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Posts Tagged ‘healthy eating’

Welcome to 2017! Did you make any New Year’s resolutions? If so, chances are you set at least one goal related to staying fit and healthy. About 45% of Americans usually make New Year’s resolutions, and losing weight is at the top of the list.

myplate_yellowWe all know that healthy eating is important, but sometimes it’s easier said than done when hectic schedules and tight budgets get in the way. To achieve your goal, a little bit of thought and planning can go a long way! One strategy is to use MyPlate as a guide to brainstorm meals that fit your family’s lifestyle and preferences. I find that it can be helpful to consider three main meal components – grains, vegetables and protein – and think about how to combine those components to make fast, nutritious meals throughout the week.

  1. Grains – Grains are often the base of a meal, especially if you’re fixing a skillet dish or casserole. Foods in the grain group include rice, quinoa, barley, pasta, couscous, bread and tortillas. MyPlate recommends we make at least half our grains whole grains, so look for whole grain varieties as available. When you cook a grain such as rice, quinoa, barley or pasta, you may want to fix a full pot so that you have enough to keep in the refrigerator or freezer and use to create “heat and eat” meals throughout the week.
  1. Vegetables – MyPlate recommends we make half our plate fruits and vegetables, and this can include fresh, frozen and canned items. I like to roast fresh vegetables in large batches and combine them with pre-cooked grains to create quick meals throughout the week. Frozen vegetables are also a fast and convenient way to add nutrition to meals.
  1. Protein – Protein includes meat, poultry, fish and eggs as well as nuts, seeds and beans. As with grains, when cooking meat or poultry, consider cooking enough to last the entire week. You can bake or grill meats, then use them in soups, casseroles or skillet meals in addition to being entrees. Canned beans are great to have on hand to conveniently add protein to your meals.

couscousWhen you take the time to prepare grains, vegetables and protein in advance, it’s easy to throw together a quick weeknight meal. Dairy and fruit can then be added as toppings or side dishes.

Here are a few examples:

  • Whole grain couscous with broccoli, carrots, chickpeas (or chicken), feta cheese and raisins
  • Whole grain pasta with salmon, asparagus, lemon zest and Parmesan cheese, served with a side salad
  • Risotto with Brussels sprouts, bacon, Parmesan cheese and apple slices
  • Hamburger skillet with whole wheat macaroni, bell pepper, onion, tomato and cheese
  • Tuna noodle casserole with peas and mushrooms
  • Quinoa with roasted beets, orange slices, goat cheese and almond slivers served over arugula or spring mix
  • Quinoa with sliced apples or pears, feta cheese and almond slivers served over spring mix
  • Veggie wraps with sliced turkey, avocado and cheese

Do you have any favorite 30-minute MyPlate meals? Look for additional inspiration and share your ideas at MyPlate, MyWins.

 

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

Reviewer: Dan Remley, Field Specialist, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, O.S.U. South Centers, remley.4@osu.edu

 

Sources:

Statistic Brain (2016). New Year’s Resolution Statistics. http://www.statisticbrain.com/new-years-resolution-statistics/

USDA ChooseMyPlate.gov (2016). MyPlate, MyWins. https://www.choosemyplate.gov/myplate-mywins

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Did you know $1.8 billion dollars is spent on marketing foods to school-aged youth? Or that the average child sees 12-16 advertisements per day promoting food products high in children-403583_640saturated fat, sugar, or sodium?

These statistics have created public scrutiny on the food advertised to children. In 2006, the Better Business Bureau formed the Children’s Food & Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI), made of leading food companies in the U.S. and designed to address the poor nutritional content of food advertisements. As a result, The current $1.8 billion dollars spent on child food advertising is actually a decrease from the $2.1 billion dollars previously spent in 2006.

 Yet, the overall landscape of food commercials has shown little improvement since the CFBAI’s inception. Even in 2013, over 84% of all food commercials seen by children and 95% of ads aired specifically during children’s programming featured products high in saturated fat, trans fat, sugar, and sodium.  These outcomes led researchers to call for increased scrutiny over CFBAI members’ efforts to market healthier products. In December 2014, the CFBAI responded by creating “Uniform Nutrition Criteria” for child food advertising: the results of this still remain to be seen.

 In the meantime, we are left knowing the majority of the food commercials U.S. children watch are for unhealthy foods. But does this really matter? Do food advertisements influence our children? The answer to this is ‘yes.’ Research has shown nyc-944407_640food advertisements directly influence children’s food preferences, nutrition knowledge, purchase behaviors (through parents), food consumption habits, and nutrition-related health. In other words, the food advertisements our children see influence their daily food choices.

Why does this matter to families? In order to promote healthy diets in youth, we must be able to help them overcome this constant marketing of unhealthy foods. One means to help address these unhealthy messages is to work as a family to promote our own healthy messages & themes about food.

Analyses of children’s food commercials have shown that their most common themes include the offer of premiums (toys or discounts), promotional characters (stars, TV characters, and company characters), health-claims, taste, and fun. All of these themes work well to gather children’s interest and to make their products familiar.

Obviously families can’t create their own advertisements on food. But families can harness the themes consistently used across food commercials to promote trying healthy food in their homes.

Consider the discussions you have with your children on consuming vegetables, fruits, or whole grains: How often do you describe the fruits and vegetables as ‘tasty’? Make them fun? Or associate them with a popular character?

If your experiences are like mine, these themes are rarely used to promote healthy food consumption.  But why not? Fruits are diptasty. Dunking vegetables in dips can be fun, and encouraging your toddler to consider what “Captain America” eats can always be used to make foods memorable. The most important step families can take is to talk with kids about healthy foods in a positive, fun light.

Our children are living in a world where they are constantly exposed to product messages—the majority being unhealthy. This is slowly changing. We can help encourage this change and make healthy food messaging more common by using the companies’ proven themes to encourage youth to desire and choose healthy foods when at home.

Reviewed by Michelle Treber, OSU Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences

Sources:

Powell, L. M., Harris, J. L., & Fox, T. (2013). Food marketing expenditures aimed at youth: putting the numbers in context. American journal of preventive medicine45(4), 453-461.

Children’s Food & Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI) (December 2014). A report on compliance and progress during 2013. Council of Better Business Bureau.

Powell, L. M., Schermbeck, R. M., & Chaloupka, F. J. (2013). Nutritional content of food and beverage products in television advertisements seen on children’s programming. Childhood Obesity9(6), 524-531.

Cairns, G., Angus, K., Hastings, G., & Caraher, M. (2013). Systematic reviews of the evidence on the nature, extent and effects of food marketing to children. A retrospective summary. Appetite, 62, 209-215.

Jenkin, G., Madhvani, N., Signal, L., & Bowers, S. (2014). A systematic review of persuasive marketing techniques to promote food to children on television. Obesity reviews, 15(4), 281-293.

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Having a sandwich for lunch is so common that we tend to get in a rut when it comes to our choices. Ham and cheese, turkey, and/or peanut butter and jelly are staples for a reason—they taste good!  One of my personal favorites is unsalted peanut butter with sliced banana and a drizzle of honey on sprouted grain bread.  Sometimes I even skip the bread and just put my sandwich fillings like turkey and cheese in a large lettuce leaf for a lower carbohydrate “Turkey Wrap”.

sandwich

A sandwich can be a quick, portable, nutritious meal if thought out properly. The first suggestion I would make, however, is to check the nutrition facts label of your usual breads and wraps. Grains are the foundation of a healthy sandwich, and as the foundation, they should provide your body with the appropriate nutrients. Some may be high calorie and/or not the nutrient powerhouses we expect them to be.

In honor of National Sandwich Day on November 3rd, spend a little time this month to “up your game” when it comes to improving your sandwich choices.  This can be accomplished by incorporating some of the following suggestions:

  1. To add crunch and nutrition, try sliced red pepper, onions, snow peas, lettuce, spinach, kale, sliced cucumbers, shredded carrots, dill pickles, kimchi, apple or other fruit slices
  2. Instead of high calorie spreads, try hummus, salsa, light mayo, flavored mustards or a small avocado smashed
  3. For the protein source, use water packed tuna or chicken, nut butters (almond, peanut, cashew), diced or sliced hard boiled eggs, or leftovers like fried eggs, burgers, meatloaf, sliced chicken breast, and beans (whole or mashed)
  4. And for holding it all together, think outside the box with low calorie wraps, corn tortillas, flatbreads, whole grain or sprouted grain breads, pita, naan or large lettuce leaves

Feeling bold? Try this Chick Pea Sandwich or Pesto Grilled Cheese. Feeding a crowd? Easy BBQ Pork will be a snap!

Did you know you can freeze sandwiches? This makes prep time even easier. Just grab and go in the morning and enjoy!

Sources:

http://food.unl.edu/#sandwich

http://www.allrecipes.com

Written by:  Melissa Welker M.Ed., B.S., Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Fulton County, Maumee Valley EERA, welker.87@osu.edu

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

 

 

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As the air cools in the fall we often lean towards fixing those comfort foods for our family. Things like: mac and cheese, chili soup, spaghetti sauce and pasta, chicken and noodles all taste good to us. Many of us are also concerned with making our meals as healthy as possible to prevent chronic disease risk, or just improve our health in general. Here are some ideas to “Soup UP” your next pot of chili:chili-2

  • Ground meats – Switch your regular ground chuck out for a ground sirloin or lean ground turkey (even turkey sausage). Look at the fat or % lean and go as lean as you can for the price. Another protein option could be meatless veggie protein crumbles – they will reduce the fat, but still have the same texture as other ground meats. This product is typically found in the freezer section of stores.
  • Beans – Instead of using just red kidney beans, try 2 different kinds of beans. Beans that are brighter color will have higher antioxidant properties (red, black or brown). Some research studies have found diets rich in the antioxidants in beans to result in lower cancer risks for breast, stomach, colorectal, kidney and prostate cancer. By combining the types of beans you can pick up the benefits from several different varieties.
  • Diced Vegetables – Replace your chopped onion with a variety of chopped vegetables. Choose from onions, peppers, sweet potatoes, corn, celery, pumpkin, and/or butternut squash. This is a great way to clean out the crisper drawer in your refrigerator and to ramp up the vegetables in your pot. I recently peeled and cubed a small sweet potato into a pot of chili – it tasted great and helped thicken it up too.
  • Tomato Products – Most chili is a combination of tomato products – sauce, paste, juice, and stewed or diced. Tomatoes are packed with vitamins A, C, B6, potassium, and even fiber. Research studies support the consumption of tomatoes with heart health benefits and even skin health. With tomato products look to “No Salt Added” products when purchasing canned.
  • Seasonings – Combine a variety of spices and herbs to suit your own taste preferences – cumin, black and cayenne pepper, oregano, and chili powder are all good choices. Keep your salt to a minimum. For some people higher sodium intake is linked with higher blood pressure.

A few other perks for a big pot of chili soup are that it is almost a one dish meal; by adding a dairy, fruit, and bread you can have a tasty meal. Soups also freeze well for left-over meals or to carry for lunch. And last-but-not-least you can use up left-overs in chili soup by switching ground meat for pulled chicken or pork, and almost any vegetable can be dumped in the pot. I can’t wait to hear your favorite chili combination.

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.

Sources:

American Heart Association, (2016). Myths About High Blood Pressure, http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/AboutHighBloodPressure/Myths-About-High-Blood-Pressure_UCM_430836_Article.jsp#.WApYz4MrLct

North Dakota State University, “All About Beans Nutrition, Health Benefits, Preparation and Use in Menus”, Garden-Robinson, J. and McNeal, K., https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/publications/food-nutrition/all-about-beans-nutrition-health-benefits-preparation-and-use-in-menus#section-3.

Penn State Extension, “Eating Tomatoes May Very Well Save Your Life”, Kralj, R., http://extension.psu.edu/health/news/2014/eating-tomatoes-may-very-well-safe-your-life.

 

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sweet corna

 

One of summer’s greatest pleasures is enjoying a fresh ear of sweet corn at a backyard barbecue.   We eagerly await the corn harvest, and now it’s here!  Fresh sweet corn is available in most communities throughout the month of August.

Corn is a nutrient-rich vegetable.  One ear of corn is a good source of fiber, vitamin C, folate, magnesium, and potassium.  Corn is also a good source of lutein and zeaxanthin; phyto-nutrients that are linked to a reduced risk for cataracts and macular degeneration.  Corn has about the same amount of calories as an apple, but with one-fourth less sugar.

To reap the full nutritional benefits of corn, cook no longer than 10 minutes in boiling water to minimize nutrient loss. While boiling is the primary way most of us prepare corn, grilling is a popular and tasty alternative. Other ways to enjoy this nutritious vegetable include mixing it into pasta dishes, corn bread, soups and/or salads.

For a different taste, try seasoning corn with lime juice instead of butter.  Or combine cooked corn kernels with chopped scallions, red pepper, hot pepper sauce and lime juice as a quick salsa for meat, poultry or fish.

So what are you waiting for?  In a few weeks corn season will be over. Make plans to visit your local farmer’s market to pick up some sweet corn this weekend!

Written by:  Beth Stefura M Ed, RD, LD, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Mahoning County, stefura.2@osu.edu

Reviewed by:  Donna Green, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Erie County, green.308@osu.edu
Resources:  Summer Corn – More Than Delicious, Web MD

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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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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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