Archive for December, 2012

As we come to the close of 2012 and begin a new year, this is a great time to start looking at ways to improve your health and wealth in 2013.  Most people think of health and wealth as “separate “ goals, but in fact, both aspects of life are closely related. Here are a few steps to consider:

Build “Health Capital”

Health is a financial asset, just like stocks and bonds. It decreases the odds of costly medical bills today and/or later in life. Eat nutritious meals, get enough sleep, exercise regularly, and manage stress. Without good health, you can’t earn an income and build wealth.

Don’t Burn Your Money

Quit smoking or don’t start. An average pack of cigarettes costs $5. Multiply $5 by 365 days and you could save $1,825 a year, plus interest (not to mention all the positive health effects!). Invest $1,825 in a fund averaging 7% interest and you’ll have $9,904 in 25 years.

Junk the “Junk Food”

Just cut it out: soda, fast food, fatty pastries, chips…you know the drill. Not only will you lose weight (trimming 100 calories a day = 10 pounds of annual weight loss), but you’ll pocket the savings. Save $7 a day on “empty calorie” foods and drinks and you’ll have over $2,500 in a year.

Half-Size Food Portions

Instead of eating 4 cookies a day, eat two. Bring half a meal home from restaurants and eat less at home. Getting two meals from one can save hundreds of dollars (and thousands of calories) annually. For example, saving $3 a day by “doubling up” results in savings of over $1,000 a year.

Stay Fit to Work

Maintaining good health increases the odds of being productive and working as long as you want to instead of retiring because you have to (e.g., disability). This can translate into thousands of dollars at retirement. One study compared retiring at age 60 due to poor health with working (and saving) until 65. The difference: $14,300 in annual income from increased savings and delayed cash withdrawals.positive

Sweat the Small Stuff

“Little” things matter! Healthy habits that save big bucks over time include washing your hands frequently (especially before handling food) to avoid the expense of flu and cold treatments and flossing your teeth to help prevent periodontal disease.

Think Positively

Studies have shown that the personality trait of optimism is positively associated with health and wealth. When people expect good things to happen, they work toward their goals by taking action. Examples include exercising regularly and saving money. What we think about, we often bring about and positive thoughts can lead to positive results.

Source: http://www.extension.org/pages/32288/monthly-investment-message-jan-11

Reviewed by: Kelly Gonyer, Office Associate, Family and Consumer Sciences, OSU Extension Wood County.


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According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the average American consumes 156 pounds of added sugar per year. That’s five grocery store shelves filled with 30 or so one pound bags of sugar. You may find this hard to believe, that’s probably because sugar is so abundant in our diets that most of us have no idea how much we’re consuming in everything we eat.  The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends limiting the amount of added sugars you consume to no more than half of your daily discretionary calories allowance. For most American women, that’s no more than 100 calories per day, or about 6 teaspoons of sugar. For men, it’s 150 calories per day, or about 9 teaspoons. The AHA recommendations focus on all added sugars, without singling out any particular types such as high-fructose corn syrup. For more detailed information and guidance on sugar intake limits, see the scientific statement in the August 2009 issue of Circulation, Journal of the American Heart Association.

Tips for Reducing Sugar:Sugar

  • Plan and prepare ahead.
  • Take sugar (white and brown), syrup, honey and molasses out of your reach! Don’t keep them on the counter or table, if you have to open a cupboard to get them out, you may not use them as often.
  • Cut back on the amount of sugar added to things you eat or drink regularly like pancakes, coffee or tea. Try cutting the usual amount of sugar you add by half and make changes from there.
  • Buy sugar-free or low-calorie beverages.
  • Buy fresh fruits or fruits canned in water or natural juice.
  • Add fresh fruit to cereal or oatmeal instead.
  • When baking cookies, brownies or cakes use modifications to the recipe instead of sugar by adding extracts such as almond, vanilla, orange, lemon or applesauce. For more ideas check out this factsheet http://go.osu.edu/modify.
  • Drink more water.
  • Eat more fiber.

Remember that treats should be occasional! Keep them away from both your home and your desk! This is not always easy but a few tips can help us start the New Year with healthier habits.


American Heart Association: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/HealthyDietGoals/Sugars-and-Carbohydrates_UCM_303296_Article.jsp

USDA : http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/eib-economic-information-bulletin/eib33.aspx

Ohioline : http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/5000/pdf/5543.pdf

Written by: Marie Diniaco Economos, Ohio State University Extension, Extension Educator Family & Consumer Sciences, Trumbull County, economos.2@osu.edu.


Lisa Barlage, Ohio State University Extension, Extension Educator Family & Consumer Sciences, Ross County, barlage.7@osu.edu.

Liz Smith, Ohio State University Extension, Program Specialist SNAP-ED, North East Region, smith.3993@osu.edu.




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cranberry sauceHealthy eating can be a fun part of holiday parties and celebrations.  Offer healthy foods from all the food groups and most of all focus on enjoying friends and family.  Here are some tips to boost your spirits and nourish your body through the New Year!

  • Don’t skip meals, especially breakfast.
  • Drink water.  Staying hydrated is key; helps to reduce food cravings.
  • Plate everything before you eat.  This helps to increase awareness of what you’re consuming when you see it on the plate.
  • Wash your hands.  What’s worse than getting ill for the holidays?
  • Get active with your family.  Go for a walk or play a game of football to get some exercise and spend some time together!
  • Make foods appear festive.  Decorate foods with seeds, nuts or cut out shapes of vegetables or fruits.  Add to a favorite dish and enjoy.
  • Offer whole-grain crackers, serve a spicy healthy dip and a veggie tray, and make fruit kabobs, layer yogurt and fruit to create a healthy parfait. Add whole grains and vegetables to a healthy salad.
  • Keep it simple.  Have others participate by bringing a prepared healthy dish and help with the cleanup.
  • Get your party moving with dancing to favorite holiday songs, playing active games or a game of holiday charades by acting out your favorite holiday movie or song.
  • Sleep.  It improves everything.
  • Breathe.  Find a quiet place, breathe for 5 counts in and out for a few times and center yourself.

Wishing you a healthy and happy holiday season!

Reviewed by:  Liz Smith, M.S., R.D., L.D.




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ImageLet’s face it, not all of us get the recommended amount of dairy we need each day.  Sure, we may have a little milk in our coffee or a slice of cheese on our sandwich, but unless we get the recommended 3 cups a day for adults, we become at risk for being deficient in important nutrients like protein, potassium, Vitamin D, and calcium.  Here are some tips that the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) give to help you get more fat-free or low-fat dairy foods in your daily diet.

  • Choose low-fat milk such as 1%, skim, or fat-free  If you are currently drinking whole or 2%, gradually switch to a version with lower fat.  Also, choose cheeses that are ‘reduced fat’ or ‘low-fat.’  Fat-free cheeses are healthy choices, but are not as good for cooking.
  • Use low-fat yogurt instead of sour cream to top a baked potato or fruit salad.  Also try using low-fat milk on oatmeal and cereal.
  • Regular cream cheese, butter, and cream are not dairy foods which means they do not contain important nutrients
  • Sweet dairy foods such as yogurts, flavored milks, puddings, and frozen yogurts are often high in added sugar.  Check food labels to make sure it is a healthy dairy choice.
  • If you are lactose intolerant try a lactose-free milk such as almond or soy milk.  Use the nutrition facts label to make sure they have about 300 mg of calcium.  You can also get some calcium in leafy greens, but unrealistic to meet all your daily dairy needs.
  • Milk and yogurt are better choices than cheeses because they contain more potassium and less sodium, and many milk and yogurt products are fortified with vitamin D.
  • Model healthy choices for your children.  Remember that your children are more likely to drink milk if they see you drinking milk.  Try to include different dairy snacks into their lunch.  Children 4 – 8 years old need 2 ½ cups daily, children 2 to 3 years old need 2 cups, and older children and teenagers need 3 cups.

Whatever foods you choose to meet your dietary guidelines for the dairy food group just remember that “reduced fat,” “low-fat,” or “fat-free” options are always best.  Try to do whatever you can to meet the 3 cup a day requirement.  Remember to try different dairy foods to see what works for you.  For more tips, please visit www.choosemyplate.gov for information about dairy and all the other food groups as well as information about your nutrition health.


Got Your Dairy Today? – http://www.choosemyplate.gov/food-groups/downloads/TenTips/DGTipsheet5GotYourDairyToday.pdf

Written by:  Dana Brown, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences,Morrow County, OSU Extension, Heart of Ohio EERA

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

Reviewed by:  Barb Hildebrand, Office Associate, Ohio State University Extension, Morrow County, Heart of Ohio EERA

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MP900182724[1]In addition to Christmas or other holiday dinners, many of us also host or attend bowl game parties or New Year’s Eve events during late December and early January. What do you have planned? I am a college football junkie, so snack foods that my family can eat during the bowl games are a necessity. In addition to things that are quick and easy to prepare, I also need to keep in mind ways to make them healthier for everyone.  The National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP) has come up with a set of tips for healthy eating during winter gatherings that are lessons we can all use. Here are a few modifications of their suggestions:

  • If you are going to someone else’s party, eat a healthy snack before you go. This is a great time to have a vegetable, fruit, or dairy. Even a half of a peanut butter sandwich on wheat bread.
  • Make sure the dish you bring to share is a healthy one. Bring the vegetable or fruit tray, a modified side dish (one you have cut the fat, calories or sodium in), or a dip or spread with reduced fat ingredients. Don’t forget to get whole grain corn chips or pretzels to serve your dip with.
  • When you get to the party, check out everything they have to eat and think about how it will fit into your diet. Don’t forget to visualize half your plate being vegetables and fruit, and only a quarter protein, and a quarter grain (hopefully whole grain). It is always good for a snack to have at least 2 food groups in it – think vegetable, fruit, protein, dairy, or grain.
  • Once you fix your plate, move away from the buffet to avoid grazing. It is easy to continue snacking on cookies, if there is a plate right in front of you. You will probably think twice about it, if you have to get up and go to another room to get it.
  • Savor the flavors and take your time eating. You have probably heard the research that it takes time for your stomach to tell your brain you are full, but you may not have heard that there are also hormones at work in the digestive system that let the brain know you are satisfied. By eating more slowly, most of us will eat less and give our brain and body time to work together.
  • If you plan on drinking punch, soda, teas, or an adult beverage at the party – make sure you are also getting in your water. It is a good idea to alternate a glass of water then your glass of punch and back to a glass of water before you can have more punch. We often eat when we are really thirsty.
  • Last but not least – Enjoy your party! Remember why you came or got together, it was probably to enjoy time with family, friends, or an activity like New Year’s Eve or a Bowl Game – not really to eat food. Participate in board games, card games, dancing, or those active TV games. If you are watching a sporting event, use half time or the time between periods to take an exercise break rather than refill your plate. Dance to the half time music, walk the dog, or let the kids try out their new bike for 15 minutes.

So what ideas do you have for snack foods besides the common vegetable and fruit trays? Ohio State University Extension, Wayne County has a nice online database of Healthy Recipes – http://go.osu.edu/snacks.   I thought they had several ideas that would be good for parties or during games (Zippy Vegetable Dip, Frozen Fruit Cups, Fruit Kabobs, Spinach Dip Rollups, and the Black Bean Dip Rollups all look good). Another idea would be to put a big batch of soup in your slow cooker, many of them are low fat, and full of vegetables or beans. Whatever you decide to do – don’t forget to make your party meals part of your daily plan for healthy meals.

Writer:  Lisa Barlage, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Ross & Vinton Counties, barlage.7@osu.edu.

Reviewers: Elizabeth Smith and Cheryl Barber Spires, Program Specialists SNAP-Ed, Ohio State University Extension.


National Diabetes Education Program, http://ndep.nih.gov/media/NDEP_Healthy_Eating.pdf.

Harvard Medical School, Health Blog, http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/why-eating-slowly-may-help-you-feel-full-faster-20101019605.

Ohio State University Extension, Wayne County, http://wayne.osu.edu.

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Nuts are a holiday staple.  No, I’m not referring to “Clark”, “Cousin Eddie” or “Aunt Grace”; but those flavorful, nutrient-dense, crunchy, versatile, snacks that adorn most holiday tables.  Nuts are high in protein and fiber, cholesterol-free, and sodium-free, unless salted.  Nuts in general are high in fat. However, these are mono- and poly-unsaturated fats; which are the good fats, and lower amounts of the saturated fats, or bad fats.  Some varieties of nuts can also be excellent sources of important vitamins and minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, copper, zinc, potassium, and/or phosphorus.

Here’s a closer look at the nutritional value of nuts:Various Nuts

Almonds:  Approximately 23 nuts equal a 1-ounce serving which has 164 calories, 6 g of protein, 7 g of carbohydrates, 14.4 g of fat and 3.3 g of fiber. Due to their protein and fiber content, almonds keep you satisfied for hours.  They are a good source of vitamin E, magnesium and calcium.

Peanuts:  Approximately 40 shelled nuts equal a 1-ounce serving which has 160 calories, 7.3 g of protein, 6 g of carbohydrates, 14 g of fat and 2.6 g of fiber.  Often referred to as legumes, they are high in protein, folate, and iron.

Pistachios:  Approximately 47 nuts equal a 1-ounce serving which has 158 calories, 5.8 g of protein, 7 g of carbohydrates, 12.6 g of fat and 2.9 g of fiber.  Pistachios are known as a potassium powerhouse with good amounts of protein and fiber.

Cashews:  Approximately 18 halves equal a 1-ounce serving which has 160 calories, 4 g of protein, 9 g of carbohydrates, 13.3 g of fat and 0.9 g of fiber.  These nuts are lower in fiber, but provide 69 percent of the RDA for copper, 27 percent for magnesium and 10 percent for iron.

Hazelnuts:  Approximately 21 nuts equal a 1-ounce serving which has 178 calories, 4 g of protein, 4 g of carbohydrates, 17.2 g of fat and 1.4 g of fiber.  Loaded with Vitamin E, fiber and iron, hazelnuts boast the second-highest proportion of monounsaturated fat.

Brazil Nuts:  Approximately 7 nuts equal a 1-ounce serving which has 186 calories, 4 g of protein, 4 g of carbohydrates, 18.8 g of fat and 2.1 g of fiber.  Brazil Nuts, known for magnesium also have a lot of the antioxidant selenium; overdosing can cause health problems.

Pecans:  Approximately 20 halves is a 1-ounce serving which has 196 calories, 2 g of protein, 5 g of carbohydrates, 20.4 g of fat and 2.7 g of fiber.  One serving provides 38 percent of the RDA for cooper and 16 percent for zinc.

Walnuts:  Approximately 14 halves equal a 1-ounce serving which has 185 calories, 4 g of protein, 5 g or carbohydrates, 18.5 g of fat and 1.9 g of fiber.  Walnuts are rich in alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid.  A serving has more than 100 percent of your daily needs for this heart-healthy fat.

As you enjoy the nutritional benefits of nuts, remember to portion out a 1-ounce serving to avoid “grazing” on them. While they have nutritional qualities and health benefits, their calories will quickly add up.

Aside from adorning the holiday tablescape and snacking, more and more people are finding new ways to add nuts to perk up their foods throughout the year.  Here are just a few ways to get you thinking of the many possibilities:

  • Add chopped nuts to yogurt or cereal.
  • Add roasted nuts to a salad, casserole or dessert for added crunch and flavor.
  • Nuts add an extra crunch to cookies and brownies.
  • Mix nuts with cereal, pretzels, mini marshmallows and dried fruit for a pick-up and go snack.
  • Add pizzazz to cream cheese with chopped nuts for a tasty spread.
  • Enjoy with apple slices for a delicious bedtime snack!

Written by:  Cynthia R. Shuster, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, PerryCounty, Buckeye Hills EERA

Reviewer:  Jennifer Even, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences/EFNEP, Hamilton County, Miami Valley EERA

Reviewer:  Jennifer Lindimore, Ohio State University Extension Office Associate, Morgan County, Buckeye Hills EERA


USDA – Nutrient Data Lab.  http://ndb.nal.usda.gov

International Nut and Dried Fruit Council Foundation (2007). www.nutfruit.org

International Tree Nut Council Nutrition Research and Education Foundation (2002). Go Nuts Everyday.

International Tree Nut Council Nutrition Research and Education Foundation (2004).  Live Healthy, Go Nuts.

The Peanut Institute (2004). www.peanut-institute.org.

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Are you ready for your morning coffee? With more than 80 percent of American adults consuming cacoffeeffeine on a regular basis, does caffeine really do harm to our bodies? That may depend upon amounts. Two to four cups of brewed coffee a day usually isn’t a problem for most people.

Caffeine may help in these situations:

• Mental stimulation – People who don’t have a dependence on caffeine or don’t use it regularly can become “significantly more alert and better able to perform cognitive and motor  tasks if given the right dose.” For regular users it offers few benefits in this area. What people think of as stimulating and good actually is due to the alleviation of withdrawal symptoms.

• Lack of Sleep – Caffeine can help you stay more alert when you are sleep deprived. However, you can build up a tolerance to caffeine so for regular users an extra boost is usually needed.

• Headaches – Caffeine acts as a mild pain reliever. It also constricts your blood vessels which can help since usually they dilate when you have a headache.

• Physical Performance – Caffeine can help you during an endurance exercise like running but is less effective for activities such as lifting weights or sprinting. This can be true for both regular users and non-users. Since caffeine also helps reduce pain you may exercise longer.

• Parkinson’s Disease – Studies have concluded that higher caffeine usage seems to reduce the risk of developing Parkinson’s Disease. Caffeine may help Parkinson’s patients with tremors or other motor symptoms. Again tolerance seems to negate long-term help.

• Gallstones – Studies show drinking two or three cups of regular coffee a day reduced the risk of gallstones for women 20 percent and for men 40 percent.

• Dementia – Caffeine may provide some protection against Alzheimer’s disease. More studies are needed.

Caffeine may hurt in these situations:

• Pregnancy – Women trying to get pregnant or already pregnant should avoid caffeine –containing foods and drugs, according to the Food and Drug Administration. Caffeine can cause harmful effects on fertility, miscarriage, and fetal growth.

• Disrupted Sleep – Caffeine can affect your sleep or ability to fall asleep for up to 13 hours later.

• If you drink more than 4 cups a day you can experience these unpleasant effects: insomnia, restlessness, irritability, nervousness, stomach upset, fast heartbeat, and muscle tremors. • Beware that some medications and herbal supplements can interact with caffeine. Check with your doctor or pharmacist.

Caffeine- Lack of effectsWeight scale

• Weight – There is no evidence that caffeine helps people lose or keep weight off, although many weight-loss supplements contain caffeine.

• Heart – A 30 year study in California didn’t find an increase in risk of cardiac arrhythmias among regular coffee drinkers.

• High Blood Pressure – Although caffeine can cause a modest increase in blood pressure, studies have not showed an increase in the development of hypertension among caffeine coffee drinkers.

Caffeine may be a part of your daily routine. As long as it doesn’t cause any problems for you… Enjoy!

Author: Pat Brinkman, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension , Fayette County, Miami Valley EERA brinkman.93@osu.edu

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


Mayo Clinic Staff, [2011]. Caffeine: How Much is too Much? Available online at http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/caffeine/NU00600

Schardt, D. [2012]. Caffeine! Nutrition Action Health Letter, December 2012, 39 (10), 7-8.

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