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People eating breakfast

I have a routine that I begin each day with that includes brushing my teeth, working out, showering, getting dressed, fixing breakfast then heading out the door to go to work or teleworking from home. We all have actions that get our day started no matter what time it begins. Routines can lead to habits which can be positive or negative depending on the choices we make. Because routines are habitual, we don’t often evaluate whether they are positive or negative.

Do you usually grab a granola or protein bar in the morning? Or do you find yourself buying a pastry or sandwich when you stop for coffee or gas? Maybe you have a habit of sitting down to eat breakfast. Or maybe you don’t typically eat breakfast at all!

Take a moment today to think about the breakfast choices that start your day. Consider taking a break from your breakfast routine and try something different for a week or two.

Need ideas?

  • Make breakfast sandwiches or breakfast burritos at home. You can prep them ahead of time by scrambling eggs, adding in your favorite veggies, and refrigerating them overnight or until ready to eat. In the morning, just heat the eggs in the microwave and place into a tortilla for a breakfast wrap along with other toppings like cheese or salsa. 
  • Add fruit to your favorite morning drink or breakfast bar. Grab a fresh orange, apple or banana; a cup of applesauce or canned, diced fruit; or serve yourself a bowl of sliced berries or melon.
  • Try a new recipe such as Banana and Peanut Butter Overnight Oats, Granola and Yogurt Parfaits, or No Bake Breakfast Cookies

For more ideas, view these OSU Extension videos on Food Prep for Breakfast and Breakfast Made Easy.

What you eat can set the tone for the day. Eating breakfast will help you perform better throughout the day by helping with concentration, problem solving and even eye-hand coordination. In addition, eating breakfast can raise your energy level, mood and overall health! Those who eat a morning meal tend to make healthier food choices throughout the day compared to those who skip breakfast.

Writer: Tammy Jones, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Pike County

Reviewer: Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Franklin County

Sources:

Ellis, E. (2020). 5 Reasons your teen needs breakfast. https://www.eatright.org/food/nutrition/healthy-eating/5-reasons-your-teen-needs-breakfast

OSU Wexner Medical Center (2017). Improve your mood everyday: Just Eat Breakfast. https://wexnermedical.osu.edu/blog/improve-your-mood-just-eat-breakfast

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At the beginning of the pandemic, while many of us were under lockdown and shelter in place orders, the hashtag #Quarantine15 started to circulate the internet to describe the weight gain some were experiencing while at home in isolation. Initially, the hashtag received backlash; some health professionals spoke up and advised the public not to worry about this weight gain, acknowledging that baking and eating “comfort food” can serve as a coping strategy in difficult times. However, while most health experts would agree that a preoccupation with dieting or obsession over body image is not good for one’s mental or physical health, there is reason to be concerned about #Quarantine15.

One reason maintaining healthy weight is important is that obesity is associated with serious complications in those infected with COVID-19. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), having obesity increases risk for many serious chronic diseases – not just COVID-19 – and also increases the risk of severe illness from COVID-19 in those infected. Obesity is also linked to impaired immune function, which can impact one’s ability to avoid infection in the first place. Eating a healthy diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, lean protein and whole grains not only helps one maintain a healthy weight, it also provides the body with important nutrients that strengthen immune function.

a spread of fruits, vegetables and nuts

Unfortunately, the ultra-processed and carbohydrate-heavy foods and sweets that many turn to for comfort in stressful times tend to be high in calories and low in nutritional value. Alcoholic beverages also contain calories and can contribute to weight gain.

If you slipped into less healthy eating habits during the pandemic and are ready to make some changes, here are a few tips from health experts:

  • Adopt a positive perspective. Rather than giving in to #Quarantine15 and accepting weight gain as inevitable, look at the pandemic as an opportunity to change your routine and establish new healthy habits.
bowl of raspberries
  • Adjust your setup. If you are still spending the bulk of your time at home, try not to hang out in or around the kitchen all day. Set designated times for meals and snacks. Keep sweets and processed foods out of sight or out of the house altogether, and make sure healthy snacks like fresh fruit, chopped veggies, cheese cubes or whole grain crackers are readily available.
hummus plate with celery sticks and crackers
  • Plan ahead.  Take time to plan meals, and then prepare or pack food as needed so you’re not tempted to grab something “easier” when you get hungry.
  • Focus on easy meals. Planning, preparing and cleaning up meals can be exhausting! See these tips for coping with cooking fatigue, and keep your pantry well-stocked with staples items so you can throw together an easy meal in a pinch if plans go astray.

Finally, be kind to yourself and set realistic expectations. Remember that nourishing your body with nutritious food is a form of self-care. Getting adequate sleep, coping with stress, and exercising regularly are also important components of self-care. Decide today to adopt one new healthy habit, and then build on that habit until you reach your ultimate goal!

Written by: Jenny Lobb, MPH, RDN, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Franklin County

Reviewed by: Melisa J. Rupp, M.Ed., Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Fulton County

Sources:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2020). Obesity, Race/Ethnicity, and COVID-19. https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/obesity-and-covid-19.html

Finch, S.D. (2020). 7 reasons why you don’t need to lose your “quarantine 15”. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/7-reasons-why-you-dont-need-to-lose-your-quarantine-15

Katella, K. (2020). Quarantine 15? What to do about weight gain during the pandemic. https://www.yalemedicine.org/news/quarantine-15-weight-gain-pandemic

Koenig, D. (2020). The “Quarantine 15”: Weight gain during the COVID-19 pandemic. Medicine Net. https://www.medicinenet.com/the_quarantine_15_weight_gain_during_covid-19-news.htm

Markey, C. (2020). Obsessing over #Quarantine15. Rutgers-University Camden. https://www.rutgers.edu/news/obsessing-over-quarantine15

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While many of us are just happy to be able to watch the madness of basketball tournaments this March – we know that it will not be like other tournament years. We will not be gathering for parties, many of us are still not eating in restaurants/pubs, and we cannot watch the games live yet (in most cases) – so you will likely be fixing the game day snacks yourself. When you plan your game-day menu, do not throw out your goals of a healthy diet – keep in mind that there are better snack choices.

You may have heard of the new 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans which focus on several messages that you can follow for a great game-day snack plan:fruit tray

  • Limit food and beverages higher in added sugars, saturated fat, and sodium
  • Limit alcoholic beverages (eat your calories instead of drinking them)
  • Focus on eating nutrient dense foods which include a variety of vegetables, whole fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and lean proteins (including meatless meals, nuts, eggs, and fish)

Looking at those guidelines lets choose a few tourney time snack options that keep us on track for a more healthful diet overall:

  • A vegetable tray with hummus or bean dip instead of high fat (and usually sodium) dip
  • Cheese and whole grain crackers or bread
  • Fresh fruit skewers with yogurt and nut butter dip
  • English muffin mini pizzas with veggies on top (instead of ordering takeout pizza)
  • Buffalo cauliflower bites (instead of wings, I personally LOVE these!!)
  • Homemade Banana Nice Cream
  • Infused water made with fruits the color of your favorite team (mine will be scarlet berries)

Most of these snacks can be made the night before for easy game-time serving, you will just need to make your mini pizzas quickly and heat your buffalo bites. I will share a buffalo bite recipe that I enjoyed recently (and I do not even like cauliflower). If you compare this recipe to many others online, it has no butter and a lot less breadcrumbs – and trust me – it still tastes great! I preferred the oven-baked to air-fryer, but air-fryer was super quick.

I cannot wait to hear your favorite healthy versions of tourney time snacks. Comment below to let us know what you serve.

Buffalo Cauliflower Recipe

 

Source: Start Simple with MyPlate Today, file:///C:/Users/barlage.7/Documents/Dietary%20Guidelines%202010/2021%20-%202025/DGA_2020-2025_StartSimple_withMyPlate_English_color.pdf

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

Reviewer: Roseanne Scammahorn, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Darke County.

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Heart disease is the most common cause of death in the United States (about 1 in 4 deaths). In this blog we have shared how dietary choices, including adding more plant foods reduces the risk of heart disease. Increasing physical activity is another important way to strengthen our hearts and bodies. Researchers are always learning more about heart health and ways to reduce the risk of disease. Here are some recent updates and recommendations.

Add some steps.  A 2020 study supports the evidence that increasing your daily step count reduces the risk of mortality of all causes. That’s right, all causes. The intensity of these steps did not have a significant difference on the overall reduction of risk. The takeaway? Make it a goal to take 8,000 steps each day, for your heart and your overall health. Movement does not have to make you sweat buckets to have a positive, long-term impact on health.

Schedule your flu shot. Did you know getting a flu shot can help to protect your heart? It is true! The flu can cause stress or damage to our heart and other organs. In a study of over 80,000 U.S. patients hospitalized with the flu, more than 1 in 10 had an acute cardiac event before discharge. An acute cardiac event could be acute heart failure, a heart attack, or a hypertensive crisis. Almost a third of those patients then required intensive care.

Image of a blooming tea flower in a clear mug on a wooden table.

Make time for tea. Studies have shown that adding tea to a heart-healthy diet can have many benefits. Some benefits may include:

  • improved brain function
  • protection against some cancers
  • better weight maintenance
  • increased HDL or “good” cholesterol
  • decreased LDL or “bad” cholesterol
  • better smelling breath

Adding sweeteners like sugar and honey can counteract the benefits that come from drinking tea. Tea contains tannins and drinking too much can lead to poor iron absorption. Tea also contains caffeine, which can cause anxiety or trouble sleeping. Most healthy individuals can safely consume 3-4 cups of tea each day. Check with a healthcare professional before starting a new diet or exercise routine.

When taking care of our heart, small changes can make a big difference. Check back to this blog often for new research findings. If you are interested in learning more about heart health join our Strong @ Heart email challenge that starts February 1! Sign up here: go.osu.edu/LHLWopen


Written by: Courtney Woelfl, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Cuyahoga County, woelfl.1@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Shannon Carter, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Fairfield County, carter.413@osu.edu

References: https://www.heart.org/en/around-the-aha/aha-names-top-heart-disease-and-stroke-research-advances-of-2020

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Many communities and families are considering their best options to celebrate Halloween this year. The CDC has ranked different activities and risks related to spreading viruses. The following suggestions are listed as lower risk Halloween activities:

  • Carve or decorate pumpkins with members of your household to display
  • Carve or decorate pumpkins outside, at a safe distance, with neighbors or friends
  • Decorate your apartment, house or living space
  • Have a virtual Halloween costume contest
  • Have a Halloween movie night with people you live with
  • Have a scavenger hunt-style trick-or-treat search with your household members in or around your home rather than going house to house

Whether you have little ones at home, are deciding about passing out candy or do not typically participate in trick-or-treating, why not use Halloween to plan a fun meal? Using the colors of orange, black and purple, mix up the fun and add some tasty treats to your menu.

Making orange (and red) vegetables a regular part of your diet will help reduce the risk of chronic disease, as well as improve overall wellness. The next time you are at the store or farm market, look for orange peppers, carrots, pumpkins and other winter squash. Many of those vegetables can be prepared in a variety of ways and one easy way is to roast them in the oven. Add a little olive oil and some herbs and roast them in the oven alongside your favorite choice of meat.  

Choosing Winter Squash at the Farm Market

Canned pumpkin is a healthy and convenient ingredient. Although these suggestions might sound unusual, my colleagues who teach nutrition education and my household can attest that these are adult and kid approved recipes:

Add some dark colors to complement the orange such as black olives alongside a vegetable tray or as a garnish for cooked dishes. Blackberries are a delicious fruit and can be served alongside orange slices.

For fall snacks, not only are pumpkin seeds easily available this time of year, sunflower seeds are also a crunchy treat. Enjoy a handful of seeds as a snack or toss some on top of a salad or winter squash soup. Chopped nuts (like peanuts, almonds, walnuts) are a nice garnish on top of salads or soups.

Bowl of soup with pumpkin seeds garnish

Sweet Treats: While candy (in moderation) can have a place in celebrations, it lacks nutrients like fiber and vitamins and minerals. Try some of these sweet treats:

  • Make popcorn, a whole grain, and toss it with cinnamon and sugar
  • Serve fresh fruit slices alongside the pumpkin dip
  • Bake apples or pears with cinnamon. For optional toppings, add chopped nuts or a drizzle of honey
  • Warm up some apple cider and garnish with a cinnamon stick

For a spooky presentation, fill clear, food grade gloves to “serve” up some snacks. Fill them with dry cereal, nuts, mini-pretzels, snack mix or popcorn for bony fingers. While this Halloween might look different than those in the recent past, consider using the day to create a healthy and memorable menu this year.

Written by: Patrice Powers-Barker, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Lucas County

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

Sources:

Ellis, E. (2019). Enjoy a Healthy and Happy Halloween. Eat Right, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Retrieved 10/20/20 from https://www.eatright.org/health/lifestyle/holidays/enjoy-a-healthy-and-happy-halloween 

Halloween. (2020). Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention. Retrieved 10/20/20 from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/holidays.html#halloween

Photo credit: farm market from CDC and squash soup from Pixabay

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I am a creature of habit. I find comfort in an environment that is structured, orderly, neat, and reliable. I enjoy having a procedure for everything I do. However, the past week has been anything but predictable. Like you, my home and work schedules and routines have flown out the window! As a result, I have been overwhelmed with stress and my reaction has been emotional eating.

Emotional eating is when you consume foods in response to your emotions rather than eating when you are hungry. Negative emotions such as stress and anxiety, boredom, sadness and even positive events such as wedding and parties all can result in emotional eating.  Happy or sad, most of us correlate comfort food with making us feel better. Ice cream after a breakup, a bag of chips when we are bored, too many helpings of dessert at Thanksgiving all result in the potential to over-eat.

With everything going on in our lives right now, how do we take steps to stop emotional eating?

Journaling or a Food Diary: For me it is a food diary. Writing down what I eat, how much, and what I am feeling as compared to if I am really hungry shows me the patterns I develop connecting my stress/mood to food.

Mindful Wellness: Practicing mindful wellness has also shown to be a great way to tame your stress and encourage mindful eating.  When you slow down, pace yourself and enjoy your food using all of your senses, you are able to pay better attention to the impulse to grab unhealthy foods, decide if you are really hungry, and choose to eat healthy during the stressful times. MyPlate Kitchen is a great resource to find healthy and affordable meals and snack ideas.

Build a Support Network: Thankfully I work with an amazing group of people at OSU Extension, and I know that I can call on them, a friend or a family member if I am having a really bad day. Having a support network helps your efforts to change your eating habits and improves your chance of success! It may also be helpful to join a support group specifically for individuals with similar emotional eating behaviors to learn better ways of coping.

Substitute other activities for eating: This could look like a taking a walk, reading, calling an old friend, playing with your cat or dog, giving yourself a break, or if you are like me, cleaning and organizing. Doing something that reduces your stress, fights boredom, or takes away the temptation to emotionally eat and substitutes a healthier behavior is a great way to reduce emotional eating.

We are currently in a phase of constant change; we can’t control everything, but we can control how we choose to cope with our emotions.  My goal is to make better choices when I am stressed, reduce my emotional eating, and enjoy the here and now rather than live in the past or worry about the future. May your goal help you to grow and learn as you learn healthy way to adjust to our ever-changing world.

Sources:

Brinkman, P., (2016). Eating Healthy During Stressful Times. Retrieved on March 23, 2020 from https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/hyg-5244

Harvard Healthy Publishing, (2020). Why Stress Causes People to Overeat. Harvard Mental Health Letter retrieved March 23, 2020 from https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/why-stress-causes-people-to-overeat

Mississippi State University Extension, (2017). Stress and Emotional Eating. Retrieved March 23, 2020 from http://extension.msstate.edu/sites/default/files/publications/information-sheets/is1783.pdf

Ohio State University Extension, (2019). Stress Management. Retrieved on March 23, 2020 from https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/aex-591106

Powers-Barker, P. (2016) Introduction to Mindfulness. Retrieved on March 23, 2020 from https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/hyg-5243

The Mayo Clinic, (2020). Weight Loss: Gain Control of Emotional Eating. Retrieved March 23, 2020 from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/in-depth/weight-loss/art-20047342

University of Rochester Medical Center, (2020). Emotional Eating; How to Cope. Retrieved March 23, 2020 from https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=1&contentid=4517

Photo credit: Dylan Lu on Unsplash

Written by: Dr. Roseanne E. Scammahorn, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Darke County

Reviewed by: Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Franklin County

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For better and for worse, we all inherit particular characteristics from our parents. Maybe it’s our mother’s eyes, or maybe our father’s temper. Some of that is directly the result of the DNA we’ve received, and some of it comes from the influence they exerted in our environment. When it comes to our health and wellness, it can be challenging to determine whether nature or nuture has more of an impact. In some cases, it may not really matter. But when it causes you to feel powerless or apathetic about how much you can change your condition, it definitely matters.

Results of a long-term study were recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Cardiology. The study tracked data on more than 2,500 Americans who were followed from young adulthood in 1985 to 2010. One of their findings is that body mass index (BMI) as a young adult appears to be the best predictor of long-term obesity risk.

There have been other studies that have identified certain genes that have been shown to contribute to a person becoming overweight and obese. There are rare inherited causes of obesity, but this is not the case for most of the population. This recent study suggests that knowing our BMI is more beneficial than purchasing a genetic test.

Hopefully, this research can empower people to know that being obese doesn’t have to be someone’s destiny. Their healthy lifestyle choices – the foods they eat, their portion sizes, and physical activity – can result in a better quality of life.

As I reflect on my childhood, I watched my mother struggle with her weight. At one point in my early adolescence years, she lost a significant percentage of her body weight. This was mainly the result of strict dieting with little change to physical activity. Within a few years she had gained it all back and even more. She was obese for most of the years that I remember her.

My mom had a massive heart attack when she was 59-years-old. It forever changed my life and my brother’s life. She enjoyed being a grandmother to my son for 18 months, but her three granddaughters were born after her death.

None of us  know what the future may bring. We do know that research shows being overweight or obese increases your risk of developing heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, gallstones, breathing problems and certain cancers. The healthy steps we take to reduce and maintain our weight can mean a better quality of life for us and for our families. May this be an encouragement today that you can make changes in your life, even if you need a little help.

Sources:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2013) Genes and obesity. at https://www.cdc.gov/genomics/resources/diseases/obesity/obesedit.htm

HealthDay: News for Healthier Living (2020) What matters more for obesity risk, genes of lifestyle? at https://consumer.healthday.com/vitamins-and-nutrition-information-27/obesity-health-news-505/what-matters-more-for-obesity-risk-genes-or-lifestyle-753678.html

Live Healthy Live Well Ohio State University Extension Family and Consumer Sciences (2019) Make healthy fast food choices. at https://livehealthyosu.com/2019/10/03/make-healthy-fast-food-choices/

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (2020) Aim for a healthy weight. at https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/lose_wt/

“Polygenic Risk, Fitness, and Obesity in the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) Study,” JAMA Cardiology. DOI: 10.1001/jamacardio.2019.5220

The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center (2020) Nonsurgical weight management. at https://wexnermedical.osu.edu/weight-management/weight-management-nonsurgical

Photo credit: https://pixabay.com/photos/push-ups-exercise-fitness-workout-888024/

Written by: Emily Marrison, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Coshocton County

Reviewed by: Lorrissa Dunfee, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Belmont County

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Monday I shared that to celebrate my 40th birthday my friends and I joined forces to fill our local communities with random acts of kindness.  We spread our kindness amongst 20 states and 5 countries and we all learned many lessons along the way.

Small Acts Big Changes

One part I enjoyed about this project was the variety of acts that were done. Some acts influenced many people such as a donation to a food bank. Other acts were smaller yet still inspiring.  A simple act can have a large impact on a person when done at the right time with the right intentions. One act of small kindness can release an enormous chain of positive events. Any act of kindness can be contagious and inspire others to pass on another kind act. It is hard to measure the impact of one simple act, so never think an act is too simple or small to spend time on.

One of the kindest acts someone ever did for me was to show up at my house with a plate of cookies as I was going through a tough time. She set those cookies on my counter, sat on the floor and played with my eight-month-old baby. She might not remember that day, but I will never forget it.  A plate of cookies and a half-hour of time, something I remember more than ten years later.

Missed Opportunities

 Often I find myself second-guessing a kind idea or intention I have. I will overthink something so long that an opportunity passes me by and I promptly switch to beating myself up for missing an opportunity. I was so inspired by my friends and what they were accomplishing that acting on a kind deed became easier for me to do. It became more second nature and I was more confident offering to help someone or pass on a compliment.

More Gratitude

Kindness promotes gratitude. Being kind to others encourages one to consider what is positive in their own life. As we went through forty days I noticed this happening in our group. We started posting about how others were being kind to us and the deeds that made our days a little better. Some of these acts happen so frequently or regularly we forget to show gratitude for them. For example, I noticed the bus drivers who get my children to school safely every day, the mailwoman who reliably delivers my mail, the people at the gym whose positivity make working out fun, and drivers on the road who let me over or wave me on at a stop sign.

According to Psychology Today, Kindness means a behavioral response of compassion and actions that are selfless; or a mindset that places compassion for others before one’s interests. In performing the selfless act, a person may undercut their selfish interests. This process can lead to more gratitude.

 Did we change the world? No. This reminds me of the song lyric; I can’t change the world but I can change yours. I don’t know if we permanently changed anyone’s world. I like to think we lightened a few loads, and added some extra smiles to our communities and that is enough. It is enough because it changed us.

When you can, hold the door, let someone over on the freeway, smile at a stranger. Do what you can where you can to make your corner of the world a little kinder- it is enough!

Sources:

I Can’t Change the World, but I Can Change Yours. (2019, November 4). Retrieved from https://livehealthyosu.com/2019/11/04/i-cant-change-the-world-but-i-can-change-yours/.

Wahba, O. (2017). Kindness boomerang: how to save the world (and yourself) through 365 daily acts. New York: Flatiron Books.

Harvard Health Publishing. (2019). Giving thanks can make you happier. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/giving-thanks-can-make-you-happier.

Make Kindness The Norm. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/the-science-of-kindness.

Why Random Acts of Kindness Matter to Your Well-being. (2017, November 16). Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/emotional-nourishment/201711/why-random-acts-kindness-matter-your-well-being.

Author: Alisha Barton, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Miami County, barton.345@osu.edu

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

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With summer temperatures on the rise, it’s more important than ever to set aside the sugar filled pops and energy drinks. Americans guzzle gallons of soda every year. Let’s face it, some people just don’t love the taste of water (myself included). *Insert* fruit infused water, flavoring your water with fruits and herbs is a great way to drink more water. Not only does it help keep us hydrated. According to Dr. Dahl, infused water is a simple and healthy way to make tasteless water more appealing without adding any artificial ingredients or extra calories.

Infusing your water with fruits, herbs, or flowers not only improves the flavor, but also adds essential vitamins. Some of the best benefits of having fruit infused water include.

Glass of water infused with fruit
  • appetite control
  • hydration
  • immune defense
  • heartburn prevention
  • blood sugar regulation
  • weight management

Dehydration is known to be linked to headaches, digestive problems, obesity, and joint pain. How much water does it really take to stay hydrated? On average men need about 13 cups of water daily and women need around 9 cups.

The beauty of infused water is there is no right or wrong way to make it. You can use your preference and imagination when creating your infused waters. Below are just a couple recipes that may give you inspiration for the next time you are making a pitcher of fruit infused water.

  • Strawberry and Basil
  • Pineapple and Mint
  • Strawberry, Orange, and Mint
  • Raspberry, Cucumber, and Lime
  • Blueberry and Orange
  • Grapefruit, Cucumber, and Mint

Use these recipes or create your own – I challenge you for the next thirty days to drink at least a half gallon of infused water daily. While sitting an entire gallon of infused water in front of you may seem a little too daunting. You may find it helpful to mark a water bottle with specific times. Drink at least that amount of water by certain times in the day. You’ll be on your way to being fully hydrated in no time.

Sources:

https://www.lifehack.org/294792/15-beautiful-fruit-water-recipes-replace-soda

American Institute for Cancer Research, https://blog.aicr.org/2011/11/21/not-your-ordinary-water/ 

 

Author:  Morgan Miller, Family and Consumer Sciences Intern, Ohio State University Extension, Ross County, miller.10144@osu.edu

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

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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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