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Many of us plan to eat healthier but sometimes “life” gets in the way. Do you pack the same old thing for your lunch? Do you run through a drive-thru just for the convenience? If this sounds like you, keep reading for tips to help you eat a healthier lunch. March is National Nutrition Month, which provides a great opportunity for us to make a few food changes. Do you want some smart shopping tips for veggies and fruits? Visit Choose MyPlate for tips to help you save money while shopping for veggies and fruit.

What are some benefits of planning your lunch?

  • Save time
  • Healthier options, likely
  • Save money

Are you ready to pack a healthier lunch? You can use this Food Prep Chart to plan lunch for five days. As you look over the food categories, check the food in your pantry, refrigerator and freezer. Circle your favorite foods in each of the categories that you want in your lunch.

Step 1: Start with a base of lunch greens. Select a variety of greens including spring mix, spinach, cabbage, or lettuce. Remember the darker the green vegetable, the more nutrients it contains.

Step 2: Pick your protein. Think about what you have on hand and what you want on your salad. You might add chicken, eggs, beans, tuna, or tofu.

Step 3: Prep your veggies. Wash and chop a variety of colorful veggies to add to your salad. Look for fresh, frozen, canned, or ready-to-eat varieties.

Step 4: Pick your grain. Consider adding a whole grain to your salad. Try quinoa, whole grain tortillas, whole grain crackers or croutons, or brown rice.

Step 5: Add a fruit. Select fruits that are in season. Add berries for a luscious treat. If you don’t like fruit on your salad, have your fruit on the side or as a snack later in the day.

Want more ideas? Check out these themed salads:

Salad with corn, avocado, black beans - Southwest Style Salad

Southwest Salad

Southwest Salad: Base, Beans, Corn, Tortillas, Salsa & Spices. You may not even need dressing with the salsa. Add chicken and avocado if desired. Check out this South of the Border recipe.

Salad with chicken, strawberries, nuts, oranges. Seasonal foods.

Seasonal Salad

Seasonal Salad: Base, add apples in fall, green onions in spring, and roasted root veggies in winter.

Salad with chickpeas, beets, vegetables

Vegetarian Salad

 

 

Vegetarian: Base, chickpeas, tofu, nuts or seeds.

Learn how to roast chickpeas here. 

Remember that your mix-ins can add flavor, color, nutrients, and calories. Find the ones that work for you and add them to your lunch salad.

What’s one way that you pack a healthier lunch? Share your ideas in the comments.

 

Blog adapted from Food Prep 4 Lunch Webinar. Jones, T. and Treber, M. December 2018.

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

Reviewer: Misty Harmon, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University, Perry County, harmon.416@osu.edu

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Move Your Way

Exercise has some amazing benefits. It can boost your mood, sharpen your focus, reduce your stress, and improve your sleep. So let’s get moving. Did you know that all activity counts? It all adds up. Adults need to shoot for 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity and 2 muscle-strengthening activities each week. What is moderate intensity aerobic activity? Anything that gets your heart beating faster. Even short bursts of physical activity can add up to a healthy lifestyle. What’s your favorite way to move? Walk, clean, shop, arm circles, gardening, dance, hike… it all adds up.

Health.gov offers an activity planner to help you plan your physical activity for the week. If you’re just starting out, pick an activity you enjoy and take it slow and easy. Once you get the hang of it, you can build on it — or try something new. Find an activity you really enjoy — whether it’s soccer or swimming, biking or ballet. You can have fun, let off steam, and stay fit at the same time.

Do you have a disability, chronic condition, or injury?

Don’t let a limitation become a barrier to exercise. There are lots of ways you can adapt activities to work for you. Health.gov has compiled a page of exercise resources for people with special conditions.

picture of man and girl walking in woods

Parents: Get your kids moving too

Kids need exercise too. In fact, they need about 60 minutes of physical activity a day. They also need muscle-strengthening (climbing and swinging on monkey bars) and bone-strengthening activities (weight-bearing like running and jumping) during the week. Encourage your kids to play actively with friends. Give rewards for active chores. Or move together… go for a walk, dance, or play an active game with your kids.

Need help getting motivated?

Feeling tired can be a barrier to starting exercise, but knowing that exercise can actually boost your energy is a great motivator. This two-minute video shares ideas for getting motivated and tips for getting started with exercise.

Move Your Way Logo with people doing various activities on top of MOVE

  1. Set yourself up for success. Get workout clothes out before you need them. Plan time in your schedule for your activity.
  2. Find an activity buddy. If you don’t feel motivated to exercise alone, friends can make it more fun.
  3. Make a pledge. Share your pledge with a friend or online, and you’re more likely to make it stick.
  4. Set small goals. Five minutes of exercise is a nice, small goal to start with. Something is better than nothing. Start small and work up from there

So what’s your move?

Sources:

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd edition. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2018. https://health.gov/paguidelines/second-edition/

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Move Your Way Campaign. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2019. https://health.gov/moveyourway/

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

Reviewed by: Misty Harmon, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Perry County

 

Need an Energy Boost?

Do you ever feel like you have too much to do and not enough time to get it all accomplished? If that sounds like “the story of your life,” you are certainly not alone!

A few months ago, I had the opportunity to attend a training in energy management offered by my employer. At the training, I learned that the average person’s energy capacity peaks around age 25 or 30, but demands on our time increase with age. Many of those demands are due to responsibilities we choose to take on, such as raising families and taking promotions at work. However, that doesn’t lessen the squeeze we feel trying to do more in less time. While we are unable to add more hours to the day no matter how hard we work, experts suggest that managing energy rather than time can help you feel more satisfied and less stressed in your life. It may also improve your physical, mental and social health, since we tend to sacrifice sleep, relationships, exercise, healthy eating and more when we feel caught up in the demands of day-to-day life.

To begin managing and maximizing your energy, see the infographic below to learn about the four different dimensions of energy and strategies you might use for improving each of them in your own life.

The 4 Dimensions of Energy. #1 - Physical. Increase the quality of your energy by getting enough sleep (aim for 7-8 hours per night), staying active (aim for at least 150 minutes per week), and drinking water instead of sugar sweetened beverages. #2 - Emotional - Increase the quality of your energy by spending time with positive people, completing a random act of kindness, and making meaningful contributions to team efforts. #3 - Mental - Increase the focus of your energy by slowing down, taking time to breath, process and reflect, and practicing mindfulness. #4 - Spiritual - Increase the force of your energy by practicing gratitude, creating a personal mission statement, and setting boundaries in your personal and professional life.

As you review the dimensions, take inventory of whether you are engaging in energy promoting or energy depleting behaviors in each realm. To maximize energy, you need to recharge yourself every time you expend a significant amount of your energy. This means incorporating energy promoting behaviors into your routine in place of any energy depleting behaviors that you regularly engage in, despite how hard it may seem to make a change. But, rather than viewing the change as “one more thing” you have to do, try to view the change as an investment in yourself. You might ask yourself the following reflection questions to identify realistic, attainable changes you could make:

  1. Who or what is getting my energy?
  2. Is my energy flow aligned with what I want or value in life?

If the answer to the second question is “no”, it might be time to make a change in the direction of your energy flow. Your life will feel more purposeful and meaningful when your energy flow aligns with your ultimate life goals and values. Take some time today to evaluate whether you are using your energy in a way that invigorates and revitalizes your whole self.

 

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

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

 

Sources:

Schwartz, T. and McCarthy, C. (2007). Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time. Harvard Business Review. https://hbr.org/2007/10/manage-your-energy-not-your-time

The Ohio State University College of Nursing (2018). Are You a Health Athlete or a Nurse Athlete? https://healthathlete.org/

University of Michigan, Ross School of Business (2017). Ross Professor Shares 11 Ways to Boost Your Energy and Get More Done. http://positiveorgs.bus.umich.edu/news/ross-professor-shares-11-ways-to-boost-your-energy-and-get-more-done/

picture of gummy candy

How much do you know about E-cigarettes (e-cigs, juul, e-hookahs, vape pens, tank systems, etc.)?  If you are like me, it wasn’t much until I heard about a child at my son’s school being suspended for possessing one.  Suddenly, I took notice and I am glad I did.

E-cigs work by heating liquid nicotine and turning it into a vapor that can be inhaled or vaped.  Although originally marketed as an alternative for the established smoker, e-cigs have found their way into the hands of our teens.  Here’s why; the devices can be easily disguised as they can look like a pen, a computer memory stick, a key fob, or even an asthma inhaler and are sold in flavors attractive to teens like gummy bear, fruit punch, cotton candy, coffee and chocolate (Bach, 2018).  E-cigs often contain nicotine and although you must be 18 years of age to purchase them, according to the CDC, they are now the most commonly used form of tobacco by youth in the US since becoming available about 10 years ago.  E-cigs are also an affordable option for young adults and teens as they are rechargeable and refillable. The average cost for a 4 pack refill is only about $15.

With so many teens bringing e-cigs into their homes another growing concern is the possibility of younger siblings having access to these devices.  Although the government now requires liquid nicotine to be sold in childproof packaging, they still present a significant risk to young children if swallowed, absorbed into the mucous membranes or spilled on their skin.  A teaspoon of concentrated liquid nicotine can be fatal for the average 26 –pound toddler (Korioth, 2018).

Symptoms of liquid nicotine poisoning:

  • Vomiting
  • A fast heartbeat
  • Jittery and unsteady appearance
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Increased saliva

According Gary Smith, MD, at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, parents and child caregivers can help children stay safer by following these tips:

  • Store e-cigarettes and refill products where children cannot see or reach them like you would other poisons.
  • Use and refill alone. Do not use e-cigarettes around children.
  • Refill, clean, and dispose of products safely. Clean spills up right away.
  • Adults in households with children younger than 6 years old should be counseled on vaping cessation. Do not use e-cigarettes or related products in the home.
  • Save the national Poison Help Line number (1-800-222-1222) in your cellphone and post it near your home phones.

Poison Control Number 1-800-222-1222

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References:

Bach, Laura (2018, December). Electronic Cigarettes and Youth. https://www.tobaccofreekids.org/assets/factsheets/0382.pdf

Smith, Gary (2018, April). Liquid Nicotine Used in e-Cigarettes Still a Danger to Children Despite Recent Decline in Exposures. https://www.nationwidechildrens.org/research/areas-of-research/center-for-injury-research-and-policy/injury-topics/poison/e-cigarettes-and-liquid-nicotine

Korioth, Trisha (2018, December). Liquid Nicotine Used in E-Cigarettes Can Kill Children. www.HealthyChildren.org

CDC, (2017, January). https://www.cdc.gov/features/ecigarettes-young-people/index.html

Cooper, Heather (2017, March). Liquid Nicotine and Kids Don’t Mix. https://pulse.seattlechildrens.org/liquid-nicotine-and-kids-dont-mix/

Written by: Heather Reister, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Butler County, reister.6@osu.edu

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

soda pop flavor e-cig

beets

Numerous health and wellness media outlets have printed various “The Best Foods You Aren’t Eating” articles over the last few years. Included in many of those lists are beets.  I have to admit they were not on my ‘favorite’ veggie list when I was a kid. But I’ve grown to like them as an adult, and would like to encourage you to think about incorporating them more often into your diet.

What nutritional benefits can you get from eating beets? 

  • Beets are part of the chenopod family. Other members include chard, spinach, and quinoa.
  • The reddish purple pigments in beets contain phytochemicals called betalins. Betalins help lessen growth of tumor cells in the colon, stomach, nerve, lung, breast, prostate, and testicles.
  • Beets are especially protective of our eyes and our nervous system. They also help protect against heart disease, birth defects, and cancer.
  • Beets are rich in antioxidants, vitamin C, and manganese.
  • Beets help reduce inflammation. Heart disease and diabetes are two chronic health problems aggravated by inflammation.
  • The fiber in beets is unique, and may provide health benefits in the digestive tract and cardiovascular system.

Preparing Fresh Beets

Cut the majority of the leaves and stems off.  Leave about 2” of the stems on to prevent bleeding.  Do not wash before storing.  Place in a plastic bag or saran wrap and wrap tightly to keep out air. They will keep about four days in the refrigerator.

Raw beets do not freeze well.  However, you can freeze cooked beets. To begin preparing beets, run them first under cold water to clean. You may notice that beets “bleed” a little and turn your hands red.  You can remove the temporary dye by rubbing your hands with lemon juice.

Cut beets into quarters, leaving 2” of the tap root and 1” of stem.  Cook as lightly as possible by steaming or cooking in a small amount of liquid. When you can insert a knife or fork easily into the beet, they are done.  Peel beets on a cutting board and use gloves to prevent staining your hands. You can also eat beets raw by grating and adding to salads.

Easter Tradition

You may want to try this unique beet recipe for Easter dinner. “Beets and horseradish” is a side dish used on ham. I learned how to make it years ago from my father-in-law whose ancestors came from Czechoslovakia. It is an Eastern European tradition.

Beets and Horseradish

1 bunch fresh beets (4-5)

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon sugar

4 tablespoons vinegar

1 tablespoon grated horseradish

Boil beets until soft.  Skin and cool to room temperature. Grate beets by hand, do not use a food processor. Add remaining ingredients. Refrigerate. Canned beets may be substituted for fresh (save the beet juice to make pickled eggs).

Written by:  Donna Green, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Erie County, green.308@osu.edu

Reviewed by:  Beth Stefura, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Mahoning County, stefura.2@osu.edu

Sources:

https://www.health.com/nutrition/beets-health-benefits?slide=327494#327494

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/311343.php

https://foodandnutrition.org/november-december-2015/beets-deserve-spotlight/

https://www.justbeetit.com/beet-nutrition

 

 

March is National Nutrition Month.  With over 117 million U.S. adults having at least one chronic disease and spending $316 billion in medical costs on diet-related chronic diseases, we need to eat healthier. Aligning our eating habits with the Dietary Guidelines reduces the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer.  Thus, it is time to challenge ourselves to make one change to improve our health this month by practicing a change and trying one new healthy recipe. Pick one of these examples to practice this month to start the change toward better health:

water-bottle-962934__340

Water bottle

  • Consume no more than one soda or sweetened drink per day. If you have already been limiting it to one a day, try one a week.
  • Make your dinner plate half vegetables and fruit.
  • Eat breakfast every day.
  • Limit your sodium consumption.
  • Drink water.
  • Choose whole-grain foods.
  • Eat/drink at least two servings from the Dairy Group every day.

    fruit 2

    fruit

  • Eat fruit for snacks.
  • Eat some nuts for snacks.
  • Eat fish at least twice a week. (Check out Fishy Fridays on our Facebook page.)
  • Try a new vegetable or fruit each week.
  • Follow the DASH or Mediterranean Diet.
  • Park farther away from the entrance.
  • Engage in some physical activity most days of the week.
  • Practice mindfulness or mediation.
  • Take three deep breathes when you feel stressed.

I am participating in a challenge at work to pick a less sugary drink everyday this month. You might challenge your co-workers, friends, or family to join you in a similar challenge.

The second part of my challenge is to try a new recipe.  Often times a new recipe will increase our interest in healthy eating.  Check out these websites Dinner Tonight, Food Hero and Recipe Central for some easy, delicious recipes.  Many of the recipes have videos or pictures to show how to make them. The websites also have kid friendly recipes.

veggie-ball-2523065__340

Veggie Tots

I tried Veggie Patties and Veggie Tots recipes.  Both are delicious and easy to make if you have a food processor.  If you like cheese you will enjoy the Veggie Tots.  I also tried Brownie Batter Hummus.  I thought the idea of cocoa and hummus was strange, but it’s wonderful on fruit and tastes like a brownie.

dessert-3261136__340

Breakfast cupcakes

A super easy recipe for breakfast is the Microwave Breakfast Cake.  If you regularly eat cereal for breakfast this one is a tasty substitute.

Let us know what recipes you try and how your challenge goes.  Let’s make this March a healthier one.  Hopefully, the weather will get warmer in March and make it easier for physical activities outside.

Author: Pat Brinkman, Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, brinkman.93@osu.edu

Reviewer: Misty Harmon, Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, harmon.416@osu.edu

References:

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2019).  Mediterranean diet: A heart-healthy eating plan.  Available at https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/mediterranean-diet/art-20047801

National Institute of Health. (2018). DASH Diet.  Available at https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/dash-eating-plan

Oregon State University Extension.  (2019). Food Hero.  Available at https://foodhero.org/

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension. (2019).  Dinner Tonight.  Available at https://dinnertonight.tamu.edu/

University of Nebraska Lancaster Extension. (2019). Recipe Central.  Available https://food.unl.edu/recipe-central

USDA. (2019).  Let’s all Eat Healthy. Be Healthy. Save.  Available at https://choosemyplate-prod.azureedge.net/sites/default/files/tentips/DGA-Infographic-2018%20%281%29.pdf

America Saves Week, February 25 to March 2, is a chance to remind all of us to start saving a little more – be it for an unexpected crisis, retirement, for a family vacation or home, or just saving an unexpected bonus or gift. Savers with a plan are twice as likely to save successfully for things like retirement or educational advancement. By taking the America Saves Pledge this week you can win up to $750. Sign up for the Pledge at http://go.osu.edu/ohiosave. On the site you can discover saving tools, set goals, sign up for text tips, and share your own saving stories for a chance to win even more money. Let’s look a little closer at these resources –

  • Check out the section with Goal Savings Tips – Includes tips to help you save for emergencies, retirement, a new car, education, or a home. The automobile section for instance has sections to help you decide how much you need to save for the down payment, if you should buy new or used, and tips about car loans.
  • The Money Saving Plans Section – Includes tips to find ways to save money, like reminding yourself to always order water when eating out. Just a couple of drinks will add $10 on to your bill.
  • The Debt and Credit Section – Includes hints to help raise your credit score and ideas for ways to reduce debt and accumulate wealth.
  • The Savor Story Section – Provides stories from other American’s who took the Pledge and just like all of us, are working to get a handle on their spending and save more. Hopefully they will inspire you to save too.
  • Tools and Resources Section – Links to a number of financial resources from trusted sources includes: a Saver Checklist, Personal Wealth Estimator, Retirement Resources, and resources for Youth.

This is the perfect time of year to save if you are getting an Income Tax Refund this year. Think of that refund as a “Windfall” and consider saving half your refund. There is an additional Save Your Refund Pledge found at http://saveyourrefund.com, up to 100 people who take this pledge will win money. Budget out how you plan to use your refund this year, rather than paying one bill and then blowing the rest away without a plan.

If you think, I don’t make enough to save, you are wrong. Just saving $10 a month will get you moving in the right direction. Then the next time you have a windfall – like a win at the fundraiser 50/50 you can add to it and begin to build your nest egg. This savings will provide you with peace of mind for the next unexpected expense.

 

Writer: Lisa Barlage, Ohio State University Extension, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ross County, barlage.7@osu.edu.

Reviewer:  Pat Brinkman, Ohio State University Extension, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Fayette County, brinkman.93@osu.edu

 

Sources:

America Saves, https://americasaves.org/

Save Your Refund, https://saveyourrefund.com/home/

University of Illinois Extension, More for Your Money: Using Your Money Wisely, https://extension.illinois.edu/money/spendingplan.cfm.