Archive for August, 2012

As the summer school break comes to an end and packing lunches is a nightly routine, it is important to remember to make sure the lunch is handles properly and safe to eat. Perishable food must be kept cold. Here are some back to school food safety tips:

Clean – Clean Hands, Clean Surfaces

  • Wash hands with warm, soapy water before preparing or eating food.
  • Wash utensils and countertops with hot, soapy water after preparing each food item.
  • Use clean packaging and bags.


Separate – Don’t Cross Contaminate

  • Use one cutting board for fresh produce and a different one for meat and poultry to avoid cross contamination.
  • At lunchtime, discard all used food packaging and paper bags. Do not reuse packaging because it could contaminate other food and cause foodborne illness.

Chill – Keep Lunches Cold

  • Keeping food cold slows bacterial growth and keeps food safe.
  • Harmful bacteria multiply rapidly in the “Danger Zone” — the temperatures between 40 and 140°F.
  • Keep perishable food refrigerated until time to leave home.
  • Include a frozen gel pack or frozen juice box with perishable food in the insulated lunch bag or lunch box.
  • Use an insulated soft-sided bag if possible. It’s best for keeping food cold.
  • Store perishable items in a refrigerator (if available) immediately upon arrival.

Keep Hot Lunches Hot

  • Use an insulated container to keep hot food hot — 140°F or above.
  • Cook frozen convenience meals according to package instructions, including standing time if using a microwave.

Author: Susan Zies, Ohio State University Extension, Family & Consumer Sciences Educator, Wood County, http://wood.osu.edu/.

Reviewed by: Lisa Barlage, Ohio State University Extension, Family & Consumer Sciences Educator.



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If you have been paying attention to the news recently you have probably heard or read that food prices for the rest of 2012 and 2013 are expected to rise 2.5 to 3.5%. This proposed increase is due to the impact of the severe drought on grain product foods and the grain fed to the animals. While that increase may not sound like much, if you look a little closer, the average costs of food over the last 10 years have increased about 38%, during the same time that many families have faced a recession. I know each of you could probably write a list of ways to save money on food, but here are a few of the best.

  • Planning meals ahead and using a list at the store are still the most important! You save money by purchasing foods on sale when you shop the ads.  Check your cupboards first; don’t buy food you don’t need.   By using these tips, you save gas and time by making one trip instead of three. That one trip also saves the cost of the impulse buys, usually snack foods you don’t need or for me a paperback book or recipe magazine. I like to keep a grocery list on the refrigerator to aid in planning my shopping needs.   One rule of thumb in our house is . . . when you use the last of an item, write it on the list.   Or you can use Let’s Move grocery list template available at http://www.letsmove.gov/sites/letsmove.gov/files/Grocery_List.pdf. Watch your trips to the big box stores – the larger package isn’t always the cheaper one – a calculator can make the math easier when figuring price per pound or ounce. Use coupons if they are for foods you regularly purchase and that will get eaten. Signing up for an email coupon club may be a good idea if your store accepts this style of coupon, not all do. When shopping and planning, keep in mind that you may be able to switch out a similar food in a recipe for less money. A recent example for me was a recipe that called for canned tomatoes and a package of dry spaghetti sauce mix – those 2 items cost over $1.30 – but I could buy a larger can of spaghetti sauce for less than a dollar.
  • Remember that healthy foods don’t necessarily cost more! When you decide to make healthier food choices you can cut out the cost of some empty calorie foods like soda, cookies or baked goods, chips, and many crackers.   Spending less on empty calories foods eases your budget, allowing you to purchase more fresh foods.
  • Use that refillable water bottle and make your own iced tea at home! A couple dollars a week for bottled water or $1 every day for iced tea (or even more for coffee or a latte) really does add up.
  • Be creative with left-overs or cooking foods that can be used in more than one way. Can left-over soup or pasta be heated and taken in an insulated container for lunch the next day? My daughter loves it when I heat up left-over chicken Alfredo for her the next day. I boil water to place in the insulated container to get it hot before putting in the heated food. It is also good to think about foods that can be used a couple different ways; can you put left-over chicken on pizza or add it to soup, use chili as a potato topper, or make individual pizzas with the last couple tortillas in the package? Almost anything can be put in a wrap or on a pizza – let your children help you experiment. Think about making extra of things like pancakes or waffles, instead of buying the pre-frozen package. Make a big batch on the weekend and freeze packages of 1 or 2 that can be heated in the toaster or toaster oven for a quick breakfast.
  • Think about your proteins, can you do a vegetarian dish or cut the amount of meat in a recipe? Adding black beans to ground beef or turkey in a recipe will allow you to use less meat, while increasing the amount of fiber. The same applies to other recipes such as soups or many of the Mexican inspired dishes – adding black beans, navy beans, or other beans, costs less than purchases at the meat counter.  Rinse beans to cut down on sodium.   Eggs can also be a good value. When was the last time you put a hard-cooked egg on your salad or had egg salad sandwiches?  Hard cook a couple of eggs at a time, you can eat them for breakfast or they pack easily for lunch.

Don’t forget to share your money-saving tips with friends and family members.

Writer: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ross & Vinton Counties, Ohio Valley EERA, http://ross.osu.edu/.

Reviewed by: Cynthia Shuster and Kathryn Green, OSU Extension Educators, Family & Consumer Sciences.


USDA Economic Research Service: http://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/food-price-outlook/summary-findings.aspx.

USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion: http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/Publications/FoodPlans/2012/CostofFoodJun2012.pdf.

Alabama Cooperative Extension System, 101+ Ways to Save Food Dollars, Barbara Struempler, http://www.aces.edu/pubs/docs/H/HE-0757/HE-0757.pdf.

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At one time, brown bagging was popular just among school children and construction workers – but not anymore!  Carrying meals to be eaten away from home has become a way of life for more and more people.

There are a number of reasons why individuals choose to carry their lunch.  Whether it’s because they are weight-conscious, economic-minded, a nature lover (lunch is a picnic everyday), or a busy office worker who doesn’t want to wait in line at the local deli, people are “brown bagging it” and enjoying it.

When planning any “brown bag” meal, it’s important to make it nutritious, interesting and food safe.  Here are some tips to help take the boring out of your packed lunch while keeping it safe and nutritious.


  • White bread isn’t the only sandwich loaf – Try whole wheat, banana – nut, cranberry-nut, rye, sun-dried tomato, pumpernickel, pesto, multi-grain, bran, dill, pita (pocket) bread, herb bread, bagels, muffins, biscuits or tortilla wraps.  Choose low-fat, low-cholesterol sandwich fillers like turkey breast, lean ham, or roast beef.  They come in a variety of flavors – Cajun, smoked, honey-roasted, or peppered.
  • Serve hummus on toasted pita bread or crackers.
  • Make your chicken salad or tuna salads with low-fat mayonnaise.
  • Add vegetables to your sandwich whenever possible – spinach, tomatoes, peppers, shredded cabbage or carrots.  Pack in a separate container.  Add just before eating for a fresh taste.
  • Soup and crackers make an excellent option.
  • Pack a salad; choose a salad with pasta and vegetables.
  • Add vegetables to your lunch for crunch and nutrition such as cucumber coins, turnips, broccoli, cauliflower, baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, pea pods, radishes, peppers, spinach or romaine lettuce or zucchini sticks.
  • Pack fresh fruits including, but not limited to a banana, orange, plum, nectarine, pear, peach, apple, clementine, kiwi, grapes or grapefruit.  Canned fruit packed in juice or very light syrup is great for lunch too.
  • Pack applesauce; sprinkle with cinnamon for a change.
  • Pack last night’s leftovers.
  • Balance out your lunch with a dairy option of skim milk, low-fat yogurt, pudding, or string cheese.


  • Top your favorite luncheon meat with well-drained coleslaw instead of lettuce for a new taste and texture sensation.
  • Add zest to a cold roast beef or pork sandwich by combining a little horse radish and chopped green onion with plain, low-fat mayonnaise before spreading it on your bread.
  • Add character to your “brown bag” sandwiches by punching out various shapes (hearts, animals, etc.) in bread with cookie cutters.
  • Pack halves of two different kinds of sandwiches for variety.
  • Try a variety of peanut butter sandwiches.  What about peanut butter and tomato? (It’s one of my husband’s favorite summertime sandwiches.)  Use peanut-butter mix-ins.  Try finely chopped apple and shredded mild cheese; applesauce, raisins and a dash of cinnamon; or drained crushed pineapple and shredded coconut.
  • Be innovative.  Who says you have to take a sandwich?  What about leftover pizza or casserole that can be reheated?, soups or stews?, a large garden salad with lots of vegetables?, or a couple of mini muffins, skim milk and a piece of fruit?
  • Treat yourself to a low-fat cookie or sweet for dessert.  Try oatmeal-applesauce cookies, fig bars, or pumpkin cupcakes.  Choose baked goods that contain less sugar, fat and sodium.

Food Safe:

  • Use clean utensils when preparing food.
  • Remember the golden rule . . . Keep hot foods HOT (with a high-quality thermos) and cold food COLD (use an insulated carrier).
  • When there’s no refrigeration to store lunch, keep lunches safe and cool by freezing overnight, or include an ice-or-freeze pack insert in the bag, add a box of frozen fruit juice or freeze the sandwich bread and filling.
  • Clean your food carrier often.

With a little imagination you can take the “boring” out of brown bag lunches.  An interesting, satisfying lunch goes a long way!

Writer:  Cindy Shuster, CFLE, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, OSU Extension, Perry County or http://perry.osu.edu.

Reviewed by: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, OSU Extension, Ross & Vinton Counties, http://ross.osu.edu.


Better Ways to Brown Bag It, The Thomas J. Lipton Company.

Brown Bag Lunches for Healthy Children, OSU Extension by Kathryn K. Chenoweth, Marietta, Ohio.

Brown Baggin’ The HeartFest Way, American Heart Association 1993.

Lunches to Go, Roman Meal Company.

Right From the Start – ABC’s of Good Nutrition For Young Children, Food Marketing Institute, 1750 K Street, NW, Washington, DC  20006-2394.

$martFood™, Nutrition Matters, Volume 6, Issue 8, August 2002.

What’s to Eat?  Healthy Food Hungry Children, U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services.

Wrap it, Bag it, Dow Consumer Products, Inc.

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As the 2012 London Olympics have drawn to a close, we watched in awe of the dedication and determination of these athletes and maybe became a little envious of their amazing strength and physical condition.

We may never make it to the Olympics, yet we can easily incorporate some of these healthy strategies into our daily schedules.


Cycling provides a great lower body work out which provides strength and muscle tone. Cycling build stamina and improves cardiovascular health. Cycling is a great way to get around and is easier on our joints than running.


Swimming provides a full body workout that is a calorie burner. Propelling through the water is a great resistance exercise that helps improve flexibility and is also easy on your joints.

Beach Volleyball

As we watched the USA Beach Volleyball team compete, we couldn’t help but notice what great physical condition they all were in. Volleyball is a fun workout that provides an excellent strength training exercise.

Most importantly, set goals. This will help you stick with the program and see success. Do you want to slim down? A routine of cardiovascular endurance exercise and focusing on nutrition will help you meet your goals. If you want to increase your cardiovascular endurance, try swimming, cycling, and running. If you are limited on the time you have available to work out, try circuit training, which consists of a series of resistance training exercises performed on right after the other, with limited rest.

Even now that the Olympics are over, don’t prop up your feet up on the ottoman for reality TV! Get moving to maximize the inspiration so many of us gained over the past two weeks and go for the gold in exercise training!

Written by:  Beth Stefura,  Extension Educator, The Ohio State University Extension

Source:  Academy of Sports Medicine

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School starting makes me think of football, soccer, and other fall sports.  Sports provide benefits in many ways.  They increase physical coordination, fitness, self-esteem, teamwork, and self-discipline. Children and adults can benefits both physically and psychologically from playing sports.

With growing bodies which are still developing coordination, children are more susceptible to sports injuries.  Half of all the sports injuries could be prevented with proper safety gear, sports rules that help prevent injuries, and changes to the playing environment.

What can you do to prevent injuries?

  • Make sure your child is wearing the appropriate safety gear and equipment
  • Check to make sure the playing environment is safe
  • Enforce safety rules or make sure they are being followed.
  • Make sure your child and others are staying hydrated during and after playing.

Safety Gear and Equipment

Make sure your child and others have the sport-specific safety gear they need and make sure they use it.  Make sure the gear fits correctly (mouthguards, pads, helmets).  The equipment should be appropriate for their age and size and be in good working condition.  The playing area should be free form debris and water.

Physical Checkup

It’s important that all children and adults have a physical sports’ checkup before they start to play sports.  These physicals help reveal physical strengths and weaknesses which can help determine which sports are appropriate for your child.

When is a child ready to play sports?

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends children begin participating in team sports at age 6 or when they understand the concept of teamwork.  Starting a child too young will not benefit the child physically.  Each child is different so base your decision on the following:

  • Age
  • Weight
  • Build
  • Physical development
  • Emotional development
  • Child’s interest in the sport

Staying hydrated is important

Sweat lost during sports needs to be replaced with equal amounts of fluids, usually 1 to 1-1/2 liters per hour of intense activity.  When participating in sports you or your child should be drinking fluids before, during, and after each practice or game.  It is best to avoid carbonated drinks and drinks with caffeine.

(Reference: Sports Safety, Ohio State University Medical Center Patient Care materials)

Author:  Pat Brinkman, Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension

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Are you interested in making a health change this fall?

If so this challenge is for you!

For six weeks this fall we will focus on increasing your physical activity levels as well as focusing your awareness on one health habit per week.  Examples of behaviors we will be encouraging include drinking more water, watching portion size, eating more vegetables and fruits and consuming low fat dairy products.  We will share tips, recipes and researched based information through emails and blog posts.  We also have a facebook page to encourage participants on their journey.

The on-line email challenge will run from September 17th to October 29th.

There is no charge to participate and any adult with an email account can register to participate.

Participants will sign up for the email challenge and complete a consent form to participate in the challenge.  During the challenge, participants will track their daily progress on a 6 week log.   We will have an anonymous pre and post on-line survey for you to complete. 

What is included: Twice weekly educational messages, tracking log for progress, Facebook account for group interaction, weekly drawings from participants for wellness and fitness prizes.

Why: To improve your overall health and well-being while providing valuable research as to the effectiveness of social media as a means of disseminating educational information.

How do I sign up? – Contact Dana Brown at Ohio State University Extension, by email at brown.4643@osu.edu or phone 419-947-1070 by September 10, 2012.

Sponsored by: Ohio State University Extension and County Commissioners

OSU Extension embraces human diversity and is committed to ensuring that all educational programs conducted by Ohio State University Extension are available to clientele on a nondiscriminatory basis without regard to race, color, age, gender identity or expression, disability, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, or veteran status. Keith L. Smith, Associate Vice President for Agriculture Administration and Director, OSU Extension. TDD No. 800-589-8292 (Ohio Only) or 614-292-1868.

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Do you make time for breakfast?  It can be a real challenge in this fast-paced life.  But, what happens in the middle of the morning when you have not had breakfast? How do you feel?  I know that I am not as alert as I should be.

If you have children who are starting to get ready for another school year don’t let them go to school hungry.  Start your school year routine out with a good breakfast or enroll your child in the school breakfast program.  A child without breakfast will not be able to concentrate.  Learning is interrupted until that child eats.  The bottom line is: “A hungry child cannot learn.”

If a child does not have good quality food during all periods of childhood, the cognitive development of that child is handicapped.  Not enough food, or poor quality food can cause children to have behavior, attention, and learning problems.  Poor nutrition impacts school performance and the overall development of a child.  Yet, this issue affects thousands of children each day.  Most importantly, it is so easy to prevent.

A balanced breakfast is needed including protein, complex carbohydrates and fat.  This involves choosing food from at least three food groups.  A child who eats a breakfast containing only juice and dry cereal without milk will run out of energy by mid-morning because the breakfast lacks protein and fat.  In addition to common breakfast choices such as cereal with milk and fruit, try incorporating non-traditional breakfast foods like cheese, crackers and grapes or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a glass of milk.

Give both you and your children the advantage by starting the day with a good breakfast.

Author:  Linnette Goard, Field Specialist, Food Safety, Selection and Management, Ohio State University Extension.

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