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parsleyWhen you go out to eat and are served a meal with a nice sprig of parsley, do you eat it or throw it away? Parsley is commonly used by restaurants to add a splash of green to the dinner plate. Just in case you didn’t know, it’s edible.  And healthy.

Parsley has a long history of being used as a medicine–thousands of years to be exact. However, it has only been used as a seasoning since the Middle Ages.  Some of its earliest uses were to help ‘fasten your teeth’ (people had spongy gums from scurvy and parsley contains vitamin C), enhance eyesight, and regulate menstrual periods.  Nowadays, we have the research and equipment to analyze the health properties of foods; and darn, if those ancients weren’t right on the money.

Parsley has three times as much vitamin C as oranges, which classifies it as an excellent source. It also contains volatile oils that have been shown to inhibit tumor formation in animals, particularly in the lungs. The oils are most effective at inhibiting the carcinogens from cigarette smoke and grilling (the black, charred stuff we get on our food when it burns on the grill). The combination of those two items alone makes parsley worth a chew at the end of your meal.

Parsley is a good source of chlorophyll. If you eat it after a meal, it will cleanse your breath.  Eat too much garlic?  Finish off the meal with your parsley garnish and you will be good to go. Parsley can be used as a diuretic and is helpful in reducing the risk for kidney stones.  Eating the stems and leaves of parsley on a regular basis may potentially save you the agony of developing and passing kidney stones.

Parsley is easy to grow (as are most herbs). You can grow it in your garden or in a flower pot.  Parsley is a biennial, which means it takes two years to complete its lifecycle. Most people plant it in April or May to get the largest amount of parsley, but you can even plant it in July, which will give you a late fall crop.

Fresh picked parsley should be stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. Wash right before using, as it is very fragile.

“Parsley Potatoes” is an easy recipe to make; just boil red-skin potatoes until tender and then toss them in melted butter with finely chopped parsley.  It is also good thrown into a tossed salad, or sprinkled over fish, soup, and stew. It only takes two tablespoons to provide health benefits, so eat your garnish!  Or better yet, grow some in your garden and extend the benefits to everyday dining.

Written by: Donna Green, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Erie County

Reviewed by: Beth Stefura, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Mahoning County

Sources:

http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-792-parsley.aspx?activeingredientid=792&activeingredientname=parsley

http://www.extension.umn.edu/garden/yard-garden/vegetables/growing-parsley/

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/284490.php

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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.

IMG_5809IMG_5810photo (5)

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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Buckeye Fans

Football season is here, which means tailgating and parties. Having delicious snacks and appetizers is a must when gathering to watch your favorite football teams, but most of the time what’s offered is laden with excessive calories, saturated fat, sodium, and sugar. You know the culprits–loaded nachos, dips, chips, burgers, wings, and sodas; not to mention alcohol. The list goes on. But party food does not have to be unhealthy. Being smart with your choices can help you avoid unnecessary calorie intake.

Hosting a “watching” party of your own is a perfect opportunity to take control of the food environment. Nachos are a perennial fan favorite, but instead of using tortilla chips as the base, why not use fresh leafy greens and convert them into a taco salad? Add a protein option such as shredded chicken, pork, or black beans and additional fresh ingredients such as diced tomato, lime, cilantro, and sliced avocado with just a sprinkle of cheese. By having the salad portion as a base and the chips as a garnish or side, you are less likely to over-indulge on the chips while still feeling satisfied taste-wise.

Instead of giant bowls of chips and crackers scattered all over the table, replace them with baked chips made from sliced zucchini or sweet potato. Add platters of fresh cut vegetables and fruit. Use reduced-fat, fat-free dairy ingredients or Greek yogurt in veggie dips. If you plan on making burgers and are using beef, try to look for the leanest choice. Be sure to provide plenty of fresh toppings such as the classic lettuce, tomato, and onion. When making wings, skip the breading and replace with a delicious marinade. Hot sauce is generally very low in calories and packs a punch of flavor and heat. Additional herbs and spices will help cut back on sodium.

If you plan on attending someone else’s tailgate party, keep in mind the following tips:

  • Eat a solid breakfast. Having a balanced meal (lean protein, fiber-rich carb, healthy fat, and even some vegetables) will make you less likely to munch on empty snacks all day.
  • When you arrive, skim the buffet table visually to see what’s there. Plan what to grab. Try to make your plate resemble the MyPlate guide. Go sit somewhere away from the table to enjoy your food. Lingering around the food table makes it more likely you’ll eat more than you should.
  • Drink plenty of water. Steer clear of sodas or juices/punches. Make a water infusion by adding fresh fruit or vegetables such as lemon, oranges, berries, cucumber, and/or mint.
  • As for alcohol, keep your intake limited. There is nothing wrong with enjoying a couple drinks before or during the game, but having more than that exceeds the limit recommended by the Dietary Guidelines (one drink for women, two drinks for men). More can really tack on empty calories.

Following these simple tips during game days will help set you up with the tools you need to stay healthy, while still having fun!

Photo Credit: http://ohiostate.247sports.com/Board/120/Contents/OT-Famous-Ohio-State-Fans-22870480?Page=2#M22881826

Writer: Shannon Erskine, Graduate Student, Bowling Green State University, serskin@bgsu.edu

Reviewers: Donna Green, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University, Erie County, green.308@osu.edu

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

 

 

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Basil Herb Bowl

Basil Herb Bowl

My herb pots are growing and I need to harvest some of them. All of the rain we’ve had this summer in Ohio has made them lush and ready to pick. I’ve enjoyed substituting fresh herbs for dried herbs in many dishes this summer. Let’s talk about a couple of dishes we’ve enjoyed this summer. Not sure about which herbs to use with which foods? This Ohio State University Fact Sheet will give you some great suggestions for selecting, storing and using fresh herbs.

Have you tried a Caprese sandwich with fresh basil? If not, try one for a yummy treat.

How about a dish of caramelized onions, summer squash and garlic? Stir fry these vegetables and add fresh basil or oregano. If you have zucchini, slice it and add it to your recipe. Try this version from USDA for summer squash medley.

This year I made a version of Mala String Beans with fresh green beans. Cook your green beans in boiling water for about 5 minutes. Once they are blanched, you can store them in the refrigerator for 3 days. To make your Mala String Beans, caramelize onions and garlic (be generous with garlic) in a small amount of olive oil. Add your blanched green beans and stir fry. Add a small amount of sesame oil and low sodium soy sauce. Enjoy. Using fresh onions from my garden made this dish extra tasty.

Back to my herbs. . . I want to have the taste of fresh herbs after they’ve dried up and there’s snow on the ground so I decided to freeze some of my herbs so that I can enjoy them this winter.

Here’s my pictorial of picking and freezing herbs:

Basil just picked, washed and drying on paper towel.

Fresh Picked Basil

Fresh Picked Basil

Chopping fresh basil with specialty sheers. You can also chop with a knife.

Chopping Fresh Herbs

Chopping Fresh Herbs

Fresh herbs in a tray ready to be frozen. You can use an ice cube tray or a special herb tray with a lid.

Fresh Herbs in Tray

Fresh Herbs in Tray

Frozen herbs on a plate before placing in airtight freezer container.

Frozen Herbs

Frozen Herbs

Frozen herb cubes in airtight container to be stored in freezer.

Frozen Herbs

Frozen Herbs

I found out that it is relatively easy to freeze herbs. I picked my herbs and lightly rinsed them. Lightly dry them on a clean towel or paper towel. Chop them with a knife or special herb chopping scissors. Freeze in ice cube trays or in special herb freezing trays. Fill the trays with about 2 Tablespoons of herbs and water. Freeze overnight. Pop out the cubes and place in airtight containers. I would recommend storing your herbs in separate containers so the flavors don’t mix. I have basil and rosemary frozen in my freezer waiting for my next creation.

What will you create with fresh herbs?

Writer: Michelle Treber, M.A., L.D., Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Pickaway County, Heart of Ohio EERA, treber.1@osu.edu

Reviewer: Cheryl Barber Spires, R.D., L.D., West Region Program Specialist, SNAP-Ed, OSU Extension Northwest Region Office, spires.53@osu.edu

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Garden

USDA’s People’s Garden Initiative has some great gardening tips to help you get started. Learn how you can make having a garden a fun and positive family activity.

Visit their website http://go.osu.edu/PeoplesGarden for recipes, tips and ideas for starting a garden.

• Make It A Family Affair.
Enlist your family as you select seeds and plants. It is a fun way to spend time together. You’ll be physically active as you plant, weed and harvest your garden.
• Gardening To Fit Your Space.
A good gardening space receives at least six hours of sunlight every day. Consider container gardening on your porch or balcony if you’re low on outdoor space.
• Sowing Into Good Ground.
Mulch the soil around your plants to improve your soil quality, lock in moisture, and keep out weeds.
• Map it Out.
Start small when deciding what you would like to grow. Consider foods your family enjoys and the space you have available. If you buy starter plants (ready to put in the ground) and don’t need all of them, share with a friend. For example, you may not need six zucchini plants. Go together and buy the packets and split the costs.
• Plant Your Favorites.
Your local Cooperative Extension office is a great resource for finding out which crops are specific to your local growing region. Here are some easy-growing crops for your kitchen garden:

• Lettuce
• Onions
• Radishes
• Peppers
• Tomatoes
• Collards
• Peas
• Herbs
Herb Garden

Think Spring and Start a Garden!

Source: USDA, The People’s Garden Initiative retrieved from http://usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/?navid=PEOPLES_GARDEN
Top Photo from USDA The People’s Garden Initiative website

Additional Gardening Resources:
Ohio State University Ohio Line http://ohioline.osu.edu/ Use the search option to find helpful information.

Container Vegetable Gardening Fact Sheet http://go.osu.edu/containergarden

Growing Cucumbers, Peppers, Squash and Tomatoes in Containers http://go.osu.edu/cucumberstomatoes

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

Reviewer: Linnette Goard, Field Specialist, Food Safety, Selection and Management, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension.

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Start Your GardenAre you interested in maintaining your weight or even losing a few pounds this spring? Could you use some encouragement and guidance but don’t have time to attend classes? Want tips to help you grow herbs, start a garden or eat more local foods? Does this sound interesting to you?

If so, give our Spring Live Healthy Live Well Email wellness challenge a try.

“Spring Live Healthy Live Well Challenge” is an on-line challenge designed to help adult participants get fit by encouraging regular physical activity, nutrition, and wellness activities. Participants will receive e-communications twice each week, containing nutrition, health and fitness tips. Additional food and activity logs will be available for download to help participants track their progress. They will also have access to supplemental information available on Blogs and Facebook.

Sign up by following this link to enroll: http://go.osu.edu/SpringPick

If you’ve joined us on other challenges, you’ll see new themes during this spring challenge. We will learn about these topics and be encouraged to participate in wellness behaviors.

• Vegetables and Fruits – adding more of these foods to your diet.
• Fitness Focus Tips – finding ways to move more.
• Root Vegetables – trying new recipes for veggies and fruits.
• Local Foods – visiting a Farmers’ Market or the local foods section of your store.
• Gardening – planting an herb, vegetable or fruit in a container or plot garden.
• Seasoning with Herbs – using herbs instead of salt to season foods.
• Sunscreen – wearing sun protection or sunscreen every day.

Once you register, you will be enrolled and begin receiving e-communications starting the week of April 7, 2014. While Facebook™ will be utilized; participants only need to have an email address.

The program is funded by Ohio State University Extension and County Commissioners Cooperating.

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

Reviewer: Linnette Goard, Field Specialist, Food Safety, Selection and Management, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension

Reviewer: Marilyn Rabe, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, Heart of Ohio EERA, rabe.9@osu.edu

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HerbsHerbs have been around since the dawn of civilization. Ancient people gathered herbs to flavor foods, which were often spoiled, and to use as natural health remedies. Today, we still use herbs to enhance the flavor of our foods.

Herbs can also be thought of as health promoting. Replacing salt with herbs has been used by many cultures in the Mediterranean, South America, Asia and Europe. Although sodium plays an important role in the body too much salt is can cause hypertension and fluid retention. Experts recommend that we not consume more 2400 mg (teaspoon) to prevent hypertension and cardiovascular disease. We are not born with a taste for salt but we develop it with our diet. A preference for salt can be unlearned by gradually lowering it in our diets. Fortunately, herbs are fat-free and often sodium free so that you can spice up your dishes with sacrificing flavor and nutrition.

In addition to being low-sodium, research suggests that culinary herbs are health promoting in other ways. A diet in which culinary herbs are used to flavor food provides a variety of active phytochemicals that may protect against chronic diseases.

Herbs should used sparingly so as to not overwhelm the flavor and fragrance. Herbs can be used as fresh or dried. To substitute dried herbs for fresh, the general rule is to use 1/3 teaspoon of ground or 1 teaspoon of crumbled dried herbs for 1 tablespoon of fresh herbs.

Fresh herbs can easily be grown in containers with lots of sunshine and water. When harvested, bunches of fresh herbs can be stored in the refrigerator with their stems in water. To dry fresh herbs, tie stalks into small bunches with a string and hang upside down in a paper bag punched with holes. Store the bag in a warm, well ventilated place. Once the herbs are dried they should be stored in tightly closed glass jars and kept in a cool dry place.

Here are some ways to use the following herbs:

 Allspice: Use in pickling, baked apples, puddings, cakes, cookies, meat and fish.

 Basil: Use in soups, stews, eggplant, squash, tomatoes, sauces, egg dishes, stuffing, tossed salads and potatoes.

 Bay leaves: Provides a pungent aroma and flavor. Use in stews, sauces, and salad dressings.

 Cayenne: Use in stews, sauces and salad dressings.

 Chili Powder: Provides a hot flavor. Use in stews, boiled eggs, chili, and other Mexican dishes.

 Thyme: Add carefully; very penetrating. Use in soups, stews, meat loaf, onions, carrots, beets, stuffing and sauces.

 Oregano: Use in tomato sauce dishes, egg dishes and salads.

 Paprika: Use in potato dishes, shellfish, and salad dressings.

 Parsley: Is mild and versatile. Use with meat, vegetables, soups, eggs, and potatoes.

Growing herbs can be a family affair. Childhood obesity rates are at all time highs and many children will suffer from chronic disease in early adulthood. Many diseases are preventable if lifelong habits of physical activity and healthy eating are adopted. Involving children in the process of growing, harvesting, and using herbs could foster an interest in life-long interest in cooking and healthy living.

Herb garden

Sources: “Spice Up Your Life with Herbs” by Jennifer Even. OSU factsheet SS-208-02.

“Health-Promoting Properties of Common Herbs”, by Winston Craig. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 70, No. 3, 491S-499S, September 1999.

Writer:  Dan Remley, M.S.P.H., Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Field Specialist, Family Nutrition and Wellness, Ohio State University Extension, Remley.4@osu.edu

Reviewer:  Michelle Treber, M.A., L.D., Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension,  Pickaway County, Heart of Ohio EERA, treber.1@osu.edu

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