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Meal prepping for your week ahead has become a very popular trend lately. This can help you to stay on track with your nutrition and budget, and save time. Before you can meal prep, however, you need to effectively make a meal plan. This includes your grocery list and deciding on what all your meals will be for the week.

In order to keep within your budget, begin by looking at your local grocery store’s weekly ad. This circular indicates which items in the store are on sale or have special discounts for that week. In addition to  weekly ads, many grocery stores also offer coupons, either in the store or online, that can help you to save even more! By looking at these resources, you can utilize many food items that are on sale, resulting in a diverse yet equally exciting meal plan. In addition, it’s a good idea to be aware of what produce items are in season throughout the year. Those items also tend to be cheaper when they are in season and more abundant.

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Once you have determined which food items match your taste and budget from grocery store ads and coupons, it’s time to put those food items together to create complete meals. In order to achieve a healthy, balanced diet, start with including at least three food groups in every meal. Here is an example of typical meal prep menu that my husband and I really like to eat in a day:

Breakfast: Overnight oats – old fashioned oats (grains), non-fat milk/Greek yogurt (dairy), topped with fruit (fruit)

Lunch: Turkey taco salad – mixed greens and pico de gallo (non-starchy vegetables), ground turkey seasoned with taco seasoning (protein), and low-fat shredded cheese (dairy), with lime juice

Dinner: Baked garlic lemon chicken (protein) over rice (grains) with asparagus (non-starchy vegetable)

An interactive plate tool is a great way to check how many food groups you are including at your meal: http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/planning-meals/create-your-plate/?referrer=https://www.google.com/ You can be as creative as you want to be, and this tool will help to ensure that you are getting nutrient variety at every meal. Give meal planning a try, and share with us some of your favorite meal prep ideas!

Written By: Amy Meehan, MPH, Healthy People Program Specialist, Ohio State University Extension, Family and Consumer Sciences

Reviewed By: Shannon Carter, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County

References:

http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/planning-meals/create-your-plate/?referrer=https://www.google.com/

http://www.choosemyplate.gov

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My Chaos is in Chaos

chaos2We all experience chaos in our lives, some of us more so than others.  Examples include the car breaking down, refrigerator going on the fritz, accidently overdrawing your checking account, and receiving unexpected visitors.  The list goes on.

However, for the past five weeks I have been experiencing an abnormal amount of disorder in my life.  I sold my home six months ago and bought a new home a few months later.  I moved in right when the holidays were starting (moving + holiday stress), and had just started getting situated when the extreme cold weather moved in.  Just normal Ohio January weather, right?

Well, let’s just say that sometimes Mother Nature can be very vindictive.  It started with a water pipe bursting above my ceiling.  Water was running down the walls of my home onto my furniture, carpeting, and personal effects.  Then problems with the furnace and refrigerator followed.  Those issues led to almost daily phone calls and emails to resolve damage issues, and ultimately having to take lots of vacation time to get those problems resolved (or close to being resolved).

Situations that disrupt our lives – even positive occasions – can be stressful.  The major constant distressing factors in our lives include:

  • Death of a loved one
  • Birth of a child
  • New job and loss of a job
  • Marriage and divorce
  • Major illness and caring for a sick family member
  • Moving

So how do we get through those times when it keeps raining, so to speak, and just won’t quit?

During this chaotic time my back seized up on me (stress related) and I was told to “keep moving.”  I also coped by getting a few back massages and did some “Yoga for Your Back.”   Prayer, remembering to breath in and out, exercise, and talking with others helped.

But what is really helping me get through this more-than-usual chaotic time is living one moment at a time, one hour at a time, and one day at a time.  You and I know that sometimes that is all we are able to do.

Written by:  Candace J. Heer, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Morrow County

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

Resources:

References:

 

Secrets of Cinnamon

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Many of us today are trying to find away to lower cholesterol, lowering blood sugars, reducing arthritis pain and yes boosting our memory. If we open our cupboards looking to add flavor to our food we might just find a spice that is common in our households called Cinnamon. What does cinnamon look and taste like, and are they all the same?

Cinnamon is the brown bark of the cinnamon tree, which when dried, rolls into a tubular form known as a quill. Cinnamon is available in either its whole quill form (cinnamon sticks) or as ground powder.

Are all Cinnamon’s the same? What is the Best?

Cinnamon is one of the oldest and most popular spices, and has been used for millennia both for its flavoring and medicinal qualities. Two major types of cinnamon used Cassia and Ceylon cinnamon. Ceylon cinnamon is known as “true cinnamon”, Ceylon cinnamon is NOT the kind of cinnamon that is normally sold in the spice section at your local supermarket, Cassia is the one seen most. Cassia cinnamon contains coumarin, the parent compound of warfarin, a medication used to keep blood from clotting. Due to concerns about the possible effects of coumarin, in 2006, the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment warned against consuming large amounts of cassia cinnamon.

Let’s Get Using the Cinnamon!

Studies have shown that just ½ teaspoon Ceylon cinnamon add to cereal, oatmeal, toast, tomato sauces or on an apple can have many health benefits. These are just a few ways of how you can add cinnamon to your meals. You might have your own special recipes!

Benefits of Cinnamon!

  • Lowers Cholesterol: Studies have shown may significantly lower LDL “bad” cholesterol, and triglycerides and total cholesterol.
  • Reduces blood sugar levels and treating Type 2 Diabetes.
  • Heart Disease: Reducing blood pressure.
  • Fights Cancer: A study released by researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Maryland showed that cinnamon reduced the proliferation of leukemia and lymphoma cancer cells. The combination of calcium and fiber found in Cinnamon can help to remove bile, which prevents damage to colon cells, thus prevents colon cancer.
  • Tooth decay and mouth freshener: Treat toothache and fight bad breath.
  • Brain Tonic: Cinnamon boosts the activity of the brain and hence acts as a good brain tonic. It helps in removing nervous tension and memory loss. Also, studies have shown that smelling cinnamon may boost cognitive function, memory, performance of certain tasks, and increases one’s alertness and concentration.
  • Reduces Arthritis Pain: Cinnamon spice contains anti-inflammatory compounds, which can be useful in reducing pain and inflammation associated with arthritis. A study conducted at Copenhagen University, where patients were given half a teaspoon of cinnamon powder combined with one tablespoon of honey every morning had significant relief in arthritis pain after one week and could walk without pain within one month.
  • Itching: Paste of honey and cinnamon is often used to treat insect bites.

Share with us how you enjoy cinnamon!

Resources:

https://www.webmd.com/diet/supplement-guide-cinnamon

http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/26/12/3215

Source: George RC, Lew J, Graves DJ. Interaction of Cinnamaldehyde and Epicatechin with Tau: Implicationsof Beneficial Effects in Modulating Alzheimer’s disease Pathogenesis. The Journal of Alzheimer’s disease. 2013.

Author: Marie Economos, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Trumbull County, economos.2@osu.edu 

Reviewer: Candace Heer, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Morrow County,  heer.7@osu.edu

 

 

February brings us Valentine’s Day. That makes it a prefect time to work on developing a loving relationship with our children.  Learning to communicate with each other will strengthen family relationships especially during the teenage years.

Not only is communication important for families, it should be the foundation.  Good family communication helps develop trust and builds respect between mevalentinembers of the family.  It will make it easier to solve conflicts and face the many challenges thrown at today’s families.  By teaching your children good communication techniques today they will have the lifetime tools needed to communicate with others outside the home.

Talking is not always the best communication.  In fact, best communicator is often times not the speaker, but the best listener.  We need to listen with both ears, with eye contact and with our full attention.

As a parent educator, I often hear parents moan, “Why won’t my child talk to me? But I also hear the other side from the children asking, “Why won’t my parents listen to me?”     So what can we do to communicate better?  Take time to discover your children.  A very important way to build a relationship is to ask questions about their activities, feelings and interests. Try to understand their point of view.  Remember what it was like at their age.  Let them know you care about their feelings even if they are different than yours.  Sounds easy?  You say you already do that.  Do you really take the time to sit down next to them, with eyes and ears opened  and interrupted by the television, computers or cell phones?  Here are some things that can enhance family communication:

  • Send clear and encouraging messages.
  • Watch our tone of voice and body language. It sets the mood for conversation.
  • Let them know you are listening. Look at your child’s face.
  • Don’t make it about you. Stay with the child’s ideas. A young child’s story may go on and on and get twisted up. But stay with them, they will learn though you to get better at expressing their feelings and ideas.

Communication is the bridge between you and your children.  It is a way for you to share love and teach appropriate behavior.  To honor St Valentine make some hearts from red paper or pink paper and write positive sayings such as:  wow, outstanding, way to go, terrific, much better, very nice, etc.  Pass then to each other.  Every time you give a love message you have made a change.  You will be glad you took the time.

Written by: Kathy Green, Family & Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Clark County, green.1405@osu.edu

Reviewed by:

References:

Bornstein, M. H., editor, 1995. Handbook of parenting: volume 1, children and parenting. NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Gottman, J., and J. DeClaire. 1997. The heart of parenting. New York: Simon and Schuster.

Klauser, H. A. 1995. Put your heart on paper. New York: Bantam.

 

In my family of four, it is often my thirteen-year-old daughter who requests a family game night. This is the same thirteen-year-old who truly does not want (or need) a cell phone because she doesn’t want to become addicted to a phone. I think she’s on to something here… She craves the interaction and time with family, and time away from electronics, work and other distractions. And while some family game nights end up with someone frustrated over losing…most of the time we have fun and enjoy taking time to play together. There are a lot of benefits for families who play good ole-fashioned board games and card games.

board game

Games build character

While playing games, family members must learn how to take turns and be a good sport. Parents can model good character and sportsmanship by encouraging one another and showing how to win and lose graciously. This can be difficult for children (and some adults) to learn handle the disappointment of losing, but all the more reason to persevere with family game night.

Games develop motor skills

Rolling dice, shuffling cards, manipulating small pieces… all these tasks help young children build fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.

Games train your brain

Some games help kids learn math, counting, strategy, problem-solving and how to count money. Games can also help teach spelling, vocabulary and general knowledge. Playing games also requires learning and following rules. Research from Carnegie Mellon University indicates that playing a simple, board game can lead to better academic results later in school.

Games teach flexibility

Sometimes it’s difficult to get the family to agree on which game to play and when to stop. The more members in the family, the more flexibility is required. Also keep in mind to be flexible about having a regular game night… sometimes the family may be too busy or just too tired.

Games help us turn off electronics.

It’s hard to play a game (well) and have electronics on, even in the background. Try some screen-free time and put on some background music instead during game night.

Games bring families together for fun

Numerous studies show positive outcomes for kids who spend quality time interacting with their parents. When families have fun together, lasting memories are created. Be intentional about spending time together and make family game night a regular part of the schedule.

If your family schedule won’t allow for a weekly family game night, try once a month. It’s well worth the investment of time and energy.

Written by: Shannon Carter, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County.

Reviewed by: Alisha Barton, Program Coordinator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Miami and Champaign Counties

Sources:

Ankowski, A. & Ankowski, A. “Bringing Back Family Game Night.”  Public Broadcasting System. Retrieved from: http://www.pbs.org/parents/expert-tips-advice/2015/07/bringing-back-family-game-night/

Laski, E. V., & Siegler, R. S. (2014). Learning from number board games: You learn what you encode. Developmental Psychology, 50(3), 853-864. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0034321

At the beginning of January, I shared Baby-steps To A Healthier You. I wanted to make smaller weekly goals to help me reach my overall goal. By doing so, I’m able to feel more successful and increase my motivation. For my first weekly goal, I was going to eat a healthy breakfast every morning. I was then going to take my second week to evaluate any triggers or life changes that kept me from reaching my goal and make needed changes in what I’m eating. Here’s my update:

I have found it very important to develop an action plan and to come up with my own personal vision statement. This way, when I start to become discouraged, I can be reminded of the bigger picture and focus on my weekly goals. The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center has a really great handout for healthy living that they use with patients who are working towards losing weight.  You can follow along in the handout to answer questions and create your own personal vision statement. My vision statement is:

I am adopting a healthy lifestyle of eating to nourish my body and exercising to be fit. I will inspire through example and love the life I live. I will achieve it, be it, and live it!

My vision statement is on my desk at work and I have posted it on my refrigerator at home. I see and am reminded of my positive vision multiple times a day.

How did I do with my breakfast goal? Well… I learned that I like to hit the snooze button too many times, which causes me to be in a hurry for breakfast. When I’m in a hurry, I tend to grab something quick to take out the door with me. I found that I really want something hot for breakfast, and I need to make sure it contains protein. If I don’t get enough protein with breakfast, I crave carbohydrates all day!

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has a great article about Breakfast Ideas for Busy Mornings that give you options based on how many times you hit the snooze button. Here are my new quick, hot, PROTEIN-PACKED go-to breakfasts:

  1. Breakfast Burrito– low carb tortilla with either one scrambled egg or two egg whites, a lean meat (like chopped, low-fat ham), and a little sprinkle of shredded cheese. If I’m doing well on time I will add in some veggies like spinach, onions, peppers, or broccoli while I cook my egg.
  2. Protein Packed Pancakes– I blend up old-fashioned oats with low-fat cottage cheese, vanilla, egg whites and baking powder to make a protein packed pancake. I do this the night before and get everything ready so it takes no time to cook in the morning.
  3. Veggie Egg Breakfast Muffins are great to make on the weekend, and they heat up quick on busy mornings.
Veggie Egg Breakfast Muffins

Veggie Egg Breakfast Muffins

I’d love to hear how you’re coming with your goal and what has worked for you!

 

Author: Amanda Bohlen, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Washington County, bohlen.19@osu.edu

Reviewer: Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension,  Franklin County, lobb.3@osu.edu

 

Sources:

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (2017). Tips for Better Breakfasts. http://www.eatright.org/resource/food/planning-and-prep/snack-and-meal-ideas/4-tips-for-better-breakfasts

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2015). Losing Weight: Getting Started. https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/losing_weight/getting_started.html

Zies, S. (2017). A Great Way to Start your Day. Live Healthy, Live Well. https://livehealthyosu.com/2017/09/14/a-great-way-to-start-your-day/

Technology & Teens

We live in a technology loving society.  We rely on our phones to get us where we need to go, keep us in touch, bank, track our exercise, entertain us and more.  Our children also rely more than ever on technology to complete homework, engage socially with peers, play games, share photos and videos. 

As parents and caregivers we know that this increased use of technology increases the likelihood that our children will encounter inappropriate or harmful information, online bullies, or share too much private information with  unwanted sources.  With increased use of technology our children also are at increased risk of encountering inappropriate conduct, contacts and content.

According to Assistant Professor Jim Bates of The Ohio State University, there are several steps parents can take to address these concerns with their youth and to reduce their risks:

  • The first is to start early establishing your technology and internet expectations and guidelines.  Set clear rules and guidelines about online conduct. Discuss with your children what they should do when they encounter harmful or inappropriate content online.  Be clear and firm with what your values are in regards to online interactions.
  • Second, monitor what your child is doing, seeing and experiencing online.  This is easier to do when computers, tablets and phones are used in public places in the home.  Ask your children frequently about what sites they are visiting online and what they are doing with the time they spend on technology.
  • Finally look for ways to encourage them to think critically and act in a way they can be proud of.  Recently a friend of my daughter received an inappropriate request from a peer. The friends response provided a great conversation between me and my daughter as we discussed what she would have done in a similar situation and how she felt about the request and response of her peers.

Since parents and caregivers can be a strong predictor of a child’s media habits, we can set an example by using media appropriately in our lives.  We can reduce our phone time, and avoid using phones or media during family time and meals. This will enhance interactions with our child and focus on important family routines.  Encouraging face to face contact in communication can help caregivers teach children important communication skills. Start now teaching online manners and clearly communicating expectations regarding the use of media to children at all ages. Share the lessons you have learned about social media, the internet, and youth by commenting below this message.

Sources:

http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/138/5/e20162593

Research by Jim Bates, Assistant Professor, Ohio State University Extension Field Specialist, Family Wellness.

 

Writer: Alisha Barton, Program Coordinator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Miami and Champaign Counties.

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