Posts Tagged ‘Nutrition’

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:




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Honey… For Your Health

Honey is not only good for us in many ways; it has some unique properties that make it pretty amazing. Honey can be used as a natural sweetener, energy booster, cough suppressant, and skin healer.

Honey is made by busy bees. It takes about 60,000 bees and more than two million flowers to gather enough nectar to make just one pound of honey. There are over 300 unique varieties of honey in the United States. Honey can vary in color and flavor depending on the source of the nectar (type of blossom – like Clover, Eucalyptus and Orange Blossoms).  In general, lighter colored honeys are mild in flavor, while darker honeys have a stronger flavor.

The most natural form of honey is raw honey, where beekeepers just filter out large particles, and can be purchased through local beekeepers. Honey contains trace amounts of bee pollen which can help reduce seasonal allergy symptoms. By consuming the bee pollen, you are helping to inoculate yourself against local allergens. The National Honey Board by USDA has a honey locator website you can use to find local honey. You can also contact your local beekeepers associations. Honey that you buy in the store has been pasteurized to prevent granulation.

Honey is nature’s sweetener. Honey is easier for the body to digest than sugar and is slightly sweeter than sugar, so you can use less. Honey adds a unique flavor to any dish and balances and enhances the flavor profiles of other ingredients used in a recipe. It can serve as a binder and thickener for sauces, dressings, marinades and dips. Honey provides and retains moisture to a variety of dishes and can even extend the shelf life of baked goods.

(photo courtesy of the National Honey Board)

The American Beekeeping Federation offers these tips and tricks when using honey:

  • To substitute honey for granulated sugar, begin by substituting honey for up to half the sugar in the recipe. For baked goods, reduce the oven temperature by 25ºF to prevent overbrowning; reduce any liquid by ¼ cup for each cup honey used; and add ½ teaspoon baking soda for each cup of honey used.
  • Measure honey easily by coating cup or spoons with oil or non-stick spray.
  • Substitute 2/3 to 3/4 cup of honey per cup of sugar (depending on taste.)
  • Decrease the amount of liquids by 1/4 cup per cup of honey used.
  • Store honey at room temperature
  • If honey crystallizes, remove lid and place jar in warm water until crystals dissolve, or microwave honey on HIGH for 2 to 3 minutes or until crystals dissolve, stirring every 30 seconds.  Do not scorch.

Honey is a great energy booster. Honey has 17 grams of carbohydrate per tablespoon. The body uses carbohydrates for energy and to help maintain muscle glycogen, also known as stored carbohydrates. Honey is a quick, easy and tasty natural energy source.

The National Honehoneyy Board offers these tips for athletes:

  • Staying hydrated is one of the most important tools for an athlete. Simply add honey to your bottle of water for an energy boost during your next workout.
  • Snacks are a great way to add extra fruits and vegetables to your diet. Try mixing peanut butter and honey, or honey and light cream cheese, as a dip for fresh fruits or vegetables.
  • Peanut butter and honey sandwiches on whole wheat bread are a great, high-energy snack to provide a good combination of carbohydrates, protein and fat.
  • Since honey is a convenient, portable source of energy, take it with you for tournaments and long periods of activity to help sustain your energy levels.

Honey can be used as a natural cough suppressant. It coats and soothes a sore throat. You can also add honey to tea or try mixing it with orange juice. One study by Penn State University found that buckwheat honey was more effective in suppressing coughs in children than over the counter cough medicines that contain dextromethorphan. Note that honey should NOT be fed to infants less than 1 year of age, but is safe for older children and adults. Baby’s intestines are not mature enough to handle any potential botulism spores that might be picked up by the bees and transferred to the honey.

Honey has been used for centuries for skin care and healing wounds. This amazing natural chemical reaction takes place in the making of honey that forms hydrogen peroxide, giving honey anti-microbial properties. Other factors that make honey a healing agent are high sugar/low water content, low protein, high acidity, presence of antioxidants. Honey is a humectant, attracting and retaining moisture, which makes it a prime ingredient for moisturizers as well as shampoos and conditioners.

Honey has many benefits and uses. Try some today!

Written by: Shannon Carter, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County

Reviewed by: Joanna Rini, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Medina 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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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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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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Drinking a smoothie is an easy way to sneak in a serving or two of fruits and veggies towards your daily goal. A smoothie is great for breakfast, on the go meal, or a snack. Here’s how to blend a fruit- and veggie-packed smoothie that’s nutritious, satisfying and energizing.


  1. Choose a Base Start with a liquid base such as low-fat milk, soymilk, or nonfat Greek yogurt that delivers protein, vitamins, and minerals with a sensible amount of calories. If using juice, choose 100% grape, orange, apple, or cranberry varieties and try adding just a splash of it to a milk base so you don’t miss out on the protein. Remember juice adds extra sugar and calories so watch portion sizes.
  2. Add Fruit When adding fruit, most fresh, frozen and canned fruits shine in smoothies. For calorie control and to cap added sugar, choose plain, unsweetened frozen fruit and drain canned fruit packed in water or light syrup to reduce excess sugar. Slicing bananas and freezing them works really well.
  3. Yes…you can add veggies! Even vegetables can be added to smoothies. Just remember to use mild-tasting veggies so their flavor doesn’t overpower the other ingredients. If using a standard blender, you may need to chop them very finely or add a little water to help the blending process. Cucumbers, spinach, kale, and beets are popular options.
  4. Nutrient Boosters Super-charge your smoothie with flavorful and nutrient-packed blend-ins such as flaxseed, chia seeds, quick oats, spices (cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger), unsweetened cocoa powder, or powdered peanut butter.
  5. Less is More Remember to keep smoothie ingredients simple and take a ‘less is more’ approach. The more ingredients in a smoothie, the more calories it contains.

Kale Smoothie with Pineapple and Banana

1/2 cup coconut milk, skim milk, soymilk, nonfat Greek yogurt, or almond milk

2 cups stemmed and chopped kale or spinach

1 1/2 cups chopped pineapple (about 1/4 medium pineapple)

1 ripe banana, chopped

Water for desired consistency

  1. Combine the coconut milk, ½ cup water, the kale, pineapple, and banana in a blender and puree until smooth, about 1 minute, adding more water to reach the desired consistency.
  2. You can add a few almonds for extra protein if you would like!

For a great beet smoothie click here https://foodhero.org/recipes/un-beet-able-berry-smoothie.

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





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Frequently, college students may not select or purchase the most healthful options while at school. With the major shift in environment and academics, students can put the focus of nutritious eating on the back burner. As a result, several college students tend to gain weight.

Many factors can explain why students may not eat healthfully, including a lack of nutrition and diet education, social pressure, taste, and a lack of exposure prior to coming to college. Students may go for the most appealing, accessible, and easy options which can frequently include energy-dense, nutrient-poor, high-sodium, and high-fat products.

Let’s set the scenario: you are an incoming freshman with an unlimited meal plan. Back home you may have been used to eating home-cooked meals or what your parents provided you, but perhaps for the first time in your life you make all of the selections of what you eat every day. As many dining hall operate, you can basically treat each meal as an all-you-can-eat buffet. The choices are endless and calories never cross your mind. Breakfast could be a healthy choice such as fresh fruit and low-fat yogurt with almonds or it could be bacon, sausage, pancakes, eggs, hash browns, and toast. Which would you choose?

If you were any of the new college students around the country (that are not exactly focused on health), you may have chosen the latter. It’s often hard to keep nutrition and portion sizes in mind when there is such a selection in front of you. What students may not realize at the moment is that making these food choices into their usual dietary behaviors can become an unhealthy habit over time. These poor dietary habits can persist through adulthood, affecting their and their family’s health. Not only do poor dietary choices tend to carry over into adulthood when established at a young age, but they can also affect academic performance in college students. Many studies have found this to be true, noting the extreme importance of a healthy balanced diet while in school.
Social marketing and nutrition advertising in the dining halls have become emerging strategies in influencing students’ dietary choices. These tools can be used to increase awareness and motivate students to select healthier food choices. But, beyond these techniques what can we as parents, grandparents, teachers, coaches and other adult role models do to encourage these young adults to prevent poor eating habits and weight gain. We all know how difficult it can be to lose the weight once it is gained, so prevention is key.

Talking with your young adult and encouraging some good habits early may lead to healthier choices. Some of these include:

• Encouraging calorie free beverages. Many teens and young adults do not realize the number of calories they are consuming simply from their drinks. Encourage water, unsweetened tea, sugar-free sodas, low-fat dairy, or other calorie-free beverages. This simple change can make a huge difference.

• Talk about ways to increase fruits and vegetables in one’s diet. Snacks can be great ways to incorporate more of these daily. Teens and young adults often tend to love dips. Encourage low fat or low calorie dips with fruits and vegetables as a healthy way to snack. www.choosemyplate.org is a fantastic site that offers a plethora of tips on healthy eating as well as a SuperTracker that can help students plan, analyze, and track their diet and physical activity with personalized goal setting, virtual coaching, and journaling!

• Be physically active. This can be easier for young teens and adults on a college campus due to the amount of walking between buildings. Often times the college has a great facility for physical activities to be tried and sustained. Encourage the use of these facilities and ask your teen or young adult about this.

• Finally, talk to your teen or young student about portion sizes. College can be a great social experience and time to try new and different foods. Talk to them enjoying new tastes, but doing so in moderation.

We can all do our part in encouraging healthy behaviors and preventing weight gain. Helping our young adults do that can make a difference in the present and future.

Authors: Shannon Erskine, Dietetic intern/student, Bowling Green State University

Liz Smith, M.S., RDN, L.D. NE Regional Program Specialist, SNAP-Ed, Ohio State University Extension, smith.3993@osu.edu

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


Peterson S, Duncan DP, Null DB, Roth SL, Gill L. Positive changes in perceptions and selections of healthful foods by college students after a short-term point-of-selection intervention at a dining hall. Journal of American College Health. 2010;58:425-431.

Wald A, Muennig PA, O’Connell KA, Garber CE. Associations between healthy lifestyle behaviors and academic performance in U.S. undergraduates: A secondary analysis of the American College Health Association’s National College Health Assessment II. American Journal of Health Promotion. 2014;28:298-305.


Photo credit: kidshealth.org/teen/school_jobs/college/freshman_15.html


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