Archive for November, 2011

A  piece of pie after dinner, an extra serving of stuffing and gravy – it all adds up to excess calories and a few extra pounds.   We all  know that watching our calories this time of year is particularly difficult.  But what about limiting your liquid calories during the holidays?  Having a couple of extra drinks a day almost adds up to eating an extra meal.  But you don’t have to limit your beverage choices to water or diet soda.  Here are some tips for you to enjoy your favorite beverages while saving on calories, too!

  • Skip the alcohol   Eliminating alcohol from any cocktail trims almost 100 calories per shot.
  • Cut back on whipped cream  Although whipped topping adds richness and flavor, it can also add fat, sugar and extra calories.  Try low-fat whipped topping or skip it altogether.
  • Fizz it up  Adding a splash of club soda or a flavored seltzer makes any drink more festive.  You’ll avoid calories and extra sugar, too!
  • Like egg nog?  Try the low-fat or non-fat versions.  A dash of nutmeg spices things up, so you won’t miss the extra fat and calories.
  • At the coffeehouse…  Flavored coffee drinks – hot or cold – can have up to 800 calories and almost 50 grams of fat!  Ask for your coffee (or hot chocolate) to be made with non-fat milk, sugar-free syrup and light (or no) whipped cream.
  • Watch what you add   One teaspoon of honey adds 20 calories, while one teaspoon of sugar adds 16 calories.  One ounce of cream equals 39 calories and 4 grams of fat.

When possible, read the nutrition label on products and go for the lighter version.  Enjoy, but in moderation!

Submitted by:  Jennifer Even, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Hamilton County.  Source:  Consumer Reports Quick and Easy Shopping Guide, ShopSmart, December, 2011.


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Having problems meeting your healthy-eating goals?   Do you suffer from snack attacks? Snacks may be hindering your healthy-eating goals.  The amount of calories the average American eats in snacks throughout the day now constitutes a fourth meal or about 580 calories.Person eating pizza

Part of the problem may be that you can buy snacks anywhere, from the gas station to the office supply store.  The more we see snacks, the more likely we are to want to buy them and eat them.

What drives us to eat or want snacks?  In a recent study scientists found that rats developed cravings to fatty foods because of the release of chemicals after eating them.  Scientists think we have the ability to recognize fat, and we are likely to try to eat as much as possible.  Packaged foods and restaurant meals usually have layers of sugar, salt and fat which increase our brain’s craving center to want more.  David A. Kessler, MD, in his book The End of Overeating, calls that a vicious cycle of “conditioned overeating.”  We see, we want, and we eat = Snack Attack.

So, how do we break the cycle?   We need to start taking control of our eating.  If we eat only at planned meals and snacks our instinct stops hitting us with triggers to get us to eat more at other times.

  • Plan ahead by not having unhealthy snacks in the house.
  • Make fruits and vegetables your snacks.
  • Avoid packaged goodies.  One recent Harris survey found that people usually don’t check the nutritional information on crackers, cakes and candy like they do on canned goods.  What are we avoiding?

Beverages account for many snack calories.  The sodas, coffee drinks, sports drinks and others add calories and don’t make us satisfied either.   Many times we eat something with them, adding more calories.

What do we snack on?  Try some of these foods:

  • Yogurt
  • Nuts (These are high in fat and calories, so don’t eat too many.)
  • Fruits (Apples, pears, oranges, etc.)
  • Whole Grains (Try some popcorn without butter or only a little salt.)
  • Vegetables (Carrots, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, etc.)

Two small snacks a day (low in calories) can help you control your hunger and be healthy.  Plan your snacking instead of eating what you see or smell and giving into snack attacks.

What healthy snacks do you eat?


Kessler, David A., [2009].  The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite

Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter. [2011].  When Snacks Attack,   Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter, October 2011, 29 (8) p. 4-5.

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Tis the season to be thankful and jolly and . . . stressed out?  It doesn’t have to be that way.  Even amid the hustle and bustle of parties, shopping, and decorating, you can keep your cool and enjoy the holidays.

The stresses that plague us this time of year are rooted in three basic sources: time (getting everything done), money (paying for it), and emotions (painful memories and family conflict).

Despite the stresses, holidays have the potential to fulfill and renew.  Most of us treasure this season as a special time to grow closer to family, friends, and our deepest beliefs.

Eight Ways to Make your Holidays Merrier

1.  Set Priorities.  How do you view the holidays: a religious occasion? a time of relaxation to enjoy with your family? An
opportunity to socialize and attend parties? It’s possible, of course, to choose all of the above, but typically people over-extend themselves trying to make the holidays serve too many functions. Clarify what you want and you’ll probably be able to make better choices about the way to spend your time and energy.

2.  Plan ahead. Take charge of your holiday:

  • Decide in advance which social obligations are most important and prioritize them.
  • Make lists of things to do and set aside some time each day to do tasks and run errands instead of trying to do everything at the last minute.
  • Allow time for activities you enjoy.

3.  Simplify.  Is it really necessary to cook the world’s most elaborate feast?  Does the house have to be spotless?  Do the presents have to be perfect? If you enjoy facing those challenges, step right up.  Otherwise, set limits on what you’ll do.  Plan perhaps one major meal during the holidays so that you’re not tied up in the kitchen every moment that your relatives are visiting.  Arrange one party as a favor for a returning friend.  Learn to say “no” gently but firmly.

To reduce the strain on you, enlist the help of others.  Delegate jobs like trimming the tree, addressing envelopes, and shopping for groceries.  Shopping, of course, is a major headache, so make it easy on yourself.

  • Shop early to beat the crowds.
  • Take advantage of free or low-cost gift wrapping services.
  • Use on-line shopping or mail-order catalogs.
  • Settle for simple presents.

 4.  Scale back expectations.  It’s common to expect too much from the holidays.  People anticipate a magical experience and start preparing for it well before Thanksgiving.  For weeks, they get all geared up and then they have a celebration that’s over in a few hours.   Others run into trouble trying to live out a childhood fantasy.  They buy lavish gifts or schedule expensive activities in hopes of creating a perfect Christmas.

5.  Start new traditions.  Some cherished traditions from your childhood may not be feasible today.  Families are smaller and often separated by large distances.  Remarriages may mean spending the day with “strangers.”

Reflect on what made the holidays special when you were growing up.  Often, it’s simple things – a special food your mother made, a walk through the park on Christmas morning.  You might discover special meaning by volunteering at a nursing home or homeless shelter.

6.  Beware of family arguments.  Nothing seems to bring out old family frictions like an extended holiday stay.  Common factors include, too many people in too little space; battling kids; travel-weary grown ups. Is it any wonder nerves get frayed?
Holidays are a poor time to try to resolve long-standing issues.  The holidays are a time for merriment and good behavior.

 7.  Acknowledge losses.  Holidays often release the ghosts of Christmas past.  Recent losses can haunt you. Two ways of dealing with loss are, acknowledge it with a direct, limited activity, such as visiting the cemetery or change your holiday routine in some simple ways so that you are not constantly remembering and comparing today’s holiday to past one.  Still, one usually has to go through a holiday season once without the person to overcome the grief caused by the loss.

 8.  Treat yourself nicely.  Counter the holiday pressures by being kind to yourself.  Take relaxation breaks.  Go for uninterrupted  peaceful walks.  Or take a nap. Sounds selfish?  Perhaps, but you’ll return from your break refreshed and ready for the pleasures of the season.

Author:  Cindy Shuster, CFLE, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Perry County.

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You are getting ready to prepare the Thanksgiving meal and it is the first time you have prepared a turkey.  Let’s talk about some of the questions you may have.

Question:  What is a safe way to thaw a turkey?

Answer:  The best way is to take your turkey from the freezer and put your frozen turkey in the refrigerator.  Allow 1 day for every 4-5 pounds of turkey.

Question:  How long is it going to take to fully cook my turkey?

Answer: At an oven temperature of 325 degrees F., it should take a whole turkey (unstuffed) 2 3/4 -3 hours for an 8 to 12 pound turkey; 3-3 3/4 hours for a 12 to 14 pound turkey; and 3 3/4-4 1/4 hours for a 14-18 pound turkey.  These times are approximate.  You should always check to see if the turkey has reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. by using a meat thermometer.

NOTE:  Don’t forget to remove the giblets from the inside cavity of your bird before roasting.

Question:  How long can I leave the turkey out after dinner before it spoils?

Answer:  It should not be out for more than 2 hours.  Take the turkey off the bones and refrigerate in small portions, or freeze the meat for later use.  This applies to the rest of your meal that is perishable as well.

For additional questions, call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at:  1-888-674-6854.  Or send an email to:  mphotline.fsis@usda.gov

Happy Thanksgiving!

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

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If so, sign up for our Zero Weight Gain Email Challenge.

If your scales say HELP…..

Would you like to maintain or even lose weight this holiday season, rather than gaining the typical 3 – 5 pounds? Ohio State University Extension is again offering their popular on-line Zero Weight Gain Holiday Challenge. This 7 week challenge will last from November 21 to January 9 and offer 2 messages a week to inspire you to improve your health and maintain without gaining. Many of our participants over the last 4 years have lost weight, when they start keeping track of what they eat.

This on-line challenge is designed to help participants not gain holiday weight by encouraging regular exercise, nutrition, recipe substitutions, and wellness tips. Participants will receive twice weekly e-communications via blogs, facebook, and email with tips and recipes. All participant information is kept confidential. Program only available for adults, ages 18 and over.

Additional food and activity logs will be available for download to help participants track their progress. A pre and post challenge survey will be used to collect comments to improve future challenges and track participant progress.

Adults interested in participating in this on-line challenge should send an e-mail to treber.1@osu.edu with Zero Weight Gain in the subject line and subscribe in the body of the email. You’ll be enrolled and begin receiving e-communications starting November 21. While facebook will be utilized, participants only need to have an email address.

Michelle Treber, Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Educator, Pickaway County/Heart of Ohio

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Eating habits developed early in a child’s life can impact their food choices when they become adults.  However, encouraging your preschooler to eat a healthy variety of food can be challenging! A wonderful tool to help parents tackle this issue is the ChooseMyPlate.gov website.

Parents have the biggest influence on their child and can help them develop healthy eating habits for life.  Here are some of the suggestions offered by MyPlate.

Set a good example.  Preschoolers love to copy what their parents do – your table manners, your likes and dislikes, your willingness to try new foods, and your physical activities. Let your child see you enjoying a variety of different foods.

Offer a variety of foods. This helps preschoolers get the nutrients they need from every food group. They will also be more likely to try new food and to like more foods. When preschoolers develop a taste for many types of foods, it’s easier to plan family meals.

Follow a meal and snack schedule. Plan for 3 meals and 1 or 2 snacks each day. Preschoolers often do not eat enough at a meal to stay full until the next mealtime. Make sure that the foods offered at each meal and snack contributes toward your child’s needs.

Help them know when they’ve had enough to eat. Kids who “listen” to their own fullness cues stop eating when they feel full and are less likely to become overweight. Give your kids a chance to stop eating when they feel full, even if you think they aren’t. They’ll feel more independent and you’ll help them keep a healthy weight.

Start with Small Amounts. Don’t insist that children finish all the food on their plate. Let your child know it is okay to only eat as much as he or she wants at that time.

Make mealtimes a Family time. Start eating meals together as a family when your kids are young. This way, it becomes a habit.

Try this simple, healthy snack with your child.

Funny Fruit Pizzas               

Ingredients:  English muffins, peanut butter, margarine or light cream cheese, fruit (apple, banana, orange, seedless grapes, etc)

1. Have the children wash the fruit. They can peel bananas and oranges, pluck the grapes from their stem. An adult should cut all fruit into small pieces.

2. Split the English muffin. Give each child one half.

4. Have each child top the muffin with fruit pieces.

Author:  Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension

Source:  ChooseMyPlate.gov  http://www.choosemyplate.gov/preschoolers/index.html

No Battles, Better Eating for Kids, Food and Health Communications, Inc., 2002: 21.

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One of the most enjoyed parts of the holidays are the parties, dinners, buffets and snacks to graze on. Unfortunately with all these treats come extra calories and pounds.   Research shows the average American eats approximately 4,500 calories from a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.  This includes around 229 grams of fat from one meal.  Most people have two others meals on this holiday!

The average American gains one to two pounds over the holiday season and although that doesn’t seem like a lot those pounds do add up contributing to people being overweight or obese throughout their life. Therefore, rather than a strict diet and exercise regime during the holidays consider shifting your goal to weight maintenance.  This should be much more attainable for the average person. Doing this allows you to still enjoy the holiday foods while not resulting in weight gain.

Trim calories whenever you can without a loss of flavor or tradition. Some ideas for making some of your favorite foods healthier are listed below.


Use low fat margarine

Replace eggs with eggbeaters or whites

Use chicken or turkey sausage rather than pork sausage

Low sodium, fat free chicken broth is a good choice

Use whole grain bread


Simple peas or corn is healthier than creamed versions

If casseroles are a must- use low fat soup instead of regular cream soup

Increase the amount of vegetables in the recipe

Use crunchy whole grain cereal instead of fried onions

Mashed Potatoes:

Make with low-fat cream cheese or lite butter

Replace some of the potatoes with steamed cauliflower—no one may even notice

Use 2% or low-fat milk or buttermilk instead of high fat versions

Make sure to end your meal with a great dessert that is sure to be a hit and  is still relatively low in calories and fat.

This dessert uses gingerbread cake and sugar free butterscotch pudding.

Pumpkin Trifle

1 package gingerbread cake mix (14 ½ ounces)

1 ¼  cups  water

1 egg or 2 egg whites

4 packages (1 ounce each) sugar free instant butterscotch pudding mix

1 can (15 ounces) solid-pack pumpkin

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon each ground ginger, nutmeg, and allspice or pumpkin pie spice

1 cartoon (12 ounces) frozen reduced –fat whipped topping, thawed


Bake the cake per instructions on the package. Once completely cooled crumble the cake and set aside ¼ cup crumbles for garnish.

In a large bowl, whisk milk and pudding mixes for 2 minutes or until slightly thickened.  Let stand 2 minutes or until soft-set.  Stir in pumpkin and spices until well blended.

In a trifle bowl or large glass serving bowl layer a fourth of the cake crumbs, half the pumpkin mixture, a fourth of the cake crumbs and half of the whipped topping.  Repeat layers.  Garnish with the ¼ cup reserved cake crumbs.  Serve immediately or refrigerate until serving.  Makes 18 servings.  Each serving has 194 calories, 6 grams of fat and 31 grams of carbohydrate.

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

Source:   Recipes for Fall: Flavorful and Healthy– http://www.RD411.com

Healthy Holiday Food and Diet Tips. –www.WebMD.com

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