Archive for March, 2011

A question or comment that I have heard frequently about vegetables is “Should I eat fresh? Frozen? Or canned?” “I hear that frozen are better for you.” I have had several people ask about this lately so  I thought maybe I should look for some research – rather than just go with my gut opinion. This is what I found.

Fresh vegetables will have higher nutrient levels if they are eaten shortly after picking, but those that have been in transit and storage for up to a couple weeks will lose from 10 – 50% of certain nutrients. This certainly depends on the quality of storage – but there will be some loss. On the positive side – this spring, summer, and fall we will have the opportunity to eat vegetables with high amounts of nutrients if we grow our own or purchase local grown at the Farmer’s Market

Canned vegetables are typically processed very quickly after picking which can result in high quality vegetables with little nutrient loss. The problem with canned is that they often have added salt or sugar, which most of us can do without. Our best choice is to purchase those without added sodium (or sugar for corn) or to rinse them to remove some of the added sodium. If you have home canned vegetables, keep them in a cool, dry place and serve within 12 months. Note – home canned vegetables can be safely processed without added salt. If you are planning to do preserving this summer – check out our Ohio State University Extension Office websites – we have links to the latest food preservation information, often offer classes, and test pressure canners for accuracy.

Vegetables that are picked and frozen quickly retain most of their original nutrients, but they need proper storage to maintain this quality. Keep them in your freezer and serve them within a month or two. For optimum freezer storage it should be zero degrees Fahrenheit and not over packed. Air in the freezer needs to circulate and food should be away from the back vent of the freezer.

One of the major ways that vegetables lose their nutrients is during cooking. For optimum nutrients, use shorter cooking times at lower temperatures. If possible, microwave or steam veggies. Another great way to have vegetables in stir-fried – which usually is done with a short cooking time.


Columbia University, Health Services, http://www.goaskalice.columbia.edu/

Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, http://postharvest.ucdavis.edu/datastorefiles/234-779.pdf

Medline Plus, http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002095.htm

Ohio State University Extension, Ohioline HYG Factsheet #5402-94-R10,  http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/5000/pdf/5402.pdf

Author: Lisa Barlage, Family & Consumer Science Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Ross County.


Read Full Post »

How can you add extra flavor to the foods you eat without adding calories?  Spices answer that question nicely. Beyond adding extra taste and flavor, spices also provide significant health benefits.  This  article will highlight two of the many spices that add to the taste of foods while also possibly contributing to your health.

The first of these spices is garlic. Garlic can be crushed or bruised.  Either way it releases compounds that have antiviral, antibacterial and antioxidant effects.  The most notable compound in garlic is allicin which gives it its aroma and taste which is certainly well known to many people.

For those who consume garlic regularly a number of diseases may be reduced. These include hypertension, cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol or triglycerides or periodontal disease or infections.  The amount needed to reduce risk is about a clove of garlic daily. Studies have shown that freshly crushed garlic has a more substantial effect than processed garlic. This is due to the allicin decaying quickly.

Garlic can be used in many recipes and with a wide range of foods. Tomatoes, dark greens, broccoli, cauliflower, meat, fish and poultry are a few such items. Almost any recipe that calls for onions or shallots can include garlic in addition or instead.

Roasted Garlic Bread
Makes two servings

One garlic bulb (recipe uses four roasted cloves)
Olive oil

Two pieces of whole-grain bread, toasted

Preheat the oven to 400° F.

Peel away the outer layers of the garlic bulb skin, leaving the skins of the individual cloves intact. With a knife, cut off ¼˝ to ½˝ of the top of the bulb, exposing the top of the garlic cloves.

Place the garlic heads on a baking pan or a muffin pan. Drizzle a little bit of olive oil over the garlic bulb, using your fingers to make sure the exposed garlic head is well coated.

Cover with aluminum foil. Bake at 400° F for 30-35 minutes or until the cloves feel soft when pressed. Allow the garlic to cool enough so you can touch it without burning yourself.

Use a small knife to cut the skin slightly around each clove. Use a fork to pull or your fingers to squeeze the roasted garlic out of its skin. Spread a clove or two on each piece of toasted bread.Spice Rack

The second of many spices that will be highlighted is ginger. Research has shown that ginger has a number of compounds that can provide anti-inflammatory effects. Ginger is associated with treatment or prevention of a number of diseases such as stomach aches, asthma, toothaches, gingivitis, arthritis and high blood pressure. A recent study showed the usefulness of ginger to reduce muscle soreness after an intense workout. These benefits can occur with as little as two grams of ginger per day. This equals 1 Tablespoon of fresh ginger or 1 teaspoon of powered ginger.

Ginger is often used in Asian and Indian cooking and works well with carrots, spinach, fish, chicken, meat and even fruits such as oranges or Granny Smith apples. The recipe below is one in which ginger adds a great flavorful addition.

Orange Ginger Stir-Fry with Chicken
Makes four servings

1  medium orange
4 tsp cornstarch
2 Tbsp fresh ginger, grated
1 cup (C) reduced-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
2 Tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 Tbsp chili sauce, optional
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1˝ pieces
Two garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp olive or sesame oil
2 C fresh broccoli florets
2  medium sweet red or yellow peppers, julienned
½ C carrots, cut into thin coins
⅓ C unsalted cashews, optional
3 C hot, cooked brown rice

Grate orange peel, reserving 1½ tsp. Peel and section orange. Set orange sections aside.

In a small bowl, combine cornstarch and ginger. Stir in the broth, soy sauce, chili sauce, and reserved grated orange peel until blended. Set aside.

In a large skillet or wok, stir-fry chicken and garlic in oil for 2-3 minutes or until lightly browned.

Add the broccoli, peppers, and carrots. Stir-fry for 5 minutes or until the vegetables are crisp-tender. Stir broth mixture and add to the pan. Bring to a boil. Cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.

Remove from the heat. Stir in cashews and reserved orange sections. Serve with rice.

These are only two of many spices that do double duty. Enjoy the flavor and improve your health at the same time!

Source: www. rd411.com.

Author: Liz Smith, Family and Consumer Science Educator, Ohio State University Extension.




Read Full Post »

New Dietary Guidelines

By law, every 5 years, Dietary Guidelines for Americans is reviewed, updated if necessary, and published. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and U. S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) jointly create each edition.

What does that mean to you or me?
Remember that the guidelines are intended for healthy Americans ages 2 years and older. You may read the entire publication and see the specific recommendations. In this age of multiple sources of information, you should feel comfortable knowing that this information is the federal government’s evidence- based nutritional guidance.

Here are selected messages for consumers:

Balancing Calories
• Enjoy your food, but eat less.
• Avoid oversized portions.

Foods to Increase
• Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
• Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk.

Foods to Reduce
• Compare sodium in foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals-and choose the foods with lower numbers.
• Drink water instead of sugary drinks.

These are 6 relatively simple messages that most of us will be able to achieve. Let’s look at each of these messages and how you can make practical changes to improve your diets.
1. Enjoy your food, but eat less. Share a dinner portion with a friend or family member. At a restaurant, when your order comes, request a “Take –Home” box and immediately put half of the portion in the box. This way you won’t be tempted to eat the entire meal. Take time to savor each bite. Don’t eat in a hurry or while watching television or reading. Focus on the food and enjoy your food. You may find that this slower pace encourages you to eat less.
2. Avoid oversized portions. You don’t want to be “over-sized” so don’t upgrade your portions. Even if you think you’ll save money, don’t do it unless you are splitting the food. You don’t need the extra calories by over sizing your portions. One thing you can safely “oversize” is water. Add a little lemon or lime and go ahead and oversize your water.
3. Make half your plate fruits and vegetables. Take your normal plate and fill half of your plate with fruits and vegetables. Add a smaller portion of protein and a whole grain to fill your plate. Add a fruit serving and low fat milk and you have a well balanced meal. This doesn’t mean that you can pile your plate to the ceiling with French fries. PS this won’t count for half of your fruits and veggies.
4. Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk. Make the switch to skim (fat-free) or low-fat (1%) milk. If you are used to whole milk, switch to 2%. Once you get used to this reduce it to 1% or skim. You will lose some fat calories by making this switch.
5. Compare sodium in foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals-and choose the foods with lower numbers. Take the time to read the labels to see which foods are lower in sodium. Pick the foods with lower numbers. Once you know the best choices, be sure to purchase the items at the store. Making food from scratch will help reduce the amount of sodium in your foods.
6. Drink water instead of sugary drinks. Drink water at meals. Add a slice of lemon or lime for a refreshing taste. Bring your own reusable water bottle from home to save money and to reduce the impact of plastics on our environment. Some of us find that if we drink water with our meals (or before our meals) we’ll eat less food and consume fewer calories.

What should you do about Physical Activity?
Some physical activity is better than none, and adults who participate in any amount of physical activity gain some health benefits. It is common knowledge that watching our food intake and being more physically active helps us lose or control our weight. What can you do to improve your health? Follow these guidelines for health benefits.
2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for adults (18-64 years) should do at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity per week. Aerobic activity should be performed in episodes of at least 10 minutes, and preferably, it should be spread throughout the week. Adults should also include muscle-strengthening activities that involve all major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week.

1. Be active for at least 2 hours and 30 minutes per week. You can be active in 10 minute episodes but don’t do it all on one day per week. Spread out your physical activity throughout the week. Take a walk, work in your yard, or take a bike ride. Move, move, move. Meet with friends and take a walk at lunch. Try a yoga or Pilates class. Pick up tennis or swimming. Play outdoor active games. Find an activity you enjoy and make sure you do it for about 2 -3 hours per week.
2. Include Muscle-Strengthening Activities at least 2 times a week. Lift weights or strength train at least twice a week. Involve all of your muscle groups. Use a fit-band if you have one. Go to the gym and lift weights or use free weights at home. Make it fit into your schedule so that you will strengthen your muscles.
This message is meant to encourage you to take small steps that will improve your health and provide you with many benefits. You will feel and look better. Your sleep or moods may improve as well. Make the decision to make a change today. Some people take one change and make it. Once they are comfortable with that change (in about 3 weeks) make another change. If you feel like these are easy changes that you can make, go for it!!

Source: Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010. http://www.health.gov/dietaryguidelines/

Read Full Post »

Everyone seems to be on the fast track these days. Healthy eating can be a challenge in our fast paced world. When we’re rushing from work, kids’ activities, or our own commitments, we often grab something quick to eat on the go. In the process, we might be sacrificing good nutrition. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. If we think ahead and plan, we can make better choices for those meals and snacks on the run. 

*Check Nutrition Facts labels on products or the nutrition information available at fast food restaurants to get valuable information to guide your selections.  Grab and go foods often are high in fat, sodium and sugars and low in important vitamins and minerals. A good rule of thumb is the 5-20 guide. One serving of food with 5% or less Daily Value is considered low in that nutrient. One serving of food with a 20% or higher Daily Value is considered high in that nutrient.

 *Plan your grocery shopping with plenty of fruits and vegetables that can supplement a grab and go meal that is often lacking in nutrient rich fruits and vegetables.  Planning and eating more meals at home can be a healthy option.

 *Watch your portion size.  You can easily pack on extra calories if your portion size is large or “super size.”  Often times, items packaged as single portions actually provide 2 or more servings. For example, a large bagel may actually equal 3 or 4 servings from the Grains Group.  So don’t confuse portions and servings.  

 Taking a few minutes to read labels, plan your shopping and meals, and control your portion size can help ensure more nutritious meals even when you have to eat on the run.

Read Full Post »

Some research on the consumption of energy drinks on youth and their effects have been released. These indicate the need to educate our youth about energy drinks.

Question:  Most energy drinks contain large amounts of caffeine.  Caffeine has been thoroughly tested and deemed to be safe for adults by the U.S. Food and Drug Association along with many countries around the world.  Energy drinks can provide a temporary energy boost due to the amount of caffeine in them. For most people an occasional energy drink is fine.  However, consider why you need them.  You are better and healthier getting your energy by having adequate sleep, being physically active, and eating a healthy diet.

Caution:  Too much caffeine can lead to nervousness, irritability, insomnia, rapid heart beat, increased blood pressure.  Mixing energy drinks with alcohol can blunt the feeling of intoxication which can lead to more alcohol-related injuries.

Recent research on the effects of energy drinks on children, adolescents and youth adults have showed some serious adverse effects such as seizures, diabetes, cardiac abnormalities or mood and behavioral disorders can a occur.  Many energy drinks are high in calories which can also increase the risk of obesity.

Many parents may think that energy drinks are equivalent to soda or sports drinks.  But soda can’t contain more than 71 milligrams of caffeine in 12 ounces, and energy drinks do not have any limits.   Some energy drinks are higher than 300 milligrams of caffeine in 8.4 ounces.

Germany has reported that outcomes linked to consumption of energy drinks by tweens and teens have included liver damage, kidney failure, respiratory disorders, agitation, seizures, psychotic conditions, high blood pressure, heart failure and disruptions of heart rhythms, among others.  Energy drinks do not have any therapeutic benefits and may put some youth at higher risk for serious health problems.  No safe levels of consumption of caffeine have been established for children, adolescents and young adults.

Stop:  Many energy drinks also contain other substances including guarana which contains caffeine.  However, manufacturers are not required to list the caffeine from other ingredients including guarana on their label.  Thus, the actual caffeine dose in an energy drink can be higher than what is listed on the label.

According to Dr. John P. Higgins, assistant professor of medicine at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, energy drinks may be especially dangerous during sports.  Caffeine may interfere with coronary flow reserve, which may contribute to heart attacks and abnormal heart rhythms in athletes.  When caffeine is mixed with taurine (commonly found in energy drinks) it makes the heart pound harder.

Advertising of many drinks seem geared to youth. Help your child understand that they don’t need energy drinks, and they will be healthier without them.

DO THIS:  Encourage children, youth, and young adults to drink water and low-fat milk. These are good drinks to choose any time and also during physical activity.

References:  Center for Science in the Public Interest, [2009], Caffeine Content of Food & Drugs; Goodman, B. [2011]. Report Finds Energy Drinks Risky for Kids at http://children.webmd.com/news/20110214/report-finds-energy-drinks-are-risky-for-kids ; Mayo Clinic, [2010] Energy Drinks:  Do they really boost energy?at  http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/energy-drinks/AN01303 ;  Seifert, S. Schaechter, J., Hershorin, E., and Lipshultz, S. [2011]. Health Effects of Energy Drinks on Children, Adolescents, and Young Adults, Pediatrics online at http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/127/3/511?maxtoshow=&hits=10&RESULTFORMAT=&fulltext=Energy+Drinks&searchid=1&FIRSTINDEX=0&sortspec=relevance&resourcetype=HWCIT

Read Full Post »

One and two person households are the fastest growing segment of the population.  If you are in this category, read on for ideas on Cooking for One or Two.

The first step is to plan weekly menus.  Incorporate the following into your weekly plans:

  • Make half of your grains whole grains.  Look for whole grain on the ingredient statement on the food label.
  • Make half of your plate fruits and vegetables and try to incorporate a variety of colors.
  • Use fat-free and low-fat dairy products.

Planning makes a difference.  Start your planning by checking to see what food items you have on hand.  Check through the pantry, the refrigerator and the freezer, so that you have a good idea of what you can start with.  Plan these items into the menu.  Also, make sure that you set a food budget allowance for the week.

Menu planning may seem overwhelming, set a goal to plan a menu for one day, and add one day at a time until you have a full week.  If you have a regular breakfast pattern or lunch ideas, put them first. 

Sample Breakfast:  1 cup toasted oat cereal, 1/2 cup fat-free milk, 1 small banana, 1 slice whole wheat toast, 1 cup orange juice

Sample lunch:  Tuna fish sandwich – 2 slices rye bread, 3 oz water packed tuna, 2 teaspoons mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon diced celery, 1/2 cup shredded lettuce, and 2 slices tomato; 1 medium pear, 1 cup fat-free milk

Remember to include low-calorie snacks.  1 medium piece of fruit = 1 serving.

As you are planning your menus, consider using some of your favorite recipes.  Have you avoided using some of your favorite recipes because they produce a large portion?  Consider reducing the recipe.  Start by dividing it in half.  Choose recipes which are easier to divide.  Some foods are good prepared in large quantities and reheated while other recipes are more desirable when made in smaller quantities.  If you like a recipe in a larger quantity consider making the entire recipe and freezing some for later.  Keep notes about what works and share these recipes with your friends and neighbors.  There are also many websites that have recipe calculators which can help you to reduce recipes. And there are many recipe books available which have smaller portions.

Now plan a grocery list of needed items. The menu is a guide so be flexible.  You may find out that the grocery store is having a special on meat or a certain fruit or vegetable, change your menu to accommodate this bargain.

Remember to keep it healthy.  Keep it special by adding variety.  And, consider occasionally sharing meals with others.  Cooking for one or two can be enjoyable by putting a little time into planning ahead.


North Dakota State University, Cooking for One or Two, August 2006.

Ohio State University Extension, Weekly Meal Planner.

Ohio State University Extension, Grocery Shopping for One or Two, http://ohioline.osu.edu/ss-fact/pdf/0160.pdf

Ohio State University Extension, Cooking for One or Two, http://ohioline.osu.edu/ss-fact/pdf/0161.pdf

Author:  Linnette Mizer Goard, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension.

Read Full Post »

If I Had My Life to Live Over Again

“If I had my life to live over again, I’d try to make more mistakes next time.  I would relax.  I would limber up.  I would be sillier than I have been this trip.  I know of a very few things I would take seriously.  I would take more trips.  I would climb more mountains, swim more rivers and watch more sunsets.  I would do more walking and looking.  I would eat more ice cream and fewer beans.  I would have more actual troubles and fewer imaginary ones… Oh I’ve had my moments; and if I had it to do over again, I’d have more moments, one after another, instead of living so many years ahead each day…”

Brother Jeremiah

How many of you are like Brother Jeremiah?  Nearly half of American feel they don’t have enough time to do what they really want.  They feel as though they’ll never catch up, that life is passing them over.  If you’re like most American, your days are probably scheduled down to the last minute:  rush to the grocery store, pick up the children or grandchildren, take care of an elderly parent or neighbor, make dinner, and then begin plotting the next day’s agenda.  No time left for appreciating a beautiful sunrise, browsing a card/book store, appreciating the first bite of gourmet ice cream, or pampering yourself with an aroma therapy bath.

According to Jenkins, Repetti, and Crouter (2000), work stress has probably received more attention from work-family researchers than any other job condition.  Job stresses have an impact on families when they cause some experience of stress within the individual, such as emotional distress, fatigue, a sense of conflict between work and family roles, or role overload.  According to Jenkins and colleagues’ recent review of the research done during the last ten year, demands of multiple roles have the potential to increase stress levels and undermine well-being as well as compromise health.  In fact, mothers and fathers who described more pressure at work also reported greater role overload and a feeling of being overwhelmed by multiple commitments.  People who report more conflict and overload due to the combination of work and families roles tend to also describe more emotional stress.

We’ve all been there from time to time.  But making an effort to enjoy life’s little moments simply means taking the time to stop and smell the roses.  The secret is in slowing down long enough to enjoy the things that are the essence of life.  After all, quality time is what makes life worth living.  How sad that most of us think we can’t spare it.

Ten Easy Steps

Yet there are those who have discovered that the gift of life is realized one brief moment at a time.  It’s time to slow down and start savoring life- it’s not as hard as you think.  It’s time to simplify.  That means being aware of how we spend money, time and energy.  Here are 10 easy steps to get you started in simplifying your life and finding precious “me time.”

1. Start the day right. Save all that frantic wasted time used in the morning to prepare for the day.  Spend the night before preparing for the next day.

2. Declutter your space. It takes energy to keep possessions in working order or dusted.  Get rid of the stuff that’s broken or missing a part.

3. Learn to say “no”. Don’t overload your schedule with more tasks , more jobs, more volunteer time.  It’s OK to say no.

4. Turn off the TV. We waste too much time sitting in front of the TV.  Curb how many hours the TV is on.  And before you pick up the remote control, ask yourself if there are activities to share with the family, or entertainment, like a museum visit or play, that you’ve been putting off.

5. Commit to number one. When the demands of work, parenthood, or household chores get you down, it’s time to schedule a date with yourself.  Whether it’s every Sunday night or 20 minutes each morning, the important thing is to make a plan and stick to it.

6. Find a Sanctuary. Escape to a place to enjoy peaceful solitude.

7. Be Spontaneous. Spontaneity is key to feeling like you’re in control of your own destiny.  Every once in a while, a change in routine can spark your spirits and your energy.

8. Live beneath your means. Did you know that 80% of America’s self made millionaires are frugal?  If you want to achieve economic independence, try buying only what you can afford, not what you think you need.  See how long you can go without cashing a check, charging on credit or buying anything.  You’ll be amazed how ingenious and inventive you can be.

9. Rewrite the course of your day. When the newspaper’s horoscope doesn’t tell you what you want to hear, write your own, using words that make you feel great.  Or start jotting down phrases you like on slips of paper, put them in a box, and pick as many as you need to start the day.

10. Listen to your body. You know what your biological clock prefers.  Indulge it and watch your productivity grow. 

The trouble with most people is that they work so hard making a living that they don’t have any time to live.  Slow down and start savoring life- it’s not as hard as you think.


Hobfoll, S.E., & Hobfoll I.H. (1994).  Work Won’t Love You back. New York: Freeman.

Jenkins, M.P., Repetti, R.L. & Crouter, A.C. (2000). Work and Family in the 1990s.  Journal of Marriage

and Family, 62, 981-998.

Johnson, B. (1986). Fresh Elastic for Stretched Out Moms. Fleming H. Revell Publishing.

Lara A. (1994) Slowing Down in A Speeded-Up World. Conair Press


The trouble with most people is that they work so hard making a living that they don’t have any time to live.”

Cynthia R. Shuster, M.S., Family and Consumer Sciences Agent, Perry County, Associate Professor, Ohio State University Extension, The Ohio State University



Read Full Post »

Older Posts »