Posts Tagged ‘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

Sources/Photo Sources:




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Basil Herb Bowl

Basil Herb Bowl

My herb pots are growing and I need to harvest some of them. All of the rain we’ve had this summer in Ohio has made them lush and ready to pick. I’ve enjoyed substituting fresh herbs for dried herbs in many dishes this summer. Let’s talk about a couple of dishes we’ve enjoyed this summer. Not sure about which herbs to use with which foods? This Ohio State University Fact Sheet will give you some great suggestions for selecting, storing and using fresh herbs.

Have you tried a Caprese sandwich with fresh basil? If not, try one for a yummy treat.

How about a dish of caramelized onions, summer squash and garlic? Stir fry these vegetables and add fresh basil or oregano. If you have zucchini, slice it and add it to your recipe. Try this version from USDA for summer squash medley.

This year I made a version of Mala String Beans with fresh green beans. Cook your green beans in boiling water for about 5 minutes. Once they are blanched, you can store them in the refrigerator for 3 days. To make your Mala String Beans, caramelize onions and garlic (be generous with garlic) in a small amount of olive oil. Add your blanched green beans and stir fry. Add a small amount of sesame oil and low sodium soy sauce. Enjoy. Using fresh onions from my garden made this dish extra tasty.

Back to my herbs. . . I want to have the taste of fresh herbs after they’ve dried up and there’s snow on the ground so I decided to freeze some of my herbs so that I can enjoy them this winter.

Here’s my pictorial of picking and freezing herbs:

Basil just picked, washed and drying on paper towel.

Fresh Picked Basil

Fresh Picked Basil

Chopping fresh basil with specialty sheers. You can also chop with a knife.

Chopping Fresh Herbs

Chopping Fresh Herbs

Fresh herbs in a tray ready to be frozen. You can use an ice cube tray or a special herb tray with a lid.

Fresh Herbs in Tray

Fresh Herbs in Tray

Frozen herbs on a plate before placing in airtight freezer container.

Frozen Herbs

Frozen Herbs

Frozen herb cubes in airtight container to be stored in freezer.

Frozen Herbs

Frozen Herbs

I found out that it is relatively easy to freeze herbs. I picked my herbs and lightly rinsed them. Lightly dry them on a clean towel or paper towel. Chop them with a knife or special herb chopping scissors. Freeze in ice cube trays or in special herb freezing trays. Fill the trays with about 2 Tablespoons of herbs and water. Freeze overnight. Pop out the cubes and place in airtight containers. I would recommend storing your herbs in separate containers so the flavors don’t mix. I have basil and rosemary frozen in my freezer waiting for my next creation.

What will you create with fresh herbs?

Writer: Michelle Treber, M.A., L.D., Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Pickaway County, Heart of Ohio EERA, treber.1@osu.edu

Reviewer: Cheryl Barber Spires, R.D., L.D., West Region Program Specialist, SNAP-Ed, OSU Extension Northwest Region Office, spires.53@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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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.


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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farmers market

So we’re in the heart of summer. What better way to spend your time than to take a trip to your local farmer’s market? As an experienced farmer’s market girl, I highly recommend buying your produce straight from the farm. Prior work experience on a farm allowed me to witness and appreciate all of the hard work and dedication that goes into producing the most delicious food. What could be better than fresh, nutritious, local fruits and vegetables?

In addition, the farmers or their staff will answer potential questions you may have. They constantly share great recommendations on how to select, store, and cook the produce they sell. The produce is truly fresh; vine or tree-ripened to give you the best tasting, highest quality, and nutrient-packed fruits and veggies you’ve ever had. You know exactly who is growing your food and where it’s coming from. This reinforces the farm to table concept – from purchasing produce where it is grown to taking it home for a delicious meal or snack.

To add to the excitement, you get to try new things that you may have never had before – and many farms display samples! Some farms may offer the ‘You-Pick’ option; this is where farmers let you pick your own fruits and veggies. For example, the farm I worked at had you-pick strawberries, raspberries, and peaches! So fun – and great to get the kids involved. Sometimes they host other fun activities and events such as hay rides and pumpkin carvings. Many farms also accept SNAP and WIC benefits. Not only are you supporting local businesses and the economy, but you’re getting the family involved in a fun, interactive and educational activity. So whether you’re a regular or a newbie, take some time this summer to search for farmer’s markets near you to enjoy the amazing, fresh foods they have to offer.
Check out some additional tips below to get started!

1. Find your local farmer’s market using the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Compass Map. You can simply type in your zip code and mile distance and find farmer’s markets near you! http://www.usda.gov/maps/maps/kyfcompassmap.htm
2. Explore different areas – some farms may have different foods to offer than others. This way you get a variety and have the chance to see plenty!
3. Develop a relationship with the farmer! Ask the farmer questions and make that connection. It’s always a great feeling to talk to the one who works so hard to bring you the freshest food!
4. Bring your own re-usable bag and return the containers or baskets the produce are stocked in. This cuts down on unneccesary waste and the farmers can always reuse the containers – money saver!
5. The farm season generally lasts from April until late October, early November, but many often stay open year round if they have meats, dairy, winter produce, and other home-grown items.
6. You could become a member of a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). This benefits both you and the farmer in many ways and ensures you’re getting fresh food year-round. Visit http://www.localharvest.org/csa/ to find out more information!
7. Visit some handy resources to find out more information and tips on farmer’s markets!
a. http://www.nutrition.gov
b. http://www.usda.gov

Written by: Shannon Erskine, Dietetic Intern/Liz Smith, OSU Extension

Reviewed by: Donna Green, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Erie County


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USDA’s People’s Garden Initiative has some great gardening tips to help you get started. Learn how you can make having a garden a fun and positive family activity.

Visit their website http://go.osu.edu/PeoplesGarden for recipes, tips and ideas for starting a garden.

• Make It A Family Affair.
Enlist your family as you select seeds and plants. It is a fun way to spend time together. You’ll be physically active as you plant, weed and harvest your garden.
• Gardening To Fit Your Space.
A good gardening space receives at least six hours of sunlight every day. Consider container gardening on your porch or balcony if you’re low on outdoor space.
• Sowing Into Good Ground.
Mulch the soil around your plants to improve your soil quality, lock in moisture, and keep out weeds.
• Map it Out.
Start small when deciding what you would like to grow. Consider foods your family enjoys and the space you have available. If you buy starter plants (ready to put in the ground) and don’t need all of them, share with a friend. For example, you may not need six zucchini plants. Go together and buy the packets and split the costs.
• Plant Your Favorites.
Your local Cooperative Extension office is a great resource for finding out which crops are specific to your local growing region. Here are some easy-growing crops for your kitchen garden:

• Lettuce
• Onions
• Radishes
• Peppers
• Tomatoes
• Collards
• Peas
• Herbs
Herb Garden

Think Spring and Start a Garden!

Source: USDA, The People’s Garden Initiative retrieved from http://usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/?navid=PEOPLES_GARDEN
Top Photo from USDA The People’s Garden Initiative website

Additional Gardening Resources:
Ohio State University Ohio Line http://ohioline.osu.edu/ Use the search option to find helpful information.

Container Vegetable Gardening Fact Sheet http://go.osu.edu/containergarden

Growing Cucumbers, Peppers, Squash and Tomatoes in Containers http://go.osu.edu/cucumberstomatoes

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

Reviewer: Linnette Goard, Field Specialist, Food Safety, Selection and Management, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension.

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