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Posts Tagged ‘Fruits & Vegetables’

A bowl of raspberries

It’s 3 pm – a few hours since lunch but not quite time for dinner. Your stomach starts to rumble a bit and you are low in energy. You open the fridge and cannot find anything you want so you turn to the cupboard and end up mindlessly snacking.

I know I am not alone when I say this: I often need a snack in the afternoon! However, a snack can turn into an additional meal if you do not have the right snacks on hand. On average, about one-fourth of daily calories are provided by snacks.  In fact, snacking more times in a day has been found to be associated with consuming more calories. For this reason, it is important to have healthy snacks available so that when you do get hungry between meals, you have something nutrient-dense ready. Follow these three simple tips to improve your snacks and avoid mindless snacking:

Plate of Hummus, sliced vegetables and pita chips

1. Plan your snacks

Next time you go to the store, make sure to add your snacks to the grocery list. Preparing single-serving snacks can help you have just enough to satisfy your hunger. Some staples that I keep on hand in the fridge are baby carrots and hummus or guacamole. Rather than eating out of the tub of hummus or the bag of carrots, portion some out onto a plate or cup. This will help you avoid excessive snacking.

2. Make healthy shifts with snacks

Try different fruits and vegetables to find the perfect snack for yourself. Foods and beverages that contribute the most calories for snacks are not the most nutritious options. By opting for a more nutrient-dense snack, you are making a healthier choice for your body and can improve your health. Rather than opting for chips and nacho cheese, try cowboy caviar and fresh veggies. Instead of opting for a granola bar with added sugar, try eating fresh fruit. Switch any refined grains to whole grains. Transition beverages with added sugars to no-sugar-added beverages. These small changes can make a big difference over time.

Plate of bean, corn and veggie salsa

3. Keep temptations out of sight

Keeping tempting foods out of sight may help you avoid choosing them as snacks. It may also be helpful to keep them out of the house altogether! If you don’t have them in your house, you cannot have them unless you go to the store to get them.

What changes can you make to enjoy healthier snacks? Are there any Healthy Snack Hacks you will try?

Written by: Miriam Knopp, Dietetic Intern, The Ohio State University.

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

Sources:

USDA Choose MyPlate (2016). “10 Tips: MyPlate Snack Tips for Parents.” www.choosemyplate.gov/ten-tips-snack-tips-for-parents.

Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015–2020, 8th Edition. “Shift to healthier food and beverage choices.” https://health.gov/sites/default/files/2019-10/DGA_Shift-to-Healthier-Choices.pdf

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2015). “NHANES – What We Eat in America.” www.cdc.gov/nchs/nhanes/wweia.htm.

UCSF Health. “Behavior Modification Ideas for Weight Management.” www.ucsfhealth.org/education/behavior-modification-ideas-for-weight-management.

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The pandemic prompted many more people to plant vegetable gardens this year. Both seed companies and Extension Master Gardener programs have noticed this increase between purchases and visits to online courses and resources.  Some people had the time to plant because they were off work or working at home, others planted as a way to relieve their stress, and many planted to ensure they would have fresh produce for the summer (and maybe longer if they preserved by canning, drying, or freezing). In Ohio, these gardens are now yielding green beans, zucchini, tomatoes, fresh herbs, cucumbers, onions, sweet corn, and much more. When the first vegetables ripen everyone is excited to fix them for lunch or dinner, but after a few weeks you may be wondering “Why did I plant so much?” or “What can I do with the rest of this, because my kids won’t eat corn again this week?” If this is you – Ohio State University Extension (and other Land Grant Universities, the National Center for Home Food Preservation, and the USDA) are here to help.home canned foods

There are several key points to keep in mind when you decide you want to preserve produce for the future, here are the top three:

  1. Always use reliable, approved guidelines from the National Center for Home Food Preservation, the USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning, or Cooperative Extension. You may ask “Why can’t I just use anything I see on the Internet or make my pepper relish the way my Great Grandma did?” The main reason is because especially low-acid foods (vegetables, meats, or seafood) have to be pressure canned to prevent botulism, which is serious stuff. By using resources from the above sources, you ensure that you are using safe, tested procedures that will provide high quality results. Check the date too, are you using a source from the last couple years? New research and procedures come out all the time. Make sure you are using materials dated in the last 5 years (even though it may be fun to look at a cookbook from 50 years ago, canning isn’t when you want to follow that recipe). Remember that canning is a science, not an art.
  2. Decide if are you are canning, freezing, or drying the produce based on your plans for future use and the foods your family will eat. It does not benefit your family to spend lots of time and purchase the supplies needed if they will not eat the final product you preserve. For example, there are many things you can do with tomatoes – salsa, canned whole tomatoes, tomato juice, spaghetti sauce, dried vegetable leather, and even spiced tomato jam. Consider the foods your family enjoys before you can 50 jars something that only one person likes.
  3. Ensure you have the proper supplies to make the product. Do you need a pressure canner, or can you use a hot water bath canner? Do you have enough Mason style canning jars or freezer quality containers? Do you need a food dehydrator, or can you use your oven or other drying racks? Here is a quick reference chart if you aren’t sure if you need to use a hot water bath or pressure canner.

In addition to the sources listed about for food preservation here are a few others:

Enjoy the fruits of your labor all year long by using safe preservation methods.

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

Reviewer: Kate Shumaker, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Holmes County.

Sources:

The National Center for Home Food Preservation, https://nchfp.uga.edu/

University of Minnesota Extension, https://extension.umn.edu/preserving-and-preparing/canning-quick-reference-chart

Utah State University Extension, https://extension.usu.edu/news_sections/home_family_and_food/food-preservation-tips.

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We have all been impacted one way or another by the Coronavirus pandemic. During a health crisis, taking preventative measures is important. The CDC has listed precautions people should be taking right now. These include washing your hands, staying away from people who may be sick, and protecting your nose and mouth with an appropriate mask. Another way to protect yourself from sickness is keeping your immune system strong, which is your body’s defense against illnesses.

The Cleveland Clinic notes 3 vitamins to boost your immune system:

Vitamin C: found in many fruits especially melons, berries, and citrus, bell peppers, and dark leafy green vegetables such as broccoli, kale, anFresh Vegetablesd spinach.

Vitamin B6: found in chickpeas, green vegetables, chicken, and fish.

Vitamin E: found in spinach, seeds, and nuts.

Additionally, The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics states these nutrients listed will also help boost your immune system:

Vitamin D: found in fortified milk and juice, eggs, and fatty fish.

Zinc: found both in animal and plant sources such as meat, beans, tofu, and nuts,

Beta carotene: found in plant foods such a potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, and mangos.

Probiotics: found in cultured dairy and fermented foods such as yogurt and sauerkraut.

Protein: both animal and plant-based sources, such as nuts, eggs, meat, beans, and fish.

Eating healthily during a pandemic can be tough but having long-lasting food on-hand is a great way to ensure you and your family are fed when practicing social distancing. There are also ways to focus on consuming the food listed above to keep those immune systems in tip-top shape. Before you stock up on all the frozen and non-perishable foods you can find, here are some tips to keep in mind:

Frozen meals: Be sure those frozen meals include some of the foods listed above, for example fruits and vegetables.

Pasta: Add some razzle dazzle to pre-packaged pasta meals such by adding vegetables to the dish or pair it with your favorites on the side. You can also try this stir fry recipe that includes meat and vegetables with packaged ramen noodles for a yummy twist.

Canned goods: great way to add some fruits, vegetables, and beans to any meal. And make sure your canned soup has vegetables in it for extra nutrients, and always look for the no-salt added version.

Smoothies: Make a smoothie with your favorite frozen fruit and be sure to use a little yogurt and orange juice for some added nutrients.

Snacks: Snacking is inevitable! Snack on things such as dried fruit, nuts, seeds, hummus, raw veggies, and more!

Below are two family fun snack and meal recipes that are sure to give you those nutrients that could give your immune system that extra boost!

Stuffed Bell Peppers

Fruit and Veggie Snacks

All in all, you eat your way to a stronger immune system. Note that supplements are not recommended unless necessary. And always consult with your doctor or a registered dietitian first. We will get through this uncertain time together!

About the author: Carmen Bell is a senior Nutrition and Food Science-Dietetics student with a Health and Human Performance minor at Middle Tennessee State University. She is a part of the MT Nutrition Team where she works to provide nutrition education to children, students, faculty, and staff on campus. Beginning summer 2020, she will be an Iowa State University Dietetic Intern and upon completion of the program will continue her process of becoming a registered dietitian. In the future, she will obtain her master’s degree in Leadership in Nutrition and wants to work will all ages on their health.

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

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 18% or 13.7 million children and adolescents in the United States are obese. This means that they have a body mass index at or above the 95th percentile of the CDC growth charts. It is projected that this epidemic will affect 50-80% of children in the United States by 2030.

Childhood obesity can result from an unbalanced diet consisting of high-calorie, low nutrient food and drink choices, lack of physical activity, and a rise in sedentary, screen-focused activities such as video gaming. Many studies have shown that children with obesity are at increased risk of developing short-term weight-related health conditions, as well as chronic conditions later in life. These children have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, heart disease, and even premature death. This condition can also impact mental health in children, causing isolation stemming from bullying, depression, poor self-esteem, and a general lack of confidence.

BUT! There is good news. Obesity does not have to follow children into adulthood. Adopting positive lifestyle choices as children can help establish healthy habits and prevent the onset of these weight-related health conditions. Although genetics and metabolic rates differ from one child to another, healthy eating and living an active lifestyle can help manage their weight status, regardless of whether the child is at a normal weight, overweight, or obese.

You may be thinking this sounds great in an ideal world where kids get excited about eating their greens, and request grilled chicken instead of chicken nuggets, but that’s just not the world we live in. So how can we get our kids to eat nutrient-packed, lower calorie foods?

Use fun colors! – Instead of using traditional colored foods, here are some fun ideas to make your child’s plate more vibrant:

  • Try rainbow colored carrots instead of regular carrots.
  • Make a rainbow veggie wrap with bright colored peppers, spinach, and red cabbage.
  • You can also use red cabbage juice, blueberry juice, or other natural dyes to color cauliflower, rice, and yogurt a new color!

Use fun shapes! – Try creating fun, new shapes with ordinary foods. rocket shaped sandwich with vegetables

  • Use cookie cutters to cut fruit or veggies into interesting shapes.
  • Try using a spiralizer or a spiral veggie knife to present vegetables into noodles or zoodles.

Hide the fruits and veggies! – Disguise fruits and vegetables in your child’s favorite foods

  • Create a tasty, nutrient-rich smoothie with your child’s favorite fruits and vegetables and freeze it into ice pops for a tasty treat.
  •  Substitute traditional dishes with healthier options that appear the same. Examples include mashed cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes or spaghetti squash to replace regular pasta.
  • Add healthier substitutes in a dish that looks similar. Try adding squash to macaroni and cheese, chopped vegetables in meatballs, or making chocolate pudding with banana, avocado, cocoa powder, and vanilla!

Lastly, get your kids involved in the kitchen! Letting children help in meal preparation can motivate them to eat the dish they helped create.

  • Mother and daughter shopping for fruit.It begins at the grocery store – Consider bringing kids along and let them help you pick the produce they find most appealing.
  • Encourage your child to find a recipe they want to make, which includes a fruit or vegetable, and make it together.
  • Give your child age-appropriate tasks during meal prep such as washing the produce, mixing ingredients, and setting the table!

Check out the Ohio State University Extension Office’s Nutrition page for information about additional activities, classes, and education. Incorporating these fun, simple ideas into your child’s routine can help them develop lifelong healthy habits which prevent the onset of conditions related to obesity. Teaching our children how to practice these lifestyle changes can impact this generation, and generations to come!

Sources:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/childhood/causes.html

The Harvard Gazette: https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2017/11/harvard-study-pinpoints-alarming-obesity-trends/

About the Author: Olyvia Norton is a senior student in the Nutrition and Food Science, Dietetics program at Middle Tennessee State University. Her interests are in clinical nutrition, specifically pediatric nutrition and nutrition support. She serves as the President of the Students of Tennessee Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, is an active member of the Nutrition and Dietetics Association at Middle Tennessee State University and works as a dietitian’s assistant in Middle Tennessee for patients with special needs. Olyvia also enjoys serving on medical mission teams outside of the United States to bring better nutrition to underserved populations in developing countries.

Reviewer: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Ross County, barlage.7@osu.edu.

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“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.”  – Audrey Hepburn

We’re moving into fall and eventually those long winter days and nights, so what better time to “Plan” a Vegetable Garden?”  According to Rory Lewandowski, Extension Educator, Agriculture/Natural Resources, Wayne County Ohio State University Extension, “The potential benefits of home vegetable gardening are numerous.  Successful gardens are the result of good planning, management, and careful workmanship.”

Interested in learning more about the various activities required for a successful home vegetable garden?  If you said “yes,” then you’ve come to the right place!

Why Have A Garden?

  • A well planned and a properly cared for garden can provide considerable food for family use from a small plot of land.  planting garden
  • Most home gardeners agree that “home grown” vegetables, freshly harvested, prepared, and eaten are the ultimate in fine vegetable flavor.
  • Fresh or preserved homegrown vegetables can help reduce family expenditures for food and make a valuable contribution to family nutrition.
  • Vegetable gardening can be an educational and fun activity for all individuals, families, and communities.
  • You can create real-life experiences and connections between gardening, health, cooking, food preservation, local foods, grocery stores, farmers markets, and community kitchens.
  • Good gardening results can be shared with others through vegetable exhibits at local, county, and state fairs. Gardeners find these activities exciting, fun, and challenging.

The “Favorite Fives” for a Successful Home Vegetable Garden!

  • Location – A good location provides adequate plant exposure to sunlight, fertile and well-drained soil, a nearby source of water, is close to the house, and is appropriate to the service area of the home landscape.
  • Soils – Vegetable plants grow best in a fertile, well-drained soil of loamy texture. However, most gardeners do not have such soil. Don’t overlook the aspect of soil preparation as less desirable soils can be modified with soil conditioners such as peat moss, compost, sawdust, or other available organic materials.
  • Garden Size – The garden should not be so large that the crops fail to receive proper care. Often times more high quality vegetables are obtained from small, well cared for plots than from large, neglected gardens. Don’t have any available ground?  Don’t forget about container gardening and/or community/rent-a-garden space.
  • What to Grow – More than 40 different vegetable crops can be grown in Ohio. If you’re from another state or location, check with your local cooperative extension service and/or agencies to see what’s available to you. The choice of crops depends largely upon the needs and tastes of the family and the amount of available growing space. If space is limited, consider planting crops that will be more productive.
  • The Fall Garden – Late summer or early fall plantings of vegetables that make rapid growth and mature crops before extremely cold weather sets in will enable the home gardener to extend the gardening season and get best use of the garden area.

Please refer to an excellent publication titled “Planning for the Garden” by Rory Lewandowski, Extension Educator, Agriculture/Natural Resources, Wayne County Ohio State University Extension.

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

Reviewed by:  Jami Dellifield, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Hardin County, dellifield.2@osu.edu

Sources:

Planning for the Garden.  Rory Lewandowski, Extension Educator, Agriculture/Natural Resources, Wayne County Ohio State University Extension.
https://wayne.osu.edu/sites/wayne/files/imce/Program_Pages/ANR/Garden/Planning%20and%20Planting%20%20the%20Garden.pdf

Ohioline.  Ohioline is an information resource produced by Ohio State University Extension. Through Ohioline, you have access to hundreds of OSU Extension fact sheets covering a wide array of subjects such as agriculture and natural resources, family and consumer sciences, community development, and 4-H youth development.
https://ohioline.osu.edu/about

Food Safety in Gardens.  Sanja Ilic, PhD, Assistant Professor and Food Safety State Specialist, Department of Human Sciences, Human Nutrition and Melanie Lewis Ivey, PhD, Assistant Professor, Fruit Pathologist, Department of Plant Pathology.
https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/hyg-1153

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Have you had a bounty of okra in your garden this summer? My co-workers have had great luck with the okra they grew – evidently the plants like the heat and extra rain we had in Southern Ohio. Because of their bountiful okra harvests, we have had a number of discussions of recipes and how to prepare this vegetable that you may not be as familiar with as others. Here are some okra basics.

Selection – okra pods are best when they are small to medium in size, about 2 to 4 inches long and bright in green color. Okra plant

Storage – the pods can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. For best storage, refrigerate unwashed (but dry) okra pods in a vegetable crisper. They may be loosely wrapped in a perforated plastic bag. The ridges and tips of the pods will turn dark, which indicates deterioration and need for immediate use.

Freezing for Longer Storage – By water blanching okra for 3 minutes you can hold the quality when freezing. Start by carefully washing, then lower okra into a pot of boiling water for 3 minutes. Use a metal blanching basket if you have one. Immediately plunge blanched okra into an ice bath for 3 minutes and carefully dry. Package into freezer containers and date.

Okra can also be pressure canned, follow this link to more information on that process OKRA.

Nutritional Value – 7 okra pods = a 25 calorie serving. They contain no fat or cholesterol, and are very low in sodium. They have 6 grams of carbohydrate and 3 grams of fiber. You can also get 30% of your Vitamin C for the day, as well as some folate, and magnesium with okra.

Skillet of roasted vegetables with okra, tomatoes, onions, and beansHow to Prepare – while there are a number of ways to prepare okra, several popular choices are roasted, grilled, or with tomatoes. Here is a link to several from the USDA Mixing Bowl – go.osu.edu/okra. The Italian Vegetable Medley with Okra, the Spicy Okra, or the Veggie Stir-Fry with Okra look like great ways to clean out the end of summer produce in your garden or to use up wonderful Ohio produce from the Farmer’s Market. Leave a comment below to let us know your favorite okra dish, especially something creative like the roasted okra, tomatoes, peppers, onions, and beans with olive oil and mixed herbs that my co-worker fixed this week.

Sources:

National Center for Home Food Preservation, https://nchfp.uga.edu/how/can_04/okra.html.

USDA Mixing Bowl, http://go.osu.edu/okra.

Michigan State University Extension, http://msue.anr.msu.edu/resources/michigan_fresh_okra

Photo credit: Debra Calvin, Program Assistant, Ohio State University Extension, Ross County.

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

Reviewer:  Tammy Jones, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Pike 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.

Sources:

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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Fruits & Veggies

We are entering that wonderful time of the year when local farmers’ markets are open, roadside stands pop up and even local grocery stores offer plentiful displays of fresh, local fruits and vegetables. With all of this bounty, sometimes the question arises on how to choose the most flavorful, ripe product. You will want to choose fruits and vegetables at the peak of their freshness for the best flavor and nutritional value.

Here are some helpful hints to remember when you are shopping:

  • Look for fruits or vegetables that have the shape, size and color that are usually thought of for the item. Remember though, they don’t have to be perfect to be good! That tomato or pepper that is slightly misshapen should be just as tasty and nutritious as its perfect neighbor.
  • Avoid fruits/vegetables with obvious bruises or discoloration. These spots will spoil quickly. If you notice a spot after you bring the produce home, cut out the bad spot and use as soon as possible.
  • Feel the item. If it is very soft it may be overripe; if it is too hard, it hasn’t ripened enough to eat yet. Melons can be especially difficult to choose. Here is great information on choosing ripe melons.
  • Smell! Fruits/vegetables that have the characteristic aroma associated with the item should be ready to eat. Think fresh peaches!

Not all vegetables and fruits will continue to ripen once they have been harvested.

  • Tomatoes, unripe melons, and tree fruits such as pears, peaches and nectarines should be kept at room temperature to ripen. They will get sweeter and more delicious.
  • Grapes, berries, and cherries won’t get better while sitting out, so they should go into the refrigerator right away.
  • Other fruits, like citrus, could sit out for a day or two but then should also be put in the refrigerator.
  • Most vegetables should be refrigerated when harvested or purchased. Some exceptions would be onions, garlic and potatoes.

Don’t forget about food safety with your fresh produce!

  • Always wash your fresh produce before using.
  • Some fruits and vegetables are better stored in the refrigerator before you wash them. Items such as beans and berries are more likely to spoil if stored damp. Be sure and brush off as much dirt as possible before storing. Place them in bags to keep them from contaminating other food in your refrigerator and them wash well when you are ready to eat them.
  • All produce should be rinsed under cool running water. Do not use soap or bleach as the residue left on the produce could make you ill.

Fruits and vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet. By buying fresh, seasonal items at the peak of their freshness and having them available to eat makes it easier to incorporate them into our daily diet.

Written by:  Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, OSU Extension, Franklin County. Rabe.9@osu.edu

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

https://articles.extension.org/pages/19886/storing-fruits-and-vegetables

http://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/HYG-5523

https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/safe-food-handling/washing-food-does-it-promote-food-safety/washing-food

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I had a recent health issue that reminded me to pause and take time for my health. My knuckle on my right hand hurt and was swollen. Yes, it bothered me every day but I did not think too much about it. I saw a bone and joint specialist and they took x-rays. I was to follow up with them but a different health scare (which required a minor surgery) became the priority for me. That health event turned out fine and I moved on with my life. The holidays came & went and I still had discomfort in my hand. Fast forward to a visit with my primary care office. I mentioned my finger was still bothering me. The nurse practitioner looked in my test results and said, “No wonder it still hurts, your finger was broken”. I went back to the specialist and they buddy taped it to my other finger. My finger feels better but it is still swollen and I tape it most days. I will follow up with the specialist next week and will see the next steps.smallstepsournationshealth_infographic

Why do I share this story? Because even though I spend part of my workday promoting health and wellness through my job as a Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, I missed an important health event in my own life. I decided to share this story in hopes that you will make time for your health.

What can we do to improve our health?

  • Eat more veggies and fruit. Research tells us that eating a diet rich in vegetables and fruits may help prevent chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
  • Move more. Aim for 30 minutes of moderate physical activity most days of the week. What if you think you don’t have time for 30 minutes? Break it up into 10-minute segments. Add variety to help keep it interesting.
  • Get a family doctor. Center for Disease Control and Prevention fast stats tell us that nearly 88% have a place to go for medical care. That is awesome news! If you do not have a primary care doctor, I would encourage you to get one. They get to know you, your body and illnesses and can assist you in maintaining your health status.
  • Do not ignore your body signals. Just like my broken finger, do not ignore signals from your body. My sister survived a heart attack – even though she had chest pain, she thought it was from her breast cancer reconstruction surgery.

There are other things that we can do to improve our health. Reduce stress, quit smoking, get adequate sleep, control our weight, monitor blood pressure, know our numbers (cholesterol & glucose) and get routine health screenings. Now that I’ve shared my little story, what can YOU do to “Make Time for Your Health”?

Post your comments on this blog.

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

Reviewer: Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, lobb.3@osu.edu

Sources:

Cancer Prevention Recommendations,  American Institute of cancer Research.  http://www.aicr.org/can-prevent/what-you-can-do/10-recommendations.html

Recommendations for Physical Activity in Adults, American Heart Association. http://heart.org/healthyliving/physicalactivity

Treber, M. (2016) I thought it was just my compression bra, I didn’t think it could be a heart attack. https://livehealthyosu.com/2016/09/06/i-thought-it-was-just-my-compression-bra-i-didnt-think-it-could-be-a-heart-attack/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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zucchini.jpg

As my family gardened this week we noticed that we have an abundance of zucchini. It’s that time of year where everyone is getting more than they anticipated and they are trying to find ways to use it up, preserve it, or give it away.

When picking zucchini look for firm and wrinkle free zucchini that is about 6 to 8 inches long and 2 inches in diameter. If you are anything like me, you likely have zucchini in your garden that’s 12 inches long and 4 inches in diameter. The larger the zucchini the tougher it will be and it will also contain more seeds. These zucchini are best for baking. Scoop out the seeds and pulp, grate the zucchini and use in your favorite recipes.

Zucchini have a high water content which makes them lower in calories. They provide us with vitamin C, fiber, vitamin K, riboflavin, vitamin B6, folate, magnesium, and potassium. This makes them a fantastic vegetable to eat. However, not all children are big vegetable eaters. If you are like me, you sneak them into things when they don’t notice. Zucchini bread is always a good option but if you have a picky eater like I do, the green flecks in the bread can quickly turn them away. Have you ever put it in your chocolate cake or finely shredded in spaghetti sauce? My kids don’t know it’s there and I get them to eat a vegetable! I count it as my mom super power! The below recipe is a great one to try from USDA’s Mixing Bowl recipe collection. You can also check out some of their other zucchini recipes.

The big zucchini that I picked from my garden will make a lot of Chocolate Squash cake. I won’t use all of my grated zucchini before it goes bad so I will be freezing my leftovers. For proper freezing procedures please check out these safe instructions by the National Center for Home Food Preservation. Make sure you blanch zucchini before freezing to ensure quality.

Eating the squash cake is not as healthy for you as eating the raw vegetable itself but we all have to start somewhere.

Aunt Barbara’s Chocolate Squash Cake

Makes: 12 Servings

Instructions

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 package cake mix, dark chocolate

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3 eggs

1 1/4 cups water

1 cup squash (shredded or finely chopped)

1/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 10″ tube or bundt pan.
  2. In a large bowl, combine cake mix and cinnamon.
  3. Add eggs, water, and oil. Blend until combined, then beat with an electric mixer for 2 minutes on medium speed.
  4. Fold in squash. Add nuts if you like.
  5. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, until cake springs back when lightly touched.

Other Ideas:

  • Use a greased 9×13-inch pan. Bake for 45 minutes.
  • To lighten cake, try 6 egg whites in place of whole egg.
  • Replace 1/2 cup oil with 1/2 cup applesauce.

WRITTEN BY: Amanda Bohlen, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Washington County.

REVIEWED BY: Lisa Barlage , Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension,  Ross County.

SOURCES:

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