Archive for October, 2017

apple-cider-337x335I bought my first gallon of apple cider in mid-September and will continue to do so for a couple more months. No other beverage conjures up as many happy childhood memories of fall as drinking cider. I’m not an apple juice drinker, but I do love my cider!

As a rule, I tend not to drink much juice because of the sugar content. I prefer to eat whole fruits and/or veggies to get the maximum amount of health benefits. But it isn’t always easy to get the recommended number of plant foods in my daily diet. One four-ounce serving of apple cider counts as a serving of fruit.

Apple cider is usually made from a blend of different types of apples to give it a nice balance between sweet and tart. According to the Farmer’s Almanac, apples are first ground into pulp and then pressed to extract the juice. The juice quickly oxidizes, giving the cider its deep amber color. Apple cider is made in the cooler months because hot weather hastens fermentation.

Apple cider is not clarified like apple juice, so it still contains its starches and pectins. They are the ingredients that give cider its dark, cloudy color.

Below are some of the health benefits found in apple cider:


You probably eat a variety of foods to protect your organs, bones, and muscles. Plant foods contain antioxidants, which help protect your cells. Antioxidants prevent or stop cell damage caused by oxidants (because they are “anti” oxidation). Oxidants are free radicals found in the environment as well as produced in your body.


Flavonoids are powerful antioxidants with anti-inflammatory and immune system benefits. Diets high in flavonoid-containing foods, like apples, may lower your risk for cancer, neurodegenerative disease, cardiovascular disease, and Type 2 diabetes.


If you’ve been a frequent cider drinker over the years, you probably remember that cider helps with “regularity.” The small amount of fiber in cider, in combination with the sugar alcohol sorbitol, helps promote regular bowel movements and looser stools.


Apples are an excellent source of pectin, and fortunately cider contains just as much as the whole fruit. Pectin helps absorb bad cholesterol in the body.

Where to buy?

Apple cider is found in grocery stores, farm markets, local farms that sell fruit and/or cider from their own orchards and cider mills, as well as some convenience and drug stores. Cider purchased in retail establishments will most likely be pasteurized, whereas you may potentially purchase unpasteurized cider from farms or farm markets. There is a difference in taste between the two types. If you purchase unpasteurized cider, look for the Label Warning Statement**.

WARNING: This product has not been pasteurized and, therefore, may contain harmful bacteria that can cause serious illness in children, the elderly, and persons with weakened immune systems.”

**A warning statement for untreated cider and/or juice products must appear on the label.


Written by:  Donna Green, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Erie County, green.308@osu.edu


Reviewed by:  Beth Stefura, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Mahoning County, stefura.2@osu.edu









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We have all heard of the superbugs which researchers warn us about.  Superbugs doPill bottlesn’t respond to the antibiotics we often use to treat infections.  They have become resistant to the antibiotics we have available.  The problem is due to the overuse of antibiotics making them less effective in fighting bacteria.

We are being warned to ask doctors not to prescribe antibiotics for some infections.  Since most of us trust our doctors and don’t question what they say, we need to educate ourselves on what conditions may not need an antibiotic.  We also need to know how we should respond when we do have certain infections.

Consumer Reports has provided some information about infections we should question our doctors about before taking antibiotics.  They feel most of these infections (listed below) do not respond to antibiotic treatment.  Antibiotics treat bacterial infections and are not effective against viral infections (caused by viruses).  When most of us go to the doctor we want a pill (quick fix) to take care of whatever we have, so doctors have gotten used to prescribing antibiotics just in case there is a bacterial infection with the virus.  Most of us would get better without any antibiotics, but we credit the pill for making us better.

If you experience these conditions ask your doctor if they think antibiotics will really help:

Table for Pat's blog

To reduce your risk of antibiotic resistance check with your doctor to make sure antibiotics are necessary.  Use antibiotics only as prescribed by your doctor and IMG-Wash-Hand-Sticker-Remindertake as the prescription recommends.  To keep germs away practice good personal hygiene by washing your hands with soap and water, especially after using the restroom, before eating, and while preparing food.  Make sure you and your children receive all the recommended vaccinations.  Eating healthy and being active are also keys to staying healthy.


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

Reviewer: Jenny Lobb, Ohio State University Extension Family and Consumer Sciences Educator



Consumer Reports. (2016). When to Say No to Antibiotics for Infection.  Available at https://www.consumerreports.org/drugs/when-to-say-no-to-antibiotics-for-infection/

Mayo Clinic, (2014).  Consumer Health.  Mayo Clinic. Available at https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/consumer-health/in-depth/antibiotics/art-20045720

Skinner, G. (2010).  Just Say No to Antibiotics for the Cold and Flu.  Consumer Reports.    Available at https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2010/11/just-say-no-to-antibiotics-for-the-cold-and-flu/index.htm

Goff, D. (2017). Battling Superbugs. The Ohio State University.  Available at https://www.osu.edu/features/2017/battling-superbugs.html?utm_campaign=UNIV%20March%20Connect%20with%20MyOhioState&utm_medium=email&utm_source=EOACLK

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October is Cranberry Month! Cranberries were one of those fruits that my family did not eat very often. Several years ago my step-dad was reading a mystery book and found a recipe for “Killer Cranberry Scones”  – the main character in the book was known for these. When he found the recipe in the back of the book he asked me to make them for him. Everyone loved them, and ever since I have tried many recipes using cranberries.

Now is the time of year when cranberries are in season. If you purchase some and do not have the time to use them, you can freeze them. This is a great way to have cranberries all year long.

According to the Cranberry Institute: 1 cup of raw cranberries has about 50 calories. Cranberries are also associated with these health benefits:

  • Urinary tract health – may reduce the risk of UTI’s, a painful condition that afflicts some 11 million American women each year.
  • Heart health – try cranberries in salads, trail mixes, or smoothies. They are the perfect addition to a heart-healthy diet.
  • Ulcers – cranberries may prevent adhesion of the bacteria H. pylori to the lining of the stomach.
  • Whole body benefits – cranberries provide a myriad of health benefits.  All commonly enjoyed cranberry products contain beneficial antioxidants.

According to the American Cancer Society, eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk for cancer and developing other chronic diseases.

Looking for a new recipe to try? Check out these recipes from USDA’s Recipe Finder, What’s Cooking?

Perfect for fall is the Apple Cranberry Salad Toss. Doesn’t it look yummy?

Cranberry Nut Bread makes a perfect option for breakfast, lunch or snack. Add fresh cranberries to your favorite muffins or bread recipe.

Another source for easy-to-follow cranberry recipes, can be found at USCranberries.com.

For more information on cranberries, visit The Cranberry Institute.

Do you have a favorite cranberry recipe? If so, share it in our comments.


The Top 10 Reasons to Recommend Cranberries


Rediscover Cranberries!


Writer: Brenda Sandman-Stover, Extension Program Assistant, 4-H and Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Greene County.

Reviewer: Michelle Treber, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County.


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Spaghetti squash is a vegetable that can be used in place of traditional spaghetti pasta with your favorite sauce. It is full of folic acid, potassium, beta carotene, fiber, and Vitamins A and C – with a one cup serving coming in at 42 calories, versus the almost 200 calories a traditional cup of pasta contains. Photo of spaghetti squash

Spaghetti squash is an oblong winter squash that is ivory-yellow in color and weighs 2 to 3 pounds. A mature squash will be 4 to 5 inches in diameter and about 8 to 9 inches long with rounded ends. When selecting squash, look for a hard rind, free of bruises, and heavy in comparison to others. Squash can be stored at a mild temperature (50 – 60 degrees) for up to 6 months.

To prepare spaghetti squash, cut the squash in half lengthwise, and scrape out seeds. Place cut side down on a roasting pan in a 375 degree F oven for 45 to 60 minutes. Hull will be soft to the touch and beginning to brown when ready. Let cool about 30 minutes and spoon squash strands out, separating to form spaghetti like strands. Microwaving is also an option – place cut squash in a glass dish (cut side down) with ½ inch of water and microwave for 10 to 12 minutes. Cool and remove squash strands.

Try serving your spaghetti squash with a Roma tomato sauce or your favorite jar sauce for a quicker meal. Ohio State University Heart Hospital has a wonderful Oven Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Roma Tomato Marinara if you are looking for an option. To see a video of how to prepare spaghetti squash go to http://go.osu.edu/spaghettisquash.

Let us know your favorite way to eat spaghetti squash!

Writer: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Ross County.

Reviewer: Michelle Treber, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County.


The Ohio State University Heart Hospital, https://wexnermedical.osu.edu/

University of Illinois Extension, http://web.extension.illinois.edu/ccdms/facts/140218.html

Michigan State University Extension, http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/spaghetti_squash_also_called_vegetable_spaghetti

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If you’re anything like me, you love the Fall because that time of year means pumpkin everything! I can’t get enough it, but, each year as new pumpkin treats have been released, I have tried to get my pumpkin fix in healthier ways, with a splurge here or there, of course. Some of my go-to’s are Icelandic pumpkin spice yogurt and making protein balls and overnight oats with pumpkin spice peanut butter and canned pumpkin. There are so many ways to enjoy pumpkin for the whole season!


Pumpkins are already a Fall staple for most people in many ways, from pumpkin pie and pumpkin spice lattes to carving pumpkins to make Jack-O-Lanterns for Halloween. Pumpkins are extremely versatile. Most of us are probably already quite familiar with pumpkin’s use in sweet treats, but it can be also be the star of many savory dishes. Pumpkin can be great in soups, pasta, and even enchiladas or quesadillas. Give a savory pumpkin recipe a try, and check out this recipe for a hearty turkey pumpkin chili sure to warm you up on any Fall night!

Getting creative with pumpkin recipes this Fall is a great idea because pumpkins are packed with nutrients. They are full of vitamin A, hence their orange hue, as well as vitamin C. Pumpkins also provide 3g of fiber per 1/2 cup of cooked pumpkin, along with a good amount of potassium in each serving. They are also fat free, cholesterol free, and sodium free. So how do you pick the perfect pumpkin? You want to select a pumpkin that is firm, without any major cuts or blemishes, and heavy for its size. If you are looking for a carving pumpkin, be sure to find one with a smooth, blemish free face and sturdy stem.

Don’t forget about the seeds, though! Pumpkin seeds are high in protein and fiber, as well as some heart healthy fats. When you go to carve a pumpkin for Halloween, don’t be so quick to toss your seeds! Roasting pumpkin seeds is both an easy and tasty activity. The first part of carving a pumpkin is to open the top and clear out the seeds from the inside. Instead of continuing the pumpkin carving right away, take a quick break and bring your seeds to the kitchen. core-2728867_1920Place your seeds onto a large sheet pan, and don’t worry about rinsing any of the pumpkin juices off of the seeds; that will add some extra earthy flavor. Toss the seeds with a little olive oil and your favorite spices. My family is partial to either simple salt and pepper or cajun seasoning. Then, just pop the pan into the oven and let the seeds roast while you finish carving your pumpkin! Take them out of the oven once they have become golden brown, and you can stir them occasionally to ensure even roasting. Enjoy!

With Halloween around the corner, there are plenty of ways to use pumpkin to make healthy treats for the kids that everyone in the family will love. Check out some fun pumpkin recipes on eatright.org, pumpkin smoothie, and chocolaty pumpkin bars. What are some of your favorite uses for pumpkin?

Writer: Amy Meehan, Healthy People Program Specialist, Ohio State University Extension.

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








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Infused Water

Infused Water

We all love a cold refreshing drink after physical activity, with a meal, or as a snack. Soda, sweet tea, energy drinks, and/or other sugary drinks taste great, but contain a lot of calories and no nutrients.  What you drink has a huge impact on your health.  Have you ever thought about how much sugar you drink daily?

Depending on the container size of beverage you consume, you may be getting more than you think:

  • 20 oz. soda contains 17 teaspoons of sugar
  • 16 oz. Iced Mocha contains 14 teaspoons of sugar
  • 16 oz. Apple Juice contains 13 teaspoons of sugar
  • 20 oz. Sports Drink contains 12 teaspoons of sugar
  • Water contains 0 teaspoons of sugar

Looking at the statistics listed above, you can see how easy it is for Americans to consume 400-600 more calories per day than we did 20 years ago. Drinking just one 12-ounce soda per day adds about 55,000 additional calories per year.  Yikes!

If that number scares you, you might want to consider overhauling your beverage choices. “Water First for Thirst” is a statewide campaign for Ohioans to understand why water should be the first beverage of choice.

Why Water?

– Every serving of sugary drinks a child consumes increases his or her chances of becoming overweight or obese by about 60%.

– Adults who consume one or more sugary soft drinks a day are at 25% greater risk of developing Type II diabetes and becoming overweight.

– Drinking water instead of sugary drinks can help reduce cavities and tooth decay.

– Drinking water can boost metabolism and makes you feel fuller longer.

– Drinking water can help reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

– Water helps keep your body temperature normal.

– Water loosens and cushions joints.

– Water protects your spinal cord and other sensitive tissues.

– Water gets rid of waste through urination, perspiration, and bowel movements.

How can you make the switch?

  • Serve water with meals. Add fresh fruit, veggies, or mint leaves for a refreshing taste (called infused water).
  • Choose a small size and request that your drinks are made with fat-free milk, soymilk or almond milk at the coffee shop.
  • Make sure cold water is readily available, rather than soda or sugary drinks.
  • Keep a water bottle with you to refill throughout the day.
  • Add a splash of 100% fruit juice to sparkling water to make a tasty drink.

Next time you pour yourself a drink; do not pour on the pounds!   If you drink juice, add some water or seltzer to cut calories and sugars.  Skip sports or energy drinks and choose water.  This will quench your thirst.  Read labels and menu boards to learn how many calories and sugars are in your favorite drinks.

Written by: Beth Stefura, Ohio State University Extension, Family & Consumer Sciences, stefura.2@osu.edu.

Reviewed by: Donna Green, Ohio State University Extension, Family & Consumer Sciences. green.308@osu,.edu






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Shop your way to health!

Most of us are aware of the benefits of healthy eating – plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grain products and low fat dairy and lean protein. However it is easy to forget the “rules” as we hurry through the grocery store to purchase food for our family.

The Food Marketing Institute estimates that a large grocery store may carry over 79,000 different items.  That is a lot of choice! Fortunately there are some guidelines that we can follow to help us navigate through the bountiful offerings in today’s grocery stores.

Let’s start in the produce section. The US Dietary Guidelines recommend that ½ of our plate should be fruits and vegetables.  Look for a variety of colors and textures as you make your choices. Bright yellow peppers, red tomatoes and dark leafy greens provide valuable nutrients.  A dessert of ripe red strawberries and bright blueberries with just a dollop of whipping cream should satisfy anyone’s sweet tooth.  Purchasing fruits and vegetables that are canned or frozen can also provide healthy meals for your family – just remember to watch for added salt or sugar.

Now, let’s move on to the grain aisle.  Remember to aim for at least 50% of your grains being whole grain.  When making your choices, don’t be fooled by items that are brown in color but do not have a whole grain as the first item on the ingredient list.  This can apply also to bread, rice, pasta and other grain products. Examples of whole grains include whole-wheat flour, oatmeal, whole cornmeal, and brown rice. Since cereal is a staple in many households, look for those that are higher in fiber and lower in added sugars.

As you shop in the dairy aisle, think about the guidance of choosing low fat dairy. Fat free or 1% milk should be the staple for most adults and children over the age of 2.  Don’t forget that fat free milk provides the same amount of calcium and other important nutrients for our bodies as whole milk but without the fat! The same rules apply to cheeses and yogurt – the lower in fat the better.

As you make that final stop for protein foods, many think only of meat as the source of protein.  While lean cuts of meat can provide the protein that our bodies need, there are other sources that eliminate the fat that is associated with meats. ChooseMyPlate.gov recommends that we vary our choices for protein. Some good sources are eggs, dried beans and peas, fish, nuts, cheese, tofu, peanut butter, milk, and yogurt.

If you have noticed, we have shopped the perimeter of the grocery store, avoiding many of the processed products that we encounter up and down some of the center aisles.  By choosing mostly fresh, whole foods, we are providing our bodies with the healthy foods we need for a healthy lifestyle.


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

Reviewer: Jenny Lobb, OSU Extension, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Franklin County, Heart of Ohio EERA, lobb.3@osu.edu


Food Marketing Institute (2017). Supermarket Facts. https://www.fmi.org/our-research/supermarket-facts

US Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (2017). Dietary Guidelines. https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/

USDA ChooseMyPlate.gov (2016). All About the Grains Group. https://www.choosemyplate.gov/grains?source=Patrick.net

USDA ChooseMyPlate.gov (2017). 10 Tips: Vary Your Protein Routine.  https://www.choosemyplate.gov/ten-tips-with-protein-foods-variety-is-key


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