Archive for May, 2011



Whether it is table salt, sea salt, or kosher salt, all types of salt are composed of two minerals: sodium and chloride.  Light salt contains about half the sodium of table salt and some contain potassium chloride.  The differences between these salts are a topic often brought up for discussion.

The differences in the salts lie in their origin and how they were processed.  This affects the taste and texture.  Sodium content is different among the salts due to the difference in the granule size.

Table salt is made up of small, uniformly shaped crystals.  It is processed to eliminate trace minerals and achieve a consistent flow.  Many are iodized, which means iodine is added to prevent goiters.  It is a preferred salt for baking due to the fine granules that quickly dissolve.  In 1 teaspoon of table salt there are 2300mg. of sodium.

Sea salt is produced when sea water evaporates.  Natural processing by the sun and wind leaves behind some trace minerals and elements.  This small amount of minerals adds flavor and colors ranging from white to black.  It is often sprinkled on foods right before serving.  There are 1570mg. of sodium in 1 teaspoon of sea salt.

Kosher salt is a type of salt made without additives.  It gets its name from the curing process used on kosher meats.  1760 mg. of sodium are found in a teaspoon of kosher salt. It has a mild clean taste and a distinct coarse texture.

There are also the light salts. These have about half of the sodium of regular table salt.  They can be used for baking, cooking and at the table. Some contain potassium chloride, therefore they should not be used by those with kidney disease or those taking medication that contain potassium.

Recommendations for sodium in the diet range from 1500 to 2300mg.  Understanding the differences between the salts and the amount of sodium in the salts helps you meet your dietary goals for sodium in the diet.

Source: Diabetic Cooking, May/June 2011.

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


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It is time for Memorial Day picnics, graduation parties and summertime.   Most of us have familiar recipes that we fix for these occassions.  Now is a good time to try a new healthy recipe for your special occassion.

A fresh fruit bowl is easy to fix and loved by many.  Select fruits that are in season and make sure you have a variety of colors to make your beautiful fruit bowl.  Garnish with fresh herbs such as mint or lavendar.   fresh_fruit_salad-1.jpg image by Tiara_PerkinsVisit your local farmer’s market for berries or other fruits that are grown in your area.  If adding apples or bananas to your mix, dip in orange juice to keep them from turning brown.

Appetizers and dips are favorites for these special occassions.   Remember to keep your dips refrigerated until serving time.  Allow at least an hour or two for the flavors to blend.   Place your dip in a small bowl and nestle it in a slightly larger bowl of ice to keep it cold.  Vegetables such as carrots, celery, cucumbers, zucchini and whole grain crackers are great dippers for this dill dip.

Creamy Dill Dip

Serving Size: 2 Tablespoons
Yield: 16 servings

1 cup sour cream, nonfat
1 cup yogurt, nonfat plain
2 Tablespoons dried dill


1. Put the sour cream, yogurt, and dill in a medium bowl. Stir together.

2. Store the dip in a covered container if you don’t plan to eat it right away.

3. Keep the dip in the fridge until you serve it.

Notes: Serve with cucumber slices. If you want a creamy salad dressing, add a few tablespoons of water to the dip.

The Pennsylvania Nutrition Education Program
Pennsylvania Nutrition Education Program, available at SNAP-ED Connection Recipe Finder.  www.recipefinder.nal.usda.gov

Try the Fiesta Hummus Dip for your next picnic or party.  Have fun with your summertime parties and try a new recipe!

Fiesta Hummus

Yield: 6 servings

Serving Size: 1/4 cup

Calories 120

Total Fat 3 g

Sodium 330 mg

Total Carbohydrate 18 g

Dietary Fiber 3 g

Sugars 2 g

Protein 5 g

Ingredients:1 can garbanzo beans
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt
dash cayenne pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup plain, non-fat yogurt
1 Tablespoon lime juice
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
1-2 finely chopped jalapeno peppers
2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro

1. Drain and mash garbanzo beans in blender, food processor or
with fork. Add remaining ingredients.2. Blend until smooth. Chill one hour or overnight. Serve on crackers or tortilla chips. Promptly refrigerate leftovers.

Oregon State University

Available at SNAP-ED Connection Recipe Finder.  www.recipefinder.nal.usda.gov

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Try a small bowl if you have to have ice cream.

Are you immune to overeating? Does the bowl size you eat out of influence how much you eat?
Many of us think we have it figured out but according to a recent article in “Nutrition Action Healthletter” with Brian Wansink, the author of Mindless Eating-Why We Eat More Than We Think, we need help. He found that even informed intelligent people who had been trained with illustrations and videotapes ate more when offered food in a large bowl versus a smaller bowl. The problem seems to be that once they have learned about it, we don’t think it will influence us. However, when it comes to eating we don’t have a good track record. He found the smarter people are the more they can be fooled, because they are overconfident.

Many people find a rationale to eat more. We say “I will start dieting tomorrow.” “It’s Friday or a day to celebrate.” “I had a bad day.” We tend to think of ways to make the day unique, so we can eat what and how much we want rather than how we really should be eating.

We also tend to eat more when the food is labeled “low-fat,” although the calorie amount may be similar to the regular version of the food. The people in the study estimated that a low-fat version of a snack had 40% less calories. Whereas, it actually only had 11% fewer calories and most of the people ate more of the snack. We tend to underestimate calories. Many people think that if the food is “organic,” it has to have fewer calories. He calls this the “halo” effect. If we think the food is good for us we will estimate the calories lower and eat more of it.

So what can help us? Mr. Wansink recommends using a small plate and bowl, smaller serving spoons, put the healthy food front and center where it is the first thing you see, and package food in small containers or individual servings, especially if you buy in bulk. For many people the 100 calorie packs help them with self-control. What tips do you have that help you avoid overeating?

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 It is getting to be that time of year when local fruits and vegetables are available through farm markets and roadside stands.  Look for a fresh-looking produce free of bruises, mold, and shriveling.  Buy only what you can use within a few days and handle gently.  Bruised product spoils quickly.  Store your produce without washing it.  Moisture is needed for pathogens to grow so wait until right before using the produce to wash it.  And, wash only the amount you will use for a single meal.  If the produce is muddy, wash and pat dry with paper toweling before storing.

When you are ready to use the stored produce, wash it thoroughly with water that is slightly warm water (between 80 degrees and 110 degrees F.).  It is not recommended to use soap, dish detergent, or chlorine bleach.  Salad products should be washed in colder water to keep them crisp.   Don’t soak produce in the water.  Too much water will lead to loss of flavor, texture and aroma.

Once your produce is ready to serve, refrigerate or use it within 2 hours (if left at room temperature).  Throw out any leftovers that have not been used within the 2 hour limit.  If you purchase cut produce, make sure it has been stored at refrigerator temperatures to prevent the growth of pathogens.

Throughout the summer months enjoy fresh produce from your local markets, but handle it safely.

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

Source:  Ohio State University Extension, Safe Handling of Fresh Fruits and Vegetables, Ohioline HYG-5353-10        http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/5000/pdf/5353.pdf

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You have probably heard all of the studies about breakfast being the most important meal of the day for children – but did you ever think about it being as important for you, the parent or employee?
Literally breakfast means “Break the Fast”. For most of us it has been at least eight and probably more like ten hours since we last ate and our body is in need of refueling.

So what are those breakfast benefits?

  • Many people think that if they skip breakfast they can help their diet, or lose weight – but the opposite is probably true. Breakfast ups your metabolism, which helps you burn more calories during the day. Studies show that those of us who eat breakfast consume less calories during the day, and are better at getting the nutrients that we need for the day.
  • Numerous studies show that children who eat breakfast are less likely to be absent or late to school, and are less likely to have stomach aches or headaches. They are able to concentrate better, make fewer errors, and are more creative and work faster.
  • Other studies show that children who eat breakfast are more cooperative, get along better with others, cause less fights, and spend less time in the principal’s office for fights.
  • Breakfast eaters tend to eat less fat during the day and those who skip breakfast tend to have higher blood cholesterol levels. A high blood cholesterol level is linked with an increased risk for heart disease and other chronic health diseases.

To get your family off to a good start each morning make every attempt to include three food groups – think dairy, grains, fruits, vegetables, or protein/meat. Breakfast is an easy place to get in a whole grain to improve your fiber consumption. There are many whole grain cereals and breads, as well as bagels, English muffins, and pita style wraps. Include a fruit or veggie too – sliced fruits in your cereal or top of your cream cheese or peanut butter on a slice of toast are easy. I love to put dried cranberries or raisins in my low fat oatmeal – then I don’t feel the need for butter and brown sugar.

So what are some quick ideas?

  • Try a wheat wrap with light cream cheese or peanut butter and sliced fruit.
  • A favorite of mine is a low fat yogurt with fresh fruit and a little high fiber cereal for crunch.
  • Why wait for lunch to have a sandwich – whole grain bread (maybe toasted) with lean ham and a slice of cheese is easy to take with you. Grab a 100% juice box or pour some juice in your beverage container and you are ready to go.
  • If you have a few minutes to blend – try a smoothie with low fat yogurt, fresh or canned fruit, milk or juice, and a couple ice cubes. Some people even throw in a carrot.
  • Toss a handful of whole grain crackers in a bag, grab a piece of fresh fruit (apples, bananas, a Clementine, a handful of grapes or blueberries, or a fresh peach or plum), and a cheese stick make for easy transport.
  • Grab a bag or small bowl with lid to make your own snack mix – mix a couple dry cereals with cheese crackers, dried fruits, pretzels, and maybe a couple chocolate chips. This has been a quick favorite of my daughter for years – if she doesn’t eat it all in the car on our way in the morning, she has an afterschool snack before soccer.
  • Make a batch of whole grain, pumpkin, or fruit muffins – eat some now and freeze the rest to eat in a week or two with your skim milk or juice. Try replacing part of the oil in the recipe with applesauce to make them healthier.

Breakfast is important to our children and for us too – why wouldn’t we want to be more cooperative, get along better with our co-workers, concentrate better and work faster – just like they do. Make it a priority by purchasing foods to make that morning race go smoother.

Author: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Science, Ohio State University Extension.


Clemson Cooperative Extension, Hunter & Cason, http://www.clemson.edu/extension/hgic/food/nutrition/nutrition/life_stages/hgic4106.html.

Utah State University Cooperative Extension, Williams, http://extension.usu.edu/saltlake/files/uploads/pdf/BreakfastMostImportant.pdf.

University of Wisconsin – Green Bay, Hess, http://www.uwgb.edu/counselinghealth/wellness/hu/BenefitsOfBreakfast.pdf.

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Studies show families who eat meals together regularly benefit.  Both parents and kids are included in these benefits.  Food patterns for the future generation are healthier when families eat together. In other words, eating together today can impact healthy food patterns of tomorrow. University of Minnesota research shows that teens that ate meals together with their family ate more fruits, vegetables, dairy with a good source of calcium, and dark green vegetables. The teens also drank fewer soft drinks and had a better nutrient intake.

Quality time spent together is also increased.  The kids in families that eat together are shown to have better vocabulary skills and higher test scores.  Studies show these kids fare better physically, emotionally, and intellectually with greater self confidence.  An Iowa State University Extension study revealed that families who eat meals together teach kids table manners, family values, basic cooking skills, and a sense of community.

Studies show most families believe eating together to be very important. The surveys show 88 percent of families believe this to be very or extremely important.  The top barriers to meals together include conflicting schedules, work schedules, and kids’ activities.  This time seems to become harder to find as the kids get older and become teens.  Teen drug and alcohol use is connected to number of meals eaten together. Studies show that the more often a teen eats dinner with his or her family the less likely they are to drink alcohol, smoke or use drugs illegally.

Family Eating Dinner

In conclusion, the simple act of family meals can do so much to benefit the whole family. With the costs of food rising, cooking, and eating at home as a family certainly can be cost effective, but as stated earlier, the other benefits can really play a huge role in making that family meal a priority.

Source:  Ohio State University Extension, Ohioline, Factsheet FLM-FS-4-03.


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

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