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Have you heard the buzzing sound or felt the itchy bites? Mosquitoes armosquito-213805__180e around.  We used to think the itchy bite marks were just a pest.  Now, we hear more and more about diseases the mosquitoes are carrying.

Mosquitoes can carry serious diseases.  Some experts consider the mosquito the world’s most deadly animal.  Most mosquito-related illnesses occur in Africa.  In the United States the West Nile Virus is the most serious disease carried by the mosquitoes, but we may soon see Zika Virus, dengue fever and Chikungunya.  Thus, it’s important to take some precautions.

Most people have no symptoms with West Nile virus infections.  However, one in five people develop mild symptoms such as fever, headache, or nausea.  About one in 150 people get very ill.    Your dog also needs protection with monthly heartworm medication to prevent mosquito-borne illness.

How do you keep your family and yourself safe?  Following the three “D’s” are the best recommendation.

Drain:  With about 200 different species of mosquitoes in the U.S., the best way is to eliminate the breeding ground for mosquitoes.

  • Remove any stagnant water you have around your property such as potsbird-bath-179928_960_720, tools, trash cans, or other places where water has collected. Unclog roof gutters.
  • Empty water containers like flower pots, bird baths, wading pools or children’s toys, at least once a week.

Dress:  If you need to be outside sometime between dusk to dawn when mosquitoes may be active watch what you wear.   Mosquitoes are attracted to dark clothing and may bite through tight-fitting clothing.

  • Wear long sleeves and long pants in light-colors which are loose-fitting.

Defend:  Use a mosquito repellent when you feel it is needed.  Label directions should be followed on repellents containing the three active ingredients below approved by the EPA  to pose minimal risk for human safety.  These should not be used on children under two months.  Check with your health care provider before using on children.   Put sunscreen on first about 20 minutes before applying repellent.   The three approved active ingredients in repellents are:

  • DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide)
  • Picaridin (KBR 3023)
  • Oil of lemon eucalyptus (p-methane 3,8-diol, or PMD)

Since we do not have vaccines for most mosquito related illnesses, following the three “D’s” will help reduce your risk of getting a mosquito-borne illness.

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

Reviewer: Tammy Jones, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Pike County, jones.5640@osu.edu.

References:

American Mosquito Control Association. (2015). AMCA Tells Mosquitoes to “Buzz” Off During Mosquito Control Awareness Week, June 21-27.  Available at http://www.mosquito.org/assets/AwarenessWeek/amca%20mosquito%20control%20awareness%20week%202015_press%20release.pdf

American Mosquito Control Association. (2016). Mosquito Prevention and Protection.  Available at http://www.mosquito.org/assets/Resources/mosquito%20prevention%20fact%20sheet.pdf

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2015). Mosquito Bites Prevention.   Available at http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/mosquito-bites/basics/prevention/con-20032350

NIH News in Health. (2016). Block the buzzing, bites, and bumps.  Available at   https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/issue/apr2016/feature2

 

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This time of year is always magical from a gardening perspective. Perennials and bulbs are blooming, greenhouses are open and neighbors are planting their annuals. Nothing brings us out of our winter blahs faster than the scent of hyacinths and lilacs or the beauty of daffodils and tulips. Did you know that flowers serve more than just an aesthetic purpose? They also can improve our overall well-being.

Lilacs

Planting or keeping flowers around the home and in the workplace greatly reduces a person’s stress levels. Natural aesthetic beauty is soothing to people, and planting ornamental flowers around the home environment is an excellent way to lower levels of stress and anxiety. People who keep flowers in and around their home feel happier, less stressed, and more relaxed. As a result of the positive energy they derive from the environment, the chances of suffering from stress-related depression are decreased as well. Overall, adding flowers to your home or work environment reduces your perceived stress levels and makes you feel more relaxed, secure, and happy. Flowers can help you achieve a more optimistic outlook on your life; bringing you both pleasing visual stimulation and an increase in your perceived happiness.

Having plants, going for a walk in the park, or even looking at a landscape poster can produce psychological benefits, reduce stress, and improve concentration. Flowers cut from the garden add a pop of color to the living areas in the home. Bringing potted plants into your work space helps improve productivity, as well as an increase in creativity and job satisfaction.

Flowers

Don’t have a green thumb, struggling with some plants, or just beginning to plant?  Want some creative tips for new projects? The National Gardening Association has tons of information to help you out.  Allow the outdoors to bring out your natural beauty. Behold the powers of flowers!

Sources:

http://ellisonchair.tamu.edu/health-and-well-being-benefits-of-plants/#.VzyCdrgrK70

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/urban-mindfulness/200903/plants-make-you-feel-better

www.garden.org

www.onegreenplanet.org

Written by:  Melissa Welker M.Ed., B.S., Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Fulton County, Maumee Valley EERA, welker.87@osu.edu

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

 

 

 

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rhubarb

One of my favorite spring foods is rhubarb. I love rhubarb pie, rhubarb bread, and rhubarb crisp (ala mode, of course). This “pie plant” is primarily used as a fruit, but botanically, it’s a vegetable. Eaten alone, it is extremely tart. The only other comparable plant food that is as tart as rhubarb is a cranberry. And like the cranberry, rhubarb needs a little sugar or honey to balance out its acid content.

 

Rhubarb is a plant well suited to Ohio weather. It likes a cool, damp climate.  Rhubarb lovers believe that the highest quality rhubarb comes from our northern U.S. states and Canada. It is one of the first edible plants to appear in the spring garden.

 

Rhubarb is a perennial; it will come back year after year with little-to-no effort on your part. You should harvest the stalks when they are 12-18” long. The color of the stalks will range from green to dark red.  When picking rhubarb, pull it, don’t cut it.  Pull it away from the base (like celery) and give it a good tug.  It will snap off at the bottom.  Take only about 1/3 of the stalks at any one picking. More will keep growing to replace what you’ve pulled. Pick the largest stalks to use first.  And never eat the leaves; they are poisonous!

 

Nutritionally, rhubarb is not a powerhouse. It is 95% water, and provides some calcium, potassium, and a little bit of vitamins A and C.  However, a one-cup serving of rhubarb does contain two grams of fiber, and is only 26 calories b.s. (before sugaring). When combined with other fruits, you will pick up extra nutrients.  Good pairings include strawberries, apples, raspberries, or blueberries.

 

If you don’t have a rhubarb plant in your yard, you can purchase some at the grocery store or farm market. Stalks should look flat, not curled or limp.  Deep red stalks are sweeter than light pink ones.  To store, wrap rhubarb in plastic wrap and place in the vegetable crisper for up to a week. Some people like to peel rhubarb before they chop it; I don’t bother.  I just wash it and chop it. If you have extra that you want to save for winter treats, rhubarb is easy to freeze.

 

If you’ve never tried rhubarb bread before, the recipe below is a good one. Banana and zucchini bread will have to watch their backs with this spring-time winner!!

Rhubarb Streusel Bread

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped rhubarb

TOPPING:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon cold butter

Directions

In a mixing bowl, combine brown sugar and oil. Add egg, mix well. Stir in milk and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt; stir into wet ingredients until just moistened, do not over stir. Fold in the rhubarb. Pour into two greased 8-inch loaf pans.

For topping, combine sugar, cinnamon and butter until crumbly; sprinkle over batter. Bake at 350 degrees for 60-65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks.

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

Sources:

http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/rhubarb

https://extension.usu.edu/fscreate/files/uploads/FS_Vegetables/rhubarb_how_to_nourish_with_FINAL.pdf

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When my daughter was a toddler, she had a talking toy Bullwinkle Moose that said “walking is good for you!”  For years it was a bit of a family joke and every time we went for a walk, someone had to quote Bullwinkle.      walking_focus_destress

Now, science is firmly behind the concept that walking really is good for you!  Among others, the American Heart Association promotes the positive benefits of walking. The simple of activity of walking can:

  • Reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.
  • Improve your blood pressure, blood sugar and blood lipids profile.
  • Maintain your body weight and lower risk of obesity.
  • Reduce your risk of osteoporosis, breast and colon cancer.
  • Reduce your risk of non-insulin dependent (type 2) diabetes.

What do you need to start walking?  Basically you just need comfortable supportive shoes and a safe place to walk.

The Mayo Clinic gives some suggestions for starting and maintaining a walking habit.

  • Set yourself up for success! Have a simple, attainable goal. Maybe the first week you plan to walk 5 minutes at lunch time.  Once that becomes a habit, gradually add time to your walk.
  • Track your progress. It can be very motivating to see how many miles you have walked in a week, month or year. You can record this in a journal, a spreadsheet or an online app.
  • Make it enjoyable. Some people like to walk alone, listening to music or just enjoying some “me” time. Others prefer to walk with a friend or two. Find out what works for you.
  • Vary your routine. Plan a couple of different routes – walk outside when possible or join others walking at the gym or local mall. If you’re walking alone, let someone know where you will be walking. Keep your cell phone in your pocket for emergency calls! If you have a light or whistle, take it with you.
  • If you miss a day or two, don’t give up! Remind yourself how good you felt when you were walking regularly and ease back into it.

While walking is a relatively low risk activity, you still want to think of preventing injuries to yourself. If you haven’t been active, start slow and gradually add to your time, distance and speed.  To avoid blisters, some studies have shown that synthetic fiber socks can be better than cotton socks which absorb moisture and increase friction. Shin splints (pain on the front of your lower leg) and knee pain can be prevented or minimized by wearing proper, supportive footwear and stretching and strengthening the supportive muscles.

Remember, every step you take helps you lead a healthier life. So, get up, lace on your walking shoes and get going!

walking shoes

Written by: Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, FCS, OSU Extension, Franklin County rabe.9@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Michelle Treber, Extension Educator, FCS, OSU Extension ,Pickaway County treber.1@osu.edu

Sources:

The Mayo Clinic. Walking: Trim your waistline, improve your health.
http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/walking/art-20046261?pg=1
The American Heart Association.  Walking, Take the first step.

http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/PhysicalActivity/Walking/Walking_UCM_460870_SubHomePage.jsp

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b3

As we work our way into the warmer summer months, I have one thing on my mind…fresh local berries! Local berries have a completely different flavor profile than the ones often found in the grocery store. They are ripe, juicy, and very sweet. Not only do these berries add some sweetness to your diet, they also pack a punch nutritionally. Some important components of berries include anthocyanins, antioxidants, dietary fiber, phytochemicals, and Vitamin C.

Anthocyanins are power antioxidants from the blue, purple, and red color pigments that are found in berries. They have been associated with:

  • reduced risk of cancer
  • improved urinary tract health
  • improved memory
  • helping with aging

Antioxidants neutralize free radicals in the body to keep our cells healthy.  Dietary fiber 1) helps to keep our GI system healthy 2) lowers our risk for heart disease 3) reduces our blood cholesterol levels and 4) may prevent some cancers. Phytochemicals are naturally occurring antioxidants that have a disease-fighting, cell-protecting antioxidant capacity. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and a water soluble vitamin.

  • One cup of strawberries provides over 150% of your daily value for Vitamin C, contains folate, fiber, and antioxidants.
  • Blueberries contain about 85 calories per cup, and are loaded with antioxidants.berry
  • Blackberries contain less than 50 calories per cup, have a high antioxidant content, and contain anthocyanins.
  • Raspberries contain about 50 calories per cup, are rich in some flavonoids, and also play a role to keep cells healthy.

Did that convince you to add these nutritious little berries to your diet? The price of berries will go down as the season is approaching.

Another way to get your hands on some berries (besides the grocery store) is to pick them yourself! Pick-your-own is a great way to support local farmers and have fresh produce. Make it a family outing to maximize the amount you can pick! Look at http://www.pickyourown.org/OH.htm to find a pick-your-own farm near you. These berries are great eaten plain, added to a yogurt parfait, blended into a smoothie, baked into a fresh fruit pie, added into a refreshing drink, or can even be frozen to enjoy year round! What sounds delicious to you?

Author: Ashley Parsons, BGSU Dietetic Intern with Wood County Extension and Susan Zies, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences

Reviewer:  Cheryl Barber Spires, RD, LD, SNAP-Ed Program Assistant, Ohio State University Extension, spires.53@osu.edu

References:

Strawberry Nutrition.” Driscoll’s. Driscolls, n.d. Web. 03 May 2016.

http://www.driscolls.com/nutrition-health/berry-nutrition-facts/strawberry-nutrition

“Blueberry Nutrition Facts And Health Benefits.” Driscoll’s. Driscolls, n.d. Web. 03 May 2016.

http://www.driscolls.com/nutrition-health/berry-nutrition-facts/blueberry-nutrition

“Blackberry Nutrition.” Driscoll’s. Driscolls, n.d. Web. 03 May 2016.

http://www.driscolls.com/nutrition-health/berry-nutrition-facts/blackberry-nutrition

“Raspberry Nutrition.” Driscoll’s. Driscolls, n.d. Web. 03 May 2016.

http://www.driscolls.com/nutrition-health/berry-nutrition-facts/raspberry-nutrition

“Fact Sheets.” For Blackbe_wp_link_placeholderrries, Blueberries, Raspberries, and Strawberries ~ Connecting Berry Health Benefit Researchers. Oregon Raspberry & Blackberry Commission, n.d. Web. 03 May 2016.

http://berryhealth.fst.oregonstate.edu/health_healing/fact_sheets/

Photo Credit: Ashley Parsons, Photographs taken at Schooner Farms; Weston, Ohio and Red Wagon Farm, Columbia Station, Ohio

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salsa

 

Most people know that today is known as Cinco de Mayo but many aren’t aware that May is National Salsa Month.  National Salsa Month began in 1997, celebrating the 50th anniversary of Pace® salsa in recognition of the popularity and unique heritage of salsa.

In observance, you should consider trying to make your own homemade salsa.  All it takes are some fresh ingredients and some dicing!  If you don’t have all of the seasonings on hand, most grocery stores carry salsa seasoning packets in the produce section.  This could save you time and money.

Most salsas are tomato-based but there are many recipes available that use a variety of other ingredients.

  • Mangos
  • Pineapples
  • Peaches
  • Apples
  • Corn
  • Carrots

Salsa is typically eaten as a dip with tortilla chips but it can also be used to add flavor to other main dish items, such as chicken and beef.

Interested in preserving your own salsa?  You should always follow a tested home canning recipe.  Here are some resources to use:

Do not add extra ingredients to the salsa recipe prior to processing it as this can affect the acidity of the salsa which is critical to the safety of the home-canned product.  You can always add extra ingredients right before serving the salsa, if you desire.

Keep food safety in mind when storing your salsa.  Refrigeration is the key to enjoying salsa safely.  Once commercially-prepared salsa or home-canned salsa is opened, the unused portion must be refrigerated.  “Fresh” salsa must also be refrigerated.  Fresh salsa has a much shorter shelf life than the canned or jarred versions.

Whether you like to preserve your own, make fresh salsa, or pick up a jar at the grocery store, enjoy some during National Salsa Month.

Sources:

Ohio State University Extension.  http://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/HYG-5339

University of Connecticut Extension.   http://4-hfans.uconn.edu/recipes/05may.php

University of Nebraska Lincoln Extension.  http://food.unl.edu/documents/May_SalsaMonth_Webletter_04_30_14.pdf

University of Wyoming Cooperative Extension Service.  http://www.wyomingextension.org/agpubs/pubs/B1210-4.pdf

USDA, National Institute of Food and Agriculture.  http://nchfp.uga.edu/publications/usda/GUIDE03_HomeCan_rev0715.pdf

 

Writer: Tammy Jones, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Pike County, jones.5640@osu.edu

Reviewer: Melissa Welker, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Fulton County, welker.87@osu.edu

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Recipes that offer variety and flexibility are very appropriate for today’s society.  Making MyPlate choices as you make grocery selections helps this week’s meals come together more easily.

Brown rice is a nutrition powerhouse that provides whole grains and B vitamins and great energy.  Versatility is fun when it comes to rice bowls.  Breakfast lunch and dinner all have options that can begin with this inexpensive and nutritious grain.  On average a half cup serving of brown rice costs just 10 cents.

A good suggestion is to cook a large quantity of brown rice at one time and have it on hand for the week.  It freezes well and retains moisture.  It can be stored in the freezer for up to 6 months.

MyPlate on a Budget is a helpful resource that offers many great tips and recipes that keep food expenses low and nutrient intake high.  One of the sections in this online resource is devoted to whole grains.  Take a look at the Brown Rice Bowl assortments below and choose some favorites.  You can also add your own preferred flavors and come up with unique concoctions.

brown rice

As you incorporate brown rice into your healthy eating pattern, please share some of your creations and most loved ideas with all of us.  Your go-to meal or snack may be someone else’s new pick.

USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) and MyPlate encourage making half of our grains whole.  Adding brown rice to your rotation is one step towards meeting that goal.  Once a large batch is cooked, time is saved and by planning ahead you can have a plethora of options at your fingertips.  Enjoy!

Sources:
http://www.choosemyplate.gov/
http://www.fns.usda.gov/sites/default/files/fdd/101031_Rice_Brown_Long_Grain_Parboiled.pdf
http://food.unl.edu/now-youre-cooking-brown-rice
http://www.choosemyplate.gov/sites/default/files/budget/MeetingYourMyPlateGoalsOnABudget.pdf
http://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/chapter-1/a-closer-look-inside-healthy-eating-patterns/

Reviewer:  Jennifer Even, Extension Educator, EFNEP/FCS, Ohio State University Extension, Hamilton County, even.2@osu.edu

 

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