Archive for October, 2012

With the colder weather it seems more people develop colds.  Who’s likely to catch a cold?  Are there ways we can avoid catching a cold? 

When researchers expose healthy people to cold viruses, 85 to 90 percent become infected, but only about half will develop cold symptoms.  So why do some get sick and others don’t?

Interestingly, a weak immune system doesn’t have anything to do with you getting a cold.   Healthy people catch colds, too.  Age and time of year can increase your chances of getting a cold.  However, we don’t have much control over these.   Ways to improve your chances of preventing colds include:

  • Wash your hands.  Make sure to wash your hands often and thoroughly especially, when around others that have colds.
  • Have a positive personality.  Positive people were not as likely to get a cold or the flu and those who did reported milder symptoms.
  • Avoid stress.  Stress lasting a month or more, increased the risk of developing a cold by as much as five times.
  • Get seven hours of sleep.  Those who slept at least seven hours or more were less likely to develop colds.  Getting less than seven hours of sleep increased the risk of developing a cold by three times.
  • Be physically active.  The more people exercised during the fall and winter, the fewer colds, headaches, and fevers they got.    If they did get ill, their symptoms were milder.
  • Keep items clean.  Clean and sanitize your kitchen and bathroom countertops.  Periodically, wash your children’s toys

If you do develop a cold most symptoms will clear up in four to seven days, whether you have treatment or not.  For babies and young children, you may want to consult your doctor on how to treat a cold.   In most cases no doctor visits are necessary.  Over-the-counter cold medications don’t cure a cold or send it packing.  Many medications have side effects, so check them out carefully before you take one.

Home remedies that may make you feel more comfortable include:

  • Drink lots of fluids.
  • Get extra rest.
  • Keep your room temperature warm and humid.  However, it’s important not to overheat the room.  If you do use a humidifier, make sure you clean it regularly to prevent bacteria growth.
  • The use of nasal saline drops may help.
  • Eat some chicken soup.  It can help relieve cold and flu symptoms.
  • Gargle with saltwater to soothe your throat.

Here’s to hoping that the cold and flu germs stay far away from all of us.  Now is the time to wash our hands often, clean the countertops, be physically active, get 7 hours of sleep, stay positive and try to avoid stress.  Hopefully, these tips will work.

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

Reviewed by:  Cheryl Barber Spires, Extension Educator Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension


Mayo Clinic Staff [2011].  Common Cold, Available online at http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/common-cold/DS00056/METHOD=print&DSECTION=all

Schardt, David. [2011]. “ Achoo! How to Avoid Catching a Cold”  Nutrition Action Health Letter, March 2011 p. 8-9.


Read Full Post »

Veggie Snack Ideas

Healthy Veggie Snacks

Fall is a great time to enjoy picnics, pot luck dinners or tailgating parties with friends and family.  Instead of fixing a traditional high fat food items, look for a healthy and tasty alternative. Here are some healthy ideas to try.

  • Start with fresh vegetables and fruits.  Serve cut up veggies with low-fat dips.
  • Fruit kabob (fresh fruit cut up and put on a skewer) with a yogurt dip make a pretty and tasty treat.
  • Serve Chili with extra beans for additional fiber and use extra lean ground beef or lean ground turkey to reduce fat content.

Love your traditional recipe?  Make your favorite tailgate recipe a little healthier with these simple changes: substitute reduced-fat cheese, fat-free sour cream, less meat in your dip, or serve them with whole grain chips or crackers.

Three recipes are included for your eating pleasure:

  • Try Hummus and pita chips or whole grain crackers.
  • Make a Marinated Broccoli salad for a high vitamin, lower calorie treat.
  • Try Cowboy (or Cowgirl) Caviar for a delicious dip with whole grain tortilla chips or crackers.



  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 2  tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 (15 ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained, liquid reserved
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, 2 tablespoons Tahini, or 2 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional – 1/8 teaspoon red pepper or ½ teaspoon cumin (to taste)


Place garbanzo beans in a blender or food processor with approximately 1 tablespoon reserved liquid. Process until smooth. Mix in the garlic, olive oil, sesame seeds, salt and pepper. Blend to desired consistency, increasing the amount of reserved garbanzo bean liquid as desired.  Chill in refrigerator until served; serve with whole wheat pita chips, whole wheat tortillas, or fresh veggies.

Keeps for 5 days refrigerated.

Marinated Broccoli Salad


4 cups broccoli florets

4 medium carrots, thinly sliced

2 small onions, sliced and separated in rings

1 can (2 ¼ oz.) sliced ripe olives, drained

1 jar (2 oz.) diced pimentos, drained

1 bottle (8 oz.) light Italian Salad Dressing

¾ cups chopped walnuts


1.  Wash hands and assemble clean equipment.

2.  In a bowl, combine the broccoli, carrots, onions, olives and pimentos.  Add dressing and toss to coat.

3.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.  Just before serving stir in walnuts.

Makes 8 servings.

Nutrient Analysis, per serving: 145 calories, 10 g. carbohydrates, 4 g. protein, 11 g. fat, Cholesterol 2 mg., 4 g. fiber, Sodium 321 mg.

Bean Salad

Cowboy Caviar


  • 1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans, drained
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained
  • 1 (15-ounce) can corn, drained
  • 1 (15-ounce) can crushed tomatoes or 2 medium tomatoes chopped
  • 1 (4-ounce) can chopped green chiles, drained or small green pepper chopped
  • ¼ cup onion, finely chopped
  • 3 limes juiced (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil or ¼ cup low-fat Italian Dressing
  • Salt and pepper to taste


1. Mix kidney beans, black beans, corn, tomatoes, chilies, and onion in a large bowl.

2. Add lime juice, oil, salt, and pepper; toss gently to combine.

3. Serve alone or with tortilla chips

Makes: 16 (½ cup) servings

Nutrient Analysis per ½ cup serving: 90 calories, 1.5 grams of fat, 0 Cholesterol, 260 mg of sodium, 17 grams of Carbohydrate, 5 grams Dietary Fiber, 4 grams of Protein.


Eating Smart – Being Active, Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program, Ohio State University Extension.

Cooking for a Life Time, The University of Georgia College of Family and Consumer Sciences, Cooperative Extension, http://www.fcs.uga.edu/ext/food/

Adapted from – SHS Wellness Programs, Utah Valley University, http://www.uvu.edu/wellnessed/nutrition/healthy_options_recipes.html

Broccoli salad photo credit- http://blog.preventcancer.org

Writer:  Michelle Treber, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Pickaway County, Heart of Ohio EERA, treber.1@osu.edu

Reviewers:  Dana Brown, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Morrow County, Heart of Ohio EERA, brown.4643@osu.edu
Lisa Barlage, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ross and Vinton Counties, Ohio Valley EERA, barlage.7@osu.edu


Read Full Post »

With Halloween and Harvest festivities right around the corner, it’s time to pick out costumes and get ready to go Trick or Treating (or Trunk or Treating).  Traditionally, most people handout goodies that the kids love to eat including candy and other sugar products.  While it’s okay to indulge in these on occasion, the truth is that rates of overweight and obese children are on the rise.  It’s time to start taking responsibility for what our youth are putting into their bodies.  One way to do this would be to start choosing healthier ‘treats’ when we hand out to the children.  Now we don’t have to go to the extreme of only handing out tooth brushes and pennies, but instead of just buying whatever candy is on sale this year compare food labels and determine what a good choice is.  Halloween isn’t just limited to food, kids love to get little gifts in their treat bags.  Below are some fun ideas that you can use this holiday.

Food Options:

Use the MyPlate as your guide as you choose individually wrapped snacks that will be easy to handout and provide some type of nutritional value.  For example, from the fruits and vegetables food groups hand out sealed containers of carrot and celery sticks, apple sauce or fruit cups.  Another option would be 100% fruit or vegetable juice boxes.  For the grains and protein food groups you could hand out bags of cheese and crackers, trail mix, pretzels, or mixed nuts.  Keep in mind that some children have nut allergies so it’s best to check with the parents if you are giving them anything that has been in contact with peanuts and other nut products.  For the dairy group you could hand out low-fat milk jugs or pudding cups.  *Please keep in mind that all of these items should be packaged and sealed.  If you handout homemade treats chances are that parents will throw these away, so it’s better to just purchase something that’s already made.

Non-Food Items:

Kids don’t love JUST candy.  Often times it’s exciting to receive some type of gift.  You can get these at your local discount or bulk store at a pretty reasonable price.  Items that promote physical activity are a great idea because after they eat all of their candy they can get some exercise as well.  These would include: balls, Frisbees, chalk for drawing hopscotch on the driveway, and jump ropes.  You can also choose items like pencils, little notebooks, yoyos, silly bands, small coloring books, crayons, pencil toppers, toy cars or play jewelry, fake tattoos, etc. These are fun, inexpensive items that you can buy in bulk and pass out to the children.    Be careful handing out very small items to young children because of choking reasons.

Whatever you choose to give out this year please think about how it will affect the children.  A treat once in a while is perfectly okay, but most of us remember stuffing themselves full of candy at the end of the night.  We need to face childhood obesity head on and give our children some healthier options.

Written by: Dana Brown, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Morrow County, http://morrow.osu.edu, brown.4643@osu.edu.

Reviewed by:  Michelle Treber, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Pickaway County


Burnett, N [2012].  Alternatives for a healthy Halloween.   Available at: http://www.johnson.ksu.edu/p.aspx?tabid=1281

Hunter, J [2008].  Celebrate Halloween the Healthy Way.  Available at:  http://www.clemson.edu/extension/hgic/hot_topics/2008/10halloween.html

Read Full Post »

Driving down a country road every roadside market is selling pumpkins this time of year.  Is the goal to find the biggest, roundest pumpkin?  It depends on its purpose.  If you are looking for a pumpkin to decorate – you probably do want one that is big and round.  But, if you are choosing one to cook then you want a smaller, heavier pumpkin.

Pumpkin contains antioxidants, Vitamins A and C, and some B vitamins, iron, calcium and fiber.  It is a great way to obtain your daily vegetable requirements. They can be baked, boiled, steamed or pressure cooked.  1 pound of pumpkin yields about 1 cup of cooked pumpkin.

  • Start by washing the pumpkin thoroughly with cold water.  Do not use soap, dish detergent or bleach when washing since these household products are not approved for human consumption.
  • To bake:  cut in half or pieces, remove seeds and stringy parts.  Place cut side down in a baking dish, add 1/4 inch of water and bake until tender.
  • To boil:  cut in half or pieces, remove seeds and stringy parts.  Cook in salted water, scrape out shell and use as a puree in pies, breads, or casseroles.
  • For longer storage, extra pumpkin can be frozen.

Don’t waste the seeds you cleaned out of the pumpkin, roast them.  A  one-ounce serving has 163 calories and almost 8 g of protein.  Try this recipe from the University of Illinois Extension.


  • 1 quart water
  • 2 Tablespoons salt
  • 2 cups pumpkin seeds
  • 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil or melted, unsalted butter
    1. Preheat oven to 250°F.
    2. Pick through seeds and remove any cut seeds. Remove as much of the stringy fibers as possible.
    3. Bring the water and salt to a boil. Add the seeds and boil for 10 minutes. Drain, spread on kitchen towel or paper towel and pat dry.
    4. Place the seeds in a bowl and toss with oil or melted butter.
    5. Spread evenly on a large cookie sheet or roasting pan.
    6. Place pan in a preheated oven and roast the seeds for 30 to 40 minutes. Stir about every 10 minutes, until crisp and golden brown.
    7. Cool the seeds, then shell and eat or pack in air-tight containers or zip closure bags and refrigerate until ready to eat

On a nice fall day traveling through the countryside, choose a couple of pumpkins, a big, round one for decoration and a small, heavy one for cooking and eating.

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

Reviewed by:  Elizabeth Smith, NE Regional Program Specialist, SNAP-ED, Ohio State University Extension.

Kathy Green, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension.


Ohio State University Extension Ohioline, Selection, Storing and Serving Ohio Squash and Pumpkin. http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/5000/pdf/5530.pdf

USDA ARS NAL Nutrient Data Laboratory http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/list

University of Illinois Extension, Pumpkins and More. http://urbanext.illinois.edu/pumpkins/seed.cfm

Read Full Post »

Indoor Allergies

As fall arrives, many of us are thankful that our summer time allergies are going away. We can say good-bye to the sneezing, watery eyes, runny nose, etc. for a few months. There are others though who may find that their allergy symptoms are not relieved.sneeze
Current research has shown that people spend almost 90% of their time indoors. Many people have allergic reactions to indoor triggers with dust, mold, and animals being the top three.
• Dust. Allergic reactions to dust are actually caused by our reaction to dust mites. Their droppings and remains become airborne and cause allergy symptoms in people who are sensitive to them.
• Mold. Molds thrive in damp, humid areas such as basements and bathrooms. Once the mold spores begin to bloom and grow and get into the air, they can trigger allergic reactions.
• Pets. Many people believe that they are allergic to the pet’s hair when it is actually it is a substance in the dead skin flakes (dander) that causes the allergic reaction

It is not realistic to think that we can totally eliminate these indoor triggers but there are actions we can take to control the amounts that are present in our homes. Here are a few suggestions:
• Dust. The best way to deal with dust allergies is to simply reduce exposure to dust. If you have dust allergies, you will want to wear a mask when you are cleaning or have someone else do the cleaning for you! A couple of easy ways to reduce dust in your home: wash bedding in hot water once a week, use plastic dust-proof covers on your mattress, box springs, and pillows. If you have carpeting in your home, vacuum once or twice a week and vacuum upholstered furniture often. Remove stuffed animals and drapes. Wash throw rugs in hot water. When it is time to replace flooring – look at cork, hardwood, bamboo, or tile which tend to be more allergy friendly.
• Mold. The most efficient preventative for mold growth is to control moisture. Watch out for wet spots and condensation. Fix leaky plumbing as soon as it is discovered. Increase ventilation and air circulation in your home. Use a dehumidifier if necessary. Indoor humidity should be below 60%. There are inexpensive humidity detectors that you can purchase and use year round to keep an eye on the humidity levels in your home.
• Pets. Some might say that the only way to control this trigger is to remove the pet from the home. However, more realistic steps to take include not allowing the pet in the bedroom. Bedding can become a trap for allergens that are difficult to dislodge. Use a HEPA air filter in your home at all times. Give your pet a weekly bath to reduce the allergen count. While dander and saliva are the source of cat and dog allergens, urine is the source of allergens from rabbits, hamsters, mice and guinea pigs – so ask a non-allergic family member to clean the animal’s cage.A Tabby Cat with Green Eyes
If these suggestions do not help control your allergies, you may choose to visit an allergist. An allergist can help discover what indoor allergens are causing your symptoms and educate you to make changes to avoid them. The right care can help you manage your allergies and feel better year round.

Author: Marilyn Rabe, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Franklin County
Reviewed by Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Ross & Vinton Counties

Indoor Air Quality: Dust and Molds http://ohioline.osu.edu/cd-fact/pdf/0191.pdf
Tips to control Pet Allergies http://www.health.harvard.edu/press_releases/tips-to-control-pet-allergies
Winter Allergies http://www.webmd.com/allergies/winter-allergies
Indoor Allergens: Tips to Remember http://www.aaaai.org/conditions-and-treatments/library/at-a-glance/indoor-allergens.aspx

Read Full Post »

Everyone today is talking about getting more calcium and nutrients. What better way than eating yogurt?  How many of you have had someone ask you if you are eating Greek or regular yogurt? Purchasing Greek yogurt is very popular and consumers really like the taste. 

By adding Greek or regular yogurt, either in their nonfat or low-fat forms, persons planning a healthier diet can add valuable nutrients.  Greek yogurt, which is strained extensively, has an undeniable nutritional edge for the consumer.  When selecting yogurt read the food label. Things to look for include:

  • PROTEIN:  Greek yogurt is being touted for its higher amount of protein. A typical 6-ounce container has 15 to 20 grams, which is the same as 2-3 ounces of lean meat. Regular yogurt provides just 9 grams of protein.
  • FAT:   Yes, yogurt does contain fat.  A 7-ounce serving of full-fat Greek yogurt packs 16 grams of saturated fat or 80 percent of your daily allowance assuming a 2,000-calorie diet.  Whereas, an 8-ounce serving of regular full-fat yogurt has 5 grams of saturated fat.  Saturated fat raises total and “bad” LDL cholesterol levels, increasing the risk for heart disease. Read nutrition labels carefully. If you’re going Greek, stick to low-fat and/or fat-free versions.
  • SODIUM: Greek yogurt is much lower in sodium than regular yogurt, making it a healthier choice for those watching their salt intake. One cup of Greek yogurt contains 65 mg of sodium, while 1 cup of regular yogurt has 159 mg of sodium.
  • CALCIUM:  So where is the calcium? Regular yogurt provides 30 percent of the federal government’s recommended daily amount. A 6-ounce cup of Greek yogurt typically supplies about 20 percent of the daily recommendation. If you’re still worried about calcium intake, load up on milk, seeds, and almonds, says Sarah Krieger, a registered dietician and spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association.

Next time you are at the grocery store, stop and compare the variety of yogurt options. You will be surprised; what will you choose?




Press Release, General Mills Bell Institute of Health and Nutrition
Food Guide – Dairy, National Institutes of Health

Author: Marie Economos, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension Trumbull County.

Reviewed by:  Cindy Shuster, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Perry County

Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ross and Vinton Counties

Read Full Post »