make your plate a rainbow” comes in or “Think variety. Think color”.

So again…how many servings should we eat a day? For the men out there at least 2 ½ cups of veggies along with 2 cups of fruit a day. For women…at least have 2 cups of fruits and 2 cups of veggies a day. Does this equal out to five servings a day for men, women, boys, and girls? In the big picture of getting the nutrients we need and always wanting things to be simplified – yes it does.

If you struggle to include a variety of vegetables and fruits in your diet try:

  • Eating your dip with veggies instead of chips
  • Pre-packaging fruits or veggies in serving size bags for convenience
  • Adding vegetables to your scrambled egg
  • Including fruit in your cereal or smoothie

What is your favorite way to sneak in veggies or fruits?

Writer: Candace J. Heer, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Morrow County, Heart of Ohio EERA, heer.7@osu.edu

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

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Buckeye Fans

Football season is here, which means tailgating and parties. Having delicious snacks and appetizers is a must when gathering to watch your favorite football teams, but most of the time what’s offered is laden with excessive calories, saturated fat, sodium, and sugar. You know the culprits–loaded nachos, dips, chips, burgers, wings, and sodas; not to mention alcohol. The list goes on. But party food does not have to be unhealthy. Being smart with your choices can help you avoid unnecessary calorie intake.

Hosting a “watching” party of your own is a perfect opportunity to take control of the food environment. Nachos are a perennial fan favorite, but instead of using tortilla chips as the base, why not use fresh leafy greens and convert them into a taco salad? Add a protein option such as shredded chicken, pork, or black beans and additional fresh ingredients such as diced tomato, lime, cilantro, and sliced avocado with just a sprinkle of cheese. By having the salad portion as a base and the chips as a garnish or side, you are less likely to over-indulge on the chips while still feeling satisfied taste-wise.

Instead of giant bowls of chips and crackers scattered all over the table, replace them with baked chips made from sliced zucchini or sweet potato. Add platters of fresh cut vegetables and fruit. Use reduced-fat, fat-free dairy ingredients or Greek yogurt in veggie dips. If you plan on making burgers and are using beef, try to look for the leanest choice. Be sure to provide plenty of fresh toppings such as the classic lettuce, tomato, and onion. When making wings, skip the breading and replace with a delicious marinade. Hot sauce is generally very low in calories and packs a punch of flavor and heat. Additional herbs and spices will help cut back on sodium.

If you plan on attending someone else’s tailgate party, keep in mind the following tips:

  • Eat a solid breakfast. Having a balanced meal (lean protein, fiber-rich carb, healthy fat, and even some vegetables) will make you less likely to munch on empty snacks all day.
  • When you arrive, skim the buffet table visually to see what’s there. Plan what to grab. Try to make your plate resemble the MyPlate guide. Go sit somewhere away from the table to enjoy your food. Lingering around the food table makes it more likely you’ll eat more than you should.
  • Drink plenty of water. Steer clear of sodas or juices/punches. Make a water infusion by adding fresh fruit or vegetables such as lemon, oranges, berries, cucumber, and/or mint.
  • As for alcohol, keep your intake limited. There is nothing wrong with enjoying a couple drinks before or during the game, but having more than that exceeds the limit recommended by the Dietary Guidelines (one drink for women, two drinks for men). More can really tack on empty calories.

Following these simple tips during game days will help set you up with the tools you need to stay healthy, while still having fun!

Photo Credit: http://ohiostate.247sports.com/Board/120/Contents/OT-Famous-Ohio-State-Fans-22870480?Page=2#M22881826

Writer: Shannon Erskine, Graduate Student, Bowling Green State University, serskin@bgsu.edu

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

Michelle Treber, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University, Pickaway County, treber.1@osu.edu



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Why should we be aware?

  • Agriculture is Ohio’s number one industry contributing jobs for one in seven Ohioans, and more than $107 billion to the state’s economy. (ohioproud.org)
  • Ohio offers a unique proximity of metropolitan and micropolitan areas, linking rural and urban consumers, growers and communities to food produced on small, medium and large-scale family-owned farms.
  • Ohio ranks in the top ten states for direct sales to consumers represented by a wide variety of food products including but not limited to eggs, milk, cheese, honey, maple syrup, beverages, bread and other artisan products, fresh, frozen canned and dried vegetables, fruits and meats. (USDA Ag Census, 2012.)
  • One in six Ohioans is food insecure and lacks access to fresh, local, healthy food.
  • All Ohioans are part of the food system just by making daily decisions about what food to eat.

There is not one definition for “local” food. When making food decisions, many people consider where their food was grown or raised and make an effort to develop personal connections with growers and producers to enjoy flavorful, safe, local food. Ohio Local Foods week is not only about enjoying the tastes of local foods but is also about becoming more aware and better informed about the nutritional, economic, and social benefits of local foods in Ohio.

Even during wintertime, Ohio local food is available, whether it is fresh produce grown with season extenders or crops that can be held for long periods of time in cold/cool storage as well as baked, canned, frozen and dried foods. August is a great time to celebrate Ohio Local Foods Week because of the availability of direct-to-consumer marketing of all products including a wide variety of fresh produce.

The Ohio State University Extension Local Food Signature Program invites everyone to celebrate Ohio Local Foods Week from August 9th – 15th, 2015. We encourage individuals, families, businesses and communities to grow, purchase, highlight and promote local food all the time but especially during this week. I personally have a CSA (community supported agriculture) share at a local farm that I pick up every Monday. I also try to shop at my local farmer’s markets or fruit and vegetable stands. I also enjoy freezing a lot of my local produce so I can enjoy it all year long. There is nothing better than homemade strawberry jam or a side of sweet corn in the middle of our long Ohio winters!

Just as there is no one definition for “local,” there is no one way to celebrate Ohio Local Foods Week. Even though I prepaid for my CSA, I still plan to spend more than $10 buying extra sweet corn and some blueberries at my Farmer’s Market this week. You are invited to participate in the $10 Ohio Local Foods Challenge by committing to spend at least ten dollars (or more) on your favorite local foods during Ohio Local Foods Week. Look for regional community events, follow the event on Facebook and Twitter, and sign up at http://go.osu.edu/olfw10dollars for the $10 Ohio Local Foods Challenge. Even though I prepaid for my CSA, I still plan to spend more than $10 buying extra sweet corn and some blueberries at my Farmer’s Market this week.


Not sure where to find local foods or interested in finding new places? Here are some ideas to get started. You can also find an online summary of food directories. You can also check out events throughout the state. Let us know how you are celebrating Ohio Local Foods Week. Share your pictures and stories with us on Facebook or Twitter. #olfw15.

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

Reviewed by: Patrice Powers-Barker, CFLE, Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Lucas County, Maumee Valley EERA, powers-barker,1@osu.edu

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If I had to guess I would say you are probably not getting the recommended servings of vegetables and fruits each day, just like most other Americans. A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that less than 9% of us are eating the 2 to 3 cups of Dietary Guideline recommended vegetables and not many more are eating enough fruit. The Dietary Guidelines recommend 1 ½ to 2 cups for adults per day, while the study found that just 13% of us consume that much.

Why is it so important to get more of those vegetables and fruits in our diet each day?Veggies and Fruits

  • While vegetables and fruits aren’t calorie free, most are low calorie.
  • Vegetables and fruits are packed with a variety of vitamins and minerals. Look to those with deep colors (dark green, orange, purple, and red) for many of the highest amounts.
  • Fruits and vegetables are often found to have properties that have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and even cancer.
  • The fiber found in vegetables and fruits can aid your digestion and may even help with weight loss. Examples of those with higher fiber include beans, pears, apples, berries, spinach, and broccoli.
  • Vegetables and fruits contain little if any fat.

There is a perception that vegetables and fruits are more expensive than many other foods, but eating those that are in season will get rid of that myth. Consider too that a few more cents now may save you thousands of dollars in medical bills in the future.

A few ways to add another serving of vegetables or fruit (or more) each day:

  • Shred or finely chop vegetables and add to meat loaf, pasta sauce, muffins, and more.
  • Change your evening bowl of ice cream to a vegetable and fruit smoothie. Any fruit tastes great with a cup of milk or juice, a yogurt container, and a cup of ice. Toss in a little kale or spinach too.
  • Add black or other beans to any pasta dish, taco meat, or even on top of a salad.
  • Toss a few berries in your morning cereal or yogurt, and chopped veggies in your scrambled eggs.
  • And don’t forget that fruit is the original fast food. Most of it can be eaten after a quick rinse.

To see if you are close to the recommended vegetable and fruit servings, use a tracking log on your phone, computer, or just a small tablet. Write down after each meal or snack how much you had, within a few days you should be able to see how far you have to go.

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

Reviewer: Michelle Treber, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County.

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While vegetarians go “meatless” every day, there is a growing movement across the country and even the world for the rest of us to do “Meatless Monday’s” once a week. Following this trend can help your health and your bank account too. Meals without meat aren’t a new thing; families were encouraged to take a meatless day during World War II to spread the food around to soldiers and allies in other countries.

The benefits of going meatless today include:

  • Reducing your risk of cancer – There are numerous studies that link consumption of red or processed meats to colon cancer, while studies also show that a diet rich in vegetables and fruits may decrease the risk of certain cancers.
  • Reducing risk of heart disease and stroke – By reducing consumption of the saturated fats in red meats you may also protect yourself again cardiovascular disease and stroke. At the same time an increase in whole grains, vegetables including beans, and fruit provide protective factors against the same health conditions.
  • Preventing obesity – Diets high in vegetables and fruits are higher in fiber, which will make you feel full quicker and typically contain fewer calories.
  • Spreading your food budget further – Most vegetables, beans, grains, and eggs can be used in recipes for less money than meats (red or white). Saving that money for a few months may give you the money for a family fun day, new games for family night, or just reduce your budget when finances are tight.

If you are looking for meatless recipes try:

A new favorite meatless recipe for me is Veggie Taco’s. Replace the ground meat in your taco with a peeled and chopped carrot and sweet potato (to speed up the process after chopping, microwave a few minutes with ¼ cup of water). Add a can of diced tomatoes and rinsed black beans to your seasonings and mix all ingredients in a skillet. Bring to a simmering bowl and heat for about 10 minutes to thicken. Top a whole grain taco shell with your meatless taco mixture, and chopped lettuce, tomato, and cheese. Trust me; you won’t miss the meat at all. Good additions are chopped peppers and a small chopped zucchini too.

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

Reviewer: Donna Green, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Erie County.

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vegetables-752153_1280The weather lately has allowed some of our early season crops to flourish. As we begin to enjoy the fresh vegetables and herbs from our garden, we should think about the best methods for harvesting them and the other vegetables that will mature in the coming months.

Many of us choose to grow our own vegetables so that we can have the best tasting product possible! However, the quality, taste and appearance of vegetables can be affected if they are not harvested at the proper time and in the proper way.

Store bought vegetables are often picked before they are fully ripe to allow time for them to be shipped and stored. The home gardener has the advantage here by knowing when and how to harvest their products. Harvesting most vegetables when they have ripened on the plant will produce the best taste.
Don’t fall into the “bigger is better” trap and allow produce to stay on the plant too long. This can lead to tough, fibrous, or rotten produce. Also, most vegetables are best when harvested early in the morning while they retain the maximum moisture. After you harvest, keep your produce out of direct sunlight and keep them cool.

You should be gentle with your vegetables as you harvest them. Some vegetables will require scissors, a knife or pruners to remove them without damaging the plant. One example of this may be green peppers which have firm stems attaching each individual pepper to the plant. Also, frequent picking of vegetables can prolong the harvest for that plant. If you wait too long to harvest, the plant may stop producing more vegetables since it will sense that its reproduction goal has been reached!

The ripening process continues when the vegetables are harvested and the quality declines rapidly so they should be used immediately or stored in the refrigerator to slow down the process. Some produce that this applies to are tomatoes, sweet corn, cucumbers, and others. The sugar in some of these vegetables can change to starch and affect the taste of the item.

Home gardeners are often not familiar with the proper time to harvest some of the vegetables they have chosen to grow. The information from Clemson Cooperative Extension and Washington State University Extension should provide guidance on the proper stage of maturity for harvesting many common vegetables. Ohio State University Extension provides information on individual vegetables and the proper storage to keep the quality high.

Written by: Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, rabe.9@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Joanna Rini, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Medina County, rini.41@osu.edu





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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.


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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