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Posts Tagged ‘food choices’

What’s in Your Breakroom?

breakroomIs there a breakroom in your office or place of work? If so, how would you describe it? Is it warm and inviting? Large? Small? Bright? Dark? Think about the food that you see on the counter tops, if any at all. Does your breakroom support people who are striving to make healthy choices? Or, like mine, is it a place full of tempting but unhealthy food that you try to avoid?

Research suggests that taking short breaks during the work day can improve focus and increase productivity, but the breakroom may not be the best place to take a breather- depending on the foods that are available there. A breakroom full of sweet treats can quickly sabotage the best diet-related intentions. A breakroom free of unhealthy choices, on the other hand, can support physical health while also promoting socialization and collaboration amongst coworkers.

If the food environment in your breakroom is less than ideal, consider making or advocating for the following changes:

  • Make sure that drinking water and cups are freely available to all. Water may be 2015-09-24 18.41.07 (1)accessible via a water cooler, drinking fountain, or filtered pitcher that is kept in the fridge.
  • Provide access to a refrigerator and microwave so that coworkers can safely store and prepare healthy lunches from home.
  • Celebrate special occasions, such as birthdays, with fruit instead of cake.
  • Use a potluck sign-up sheet, such as those created by the Growing Healthy Kids Columbus Coalition, for office gatherings where food will be served.
  • Get rid of candy dishes. Replace with bowls of fruit, if desired.Fruit Basket
  • Create a healthy snack cabinet.
  • Establish a “no dumping” policy to discourage coworkers from bringing cakes, cookies or other desserts from home.
  • Encourage your director or CEO to sign a healthy meeting pledge to demonstrate your organization’s commitment to supporting a culture of health in the workplace.

If it seems daunting to advocate for these changes, take heart in knowing that a growing body of research supports improving the office food environment to support the health of employees. Healthy meeting resources from the American Cancer Society and the American Heart Association may assist you in making these changes. Once you speak up, you may be surprised by the number of coworkers who favor such changes. A healthier workplace has benefits for all!

Written by: Jenny Lobb, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, OSU Extension, Franklin County, lobb.3@osu.edu

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

References:

American Cancer Society (2009). Meeting Well. http://www.acsworkplacesolutions.com/meetingwell.asp

American Heart Association (2015). Healthy Workplace Food and Beverage toolkit. http://www.heart.org/idc/groups/heart-public/@wcm/@fc/documents/downloadable/ucm_465693.pdf

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (2011). Brief Diversions Vastly Improve Focus, Researchers Find. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110208131529.htm

 

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Are you planning a party this weekend for the Fourth of July?  Red, white and Blue is the theme for the weekend.  Fill the party with some healthy and tasty foods that celebrate these patriotic colors.waffle-1149934__180 (1)

Start the day with pancakes with blueberries, strawberries or cherries on top.  You may want to add a little whip cream.  Blueberries are about the only food that is blue, so you may be eating a lot of blueberries today; however they contain great nutrients including potassium, other minerals, antioxidants, fiber, and some vitamins.

For a snack, parfaits are delicious.  Layer vanilla or plain yogurt with red raspberries and blueberries and you can top with some granola.  Red grapes are delicious with yogurt, so you may want tWest Region DWD Projecto add some grapes.

For a red, white and blue salad for lunch or dinner mix together kale, spinach, or romaine with some dried cranberries, blueberries, and feta cheese.  Top with a poppy seed dressing.  Another idea is to slice some tomatoes and add a scoop of cottage cheese on top.

Some cool snacks and dessert ideas are:bowl-769148_960_720

  • Make watermelon cookies – Slice watermelon about an inch thick and use cookie cutters (star shape or other shapes) to cut shapes. Then icing with vanilla Greek yogurt.  You can add some blueberries or red, blue, and white sprinkles if you want.  Serve on a platter.
  • Make skewers of cherries, bananas and blueberries
  • Make some frozen pops layering strawberries or red raspberries, vanilla yogurt and blueberries.
  • If you have large strawberries, fill them with a small amount of whip cream and top with a blueberry.
  • Make blueberry cobbler and top with ice cream or whip cream and add some red raspberries on top.
  • Add some red raspberries and blue berries to a water pitcher and serve some fruity water. Strawberries or watermelon can also be added to water for a tasty drink.
  • If you are adventurous and want to try a unique red recipe, check out this Red Beet Humus. Serve with cucumbers and blue corn tortilla chips.
  • Check out fruits and veggies more matters for more patriotic food ideas. They have a cute American Flag veggie tray.

Enjoy the weekend and celebrate with red, white and blue.

 

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

Reviewer:  Cheryl Barber Spires, Program Specialist, SNAP-Ed, Ohio State University Extension

Resources:

University of Maryland Extension.  (February, 2014).  University of MD Extension Prince George’s County Newsletter.   Available at http://myemail.constantcontact.com/UME-Prince-George-s-County-Welcomes-New-Associate-Dean-.html?soid=1103622714568&aid=i1Ky-ErHreg#LETTER.BLOCK139

Fruit and Veggies More Matters.  (2016)   Feeling Patriotic. Available at http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/

Roni (2014).The Red, White and Blue Sweet Summer Salad.  Green Lite Bites.  Available at http://greenlitebites.com/2010/07/red-white-blue-sweet-summer-salad/

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I am the daughter of parents with Type 2 diabetes. My father passed away in 2012 due to complications with diabetes and my mother currently struggles with managing her diabetes. What does this all mean having Type 2 diabetes? It means that for my mom, her body does not make or use insulin very well. She takes pills and insulin daily to help control her blood sugar. It means she gets her A1C blood test quarterly to measure her average blood sugar over a three month period .momIt means it is important for her to eat healthy by choosing foods that are high in fiber, low in fat, sugar and salt such as fruits, vegetables, skim milk and whole grains.

Having lost a father due to complications with Diabetes, I feel strongly about educating others. I’ve had the opportunity to be part of a team of Ohio State University Extension educators and researchers who have developed a self-paced online course to help participants learn, share and chat with health professionals about managing diabetes.

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  • The course, Dining with Diabetes: Beyond the Kitchen focuses on carbohydrates, fats, sodium, vitamins, minerals and fiber. The easy to follow three-module course includes lessons, videos and activities to complete.

Participants can expect to learn:

  • How important blood sugar and carbohydrates are for managing diabetes.
  • How fats and sodium affect a healthy diet.
  • The role vitamins, minerals and fiber play in a healthy diet.
  • How to make healthy food choices when eating out and grocery shopping.

After completion of the course, participants receive a printable certificate. They are also automatically entered in a quarterly drawing for a $100 Amazon.com gift card.

Sign up is easy and free. Visit go.osu.edu/DWD_BTK and click “buy now.” The course will be added to cart for checkout at no cost. After completing the transaction, participant will be required to create an account with campus.extension.org to take advantage of all the materials.

For questions or assistance, contact Dan Remley at remley.4@osu.edu or Susan Zies at zies.1@osu.edu.

Writer: Susan Zies, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Wood County, zies.1@osu.edu

Reviewer: Dan Remley,Field Specialist, Food, Nutrition and Wellness, Ohio State University Extension, remley.4@osu.edu

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range

 

Recently I had to replace my beloved stove. It had served me well over the years with family dinners, parties and countless cooking experiments.  I researched the various models, features and recommendations and was prepared to make an educated, informed decision.

When I finally started making the rounds at the appliance stores to check out the new ranges, I wasn’t prepared for a specific feature I found on a majority of the ranges. Chicken Nugget and Pizza pre-set buttons. What’s this? Does our nation eat chicken nuggets and pizza to such an extent that we need to have those two specific foods singled out for pre-set buttons so we can heat them up in a moment’s notice?  Are we perceived by appliance manufacturers as consumers of convenience foods in massive quantities?

Other countries already see Americans as huge drive-thru/convenience food eaters; is it any wonder the appliance industry followed suit? What will be next? Refrigerators with high sugar beverage or energy drink dispensers? It’s no wonder the current dietary guidelines have started to shorten their estimates of life expectancy—we know our children won’t live as long as their grandparents.  Their diets are not health-supporting.

The 2015 dietary guidelines recommend that Americans start to shift their food choices from convenience foods to more fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to improve overall health. In the next couple of years there will also be more health messages touting the danger of excessive sugar in beverages and energy drinks.

At a recent meeting with colleagues, I observed several co-workers pull yogurt, fresh fruit, vegetables with hummus, and various vegetables out of their lunch bags to consume during our working lunch. It struck me how easy these simple, healthy foods are to eat, yet so powerful. I am grateful to be part of a group of health-focused individuals that are not just “talking the talk,” but also “walking the walk.” Let’s all do our part to improve the American diet and get healthy along the way!

P.S. I ended up purchasing a range that has no pre-set nugget/pizza buttons, and look forward to future cooking adventures!

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

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

References: Am J Clin Nutr January 2015 vol.109 no.1 6-16

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OrganicCauliflower

Cauliflower

In the same way you used to roll your eyes and tune out your mother when she said “eat more vegetables and fruits,” your eyes will probably glaze over at yet another reminder. But of all the health messages we receive on a daily basis, this one really is one of the easiest to assimilate, and it can make a huge difference in whether or not you will develop a chronic disease.

Why should you eat more vegetables and fruits? Research shows that eating a diet rich in vegetables and fruits may reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease–and that includes both heart attack and stroke. It may also (1) provide protection against certain types of cancers; (2) help you maintain or lose weight; and (3) enable you to consume more fiber, which keeps you feeling full and aids in elimination.

Not sure how much to eat? Just fill half your plate with vegetables and fruits. Sound too simple?  That’s because it is! Just remember to select whole fruits (instead of juice) and vary your veggies.

To help you get there, one vegetable in particular you might want to reconsider is cauliflower. It is the flower of the plant; growing in tight, compact clusters. This mild white vegetable is available fresh or frozen. Most of us eat cauliflower raw with dip or steamed as part of a vegetable medley. I personally love it steamed with broccoli, carrots and onions. It is colorful and tasty, and steaming seems to bring out a mellower flavor.

Why should you eat cauliflower?

Want a new way to enjoy this vegetable from the cabbage family?

  • Make low-calorie “mashed potatoes” with cauliflower.
  • Roast it for a crunchy unique flavor. I added a dash of smoked paprika for more flavor.

    Roasted Cauliflower

    Roasted Cauliflower

  • Try cauliflower pizza crust – great if you eat gluten free or are watching your calories.
  • Make stir-fry using cauliflower as one of the vegetables. Stir-fry onion, garlic, and cauliflower, then add flavor with low sodium soy sauce. After the vegetables are crispy, add two beaten eggs. Heat until eggs are firm, and then serve with brown rice and quinoa.

    stirfry

    Stir -Fry

  • Enjoy Cauliflower-Cheese Soup on a cool winter day.
  • Try this kid friendly and cute idea, named “Hiding Rabbits”.
Rabbitcrop

Hiding Rabbits

One head of cauliflower can yield about 10 ½ cup servings.

So… I challenge you that next time you are at the grocery, pick up a head of cauliflower and find a new way to enjoy this healthy vegetable.

 

 

Sources:

https://news.illinoisstate.edu/2015/11/healthy-eating-getting-creative-cauliflower/

http://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/healthy_eating/fruits_vegetables.html

http://choosemyplate.gov

Photo Credits: Doug Wilson

Michelle Treber

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

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

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hot-chocolateHot chocolate is my favorite drink during the fall and winter months. The snow was falling outside and I was anxious for my 1st cup of the New Year. However, I made a New Year’s Resolution to be healthier and watch my sugar intake. Have you ever taken time to stop and read the nutrition label on a box of hot chocolate?  The first two ingredients are sugar and corn syrup. Cocoa is not listed until the fifth ingredient. My once loved drink was slowly adding weight to my body. One cup of hot chocolate can contain anywhere from four to seven teaspoons of sugar. Since my favorite way of making mine is with reduced fat milk and using original hot chocolate packaged mix I was drinking SEVEN teaspoons of sugar in one cup!

I was not going to let one little drink ruin my goal of becoming healthier. I set out to find a better option. Standing at the grocery store my mind was overloaded with all the different options. All too many times we believe what we read on the outside of the box instead of taking the time to read the nutrition label. No sugar added had to be better for me right? It should have fewer calories. Or what about the all-natural versions where you can pronounce all the ingredients?  There aren’t any added sweeteners or artificial flavors in them. What if I pick the dark chocolate flavor? Dark chocolate has antioxidants so that hast to be the best option. What about my whipped cream or marshmallows on top?

So what is a person to do when they still want that cup of hot chocolate but are trying to be healthier? The American Heart Association offers some suggestions on how to trim the calories by using fat free milk, low sugar hot chocolate packets and a minimal amount of toppings. If you would prefer, make it yourself so you can control the amount of sugar. Chances are you probably already have the ingredients in your kitchen. By personally controling the amount of sugar you are using it’s no longer the number one ingredient. Start with taking your favorite hot chocolate recipe and only use half the amount of sugar. It will not seem as sweet but you can add cinnamon, nutmeg or vanilla extract to help give it that extra something special. For a greater depth of flavor try simmering a cinnamon stick with your milk. Maybe you are looking for a recipe that is a sophisticated, European-style of hot chocolate which is thick and rich.

A healthier version of hot chocolate is very doable and in moderation has great health benefits. After all cocoa beans do come from seeds of a fruit that is grown on trees in tropical forests. That makes chocolate a fruit right?

 

Source: Gampel, S., & Bobroff, L. B. (2010, October). Dark Chocolate Benefits. Retrieved from http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/FM/FM38300.pdf

Source: Core, J. (2005, April 4). In Chocolate, More Cocoa Means Higher Antioxidant Capacity . Retrieved from http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/pr/2005/050404.2.htm

Author: Amanda Bohlen, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Washington County, bohlen.19@osu.edu

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

 

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Exciting news, the 2015 – 2020 updated Dietary Guidelines were just released. These Guidelines are updated by a team of nutrition and medical experts from across the country focusing on scientific and medical evidence in the nutrition field. This exclusive group of committee members included experts from Harvard, Yale, Duke, Tufts University, and our own Ohio State University. The results of their work are found in five basic guidelines: dietary guidelines

  • Follow a healthy eating pattern across the lifespan. To reduce your risk of chronic disease, choose foods and beverages at an appropriate level to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight.
  • Focus on variety, nutrient density, and amount. Plan to include a variety of vegetables especially dark green, red, orange, and legumes (beans and peas). Eat fruits, fat-free or low-fat dairy and whole grains. Consume a variety of protein foods like seafood, lean meats, eggs, nuts, soy products, and legumes.
  • Limit calories from added sugars and saturated fats and reduce sodium intake. Look to foods and beverages in their simple state and avoid those with added sugars, fats, and sodium.
  • Shift to healthier food and beverages choices. Choose nutrient-dense foods and reduce less healthy choices. Examples might include colorful vegetables and fruits, whole grain pasta or rice, low fat milk or yogurt, and a variety of proteins including beans, eggs, poultry, fish, and other low-fat choices.
  • Support healthy eating patterns for all. We each have a role in creating and supporting healthy eating – from home to school to work to community.

This eighth version of the Dietary Guidelines has less major changes than past versions, with the apparent changes being an increased focus on less sodium, fat and sugar (especially those that are added to foods or drinks); and less emphasis on cholesterol content of foods. By following a healthy eating pattern with a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, proteins, seeds or nuts, and low-fat dairy we will all have less risk of chronic disease like cancer, heart disease, or diabetes. This version of the guidelines also includes a wonderful reminder that we all have a role in making healthy eating a priority.

What change can you make to shift your diet to a healthier pattern? Small changes to improve, as well as poor choices both add up. For further information go to http://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/.

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.

Sources:

Dietary Guidelines for Americans, http://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/.

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