Posts Tagged ‘healthy choices’




If you’re confused by all of the healthy cooking oils in the supermarket, don’t be. From almond to walnut, today’s cooking oils offer benefits as well as disadvantages. Just be sure to read the label, check the price, and be willing to experiment. Here’s a primer on the hottest new cooking oils available on store shelves:




  • Almond oil – available in both refined and unrefined formulas, almond oil is made by expeller pressing ground almonds. It has a light, mildly sweet flavor with buttery undertones. The smoke point is 420 degrees so the best uses for almond oil are for stir-frying or roasting. Smoke point is the temperature at which the oil starts to decompose and begins to smoke as if it were burning.
  • Avocado oil – also available as refined or unrefined. Avocado oil is made by grinding and then pressing avocadoes. It has a rich, full flavor and with a smoke point of 520, it is good for grilling on high-heat and roasting or frying. Avocado oil may be used as a salad dressing, as a dip for bread or in pesto.
  • Coconut oil – is white and solid at room temperature but is clear when heated. High in saturated fat content, it should be used sparingly like any other saturated fat until more is known. Coconut oil is creamy and has a buttery flavor. It works great in stir-frying, as a spread or in baked goods.
  • Flaxseed oil – is made by crushing brown flaxseeds which removes the healthy lignans during processing. These may be added back to the final product by some manufacturers. Flaxseed oil is high in alpha linoleic acid and has a warm and nutty flavor. Not really a cooking oil since it should not be heated, flaxseed oil can be used with grains or tossed with salads or cooked vegetables. Flaxseed oil should be refrigerated to extend the shelf life.
  • Sesame oil – is made from extracting or expeller pressing the oil from sesame seeds. Rich in antioxidants, sesame oil has a light and nutty taste. Toasted sesame oil works well with light sauces, salads, or grains such as rice. The smoke point for sesame oil is 410 degrees.
  • Walnut oil – made from dried and pressed walnuts, it contains omega-3 fatty acids. It has a nutty flavor with earth tones and is good in vegetables or cream soups. Smoke point is 400 degrees. Walnut oil must be refrigerated.

Using a new oil can totally change the flavor of a dish and add a new dimension to your family meals. Experiment with smaller bottles until you know if you like the qualities, taste and texture of the new oil. Don’t be afraid to try something new; there’s more to cooking than using vegetable or canola oil!

Source(s): Delicious Living, April, 2015; Cleveland Clinic Heart Healthy Cooking Oils 101, October, 2015; WebMD Healthy Cooking Oils Buyer’s Guide.

Author: Jennifer Even, FCS/EFNEP Educator, OSU Extension, Hamilton County. Reviewed by Cheryl Barber Spires, Program Specialist, OSU Extension.




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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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Did you know that the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can damage your skin in as little as 15 minutes?  More than 1 million people in the United States are diagnosed with skin cancer each year. Skin cancer is  the most common form of cancer in the USA. This is unfortunate because skin cancer is one of the most preventable types of cancer.

Youth are particularly at risk of overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation since a large amount of the average person’s UV exposure occurs before the age of 18. Even one severe sunburn in childhood can double the risk of developing skin cancer later in life. As parents, you can give your children a legacy of sun safety by helping them develop good sun protections habits early in their lives.  Here are a few tips to help reduce sun damage this summer and throughout their life:

  • Apply broad spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 15 before you and your family goes outside, even on slightly cloudy or cool days. Don’t forget to put a thick layer on all parts of exposed skin.
  • Look for some “fun “colors such as blue, pink, red, etc. They look like skin paint which may be fun for kids to wear, and also you can see your kids in a crowd of other children. Many of these varieties are available online.
  • Be sure to reapply more sun screen if your children are playing in water or sweating.
  • Remember, sunscreen works best when combined with other options to prevent UV damage.
  • Have children wear hats that have a brim to shade their eyes, sides of the faces and back of neck. Make sure they wear them when they are in the sun.
  • Also wear sunglasses to protect the eyes and the sensitive skin around them.
  • Have children wear shirts with sleeves, especially to cover the upper back and shoulders, where the sun hits most directly.
  • Limit outdoor play time during the 10am-4pm when ultraviolet rays are the most intense. When outdoors during midday, help children find shady spots to play.

Written by: Susan Zies, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Wood County, zies.1@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Patrice Powers-Barker, MA, CFLE, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Lucas County,powers-barker.1@osu.edu







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Ever walk through the neighborhood and catch a whiff of that wonderful grilled food smell? Mmmmm… makes my mouth water just thinking of that sizzle. Grilling can be a healthy, low fat, tasty way to prepare food. Let’s look at a few tips…

Safety Tips

  • Start with a clean grill to avoid flare ups and potential contaminants. Scrub the grill with hot soapy water and a brush.
  • Use clean hands and cooking utensils.
  • If you’re using frozen food, be sure to thaw it safely in the refrigerator, microwave or cold-water-sink-method (changing cold water every 30 minutes).
  • Don’t cross-contaminate. After using dishes or grill utensils on raw meat, be sure to wash them in hot soapy water before using them again on cooked meat or other ready-to-eat food.
  • Marinating is a great way to add flavor and tenderize meat. Marinate food in the refrigerator, not on the counter. Don’t re-use meat marinades that have touched raw meat on cooked meats or other foods. If you want to use some of the marinade as a sauce on cooked food, reserve a portion before placing raw meat and poultry in it.
  • Don’t leave the grill unattended.
  • Use a meat thermometer to ensure high enough cooking temperature to kill bacteria.

Steak, porkchops: 145°F (Allow to rest for 3 minutes before carving or consuming)
Hamburgers, ground meat: 160°F
Chicken: 165°F


Healthy and Yummy Tips
Grilling allows any fat to drip off the food, making it a healthy way to prepare food. Here are some healthy suggestions from http://www.eatright.org:

  • Choose lean cuts of meat for less chance of flare-ups from fat drippings.
  • Add color and flavor with fresh vegetables. Vegies such as sweet peppers, onions and tomatoes add flavor, color, vitamins and nutrients to any meal. Some of the best vegetables to grill are onions, cabbage, mushrooms, bell peppers, asparagus, and corn. You can sprinkle herbs on each cob of corn and then wrap it in foil to grill it. You won’t even need butter!
  • To grill a veggie kabob, brush the vegetables with olive oil and your favorite spices and grill over medium heat, turning until marked and tender (about 12 to 15 minutes, and 8 to 10 minutes for cherry tomatoes and pre-boiled potatoes).
  • How about a grilled, marinated Portobello mushroom? Marinate then grill mushrooms, gill sides up, over medium-low heat with the grill covered until they are marked and softened (about 15 minutes). Flip and grill until cooked through, being careful not to char the gills (1 to 2 minutes).
  • You can even grill a tasty dessert like fruit kabobs. Try pineapple slices or peach halves. Grill on low heat until the fruit is hot and slightly golden. Serve them on top of low-fat frozen yogurt or angel food cake.
  • Every try grilled watermelon? When grilled, the water evaporates, leaving an intense watermelon flavor. Grill watermelon slices for about 30 seconds on each side.

Click here for more great grilling ideas.
Click here for a link for more information on grilling safety and tips.
I hope you find a tasty way to celebrate national grilling month in July and all summer long!

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: http://www.eatright.org/Public/content.aspx?id=10958
North Dakota State University Extension http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/pubs/yf/foods/fn658.pdf

Writer: Shannon Carter, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County, carter.413@osu.edu.
Reviewer: Elizabeth Smith, NE Regional Program Specialist, SNAP-ED, Ohio State University Extension, smith.3993@osu.edu

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Just like journaling your physical activity, expenses, or the foods you eat – journaling your stressors and how you react is also a good idea. Research has shown that writing about what stresses us improves our mood and even boosts the immune system. When you journal or write down your stressors, no one will disagree or criticize you, which can be a good way to get swirling thoughts out of your mind. Talking with others and reaching out to professional help is important, but may not be easily available to all of us. Journaling

Try in the next few weeks to journal your stress for a 5 to 7 day period. Track what causes you stress and what you do. When you find out about a big project that is due, do you head to the vending machines or do you stop eating all together? Do you take a walk to clear your head? Or do you skip your Zumba class? Once you know your current reactions, you may be able to choose some new coping techniques to get through the next crisis.

Other techniques to help you handle your stress:

  • Laugh – a good belly laugh can help. Try comics, funny YouTube videos, comedy movies or TV shows.
  • Be Physically Active – all forms of exercise will ease depression and anxiety.
  • Establish Boundaries in Your Life – choose not to check work email at home or after a certain time, don’t answer the phone during family time or meals, or promise to only look at Facebook once a day.
  • Use Your Vacation or Personal Days – don’t let the company keep them. Use that time to recharge.
  • Find Your Relaxation Zone – Take time for at least one thing you really enjoy like music, reading, crafting, golf, fishing, playing cards, or gardening.
  • Avoid the Bad Habits – Avoid excessive snacking, caffeine, too much or too little sleep, smoking, and anger. They will only make things worse in the long run.

Try journaling your stressful situations and reactions, or just writing when things are really bothering you, then let us know what you think. Did it help?

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

Reviewers: Michelle Treber, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County and Pat Brinkman, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Fayette County.


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Feeling stressed? What are you eating? Most of us reach for comfort foods when we are stressed, stressed woman such as cookies, cake, candy and other high sugar, low fiber foods. These foods are not good choices to prevent chronic inflammation from developing and affecting our body. High levels of chronic inflammation are believed to cause rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, asthma and inflammatory bowel disease. Even low amounts of inflammation can increase your risk of obesity and the effects of aging. Prolonged chronic inflammation increases our risk of cancer, heart disease and other diseases. One study on postmenopausal women found that those eating a healthier diet reduced their risk of death from any cause by 60% and had an 88% reduced risk of death from breast cancer.

What should we eat to avoid inflammation building up in our body? Three eating patterns provide reliable assistance along with allowing individual choices of food. Those three eating patterns are the USDA Dietary Guidelines, the Mediterranean Diet and DASH Diet. my plate Each of these has some differences but all three emphasize certain patterns.

All three eating patterns encourage us to eat:
• Plenty of vegetables and fruit.
• whole grains
• Low-fat or Fat-free Dairy
• Seafood and plant proteins

They also encourage us to reduce eating:
• Empty calories including foods with added sugar, or drinking excess alcohol
• Refined grains
• Saturated fat foods
• High sodium food

What would a daily eating plan include?
• Vegetables – 2 to 4 cups
• Fruits – at least 2 cups a day
• Whole grains – 3 to 4 ounces a day
• Fish/Seafood – 8-16 ounces a week for Omega-3
• Nuts and soy – 4-6 ounces a week
• Olive oil – 1 -2 Tablespoons a day.
• Dairy (1% or skim) – 1-3 cups a day
• Alcohol – 0-1 drink a day

Limit the amount of red and processed meats you eat to less than 12 ounces a week and keep added sugars to less than 6 teaspoons for women and 9 teaspoons for men a day.

Make it a goal to eat lots of fiber by eating vegetables, fruits, whole grains and nuts. fruits-veggies This will increase the anti-inflammatory properties from these foods. Add some garlic, onion, pepper and other herbs for additional anti-inflammatory properties.

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

Reviewer: Cheryl Barber Spires, R.D., L.D., West Region Program Specialist, SNAP-Ed
OSU Extension

Orchard, T. [2015]. Eating healthy under stress: improving diet quality to lower chronic inflammation. webinar for Your Plan for Health, Ohio State University

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So what’s the secret potion behind these magical beans? Protein of course! Protein is a hot topic in today’s society and you see promotions of different protein powders and nutrition bars everywhere. Personally, I know of many people who have fallen into this trap of trying different protein powders to add to their “protein shake” in the morning to get that quick fix of protein. However, they are spending so much money on these quick-fix protein sources and need to find another way to incorporate protein into their diet. Beyond these protein powders and bars, most people go for the typical meat, fish and poultry when it comes to a reliable protein source, but don’t forget to give plant-based protein credit!

DWDHeartyBeanSoup (1)

Beans are packed with a bunch of different nutrients that are beneficial to your health. Beyond protein they are a great source of fiber, folate, magnesium and potassium. In regards to fiber, beans are packed with soluble fiber. Soluble fiber attracts water and slows down digestion and emptying of your stomach. This delay in emptying of your stomach makes you feel fuller for a longer period of time, which could be a great tactic for controlling your weight. About 5-10 grams of soluble fiber can decrease your LDL cholesterol by 5%, with beans containing about 0.6 to 2.4 grams of soluble fiber per half a cup.   This makes eating beans a great way to help with decreasing cardiovascular disease and inflammation.

Now let’s talk about beans and its protein content. One serving of beans is ½ cup of cooked beans, which provides roughly 7-8 grams of protein! Protein causes satiety, or fullness, so with the combination of soluble fiber and protein beans can be a great way to keep you feeling fuller for a longer period of time. Like stated before, this can help keep your diet and weight on track.

Most Americans consume canned beans, but dried beans are also a great way to incorporate more beans in your diet. Dried beans are underutilized in America and on any given day less than 8% of Americans report consuming beans .The problem many people face with dried beans is how to cook them. Canned beans are easy and convenient yet dried beans can come off as intimidating and time consuming. The truth is that they aren’t that hard to figure out once you know how! Soaking your beans is what takes the most time but you actually don’t have to do much to soak them…it’s just a waiting game. There are many different methods that can be used when cooking dried beans such as traditional, hot and microwave soaked methods. One method that is most convenient is the quick soak method:

  1. Rinse: to ensure proper cleanliness of your beans it is important to wash them off before consuming them.
  2. Place beans in a large pot and add 10 cups of water for every 2 cups of beans.
  3. Bring to a boil and let boil 2-3 minutes.
  4. Dried beans, discard soak water and rinse with cold water.

How easy is that?! Once you figure out which method works best for you, you can incorporate beans in your diet. Dried beans make a mass amount of product and can last you for a long time. If I over-committed on my bean abilities and made too much I freeze the remaining beans and just quickly heat them up! A 1-lb. bag of dried beans usually costs around $1.49 and can make around 13 servings of beans! What a great, and cheap, way to incorporate more protein into your diet!

Check out the US DryBean Council website for many recipes to try using beans!

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

Reviewed by: Michelle Treber, LD, MA, Extenstion Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Pickaway County


  1. Messina V. Nutritional and health benefits of dried beans. Am J Clin Nutr 2014; 100: 437S-42S.

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