Archive for October, 2011

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 and the new MyPlate both encourage us to make at least half our grains whole – but what does that mean? You may be asking “What is a whole grain?” The term whole grain means that the entire grain seed or kernel is left intact during processing. While refined grains have been milled to remove the bran and germ from the grain and as a result are missing nutrients and health benefits that whole grains include.

Why is eating whole grains so important? Whole grains are sources of dietary fiber, magnesium, B vitamins, and iron. Research studies support that they reduce our risk of heart disease, assist with weight control, reduce stroke and type 2 diabetes risk, and protect against certain types of cancer. There are also limited studies that support the whole grain benefits of reduced risk of asthma and less gum disease.

How can you make sure the grains you are eating are whole grain? Certainly food companies have picked up the benefits of whole grain foods and have played up promoting them in the press and marketing. You do need to do a little checking on package labels to make sure that you are getting what you think you are. Terms like multigrain, cracked wheat, organic, stone ground, and 100% wheat do not mean whole grain. Study the ingredient list on the product label and make sure it says “whole or whole grain” before the word corn, wheat, barley, etc. The Whole Grain Council has developed a stamp that is used on some whole grain products to promote that they are either 100% whole grain or at least ½ a serving of whole grain. Examples of whole grain ingredients are: brown rice, whole wheat, oatmeal, whole grain barley, whole rye or corn, bulgur, buckwheat, quinoa, popcorn, and wild rice.

Tips to get more whole grains in your diet:

  • Select a whole grain pasta. You may have tried one a couple of years ago and didn’t like it – but they have improved – so try them again.
  • Eat popcorn for your snack.
  • Choose a whole grain bread, bagel, cracker, wrap, or English muffin. My family enjoys the English muffins for breakfast or
    with pizza sauce and cheese for a quick meal or snack.
  • Start the morning with a whole grain cereal. This might be oatmeal or a processed cereal – just check the label for sodium
    and added sugars.
  • Try adding whole wheat flour to your baked products. You can substitute up to half of the flour in most recipes with whole
    wheat for white flour. Start with 1/3 whole wheat and move toward half. I do this with the home-made pancake mix I make for my family – and everyone loves it!
  • Try some of unique grains like quinoa, barley, sorghum, or millet.
  • Make a breakfast muffin for a quick breakfast with oatmeal, half whole wheat flour, and fruits like bananas, pumpkin, blueberries, or cranberries in them. Bake a batch on the weekend and freeze what you won’t eat in a couple days.


WebMD – www.webmd.com

Whole Grains Council – www.wholegrainscouncil.org

Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010 – www.dietaryguidelines.gov

Written by: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension.


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PumpkinsFall is the season of pumpkins.  We see them everywhere.  Most of us have at least one pumpkin on our porch or near our front door. If you have not cut into it you may want to get some health benefits from your purchase.  The pumpkin seeds are nutritious being high in protein, fiber, magnesium, zinc and phytosterols, as well as delicious.  Below is a recipe to toast the pumpkin seeds that is quick and easy.  My family buys pumpkins just to get the seeds.

The color of pumpkin lets you know that it is high in beta carotene (Vitamin A) but it is also high in fiber and potassium with little fat and sodium.  With only 50 calories per 1 cup it can be a good choice for eating, but it is rather sour tasting without adding sweetener.  Thus, we usually add pumpkin to other food mixtures to eat.

Pumpkin pie is a favorite and can be fairly healthy if we use fat-free evaporated milk and cut the sugar in half.  Most people can’t tell the difference and its less fat, sugar and calories.  My mother likes to make her pies without the crust so it is even healthier.  However, my family thinks it needs the crust.  Pumpkin pudding can be easy to make by just adding 1 cup of pumpkin and 1teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice to an instant pudding mix and decreasing the milk to 1-1/4 cups.  What are your favorite pumpkin recipes?   Please share some with us.

Do you have a pumpkin on your porch for decoration that you have not cut up?  You can freeze the pulp and use it in recipes.  First, wash the outside of the pumpkin, cut into sections, and put the pieces with the rind up on a greased baking sheet.  Bake at 325°F for 1 hour or more until the pumpkin is soft.  Remove the rind and put the pulp into the food processor to process until mashed.  If it is not thick enough to stand in peaks, simmer it on top of the range in a saucepan for 5 to 10 minutes.  Put into freezer bags the amount you can use at one time and leave some space at the top for expansion.  Freeze.  The product can be used like canned pumpkin.

Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

Wash the seeds removing the strings the best you can.  Mix together 1 teaspoon salt to 2/3 cup of water and add seeds.  I use a glass measuring cup to soak the seeds overnight in salt water.  Drain the seeds and put on a baking sheet.  Put in the oven at 300°F for about 20 minutes or until golden.  Eat.  Enjoy!


USDA National Nutrient Database at http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp/search/

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This is the time of year that most people begin to put their gardens to bed.  But if you’ve been growing herbs this summer, the season isn’t over – yet.  Here is some sage advice for using your bounty in cooking.

Herbs are great in dishes - fresh or dried

Although there are no rules when cooking with herbs, here are general guidelines:

  • Try experimenting using small amounts of herbs to see what you like. Start with a well-tested recipe and adjust it over time to suit individual tastes.
  • Use strong herbs in small amounts. Herbs should enhance not overwhelm the flavor of food.
  • As a general rule, fresh herbs should be added near the end of the cooking time.  Dried herbs are more concentrated than fresh.
  • Herbs can be used individually or blended for a variety of flavors.
  • Crushing or grinding herbs provides more flavor than using them whole.
  • Add whole dried herbs at the start of cooking for recipes that will cook an hour or longer, such assoups and stews.
  • Crushed or ground herbs should be added 15 minutes before the end of cooking.

Substituting dried for fresh

If a recipe calls for fresh herbs but you have only dried, the general substitution equivalent is 1 teaspoon crumbled dried herbs for 1 tablespoon of fresh herbs. Approximately 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground dried herbs can be substituted for 1 tablespoon fresh herbs.

Storing herbs

Dried herbs are sensitive to light, heat, air, and moisture. They generally keep their flavor for one year.  Store in small containers until you know how much you will use. Be sure to label the container with the harvest date.  To determine if a dried herb or spice is still potent, rub a small amount between your fingers.  If it has a fresh aroma, it probably can be used in cooking.

Flavor and color loss can be prevented by following these guidelines:

  • Keep dried herbs in a tightly covered container away from light, moisture, and heat.
  • Most fresh herbs are perishable and bunches should be stored with their stems in water in the refrigerator.
  • Loose leaves can be packed in perforated plastic bags in the refrigerator vegetable drawer. Pat excess water with a paper towel; too much moisture promotes spoilage.
  • Fresh herbs can be air-dried for long-term storage by tying stems together with string and hanging them in a dark, clean, well-ventilated area.
  • Freezing fresh herbs in airtight containers retains more flavor than other methods. Smaller amounts may be frozen in ice cube trays.

Even, J. (2002). Spice Up Your Life With Herbs. Ohio State University Extension, Hamilton County.

Henneman, A. Add a Little Spice (& HERBS) to Your Life! University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension, Lancaster County.

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Opening the front door on a cold fall evening and being greeted by the inviting smells of beef stew, chili, or chicken noodle soup coming from a slow cooker can be a cooks dream come true.  Slow cookers cook foods slowly at a temperature between 170 degrees and 280 degrees Fahrenheit.  The direct heat from the
pot, long cooking time, and steam created within the tightly covered container combine to destroy bacteria and make a slow cooker a safe process for cooking
foods as long as correct procedures are followed.

  • Always start with a clean cooker, clean utensils, a clean work area and clean hands.
  • Never put frozen foods in your slow cooker.  They take much too long to heat up and stay in the danger zone — between 40 degrees and
    140 degrees too long.
  • Fill your slow cooker no less than half full and no more than two-thirds full.  Vegetables cook slower than meat and poultry in a slow cooker.  Therefore, put vegetables in first at the bottom and around the sides.  Then add the meat and cover with liquid such as broth, water, or barbecue sauce.
  • Keep the lid on your slow cooker, removing it only to stir the food or check the temperature.  Every time the lid is removed, heat escapes and that lowers the temperature of the food in the slow cooker.

Finally, always get the slow cooker started on high setting for the first hour and it can then be turned to low for continued cooking.
Enjoy the food in your slow cooker but keep it safe.

Author:  Linnette Goard, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension

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A polyunsaturated fat that is needed for proper brain growth and development has really been in the news recently. Omega-3s are found in many foods but are most prevalent in fatty fish. Some of the fatty fish high in Omega-3s include: salmon, sardines, canned albacore “white” tuna, flounder, mackerel and anchovies. Omega-3s can also be found in nuts such as walnuts, hazelnuts, and pecans, flaxseed, eggs and oils. There are three major types of Omega-3 fatty acids that we get from food. The three types used in the body are Alpha-linolenic acid, Eicosapentaenoic acid and Docosahexaenoic acid or ALA, EPA and DHA. Once a food is eaten the body converts the ALA to the other two types of Omega-3 fatty acids so the body can use them more efficiently.
What are the benefits of these Omega-3s? Evidence from research studies show a healthy cardiovascular system is one area that can be helped by these fatty acids. Research has shown that the risk of abnormal heartbeats or arrhythmias is decreased when foods or supplements containing Omega-3s are consumed. This condition of heart arrhythmias can lead to sudden death. Additionally, triglyceride levels have been shown to be decreased in persons who consume foods high in Omega-3s. . Omega-3 fatty acids help lower blood pressure slightly and may slow the growth of                          salmon prepared on a serving plateatherosclerotic plaque. This is why the American Heart Association recommends eating fish at least two times a week.
Beyond heart disease other chronic diseases in which inflammation may be reduced by the intake of fatty acids/Omega-3s are cancer and arthritis. When someone doesn’t get enough Omega-3 Fatty Acids symptoms such as fatigue, poor memory, dry skin, mood swings, depression and poor circulation can occur.
So, if these Omega-3s benefit our body in these ways how much do we need to gain this benefit? According to the American Heart Association one should eat at least two three and one half ounce servings each week. The three and one half ounce serving is referring to a cooked serving. Flaked fish would be a ¾ cup serving.
People often have fish fried but there are many other healthy methods that can be used to prepare fish. Try a tuna or salmon patty, casserole or dish using canned fish such as salmon or sardines, fish tacos, sardines in tomato sauce or on crackers, salads with canned fish on them or pizza with anchovies. Many cooking methods can also be used to make tasty fish. Fish can be grilled broiled, baked, steamed or poached. Here is one example of a simple but good tasting recipe that includes fish.

Baked Salmon

1 ½ pound salmon fillet
1 ½ teaspoon dried dill weed
1 large lemon, sliced
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Rinse the salmon and pat dry. Place skin side down on a large sheet of heavy-duty foil. Sprinkle with the dill weed. Place the lemon slices over the salmon. Bring the foil over the salmon and fold the edges together. Fold the foil ends together to create a sealed packet. Place on a baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes or to 145 degrees on a meat thermometer. Serve with additional lemon wedges.
Try some fish today for good taste, more Omega-3s and good health!

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

Living Well- More Than a Cookbook, NEAFCS, 2010

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Are you looking for some fun indoor activities for you and your child??If you don’t feel like going outside., don’t retreat under the  covers.. consider these  indoor physical activities.


Pull Out Those Old Jazzercise Videos in the Closet

Kids will love to blast to your past with your favorite exercise videos. Before you start the video, have everyone dress up to match the attire of the era ─ sweatbands, cut-off shirts, bright colors, etc. Burn calories not only exercising but also by laughing at your jazzercise moves and “funky” attire. Don’t have an old jazzercise video? Pick up a classic the next time you are at a used bookstore.

  • Dance On!

Together, decide on a few songs that you love. Then, standing in a circle, take turns choreographing dance moves to the music. By the end of the song, you will have some new dance moves and a little extra jump and jive in your step.

  • Hula-Hoopla!

Everyone…grab a hula-hoop…find an open area in the house…turn on the music…and start moving your hips in a circle. Then try to hula-hoop on your arm, neck, or leg. Try jumping rope with the hula-hoop, too!

  • Simon Says, “Grab an Exercise Ball”

Take the usual game of “Simon Says” to new levels with an exercise ball. Have each person sit on his or her own exercise ball and have one person play Simon. Try moves such as lifting up one leg at a time, bouncing up and down, lifting the ball above your head, or even rolling on your belly. This is a great way to strengthen your core muscles and rejuvenate the old game of “Simon Says.”

  • Let the Tournament of Physical Activity Begin

Who says you cannot play inside? Set up a small activity tournament with competitions: Who can do the most jumping jacks in one minute? Who can jump on one leg the longest without falling over? Who can do the most push-ups? The possibilities of activities are endless. Brainstorm a few ideas for the tournament, and then let the games begin.

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If you are like most of us, we know how important physical activity is to our health and well being. Sometimes we get so busy with our lives that it becomes the first thing we eliminate. Fall is here and now is a great time to increase your physical activity level.  Aim for being active at least 5 days per week at a minimum of 30 minutes.

Lifting Weights

 How much physical activity is needed?

Physical activity is important for everyone, but how much you need depends on your age.

ADULTS (18 to 64 years)
Adults should do at least 2 hours and 30 minutes each week of aerobic physical activity at a moderate level OR 1 hour and 15 minutes each week of aerobic physical activity at a vigorous level. Being active 5 or more hours each week can provide even more health benefits. Spreading aerobic activity out over at least 3 days a week is best. Also, each activity should be done for at least 10 minutes at a time. Adults should also do strengthening activities, like push-ups, sit-ups and lifting weights, at least 2 days a week.
Physical activity is generally safe for everyone. The health benefits you gain from being active are far greater than the chances of getting hurt. Here are some things you can do to stay safe while you are active:
• If you haven’t been active in a while, start slowly and build up.
• Learn about the types and amounts of activity that are right for you.
• Choose activities that are appropriate for your fitness level.
• Build up the time you spend before switching to activities that take more effort.
• Use the right safety gear and sports equipment.
• Choose a safe place to do your activity.
• See a health care provider if you have a health problem.

Why is Physical Activity Important?                                                                                                                                                                

Take a Bike RideRegular physical activity can produce long term health benefits. People of all ages, shapes, sizes, and abilities can benefit from being physically active. The more physical activity you do, the greater the health benefits. Being physically active can help you: • Increase your chances of living longer • Feel better about yourself • Decrease your chances of becoming depressed • Sleep well at night • Move around more easily • Have stronger muscles and bones • Stay at or get to a healthy weight • Be with friends or meet new people • Enjoy yourself and have funTry Yoga

Did you know?   When you are not physically active, you are more likely to:
• Get heart disease
• Get type 2 diabetes
• Have high blood pressure
• Have high blood cholesterol
• Have a stroke
Physical activity and nutrition work together for better health. Being active increases the amount of calories burned. As people age their metabolism slows, so maintaining energy balance requires moving more and eating less.  Get outside and enjoy the fall weather by taking a walk or riding your bike.

Move more today!

Walk with others

Author: Michelle Treber, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator

Source: http://www.choosemyplate.gov/

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