Posts Tagged ‘Fruits & Vegetables’

Have you noticed that the winter holidays are associated with food more than at any other time of the year? From Thanksgiving turkey with all of the trimmings through New Year’s Eve celebrations, there are many temptations put in front of us. Cookies seem to magically show up at the office and there are multiple events to attend where it is very easy to indulge more than we should.cookie-585903_640

If you’ve been working hard this year at healthier eating or increased physical activity, don’t let the holiday season set you back. If you do slip into some old habits don’t let it get you down.

Here are some hints to help you have a healthier holiday:

• Schedule time for physical activity – if it is on your calendar you are more likely to follow through.
• Cut back on what you eat a little for a few days but not too much.
• Look for a couple of new recipes to incorporate healthy fruits and vegetables into your diet. The fiber will help you feel full longer. For example, green bean almandine with lemon is a much healthier choice than the traditional green bean casserole!
• Be more conscious of your portion sizes. Use a smaller plate and remember to fill at least half of it with vegetables and fruits.
• Try to eat a light, healthy snack before a party. This might curb your appetite and make it easier to avoid temptation! Eat a low fat Greek yogurt, string cheese or other protein food to help you feel fuller.
• Track what you eat each day. Being aware of what we are actually consuming can help us make any necessary adjustment.
• If you have a favorite holiday treat, make it, enjoy a serving or two and give the rest away!

Studies show that the average American gains one to two pounds over the holidays and these pounds usually don’t go away. You might make it your goal to maintain your weight over the holidays instead of trying to loose. If you try to deny yourself your favorite holiday foods, you are more likely to “fall off the wagon” and go overboard on eating. Enjoy our favorites and then get back to your wellness plans of healthy eating and exercise after the New Year!

Writer: Marilyn Rabe, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, rabe.9@osu.edu
Reviewer: Michelle Treber, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County, Treber.1@osu.edu


Read Full Post »


Grocery shopping is something we all have to do, and sometimes the temptations of processed, unhealthy foods draw us in.  With this temptation we tend to spend a little bit more money than we had planned, so what can you do to keep your health and finance on track when it comes to going grocery shopping? There are many simple tips that can be done to secure your health and your wallet.

  1.  THE List:Grocery shopping is something we all have to do, and sometimes the temptations of processed, unhealthy foods draw us in.  With this temptation we tend to spend a little bit more money than we had planned, so what can you do to keep your health and finance on track when it comes to going grocery shopping? There are many simple tips that can be done to secure your health and your wallet.
  2. Explore coupons: Coupons are a great way to save money while grocery shopping and can be a great activity to do with your family! You will have no problems finding some great deals. Looking for coupons is easy since they are located in a variety of places: in your newspaper, different magazines, at the grocery store, and even your smart phone. Many  grocery stores have mobile apps where you can get coupons with a touch of a button. All you do is bring in your phone with the coupon pulled up and have the cashier scan the bar code on your phone.
  3. Shop the perimeter: Most processed foods are located in the middle of the grocery store such as sugar flavored drinks, cookies, cereals and chips.Shopping the perimeter where the fresh produce, dairy products, meats and most bread are located is a great way to purchase more healthful foods for you and your family.
  4. Eat before: How did those doughnuts get in your cart? Have you ever been a victim of shopping while you were hungry and buying foods that you never went to the store for in the first place? Eating something before you go grocery shopping can satisfy this syndrome of picking up foods that sound and smell good to you at that time.
  5. Be mindful when buying in bulk: Ever buy a huge bag of popcorn because it was on sale and noticed you’ve eaten the whole bag by yourself? I have! Be mindful and strategic when you buy in bulk. You want to ask yourself if you are buying this huge stock of food because it is on sale or if it is something you need. If it is both on sale and something you need, make sure you have a way you can preserve some of the product. For example, if you buy meat in bulk, know that you can freeze half of it and eat what you know you will need instead of trying to eat it all in one week. This can lead to unnecessary overeating and even send you to the store buying more.

These five general shopping tips can help you stay on task and purchase more nutrient-rich foods for you and your family! It’s important to stay focused and make sure you’re buying your needs and not your wants.

Written by :  Susan Zies, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Wood County, and Courtney N  Klebe, Dietetic Intern , Bowling Green State University.

Reviewed by: Dan Remley, MSPH, Ph.D, Field Specialist, Food Nutrition and Wellness.

Read Full Post »

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

Sources/Photo Sources:




Read Full Post »

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



Read Full Post »


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

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 5,679 other followers