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Posts Tagged ‘healthy choices’

Is your garden overflowing with zucchini or another type of summer squash? Lucky you!  Summer squash is a warm season vegetable that can be grown throughout the frost-free months.  Varieties of summer squash can be found in grocery stores year round, but they are most plentiful during June, July, and August.  Summer squash is harvested while the vegetable is still immature.  As a result, the skin of the squash is tender and is edible, unlike its fall and winter counterparts.

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What are the health benefits?

  • Summer squash is low in calories with only 16 calories per cup of raw squash. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables is high in fiber and low in calories which can help you maintain a healthy weight.
  • Summer squash is free of sodium and cholesterol. A diet low in sodium and cholesterol decreases the risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • Summer squash is high in vitamins A and C. Vitamin A is important for healthy skin, vision, cell growth, and fighting infections. Vitamin C helps to fight infections, build new body tissue, heal wounds, and eliminate cancer causing substances.
  • Summer squash also contains potassium, manganese, folate, riboflavin, and vitamin B6. These help the body turn food into fuel as well as ensure proper contraction of the heart and skeletal muscles.

How do I select a summer squash at the grocery store?

  • Choose summer squash that has a firm, glossy/shiny skin that is free of cuts, bruises, and blemishes.
  • The summer squash should be heavy for its size. If comparing two of the same size, buy the heavier squash.
  • Choose small to medium varieties. Smaller squash is more flavorful than larger ones.

How do I store summer squash?

  • Store summer squash unwashed in plastic bags in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator. Any water on the squash will promote decay while in storage.
  • Summer squash can be stored for up to a week in the refrigerator.

How should I prepare summer squash?

  • Summer squash should be washed well right before it is used in a meal.
  • Cut off both ends of the summer squash, but do not peel off the skin. Most of the vitamins and minerals are found near the skin. The skin of summer squash is very tender and easily eaten.
  • Summer squash can be enjoyed either raw or cooked.
  • Slice the squash and sauté, grill, steam, boil, roast, or microwave.

Top 5 ways to enjoy summer squash:

  1. Grate zucchini using a cheese grater and use it to make delicious zucchini bread or zucchini muffins.
  2. Chopped, raw summer squash can be added to a salad of lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, cucumber, onion, and chickpeas to make a colorful, refreshing dish on a hot summer day.
  3. Use squash as part of a summer chili.
  4. Use summer squash to make a delicious veggie lasagna.
  5. Use summer squash to make vegetable kabobs on a summer night. Toss summer squash, red bell peppers, and onions in olive oil, add salt and pepper, place on a skewer, and grill to perfection.

Sources:

https://extension.illinois.edu/veggies/ssquash.cfm

https://www.whatscooking.fns.usda.gov/sites/default/files/factsheets/HHFS_SUMMERSQUASH_900151Dec2012.pdf

http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/summer-squash-nutrition-selection-storage

Author: Jennifer Even, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences/EFNEP Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Hamilton County.

Reviewer:  Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences/EFNEP Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County.

 

 

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Back to school means back to packing school lunches. Children need a healthy lunch with the right calories and nutrients to help them learn, grow, and play. Not only do we want to pack our kids a healthy lunch, we want them to eat it, too! Sometimes we need some new ideas to keep lunch interesting. Here are some tips for packing a school lunch:

Plan ahead. Just a little planning time to get the right foods on the grocery list, in the cart, and in the fridge is the right place to start.

Plan together. Sit down with your child weekly to talk about lunch menu options. Allow your child to help plan the menu. He will be more excited about lunch and more likely to eat it.

Try something new. We all tend to get tired of the same foods every day. Change up the menu. Look up some new ideas together.

Try a different shape. Food that looks fun is more fun to eat. Try cutting a sandwich in a different direction or use cookie cutters. Sliced cheese and fruit (especially melon) will also cut nicely with cookie cutters.

lunchBuild in some color. Research shows the more colorful the food, the more appetizing it is. One of the easiest and healthiest ways to do this is with fresh vegetables and fruits. See if you can ‘pack a rainbow’ of color in your child’s lunch throughout the week.

Use MyPlate for your Lunch Bag! This fact sheet from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach gives a variety of ideas from every food group! Aim for at least 4 out of the 5 food groups for health and variety.

Rethink the drink. Water and low-fat milk are the best options for lunch. Sugary drinks are considered ‘empty calories.’ Calories but no nutrients.

Invest in “cool” lunch packs. Ice packs, insulated thermoses and insulated lunch bags allow for more varied menu options by keeping food at the right temperature.

Pack the night before. If you’re pressed for time, mornings can run more smoothly when there is less to do. Pack lunches in the evening right after dinner clean up. Or you could even try prepping lunches for the week on Sunday and refrigerate or freeze for later use.

For more ideas on packing a healthy and safe lunch, check out What’s for Lunch? It’s in the Bag!

Sources:

Iowa State University Extension

https://store.extension.iastate.edu/Product/13900

https://store.extension.iastate.edu/Product/13919

Written by: Shannon Carter, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County

Reviewed by: Misty Harmon, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Perry County

 

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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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Beach

It is hard to believe that we are entering the second half of 2016. Where did the time go? Were you like most of us who set a New Year’s goal or resolution?

How are you doing with that goal? Did you achieve it and move forward with your new healthy lifestyle behaviors? Did you get sidelined by events in your life?

If this new habit is part of your routine, great! If not, is it still relevant? Do you need to revise your goal? Recently I encouraged program participants to set a SMART Goal. What is a SMART goal?

One of the best things you can do to start on your road to health is to set goals using the SMART method.  Let’s start by setting a SMART Wellness Goal. Make sure your goal contains all of these components:

S                  Specific – Walk 30 minutes

M               Measurable – 6 days each week

A                Attainable and Action-Oriented – I will walk (I have no limitations)

R                 Realistic – I already walk 15 minutes 6 days of the week

T                Time Specific – By August 15, 2016

SMART Goal: By August 15, 2016, I will walk for 30 minutes at least 6 days each week.

Another Example of a SMART Goal: By August 15, 2016, I will stretch for 10 minutes at least 5 days a week.

Take a few minutes to write down Your SMART Goal: __________________________________________________________

___________________________________________________________

Goal cropped 2

A great website tool to help you set nutrition and physical activity goals is SuperTracker which is available from the United States Department of Agriculture. Visit their website to get started with five simple goals. You will determine your goals and periodically receive encouragement thru your email.

Why should you consider your goals during vacation time? For many of us, vacation offers extra time to reflect on our lives and evaluate our progress. I consider my July vacation as a mid-point check-up. Are there things that I want to change to improve my health? Are there activities/projects that I want to accomplish before the year end? If so, taking a few minutes to pause and identify action steps & setting a SMART goal will help me achieve my goals.

Want a little more motivation? Check out Move it Monday for their Tip of the Week and suggestions for being more active.

Remember that even if you were derailed on your New Year’s Resolutions, it isn’t too late to start again! Write that goal and get started this vacation season!

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

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

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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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June 10th is the National observance honoring Herbs and Spices. Have you been told you should reduce the sodium in your diet? If so, check out this blog for suggestions for pairing herbs and spices with common foods.

Basil Herb Bowl

Basil Herb Bowl

Are you new to growing or using herbs? Start with a plant or two (or seeds) that you plan to use and grow your herb garden from there. Basil, Oregano, Cilantro, Rosemary, Parsley, Thyme & Sage are all relatively easy to grow. You can combine several plants into one pot for your own kitchen herb pot.

Basil is a very easy and versatile herb. There are several varieties of this herb. This easy-to-grow herb makes a beautiful planter – just place several varieties in a flowerpot to make a basil herb bowl.

 Not sure which spices to use? Check out this fact sheet from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Plan to use more fresh herbs in your recipe if you are substituting for dry herbs. This Ohio State University Extension fact sheet describes common herb/food pairings. Remember to add herbs at the end of the cooking as some of the flavor is lost with excess cooking.

New to seasoning with herbs? Start small to make sure you like the flavor before adding too much.

Here are a few pairings to get you started:

Basil                    Tomatoes and tomato dishes, vinegar, rice, eggs, meats, duck, salads, &  vegetables.

Oregano              Italian tomato sauces, barbecue sauce, soups, eggs, cheese, pork, vegetables & salad dressings.

Rosemary           Chicken, lamb, pork, vegetables, chowders & cheese.

Have you always wanted to make your own pesto? Watch this short YouTube video featuring OSU Extension Educator, Shari Gallup.  You will see how easy it is to make pesto from fresh basil.

Get fancy – the easy way! Cut Basil Chiffonade and add as a garnish to pasta, pizza, or salad. This is a chopping technique in which herbs or leafy green vegetables (such as spinach and basil) are cut into long, thin strips. This is accomplished by stacking leaves, rolling them tightly, then slicing the leaves perpendicular to the roll.

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What herbs will you plant this summer? Send a comment to me and share what you planted.

Source: [OSU Extension], Gallup, S. (2014, June 9) Simple Pesto using Herbs from the Garden [Video File]. Retrieved from http://youtu.be/p0Zc8ye7V1o

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

Reviewed by: Cheryl Barber Spires, Regional Program Specialist, SNAP-Ed,  Ohio State University Extension, barber-spires.1@osu.edu

 

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