Archive for October, 2017

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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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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Gardening can help people stay active, provide plentiful food, and elevate mood gardenbut doing it incorrectly can lead to back pain, joint aches, and muscle strains.  Gardening can also be difficult for people with health conditions that limit movement (such as arthritis) or cause fatigue.  But with a few strategies, gardening can be a pleasurable and safe activity for all.

Each year, over 2 million people are injured during gardening or yard work activities, peaking in the spring and summer seasons.  Many of these injuries include low back pain and overuse injuries, which can be prevented or minimized.

Gardening is a year round “sport”!

The gardener must preserve in self care the year through, staying active in the dark winter months when we dreamily read seed catalogs, tending to our bodies so that when spring comes round again, we can prevent injury by cultivating our:

  • Flexibility for bending to harvest and reaching a trellis;
  • Strength for carrying buckets of compost and hoeing;
  • Endurance so you can spend entire days outside; and
  • Balance to prevent falls in precarious situations.

If exercising on its own does not call you, remember the higher vision:  garden 2

Find motivation in picturing yourself at peace in your garden.

Protecting Your Bones:  Gardening with Osteoporosis or Osteopenia (Excerpted from a newsletter of the Canadian Osteoporosis Patient Network (April 2014) & the International Osteoporosis Foundation)

Those of us with osteoporosis/-penia may worry that pain and fractures, or the fear of pain and fractures, will mean giving up our gardens.  Gardening involves walking, squatting, kneeling, digging, pulling and lifting, and all done in the fresh air.  As you hoe, plant, water and harvest, your body engages in effective weight-bearing and resistance activities that contribute to good bone health – as long as you start slowly and move safely.  For safe movement during gardening, follow guidelines and:

  • Do not participate in exercises or movement that flex or rotate the spine.
  • If you feel any new pain while gardening, stop immediately and consult with your health care provider.
  • You may need to rethink your garden to make it easier to maintain. Decide which tasks are difficult or painful. You may decide to remove or change aspects of your garden to make it safer and easier to maintain.
  • Break loads into smaller portions, carrying 2 light buckets instead of one.
  • If you need to reach down for something, try bending from the hips and keep your back straight.
  • Make sure you take regular breaks so as not to become tired and thereby increase the risk of injury.
  • Don’t hesitate to get help for specific tasks if required. Leave to others the tasks which may involve heavier lifting, or are too physically challenging. You might be surprised at how many neighbors or friends would be happy to help if asked!
  • Go slowly and don’t get frustrated – it doesn’t matter if you can’t do everything at once.

For more information, visit a Physical Therapist specializing in Bone Health.

Source:  Ohio State University Extension, 2017 Ohio Master Gardener Volunteer Conference, Growing Strong:  Self-Care & Fitness for the Gardener, Laura Ann Bergman, Physical Therapist Assistant, Ohio Health, laura.bergman@ohiohealth.com

Source:  Growing Strong:  Self Care and Fitness for the Gardener, OhioHealth Inc. 2013.  Special thanks to:  The Ohio Health Foundation for Grady Memorial Hospital for supporting the creation of this workshop and publication.

Gardener’s Fitness – Weeding out the Aches and Pains, Barbara Pearlman.
Gardener’s Yoga – 40 Yoga Poses to Help Your Garden Flow, Veronica D’Orazio.


References:  The American Occupational Therapy Association at www.aota.org ; The American Physical Therapy Association at www.apta.org ; University of Virginia Cooperative Extension, Gardening and Your Health series at https://pubs.ext.vt.edu/content/dam/pubs_ext_vt_edu/426/426-065/426-065_pdf.pdf ; AgrAbility at https://agrability.osu.edu/  ; and Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety at www.ccohs.ca

Adapted by:  Janet Wasko Myers, Program Assistant, Horticulture, Ohio State University Extension, Clark County, myers.31@osu.edu

Reviewed by:  Kathy Green, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Clark County, green.1405@osu.edu

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My brother-in-law and sister had to put their beloved dog to sleep a few months ago. Needless to say, this was a sad time for them. Tom (my brother-in-law) recently shared an observation about his weight during this time. When . they had to put their dog, Chippy to sleep, his average weight was 199. He noticed a weight gain of 9-10 pounds after this time. Since they brought home a new puppy, Chummy, his weight has dropped by 5 pounds!

What does this have to do with your health? According to the American Heart Association, owning a pet – a dog, in particular, can be good for your heart health.  This article supports the findings that my brother-in-law recently shared with me. The CDC also reports that having a pet can decrease your blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides levels and decrease your feelings of loneliness.

These factors may contribute to his recent weight loss:

  • Taking a walk at least twice a day with Chummy
  • Enjoying the social interaction with the new puppy
  • Spending time with the puppy which makes it easier to avoid snacking

If you can’t have or don’t want a pet, what can you do to improve your heart health? Go back to the basics:

Enjoy physical activity most days of the week for at least 30 minutes. It is fine to break up the 30 minutes into three 10-minute sessions. Adults should aim for 150 minutes per week.

Eat a diet rich in vegetables and fruits. Enjoy a wide variety of nutrient rich veggies & fruits. Be creative with the way you add them to your day. Start the day with a fruit or veggie for breakfast (think smoothie, veggies added to eggs, or a piece of fresh fruit).

Need more help? Visit MyPlate’s SuperTracker to customize your food and activity plan. It is free and easy and will help you on your wellness journey.

While you are enjoying the health benefits from you new (or old) pet, don’t forget basic cleanliness habits to keep you and your family from becoming ill. One reminder from CDC is to wash your hands after handling your pet, pet food or treats or if you pick up their stools.  Not sure how to wash your hands? Here are the basics on handwashing from CDC:

  • Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
  • Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  • Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Do you need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
  • Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  • Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them

Are these good reasons to get a pet? Yes! Remember that if you are ready for a new furry family member, it just might help your health!








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

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


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