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Archive for February, 2014

meal-planning-heroDo you run out of time to make a decent family meal at the end of the day?  Too many school and social activities can get in your way?  Think about keeping your meal preparation simple. Here are few tips:

  • First, make time for dinner.  Put a chalkboard or calendar in your kitchen to keep track of your family schedule.  Then, coordinate dinner around what is happening with each family member.  Dinner doesn’t have to be the same time each day.  Just make a schedule and try hard to stick with it.
  • Involve everyone in meal planning, preparation and clean-up.  Choose a time, possibly on a Sunday evening when everyone in the family is available to discuss dinner choices as well as schedules.  Then, divide tasks so that everyone can have a job.  Age-specific jobs can be assigned for each family member.  Try to give family members jobs that they like.  A younger child can set the table, while an older sibling is making tacos or preparing food in the microwave.  Find out what works best in your family.
  • Keep essential ingredients on hand so you can avoid those last minute trips to the grocery store.  By making a list from your weekly menus, you can shop one day and be prepared for the entire week.  Don’t forget to include fresh vegetables and fruits.  They are a quick and easy to prepare healthy addition to any meal.
  • Finally, don’t forget to use leftovers, or as I call them – “planned overs.”  By cooking extra on one day or during the weekend, you can be ready for a quick, easy meal on another day. An example might be cooking a whole turkey or chicken with a family dinner on Sunday; then using the leftover meat to make stir-fry, soup, sandwiches, on a salad, or in a pasta dish.

·         Keep food safety in mind by always refrigerating any planned over in a shallow (2-3 inch container) within about 30 minutes of preparation and reheating them to over 165 degrees. Use within 3 days or freeze.

Work on making your life easier by planning your meals and including your whole family in the process.

Author:  Linnette Goard, Field Specialist, Food Safety, Selection and Management, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, goard.1@osu.edu.

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

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Laptop on Kitchen Table with Cup of CoffeeShould you eat lunch at your desk?

Do you find yourself eating at your desk at work more and more often?  The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics reports that at least 83% of Americans eat at their desk several times a week. While many of us would prefer to have lunch with a friend or at least go out for lunch, we often find ourselves “too busy” to do so.

So is eating at your desk healthy?  When we eat at our desk, we often are totally unaware of just what and how much we are eating. We’re not focused on the food as we answer emails, sort papers and answer phone calls. But you can make healthy choices by bringing your lunch from home and avoiding take-out lunches which can tend to have excess calories, fat, and sodium and are often lacking in nutrients. Some healthy lunch choices could include:

  • A salad with added protein and fiber – some leftover chicken, healthy beans and/or nuts.
  • A whole grain wrap filled with veggies.
  • Homemade or low-sodium prepared soup that you can heat in the microwave.
  • Yogurt with added fruit and granola.
  • A sweet potato or fresh vegetables that you can pop into the microwave.
  • Water with a slice of lemon, lime or orange.
  • For a sweet ending to your lunch, fresh fruit makes a great dessert.

If you are bringing your lunch from home, use an insulated lunch bag with a freezer pack to keep your food cold until you can put it in the refrigerator at work. You want to be sure and wash your hands before eating your lunch and clean your desk top. According to an Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics survey only 36 percent of survey respondents said they clean their work areas, desktop, mouse and keyboard on a weekly basis; 64 percent said they do so on a monthly basis or less.

A 2007 study from the University of Arizona found that desktops have 100 times more bacteria than a kitchen table and 400 times more bacteria than a toilet seat!

So, if you are going to eat at your desk, take a few minutes to disinfect the area before opening your food. Once you start eating, avoid touching your phone, mouse,
etc. as you could be constantly re-contaminating your food.  You might also use a placemat or at least a paper towel under your lunch for added protection!

To answer the question, eating at your desk is not the healthiest activity!  Not only are you likely to eat more unhealthy foods, you are risking contaminating your food and potentially becoming ill. Take a little time for yourself at lunch time – walk to the kitchen or break room, invite a co-worker to join you and enjoy that healthy lunch you have prepared!

Written by: Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, rabe.9@sou.edu

Reviewed by:  Michelle Treber, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County, Treber.1@osu.edu

http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/7-tips-eating-while-you-work

http://www.eatright.org/Media/content.aspx?id=6442464916&terms=lunch%20food%20safety#.Uwd2PMYo7DQ

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As the bitter temperatures and snow continue to prolong spring’s arrival, I’ve heard many people say “I’m done with winter!” Do you find yourself feeling the effects of the long winter, maybe being cooped up without enough fresh air or sunlight? Perhaps you’re suffering from ‘cabin fever’ or ‘winter blues.’

The decrease in natural light in winter months can actually change one’s brain chemistry. Levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin drop in winter months while levels of sleep-promoting melatonin increase. The combination of changes in these two brain chemicals can lead to mild depression or the more serious condition of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Symptoms of SAD may include sleeping too much, eating too much, decreased energy, decreased ability to concentrate and social withdrawal. If any of these symptoms begin to interfere with your ability to function at home or work, you may need to seek professional diagnoses and treatment. Your doctor can work with you to develop a treatment to help you through the winter months.

Image

There are things you can do to combat the winter blues, according to Dr. Mark Frye, M.D. of the Mayo Clinic.

• Get outside – Natural light is good for you. Take a break at lunch and go for a walk.

• Light Therapy Boxes – These can help if you’re unable to get outdoors.

• Exercise – Try for at least three times a week for 30 minutes.

• Socialize – Interact with family and friends on a regular basis.

Winter won’t last forever… spring IS coming! Until then, use these tips to elevate your mood and energy and to live healthy AND well!

Source:

Hanson, Nick. “Experts Offer Advice to Avoid Winter Blues” Mayo Clinic News Network. http://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/experts-offer-advice-to-avoid-winter-blues

Image source: <a href=”http://www.4freephotos.com/Couple_walking_in_snow-image-c4f8a5092e0211a44f2d21a148f8b937.html”>Couple walking in snow from 4freephotos.com</a>

Written by: Shannon Carter, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County, carter.413@osu.edu.

Reviewed by: Michelle Treber, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County, treber.1@osu.edu

 

 

 

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMillions of adults are concerned about their sleep patterns; in particular, those who suffer from insomnia. If you have difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, waking up too early, and/or not feeling rested, you are probably suffering from insomnia. Sleep is a highly complex activity. There are a variety of reasons why someone might have trouble sleeping. One is a lack of physical activity in his or her daily routine.

Exercise is an important thing you can do to reduce insomnia. It helps you fall asleep faster and allows you to sleep more deeply and restfully. Instead of running to the medicine cabinet for a sleep aid, why not invest some time in being physically active? Research shows the following benefits of exercise when it comes to fighting insomnia:

• Moderately-intense exercise (for example, walking) reduces the time it takes to fall asleep and increases the length of sleep time and sleep quality.

• Exercise in the afternoon or evening helps promote a rise, then fall, of your body temperature. This is good because your body heats up after activity, increasing metabolism. Then you experience a cool-down phase, which promotes sleep. Try to exercise 3-6 hours before bedtime to get maximum sleep benefits.

• Better sleep increases energy levels during the day, making you more “peppy” (which in turn increases sleep time–win/win).

• Exercise helps decrease anxiety and depression, which are sleep “stealers.”

• Insomnia increases with age. Finding behavioral ways (such as increasing activity levels) to cope with this metabolic shift will benefit you long term (as opposed to temporary sleep aids).

• Drug-free sleep (using physical activity instead of a sleeping pill) is a better option because it reduces the risk of medication interactions.

• Exercise stresses the body. The brain then compensates for this stress by increasing the time you spend in deep sleep.

• Humans have biological “time clocks” called circadian rhythms, just like plants and animals. Those circadian rhythms affect your body temperature, appetite, hormone secretions, and sleep patterns. Exercise may “shift” the timing of your body clock depending on when you exercise. That’s because when you exercise outside, you increase your exposure to natural light, which is extremely important in the regulation of your circadian rhythm (and explains why people sleep so much better when they are out-of-doors camping or hiking).

So what are you waiting for? Get active, get some fresh air, and get some sleep! And remember the immortal words of Benjamin Franklin: “Fatigue is the best pillow.”

Written by:
Donna Green, Family & Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Erie County

Reviewed by:
Liz Smith, M.S, RDN., L.D. NE Regional Program Specialist, SNAP-ED, Ohio State University Extension

Sources:
http://www.sleepfoundation.org/article/how-does-exercise-help-those-chronic-insomnia
http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/news/20100917/exercise-helps-you-sleep
http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/guide/circadian-rhythm-disorders-cause
http://www.helpguide.org/harvard/sleep_cycles_body_clock.htm

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cinnamonMany of us today are trying to find health tips for lowering cholesterol, lowering blood sugars, reducing arthritis pain and yes boosting our memory.  Many households in North America or Europe have cinnamon in their their cupboards.

 Cinnamon is the brown bark from  the cinnamon tree, which when dried, rolls into a tubular form known as a quill. Cinnamon is available in either its whole quill form (cinnamon sticks) or as ground powder.

Are all Cinnamon’s the same? What is the Best?

Cinnamon is one of the oldest spices and most popular spices, and has been used for a millennia both for its flavoring and medicinal qualities. The two major types of cinnamon used are Cassia and Ceylon cinnamon. Ceylon cinnamon is known as “true cinnamon”. Ceylon Cinnamon is NOT the kind of cinnamon that is normally sold in the spice section at your local supermarket.  Cassia is the one seen most often.   Cassia cinnamon contains coumarin, the parent compound of warfarin, a medication used to keep blood from clotting. Due to concerns about the possible effects of coumarin, in 2006, the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment warned against consuming large amounts of cassia cinnamon.

Let’s Get to Using the Cinnamon!

Studies have shown that just ½ teaspoon Ceylon cinnamon added to cereal, oatmeal, toast, tomato sauces or on an apple can have many health benefits. These are just a few of the many ways you can add cinnamon to your meals. You might have your own special recipes!

  • Lowers Cholesterol: Studies have shown cinnamon may significantly lower LDL “bad” cholesterol, triglycerides and total cholesterol.
  • Reduces blood sugar levels thus improving those with Type 2 Diabetes.
  • Heart Disease: Reducing blood pressure.
  • Fights Cancer: A study released by researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Maryland showed that cinnamon reduced the proliferation of leukemia and lymphoma cancer cells. Besides, the combination of calcium and fiber, Cinnamon can help to remove bile, which prevents damage to colon cells, thus prevents colon cancer.
  • Tooth decay and mouth freshener:  Treat toothache and fight bad breath.
  • Brain Tonic: Cinnamon boosts the activity of the brain and hence acts as a good brain tonic. It helps in removing nervous tension and memory loss. Also, studies have shown that smelling cinnamon may boost cognitive function, memory; performance of certain tasks and increases one’s alertness and concentration.
  • Reduces Arthritis Pain: Cinnamon spice contains anti-inflammatory compounds, which can be useful in reducing pain and inflammation associated with arthritis. A study conducted at Copenhagen University, where patients were given half a teaspoon of cinnamon powder combined with one tablespoon of honey every morning had significant relief in arthritis pain after one week and could walk without pain within one month.
  • Itching: Paste of honey and cinnamon is often used to treat insect bites.

Share with us how you enjoy cinnamon! Enjoy the benefits of cinnamon today!

Resources:

http://nccam.nih.gov/sites/nccam.nih.gov/files/Herbs_At_A_Glance_Cinnamon_06-13-2012_0.pdf?nav=gsa

http://www.naturalfoodbenefits.com/display.asp?CAT=6&ID=113

http://naturalfamilytoday.com/nutrition/what-is-the-best-cinnamon-ceylon-vs-cassia-cinnamon/#ixzz2sfWvjw5w

http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/26/12/3215Alam Khan, MS, PHD, Mahpara Safdar, MS, Mohammad Muzaffar Ali Khan, MS, PHD, Khan Nawaz Khattak, MS and Richard A. Anderson, PHD. “Cinnamon Improves Glucose and Lipids of People With Type 2 Diabetes”. Diabetes Care. December 2003 vol. 26 no. 12 3215-3218. Accessed October 14th 2013.

Source: George RC, Lew J, Graves DJ. Interaction of Cinnamaldehyde and Epicatechin with Tau: Implications of Beneficial Effects in Modulating Alzheimer’s disease Pathogenesis. The Journal of Alzheimer’s disease. 2013.

Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center website: “About Herbs: Cinnamon.” Reviewed by Kimball Johnson, MD on October 13, 2012

Author: Marie Economos, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Trumbull County, Western Reserve, economos.2@osu.edu

Reviewer:  Liz Smith, M.S. R.D. L.D. NE Regional Program Specialist SNAP-ED, Ohio State University Extension

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YogaFor many of us this has been a long, hard winter. It can be a challenge to participate in physical activity outside when the weather is severe.  I’ve been enjoying the Olympics and am always amazed at the dedication and drive of the Olympic athletes. Perhaps you can use this as motivation to get moving again. According to Center for Disease Control, only about half (48%) of adults get enough aerobic physical activity to improve their health. Aerobic activities like brisk walking, running, swimming and bicycling make you breathe harder and make your heart and blood vessels healthier. I recently started walking inside for 30 minutes each day and have noticed these benefits: improved mood, more energy, less fatigue, and less arthritis discomfort.

What can you do?  Get creative and find ways to move more. Here are some suggestions from

  • Walk the mall.  If you have an in-door mall, become a mall walker.  Join a walking group.  A partner can provide support and encouragement.  Sometimes it helps to have someone give you the “push” to participate.  You will enjoy seeing the store windows and people as you burn calories and exercise in this safe environment.
  • Walk inside – our local regional campus has an upstairs walking area with a nice comfortable and safe walking surface. 12 laps around the top and you have walked a mile. You can also measure the minutes you walk.  Aim for 30 minutes most days of the week.
  • Walk up and down the sidelines while your kids are practicing or playing sports.
  • Walk your dog. Make sure you walk for at least 10 minutes to receive health benefits. A walk before and after work brings you 20 minutes closer to a 30 minute daily goal.
  • Move to a fitness DVD or play an active fitness game.
  • Do stretches, exercises or pedal a stationary bike while watching television.
  • View the snow as a physical activity opportunity:  shovel your sidewalk or build a snowman.
  •  At work, sit on an exercise ball for several minutes each day. This will help your posture and strengthen your core.
  • Use a fit band and stretch during webinars.
  • Stand up while talking on the phone. Standing burns more calories and can re-energize you if you spend a big part of your day sitting behind a desk.
  • Take a walk break instead of a coffee break. Walk the stairs at work – perhaps you walk up or down a flight of stairs each time you have to go to the restroom.

How much activity do I need?
Remember that adults need at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week (aim for 30 minutes on 5 days).  Also, aim for muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms).

Walking at work

Get Started and Enjoy the Many Benefits of Physical Activity.   The more you move, the more benefits you will experience. For example:

·         More Energy

·         Improved Sleeping Patterns

·         Improved Moods

·         Weight Maintenance or Loss

·         Improved Self Esteem

·         Increase your Chances of Living Longer

·         Strong, Healthy Body

·         Move Around More Easily

·         Improved Metabolism

What benefits do you see when you are physically active?  Share your ideas with us in the comments.

Sources:

http://www.choosemyplate.gov

http://www.cdc.gov/VitalSigns/Walking/index.html

http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/everyone/guidelines/adults.html

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

Reviewer:  Marilyn Rabe, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, Heart of Ohio EERA, rabe.9@osu.edu

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Chumlee and Big Hoss

Chumlee and Big Hoss

Pet ownership is a responsibility, and with this responsibility comes numerous health benefits including exercise, companionship, and unconditional love.

Nearly two years ago, while cleaning the gutters on our garage, my husband and I heard a “yelp” coming from under the weeping cherry tree at the end of the front deck.  A few minutes later, we heard another “yelp”, then much to our surprise; an adorably cute puppy (brown one pictured in the basket above) came running towards us.  After a few minutes of holding the puppy, it was back to work.  However, the puppy didn’t leave our sights.  Moments later, another “yelp”, another cute, adorable puppy had arrived from under the cherry tree (white one pictured in the basket above).  Needless to say, Chumlee (brown) and Big Hoss (white) have become vital members of our family providing companionship and unconditional love.

Lots of people have pets.  In the U.S., 69.1 million homes have at least one pet.  Most common are dogs (43.5 million) and cats (37.7 million).

While most pet owners are clear about the immediate joys that come with sharing their lives with animals, many remain unaware of the physical and mental health benefits that can also accompany the pleasure of playing with or snuggling up to a furry friend. It’s only recently that studies have begun to scientifically explore the benefits of the human-animal bond.  They are noticing the companionship of the animals affects us on four primary levels – physical, social, emotional and cognitive. These affects can lead to a number of health and life benefits.  The American Heart Association has linked the ownership of pets, especially dogs, with a reduced risk for heart disease and greater longevity.

A study at Cambridge University found that pet owners have fewer ailments and their overall well-being was improved.  A pet can have positive effects on its owner (s). Here are a few of the potential benefits.

  • Lower blood pressure and reduce stress.
  • Elevate mood and reduce loneliness, isolation and depression.
  • Lead to more social contacts and open the door to making new friends.
  • Create movement and increase exercise.
  • Fewer visits to the doctor and take fewer amounts of medications.
  • Offer unconditional love and daily doses of affection.
  • Offer a sense of security.
  • Help to deal with the loss of a spouse and other loved ones.
  • Provide an outward focus and decrease the emphasis on  personal problems.

Once you have known the experience of unconditional love and the many health benefits involved with caring for a pet, you realize the valuable role they play in your life and gladly take on the additional level of responsibility.

References:

http://www.helpguide.org/life/pets.htm

https://www.avma.org/KB/Resources/Statistics/Pages/Market-research-statistics-US-pet-ownership.aspx

http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/horoscopes/companion-health-benefits-owning-pet-article-1.1598729

http://newsroom.heart.org/news/pets-may-help-reduce-your-risk-of-heart-disease

Written by:  Cindy Shuster, CFLE, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, OSU Extension, Perry County, Buckeye Hills EERA

Reviewed by:  Liz Smith, R.D., L.D., Program Specialist, SNAP-Ed, OSU Extension, North East Region

Reviewed by:  Kim Barnhart, Office Associate, OSU Extension, Perry County, Buckeye Hills EERA

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