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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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The last couple of weeks have been spent moving from a home with 20 years accumulation of “stuff” to a new home. While it has been exciting, it has also been exhausting.  I realized a few days ago that I was staying up later than usual to unpack and rearrange items and then not falling asleep when I did go to bed. My mind kept racing thinking about everything I needed – or wanted – to do the next day. The result was a tired, somewhat grumpy version of me!

Eating well and being physically active are two basic activities that we think of when we discuss being healthy.  Something that is often overlooked is the importance that a good night’s sleep plays in our overall health. Research has shown that insufficient sleep increases the risk of disorders, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, stroke and depression. It’s also associated with cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease.

Most of us have heard that all adults need 7 – 8 hours of sleep each night. That generally holds true but it is important to remember that the quality of your sleep is just as, if not more, important than the quantity!  You should feel rested when you wake up in the morning. It is important to listen to your body’s biological clock which is set by the hours of daylight where you live. This should make it easier for you to stay awake during the day and sleep at night.

There will be times that you find it more difficult to fall asleep than others. If you are under stress, experiencing pain from an injury or illness, consuming excess caffeine or alcohol, you may find that falling and staying asleep are difficult. In that case, recognizing the reasons and making some adjustments to your daytime activities should help you sleep more soundly.

Some suggestions for improving your sleep:

  • Create a comfortable, calming sleep environment. This could include room darkening window coverings.
  • Avoid electronic devices in your bedroom – computers, tablets, games, etc. should be shut down before bedtime.
  • Establish a routine that you follow each evening to help you fall asleep and stay asleep.
  • Have a consistent bed time – even on the weekends.

There are small changes you can make to your daytime activities that may lead to better sleep.

  • Try to spend some time outdoors every day.
  • Exercise earlier in the day instead of later in the evening.
  • If you nap, limit yourself to 20 minutes or less.
  • Avoid both caffeine and alcohol close to your chosen bed time. Do some experimenting to find the cut off time for you – everyone will be a little different!
  • If you smoke, quit! Nicotine in cigarettes can make sleep more difficult.

If you continue to have sleep problems, it might be wise to visit your doctor to be sure you don’t have a more serious sleep disorder.

While sleep is not a guaranteed cure all for you, it doesn’t hurt anyone to establish sleep habits that help you consistently get a good night’s sleep!

 

WRITTEN BY: Marilyn Rabe, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, rabe.9@osu.edu

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

Sources:

http://www.apa.org/monitor/2017/10/cover-sleep.aspx

https://healthfinder.gov/healthtopics/population/men/mental-health-and-relationships/get-enough-sleep#the-basics_2

https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/ask-the-doctor-right-amount-of-sleep

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In Buckeye land it is time for football games, tailgating or viewing parties. With those parties often comes heavy snacking. Why not start the season off right by making the switch to healthier food choices for future parties?  We are each responsible for making a few food or drink choices for the next party that we host or attend to help everyone maintain a healthier (not heavier) diet. Photo from Ohio State University football game

When you plan your party keep in mind that a few healthy options can go a long way in contributing to the health of all Buckeyes (or Bobcats, Bengals, Browns, Bearcats, Cavaliers, Flyers, Monsters, Zips, Falcons, Flashes, or your home town team).

  • Start your party prep by purchasing a medium size plate, I know those tray size plates seem like they should be wonderful, but often contribute to over-eating or waste (you take something, but don’t eat it).
  • Plan beverages so you can serve infused water rather than soda. Make ice cubes or rings out of fruit in your team colors.
  • Switch burgers to leaner meats and serve them on whole grain slider buns. The bun switch alone can save you 180 calories.
  • Always serve fresh veggies and fruits with a low-fat dip.
  • Serve pizza with vegetable or fruit toppings; limit the extra meats and cheeses. If you are making your own consider a whole grain crust.Photo of vegetable chili
  • Modify your chili to include 2 types of beans, turkey sausage, diced sweet potatoes, and chopped peppers.
  • Serve quesadillas on whole grain tortillas, filled with chopped vegetables and low fat cheese.
  • Serve grilled chicken breasts or lean pork loins.
  • Switch your chips or pretzels to baked, veggie, or whole grain.

Don’t forget to be food safe at your tailgate or party too! Use coolers or tubs of ice to keep cold food cold on those first warm fall games. Ensure that grilled meats reach safe temperatures by using a meat thermometer: ground beef or ground pork should reach 160 degrees, all poultry 165 degrees, and steaks or chops 145 degrees.

We can’t wait to hear what you will be serving at your next tailgate. If you are looking for ideas here are a few http://go.osu.edu/healthtailgate. Comment with your healthy tailgate tip or recipe.

Sources:

Alabama A & M, Auburn University: http://news.aces.edu/blog/2016/10/05/host-healthy-tailgate-season/

University of Washington, https://www.washington.edu/wholeu/2014/09/30/healthytailgatefoods/

Vanderbilt University Medical Center, https://news.vanderbilt.edu/2014/10/09/vanderbilt-health-educator-offers-tips-for-healthy-tailgating/

Army HEALTH, http://blog.armyhealth.pbrc.edu/post/Healthy-Tailgating

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

Reviewer:  Pat Brinkman, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Fayette County.

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Do you find it challenging to eat healthy while dining out?

You might be wondering if it is possible to make healthy choices when dining away from home.

Yes, there are healthy choices if you are aware of what to look for and ask for when dining out.  Many restaurants offer meals that are low in calories, saturated fats, trans fats, and cholesterol. Learning and understanding what to look for, can improve the choices you make while dining away from home.  Keep portion size in mind, as most restaurants serve large portions that lead to increased amounts of saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars.

grilled-chicken-1334632_960_720

A big challenge to dining out is finding and making good choices. Often, a restaurant, dinner party, or event will not have exactly what you want. These tips will assist you in these situations:

  • Plan Ahead
  • Having a plan will help you prepare for difficult situations.  By being prepared, you are more like to make healthy choices.
  • You can call ahead to the restaurant or look at the menu on-line to see what healthy options are available.
  • Eat less fat and fewer calories at breakfast and lunch if you plan to eat out in the evening.
  • Eat a small, healthy snack or drink a large, low-calorie or calorie-free beverage before you go out so you won’t be as tempted to overindulge on less healthy food.
  • Select what you will order before you get to the restaurant, and order without looking at the menu.
  • Order Healthy
  • Choose foods that are baked, broiled, grilled, roasted, steamed, or stir-fried.
  • Select foods without gravy, sauce, butter, or ask for your food to be prepared without these extras.
  • Choose a low-calorie salad dressing and ask for it on the side so you can control how much is on your salad.
  • Keep Portion Sizes Small
  • Share your meal with someone.
  • Ask for a to-go box when your meal arrives and put a portion away for the next day.
  • Order a low calorie appetizer as your meal.
  • Load Up on Vegetables and Fruits
  • Make half your plate vegetables and fruits.
  • Steamed vegetables are always a good choice.
  •  Ask for a side salad in place of fries or chips when they come with your entrée.
  • Beware of Bread Choices
  • Choose 100% whole grain bread choices.table-791167_960_720
  • Order your sandwich without bread.
  • Pass the bread basket when it appears in front of you.

When your only choice is fast food, look on-line for specific nutrition information or use this resource for general tips when ordering from fast food chains.

If you’re dining at a buffet, keep in mind that they offer a variety of options which can lead to poor choices and overeating.  This guide gives some tips to consider before you go into a restaurant with a buffet.

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

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

Sources

National Diabetes Prevention Program, https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/prevention/pdf/handout_session10.pdf

National Heart, Blood, and Lung Institute, https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/wecan/eat-right/distortion.htm

USDA, Choose My Plate, https://www.choosemyplate.gov/ten-tips-eating-foods-away-home

USDA Choose My Plate, https://choosemyplate-prod.azureedge.net/sites/default/files/tentips/MPMW_Tipsheet_7_navigatethebuffet_0.pdf

USF Health at the University of South Florida, Tampa,

http://health.usf.edu/NR/rdonlyres/D5168BE9-98A7-4809-97E8-3EAA23A7006A/42723/HealthierFastFoodOptions.pdf

 

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walking_focus_destressThe recent stretch of nice weather has hopefully inspired you to get outside and get moving!  Many of us tend to exercise less over the cold days of winter but now would be a great time to plan your activities for the coming months.

Probably the easiest, cheapest, and most accessible type of exercise is walking. It is an activity that most anyone of any age can participate in and enjoy. Walking provides so many benefits for our bodies. It can help lower bad cholesterol and raise good cholesterol. It can help lower your blood pressure and help you control your type 2 diabetes. Walking can also help manage your weight and improve your mood!

The Mayo clinic shared information from The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute  who developed a 12 week walking schedule that can start you on the path to better health. But before starting this walking plan, talk with your doctor if you have serious health issues, or if you’re older than age 40 and you’ve been inactive recently.

At the beginning of your walk, take about 5 minutes to warm up your muscles. At the end of your walk, walk slowly for about 5 minutes to cool down your muscles. Don’t forget to stretch! Be sure and wear comfortable, supportive shoes.walking-shoes

There are many ways that you can work walking into your day:

  • Park farther from your office
  • Use the stairs instead of the elevator
  • Go up or down a flight of stairs each time you go to the restroom
  • Walk your dog
  • Take your family to a local park
  • Walk over your lunch hour with a co-worker
  • When meeting friends for lunch or dinner, park farther from the restaurant

Always keep safety in mind when you walk outdoors. Walk with a friend when you can. Carry your cell phone, put your name and contact phone number in your pocket. Avoid dark and deserted areas, carry a whistle or pepper spray in case of an emergency, and don’t use a headset that might keep you from hearing traffic.

How can you add a walk to your day?

 

Sources:

http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/walking/art-20050972

http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/PhysicalActivity/Walking/Walk-Dont-Run-Your-Way-to-a-Healthy-Heart_UCM_452926_Article.jsp#.WK3TWPKlzdV

http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/walking_helps_prevent_chronic_disease

Author:  Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, OSU Extension, Franklin County

Reviewed by:  Michelle Treber, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, OSU Extension, Pickaway County

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